Underwater video art featuring South Australian marine life

Being a documentary filmmaker and public interest researcher is hard, slow and often thankless work. Investigations take time and energy, the process can be intellectually taxing and any rewards may take many years to crystallise. Fortunately, I’ve kept one foot in the camp of the practising artist, and this year I’ve focussed on producing and sharing new nature-based video works.

During 2017, I’ve made seven new works featuring South Australian marine life for exhibition in public art galleries and at special events. This blog post gives an overview of these works. All but one were shot this year.

Collectively, they are intended to present some of nature’s less familiar wonders to the wider public and make the underwater world accessible outside of the tiny community of snorkelers and divers that explore SA’s temperate waters.

The images below are all screenshots from the complete video works, each of which run for between 2 and 15 minutes. They can be presented in a “play once” manner or as looping installations.

Port Jackson Sharks

Port Jackson Sharks - Dan Monceaux (2017)
Port Jackson Sharks – Dan Monceaux (2017)

This video captures a previously undocumented aggregation of Port Jackson sharks on rocky reef north of the Port Noarlunga jetty. It runs for approximately 2 minutes and 15 seconds and premiered at the Friends of Gulf St Vincent’s event: “The wonderful world of sharks and rays… and why they need our help” on November 19, 2017.

Southern Fiddler Rays

Banjo Sharks - Dan Monceaux (2017)
Banjo Sharks – Dan Monceaux (2017)

This video captured the casual grace of Southern fiddler rays, cruising and resting near the jetty at Port Broughton, South Australia. It premiered at the Port Pirie Regional Art Gallery, where it was projected in a dedicated video theatrette.

Giant Australian Cuttlefish

Giant Australian cuttlefish - Dan Monceaux (2017)
Giant Australian cuttlefish – Dan Monceaux (2017)

This video was recorded during the annual giant Australian cuttlefish aggregation back in the winter of 2009. It is a one-shot film that show interactions between cuttlefish as males compete for the attention of a female, hidden beneath a ledge on the rocky reef between Whyalla and Point Lowly. The video runs for approximately 5 minutes.

Anemone Bloom

Anemone Bloom - Dan Monceaux (2017)
Anemone Bloom – Dan Monceaux (2017)

Anemone bloom captures the bizarre phenomenon of biofluorescence. This occurs in some living organisms, when they are subjected to blue-ultraviolet light. The resulting colours can be very intense, as the contrast between the anemones and the algae beside them shows. It was shown at Gallery 1855 in Tea Tree Gully as part of the group exhibition “Bloom”.

The Anemone’s Garden

This experiment in blue-ultraviolet light and biofluoresce peers into a tiny crack between two rocks underwater in the Port River estuary, at Garden Island, South Australia. Anemones are a constant, but cameo appearances feature two crustaceans and several sea slugs. It was shown during the exhibition Neon Revival at Gallery Yampu in August 2017.

The Mangrove Jellyfish

The Mangrove Jellyfish is a simple study of Cassiopea ndrosia, the Mangrove Jellyfish. It occasionally blooms in the Port River, and this piece shows a larger speimen, pulsing on the mucky seabed in its feeding position. It was shown at Gallery Yampu during the Adelaide Fringe in March 2017.

Sea Anemone

This simple one-shot film shows a sea anemone feeding. It was filmed near the Garden Island fishing jetty and was shown at Gallery Yampu during Adelaide Fringe in March 2017.

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Movies: List of independent cinemas in regional South Australia

As a producer and director of independent films, I know full-well that finding an audience for your work is just as important as making a film in the first place. Whilst working on the feature length documentary film Cuttlefish Country, I began to compile a list of independent cinemas around regional South Australia for the purposes of touring the film to relevant local audiences. I was pleasantly surprised to find the full gamut of cinemas peppered around my state, ranging from grand old art-deco cinemas built in the 1930’s (like the Victa Cinemas) to the outback drive-in at Coober Pedy and pop-up cinemas like Cinemallunga (with special event screenings only) and the Moonta Cinema (which operates during school-holidays). This is not yet an exhaustive list of cinemas in regional SA, though we hope to make it so with your help. If you can provide us with additional venue information, please leave a comment below, or send me an email. These cinemas all play mainstream movie releases and can host special events and screenings by arrangement.

Blyth Cinema, Clare Valley
Blyth Cinema, Clare Valley

Independent Cinemas in regional South Australia

Clare Valley Blyth Cinema 112 seats (08) 8844 5175
Coober Pedy Coober Pedy Drive-In walk-up seating also 1800 637 076
Gawler Gawler Cinema ? (08) 8523 1633
Moonta Statewide Cinema 88 seats 0458 106 646
Mount Gambier Oatmill Cinema ? (08) 8724 9150
Murray Bridge Cameo Cinema 252 seats (08) 8531 0222
Port Augusta Cinema Augusta ? (08) 8648 9999
Port Lincoln Youthoria Cinema ? (08) 8683 1199
Robe South Coast Cinemas 94 & 49 seats (08) 8735 8455
Roxby Downs Outback Cinema 60 seats (08) 8671 0500
Victor Harbor Victa Cinemas 286 seats & 297 seats (08) 8552 1325
Whyalla Whyalla Cinema 2 cinemas (08) 8644 7300
Willunga Cinemallunga 120 seats ?
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Fundraising: Buy a LEGO costume or product to help us fundraise for a feature documentary

Fundraising with a Lego twist

Back in August of 2011, Emma Sterling and I commenced work on our first documentary feature film project, entitled Cuttlefish Country. Funded initially by our inner circle of family and friends via generous gift donations at our wedding, we carefully considered extra measures to support us through what has became an unexpectedly long production period. Danimations is rarely known to do things conventionally, and we ultimately decided to combine our fundraising objectives with the development of a range of fun products. The rationale was simple: raise money, awareness and smiles all with some clever merchandising ideas, and a few web 2.0 tools.

 

13 Lego Blue Space Shirt Lego Black Space Shirt Lego Red Space Shirt

After producing some project-specific designs and products, a spin-off line of products was created, inspired by our reignited passion for LEGO bricks and building. One of the production techniques we decided upon for our film as the story unfolded was to build and animate replicas of real-world places, vehicles and scenarios from Cuttlefish Country out of LEGO. This in turn inspired a range of t-shirts, apparel, badges, hats and other items derived from and inspired by vintage Lego worlds and figures.

Choosing the fundraising platform

Early in the project’s life, we had decided to crowd-source additional funds for the film, via  a listing on the website Kickstarter. To register with Kickstarter, you must offer donors to your project a teared set of incentives, thankyou gifts in effect, to encourage cash pledges towards your project. This decision was ultimately postponed due to a lack of time and staff in our tiny crew, so instead we took a different tack. Having had prior experience with making custom products on Zazzle and RedBubble, we decided to create some LEGO themed products which could act as fun gifts as well as raise some money for our ongoing production. We even threw a LEGO party, and encouraged friends to bring bricks along to help us build our animated sets or buy some of our products to wear for the occasion.

01 lego divers dolphin hat Lego Divers Dolphin Shirt Lego Divers Dolphin Sticker
 

Design, Customise & Deliver

Our LEGO designs began with the dolphin logo which originally appeared on vintage Lego divers back in the 1990’s. Next came designs from townsfolk’s minifig shirts and eventually some classics were released from vintage space and knights lines. You will find them all available for purchase below. If you haven’t shopped at Zazzle or Redbubble before, you’ll be impressed by the way you, the customer, are able to further customise these products. You can easily change the garment style and colour, or in the case of Zazzle, even add your own creative flair by adding extra text or images to the design and modifying the layout. From the maker’s perspective, these web 2.0 tools are excellent, as the service provider handles production and delivery, and simply returns a royalty back to you as the creator of the artwork. Establishing stores on these sites is free of charge, and royalties on purchases are set manually by you, the store owner.

 

   

   

I hope you enjoy our little selection of Lego ispired costumes, shirts and products here. If you do purchase one of our items, we’d love to see a picture of you putting it to use when it arrives. We will be hosting a gallery of our friends and fans over at our Cuttlefish Country website in the future.

  

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