…on the opening night.

“The Screen would light up. they would feel a thrill of satisfaction. But the colours had faded with age, the picture wobbled on the screen, the women were of another age; they would come out they would be sad. It was not the film they had dreamt of. It was not the total film each of them had inside himself, the perfect film they could have enjoyed for ever and ever. The film they would have liked to make. Or, more secretely, no doubt, the film they would have liked to live.”

Georges Perec, Things: A Story of the Sixties. Translated from the French, by David Bellos. Collins Harvill, London,1990, p57. (Originally published 1965)

1968

While I have been in Newcastle I have spent some time researching in the Local Studies Section of the Newcastle Region Library. In undertaking this research I was specifically interested in gaining an impression of the city in the not too distant past, and in this process, uncovering some of the subsumed history of the place. To this end, I have searched through back issues of the Newcastle Herald (and Miner’s Advocate) looking for small snippets of information that will act as windows into the past and narrative prompts for my project. Unsurprisingly, this form of investigation is a potentially overwhelming task without some historical point of entry or focus. I spent some time deliberating on how to define this “point” and finally decided that I wasn’t particularly interested in retracing an acknowledged defining moment in Newcastle’s recent history (The closure of BHP, the earthquake etc). Rather, I decided that I would choose a point in time that was more famous for what was happening outside of Newcastle, May 1968.

While the eyes of the world were firmly planted on Hanoi, Prague and Paris what was happening in this corner of the world? If May 1968 can be read as a type of cultural degree zero, a point of crisis and questioning, how were the reverberations being felt throughout Australia? Indeed, there is a certain level of willfulness in choosing this point in time to examine the social landscape of Newcastle. But at the same time there is also an inverted logic that appeals to me, what other time could I choose?

Arrival

In the first half of February 2010 I am working as artist in residence at the Lock-Up Cultural Centre in Newcastle NSW. During this time I have begun working towards a new video-based installation that takes its cues from the spaces and landscape of central Newcastle. It is a landscape that while seemingly on the threshold of reinvention, simultaneously speaks from and of the past. For this project I not only intend to draw from the appearance(s) of the landscape itself but also from the remnants of material culture and the ephemeral historical records that are strewn in the wake of the time. This online space will be an ongoing focus for the project, forming a database of the various items gathered as source materials. Photography, film/video, sound and text will all be used to inscribe the partly obscured and partly fictional history that is central to the project. Like the project itself this website is intended as a speculative engagement of the submerged psychic fabric of the city. A strata at once forgotten but still visible to those who look.