Batesian mimicry and urban scarecrows

 Kate Fulton, Objecting Observation No.1, 2006, installation detail from Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Victorian College of the Arts, dismantled radiator heater parts, automatic door-closing mechanism, green socks. Courtesy the artist
 Kate Fulton, Objecting Observation No.1, 2006, installation detail from Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Victorian College of the Arts, dismantled radiator heater parts, automatic door-closing mechanism, green socks. Courtesy the artist

Batesian mimicry refers to two or more species that are similar in appearance, but only one of which is armed with spines, stingers or toxic chemistry that its apparent double lacks. The second species has no defence other than its resemblance to the unpalatable species and is afforded protection from certain predators by that resemblance.

The surveillance camera pieces I made between 2006 and 2007 were strongly driven by my time and experiences (my scepticism and criticism) working in an institutionalised studio environment—being judged, observed, surveyed, the critical/authoritarian eye of both the self and other. They were created in response to a series of situational cues, both social and political, private and public, arising from a period informed by extreme public self-consciousness, self-monitoring and social anxiety.

At the same time, I remember seeing in Melbourne cameras and security intercom systems going up everywhere. Everybody was building their own fortresses to protect themselves from the threat of the other, unknown, trespasser, unwanted, uninvited. These devices were being introduced to negotiate access, to stop or control the flow of open communication.

Presenting the outward appearance of authority my satirical impersonations and object substitutes were installed to function like urban scarecrows, warning signs and silent alarms. Most of all they were an expression of the illusion of power, the false construct and objectification of authority, purposely sited in high positions, out of all reach to disguise the empty casing, the facade.

Kate Fulton, Dummy, 2006, installation detail, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, metal hand towel dispenser and metal toilet paper bracket. Courtesy the artist
Kate Fulton, Dummy, 2006, installation detail, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, metal hand towel dispenser and metal toilet paper bracket. Courtesy the artist
Kate Fulton, L’Oreal Paris 48 Hours Before, 2006, installation detail from Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Victorian College of the Arts, L’Oreal hair dye packaging, door handle, clear adhesive tape. Courtesy the artist
Kate Fulton, L’Oreal Paris 48 Hours Before, 2006, installation detail from Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Victorian College of the Arts, L’Oreal hair dye packaging, door handle, clear adhesive tape. Courtesy the artist

 

Card: Kate Fulton, Objecting Observation No.1, 2006, installation detail from Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Victorian College of the Arts, dismantled radiator heater parts, automatic door-closing mechanism, green socks. Courtesy the artist

An Australian artist based in Berlin Kate Fulton is the Site Manager of HomeBase LAB. In 2006-7 she made a series of bogus surveillance cameras commenting on the false construct of authority.

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