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Heavy themes get light treatment

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14 March 2012

Horizon, part of XYZ:NYC
Event Horizon - Near, part of XYZ:NYC

An exhibition that streamed light from Monash University to New York City via the internet has attracted the attention of people all over the Big Apple.

XYZ:NYC was a joint exhibition between painting studio coordinator in the Department of Fine Arts at Monash University, Leslie Eastman, and his artistic partner since 2004, Natasha Johns-Messenger.

For XYZ:NYC the pair challenged the perception of visitors through a three-part series of optical site installations designed to allow them to experience and interpret alternate points of view.

Mr Eastman said the show explored long-term themes of his work including perception, pictorial space and the expanded field of painting.

XYZ:NYC looked at the issues of experiential installation, time and activated spectatorship,” Mr Eastman said.

“The work included major site specific interventions, discreet installations, light spaces and the internet streaming of light from Monash University to New York.”

The first work of the exhibition, Pointform, transformed views of the busy stretch of Sixth Avenue outside of the exhibition utilising room sized mirrored screens. Viewers were directed via a series of hallways to the second phase of the exhibition, a Camera Obscura device, developed with assistance of the School of Physics at Monash University.

The third work, Synoptic 3, was an interactive installation in which pairs of people were invited to wear video headsets created to display the point of view of the viewer’s partner and vice-versa.

“We conducted a nightly performance that involved the audience using the Synoptic 3 headsets which manipulated their and their partner’s view of the space,” Mr Eastman said.

“We had several panel discussions, one with Randy Cohen from the New York Times and Emily Balsetis, an Associate Professor of Psychology from New York University on the Ethics of Perception.”

The exhibition was supported by the Australia Council and the Faculty of Art Design & Architecture and was run in conjunction with No Longer Empty, a New York based art organisation that revitalises urban spaces through temporary site specific exhibitions.

The Department of Fine Arts is part of the Faculty of Art Design & Architecture at Monash University.