An Eccentric Orbit: Video Art in Australia
The intensity with which Australians possess and use consumer electronics is famous. Indeed, by using videos and computers, Australian artists have managed to avoid what has been called ‘the tyranny of distance’. For artists like John McCormack (Melbourne, 1964), the computer has become a way to escape the limitations of the physical world. An Eccentric Orbit: Video Art in Australia presents a selective look at a varied and abundant field: contemporary electronic artworks produced in Australia between 1980 and 1995. The programme is divided into three thematic sections. The programme entitled The Body Electric contains works that contemplate falling into a physical and psychological trap, proposing a release through dreams, technology and the imagination. The second block, entitled Any Resemblance to Reality is Purely Deliberate, deals with the magic of construction and deconstruction in or by the computer culture, while the works included in the section Reduced Paradise reflect on place and the lack of location. The themes in each programme represent what could be considered the three concerns of contemporary Australian culture condensed into the work of video artists and directors. Obviously each of these themes refers to the gestalt of a culture immersed in the post-industrialist dualisms found in all western civilisation: the active construction of the ‘perceived’ polarities between nature and culture, nature and technology and human beings and technology. However, without openly resorting to an ‘Australian’ iconography, most of the artists in these three programmes present a curiously idiosyncratic approach to electronic culture, resulting in a reflection on video and computer storage devices, the most easily transportable media available to artists. These same media are also extremely useful for citizens living in a country that can only be reached by an almost daylong flight from Europe and even longer from the East Coast of the United States.