The three artworks below were interrelated site specific responses to an outdoor space fronting onto a suburban Canberra street. Conceived and staged simultaneously, they complement one another in physical proximity, materials, form and content. The ideas and sketches were done in 2004, with on-site production in the period 2004-7 ranging from one month for InvertedPreverted to three years for D#generative.

As material-led research of painting-as-sculpture, their Biological-life forms recorded progressive stages of material decomposition over time, in place of any final form. Directed degeneration of paint, canvases and sculpted materials was achieved by subjecting these materials to manipulation and intervention, such as heating, freezing, re-melting, re-mixing, cutting, splicing, molding and re-molding. As layered surfaces of accumulating organic materials that indeterminably interacted with one another, they were designed to be analogue antitheses to the digital and electro-mechanical mediums commonly used in Artificial-life art. Approaching Artificial-life ideas via Biological-life forms was to create analogue analogies to the form, structure and function of interactive electronic art, such as Tat Avam Asi (Kali Yuga) v2, 3forthree and Emergence.

D#generative (2004-7)

D#generative is a triptych of three 110x170cm canvases that are intermediaries between painting and sculpture. Being made without paint, D#generative is an ‘ing’: as ‘painting’ minus ‘paint’ =‘ing’, defined as the material substrate used in any process. The triptych was put flat on the ground by the veranda used for Sly Drooler, to be exposed to elements of rain, soil, wind, native and non-native garden leaves and 'fed' organic materials on average once a week for three years. Presence of Absence (the left side canvas) was fed globally sourced used coffee and tea from Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Sumatra, East Timor, India, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Honduras and Cuba. Absence of Presence (the right side canvas) was fed Australian, but predominantly local ACT+NSW fruit and vegetables. Whatever Will will be Will will be (the middle canvas) had Australian bird seed suspended above it, so it received mixed local-global materials, given the porous roaming of 'Australian' birds and the xenophobic nature of their shit.

Animals and humans walked over the canvases numerous times while they lay on the ground ‘evolving’ in interaction with environmental microbiology. In Presence of Absence and Absence of Presence, a dialogue was formed between my weekly feeding (by selecting ingredients and where and how I placed them on the canvases), and ongoing observation of the interactions between these foodstuffs and the material substrate of the canvas. By contrast, in Whatever Will will be Will will be my dialogue was negotiated in selecting and replacing the bird seed when the birds and possums had eaten it all. Despite 2 inch gaffer tape separating the canvas into three sections, leakages between the arbitrary boundaries of global and local foodstuffs inevitably occurred due to wind and rain.

The resulting patterns, colours, shapes and forms are like a geological timespan of photography exposure: that which happened on/to them left cumulative indelible impressions+indentations, which interacted with innumerable other decomposing compositions. Their final forms were determined by their progressive decomposition, as the microorganisms, mold and fungus were literally devouring the actual canvas, forming large holes. After three years, all but the base layer of surface materials was removed and each was sealed with acrylic sealant. The canvasses were then stretched over wooden frames and hung vertically, side-by-side.

Presence of Absence | Whatever Will will be Will will be | Absence of Presence |

InvertedPreverted (2004-5)

InvertedPreverted are two 170x206cm sized paintings superimposed onto each other, forming inverted/reverted/perverted binaries. Inverted refers to black paint on white canvas and white paint on black canvas, to composite inverted background and foreground colours. The colour binaries are mapped onto their form: paint strokes are long/short dashes or small/large circular shapes, as a reference to binary logic of ‘1’s and ‘0’s and Morse code. Preverted is a malapropism of reverted and perverted: the work is perverted in the sense of altering something from an original state. This arises from the malleable form, as the vertical proportions can be variably retracted to allow different portions of natural light to enter around the canvas, and when extended over a doorway, the 'aesthetic' can be reduced to 'functional' when the doorway is used.

As it can be viewed from the outside looking in and inside looking out, InvertedPreverted takes on different properties according to different lighting, so it is backlit during daylight hours and frontlit by interior lights at night. This varies the opacity between the two paintings, so at any one time different portions have different levels of visibility. This means that differing and indeterminable amounts of the black paint on white canvas intermingle with white paint on the black canvas.

From the inside looking out during daytime, with Inverted partly visible through Preverted

From the inside looking out at Preverted During nighttime | From the outside looking in at Inverted during daytime

Sly Drooler (2004-5)

Sly Drooler is a sculpture made of parallel lines of 35mm film strips and their multi-channel soundtracks. They were woven through the banister around the veranda, running between InvertedPreverted and D#generative. While appearing to be physically static, progressive disintegration due to wind, rain and sun exposure produced differentiated decomposition between individual slides and between strips of slides. The audiovisual content in Sly Drooler is accessed via film projectors and amplifiers which reproduce the indeterminably decomposed audiovisual content embedded in the film strips.

Sly Drooler anachronistically refers to slide rulers as mechanical analogue computers (with the title a spoonerism of ‘slide rulers’). It represents a 3D visualisation of techniques of combining form, content and Interaction Design to balance interactivity and narrativity in narrative-based Interactive Art. While Sly Drooler used static form to represent the dynamic processes of these techniques, the patterned placement of each row of slides represents the multiple simultaneous interwoven non-linear narrative threads used in the narrative-based artworks Tat Avam Asi (Kali Yuga) [v2], 3forthree and Emergence.

Sly Drooler at sunrise | Sly Drooler at sunset
Sly Drooler at sunrise | Sly Drooler at sunset