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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List of art galleries in South Australia

This list of art galleries which publicly exhibit works in South Australia has been compiled to benefit artists and art lovers in their pursuit of their passion. It was first compiled in August 2017, and contains a mixed bag of commercial, institutional, regional and artist-run art galleries. The list is not exhaustive, and contributions of galleries not yet listed are invited via Facebook comments. This list will be updated periodically.

Last updated: 9 August 2017

Gallery Town/City Address Phone
ACE OPEN Adelaide Lion Arts Centre, North Tce (08) 8211 7505
Adelaide Central Gallery Adelaide 7 Mulberry Road, Glenside (08) 8299 7300
Art Gallery of South Australia Adelaide North Terrace (08) 8207 7000
ArtImages Gallery Adelaide 32 The Parade, Norwood (08) 8363 0806
Artspace Gallery Adelaide Adelaide Festival Centre, Festival Drive, Adelaide
BMG Art Adelaide 444 South Road, Marleston (08) 8297 2440
Brick+Mortar Creative Adelaide 49 George St, Norwood 0452 140 849
FELTspace Adelaide 12 Compton Street
Flinders University City Gallery Adelaide State Library of South Australia, North Terrace (08) 8201 2695
Gallery 1855 Adelaide 2 Haines Road, Tea Tree Gully (08) 8397 7444
Gallery M Adelaide 287 Diagonal Road, Oaklands Park (08) 8377 2904
Glenelg Art & Gift Gallery Adelaide Ground Floor, Stamford Grand Hotel, Moseley Square, Glenelg 0410 481 237
Greenaway Art Gallery Adelaide 39 Rundle Street, Kent Town (08) 8362 6354
Henley & Grange Art Society Adelaide Atkin Street, Henley Beach (08) 8353 3710
Hill Smith Gallery Adelaide 113 Pirie Street (08) 8223 6558
Hughes Gallery Adelaide Fullarton Park Community Centre, 411 Fullarton Road, Fullarton (08) 8372 5180
Hugo Michell Gallery Adelaide 260 Portrush Road, Beulah Park (08) 8331 8000
Jam Factory Adelaide 19 Morphett Street (08) 8410 0727
Pepper Street Arts Centre Adelaide 558 Magill Rd, Magill (08) 8364 6154
Prospect Gallery Adelaide 1 Thomas St, Nailsworth (08) 8342 8175
Royal South Australian Society of Arts Adelaide Cnr North Terrace & Kintore Avenue, Adelaide (08) 8232 0450
South Australian School of Art (SASA) Gallery Adelaide K3-27 Kaurna Building, City West Campus, University of South Australia, North Tce (08) 8302 6611
Tandanya Adelaide 253 Grenfell Street (08) 8224 3211
Urban Cow Studio Adelaide Shop 6, 10 Vaughan Place
Blue Crab Studio Ardrossan 16 North Terrace, Ardrossan
Balaklava Courthouse Gallery Balaklava 6 Edith Tce, Balaklava (08) 8862 1688
Jam Factory at Seppeltsfield Barossa Valley 730 Seppeltsfield Road, Seppeltsfield, Barossa Valley
Walkway Gallery Bordertown 43 Woolshed Street, Bordertown (08) 8752 1044
Burra Regional Art Gallery Burra 5-6 Market Street, Burra (08) 8892 2411
Arts Ceduna Ceduna 2 Eyre Highway, Ceduna (08) 8625 2487
Artworx Gallery Goolwa 12 Hays St, Goolwa (08) 8555 0949
Signal Point Gallery Goolwa The Wharf, Goolwa (08) 8555 7289
South Coast Regional Art Centre Goolwa 1 Goolwa Terrace, Goolwa (08) 8555 7000
Hahndorf Academy Hahndorf 68 Main Street, Hahndorf (08) 8388 7250
Belalie Art Gallery Jamestown 6 Irvine Street, Jamestown (08) 8664 0455
Kapunda Community Gallery Kapunda 67-69 Main Street, Kapunda
Millicent Art Gallery Millicent Civic Centre, Ridge Terrace, Millicent (08) 8733 0903
Moonta Gallery of the Arts Moonta Moonta Town hall, George Street, Moonta (08) 8825 1378
Mount Dutton Bay Woolshed Mount Dutton Bay 1 Woolshed Drive, Mount Dutton Bay (08) 8685 4031
Riddoch Art Gallery Mount Gambier 1 Bay Rd, Mt Gambier (08) 8723 9566
Murray Bridge Regional Gallery Murray Bridge 27 Sixth Street, Murray Bridge (08) 8539 1420
Naracoorte Regional Art Gallery Naracoorte 91 Ormerod Street, Naracoorte (08) 8762 3390
Gallery Yampu Port Adelaide 1 Jenkins St, Birkenhead
Yarta Purtli Port Augusta Cultural Centre Gallery Port Augusta 6 Beauchamp Lane, Port Augusta (08) 8641 9176
Palate 2 palette Port Broughton 6 Bay St, Port Broughton (08) 8635 2553
Nautilus Arts Centre Port Lincoln 66 Tasman Terrace, Port Lincoln (08) 8621 2351
The Arts Centre Port Noarlunga 22 Gawler Street, Port Noarlunga (08) 8326 5577
Port Pirie Regional Art Gallery Port Pirie 3 Mary Elie Street, Port Pirie (08) 8633 0681
McCormick Centre for the Environment Renmark Ral Ral Avenue, Renmark (08) 8586 4777
Roxbylink Art Gallery Roxby Downs 1-15 Richardson Place, Roxby Downs (08) 8671 0500
Coorong Art Gallery Tailem Bend 95-101 Railway Terrace, Tailem Bend 1300 785 277
Barossa Regional Gallery Tanunda 3 Basedow Rd, Tanunda (08) 8563 0849
Victor Harbor Regional Gallery Victor Harbor 7A Railway Terrace, Victor Harbor (08) 8552 1316
Off the Slate Gallery Willunga 36 High Street, Willunga (08) 8556 2363
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Art: Adelaide artists get a raw deal when producing Rundle Lantern animations

When the Rundle Lantern was first illuminated back in 2008, my mind boggled at the creative possibility of producing pixel art works for public display on a giant scale. The innovative screen design, a 34 x 21 panel matrix of illuminated metal panels, wraps around the facade of a multi-storey car park at one of Adelaide’s most renown intersections, where it teases and titillates pedestrians with its silent lo-res animations and video each night. Making effective content for such a screen is no mean feat and requires a balance of technical competency, design, timing and conceptual creativity. It is also time consuming (especially for dedicated pixel animators like ourselves). Regardless of these barriers to entry, the initiatives we’ve been involved with to create new artistic content for the Lantern have gone unpaid and largely uncredited. The following is an account of our experiences producing lantern content for display during two major cultural festivals in South Australia.

Photo by Kentaro W, courtesy of flickr.com

During Adelaide Fringe back in 2009, Emma Sterling and I were part of the first group of artists offered the opportunity to create and display works made specifically for the lantern. No money was to grace the artists palms- the initiative instead offered artists a waiver of the ‘load-up fee’ the Adelaide City Council and contractor Fusion had worked into the screen’s initial operating business model. Seizing the opportunity, we each produced a new work, and took careful note of the council & Adelaide Fringe’s production guidelines. In order to protect the screen’s integrity as a ‘cultural canvas’, the artists were not permitted to display logos within their work.

As experienced practising artists familiar with the concept of ‘droit morale’ or the ‘moral rights of the artist’ we asked about accreditation for our unpaid productions. We were informed that there would be no accreditation offered to the artists at the site of any kind, despite the works being programmed to loop for the duration of the Adelaide Fringe Festival (which runs for over three weeks). Instead we were offered a credit buried in the bowels of the Adelaide City Council’s website. Again, there was no signage indicating the existence of this website at the Lantern site, which in our opinion rendered the gesture tokenistic and almost entirely pointless.

In light of this oversight on the initiative’s organisational part, as artists we decided to exercise our ‘droit morale’ and add our names as closing credits to our work. The notion of the Moral Rights of the Artist protects the artists right to claim authorship of the work wherever it is displayed (attribution), and with it the right to preserve the integrity of the finished art work (ie, no unauthorised modifications to the work are permitted). At the launch night to our shock and horror our rights had been flaunted on both accounts. The Lantern’s content committee (whose persons remain unknown to us) had edited our work and removed our credits without our permission. While this issue of ‘droit morale’ may cause councillors eyes to glaze over, our right as artists to sign our own works is fundamental, and has been protected by Australian law under the Copyright Act. You can learn more about Moral Rights for artists in Australia at the website of the Attorney General’s Department.

Learn more about the Moral Rights of artists in Australia

This year, we were offered an opportunity (again without payment) to produce work for the Rundle Lantern. An initiative of the South Australian Living Artists Festival (an event we have been involved with since 2006) the financial model was slightly improved for at least one member of the local artist community. The Helpmann Academy offered a paid commission to one artist recently graduated from a Helpmann Academy school. The commision offered a $2000 fee to produce a new work and lead a workshop of participants in the generation of a wave of (again unpaid) new content from other local artists.

Once again the artists’ ‘droit moral’ has been flaunted by the lantern’s custodians with credits again barred from the exhibited works. To date there is no evidence of physical signage accrediting the artists as producers of the work, despite this being promised weeks in advance. It is now the 16th of August, and the works have been showing without credit to the artists since July 31st. From the public perspective, passers by will have no idea that light displays on the lantern have been created by local artists at all, and stand no chance of being able to identify any of the creative residents responsible. SALA festival concludes on August 22nd.

Despite ours and others’ ongoing grievances with the Lantern and the business model which cuts artists out of the financial equation and defies their inaliable right to be attributed as the authors of their own work, things may be changing for the better. At the SALA Awards, a new prize was offered: the Adelaide City Council Encouragement Award. One of the richest prizes on offer, it presented one Adelaide artist with a $2000 commission to produce a new work specifically for the Lantern.

When a piece of public infrastructure like the Rundle Lantern is constructed and a business model created around it, why should the content creator get the raw deal? Why is it that the contractors should command a ‘load-up fee’ for each video posted and annual maintenance fees while the best artists can hope for is an uncredited display and a free load-up? If the power of this structure as a cultural canvas is to be realised, the Adelaide City Council should look at genuine, sustainable incentives to generate content, not convenient cost-saving measures which benefit the council, break Federal Australian law and stiff the artists in the process.

Dan Monceaux

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