sounding the air

Helium, latex balloon, electronics, FM transmission.
Exhibited in the group show Dyanmics of Air.
Curated by Malte Wagenfeld and Jane Burry.
RMIT Gallery, Melbourne.
September 14 – November 17, 2018

Sounding the air is a new iteration from a series of ‘balanced balloon’ projects that I have undertaken since 2013.

In this project, the uplift of a large helium balloon is balanced by an FM receiver and loudspeaker, creating a buoyancy-neutral assemblage that is sensitised to the subtle changes in air movement and temperature. The work circulates, rises and falls through the gallery space in response to these qualities of air. ‘Sounding’ is understood as process of building up a three-dimensional understanding of the atmosphere – much like the mapping of marine environments – as well as an aural testing of propositions about air.

The aural component of the project is a low-power FM transmission that is broadcast throughout the gallery space. It consists of an aural essay on air, constructed from a wide variety of quotes from poetry, fiction, and non-fiction texts interspersed with field recordings of air-activated environments. This transmission is received by the balloon assemblage, subject to distortions and interferences from the physical environment and other electronic transmissions present throughout the gallery.

Thanks to Ariel Aguilera, Andrea Benyi, Sarah Burrell, Joni Chan, Scott Andrew Elliott, Dan Griffin, Hilary Johnson, Djurdjica Kesic, Sommer Spiers, Rachel Swain and Virpi Vellin for lending their voices to the project.

Installation images by Mark Ashkanasy ©RMIT Gallery. Used with thanks.

Text sources:
• David Abram. “The Commonwealth of Breath.” In All Our Relations : 18th Biennale of Sydney / Editors: Catherine De Zegher and Gerald Mcmaster, edited by M. Catherine de Zegher, 334-41. [NSW] :: Biennale of Sydney, 2012.
• Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins. Architectural Body. Modern and Contemporary Poetics. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2002.
• Monika Bakke. Going Aerial : Air, Art, Architecture. Maastricht: Jan van Eyck Academie, 2006.
• Juliana Engberg. Pipilotti Rist : I Packed the Postcard in My Suitcase. Southbank, Vic.: Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, 2011.
• Tim Ingold. “Footprints through the Weather‐World: Walking, Breathing, Knowing.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 16 (2010): S121-S39.
• Tim Ingold. ”Lines and the weather.” In Vital Beauty : Reclaiming Aesthetics in the Tangle of Technology and Nature, edited by Joke Brouwer, Arjen Mulder and Lars Spuybroek, 12-28. Rotterdam: V2 Publishing : Nai, 2012.
• Luce Irigaray. The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger Luce Irigaray ; Translated by Mary Beth Mader. Constructs Series. 1st ed. ed. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999.
• Mark Jackson and Maria Fannin. “Letting Geography Fall Where It May? Aerographies Address the Elemental.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 29, no. 3 (2011): 435-44.
• Allan Kaprow and Jeff Kelley. Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life. Expanded ed. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2003.
• Alexander McCall Smith. The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds : An Isabel Dalhousie Novel. New York: Pantheon Books, 2012.
• Derek McCormack. “Engineering Affective Atmospheres on the Moving Geographies of the 1897 Andrée Expedition.” Cultural Geographies 15, no. 4 (October 1, 2008 2008): 413-30.
• Tim Winton. Breath. 1st American ed. New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2008.

opening : dynamics of air
I have a new project in “Dynamics of Air”, an upcoming exhibition at RMIT Gallery, curated by Malte Wagenfeld and Jane Burry. The exhibition opens on Thursday 13 September from 6-8pm, and runs until 17 November 2018. The show features works by Transsolar, Natasha Johns–Messenger, Leslie Eastman, Cameron Robbins, Philippe Rahm Architects, Breathe Earth Collective, Edith Kollath and many others.

“Bringing together leading local and international artists and designers, the exhibition explores the critical role that air plays in designing for a zero carbon future, and how radical innovations can make way for creative sustainability in design and the built environment. The exhibition will engage with the interface of air, lived space and architecture, and will showcase how designers, artists, scientists and researchers work with the intangible atmospheric medium: air.”

Image credit: Transsolar, Testing Cloudscapes.

breath clouds

2014-breath_clouds-01Electronics, software, air and breath. Visualisation programming by Jeff Hannam.
Exhibited in the group show THISNESS.
BUS Projects, Melbourne.
April 9 – 26, 2014

Inspired by the experience of exhalations being made visible in the cold, dry, wintertime air before dissipating into the wider atmosphere, this project uses breath as a way to understand the reciprocal relationships present in the making of oneself through and with the environment. Breath Clouds makes perceptible flows and exchanges of energy, using aural and visual responses to set up feedback loops between our individual presence and the atmosphere of the gallery space.

Thanks to Tony for the photos.

building movements #4 (bhubble)

building movements #3-1Polythene sheets, fan.
4.2 x 1.8 x 2.4m

A pressurised, inflatable room directly adjoins a lift in the RMIT Design Hub. When the lift doors open, the change in pressure causes the space to slightly deflate. As the doors close it re-inflates to its maximum dimensions over a period of approximately 10 seconds. The room is patterned with translucent circles, a direct reference to the facade of the building in which it is sited.

with Scott Andrew Elliott, Olivia Pintos Lopez and Katherine Brown, Daniel Vito Colaneri, Leanne Failla, Stephanie Gleeson, Frances Gordon, Ben Warren, Freya Robinson, Jack Ryan and Jaime Vella.

building movements #3 (strips)

building movements #4-1
4200 strips of magnetic tape.
1.9 x 1.6 x 2.4m

On exiting the lift, one’s head and shoulders are immersed in a dense field of black, glossy, lightweight, threads that form a rectilinear volume equal to the lift interior. These move in relation to the slightest movement of air, being drawn towards your body during an inhalation, and pushed away by exhalations or other air movements.

with Scott Andrew Elliott, Olivia Pintos Lopez and Katherine Brown, Daniel Vito Colaneri, Leanne Failla, Stephanie Gleeson, Frances Gordon, Ben Warren, Freya Robinson, Jack Ryan and Jaime Vella.


breathing. space. no.7: drawing of breath

2013-bubble-drawings-1Lungful of air, drawing ink on paper.

A series of drawings which are built up by exhaling into an ink solution, creating a permanent trace of an otherwise ephemeral activity.

Thanks to Emily McRae for the assist!

breathing. space. no.6: trying to be clear about vagueness

2013-clear about vagueness-1
Helium balloon, string, zip–lock bag, a heap of grains of sand.

This project explores the relationship between levity and gravity through very simple means. Philosophical readings on vagueness describe the Sorites paradox, or the problem of the heap, where vagueness is understood in relation to the process of removing grains of sand from a heap, and at some point the sand ceases to be heap and becomes just a collection of grains. Balancing the balloon so that it neither floats up or falls to the ground provides a means to be precise about the quantity of sand the balloon must carry.

breathing. space. no.2

Sunlight, passive ventilation system, space blanket, magnets.
1 minute.

A lightweight blanket made of polyurethane film with a thin coating of aluminium is draped over the fresh air outlet of a passive ventilation system. As air flows into the space, the blanket rises and falls, picking up varying reflections from inside and outside the space, and making visible this commonplace but subtle phenomenon.

breathing. space. no.1

Breathing. Space. is a collection of projects that are being developed to investigate a series of inter-related ideas: air, breath, vitality, pressure, interiority, ambience and atmosphere. Over the next three months I will produce, install and perform a range of small interventions which explore these inter-relationships and the thresholds between them.

Thanks to Hsu Han for the photo.