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.

affective interiors panel discussion

For Affective interiors, I curated panel of speakers responding to the question “what impact does design speculation have on the design of affective interior experiences?” Each speaker gave a short presentation on a current area of design experience followed by a panel discussion and audience Q&A.

Speakers were: Pia Ednie-Brown on the ‘house-person’ Avery Green, sci-fi artist Lucy McRae, Jondi Keane on Arakawa and Gins’ Mitaka Lofts, Geri McDonald on the impacts of spatial design on user experience and wellbeing at the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, and Ben Cleveland discussing the educational affordances of the new ‘innovative learning environments’.

This event was kindly hosted by the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre and held in the Elgin Mary Gordon and Leslie Charles Gordon Amphitheatre. This event was part of Melbourne Design Week 2018, an initiative by Creative Victoria in partnership with NGV.

look funny glasses

Commissioned for a conference cocktail party event, these “Look funny glasses” playfully amplify and distort the repeated circular patterns that cover the RMIT Design Hub building. Based on stenopeic glasses, the perforated lenses only allow very narrow beams of light to enter the eye, increasing the depth of field and exercising eye muscles.

The close spacing of the perforations can also lead to moments of double-vision and disorientation. Continuing the trajectory of a series of architectural installations that engaged with the spatial and optical qualities of the building, this project takes a lighter, more provisional approach in line with a practice I call ‘studio sketching’. Thanks to Caitlyn Parry for the laser cutting expertise!

INDEX 2016

INDEX 2016 was held at Site Works in Brunswick. We used materials found on site and donated LVL timber sections to form the majority of the exhibition infrastructure, across two levels of two different buildings. These spaces were brought together under 1000m2 of crop netting that covered the adjoining courtyard.

As in years past, students designed and built the entire exhibition in collaboration with myself and a team of industry professionals including Rob Sowter, Pandarosa, Linda Hum, Jess Wood and Aron Hemmingway.

All photos by Georgina Matherson.


Inflatable structure
10 x 6.5 x 4m
Exhibited for the Practice Research Symposium
RMIT Design Hub, Melbourne.
October 19 – 23, 2016

An inflatable replica of the room in which it was housed, AJ8 takes the surrounding RMIT Multipurpose Room, reduces it by half in the X and Y axes then rotates it by 90° and flips it upside-down. This reorientation and doubling of spaces created optical effects in the misalignment of rigid structure and soft inflatable skin, and functioned as a presentation space for my PhD examination.

It also housed an additional work: Trying to Stay Focused on Metastability, a small video projector that was suspended by two large yellow helium balloons, whose yellowness recalled the yellow lectern in the ‘proper’ space.

Photos by Ramesh Ayyar and Georgina Matherson.


INDEX 2015

For INDEX 2015, we worked with a site loaned to us by Assemble Projects, inspired by materials found on site. We also were supplied with concrete breeze blocks from Austral Masonry, and used light and translucency as additional material strategies.

Students designed and built the entire exhibition in collaboration with myself and a team of industry professionals including Rob Sowter, Pandarosa, Linda Hum, Freya Robinson and Aron Hemmingway.

All photos by Georgina Matherson.


2015-AJ6-01Competition entry with Freya Robinson, Vivienne La and Nick Rebstadt.
Acoustics consultant: Dan Griffin, textiles consultant: Lijing Wang.
Finalist RMIT Meeting Pavilions competition.

A.ジュド6 formalises ideas of meeting and collaborative production through the layering of gridded surfaces to produce moiré effects. Both creative conversation and the moiré are emergent conditions dependent on dynamic material and interpersonal relationships. The geometries of the space are developed by analysing movement, rhythm and gesture, a process inspired by ‘kata’, a Japanese term for detailed choreographic sequences. The reticulated textile suspended within the structure advocates ideas of openness and collaboration, also permitting sight-lines into the space.