An INTERVIEW with EARTH will be an experimental site-specific, multichannel video artwork with multiple soundtracks. It will be presented on numerous very small screens that will be embedded within the natural environment of Westgate Park. This experiment may feature up to 16 short looped videos (approximately 15 seconds in length) each with their own audio soundscape. The effect is intended to be a flickering array of visual and audio information.
I’ll create the audio from original on-site field recordings of birds, insects and heavy industrial machinery.
I’ll create the videos from original still and moving imagery of the site and graphic design. I will then use this imagery to train an artificial intelligence system, in order to produce videos that reflect the natural environment yet contain some unexpected, uncanny AI visual elements.
WESTGATE PARK WITH ARTWORK CONCEPT (Image by Betty Sargeant 2023)
By combining these methods of practice, I seek to uncover how technology and human intervention disrupts nature. This methodology also speaks to how interviews can be created and edited in ways that may misrepresent the subject.
Through this project I’ll investigate: How can I best represent the pressure that human and technological intervention imposes upon contemporary natural environments?
WESTGATE PARK WITH ARTWORK CONCEPT AND WILD SWANS (Image by Betty Sargeant 2023)
My previous public artworks have been collaborative mural projects or collaborative video artworks for large public screens. I’m now developing solo works and want to test two things: a new working method and new ways of situating screens in public spaces.
I’ve been training and creating AI systems for many years but haven’t fully incorporated this into my work. I want to experiment with making uncanny AI videos of Westgate Park and present these videos within the park. These ‘fake’ (AI) constructions of nature will be shown in the environment that’s inspired their creation, reflecting on the complex pressures endured by contemporary nature.
I want to present the AI videos on multiple flickering very-small-screens that are partially buried or embedded in salt-sand mounds within Westgate Park. I want the screens to appear to be emerging out of the earth. This experimentation will involve battery systems and testing ways of protecting and waterproofing the electronics.
Westgate Park is a salt land on Bunurong Country (Port Melbourne). It boarders Melbourne’s industrial area and sits under the shadows of the Westgate Bridge. Central within this park is a salt lake that’s a sanctuary for birds. This site is in City of Melbourne, it’s managed by Parks Victoria.
WESTGATE PARK SALT LAKE (image by Betty Sargeant 2023)
Westgate Park is surrounded by a heavy industrial zone and it’s under the monolithic Westgate Bridge. Over time, this site has been a salt marsh, as sand mine, a rubbish dump and a parkland. By making salt-sand mounds and embedding screens in the mounds I speak to the land’s geology and history. I’ll explore the illusion that discarded objects, such as screens, from the days when the site was a rubbish dump, are emerging from the earth. This speaks to the dominating power that humans and technology have had over this natural environment.
This experimental installation will be designed to be experienced by the people, pets and wild animals who visit and inhabit the park. I will also invite new audiences to attend the experimental showing. Feedback and discussion will be welcome.
Audiences (including animals) will be able to walk in and around the salt-sand mounds weaving through different flickering audio-visual video experiences.
The showing could start mid-afternoon, taking advantage of the low light conditions offered by winter’s early dusk and evening. People will ideally experience the mounds and screens as being an entangled part of the history and present of this natural environment.