E-volution of New Media
Vol 21 no 3, 2001
Guest editor Kathy Cleland With computers now regarded as just another tool for artists, digital art is becoming accepted as a medium for art. Less understood is that the internet is potentially a powerful new way of showing art.Web-based art, soundworks, and writing are all explored as well as hybrid forms using imaging tools developed for microbiology, or performance works involving machines and digital images. The blurring of art and popular culture is a recurring theme. The difference between traditional and digital drawing is explored. Reviews and obituaries.
Subscribe to Artlink - from $55. Subscriptions available for readers anywhere in the world.
There's a definite sense that 'something's in the air' upon entering the Andrew Baker Gallery in Brisbane where paintings by Rosella Namok, an indigenous artist from Lockhart River, North Queensland, are being exhibited. Whilst taking in the immense presence of the paintings, the word 'relationship' comes to mind. But just 'getting to know you' stuff, has no place here. It seems more to do with the 'stuff' relationships are made of, yet beyond 'knowing', and definitely not 'lovely dovey'. No, there's much more going on here. Romance is in the air. But when the words 'indigenous', 'art' and 'romance' are placed together, we automatically suspect something unreal is being conjured up here.
The word 'romance' stirs memories of 'stuff', we 'once upon a time' experienced and adored. But when it fades away, we decide realistically (if not downright cynically) that it never was there at all. But what is striking in Namok's works are the feelings and hidden responses which the profound beauty of these paintings, resurrects in me and stirs. Feelings and responses that go beyond any 'romance' I've experienced before - the stuff that leaves us speechless and possibly forlorn. Which brings me to confess to feelings of envy in what I witness before me. Through those hidden responses resurrected, I suspect a love that penetrates to the core of this relationship or knowing or 'romance', between the artist and the places to which she has so intimately and intuitively given form, evidenced in the subtly sensuous hues of the landscape of the sea and the land. Simple stories accompany the works with guidance from elders as to how or where the painting's influence comes from, portraying in so endearingly familiar a way the community life the artist participates in and shares. Other paintings bear markings, some sacred, yet respecting what they declare, of a knowing by the artist that this relationship is no shaky affair.
This relationship, so shamelessly evident in the paintings, set off envious stirrings as I remembered my own indigenous experience of place, sea, community and land. It brought back the flood of feelings that overcame me on a flight for the first time over my Torres Strait Island homelands. It was love at first sight. Not the love we see in great movies, or the love a woman feels for a man. It's the kind that's indescribable; the kind that stirs up stuff you never realised was there.
When I left that gallery space, and shut the door behind, I walked out into the city street, and immediately felt alone. Then I remembered the feelings I felt when I left my island home. It was like leaving part of myself or something precious behind. But Namok's work filled that sense of place that tends to be lacking in urban indigenous lives, through isolation, dislocation, greed and lies. Good on you Rosella and God be with you. You're goin' places in the big art world outside. You've got your community, youth, and culture, and no doubt a well-deserved sense of pride. But watch out for the 'romance', the kind on which white culture thrives. It's found in terms like 'sophisticated', or 'successful'; and 'famous', and 'reconciled'.
But don't take my words for granted. I'm a half-caste with no language or cultural ties. I've confessed that yes I'm envious, for the love you skilfully bring to life. But please forgive me as a sister, for this (possibly cynical) advice: keep your love well guarded Rosella, from those who have stars in their eyes, don't let them take your gift of love, given from your people, which is your birthright.
Subscribe to the Artlink newsletter now
Articles in this issue
- Artrave: Artrave
- Editorial: The E-volution of New Media Art
- Feature: An Ecology of OZ Mutant Media
- Feature: An End to Technophobia! Risk-Taking the way to go
- Feature: Digital Drawing: The Same But Different
- Feature: Do Art-droids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
- Feature: Electrobricollage and Popular Culture
- Feature: Inframedia Audio: Glitches and Tape Hiss
- Feature: Interfacing Art, Science and New Media
- Feature: Is Any Body Really There? Hybrid/Performance Arts
- Feature: Out of Australia: International Exposure
- Feature: Polemic: An Allergic Reaction - The eminence grise in our Art Schools
- Feature: Profile: Jon McCormack's Evolving Ethics
- Feature: Profile: Melinda Rackham's Online Installations
- Feature: Sarai: New Media Initiative in Delhi
- Feature: The A-gender of Cute Capital
- Feature: Update: Support for Australian Media Arts
- Feature: Writing on the Net: Nodes and Hypertext
- Obituary: Robert Klippel 1920-2001
- Obituary: Yorga Moorntuk/Joyce Winsley 1938-2001
- Review: A Studio in Paris
- Review: Allure: The Feminine in Print and Memoryware
- Review: Between Phenomena
- Review: Caspar Fairhall Paintings Constructions Drawings Digital Works
- Review: Creating a Place: Western Australian Women Artists 1920 - 1960
- Review: Genius of Place: The Work of Kathleen Petyarre
- Review: Hossein Valamanesh: a survey
- Review: No access, Terry Summers Head-on, Kim Demuth Full stop, Sam Sexton
- Review: Robin Best
- Review: Rosella Namok: mepla sarbie paint
- Review: Stephen Wickham/Stefan Weisz: Photographs
- Review: The Shed
- Review: Winterbodies