The “breathtaking and cruel” nature of the Australian bush has been brought to life in a multi-sensory art installation by UNSW Media’s Artist-in-Residence Tamara Dean.
The acclaimed artist and former Fairfax photojournalist has spent the last month developing Here and Now at Studio One in UNSW’s Creative Practice Lab.
Dean said the experiential installation aims to explore the relationship between humans and nature in a technologically saturated world.
“We are all so caught up in our phones and our computers. Here and Now is an invitation to participate in a conscious act of arriving in the present, contemplating our place in infinite time and space,” said Dean.
Viewers walk into the immersive installation where they are invited to step across cobble stones immersed in a pond towards a large projected image of one of Dean’s photographic works. The bushland image is reflected in mirrors on either side of the installation, creating a sense of never-ending nature.
“I’m encouraging the viewer to take an intimate moment to breathe, wonder, observe and reflect,” said Dean. “The Australian bush is both breathtaking and cruel. We can come out bruised, scratched, broken. But the smells, the textures, the sounds and the visual reminder of life, death and renewal bring us into the moment – the here and now.”
Dean describes the immersive installation as a “transformation from working within a two dimensional to a four dimensional space”.
“Here and Now is a huge shift from the way I’ve worked before in terms of the physicality and theatricality of my work.”
To help create a multi-sensory experience Dean collaborated with award-winning fragrance artist Ainslie Walker to tap into the most primitive and primordial sense – smell.
"When Tamara and I discussed the idea for an ambient fragrance for the installation, the vision was water drenched, earthy, muddy, cool, musky, sexy and unconventional,” said Walker.
“My knowledge of perfume, essential oils and chemistry has allowed me to provide what both Tamara and I feel is a hyper-real interpretation of the work and its location, which will enhance the experience for the viewer.”
High-profile members of Sydney’s arts scene attended the Here and Now opening night.
Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the Bell Shakespeare theatre company, John Bell, said the installation had “extraordinary visual impact”.
“I felt as if I was walking into a sacred space. It was beautiful and calming – I was thrilled to see it.”
Olsen Irwin gallery owner, Tim Olsen, described Here and Now’s “feminine quality”.
“Women tend to get into the landscape – they don’t try and possess it. Tamara has really created the feeling that if we accept nature we are invited into it,” said Olsen. “The work takes us beyond two-dimensional photography which is a truly amazing experience.”
The Artist-in-Residency is supported by the UNSW Media Office as part of a broader collaboration with Dean on a photographic exhibition to showcase the work of university researchers working in the ‘elements’.
“From Sydney Harbour and toxic industrial sites to caves and national parks, a lot of our research happens outside the lab and we’re very excited to be working with Tamara, whose work we’ve long admired, on the ‘Wild Researchers’ project,” said Denise Knight, Director of the UNSW Media Office.
Dean will take Here and Now to New York later this year to be featured in an exhibition curated by Associate Professor Simone Douglas, Master of Fine Arts Director, Parsons (The New School for Design).
Public viewings of Here and Now will be held on Thursday, 5 February 6-8pm and Saturday, 7 February 2-5pm at Studio One, Gate 2, High St, UNSW Kensington campus.
Read the Sydney Morning Herald story here
Media contact: Fran Strachan, UNSW Media Office, 9385 8732, 0429 416 070