Digital Whirled 2005-2006

Gymnasium Frieze

A Commission managed by Arts Tasmania and Architect John Padas, Architect Director of Design Haus in Hobart.

With appointment of the Artist at the beginning of the design stage the Architect ensured ongoing relevance and a freshness of approach to the Gymnasium building.


‘Digital Whirled’ is a graphic depiction of a vision I have been attempting to convey for over 20 years of my arts practice.

It’s a depiction of our contemporary experience of living in complicated and dynamic motion. It’s describing the way we are each affected by forces around us – with us holding very little control of the forces. My beginning depictions were as if we were falling through ‘time’. How time just sweeps us along, and how we are jostled about within the field of time, unable to control the rate that life passes us by.

More recently I have depicted the forces of our contemporary digital phenomenon that has sped communication rates and physical activity around the world. The zeros and ones in the binary codes that transfer between mobile phones are depicted in ‘Digital Whirled’ as large physically tangible objects. The humanoid forms are floating in a type of suspension fluid or ‘soup’ of digital energy. The figures are grappling with the digital units, trying to make something structured from them. The digits continue to whirl the humans around.

The figures used in the graphics of ‘Digital Whirled’ were obtained in my office by viewing the Newtown High School’s photo albums on the School’s web site. Students from the school are shown in various activities of arts and recreation, and their gesticulating figures have been digitally ‘cut out’ of the photo surroundings and placed over the fielded panel of the sculpture elevation drawings. Using the computer was the most efficient way to orient the figures in relation to each other and in visual balance with the digits that they are interacting with.

Once the graphics were finalised with the artwork committee stakeholders, the patterns were transferred to full-scale paper patterns by manual geometry and then full-scale figures and digits were carved from surfboard foam. Several coats of fibreglass resin were applied and tests were done to see if the concrete casting would provide accurate definition.

The resulting artwork provides an unusual skewed sculptural effect when viewed from close to the concrete wall. When the sculpture is viewed from a few meters back, the three dimensional qualities of the perspective graphics and the light relief surface modelling provide the fully dynamic and energised commentary on our contemporary world – close to what I have been drawing and visualising for several years.

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