6 September 2023

New immersive art exhibition focuses on people's relationship with technology and nature

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Melbourne-based artist Yandell Walton’s new exhibition, Dissonant Terrain, was developed in response to her residency in the Amazon rainforest. Photos: Labverde Residency by Vitor Barao.

A new immersive exhibition that uses technology to explore environmental issues is at Wagga Wagga Art Gallery.

Melbourne-based artist Yandell Walton has used photos, sound, sculpture, lighting and computer-generated images in her exhibition – Dissonant Terrain.

A series of five artworks comprising an immersive installation, the exhibition critiques people’s relationship with technology and the natural environment.

Yandell’s practice is driven by her emotional responses to the climate crisis, and Dissonant Terrain focuses on the ecological shifts in the landscape due to human impact.

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Yandell said the artworks were developed in response to a residency she completed in the Amazon rainforest in September 2022.

“The Labverde is a 10-day immersion program where 15 artists from around the world were selected to undertake the program,” she said.

“We engaged with ecologists, scientists and First Nations knowledge to understand the rainforest ecosystem and our impact on it.

“Some [exhibition] works are computer-generated and some are filmed in the Amazon … there’s a tension between the actual and the virtual.”

The highly regarded artist’s installations are known for their immersive nature, blurring the lines between reality and virtual and exploring ideas of impermanence about environmental, social and political issues.

Dissonant Terrain will be on exhibition at the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery until 26 November. Photo: Yandell Walton.

“We’re living in a technology-fuelled world and we’re becoming more reliant on computers,” Yandell said.

“This body of work [Dissonant Terrain] is timely regarding how humans can potentially utilise technology to research and develop ways to protect the environment and not destroy it.”

Through her exhibition, Yandell hopes to engage and inspire action from individuals towards a collective consciousness within the ever-changing and increasingly damaged planet.

She was selected before COVID-19 to participate in the rainforest residency program but had to wait two years before she could go to the Amazon.

“It was exciting to be able to go finally … it was exceptional and inspiring,” Yandell said.

For the past 20 years, Yandell has predominantly worked as a moving-image installation-based artist.

Born in Melbourne, she spent most of her childhood in Far North Queensland in the Kuku Yalanji country over the Daintree River in the Daintree Rainforest, where her father lived.

She feels having spent time in the rainforest for a decade has been a major influence on her work.

“I feel a strong connection to nature, especially the forest ecosystem,” Yandell said.

“I was lucky to have both off-grid forest life and the cultural city life.

“It has shaped me, my practice and why I became an artist.”

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Wagga Wagga Art Gallery director Dr Lee-Anne Hall said Dissonant Terrain connected with Green 2023 – the gallery’s year of environmental exhibitions and programs to encourage visitors to reflect upon their environmental impact.

Dissonant Terrain runs at the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery until Sunday, 26 November.

For more information, visit Wagga Wagga Art Gallery.

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