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The Long & Short of Quick Time

I have always been intrigued by graffiti and street art culture. My personal dilemma is that I love street art but vehemently oppose that it defaces my other love, architecture. I am very much torn between the two.

WORDS BY Katie O'Brien

To investigate this dichotomy I embarked on a research project. Using an actor and hand held light sources I opportunistically intervened in existing architectural conditions and drew on, in, and around them. In order to unpack and make explicit the range of experiential moments generated – all of course without physically marking the city – these fleeting urban interventions were photographed and recorded as they were performed. The resultant images were manipulated into film-based works.

The films were exhibited over a weeklong period running continuously as a curated body of work on sculptural light boxes that I designed and had built. In defiance to the abundance of technology used to produce the filmic work, the design and making of the light boxes was far more utilitarian. A serendipitous conversation resulted in a friend liaising with his carpenter via a hand drawn sketch. The process was refreshingly disconnected, an exercise in letting go of the urge to control and over document. Yet the results aligned perfectly with the project themes – opportunistic, rapid and temporary.

During my explorations of the city there was an abundance of construction developments neighbouring my filmic sites and so the light boxes were fabricated out of black formwork ply, an obvious material reference to the larger site at play; Melbourne’s CBD. This allowed the direct connection to place that sits at the core of my practice to be re-established at the exhibition site with the sculptural screens acting as conduit – albeit at a reduced scale.

The Long and Short of Quick Time’ exhibition.

Images: Katie O’Brien

The Long and Short of Quick Time’ exhibition.

Images: Katie O’Brien

The light boxes themselves had a familiar, domestic presence. This was largely dictated by pragmatics including site restrictions, materiality, and buildability. However, their fireplace physicality was somewhat paradoxical given the immense urban contexts they framed. But like most rooms with a hearth, once enkindled they drew people close and a gathering space was created within an otherwise uninviting warehouse.

It was intended that the audience experience the exhibition from a standing position, mimicking the way most people experience a city: rarely looking up, almost always looking down. Yet, some visitors chose to sit on the concrete ground aligning their viewpoint and mirroring their bodies to the line of staggered light boxes. In doing so they created a haptic connection to the concrete mass represented in the moving image before them.

Through this unfolding of the planes, through both film and made article, I provided a cinematic viewpoint to the audience. Taking a vast urban mess and creating an isolated spatial environment where one experienced the immersive reception of the temporarily occupied space.

The constructed objects within the curated installation of work captured our over scaled city and extracted these human scaled moments. It invited us to celebrate ourselves as performers in the city or, take one moment to sit back and watch a performance unfold.

View the digital version of Architect Victoria at
www.archvicmag.com.au for bonus content including a video of this Exhibition.