UNCONTAINABLE: Terra Virtualis

DATES: 14.09.2011 - 14.10.2011 UNCONTAINABLE: Terra Virtualis brings together several allusions: both the past and future of Australia in relation to the rest of the world, and the notion of exploration that the linguistic pun on Terra Australis implies; Australia’s perceived position as an international leader in virtual art.
Troy Innocent & Indae Hwang, neomaflux.
Anita Fontaine & Geoffrey Lillemon, Rainbow X Apocalypse.
Dr Andrew Burrell & Warren Armstrong, The Institute For Advanced Augmentiform Development and Release.
Aroha Groves, Meandering.
Troy Innocent
Anita Fontaine
Andrew Burrell
Warren Armstrong
Aroha Groves
Nuru Ziya Suites

UNCONTAINABLE: Terra Virtualis

Curated by The Australian Centre of Virtual Art (ACVA)

About ACVA

The Australian Centre of Virtual Art was established in 2007 to help promote the work of selected artists working in digital, hybrid and virtual mediums.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. 

Troy Innocent & Indae Hwang - noemaflux

noemaflux describes an act of shifting perception. In this work it is centered on an augmented reality that enables different ways of seeing the city. This experience is constructed via a network of relationships that connect AR markers, urban space, generative writing systems and abstract virtual spaces.

Players use mobile devices explore streets and laneways and find nine signs integrated into the urban environment. They act both as navigational signage in urban space and as gateways into the artificial world. The signs have dual meaning as both elements of an invented language (that of an artificial world) and a machine-readable language (as AR markers). Players discover worlds through these markers and being in these worlds triggers the growth of abstract writing systems. As they move about the city they carry digital seeds that pollinate each site with glyphs from the previous site creating a crossmedia ecology connecting people, urban spaces, signs and digital systems.

In noemaflux, familiar urban spaces are reinvented and inscribed with new meaning via a mixed reality. Firstly, established technologies of augmented reality such as AR markers are given a new aesthetic via their integration into sculpture, street signage and banners. Secondly, the city is reinvented through the creation of a new space in which streets and laneways overlap with abstract virtual worlds. Via these dual processes of interaction players become interconnected with the artificial world of the work and the urban landscape in which it is situated.

This project was originally developed as part of the Artist in Residence program at IAMAS in Ogaki, Japan in 2010.


Anita Fontaine & Geoffrey Lillemon - Rainbow X Apocalypse

According to popular esoteric and pseudo scientific theories, the ancient Mayan calendar, fundamentalists, and believers, 2012 may be the final year of human existence. Rainbow X Apocalypse is a series of videos and a video installation inspired by this doomsday prophesy.

With the threat of mother nature raging, recent tragedies in Japan, the looming eruption of Yellowstone and revolutions in third world countries – the once outrageous claim that the apocalypse is near is less science fiction, and more science fact. It’s a question of when... not how. Is escape into a digital reality the only way forward for the human conscience? Are we building a virtual escape around us through technology? In the face of this looming dystopia, what do we choose? Absolute death or virtual reality? Rainbow X Apocalypse challenges viewers to explore the possibility of metaverse, an afterlife for avatars, a continually shifting space for our souls to live on for eternity.

Rainbow X Apocalypse is a digital tapestry of mediums and style, weaving  together 3D and Videogame graphics, photography, film, sound, sculpture and fusing it – abusing contemporary culture’s literacy of highly hybridised media communication. Drawing from the barrage of seductive advertisements, images and perverse telesales of our everyday existence, Rainbow X Apocalypse extends these portents and offers viewers a digital utopia. The final “out” from this world going down in flames, a videogame-esque fantasy above and beyond virtual worlds as we know them.

Dr Andrew Burrell & Warren Armstrong - The Institute For Advanced Augmentiform Development and Release

Virtual and augmented realities that are dynamically linked through live interactions and data exchange. The project nurtures a unique eco system that exists in parallel to our own, but that ultimately depends upon the landscape and inhabitants of the physical world for its own survival.

Based upon a poetic and playful – yet ultimately conceptually enlightening – interpretation of Platonic cosmology the artists provide the raw material and initial conditions for Augmentiform life to come into existence within the multi user virtual environment. Viewers from our own physical environment are invited to interact with these raw materials and become a vector of selection in bringing together various forms within a crucible of life, where logic based upon the Augmentiforms own virtual existence comes into play.

A route out of the virtual into the in-between space of the augmented is then provided and again physical viewers are invited to follow and nurture the creatures they have helped bring to life, until they are strong enough to survive alone.

The creatures make their own way through the streets of Istanbul seeking out a site suited to their own individual qualities, and it is only then that they evolve to their ultimate life stage and will feed raw materials back to the virtual crucible of life.

Aroha Groves - Meandering

Meandering is just that. The user is taken, seemingly randomly, through the work, yet reminded there is a ‘grand design’. The work intends to ‘meander’ through varying ideas, emotions, environs, levels and forms of consciousness, and styles, to take the viewer on a journey of the soul. This journey hopes to plumb the depths, climb the heights of elation and take the viewer through many of the ‘places’ in between. The work is a commentary on most aspects of life as a blakfulla: the highs and the lows, the beauties and the ugliness’s. Meandering is about what happened, what is and what may be seen as an almost utopian hope for the future.
Meandering considers the future with a positive outcome. No modernist white cubes, no steam punk (where we are forced to revert to older unsustainable technologies), no post-apocalyptic ruins, no mechanical, robotic view of the future. Rather, it is one which still features the natural where we have preserved the beauties of natural things/environs around us. Or perhaps it is a future of memory, a recreation of what may have been lost, imagined and re-imagined.

Meandering can be accessed via the Second Life platform. 
Visit http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/ACVA/57/34/25

The Australian Journal of Virtual Art – Inaugural Issue

What is virtual art? Is there even such a thing? If so, what is it? How does it work? What are its implications for art more generally? How does it differ from non-virtual art? If not, why not? Is it even possible to pose such questions seriously, when virtuality has already thrown so many inherited verities into question? Committed to exploring such crucial questions, the Australian Centre of Virtual Art has established a new bi-annual, fully-refereed online journal. Entitled the Australian Journal of Virtual Art, each issue of the journal will feature an extended commissioned article by a world-recognised expert in the field. To encourage genuine critical debate, further responses to the article will be commissioned from well-known writers, to appear in the same issue. At any time, any member of the public will be able to add their own contribution to the debate. The future will be virtual – or it will not be!

Cinq minutes: Intimations of imminent virtuality

Keynote essay by Darren Tofts
Professor of Media and Communications

Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne



Lanfranco Aceti, ISEA2011 Istanbul Artistic Director and Özden Şahin, Program Director.

UNCONTAINABLE: Terra Virtualis is part of the Official Parallel Program of the 12th Istanbul Biennial.

Bios of the Artists

Troy Innocent

Dr Troy Innocent is an internationally recognised artist. He has exhibited extensively throughout Australia and internationally. Selected works include World Machine, Hugo Mitchell Gallery. Ludea, Tolamo Galleries, Iconica: Trans’forms, Tolamo Galleries. Artefact, Faculty Gallery, Monash University. Colony, LifeLab, Melbourne Docklands. Field of Play, Port 1010, Melbourne Docklands. Noemaflux, Ogaki Biennale, Gifu, Japan. Autograf, Beijing, China. Urban Codemakers, Laneway Commissions, Melbourne. Design After Nature, Guildford Lane, Melbourne.

Troy will present his work noemaflux, a locative media work blending AR (Augmented Reality) and AL (Artificial Life) in urban space. This work extends the boundaries of virtual art, involving as it does a mixed-reality experience that re-contextualises both the experience of the participant and the understanding of the site of exhibition. This is appropriate for virtual art and represents an innovative extension and examination of the nature of the intermingling of digital/virtual spaces and the material world.


Anita Fontaine

Anita Fontaine has exhibited works both locally and internationally. Selected works include Space Invaders, NIMK gallery, Amsterdam, NL. DreamWorlds, Sanlitun Village, Beijing, CH. Playful & Playable, Proyecto Amarika, Spain. My Lover the Server , Concrete, Amsterdam, NL. Space Invaders , FACT, Liverpool, UK. Fire in the sky , Donnegal Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, IR. CuteXdoom II, Maxalot Gallery, Amsterdam, NL.The Aesthetics of gaming, Pace Digital Gallery, New Nork, NY. Animated, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, AU. Maquillando Monstruos, Proyecto Tinoco y Palacios, Oaxaca, MX. Digitally yours, Ars Nova Museum, Turku,
FI. She has held residencies at Artspace, Titanik Gallery and Banff Centre for the Arts. Anita has received numerous awards and grants from the Australia Council and Dlux.

Anita will present her work THE END, an immersive installation with digital and tactile elements that transports viewers inside a virtual and fantastical new dimension. This work questions and extends notions of virtual art because of it’s unexpected use of 3d and new technologies combined with the hyper-real aesthetic style her work is renowned for.


Andrew Burrell & Warren Armstrong

Dr Andrew Burrell is an artist specialising in virtual and mixed-reality artworks. He has exhibited extensively throughout Australia and internationally. Selected works include Mellifera at Free Play, Melbourne, Gaffa Gallery, QLD, and Gallery 91, Federation Square, Melbourne. Uncharted pages from a voyage of the beagle, Neutral Ground, Canada. Until the last beat of my heart, SCA Galleries, Sydney, Australia. Notes From A Fish Out of Water, Lapia House, Rovaniemi, Finland. Through the Virtual Looking Glass, Garden Gallery, Boston, USA. Doppelganger, National Portrait Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia. Taxa, RMIT, Gallery 91, Melbourne, Australia. Andrew has received numerous awards and grants including the Australia Council, SOIL Digital Media in Canada, Sydney College of the Arts, Solar Circuit in Tasmania, Lapland Arts Council in Finland.

Warren Armstrong (in partnership with Burrell) is an emerging artist, and digital producer at the ABC in Sydney. He is currently researching and producing augmented reality audio-visual sculptures, and developing a collection of works from artists working in this field.

Andrew’s work in massively multi-user online virtual environments has extended to mixed-reality Augmented Reality work that combines realtime 3D with an exploration of the nature of the intersection of the virtual and the physical. By manipulating realtime 3D overlays on top of the physical world, the participant is brought into a challenging and questioning relationship with the nature of virtuality and its implications for contemporary society. ISEA2011 is an excellent opportunity to present an original and innovative virtual/AR work in an international context.

As a collaborative partnership, Andrew and Warren will present a project that spans the tradition gallery space and the urban environment of city of Istanbul. Within a gallery based nursery, and using an innovative full body interface to a realtime 3d virtual environment, participants will be actively involved in the creation of new virtual life forms. The user will be able to release these life forms into the city of Istanbul and follow their movements and life cycles using a custom built Augmented Reality viewer on their own mobile devices.

This project will bring to Augmented Reality a depth of immersion that has not previously been explored based upon a unique and compelling conceptual underpinning.


Aroha Groves

Aroha Groves has exhibited works throughout Australia. Selected exhibitions include Connections2, Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, New Media Award (2010 Artist in Residence at ACVA), Cyber Dreaming No.4, Parliament of NSW Aboriginal Art Prize, Transforming Perceptions, Wollongong University Gallery, Members Shows with the Boomalli Artist Collectove, Mil-pra Awards, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. Andrew has participated in residencies.

In her emerging practice, Aroha explores the potential and implications of virtual spaces in the practice of art. She will present her work Meandering – a work questioning and extending notions of virtual art through her experience of living in Australian bushland. She believes that we engage in virtual spaces from real life spaces and wishes to share the uniqueness of where we live in repackaged, interesting ways. Bringing her Aboriginal aesthetic to this project can only enhance it.

See www.acva.net.au (current artist in residence)