Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Eupodotis australis

Friday, September 22nd, 2006


After spending the evening doing more logging and capturing, I go to bed and open up Between Wodjil and Tor and see something quite startling. I have been using a postcard as a bookmark, but hadn’t noticed the image until now. It is a seventeenth century painting by Margaretha de Heer of a stork and a butterfly and the page it was marking was opposite Barbara York Main’s drawing of a bustard (Eupodotis australis). The two birds were similarly proportioned and their stance almost identical. I recalled the anecdote Kit had told me of the only time he had seen a Bustard around Kellerberrin. Some research scientists were in the area studying birds and he rushed to tell them to come and have a look (at this stage he didn’t know that type of bird it was). To his disbelief, the scientist dismissed his plea, as he was too absorbed in his observation of a twenty-eight parrot, which are extremely common in the area!

spiritual halitosis

Friday, September 22nd, 2006


I get through a bit more of the logging and blogging I am doing. Images of the excavator that was digging the deep drain are slowed down and replayed a number of times and short clips captured. The ‘camera crashing’ I did in Durokoppin reserve is replayed and slowly the material starts to reveal itself.

I also dip into one of the books I bought yesterday, The Importance of Living by the Chinese writer Lin Yutang. In a chapter on Nature, he writes a beautiful little essay On Bigness, which corresponds in part to some of my reflections on the landscape around Kellerberrin. He speaks about how immense landscapes can shrink a man’s form but enlarge his heart. He makes the reference to small figures ‘the size of ants’ in Sung Dynasty paintings, but finishes with a list of ills that a big landscape can cure, and these can range from “ kleptomania, megalomania, egocentricity, spiritual halitosis, bonditis, couponitis, managitis (the desire to manage others), war-neurosis, verse-phobia, spitefulness, hatred, social exhibitionism, general muddle-headedness and all forms of moral distemper.”
(from the Importance of Living by Lin Yutang, William Heinemann 1941)

lightproof container

Friday, September 22nd, 2006


I go into the Floreat headquarters of CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems to meet with the team who work there and work out with Patrick the practicalities of me working there. I had been trying to organise a laptop that could handle the powerful editing software so that I could work on the editing in the scientific workplace, thereby taking advantage of any ‘corridor conversations’ that are often extremely useful in collaborative projects. Unfortunately, it looks like I won’t be able to do this, but we work out a timetable of times when we need to intersect. Everyone around the table was about to enter a very busy period involving a lot of travel, so getting everyone together at the same time was quite an effort. As a national organization dealing with wide tracts of land and many different types of landscape, the archetypical scientific ‘laboratory’ seemed an inappropriate structure for this group of scientists. The transfer, sharing and dissemination of knowledge stretched across the continent and further, making me wonder where and how I could fit into this ‘open lab’.

I am also starting to wonder how I can get everything finished in time. It is a huge project that I have begun here and twelve months would be a much more appropriate time period to deal with all the material. I set a date to finish all the logging of the material – September 22 and as I write it down I can’t see how even this preliminary task can be achieved in such a short time.

I also begin negotiations with Marco about getting a self-contained room built in the Gallery in Kellerberrin. The video will need to be projected in a totally lightproof container, as the imagery will be very dark and subtle.

In the late afternoon I go back to the dentist to have more work done on my teeth, then call into a second hand bookshop, where I buy a number of books. Amongst them is a copy of Barbara York Main’s Twice Trodden Ground, which is a series of short essays about the wheat belt area near where I have been working.


Friday, September 22nd, 2006


I substitute my video editing reading matter for mandarin reading matter.

flight patterns

Friday, September 22nd, 2006


I go out to Fremantle in the afternoon to see an exhibition called Fieldwork/Fieldwalking by Perdita Phillips. It is the culmination of several years work for a PHD and art and science are key components of the ambitious project. I am particularly interested in one room, where Perdita has done videos using night vision footage. There is a beautiful, painterly quality to the work and she acknowledges the presence of the figure very clearly in these pieces, one of which is almost Chaplinesque in its feel. The green tint of the infrared light is something I wanted to steer away from in my project. Its association with night combat and military surveillance was not an association I wanted to project in grain of night. Perdita has managed to avoid this cleverly, masking one projection so that it appears as a huge circle on the wall and making the other projection tiny and humorous. The reference is much more filmic here, to early silent films rather than smart weaponry.

I take the train back to Perth and it is a football train, the Fremantle Dockers were playing in Subiaco. It is very crowded, but the atmosphere is happy, as the Dockers had been winning for almost two months. The sun is setting, so a honeyed glow streaks through the carriage. I close my eyes and listen to the constant chatter. I imagine the train as a remnant corridor and then it is easy to translate the buzz of conversation into birdsong. If this migratory path to the football arena were cleared, then all of these people would fully acknowledge a loss in their lives. I only wished that this understanding went further, out into areas beyond their normal flight patterns.

a finger held aloft

Friday, September 22nd, 2006


Spring has arrived in a gallop and I am grinding my way through the editing software manuals. I shut spring out and spend much time looking at this monitor. I start an exercise regime in the morning. At the end of the day, I go out to an opening of an exhibition called Space Love and talk to more people about this project. It is a relief to download some of this and allow the activity of speaking shape my thinking. When I get home, an email prompts me with the phrase a finger held aloft to write a story that is no longer than 1001 words. I draw on my recent experience working alongside the scientists surveying the birds to write this story, which is then read live on the internet at 2.47 am by a woman in London, who precedes her reading by sticking out her tongue to reveal a metal stud, with the number 438 set in it. The story can be read at:

when my camera is still

Friday, September 22nd, 2006


I start to break down the footage from the night we went out fox shooting. Small flashes emerge from the animated footage. My camera, hand held from the back of a ute bouncing over rough paddocks is rarely still, so I think I will need to slow down the footage for more effective transitions between activities. When the ute stops and cuts its engine, my camera is still and it is these moments I will need to explore in the editing.

shifting forms

Friday, September 22nd, 2006


I start to load clips from my footage onto the computer, looking more closely at the material now. I revisit an early trip to Baandee Lakes, when a storm threatened, but didn’t break. I look at the damaged sky above the salt lake in a tiny square on my computer monitor. I turn off the audio, silencing the wind and birds so that I can focus simply on the grain of the video, the quality of the light and the configuration of shifting forms.

grain passengers

Friday, September 22nd, 2006


It is a sunny and warm day. I drive out to Welshpool to collect an artwork I did about a gorge in Karijini National Park. It is called Soft Country and as I load it into the car I think about the contrast between the wheat belt and the Pilbara. I decide that this area of the wheat belt I have been working in is not soft country but then I struggle to give it an epithet – is it sleeping country, hard country or maybe even night country?

I take the small Korean car to the car wash and wash out the last traces of this unnamed country from its body. The high-pressure hose flushes out a yellow-red torrent of sediment from behind the hubcaps, but I know that it can’t remove it all and that these grains of colour will continue to travel around the city as passengers.

I go and buy the editing software I need to use for the video and am overwhelmed when I get the package home and open it, as there are eight substantial volumes of manuals to read! I rue the fact that I am an artist that likes to work on their own material and learn new skills instead of outsourcing this work. I need to know how something is made as well as why it is made.


Friday, September 22nd, 2006


I spend the morning writing, slowly reviewing the last week in Kellerberrin and trying to extract those parts I will need to use further. I go into the IASKA office to talk to Marco and Amanda and am very relieved when I leave, as I have been able to postpone the exhibition in the gallery by a month. It is very clear that the amount of material I have collected will need a lot of time to process. Getting this material into clumps is one thing, translating the clumps into a flow another thing.