the air finds it hard to breathe was an early foray into my work with found objects and was conceived as a site specific work for FELTspace in 2009, as part of a larger installation encompassing webbed cassette tape and other found objects. I wanted to draw attention to the domestic history of the space and ‘play’ with the threshold of the doorway and view between the front and back gallery spaces.
My intention was to leave the reading of the work somewhat open for the viewer. The phasing or suspended animation between the two rooms hints at a surreal narrative that could be mischievous or ominous, or both. It introduces the idea of suspended sound, or a memory of sound that is perhaps so faint it is hard to determine whether or not it is truly present. The elusive and enigmatic nature of memory and the ways in which it can manifest and thread between the artist, artefact, and viewer has been an ongoing area of investigation within my practice.
In re-visiting the air finds it hard to breathe in 2018 for the FELTspace Director's Cut exhibition (celebrating the 10 year anniversary of FELTspace: "a group exhibition curated from five of the most memorable and beloved makers who have shown at Compton Street during the last 10 years") I imagined a swan song, a final performance where the piano might disappear completely and become consumed by Billardiera scandens, a climber found from the Eastern states across to South Australia. I considered the colonial history of Beale pianos, once ubiquitous in Australian homes, and posed the idea that this native vine could reclaim space and become the composer; capturing the soul of music past and repositioning the present through a new song.
Electromagnetic variations between the surface of the plant’s leaves and its root system were translated through a device using a MIDI interface to generate sound.
the air finds it hard to breathe (swan song), 2018, upright piano, billardiera scandens, U1 device with musical instrument digital interface, speaker, mixed media. Front: 136 x 151 x 36cm, Back: 136 x 151 x 39cm. Photography: Grant Hancock