Where In All Of This Are We?

A video installation I made as part of the Graduate Certificate in Visual Art at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia. I am fascinated with the way Australian stories are told on the big screen – and how largely absent I feel from these portrayals. My view of Australia is that of a beautiful, intricate, incredibly splintered, largely underrepresented mass of outlooks, cultures and opinions. As a nation, I believe that we lack a sense of national identity – which may actually be the thing I love most about Australia. It’s difficult to tell all our stories cohesively, because they are so incredibly varied. Irrespective of how well represented I or other Australians might feel on the big screen, the “Australian Film” exists out in the world, with or without us, characterised by its own peculiar visual language. My aim here was to show that this language is powerful enough to survive without characters or narrative – that our stylised on-screen national identity is embedded in the ambient elements of our films. I thus wanted to bring light to the disparity between the Australian stories that exist in the world of cinema, stylised, ambient, easily digested, and the untold Australian stories that happen off-screen, stories that are complex, disjointed and sometimes difficult to swallow.


Empty spaces

I created a 3-channel installation, using footage from 4 acclaimed Australian films – Noise, Animal Kingdom, Head On and Idiot Box. I used a square Instagram-like frame overlaid on the widescreen frame to juxtapose footage from different parts of the same film (2 screens) and footage from 2 different films (1 screen). I cut around the people, blowing up only the ambient scenery; I slowed the footage and corresponding audio track down and edited excerpts together without following any particular sequential logic.The overlaid square/widescreen frames were used to hint at parallel environments, multiple spaces which in spite of their apparent discord still manage to maintain their stylistic synchronicity. The “inserted” Instagram-like frame is also there to jar the viewer out of their expectation of immersiveness, and allow them to examine the two portrayed film spaces as contiguous exercises in aestheticism, ambience meticulously crafted as a stylised story telling device, rather than as a true representation of the world around us.A large proportion of viewers were able to recognise each of the 4 films without difficulty, suggesting that the stylised language of “Australian Cinema” is not only visible but easily debunked.