It was a warm Sunday afternoon that saw the opening of the inaugural National Experimental Arts Forum at Sydney’s Carriageworks. Artists, curators, administrators from around the country were brought together by the Australia Council to, by and large, “identify strategic directions that will enhance the practice and development of experimental arts in Australia.” I think we did just that, or at the very least, created a framework for a discussion that will take place across Australia as the Inter-Arts division of the Australia Council transforms into the Emerging and Experimental Arts Section.
Alongside the many issues we had discussed I personally found the forum increasingly interesting for the people I had met and the breadth of arts practice I had been unaware of. It was exciting and encouraging to hear so many people speak positively about their work as feeding into processes of social change and evolution. To know there are so many more people working on shifting consciousness on so many levels, in such grounded ways, leaping into every precipice gave me tangible hope.
The forum gave me pause to consider so much of my own work and it did so from the get go. That is, in February of this year (2013), when I responded to an expression of interest and wrote:
Since 2007 I had removed myself from various trends in technology based experimental arts practice. To be honest, I found the field increasingly competitive, technically complex and to some degree bereft of meaning. If one doesn’t maintain the pace one can be quickly overwhelmed and isolated. However, being removed does little to affect change. As such I believe that the possibility of sharing experiences, from what has transpired, what occurs now and what is to come, within a physical space, is both nurturing and nourishing. It doesn’t happen often! This is of immeasurable benefit to any artist.
I felt I had something to provide the forum having spent much time in reflection, using increasingly less technology than I had at any other time in my career. Even though I’m reluctant to re-enter the wide world of networks and generative streams I’ve been truly enlightened by what I had seen at the forum – from the few key note artist presentations to the 20 or so rapid-fire descriptions of works by a select number of artists, of which I had been one.
Projects that augmented [reality] coral, that explored the ocean membrane and the inner-realms of human experience, as well as laboratories divining living tissue mosaics, and crowd sourced climate change data as art were some of the few that were evocative in ways I’m barely able to articulate. But I am hopeful. A lot more than I was last Friday!