Just recently, I had asked my family not to buy me a thing for my birthday, but rather that they all pitch in and send me to Canberra to go see the Hyper Real exhibit that was showing in the Australian National Gallery. And that is exactly what they did. Flights were booked. A hotel room reserved and before I knew it, I was on my way. It was important for me to do this on a number of levels.
Firstly, one of my biggest influences, AES+F were a part of the exhibit. They weren’t coming to Brisbane anytime soon and I wanted to see what they did in their installations for myself. I have such admiration for their narratives and allegories. Their productions are intense and epic and I wanted to be there to analyse and immerse myself in the experience.
Secondly, I wanted to see the rest of the exhibit. Reality, hyper reality, simulation and simulacrum is what I have been researching and producing art work on. I build in the online world of Second Life in order to draw parallels between our online realities and our physical realities. To have a whole exhibition curated around these very things was just too good an opportunity to miss.
Thirdly, I wanted to get out and be INSPIRED. A lot of what I do can be really isolating. My work is done on a computer or in libraries. These are pretty silent places for the most part and I have a tendency to become singularly focussed (read: obsessed) with the things I am researching. So it really helps sometimes to leave my temperature controlled environment and online world and SEE what other people are doing and how they are doing it and broaden my artistic vision a little.
All these things happened and more. I can’t even really express what a magnificent experience this was. To have two whole days to myself to spend in the National Gallery, soaking up the atmosphere and immersing myself into the Hyper Real exhibit. I spent as much time as I could in the Hyper Real exhibit itself, taking extensive notes and photos so I could write it all up when I got back. I had specific questions to answer, having discussed this with my supervisor prior to leaving, but when I got there I found I had so many MORE questions…so 10+ pages of scrawled notes later…I think I may have enough to start writing.
I spend so much time in QAGOMA that it is easy to forget that other galleries do things differently. NGA is so very large. It is separated from the Portrait Gallery by the high court of Australia. It has a beautiful and inspiring sculpture garden that looks out upon Lake Burley Griffin. I was incredibly lucky that the weekend I was down there, they were running a free public program called, “Sketchy Sunday” which was very busy. A number of artists and designers were available to chat with or ask advice. It is a wonderful idea and one that would be great to see happen here in Brisbane.
The gallery itself has an extensive collection of classic and contemporary art works. I was delighted to discover a video exhibit of Angelica Mesiti including one of my favourites, “Citizen’s Band” which is a collection of four short films showcasing four people playing music that is culturally significant in surprising places. The narrative is layered with meaning and astoundingly, beautifully poignant. Like all video installations, this one is best experienced with the full four channel immersive experience. It gives you a very different emotional connection to be surrounded by the story and to watch it move from screen to screen.
Being so immersed in the experience for a full weekend, was truly inspiring and memorable. I absolutely plan on doing this again. I found what I was looking for and then a whole lot more. I talked to people about the artworks and I listened in on conversations people were having about the works before them. I really LOOKED at the pieces and armed with questions and my notebook, feel like I SAW and EXPERIENCED them with a depth I simply did not have a year ago. It can be easy to dismiss going to the Art Gallery as an indulgent experience, but if you are studying or working in the art field, I feel like it is a necessity. This is the sort of thing that is your inservice or work training. I certainly gained a richer understanding and a broader perspective by doing this and it will help me to look at what I do in a new way.
The Hyper Real Exhibit is being shown at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra from the 20th October 2017 – 18th February 2018
Hyper Real Exhibit Website
AES+F Inverso Mundus Information
National Gallery of Australia Website