Inside Voices (Elam Graduate Show 2018)




Inside Voices is a manifestation of the Tāmaki River’s light and spirit. This three-channel installation is comprised of hundreds of scanned polaroids taken along the coves, creeks, culverts, lakes and shores of this waterway, which extends from Musick Point to Onehunga.

The digital processing of these analogue images entails, and therefore speaks to, a greater entropy and loss of information. The decay and pixellation of the resulting videos parallel the environmental, spiritual and colonial decay caused by the myriads of violence that have historically plagued estuaries and their surrounds. As spaces, estuaries occupy an inherently hybrid subjectivity, neither land, sea, light, dark, alive or dead. They are complex and entangled zones, constantly changing and consuming all who enter. The singular images within the moving image sequences occupy their own space and temporality, but are also inherently part of a larger fluid and shifting whole: an active and organic mosaic of imagery.

Each of the three channels convey a different understanding and engagement with the estuary. ‘Past’ subverts conventional representations and framings of the natural world, using grayscale imagery to speak to methods of historical documentation, representing a soft and ephemeral beauty. ‘Present’ documents the now, and approaches the estuary more informally, framing it from a position of walking and navigation. ‘Future’ abstracts the visual spectrum of colour, separating it into red, orange, green and blue; referencing aura theories to convey shifts in the atmosphere and feelings of the environment as it evolves.

The images are digitally cleaved apart and then stitched together, restlessly pulsing in and out of reference and recognition. The shifting images act as portals to the soul of the river. They writhe across the walls which can be seen to operate as a framework to restrain the river within its history, or, conversely, as a boundary to be broken and eclipsed by the river’s agency, vitality, and power. The viewer is immersed in the enclosed warmth of the space, heat radiating outwards from the projectors. Light ripples across the polished floor, extending beyond the wall’s surface into the viewer’s physical space, acting as a mirror. The viewer is unable to avoid being implicated in the imagery of the space; navigation impossible without eclipsing part of the three projections. The pixels now projected on skin in an intermediary physical space, replaced by a figure’s black silhouette on the wall.

Inside Voices is a choreography of converging subjectivities and agencies. The captioned words are excerpts of poetry drawing from my own experience and understanding of the estuary. It aims to question instead of answer, adopting an embodied and inquisitive mode of being within, and in relation to, a transitive space of pure potential and energy.