We're thrilled to announce the 2019 recipient of the $80,000 Mordant Family VR Commission is Tully Arnot, for his proposed work Epiphytes (working title).
The work will be developed in consultation with plant scientist Professor Monica Gagliano, a pioneering researcher of plant sentience and communication. The Mordant Family VR Commission will enable Arnot to develop his first virtual reality project, speculating on forms of human-plant communication.
With a background in kinetic sculpture and installation, Tully Arnot's work has increasingly incorporated video, documentary, performance and experimental media as a means for understanding how technology mediates our relationship with the natural world. Arnot's work addresses the role of automation and simulation, often looking at robotic and less-sentient substitutes for humans and human interactions. Many of Arnot's projects investigate innovations in plant robotics, as well as emergent research into plant communication and consciousness.
Epiphytes will offer users a unique opportunity to explore the ways in which plants move and communicate through sound, sight and touch.
About the commission
A partnership between Catriona Mordant AM and Simon Mordant AM, ACMI and the City of Melbourne.
In 2017, ACMI joined forces with Australian collectors and philanthropists Catriona and Simon Mordant AM and the City of Melbourne to launch The Mordant Family Commission, Australia’s first VR and mixed reality commissioning program.
Open to mid-career and established visual artists, the Mordant Family VR Commission supports gallery-based practitioners to move into VR, encouraging experimentation and enabling the creation of ambitious artworks that push the limits of technology to engage audiences in new ways.
Awarded annually, the Mordant Family VR Commission provides an Australian artist or collective $80,000 to support the development and creation of a new VR artwork. The recipient will be selected by a panel of national and international industry experts, co-chaired by Simon Mordant AM and ACMI CEO and Director Katrina Sedgwick.
The recipient of the second $80,000 Mordant Family VR Commission is Joan Ross, for her proposed work Did you ask the river?, an immersive exploration of Ross’ vibrant landscapes of colonial Australia.
Working across video, animation, print, sculpture and installation, Joan Ross’ bold and experimental practice investigates the legacy of colonialism in Australia. Did you ask the river? transposes Ross' Australia to VR, reimagining her intricate 2D animations as immersive worlds in the form of a first-person videogame.
Did you ask the river? places participants in the shoes of an 18th Century colonial woman. Thrust into a jarring rendition of colonial Australia, participants are then allowed free reign to explore and occupy Ross’ dynamic and unsettling contested landscapes.
The inaugural Mordant Family VR Commission recipient was Dr Christian Thompson, one of Australia’s leading visual artists.
Thompsons’ proposed work Bayi Gardiya (Singing Desert) is a bold, ambitious and new virtual reality work. In it he invites audiences to walk through the landscape of his childhood, where they will witness a simple yet profound aesthetic gesture of the artist singing in his traditional Bidjara language, a language that has been recognised as extinct.
Learn more about his previous work here.