T-Visionarium: A User’s Guide

Article released: Wednesday, 16 April, 2008

Jill Bennett’s T-Visionarium: A User’s Guide is a comprehensive analysis of the ground-breaking T-Visionarium media art project developed by Neil Brown, Dennis Del Favero, Jeffrey Shaw and Peter Weibel at the iCinema Centre, Sydney, in collaboration with ZKM, Karlsruhe. It reveals how this immersive interactive environment generates new insights into the workings and consumption of televisual media, extending the boundaries of both art and media studies.

Using contemporary theory to analyse gesture and emotion in art and media, Jill Bennett’s text explores the dynamics of new media narratives, demonstrating how both TV and media art operate in a transnarrative dimension where media images take on their own life. Situating T-Visionarium in terms of wider cultural shifts, the book is a ‘user’s guide’, both to T-Visionarium, and to screen culture in general.

Jill Bennett is Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics, and Associate Dean (Research) at the College of Fine Arts.

What others have said about T-Visionarium: A User’s Guide

Jill Bennett’s ‘guide’ to the kinds of discoveries possible in the complex space created by T-Visionarium opens up questions about what media art can do. Drawing in particular on knowledge of the televisual genre of forensic detection, and of affect and gesture, Bennett traces the lineaments of T-Visionarium, with unpredictable and often unimaginable results.

Associate Professor Anna Gibbs, School of Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney

African Marketplace

Article released: Thursday, 22 August, 2002

The African Marketplace catalogue documents an exhibition that opened at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery in August 2002. Focusing on forms of visual culture that confound western distinctions between ‘high art’ and popular art and craft, African Marketplace traces a complex set of relationships between art and the market.

The exhibition included a range of images and objects that either have communal or mercantile origins, or respond in some way to the theme of the market: barbershop and medicine boards, originally made to order for proprietors of market stalls and shops, which have found their way onto the international art market; works by major African artists including Romuald Hazoume and Cyprien Tokoudagba, coffin-maker Kane Kwei, Freddy Ramabulana, William Kentridge, and Meschac Gaba, whose work featured in Documenta 11; beadwork, textiles and telephone-wire bowls, objects developed initially for local use that have increasingly evolved for both the tourist market and for Western art and design markets.

African Marketplace features an essay by David McNeill, deputy director of the CCAP. As McNeill points out, the objects and images included in the exhibition embody processes of cultural exchange and globalisation, but they also reveal some of the ways in which market culture in Africa presents a vibrant alternative to the ‘ free market’ of western economic rationalism.

Disobedience

Article released: Friday, 09 September, 2005

This catalogue documents the exhibition Disobedience, held at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery in September 2005. The works presented in Disobedience register issues of social justice and protest against the brutal excesses of economic globalisation, both locally and internationally. Artists involved in the show were: Beluchi Weavers (Afghanistan), Alexander Brener and Dmitry Vilensky (Russia), Kendell Geers (South Africa/Belgium), Michael Goldberg (South Africa/Australia), Shilpa Gupta (India), Ilaria Vanni (Italy/Australia), Suzann Victor (Singapore/Australia), Gordon Bennett, Phillip George, Raquel Ormella, Dean Sewell and Squatspace (Australia). The exhibition was opened by Will Saunders, one of the two activists who painted “NO WAR” on the Sydney Opera House, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq.

The Disobedience catalogue contains essays by both the curators, David McNeill and Zanny Begg, as well as by two leading researchers in the field of art and politics: Dr Ilaria Vanni (UTS) and Dr Anna Munster, a deputy director of the CCAP.

Disobedience was one of the outcomes of the CCAP’s Discovery Project, Ethical Globalism. It was scheduled to follow the 2005 Sydney Social Forum and the demonstrations against the Forbes Global CEO Conference at the Sydney Opera House.

Prepossession

Article released: Wednesday, 02 March, 2005

This catalogue documents the exhibition Prepossession, which opened at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery, UNSW, in March 2005 and travelled to Belfast in June of the same year. The exhibition, which explored conflict, place and trauma in South Africa, Northern Ireland and Indigenous Australia, was one of the outcomes of the CCAP’s Discovery Project, Ethical Globalism. Artists included in the show were: Destiny Deacon, Tracey Moffatt and Darren Siwes (Australia); William Kentridge and Jo Ractliffe (South Africa); Willie Doherty and Frances Hegarty (Northern Ireland). The Prepossession catalogue contains essays by Jill Bennett and Felicity Fenner, an interview with Doherty and Hegarty by Liam Kelly, and an essay by Professor Abigail Solomon-Godeau from the Department of the History of Art & Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Prepossession was curated by CCAP directors Jill Bennett and Felicity Fenner, along with Liam Kelly from the University of Ulster, and was funded by an ARC Discovery Grant and Arts Council of Northern Ireland – National Lottery.

Materializing New Media: Embodiment in Information Aesthetics

Article released: Saturday, 16 September, 2006

In Materializing New Media, Anna Munster offers an alternative aesthetic genealogy for digital culture. Eschewing the prevailing Cartesian aesthetic that aligns the digital with the disembodied, the formless, and the placeless, Munster seeks to “materialize” digital culture by demonstrating that its aesthetics have reconfigured bodily experience and reconceived materiality.

Dr Anna Munster is a Senior Lecturer in digital media theory at the School of Art History & Theory, College of Fine Arts, UNSW, and a founding member of the Centre for Contemporary Art & Politics.

What others have said about Materializing New Media:

“Finally the work of Australia’s eminent new media philosopher Anna Munster is here. Beyond habitual dichotomies, Materializing New Media describes digital experiments as uneasy proposals. Numerous artists assist in her conceptual discovery tour of the heady machine-body interfaces of our times. Anna Munster’s thought is contagious – and ready to be distributed.”

Geert Lovink, Institute of Network Cultures, Univerity of Amsterdam

“Anna Munster’s Materializing New Media is as daring, as erudite, and as precise as such an ambitious book needs to be…the result is a rich understanding of the new relation of digitality and matter…Indeed, it is the first book to so completely grasp the cultural, political, and aesthetic significance of the digital,or of the informatic, without either abandoning or essentialising the body. And it is the first book to provide a framework – a refreshingly open framework – from which to understand the material work of new media from within.”

Andrew Murphie, University of New South Wales

Breasts, Bodies, Canvas: Central Desert Art as Experience

Article released: Thursday, 08 March, 2007

Breasts, Bodies, Canvas radically reinterprets Central Desert art. These paintings are not just aesthetically pleasing, they evoke crucial bodily sensations and sensibilities. Anthropologist Jennifer Biddle focuses on what this art ‘does’ rather than what it ‘means’. Breaking with a generation of scholarship that has identified these works as traditional symbolic representations of country, Biddle opens up a new path for understanding these works as material forces of culture, sentiment and politics. The encounter with Aboriginal art is understood to be a sensuous engagement with cultural difference as a lived reality.

This book examines the rise of female Aboriginal artists, including Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Kathleen Petyarre, Dorothy Napangardi, Rosie Napurrurla Tasman and others, and the tactile and sensory activities involved in painting. Biddle argues that the recent success of women painters points to a certain ‘feminisation’ of country, Ancestor and Dreaming that makes this art literally enlivened and enlivening.

The launch of Dr Biddle’s book was held at CoFA, and hosted by the CCAP. The launch coincided with two other very special events: an exhibition of work produced during the Lajamanu Women’s Painting Workshop/Residency (held at CoFA from 13-22 March 2007), and the Warlpiri/Lajamanu womens’ performance of Yawulyu (Women’s Dreaming Ceremony). The launch and performance were attended by over 300 people, including Marion Scrymgour, the Northern Territory’s Minister for the arts.

Dr Jennifer Biddle is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics.

What others have said about Breasts, Bodies, Canvas:

‘Breasts, Bodies, Canvas is an illuminating and original account of contemporary Aboriginal women’s painting in Central Australia. This is not just a turning of attention to “women’s painting”, but a reorientation of how we might think about the entire art of this movement. With rich and imaginative interpretations of the works, Biddle allows us to see the extraordinary intercultural encounter offered in these paintings. This is a book that everyone interested in Indigenous art will want to read.’

Fred Myers, Professor of Anthropology, New York University

Empathic Vision: Affect, Trauma and Contemporary Art

Article released: Wednesday, 13 September, 2006

Jill Bennett’s Empathic Vision analyses contemporary visual art produced in the context of conflict and trauma from a range of countries, including Colombia, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and Australia. It focuses on what makes visual language unique, arguing that the “affective” quality of art contributes to a new understanding of the experience of trauma and loss. By extending the concept of empathy, it also demonstrates how we might, through art, make connections with people in different parts of the world whose experiences differ from our own.

The book makes a distinct contribution to trauma studies, which has tended to concentrate on literary forms of expression. It also offers a sophisticated theoretical analysis of the operations of art, drawing on philosophers such as Gilles Deleuze, but setting this within a postcolonial framework. Empathic Vision will appeal to anyone interested in the role of culture in post-September 11 global politics.

A/Prof Jill Bennett is Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts, UNSW, and Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art & Politics.

What others have said about Empathic Vision:

“This is an insightful, timely book. Innovative, courageous and unashamedly attempting to push the analysis of culture onto ‘new ground’… It is indeed, as the back-cover proclaims, ‘written at the highest level’… Bennett makes a powerful case for her central thesis that visual arts practice is generative rather than representative… Thought-provoking and at times startling, Empathic Vision opens up new ideas that stay with you long after you have closed its covers.”

Alex Rotas, Leonardo Digital Reviews (UK)

“Bennett extends trauma studies into new territory and imbues visual cultural analysis with meaty aesthetics. Refusing to shrink from the challenges that a politics of affect confronts, Bennett boldly proposes empathic vision as a criterion for aesthetic judgement… Hers is a politics of possibility, and in this respect, her book is itself in important ways also a creative project, with all the intellectual provocation, aesthetic compulsion, and open-ended experiment that this implies. Bennett has a wonderful talent for articulating, with clarity, erudition and subtle moral feeling, what particular artworks do for her, and by extension, for us. She introduces her readers to an astonishing variety of illuminating viewpoints onto the ways trauma inhabits contemporary art.”

Helen McDonald, Art Journal (College Art Association, US).

T-Visionarium: A User’s Guide

t-visionariumJill Bennett’s T-Visionarium: A User’s Guide is a comprehensive analysis of the ground-breaking T-Visionarium media art project developed by Neil Brown, Dennis Del Favero, Jeffrey Shaw and Peter Weibel at the iCinema Centre, Sydney, in collaboration with ZKM, Karlsruhe. It reveals how this immersive interactive environment generates new insights into the workings and consumption of televisual media, extending the boundaries of both art and media studies.

Using contemporary theory to analyse gesture and emotion in art and media, Jill Bennett’s text explores the dynamics of new media narratives, demonstrating how both TV and media art operate in a transnarrative dimension where media images take on their own life. Situating T-Visionarium in terms of wider cultural shifts, the book is a ‘user’s guide’, both to T-Visionarium, and to screen culture in general.

Jill Bennett is Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics, and Associate Dean (Research) at the College of Fine Arts.

What others have said about T-Visionarium: A User’s Guide

Jill Bennett’s ‘guide’ to the kinds of discoveries possible in the complex space created by T-Visionarium opens up questions about what media art can do. Drawing in particular on knowledge of the televisual genre of forensic detection, and of affect and gesture, Bennett traces the lineaments of T-Visionarium, with unpredictable and often unimaginable results.

Associate Professor Anna Gibbs, School of Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney

Breasts, Bodies, Canvas: Central Desert Art as Experience

Breast Bodies CanvasBreasts, Bodies, Canvas radically reinterprets Central Desert art. These paintings are not just aesthetically pleasing, they evoke crucial bodily sensations and sensibilities. Anthropologist Jennifer Biddle focuses on what this art ‘does’ rather than what it ‘means’. Breaking with a generation of scholarship that has identified these works as traditional symbolic representations of country, Biddle opens up a new path for understanding these works as material forces of culture, sentiment and politics. The encounter with Aboriginal art is understood to be a sensuous engagement with cultural difference as a lived reality.

This book examines the rise of female Aboriginal artists, including Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Kathleen Petyarre, Dorothy Napangardi, Rosie Napurrurla Tasman and others, and the tactile and sensory activities involved in painting. Biddle argues that the recent success of women painters points to a certain ‘feminisation’ of country, Ancestor and Dreaming that makes this art literally enlivened and enlivening.

The launch of Dr Biddle’s book was held at CoFA, and hosted by the CCAP. The launch coincided with two other very special events: an exhibition of work produced during the Lajamanu Women’s Painting Workshop/Residency (held at CoFA from 13-22 March 2007), and the Warlpiri/Lajamanu womens’ performance of Yawulyu (Women’s Dreaming Ceremony). The launch and performance were attended by over 300 people, including Marion Scrymgour, the Northern Territory’s Minister for the arts.

Dr Jennifer Biddle is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics.

What others have said about Breasts, Bodies, Canvas:

Breasts, Bodies, Canvas is an illuminating and original account of contemporary Aboriginal women’s painting in Central Australia. This is not just a turning of attention to “women’s painting”, but a reorientation of how we might think about the entire art of this movement. With rich and imaginative interpretations of the works, Biddle allows us to see the extraordinary intercultural encounter offered in these paintings. This is a book that everyone interested in Indigenous art will want to read.’

Fred Myers, Professor of Anthropology, New York University