Article categories: ANAT ReportsIssue 67[PP] Portable Platforms
September 4th, 2009

There is no doubt about the breadth of effect the mobile phone (a small disrupter with a widespread impact) is having on creative fields and social practices. Thanks to the support of the Australian Government’s Visions of Australia program, ANAT has taken the opportunity to re-develop and again tour its internationally recognised mobile phone exhibition program Portable Worlds. The 2nd Edition will be taking a selection of works from the previous tour and collaborating them with dynamic new works.

The Portable Worlds 2nd Edition tour includes both works that engage the mobile phone as media platform (the phone itself as a coin purse for tiny movies and snippets of poetry) as well as works that expand the field; exploring the place of the mobile phone as a mediator between lived and virtual space. The artworks in Portable Worlds 2nd Edition map out new spaces to encounter art, and explore new processes against traditional art making modes.

Thomas Buchanan, Detour 27

Thomas Buchanan, Detour 27

New works for the mobile phone screen include Shane Ingram’s work 5.13 Express, a high energy, sound led abstract animation spiced with the flavour of a rush hour train journey. The reference to a train journey brings into significance new understandings of distance that communications technology heralds. Although this work may have been made for viewing whilst in transit, it hints with some irony at the truth that when enduring the beat of crowded rush hours we shut one another out using mobile phones, ipod or psp; retreating into solitude, into our own portable worlds.

The mobile phone in my hand contains footage of a hairdryer blowing loudly (a mini version of an often daily held object). The work is Power Games by Lisa Harms; a multi-screen installation that reveals a variety of illusory power plays. The companion to the mobile hairdryer video is a large-scale video projection of a face being blown by what must be a hairdryer. The teenaged boy who is the unfortunate subject scowls, suffering with indignation, while off screen we hear a motherly voice encouraging him to sit still (a domestic power play, the delicate politics of parent child relationship underlying this playful, domestic action). Mounted on the wall is yet another mobile phone, within its screen a fish sloshes uncomfortably in its bowl as if caught in a stiff wind. My attention returns to the phone in my hand, the banal dryer implicates me, potentially making me the cause of this entire disturbance. Power Games is both clever and playful in its slightly impossible and lovely suggestion that action on a screen has wide reaching physical impact.

Thomas Buchanan employs pensive activities including drawing, inventing and imagining to remind us that mobile phones co-habit the spaces where daydreams lurk (at bus stops and in spare minutes). His work Detour 27, plays between the lived and virtual, drawing an imagined urban vista and taking traditional art making techniques and practices into virtual space (hand-drawn, dusty, digital daydreaming).

Troy Innocent has been exploring the aesthetic of digital space and the language of computers in his collaboration with sound artist Ollie Olsen and web developer Harry Lee. Their creation, SWM05, features the the Shaolin Wooded Men, a virtual gang of media creatures given life through the interactions of their viewers. The artists ask that those who visit the exhibition send in mms messages containing images of their local environment in which the media gang can appear. The Shaolin men also give back to the viewer by offering ring tones and short machinima performances for download.

Works from the 2006/7 exhibition that are returning for a second showing include the Lycette Bros work cu l8R, Lisa Harms’ roadmovie: Holly and Bob contemplate the (once) inland sea, the photographic work, Journey to Morning by Blaide Lallemand and Hilary Cuerden-Clifford and translated for the mobile screen by Chris Fulham, and Natalie Woodlock and Anita Bacic’s miniature handmade, stop motion animated worlds, Roaming Sweets.

Portable Worlds 2nd Edition will be launched on March 17th at he Streaky Bay Gallery South Australia, then visiting Launceston, Victoria and Northern Territory as it beams its way across the country throughout 2008/09.

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