The Next Wave festival is currently kicking up a storm in Melbourne, and with its ‘No Risk Too Great’ theme, we can expect a whole bunch of innovative, fresh, and down right tasty installations, exhibitions, events, and performances popping up all over the city exploring the role of risk in a risk-averse culture. One such piece we are particularly looking forward to is 100 Proofs the Earth is Not a Globe by Melbourne based collective Tape Projects.
100 Proofs is a live art installation and guided performance that is part science project, part religious intervention. Infiltrating the Victorian Space Science Education Centre, audience members are ferried via space shuttle (no really!) to and from state-of-the-art research facilities where they can give themselves over to some old fashioned ecstatic transcendentalism or, remain safely cradled in the arms of logic and objectivity. The choice is theirs.
With 3 shows already sold out and only 3 shows left, you are going to have to get in quick to purchase tickets.
We caught up with Eugenia Lim from Tape Projects to find out a little bit more…
Hey there Eugenia, can you please tell me a bit about Tape Projects and how it all came about.
Hello Mr. McKnight. Well, Tape Projects (TAPR) is a collective of artists based in Melbourne, Australia (with one international member currently stationed in Bangkok, Thailand). We curate and showcase the work of cross-disciplinary artists and also collaborate on our own artistic projects. Many of us met while studying at RMIT. Back then, we were already making temporal art – audio and video-based screen work, performances or installations that didn’t necessarily fit into a gallery format. We were also inspired by our peers – many of them mad, socially-awkward geniuses who wouldn’t dream of applying for exhibitions. We felt that their work deserved to be seen beyond their bedrooms and uni critique sessions.
So, back when we were pimply uni types we formed Dotmov and started monthly screenings and performances at Loop Bar, Melbourne, as well as publishing DVD anthologies and curating gigs. A couple of us were also members of 123TV who programmed video art and screen-based work for Channel 31. When we graduated, we joined forces, grew up a little and became Tape Projects.
100 Proofs the Earth is Not a Globe is debuting this month – what can audiences expect and what was the inspiration behind it?
100 Proofs the Earth is Not a Globe is a guided journey through a strange and wondrous space research facility. The original inspiration came from an 1885 text of the same name by William Carpenter, a proponent of the contemporary belief in a Flat Earth. Carpenter’s highly (non) scientific ‘proofs’ of a Flat Earth included ‘that even at the greatest observable heights, no curvature of the earth is observed’. We were intrigued by Carpenter’s conviction in his beliefs despite indisputable scientific evidence to the contrary.
Audiences to our show can expect an intimate journey through video and sound installations which fuse scientific and religious motifs. Big themes as interpreted by a bunch of artists who know about as much about these things as Carpenter knew about the shape of the earth.
The project has been described as ‘part science project, part religious intervention’. Has science and/or religion been a theme many of the artists involved have explored before?
Up to this point, our collaborative work has largely steered clear of these themes. Not deliberately, but perhaps because of the terrifying scope and brain fry which occurs when one thinks about both science and religion. That said, some of the individual works and smaller collaborations created by our members has explored ritual, spirituality, space and geometry.
What was it like working with 7 artists to complete this project? How did the collaboration work and what was the process?
I was joking the other day to one of my fellow TAPR artists that we would all have to be seriously ‘committed’ – psychiatrically that is – after this project! We all have quite individual thought processes and aesthetics so it’s certainly been a challenge more than a few times to come to agreement and move forward with making the work. This is our longest ongoing project so far – I read a writeup today about it which described us as ‘having worked on it for about a hundred years’ and it feels like that sometimes! But I think the beauty of the collaboration is that sense of a group dynamic – a theme which we also explore in this work – that strength in numbers which can be harnessed to create something more meaningful and larger than one person’s singular vision.
Our process has been: weekly (now daily) meetings and workshops; a curated monthly open-to-public 100 Proofs lecture series in which invited speakers from the fields of science, philosophy, humanities and the arts were asked to discuss their belief systems; watching and referencing popular and obscure sci-fi, religious DVDs and science publications; intensive workshops and weekends away with textas, laptops, cameras and bottles of whisky and cheap wine.
A live installation/guided performance is a whole new ball game from a basic ‘video art’ screening. What special considerations did Tape Projects have to consider when planning the entire event?
We are not theatre practitioners but somehow we have ended up creating a theatrical and performance-based work. This is scary! 100 Proofs is a huge departure from our early days putting on screenings and gigs at local bars and venues. But because we have always chosen to create and curate work in non-art venues, the installation and guided performance aspect is a natural progression. Much of our work has always considered ‘the site’: the space in which the work is to be experienced and presented. So with 100 Proofs, we have been lucky enough to work within a unique science-based site with its own quirks, architecture and theatricality. I think the special consideration for 100 Proofs was definitely the performance aspect: how our artworks and interventions might encourage the desired level of engagement from our audience and also the nature of our own physical ‘performances’ as tour guides within the work. Also, the logistics of booking and parking buses, being precise with timing and audience movement, and how the heck to describe this project!
The performance is part of the 2010 Next Wave Festival. Could you please tell me about this partnership and how it came to be.
We applied for Next Wave’s Kickstart programme, a kind of mentorship scheme for artists under 30 which starts in the non-festival year (Next Wave is biennial). We were lucky enough to be included in Kickstart and have been incredibly warmly and fuzzily supported by the Next Wave team and fellow artists. We must make special mention of Artistic Director Jeff Khan who has been an inspiring and tireless creative mentor. In spite of all our funding woes and grant application fails, Jeff and the Next Wave team have kept us both buoyant and believers.
What else can we expect from Tape Projects over the next 12-months?
After a big collective sigh of relief and a bit of post-show recovery time and getting to know our boyfriends, husbands and girlfriend again, we are having an exhibition of all the ‘data’, experiments and curios generated throughout this 2-year project at Incinerator Arts in Moonee Ponds in July. Then, we aim to head up to Sydney to do some curated screenings and residency stuff. After such a massive collaboration, I think we will return to some smaller projects including curating and publishing some DVD anthologies and re-starting up our monthly artist talks again. We would love to tour 100 Proofs nationally and internationally – planetariums, science museums and places of worship, get in touch!
Top two images by Timothy Herbert, others by Shea Bresnehan/ Theresa Harrison.