Born in 1966 in Brisbane, Australia, Luhsun Tan is a digital media artist based in Melbourne, and working across photomedia, experimental film and video installation. His past work includes a vivid involvement in experimental theatre and film that continues as active collaborations on multimedia and installation. Luhsun has screened works in international film festivals, exhibited around Melbourne and at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, and won the Screengrab7 international media arts award in Townsville, Queensland.
An underlying theme of his work, continuing since his PhD in visual art, stems from a personal heritage of early East-West interactions. This has led him to explore narratives of intangible histories, ambivalent identities and historical vernacular photography. His work is an ongoing critical engagement with appropriation and the use of screen materials. He is especially interested in how the archive holds provisional insight that has significance in the present.
2015. HD video, 10:00 minutes.
This work extends any limit of dead historical archival material. It loops the effect of air and light creating shadows onto canvas from the original Aboriginal tent embassy, with which the artist has a close association. Initially the tent is presented as a screen, a mere surface. It is this surface that comes first – a superficial image – but through the suggestion of form, it gives rise to a subsequent comprehension of what is beyond the surface.
Here, the materials take on their own language and public cultural relevance. They make us consider the colonial and racial transparency of differences. And because this historic icon is more than just a surface, it extends beyond its archival purpose: it has a meaning beyond nostalgia and archaeological melancholia. The artefact of the tent ceases to exist as a sign of the past, and becomes an active state of flux that can engage with decolonialism.