Sunday, August 12, 2018

Science-related printmaking shines at Megalo


“Connections: Part One”, Megalo Print Studio + Gallery, Kingston, until August 25. Reviewed by CAREN FLORANCE

NATIONAL Science Week has inspired many science-related exhibitions around town, and Megalo is participating, presenting five science-printmaking collaborations. As the title suggests, these five clusters are just a beginning point, the start of some very interesting conversations between artists and scientists.

When Ingeborg Hansen began working at Megalo, she fell in love with traditional four-colour dot-screen screenprinting. She is also passionate about her garden and the bee-hives hosted in it. She is collaborating with the Australian National Insect collection at the CSIRO’s Discovery Centre, and her work transforms small to large: gorgeous furry bees (at first whole, and then pinned) and poignant broken butterflies, each image built from swarms of CMYK dots.

UK Frederick, Starscape3

UK Frederick is a hybrid artist-archaeologist who loves to work with contemporary material artefacts like cassette tapes and photographic slides. She’s been working with archived glass plate negatives of space from Mt Stromlo, and her series of prints is called “The Search”. They combine screenprint and chemigrams (direct chemical photography without a negative), tapping into her fascination with the role that photography has played in the exploration of space, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. Her hand-made images are covered in the kind of scrawling notation that astronomers make when comparing star clusters, looking for change and discovery.

Nicci Haynes continues her own exploration of sound and language by collaborating with ANU’s Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. Dr Julia Miller, from the Centre, shared some sound files from tribal Papua New Guinea and Haynes experimented with making dynamic prints. She positioned a speaker under her etching plates and let the recorded sound vibrations move salt over a layer of touch-sensitive printmaking ground. The early results are labelled as ‘salt vibration’ prints, and are properly notated to record her scientific methodology.

Erica Seccombe has long worked in collaboration with ANU mathematicians and scientists, adapting cutting edge visual processes for art purposes, and she has curated this exhibition concept. Her work here is a series of prints responding to a single question: how to map a sphere using lines that don’t touch each other? The results are like puzzle pieces, squiggly like brain patterning, and arranged in a layered sequence that packs and unpacks, depending on the way you approach them. They are computer generated, but transferred to paper via screenprint, which showcases Seccombe’s skill with a squeegee.
Anna Madeleine,“Pranatamangsa”

And finally, Anna Madeleine gives us “Pranatamangsa”, a heady mix of high tech and low tech, an augmented reality artwork based on traditional Indonesian farming calendars. The low tech is a simply stitched paper zine to accompany a line of prints along the wall. Each print is a circle scribed with line symbols – a star chart – and a short text about seasonal observations and crop growth. This in itself makes for interesting reading, but there is also a small tablet that holds an app which, when held in front of each print, activate a hand-drawn animation showing plants germinating, growing, being harvested, bringing each text to life.

Madeleine’s work is the only one that feels resolved, and this is because it was produced on an Asialink Arts residency in 2017. Everything else is freshly-minted, at the start of a quest to forge relationships and search for new, shared understandings of the world around us. All the artists involved are excited about the coming year’s experimentation with these new ideas. During next year’s Science Week, we will be able to make our own observations about their progress.

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