New Zealand—The Mountain and the Waterfalls by Grant Stevens opens on Friday 31 August, from 5.30 -7.30pm . The exhibition runs from 4-29 September 2018.
Stevens’ new exhibition at Starkwhite introduces The Mountain (2018), a moving image work exhibited for the first time here, and The Waterfalls, an ongoing photography project shot around New South Wales, Tasmania, and beyond.
Describing the process of creating the photographs, the artist relates how an initial Google image search of the waterfall he wants to photograph intentionally frames his experience. While actually capturing the image involves an authentic experience of being in nature and hiking to the falls, Stevens has already set the stage for what he’s going to see when he gets there, his experience is pre-mediated through the digital images he’s seen online. His practice asks: can we still have moments of wonder, reflection, contemplation? Even if it is premeditated, can it still work? Rather than reinforce idealised understandings of the natural environment, Stevens’ artistic strategy highlights the ways in which the ‘natural’ seems to increasingly stand in for contemporary modes of contemplation and reflection. The Waterfalls sits on the cusp of sublime and bleakly generic.
The Mountain is a computer-generated video simulation that changes and evolves in real-time. Its appearance is shaped by the interactions of numerous cyclic elements: the time of day, fluctuations in the weather, and geological forces. As a virtual camera rotates around the perpetually changing scene, deep geological time mixes with the fickle weather and the constant passing of day and night. An ambient soundtrack accompanies the video, programmed to generate and evolve through infinite permutations. Drawing on meditation and mindfulness principles, The Mountain seeks to represent and provide space for experiences of the ever-evolving present moment.
Grant Stevens’ project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.