Thursday, October 18, 2012


Finalists - Kirsty Boyle, Karen Casey, Robin Fox, Ian Haig, Leah Heiss, George Poonkhin Khut, Ross Manning, and collaborating artists Petra Gemeinboeck and Rob Saunders.

The National New Media Award is currently running at the Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland, until the 4th November 2012. Curated by Peter McKay, Curator of Contemporary Art and Amanda Slack-Smith, Assistant Curator of Australia Cinemathec, the prize of $75,000 is the most significant for new media artists. Beginning in 2008 and supported by the Bligh government, the biennale award now in its third and final year.

Showcasing a diversity of new media practice the award features, Kirsty Boyle, Karen Casey, Robin Fox, Ian Haig, Leah Heiss, George Poonkhin Khut, Ross Manning, and collaborating artists Petra Gemeinboeck and Rob Saunders. The National Media Award 2012 sees artists focus on the phenomena of sound, light, digital animation, robotics and interactive media. It strips these practices bear, questions and forces the viewer to interpret how these technologies are imbedded in our social fabric.

Finalist Robin Fox a background in music, a PhD in composition from Monash University, an MA in Musicology, has lead him on an explorative journey of audio visual, sound and computer music, performance art, photography and film. Currently working on a Giant Theremin, a City of Melbourne Initiative. A heavy metal drummer, Fox acknowledges his love of “annoying noise,” and particularly noise/sound connected to vision and synthesized to sound. The basic premise of his work is to connect the two modalities – vision and sound.

Robin Fox

CRT: h’ommage to Léon Theremin 2012 sees a continual fascination with the inventor who patented the instrument in 1928. The work, three towers of audio and visual technology, results in a combination of light and sound with human activity to create an interactive experience.

CRT:homage to Leon Theremin 2012, Robin Fox

Spectra 3, sees Ross Manning, winner of the 2011 Churchie National Emerging Art Award, focus on colour mixing, light and the electronic image. Using the combination RGB (red, green and blue) Manning marries everyday objects, four fluorescent light tubes suspended from the ceiling and intuitively attaches low tech cooling fans to produce a work based on early ideas of animation, gravity, balance and movement. Where Fox attempts to compose sound, Manning composes light by having the tubes move and react with one another.

Spectra I (detail) 2012, Ross Manning

To the core of Ian Haigs work, Flesh, a kinetic based sculptural work, is the idea that beauty exists as much for the interior as for the exterior. Haig pushes the boundaries, confronting the viewer on what is considered beauty by creating a ‘reverse’ beauty, the pathological sublime, wonder and repulsion. A fleshy, meaty, breathing, twitching object reminiscent of a Cronenberg horror film, Haig describes it as “a beauty pageant for the interior as much as for the exterior”. Haigs somewhat twisted idea is supported by his belief that the ‘gallery’ is aligned with hospitals, morgs with their white walls and “dead artists!”

Some Thing 2011, Ian Haig

Karen Casey’s work, Dream Zone 2012, is about the audience’s experience. Originating from the Brain Science Institutes, Global Mind Project, the work is based on creative brainwave activity, studying the audiovisual effects of brainwaves. Among others, Casey collaborated with the infamous performance artist, Stelarc, where they each used headsets to control brain wave activity. In doing this Casey sort for the audience to be immersed in the experience and therefore in the state of mind exhibited. Casey believes, “as an artist, using technologies, you are putting yourself on the line”. What resulted was a never-endingkaleidoscopic gathering of pattern, colour and movement.

Dream Zone 2012, Karen Casey

Leah Heiss' work essentially humanizes technology by exploring the emotional relationship human beings have with technology, specifically nanotechnology. Collaborating with scientists and engineers, Heiss is fascinated by the personality in which technologies take on Polarity 2012 a magnetic liquid (Ferro Fluid) piece consisting of 25 hand blown jewelry size glass vases. Heiss outlines how she is most interested in small fragile objects and the human body.

Polarity 2012, Leah Heiss

The collaborative pair of the New Media Award for 2012, Petra Gemeinboeck and Rob Saunders, install an autonomous robot directly in to the gallery wall. Its’ primary role is to explore its environment, intrinsically, curiously, responding. It appears the wall is opening up. The robot equipped with a hammer chips away at the wall as if performing for the audience however Saunders blieves instead it is the audience performing for the robot. This is not an exhibit of destruction but of curiosity where the robot has the ability to see us as much as we see them. Zwischenraume 2010-11 is yet another innovative work in this years New Media Award and brings attention to the extent at which machines are inbedded in our social fabric.

Zwischenraume 2010-12, Petra Gemeinboeck and Rob Saunders

Kirsty Boyle began her art practice in puppeteering and mechanical engineering in 2002. While living in Japan, Boyle became involved in the process of making mechanical Japanese dolls aligned with the Shinto tradition, each doll is aligned with a shrine. Originally they were designed to make mistakes, contain imperfections and therefore to be more human-like.

The work, Tree Ceremony, consists of Suki, a doll made from the wood of a three hundred year old tree. In 2007, Boyle attended a residency at an artificial intelligence lab in Zurich. Combined with the ancient practice of mechanical Japanese doll making and mechanical parts from Switzerland, Suki was formed. The work is a tribute to her Master in Japan and explores how technology and nature can be connected by transforming the doll into a modern day robot.

Tree Ceremony 2010, Kirsty Boyle

The artists found the industries involved in the projects easily perceived the potential of their visions because they themselves are innovative and therefore were willing to collaborate. As George Poonkhin Khut found, “it was about finding the eccentric people who want to play”.

It was Khuts’ work Distillery: Waveforming (Portrait of Rob) 2012 that won this years substantial $75, 000 prize. Khuts work explores how we as individuals perceive ourselves through technology. Using biofeedback, the work measures changes in heart rate and looks into identity and judgement enticing the viewer to explore his/her inner self without judgement or preconceived ideas on who they are or should be. Originally working with hospitals to develope technology to assists children undergoing medical treatment it was Khut’s marrying of art and science which produced an increased understanding and connection of the mind and body.

For Khut the idea of New Media is to elicit emotions and develop a more sophisticated understanding of technology and its’ many uses through collaboration and audience engagement is absolutely what this exhibition does!

Distillery: Waveforming (Potrait of Rob) 2012, George Poonkin Khut

Link to New Media Art Award 2012