Through the eyes of Dr Anne Scott Wilson, Geelong is a city whose industrial past and imagined future are at the coal face of a digital revolution with culture having an important role in creating new opportunities and experiences.
Geelong After Dark is delighted to welcome back Anne to this year’s event which will again showcase her experimental and immersive works using kinetic sculpture, light, sound and artificial intelligence to heighten our senses.
Anne will bring two new works to the city on Friday, 3 May. One is an exciting collaboration between herself and the internationally-renowned Ars Electronica Australia (ARS EA), an organisation whose philosophy of art and technology she says synergises with hers.
“With a philosophy of collaboration and experimentation, I use tech like a paintbrush and understand the need to explore what is happening to us in our everyday digital interactions. You need specific types of technicians to work with artists, ones who understand tech as a tool to explore ideas.”
Anne’s 2019 installation will be on display in the Geelong Council Chambers off Little Malop Street. Part 1 is a kinetic sculpture using old and new technologies in a work she describes as playful.
“People will see everyday objects re-purposed into a polystyrene sculpture of moving parts affected by how people move in and around it. As you get closer, the work changes, it moves faster or slower, volumes and moving parts accelerate and decelerate.”
Visuals change too. LED light reflects off a shiny CD recalling its history. The CD while still in use is quickly becoming a part of history with many now relegated to op shops and land fill.
Part 2, the collaboration with ARS EA, is about voice. In this case, the voice of the people of Geelong. Disembodied voices of the past will use the acoustic qualities of City Hall’s atrium. At the same time, participants will be invited to relate their feelings of Geelong’s culture which will be recorded into the ‘beehive’ – ARS EA’s platform for collecting media.
“It’s about encouraging people to voice their experience of Geelong After Dark. The City Hall is a place for residents of Geelong to have a voice and the beehive will capture a collective response.”
“Our own experiences and background influences how we respond to artworks. It is very subjective. The beehive will capture how people are experiencing the event. The work fills a physical void of the atrium and a non-physical void, that is the collective voice of its people in the City Hall.”
Therefore, not only is the installation a collaboration between Anne and ARS EA, the encounter will also be a partnership between the artwork and each participant. In the same way Anne is using technology as a tool, the artwork itself becomes a way for individuals to create unique experiences.
The movement and musical nature of the piece is reflective of Anne’s previous dance career. A trained ballet dancer, Anne commenced her artistic life with the Queensland Ballet before moving to Melbourne with her family in the 1970s.
After a stint in Sydney with her then partner, artist and composer Ian Hartley, she returned to Melbourne to continue her life in dance. She performed in musicals and contemporary works before establishing her own dance company whose performances included work in television, at concerts and as cheerleaders at sporting events.
The next phase of Anne’s career saw her studying art at RMIT. It was at this time she started experimenting with technology and installations with a focus on performance. This interest continued through to her PhD studies at Monash University.
Most recently, Geelong has been lucky to attract Anne to Deakin’s Waterfront Campus where she now works as a lecturer in Art and Performance.
Anne’s love of Geelong is based, in part, on the sensory experience our city delivers. For her, the sight of the water and the horizon line on the bay generates a sense of moodiness and space. After spending most of her life in metropolitan cities, Geelong also provides a sense of peace. Anne relishes the relative quietness of the city as night-time settles combined with the ability to see the stars on cloudless nights.
Anne’s commitment to Geelong extends to her involvement in the #VacantGeelong research project. Initiated by Deakin’s School of Architecture and Built Environment, the project seeks to explore the architecture of the city’s industrial past with the redefinition of the landscape in a 21st century artistic and technological locale.
For Anne, it is not hard to recognise the link between her Geelong After Dark artworks and her adopted city and the relationship of industry and technology in Geelong’s history and landscape.
“Geelong is in a state of flux and deindustrialisation. It is reimagining itself and technology is a major part of Geelong’s changes, more so than many cities.”
“It is important for people’s voices to be heard and be able to participate in the future … Tech offers a great opportunity to redesign from grassroots people up but we need to listen to each other.”
Anne says this is something at which Geelong exceeds:
“Geelong After Dark is a great support for local artists and gives them room to experiment. That is unusual with a lot of festivals held in bigger cities.”
“Geelong puts its money where its mouth is. It is a strong supporter of the cultural sector and artists are grateful for that. Geelong has a philosophy of looking out for each other.”