(working title - forthcoming 2020)
2-channel 4K video, 5.1 audio, 29 minutes
Exhibition space approx 10m x 9m, variable
2 x 4K (3840 × 2160) video projectors
2 x 4 metre wide projection screens
5.1 audio system
The Deep Present is a spectacular immersive video and sound installation that transports us into remote arid zones of Australia from ancient lakes of the Northern Territory to Nitmiluk Katherine Gorge and Girraween Lagoon.
Sonia Leber and David Chesworth are currently completing the first CABAH Art Series Commission, built up around the fieldwork of Dr Tim Cohen, Dr Cassandra Rowe and Dr Michael Bird, and participants from the Mudburra, Jingili, Jawoyn and Larrakia communities.
Commissioned by ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH).
The Deep Present takes us on an imaginative journey, exploring the labour of scientists and traditional owners as they dig and delve the past, reading the signs and signals in the landscape, over concepts of deep time. In these arid zones, the rate of erosion is so progressed and so slow, that the landforms appear as they would have some 130,000 years ago.
From fieldwork in the expansive desert environment, to microscopic labwork, the scientists seek evidence of earth's processes over long-term cycles of wet and dry. Climate evidence is extracted from the earth, captured in tubular cores where the banded sediments can be read almost like a 'score' that can be interpreted as periods of wet and dry.
Throughout The Deep Present, the artists deploy video as a tool, scanning the surface of the earth, observing and reading signs and markings in rocks and landscapes, and taking into account erosions, tree lines and the effects of the sun and water. We follow the path of a dusty riverbed over many kilometres, revealing unceasing aridity. We experience vegetation through the jerking head movements of a falcon.
Many of Earth's forces – wind, temperature, long-term aridification, tectonic movement – are invisible to the human eye or lie beyond human timescales. However, The Deep Present reveals some of these forces, sonically mobilised, as they converge and interact with each other. The 'frozen time' bandings in the sediment cores are reactivated through both movement and sound.
'Time is perhaps the hardest experiential realm for humans to comprehend, particularly long-term cycles of thousands and millions of years.
'Our artwork can be thought of as testing the hypothesis that the earth is experienced and understood though different ontologies. These can be ontologies that align with art, science, different cultures, or somewhere in between.
'Our method is to create special kinds of experiences that are occasionally quite performative and speculative, through images and sounds collected in the field and in the research laboratory.
'We are developing ways for different investigative pathways to coexist, converge and resonate with each other in surprising ways. These ideas will be developed over further over the final stages of the project.'
- Sonia Leber & David Chesworth