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Exhibition: Ocean Imaginaries
RMIT Gallery – May 05 2017 – July 01 2017
RMIT Exhibition page
Melbourne, Australia

From the Ocean Imaginaries catalogue:

Images suggesting human connections with the ocean across deep, evolutionary time are more oblique, yet no less compelling in Passage (2016), a work by the English artist Emma Critchley in collaboration with US sound artist, John Roach. Filmed in a mysterious underwater passage, a video projection shows an underwater world where light becomes subtly diffused as it fi lters down from the surface. Placed before this projected image, a glass tank of water containing sedimentary chalk is connected to a hydrophone which records the soft, creaking sound of the chalk dissolving, so that the submerged sonic process is amplifi ed and extended towards the viewer. Like marble and limestone, chalk (calcium carbonate) is formed by the slow accretion of layer upon layer of exoskeletons of microscopic marine plankton deposited on the sea fl oor. Over millions of years, geological processes produce sedimentary stone or chalk, which is why so many human artefacts and buildings owe their origins to the ocean. In this installation, the process of sedimentation is turned upside-down as chalk dissolves in water, yet in the underwater image that complements the sound, the two small cliffs of the underwater passage rise towards the surface as the material indices of the accretion of sediment over time. This allusion to geological s processes across the aeons forms a stark contrast with urban concepts of time caught up in the expediencies of everyday life and short-term electoral cycles. Through these visual and sonic tensions, Critchley and Roach convey an unexpectedly poetic rendering of the long, slow processes of natural history.

Linda Williams
Global Oceans and the Urban Imaginary

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