Words for Water and Finding Ghosts: Disrupting ideas of place

  • ©ISEA2015: 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art, Tracey Meziane Benson, Words for Water and Finding Ghosts: Disrupting ideas of place
  • Photo from traceybenson.com


Presentation Title:

  • Words for Water and Finding Ghosts: Disrupting ideas of place



  • Disruption as artistic intention can take many forms. The mere act of reinventing a landscape is a disruption of sorts, an attempt at mimicry but ultimately an abstraction from the subject. In this talk, I intend to present two recent projects that speak of this disruption

    A performance work in the mid 1990s was the starting point for an ongoing exploration of the landscape, place and ideas of embodiment and identity. Since then, I have created many works that have critically and playfully looked at both the culture and science that is invested in how we identify and articulate stories about the landscape, our connection to it and our need to adapt to a changing climate.
    By weaving together Augmented Reality (AR) technology with aerial mapping imagery with video and soundscapes, I recently expanded on my creative interest in place through a number of projects “Words for Water” and “Finding Ghosts”. These two projects are ongoing and explore the natural, urban and estuarine environments with a purpose of revealing the layers of history, multiple stories and connections to place. They are also projects which ‘disrupt’ the audiences assumptions about a place as the interactive nature of the AR component presents an alternative view to the observer, one which offers layers of time and narrative.
    For the ISEA2015 artist talks, I present the latest version of Words for Water, which is an expanding work that has so far been presented in Adelaide, Canberra, New Zealand, India and will be shown in Arizona in March as part of Balance Unbalance. Each edition of the work has explored a body of water close to the location, taking into account the impact of humans on the hydrology. The talk is intended as a media rich articulation of the two projects, which will also focus on the collaborative natures of these works and how they have evolved because of the disruptions made by other ‘actors’ in the development of the artworks.
    The benefit of showing in both contexts is that the video is a meditative work comprising of a soundscape as well as the visual imagery of maps and water. It is a looping video which is around 10 minutes in total and I will show a three minute clip. The W4W and Finding Ghosts AR work will be demonstrated through documentation.
    My work references climate change issues and the anthropocene through the life giving element of water. It is a critical element that sustains all live on our planet and an element that is increasingly being used to further corporate interests, especially in Australia. My approach is one of subtlety: to create awareness in the audience by providing an opportunity to meditate, to think and consider our most precious of resources and its importance to life, culture and the health of the planet.

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