Launceston is a city blessed with a very beautiful gorge close to its central commercial district. From ancient times the Gorge was, and continues to be, a site of great significance to the indigenous owners, Tasmania’s palawa people. Since European invasion it has been a favoured site for recreation and is now a major tourist attraction featuring a very long chairlift that spans one of its several wide rocky basins. Built in 1972, the chairlift gives great views of rushing water, rocks, trees and wildlife.
My own interest in the chairlift, however, is not so much the aerial views it offers but the ever-shifting images of its riders from the terrain below. The ‘heavenly bodies’ of the chairlift denote, for me, seemingly exotic creatures who converge on our town from across the world yet who travel our skies in lines of flight that are closely constrained by the wires to which they are attached. My fantasy is that the riders may cut loose from this tunnel of view and explore the terrain in far more curious, adventurous and open ways. I contextualised this small idea within the global phenomenon of the ‘package tour’ – the concept of moving around the world in a ‘bubble’ of highly curated and sanitised experiences of people and place. In 2012, I began creating photomedia images that gave form to this line of thought.
In 2018-9, these earlier ideas were further extended within an opportunity to create a projection work on the dome of Launceston’s Planetarium (part of the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery) in a moving-image & sound show that would be part of the MOFO Summer Festival, January 2019. Painter Helene Weeding and I decided to collaborate on the project, combining her lush inky skies with a whole new collection of my photographic images of the riders. The movie below is designed for the 3D dimensionality of an interior dome, but also presents as a strange kind of 2D mandala meditation on the notion of ourselves as ‘heavenly bodies’ in unrestrained flight. View an excerpt from this piece on Vimeo.