I’m standing on a rock surrounded by water. The smell of damp earth hangs in the air along with the sound of bellbirds and cicadas. In the distance, I see two naked figures moving through the bush. Their reflections, and mine, reach into infinity.
For a meditative moment I’ve been transported to the Australian bush from Studio One in UNSW’s Creative Practice Lab.
Welcome to Here and Now – a multi-sensory art installation created by Tamara Dean, UNSW Media’s Artist-in-Residence.
The acclaimed artist and former Fairfax photojournalist’s experiential work aims to explore the relationship between humans and nature in our 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,” Dean says.
“I’m encouraging the viewer to take an intimate moment to breathe, wonder, observe and reflect. The smells, textures and sounds of the bush are a visual reminder of life, death and renewal that brings us into the moment.”
To help create an immersive 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,” says Walker.
The installation marks an artistic metamorphosis for Dean whose photographic practice hasn’t previously extended to “a four-dimensional space”.
“This is a huge shift from the way I’ve worked before in terms of the physicality and theatricality of my work,” she says.
Founder of the Bell Shakespeare theatre company, John Bell, was among numerous high-profile members of the Sydney arts scene at the Here and Now opening. He said the installation had “extraordinary visual impact”.
“I felt as if I was walking into a sacred space. It was beautiful and calming.”
Dean will take Here and Now to New York later this year to feature in an exhibition curated by Associate Professor Simone Douglas, Master of Fine Arts Director, Parsons (The New School for Design).
Tamara Dean was UNSW Media’s Artist-in-Residence earlier this year. The residency is supported by the Creative Practice Lab in the School of the Arts and Media.
Dean is represented by Olsen Irwin Gallery.