Feast of science and the senses at world first art show

Liz HobdayAAP
Works of Nature uses video technology to inspire a sense of awe about natural phenomenon. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconWorks of Nature uses video technology to inspire a sense of awe about natural phenomenon. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

What would it be like to dance on the edge of a nebula, and descend into a black hole?

Stephen Hawking said it would end in spaghettification, but at the Marshmallow Laser Feast show opening at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, it could just end in more dancing.

The world-premiere exhibition, titled Works of Nature, aims to use video technology on a grand scale to inspire a sense of awe about natural phenomena people may never see for themselves.

Works of Nature features five large scale digital artworks, with Evolver, for example, making the act of breathing into a visual journey connected to the entire cosmos.

If that’s not enough, it’s narrated by Cate Blanchett.

The artists also travelled to the Amazon to study massive trees and record their sounds, to develop immersive videos showing how water travels through their root system.

Marshmallow Laser Feast hopes the show will spark a sense of awe about the unity of life, said one of the group’s directors, Ersin Han Ersin.

“You can feel your connectedness to the deep ends of the galaxy, and to the trees in the Amazon, even if you’ve never seen one,” he told AAP.

Another installation explains the science of black holes, with a massive screen displaying an 11 minute interactive video, showing the journey from a nebula to the event horizon of a black hole.

It’s the first major exhibition in Australia for the British art group, which has exhibited around the world.

While the digital art experience hopes to awaken an appreciation of the natural world, it’s no substitute for nature itself, said Ersin, who recommends visiting Melbourne’s significant and sacred trees.

“Our aim is to create almost a muscle memory of what’s happening inside… to show what is not possible to see with human senses,” he said.

“When you go to a park next time, you will see those things and you will have a visual memory, that’s the main aim.”

The collective consults with scientists during its research for each artwork, and there’s extensive information explaining the science behind the pieces, and the technology used to make them.

Part of the show’s appeal is that Marshmallow Laser Feast can make complex scientific concepts accessible to a broad audience, according to ACMI curator Chelsey O’Brien.

“That’s certainly something that I found really exciting and refreshing about their work,” she said.

Marshmallow Laser Feast: Works of Nature is on at ACMI from Friday until April 14, 2024.

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