Lightscapes: In Companionship

RMIT Lightscapes are back at MC
LIGHTSCAPES is a public art project that connects to the very fabric of the city—enriching, critiquing, and reconsidering notions of audience, site, and public space through art. It comprises of 14 lightboxes fixed to building facades across RMIT and Melbourne Central.

In collaboration with RMIT INTERSECT and Melbourne Central, RMIT Curatorial Collective has invited 6 RMIT students and recent graduates to work together in our upcoming LIGHTSCAPES activation, located within Knox Place (Melbourne Central). This activation, titled In Companionship, is a creative response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts this has had on our day-to-day lives.

The pandemic has forced us to reexamine our relationship with people, objects, space, city, and ourselves. Through discussions, these artists have reflected on what they have been in companionship with during isolation. These artists come from a diverse range of backgrounds and share the values of compassion and curiosity.

Public spaces such as building facades and streets can facilitate encounters with art outside of the rarified space of the museum, yet, the pandemic has complicated our relationship with the public sphere. The ability to broadcast social messages is especially significant during this unique time. The selected works for this activation aims to communicate these struggles and look at how the people of Melbourne can come together as a community to access, enjoy, and rejuvenate our public spaces.

Isabella Huang, 2020, Fantasy, photograph, courtesy the artist

I did my undergraduate study of Environmental Art design in Beijing, China.  I did some environmental art design projects and competitions with my teachers and students between 2015 and 2017. Now, I am studying Art in Public Space at RMIT, majoring in public art spaces. Last semester I was involved in Werribee’s project on Water, while doing guerrilla art on plants, and this year I continue to work on plants and social issues in the form of guerrilla art. 
Due to COVID-19, many international students like me live alone. We didn’t have roommates, most of our friends and classmates weren’t in Melbourne, and our family was thousands of miles away in China. With the curfew, we can only be at home and have no activities. The lonely life appears even more lonely under the present situation even I can not accompany myself. Get used to being alone. Get used to spending time with yourself. 
Fantasy by Isabella

Holly Goodridge, 2020, Waiting for the Bus, photograph, courtesy the artist

Holly Goodridge, currently based in Melbourne, Australia is a contemporary multi-disciplinary artist primarily working with a blend of paintings, sculptural objects and digital media. Through a lens of absurdist humour, her work explores the art activity outside the institution through the intervention of art within spaces considered ‘regular’ for those that live in Australia. She has explored similar ideas and methodologies in the RMIT Gallery’s student-led group exhibition ‘Museum of Me.’

Thinking about the overall theme for this exhibition ‘In Companionship’ I was most drawn to the everyday interactions we have had during the lockdown. Mainly the small and mundane interactions with strangers, for example, while on a walk, giving your neighbours a smile through your mask (a glorified squint), or giving each other a ‘can you believe this’ when someone walks passed with an entire cart full of toilet paper. I wanted to highlight and celebrate the importance of chance encounters during this time as for most of us they’ve been our only human interaction outside of the core unit.I chose to shoot near my closest bus stop as I feel as, in this period of forced isolation, which has many of us spending an exceedingly large amount of time in domestic settings or isolated in places which under normal circumstances are usually full of people, I feel a deep sense of kinsip with these everyday spaces that I had previously felt no attachment too. And by placing abstract paintings within those spaces, it draws attention to space itself and helps to create dialogues about the affect intervention of art as on the environments it is placed within.

Max Wang, 2020, Solitude and its Creation, photograph, courtesy the artist

Born Shandong, China 1982

Max is a Melbourne-based photographer who obtained his Bachelor’s degree from School of Visual Communication Design of Shandong University of Art & Design, China. After ten years of working as an Art Director at a national television network, Max chose to return to the artistic field. He is completing the Master of Photography program at RMIT University and will continue advancing his academic journey afterwards. Max’s work uses realistic photography as the primary medium and captures unexpected vivid moments in daily life scenarios through a subjective perspective. His photographs are concise and exciting, rich in details, and full of visual pleasure.

Max pays special attention to the relationship between human and nature in the process of industrialisation, as well as the loneliness, tenacity and impermanence of individual lives. He continually explores the diverse expressions of traditional oriental culture in the context of contemporary photography.

This project explored people's lonely and lost state caused by social isolation restrictions and the fear of the virus when the COVID-19 pandemic was raging, forcing individuals to be physically isolated, and their desires to be suppressed. The obstacles caused by solitude are not only physical but also psychological. Once a gap is formed in between people and the external society, it is challenging to go back to the original state. Hence, it is vital to discover and acknowledge the companionship in your heart and understand the relationship connecting yourself and the outside world.

Sahaj Garg, 2020, tethered, digital image, courtesy the artist

Sahaj Garg is a creative technologist', artist, sound designer and problem solver, fascinated by the cosmos, revelations, perception, macros and zen Philosophies. Sahaj's practice involves experimentation with interactive digital media. He has worked with Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, mobile gaming, blockchain, artificial intelligence, projection mapping and interactive installations. Sahaj aims to create awe-inspiring audio-visuals in immersive, interactive installations, with a particular focus on interactive spaces, music-driven experiences and immersive theatricals. Sahaj's practice aims to 'disrupt' and experiment with the future of media technologies.

tethered is an artwork emerging along the lines of companionship in a digital world, the word tether stands for connecting digital devices and also being confined in a space, the aspect which has more so over has been brought to in highlight due to the pandemic.

Reflecting towards a dithered global companionship while also reflecting on some time to self retrospect , being a companion of oneself and dance with your own shadows in this box. While there are impacts due to any situation which may be out of one's immediate control, there’s also this present moment to embrace the whole experience, not judging into its dual nature but accepting it as a whole for what it is. Whilst we are in this box, one can always reach out the top, remember in this age of virtual, the box is only virtual.
“Though abstract art can be interpreted in many forms and that's the beauty of it, often times there’s a subconscious thought process behind anything and creating art can be a journey to find it. If i have to put it literally , the room can be seen as the confined box as result of lockdown while shadow play is an aspect of embracing and dancing with your own company, the aesthetics of the body is among these lines as well while it can also be interpreted as a data sculpture, downloading and reaching out from the box, the internet, our one true interface of companionship in this virtual age”.

Sherry Liu, 2020, Tenderness of Light, digital image, courtesy the artist

Coming from a background of both Fine Art and Public Art, my work explores symbolism of materials and interaction in social engagement art which could achieve an active dialogue. I am currently focusing on how to reconnect the community during COVID-19 period and renew impressions of the nature for the audience. I have developed different forms of participatory art and tried to build emotional connections with the public. I hope that my art can be the efficient way of perception and engage the public in an empathetic way.  
This image is a piece of Nature Companionship art project, which developed a partnership model, tracing the the psychological impacts of dwelling environment and isolated experience during COVID-19 upon the public, then invited public to share nature journey stories on social media for providing distant care. 

The tenderness of the light is translated from a picture of the city at sunset. I would like to express that light is always accompanying  us. Although we are isolated separately, we still have a common homeland and can enjoy the sunset together. 
Opening hours
Anzac Day 2021
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Cnr LaTrobe and Swanston Streets
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: 03 9922 1100