2. Buxton Contemporary Big Screen 2018

Fender Katsalidis Architects Buxton Big Screen, digital screen, 2018. Featuring: Kate Mitchell In Time, high definition digital video, colour, 16:9, silent, 24 hours,2015. Photograph: James Geer.

Key Themes: Non-traditional Digital Public Artwork

Inquiry Questions:

  1. Is this the type of artwork that you are used to finding in public space? What are other public artworks that you remember seeing before?
  2. Which is the artwork: the screen, or the imagery showing on the screen?
  3. Think of another traditional public artwork you have seen, like a statue, how do screen-based public artworks compare? What can it show that a statue cannot?
  4. Analyse the Buxton Contemporary Screen – which Art Elements and Principles are present?

The Buxton Big Screen is located on the façade of the Buxton Contemporary Art Museum at the entrance. The screen is an uncommon form for public artwork in Melbourne, a city where statuary is the most common. Usually, when we view public artworks, we experience a physical artwork. However, in this case, although the screen is the physical presence, it is the intangible images it shows that are the artworks.

The screen is made up of thousands of light emitting diodes (LEDs) that change colour in coordination to show a unified image – just like the pixels of a computer or television screen. The screen itself doesn’t change, however the content it can show is unlimited. The artworks exist as immaterial digital files on a hard drive played from inside the gallery, so changing-over the artwork on show is quick and easy. This is a contrast to art forms like sculpture, where the form or image portrayed is static and cannot change at all.

Public art is most often found outdoors, and environmental conditions like wind, rain and sun mean that artworks need to be durable, and so materials like bronze, steel, stone or marble are common. These materials are low-maintenance. One reason that screen-based media is a less common public art form is that it is comparatively high-maintenance – its technology is delicate, vulnerable to vandalism, and expensive to repair. It also requires power source, and therefore money, to keep running.

Laressa Kosloff Spirit & Muscle, still from digital video, 04:39 mins, 2006. Courtesy the artist and Sutton Gallery. Displayed on the Buxton Big Screen, March 9 – 24 June 24, 2018.

Key vocabulary:

Immaterial: Not consisting of physical matter.

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