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Bridge Song – art as ecological action
Interrogating the collaborative journey through personal reflection

The Bridge Song project has developed a format for the presentation of key ideas and issues related to my creative practice. Broadly these are an interdisciplinary ecological philosophy covering the creative process as central achievement. This process has been supported by interrelationships and collaborations with traces of ephemeron across artform components. Bridge Song is an intentional departure from previous work as it has been developed in an urban environment, the Story Bridge precinct, with components presented in a black box theatre. This contrasts with the development of my work over the previous decade invested in remote and regional locations with site specific and satellite performance components. The performance component has become the main pathway for this project.

Fieldwork within the Story Bridge precinct progressed through intuitive responses to the site. Visual placement of textures, endemic framing devices and enclosures for particular visual or sonic moments became a focus. Initial fieldwork revealed the potential for substantial narrative. This included acknowledging the history of the site and its structure as well the potential for research through the living culture of the precinct. The potential for socially engaged artistic practice was apparent as the zone has a high-density residential population. Although the possibility of developing substantial material through anthropological or sociological field research was interesting and attractive, it has not been implemented at this stage. The timeframe, resources and focus available or chosen were not conducive to the scale of project at first visualised and considered.

Some of the contrasts and dynamics of the site were revealed while living at Kangaroo Point for six months during 2002. At this time exploratory fieldwork was conducted as an environmental laboratory. Some initial creative elements were tested and interrogated through this durational experience, while physically inhabiting a room directly under the girders of the southern ramp. A video sequence from this room is incorporated in the scene ‘Building Bridges’. Experiments and observations transformed into new objectives while other objectives were inherited residue within the continuity of previous projects. To contrast time as perceptual experience between natural space and that of the built environment was one such departure point. The Story Bridge precinct offered a comparison with the scenic vista of the natural environment. It allowed the testing of method and philosophy against the urban landscape after a decade of creating contemporary art projects in regional and remote locations.

Other considerations and challenges included the aims of creating a performance component for ‘black box’ theatre and the diversification of material content across an array of specialised formats. For example the resources available through proximity to Brisbane’s contemporary cultural infrastructure allowed investment in customised video projection design and digital video production techniques within the specifics of a public performance component. The diversification of disciplines has been a key methodology for many years, with a personal challenge of finding ways to manage project assets across disciplines and develop an intuitive interdisciplinary language as an individual expressive tool. The Bridge Song project is manifestation of this personal language as developed through the facilitation of the collaborative process, directorial role, multimedia production, design, graphics and technical theatre integration. I have been responsible for development of the overall direction, screen based content, devising performance art statements, choreographic intent, sound elements, graphic design, stage and production components. The self-reliance of this achievement is an economic strategy related to independent practice rather than an egocentric hegemony. It reflects the experience of spending many years creating structures for contemporary practice in remote Australia. Similarly it demonstrates the resourcefulness necessary to operate a sustainable micro-business within a niche market that is based within a specialised non-profit cultural sector.

The performance component marks personal progression through a language of spatial perception informed by interdisciplinary concerns. Running the performance component in a ‘black box’ space packaged the integration of different mediums and aestheticised the content delivery for auditorium reception. The priority on interrelationships and associations has resulted in ongoing support from the venue management and key tenants. For example offers of auspice and multiple co-production opportunities in 2004. Reciprocal collaborations with the musicians are also being discussed.

Particular resources available through proximity and association with urban-based infrastructure extended my artform and technical production into new forms. The development of an ecological philosophy within an urban environment has opened-up interesting areas of potentiality and future development. This journey has tested my ecological philosophy by challenging the notion that the creative process can be enough to establish receptive empathy between audience and project. However my conviction to the synesthesia of interdisciplinary practice remains intact. The Bridge Song project has illuminated new forms of ecological embodiment. For example durational projects acquiring creative meaning and assets over the telling of longer periods of time. With enough capital and resources new media offers the platforms for conveying process as product. Beyond contextualising new media as an extension of conventional performance syntax, beyond the ‘intelligent stage’, is the potential for distributed, networked, durational and telematic performance to inhabit new territory. The journey continues within the ambition of finding new contextual surfaces to express the ecological imagination.

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