Joyce Hinterding - Undertow
  Year :   1999
  Location :   Australia
  Worktype :   Installation
  Materials:   Four channel DVD projection. Dolby 5:1 s
  Info :   Australian Centre for the Moving Image in the exhibition remembrance + the moving image. Curated by Ross Gibson.

  Work Details  
  In contemporary English usage, the word occult has a few different meanings. In its most literal, technical sense, it refers to anything that is occluded, covered up or kept out of clear sight. Itís more sinister meaning suggests phenomena from the malevolent reaches of the spirit world. Over the past decade or more, David Haines and Joyce Hinterding have been deliberately and quite joyously embracing all the wordís connotations. in their paradoxically brooding and buoyant installations, they have liberated many occult images, sounds, ideas and emotions. Haines, for example, has an enduring fascination with the history of the horror movie, while he is also a specialist in the more arcane end of audio research and music production, and scientific uses of the moving image. Hinterding has become an expert in very low frequency sound signals, magnetic and audio≠visual manifestations of the wild electrical energy that surges through the earth and its atmosphere. In the early 1990s Hinterding began to conduct field experiments that were also artworks. She become well known in Australia for her downright spooky installations that hissed, sparked and boomed in direct response to the electromagnetic energy that viewers carried in their own bodies. Hinterding showed how the world is a live entity that is always responding to peopleís presence and actions. The fact that these responses were occult or hard to discern in normal circumstances made them no less real and all the more fascinating. Since Haines and Hinterding began working collaboratively in the late 1990s, they nave crested striking installations, drawing on their shared interest in recurrent residues and in latent energies upwelling, exploding or enlivening. For example, their two major works preceding the completion of Undertow 1999 were The Levitation Grounds (1999) and The Blinds and the Shutters (2001). These works presented ominous yet thrilling scenarios where some unspecified prior events have caused the tows of physics to mutate slightly, allowing occult tendencies to gain precedence. Trees floated in strangely colored atmospheres; a house launched all of its furnishings into deep-space orbit. Partly mad experiments and partly beatific visions, these works offered a warning premonition and a goad; at their own, thrilling peril viewers can ignore the laws the physical world offers them. Seth works showed the exultation and the possible price associated with transgressing the limits that seem to hold a stable physical universe together. Now with Undertow 1999, Haines and Hinterding have teamed up with sound artist Scott Horscroft to produce a visceral fable about sudden, violently upwelling energies that have been previously repressed, half-remembered or semi-conscious. Horscroft brings to the project expertise in the sonic patterns of air turbulence and the special ambience that characterizes every particular space Like a sonic fingerprint, Commissioned by the Federation Square Public Arts Program (with financial assistance from ACMI, the artists were asked to create a work that specifically responded to the labyrinth (the built-in passive air-conditioning system) underneath Federation Square. During their research they discovered two alluring facts: first the site is alive with a benign, surging field of magnetic energy that is generated by the train system and by a range of other technologies below the deck of the Square, and second there is an enormous labyrinthine air-cooling chamber just below the surface of the sloping plaza that leads into ACMI. These discoveries set the artists thinking. They realized that much of what happens above ground in cities is influenced by technically occult systems below ground; the electricity that enlivens all human spaces, the telecommunications technology and the air ducts. Perhaps they could propose some obscured but highly productive force surging beneath the surface of Federation Square. What if the technology that is meant to serve the Square had some kind of unconscious, some repressed but highly active psychic energy? What if this force could be summed up as the memory plus the desire plus the vengeance of all the machines, cables and switches that have ever been deployed on the site? What if this storm of surging forces were like the uncon≠scious of the site, and what if that unconscious were housed in the air-cooling labyrinth? Surely all that energy would want to burst out of the Labyrinth and make itself manifest somehow, somewhere. In Undertow 1999, Haines, Hinterding and Horscroft have released such demons. They come from the environment, but they call to the viewers own occulted energies, the ones Lodged in their minds and bodies. Inside the whirligig of noise and kinetic imagery visitors feel how their stored-up memories, anxieties and desires can sometimes erupt and take over their nervous system. They realize that the ability to remember is not only a demure cognitive process - in Undertow 1999 they feet remembrance more than they know it. In this installation visitors feel how memories can sear them like an explosion or a surge of electricity, and they sense how remembrance can lodge or flare anywhere in their body, not just in their mind. Ross Gibson (Accessed 14.10.06 from