Experimenta Make Sense at Plimsoll Gallery University of Tasmania

Stop two on the Experimenta Make Sense national tour is Hobart’s Plimsoll Gallery at the University of Tasmania. We spoke to Jane Barlow from the gallery about bringing the exhibition to their gallery and Hobart’s vibrant media art scene.

Why did you decide to program Experimenta Make Sense at Plimsoll Gallery?

Our head of school, Professor Kit Wise – and chair of Plimsoll at the time, and I were looking at strategic planning for Plimsoll and reinvigorating the gallery.

We both had seen many Experimenta exhibitions over the years and we all agreed that an exhibition like Experimenta, being cutting edge and highly professional, with really interesting contemporary ideas about new media art, was really appropriate to the audiences and students and people in Hobart and Tasmania.  The innovation behind the curatorial rational also aligns in with our own strategic direction which is focusing on developing diverse communities of practice and fostering local, national and international engagement, whilst positively impacting pedagogy, and practice within Hobart.

Because we’re an island, we’re  often isolated geographically from many exhibitions. We do have MONA now which is fantastic, but really having an exciting and innovating exhibition such as Experimenta in the CBD activates the space and the city. Schools, University students and artists can easily access Experimenta and the public programs because if its location within the city space. The exhibition delves into powerful and evocative contemporary contexts that will activate the public’s awareness of the issues surrounding technologies and making.  I hope that this will simultaneously auspice future thinking and making by students of the School of Creative Arts.

Plimsoll has a rich history of exhibiting innovative contemporary art, but it’s also a platform for our students to see the potential of what they can do / achieve in their own creative practice.

Is there anything in the exhibition you’re particularly excited to see or be able to show in the gallery?

The big artworks like Scale Free Network for example has so many ways of reading it and it’s visually and conceptually approachable to different audiences. You could have young children looking at the aesthetics or movement and sound or you could also have scientists discussing the eddies currents, turbulence and motion.

Some of the artworks have a big ‘wow’ factor and are exciting and some of the other art works are really small, intimate, quiet and contemplative. Jon McCormack’s work, is aa really beautiful quiet piece that is constantly changing but is also looking at complex ecosystems..

I’m really excited to see Andrew’s Life Support System, Catch your breath. It’s really interesting how it makes you feel. I think this feeling of disconnectedness is apparent when living on an Island but because of the way he has set up the system it’s like you’re being reconnected to the greater world again, it sort of has this beautiful loop to it. The work reconnects you back into this lifecycle in the global world. Similarly, Judy Watson reconnect us to historically significant places, language and materials across Australia but also reminds us of our long turbulent and tragic history. There is an archiving of locations and remapping of history, it gives a voice to people and enables people in the community to participate.

There is such a wide range of complex ideas and artistic practices and processes in this exhibition  – the interconnectedness between creative practice and humanity, and the personal and the conceptual are all so well interwoven into the exhibition. People for all ages and walks of life can relate to many of the ideas raised in this exhibition.

What is the media arts scene like in Hobart?

The School of Creative Arts has a really strong media arts studio. Many years ago the studio was run for a very long time by Leigh Hobba . He’s quite a well known and established artist working across multiple creative platforms such as performance, music, moving image installation and writing. The studio is now coordinated by Dr Bill Hart and Dr James Newitt. They are are both established artists and practitioners. .Bill Hart is specifically interested in the application of new technologies to the visual arts through digital image making, robotic drawing, animation with generative systems. So Hobart does have within the university and arts community here a strong history with sound and video, experimentation and innovation.