Mixed media and augmented reality artist Anna Madeleine was awarded a Cultural Trust grant in 2018. Anna was supported to undertake a residency at the Cité internationale des arts in Paris, meet and begin a collaboration with scientists at HM&Co Lab, École des Ponts, ParisTech, and visit the Lab for Experimental Museology (eM+) in Lausanne, Switzerland.
In this interview, Anna reflects on her grantee experience and its influence on her current practice.
How would you describe your artistic practice?
I’m currently working with animation, augmented reality (AR) and mixed media to create expressive interpretations of scientific concepts related to climate change.
My practice is broad in terms of the materials and methods that I work with, but specific ideas re-occur throughout these approaches. I’m using AR to layer 2D animations over natural objects such as rocks and leaves, with a focus on highlighting multiple layers of temporality operating in the environment.
As well as the digital/moving image-based side of my practice, I’m making 2D mixed media works that consider both scientific and emotional understandings of complex natural phenomena. I’m using materials such as matches, magnets and clock mechanisms to explore rising temperatures, geological forces, and abstract notions of time.
How has your Cultural Trust grant led to further professional and creative opportunities?
The Cultural Trust grant allowed me to undertake a residency at the Cité internationale des arts in Paris through an Art Gallery of NSW Moya Dyring Memorial Studio scholarship, meet and begin a collaboration with scientists at HM&Co Lab, École des Ponts, ParisTech, and visit the Lab for Experimental Museology (eM+) in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Through all these activities I gained connections to international networks related to both art and science. Having the time to visit the HM&Co Lab weekly allowed me to develop an understanding of their work in the field of multifractals and its relevance to understanding rainfall data. This led to new creative directions for my work, such as integrating models that represent data into virtual spaces.
My visit to the eM+ Lab allowed me to experience visualisation systems made for the digital preservation of heritage sites, which led to new ideas about using AR and VR technologies in the natural landscape. I was also given a tour of their Thinking Machines exhibition exploring modes of computational thinking from historic to contemporary perspectives.
Being based at the Cité allowed me time and space to experiment and test out these ideas. The residency was helpful in building professional opportunities by linking me up with people working in similar areas in Paris and meeting other international artists also on residence.
Did your understanding of your practice grow when placed in an international context?
The whole trip was incredibly fast-paced with many opportunities to network, learn and create, and I was continuously challenged to keep trying and thinking about new things. Having access to so many major international museums and exhibitions while exploring so many new directions in my own practice kept me focused on how my work fits into a broader context of contemporary art and motivated me to try new things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Because of this, I came home feeling as though it has just been the start of many new directions for my work, which would not have been possible without the international experiences that this opportunity provided.
Has your artistic practice evolved since receiving a Cultural Trust grant?
The research I began through the collaboration with HM&Co Lab instigated new works involving AR portals to spaces constructed of rainfall data at different scales and representing a build-up of water levels through the model of a domino game to think about tipping points and flooding. These experiments led me to new skills with coding, programming and data visualisation that I can apply creatively to AR and VR artworks, which is a shift in my practice and it will be interesting to see where it leads.
What do you believe is the value of collaborating with other artists or individuals outside the arts field?
People from other areas bring new perspectives to my ideas. This adds value as collaborators can provide another way of understanding the same theme which can be really influential in how I am portraying an idea, both aesthetically and conceptually. I find this particularly important when working with scientific concepts, to retain integrity to the information I’m portraying. It also opens up the work to broader audiences outside of the arts, which often leads to new directions and collaborations elsewhere.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a series of AR works that convey the communicative abilities of plants. I’m showing some work in progress for this at Science Gossip: Woodland Rumours and Thinking Trees, at the Royal Society of Victoria in May as part of Art+Climate=Change. In the middle of the year, I’m presenting work at the International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISEA) in South Korea and then continuing my research in AR in a slightly different direction through a fellowship at MAAS in Sydney. I’m also illustrating a children’s book this year and working on a collection of mixed media work, as well as teaching in Printmedia and Drawing at ANU School of Art & Design.