Spectral Ecologies

Artists: Sam Nightingale & Polly Stanton

Curator: Bridget Crone

6 April – 18 June 2017

The “spectral space of cinema” refers to the diverse temporal spaces that are opened up both within the immersive narratives of film, and by acts of reminiscence and memory. As such we see The Cinemas Project as evoking spirited visions, ghostly images and the theatre of memory.  (Bridget Crone, Curator, The Cinemas Project)

Spectral Ecologies is the second project presented by The Cinemas Project, an ongoing curatorial and research framework for exploring our changing relationship to images. We understand “cinema” as a broad format that is material, social, perceptual and importantly spectral. In short, for us, “cinema” refers to the creation of images (or “spectres”) and the sites in which they appear as well as the technologies of their appearance.

Spectral Ecologies is a collaborative research project and exhibition that explores the changing technologies of cinema as a method for creating and perceiving the worlds that surround us. Artists, Sam Nightingale (UK) and Polly Stanton (AUS) have been invited to produce new work Spectral Ecologies focussing on biophysical and social ecologies of the Mallee. Using the medium of film / video, sound art and photography, they will consider how natural and social structures inform the way in which we see and experience the Mallee as well as the way in which it has been pictured and mapped both historically and in the present day. It proposes that the cinematic is no longer an entity tied to modes of film production, but instead constitutes a temporal and material poetics that intersect across multiple disciplines – from art making to other forms of research.

Salt connects all of the works in the exhibition, in particular the way that salt presents its own kind of “cinema” in the Mallee where the salt lakes act like a screen reflecting the sky and stars. Both Nightingale and Stanton’s work engages with the salt lakes dotted across the Mallee (which were circumnavigated by Nulty’s Pictures cinema circuit). As Nightingale has noted, “I see the salt lakes in the Mallee like cinema screens in the landscape, with their reflective capacity they symbolise the invisible screens that I am in search of as I retrace the Nulty trail.” In Stanton’s work too, we see the salt lakes producing a type of cinema as we become lost in the intensity of sound and vision, and between two types of viewing experience. The Boorong people, a clan of the Wergaia local to Lake Tyrrell, have long considered the salt lake as an important part of their astronomy. To us, this also suggests a kind of cinema in the way that images and stories translate the cosmos into an earthly scale.

This project is supported and hosted by Mildura Arts Centre.