Matthew Bird: Parallaxis

Matthew Bird: Parallaxis

The human desire to understand our earthly position has held enduring fascination. Across time we have mapped, surveyed and measured as a way of knowing.

Parallaxis plays upon these desires, considering the potential for architectural processes and measurements to act as a foundation for structures of understanding.

In the multichannel moving image, we witness two bodies moving across a landscape. They work with cylindrical instruments, appearing to gather data from the terrain, each revolution marking a paradoxical attempt to pin a position through perpetual movement.

Filmed in the surrounds of the small Victorian town of Warracknabeal, on the wheatbelt between Adelaide and Melbourne, Parallaxis draws on the architecture and landscape of the northern Wimmera and southern Mallee as a means by which to explore the ways we navigate, hold and alter space.

Parallaxis is a Samstag Museum of Art project by Melbourne-based artist, architect, and academic Monash University Senior Lecturer Matthew Bird in collaboration with University of South Australia Master of Architecture students, led by Senior Lecturer Rachel Hurst, in response to the 2020 Adelaide//International in association with the 2020 Adelaide Festival.

The Samstag Museum of Art’s 2020 Adelaide//International ‘Architecture as a Choreographer of Experience’ includes five discrete exhibitions and events that form an important part of the visual art component of the Adelaide Festival will look to the ways in which built forms can make us aware of the social, spatial and temporal present

Artist statement

In orbit from an uncertain future, two augmented humans investigate their possible archaic genealogy in a Wimmera past. Arriving temporarily and somewhat unexpectedly in the now, the inquisitive duo put their surveillance face-halos to work: observing, recording, archiving ephemeral moments and navigational discoveries as they speed through the landscape. Their biomechanically engineered apparatus are cross-fed into the telemetry of the full-body gyrocompass each visitor operates. Systems in systems, wheels within wheels, spin-axis atop spin-axis, each revolution another attempt to locate and momentarily fix a collective bearing in space and time. Only when the true centre is found, can all other bodies be understood in relation to it.

The film follows a choreographed survey of the region: the pair roll on as twin trajectories covering the earth, with face-halos extending the perceptual range of each visitor within. Inspiralling sequences detect, measure and map an intergenerational existence: connecting the now, before and future of this ecosystem with the celestial beyond. Body, machine and media carve through the red dirt – gimbals spin and swerve through the farmed grain. They are in the middle of nowhere and no time, but this place is full of memory and materials. A kaleidoscope of hidden cycles are revealed. Environmental vicissitudes. War. Massacre. Treaty. Economic speculation. Cultural decline. Boom. Bust. Kim Kardashian. Settlement, migration, exclusion, withdrawal. Hope. Decay. Birth. Death. Afterlife.