Alison Bennett, vegetal/digital, photogrammetry point-clouds, 2022
- ‘vegetal/digital’, Verge Gallery, University of Sydney, 13 Jan – 4 Feb 2022
- ‘Conscious Projections’ curated by Narinda Cook, Artspace at Realm, City of Maroondah, 26 Mar – 22 May 2022
- ‘vegetal/digital’ curated by the Centre for Projection Art for Yarra City Council’s Garden State Festival. Data-projection visible from Otter Street Collingwood, 29 April to 1 May 2022
- ‘Levels of Life: Photography, Imaging and the Vertical Perspective‘, a trans-disciplinary conference and exhibition investigating images on the vertical axis, Photography Program at London College of Communication, The Photographers’ Gallery, and The Centre for the Study of the Networked Image at London South Bank University, 30 Jun 2022 – 2 Jul 2022
- ‘POSTWORLD’ co-curated by Kate O’Hara and Daniel Qualischefski for North Australian Festival of Arts, Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts, Townsville Queensland, 15 Jul – 21 Aug 2022
- ‘vegetal/digital’, MARS Gallery, Melbourne, 31 Aug – 17 Sept 2022
- ‘Seed Systems: Speculative Ecologies in XR Art’, SOMA Art Space, Berlin, project initiated by STYLY, curated by Peggy Schoenegge (Peer to Space) and Miriam Arbus (Sky Fine Foods), in cooperation with RadianceVR and SOMA Art Space, 9-30 Sept 2022. Artist talk online 7pm AEST 18 Sept
Exploring vegetal thinking, digital gardening and post-human neuroqueer phenomenology through the affordances of expanded photography, artist Alison Bennett considers Australian native flowers as celestial encounters. Slowly rotating 3D point-clouds of floral forms coalesce and dissolve – the authenticity of the image as loosely aligned imprecise points of reference folded into the immersive field of extended reality mediation. Rendered as point-cloud models, foliage structures resonate as vibrant matter, testing the affordances of the digital image as a field of thinking.
Arising out of the heightened sensory perceptions of extended lock-down, this creative investigation began through contemplation of flowering street-trees. Through 262 days of lock-down, residents of Melbourne retreated to the hyper-local, often reinforced by a 5 kilometer travel bubble and a one-hour daily time-limit outdoors. The sublime ephemeral springtime flowers of street-trees were amplified by the extreme sensory and social constraints of social distancing. Drawing us into a suspended moment of slow encounter, we attuned to the contained glowing pulse of plants.
In this project, Bennett engages with ‘vegetal thinking’, a concept of critical plant studies that considers our symbiotic relationship with plants (Gibson 2018). This theoretical context is placed alongside the practice of ‘digital gardening’, of “seeds of thought cultivated in public” (Ness Labs) through slow thinking and organic speculation. Indeed, these domains of the vegetal and digital come together in post-human philosophy (Haraway 2016) and notions of compost and soil, seeking to subvert subject/object dichotomies. Mediated through an autistic queer lens (Yergeau 2018), Bennett’s work sides with the object, creating encounters that collapse the spectral, floral and machinic.
Attune to the vegetal and digital
Floor talk about ‘vegetal/digital’, a gesture-controlled interactive screen work with Alison Bennett
4pm Saturday 17 September at MARS Gallery, Melbourne
Artist Alison Bennett has rendered Australian native flowers as celestial encounters in the form of 3D point-clouds that coalesce and dissolve. Using a gesture-controlled interface, they have installed this innovative interactive screenwork as a room-scale data-projection, along with sublime large-scale prints, at Mars Gallery in Melbourne. The exhibition is open to the public till 17 September, closing with an artist floor talk at 4pm.
The works were created using photogrammetry, a technique for generating 3D models from a large set of photographs taken from all angles of the specimen. The process of photogrammetry generated 3D point-cloud files that are presented in two distinct forms of encounter – an immersive gesture-controlled interactive projection in the MARS basement video room and large-scale giclee prints in the intimate space across the hall.
Bennett has brought together an innovative combination of processes to create awe-inspiring real-time embodied interaction with the 3D point-clouds of Australian flowers. The use of a gesture-controlled sensor creates the impression that the work literally turns towards the viewer. This mirrors Bennett’s perception that, just as they attuned to plants, the plants were also turning toward us. The interaction design encourages the viewer to slow down and attune to the pulse of plants and computers, inducing an almost meditative state of mind.
The large-scale giclee prints translate the 3D point-cloud experience by blending together a range of point size densities. Framing stills from the point-cloud files on their computer screen, Bennett has created composite images from different point densities to generate a translucent yet consolidated view of plants as vibrant matter.
“Arising out of the heightened sensory perceptions of extended lock-down, this creative investigation began with contemplation of flowering street-trees. Through 262 days of lock-down, residents of Melbourne retreated to the hyper-local, often reinforced by a 5-kilometer travel bubble and a one-hour daily time-limit outdoors. The sublime ephemeral springtime flowers of street-trees were amplified by the extreme sensory and social constraints of social distancing. Drawing us into a suspended moment of slow encounter, we attuned to the contained glowing pulse of plants.”
Alison Bennett works in ‘expanded photography’ where the boundaries have shifted in the transition to digital media and become diffused into ubiquitous computing. Creative projects have tested the potentials of augmented reality, virtual reality and webXR as encompassed by the medium and practice of photography. Their work has been shown at international venues such as Musée du Louvre and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and featured on ABC TV Australian Story, the New York Times, Mashable, The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Motherboard, The Creators Project, ABC TV News, Archer Magazine and The Guardian. Dr Bennett is Associate Dean (Photography) at RMIT School of Art.
Coinciding with the installation in Melbourne, ‘vegetal/digital’ will be exhibited at SOMA Art Space in Berlin as part of Seed Systems: Speculative Ecologies in XR Art.