One of the twenty-five exhibitions currently showing in Melbourne under the umbrella of the Climarte Festival is Perceptive Power.The RMIT Design Hub in the centre of Melbourne’s CBD doesn’t look like it should suffer from too many doors (it certainly has too many corridors) but there you go – Perceptive Power has more than one entrance and it is possible to enter the exhibition the back way.
Is there a right way to see this exhibition? Doesn’t matter. I am confident in predicting whichever way you enter, you will find yourself intrigued, engaged and I’m guessing, muttering a little ‘wow’ to yourself (more than once) as you negotiate the Hub’s corridors.
There are no paintings in this exhibition. This is a modern exhibition with modern media dealing with a modern problem. This is also a reading exhibition. Many of the pieces on view are fascinating, bewitching and somewhat bewildering. Watching flashing fluro tubes on a hill suddenly becomes chilling when you read the things are lighting up because of loose power surrounding power pylons.
This is one of the reading stations. You need to absorb the words before the video showing patterns of flashing tubes – which become very bright – make sense. Clearly a lot of thought and effort has gone into making these objets d’art signal stops so best admire them as you gather information.
The video encourages the viewer to focus on a very small daring car emitting plumes of different coloured smoke tearing wildly through busy traffic. The video keeps the original sound (presumably) which includes gasps of recognition and laughter from passing cyclists.
Continuum Parts One and Two blends dancers and renewable energy in mesmerizing performance. One of my ‘wow’ moments came as I read about Continuum Part Two, based at the Carwarp Solar Facility, northwest of Mildura. This piece was filmed 2013/4 but when they returned in 2015, the film crew found the 40 solar dishes shrouded with black covers. The government refused to back the project further and the company has turned its attention to projects overseas. Wow.
In EurEco, Ash Keating turns the Eureka Flag green – which is taking serious liberties – but with governments like Australia’s – what is one to do?
“The issue of climate change needs persuasion rather than propaganda and art understands the psychology of persuasion.” Jay Griffiths, writer
This is a quote from the chalkboard in the middle of the exhibition space marks Carbon Arts in Residence. A place for conversation and encounters, this is an oasis where magazines, short films and salon discussions tempt the visitor. As much as I admire Jay Griffiths, I despair sometimes, I really do. Is saving the planet really a job for artists?
Get along and see Perceptive Power. It will make you think. You will admire corridors. You will see (and read about) a Natural State, made in the service of hydro-electric projects. So what is nature, where is wilderness?
Perceptive Power is provocative. And it’s just one exhibition of many.