SPIRIT & VISION
r e a - - -
New media artist r e a recently completed a one-year Master's Degree in Science, Digital Imaging and Design at the Center for Advanced Digital Applications (CADA) at New York University. r e a's aim in undertaking this study was to hone her present technical and digital skills and to learn new ones with the specific aim of better realizing her future artistic projects. r e a has stated that she prefers technology based art forms not only because of the challenges these present but also because she actually conceives her projects in such a form.
The genealogy of r e a's interest in digital media can be traced back to her childhood in the small, predominantly Indigenous community of Coonabarabran, NSW where she was born into the Gamilaraay nation:
‘My Mother first taught me and my siblings about our history by showing us her collection of black and white and sepia photographs that she kept in a biscuit tin covered with red roses. I carried these images’in my memories until I went to art school; I then asked my mother if I could have the photos to work with. I began to create coloured photos from my black and white memories so that they would became more real to me.
This is where computers came in!
It was just the right time for me and my ideas and it
was also the first year (1992) that access to digital processes became
Once I realised how much I could do and that the ideas were limitless it became the main focus of creating and exploring new ideas.
From that auspicious starting point r e a went on to create her renowned photographic series "Look Who's Calling The Kettle Black" (1992) and "Don't Shoot Till You See The Whites Of Their Eyes..." (2000), which has since been acquired by the Art Gallery of South Australia.
Since her return from the US, rea has created an exciting new installation,‘gins_leap', which refers to a well known land mark outside Coonabarabran [where r e a was raised as a young child before going to live in Sydney] on the road between Gunnadah and Narrabri.
A number of stories pertaining to gins leap, on display here at the 2004 Sammlung-Essl exhibition. Perhaps, at some time in the past, a young Indigenous woman (or women) was pushed (or jumped) from this forbidding cliff-face?
As the viewer enters the empty, black space of the installation she or he is greeted by a soundscape comprising what seems to be the susurration of an unearthly, eerie wind, intermittently morphing into plangent crooning of a human voice or voices. Is this uncanny, ghostly, low moaning is coming from a distressed woman (or women)?
If viewers are game enough to venture further into this
These images and sounds inhabit the space so that the viewer is never quite sure when or where the next cycle might appear. The repetitive cycle of the beautiful, understated visual imagery, with its lyrical haunting soundscape consisting of disconnected, half-heard fragments of conversation, the women's hands, bird-song and flowing water, gives rea's magisterial work a deeply meditative quality. Gins_leap/dubb_speak has the power to unleash powerful responses in us all, irrespective of background.
Part One of this
article was first published in Real Time magazine in
Gins_Leap Dubb_Speak 2002