Out to Space Year Five: the Transformation

April 2008March 2009

In the first few months of year five, I still played with two main materials: Thailand trip and the street dumps until the study at College of Fine Arts (now, UNSW Art & Design) commenced in July. That changed Out to Space from those photos to the stories about the Master degree. But the photos weren’t wasted. They were transformed to another medium—videos.

Dump of the Day was my fascination of junks on the streets of Sydney and became an obsession. It turned out to be too many of them on the blog. It would have been perfect to post them on instagram these days. (Hey, the gear was Nokia N90 then N96 on Symbian with GPRS. Imagine 2008) However, they turned into the perfect source for assignments in my study. Significantly, in Video Art class, which we had to produce a video loop and a video installation.

For video loop, So Long Cathy came up from the compilation of dumped televisions. The final assignment was the video installation. Sleep Pattern was made out of images of damaged mattresses strung together in a disturbing soundscape. The soundscape was from another final assignment from another class.  The video was projected downward onto a mattress through a bednet as a screen. The installation invited the audience to get on to the mattress to be a part of the artwork.

They were the practical side of the study in the first semester. We also had to do theory classes. I posted all the written assignments. One of the classes I enrolled was Art After Postmodernism. Each student was given an artist or an new art movement to research and present in the class. And I got design topic—One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project—to be specific. That became another ripple effect in my life and career.

That presentation grew into a subject of a documentary assignment for another class. Apparently, I knew Pia Waugh, who ran OLPC Australian first trail project, through twitter and got in touch with her. Since the project involved kids and NSW Department of Education, the preproduction was somewhat a headache for a bunch of film students like us. We got the green light from the Department and drove to a school in Cowra, a NSW regional town, to shoot the video. The result wasn’t so bad that the Department paid us for the production. Who would know that this type of videos now became what I do for the living.

The year ended with Sydney Gay & Lesbian Festival assignments in March. That year I got access to the construction of the parade floats and wrapped it up with the cleaning up, which the organiser didn’t want to archive them. That made the full coverage I wanted and curtained down the photography of Sydney events.

Aftermath of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, March 2008

The year was quite busy and stressful. One top of that, I was very poor. I decided to quit the restaurant job to focus only on the study. I was living on the dole and my self-esteem slowly deteriorated. Taking a plunges seems to be my life pattern.

The key take away from it, now I find, was how the creativity developed from photography to video. Five years so far, this blog started from urban landscape, urban wildlife, multiculturalism through events, and street dumps. Those seemed to be out of my system. What next, then? Well, the following year I had the final project for the study coming up. In every, every angle, it would be very, very tough.