Nutational Follies 2017, Dancer Eugene Choi, photography by Zak Arnot
Media releases

ACMI announces Tully Arnot as recipient of 2019 Mordant Family VR Commission

10 July 2019

ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) is today proud to announce the recipient of the third and final ground breaking $80,000 Mordant Family VR Commission. The commission has been held annually for three years and supports Australian visual artists with an established gallery-based practice to experiment with and extend their craft using VR. The commission, created in partnership with Catriona Mordant AM and Simon Mordant AM, the City of Melbourne and ACMI, builds on ACMI’s existing commissioning initiatives and cements ACMI as a leader in developing artists working at the forefront of digital platforms.

Tully Arnot, one of Australia’s leading visual artists, has been awarded the final commission. Arnot’s work utilises found objects, tech and the manufactured items of modern life to create absurdist sculptures and installations. His work is designed to challenge the way we interact with ourselves and technology. Arnot has exhibited across Australia, UK, Germany, Belgium, Italy, China, Russia, and New Zealand. The Mordant Family VR Commission will enable Arnot to transform his installations into immersive experiences using the medium of VR. 

“This has been my dream project, and I'm so grateful for the generous support of ACMI, the Mordant Family and the City of Melbourne. I'm excited for the opportunity to explore ideas through the medium of VR, allowing me to expand my creative practice in partnership with plant scientists, and for the potential to share this work with diverse new audiences.” said Tully Arnot.

Arnot’s proposed work, Epiphytes (working title) will be developed in consultation with plant scientist Professor Monica Gagliano, a pioneering researcher of plant sentience and communication. Plants will be captured in ultra HD and will exhibit natural movements that respond to the audience’s presence. The viewer will be urged to explore ways of interacting with each plant, discovering how it may respond to their touches or gestures, and in turn learning to better understand the subtle and incredibly slow movements of plants which are usually invisible to the naked eye.

This year’s winning commission was selected by a panel of national and international industry experts including Kaye Glamuzina, Manager Arts Melbourne; John Allsopp from Web Directions; Juha van 't Zelfde, developer, artist and educator at Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam; ACMI Chief Experience Officer Seb Chan, and Fiona Trigg, ACMI Senior Curator. The panel was co-chaired by Simon Mordant AM and ACMI Director and CEO Katrina Sedgwick. Arnot was awarded the commission following a competitive selection process that included shortlisted artists Danielle Freakley and Stanislava Pinchuk.  

“This commission seeks to offer visual artists with an established practice in other media the chance to harness the creative potential of VR. Arnot powerfully persuaded the judging panel that his artwork, developed in collaboration with a leading plant scientist, would provide new ways of interacting with and understanding the plant world using the immersive technology of VR” said ACMI Director and CEO Katrina Sedgwick.  

“Tully Arnot was one of three shortlisted submissions, each of which was extraordinary. Tully stood out as an established visual artist with an excellent exhibition history locally and internationally and he had carefully considered how VR could enhance his artistic practice. Catriona and I are excited to see how he uses virtual reality to provide a rarely seen vantage into the world of plants” said Simon Mordant AM.

In addition to financial support, Arnot will receive expert advice and support from ACMI in the development phase, as well as a work space in ACMI’s vibrant Southbank co-working studio for the screen industries, ACMI X. Arnot will premiere his VR work at the newly redeveloped ACMI when it opens in mid 2020 and an edition will be accessioned into ACMI’s collection.  

The previous Mordant Family VR Commissions were awarded in 2017 to Dr Christian Thompson for Bayi Gardiya (Singing Desert), and in 2018 to Joan Ross, who received the commission for her work Did you ask the river? 

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