Week 3: A brief look at the work of Callum Morton

Changing fields yet again for the purpose of the project that I would like to undertake this semester. As previously stated, I am a practitioner of photography – however I am wanting to expand my field of practice artistically to incorporate full installations that evoke different responses in my audience by engaging the senses of sight, sound, touch and perhaps even smell. For this reason I have chosen to have a look at the work of Callum Morton – previously referenced with “The Other Side” that I had the privilege of experiencing myself during the 2014 Sydney Biennale.

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Callum Morton, The Other Side, 2014, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view of the 19th Biennale of Sydney at Cockatoo Island.

“Callum Morton’s installation and sculptural practice is inspired by architecture and the built environment. His works explore human interaction with architectural space and ideas through scale models and facades of well-known buildings. He represented Australia at the 2007 Venice Biennale with a scale model of his childhood home, designed and built in the 1970s in a modernist style by his architect father.”
MCA Artist Profile

In The Other Side (2014), the viewer was instructed to sit in a small- childlike train on tracks facing a gigantic view of the famous Google Search webpage. The train moves through a door and into Cockatoo Island’s eerie Dog Leg tunnel, which has been totally transformed into an multi-sensory experience. The tunnel has been filled with fog, lights and speakers. The train moves past lights of different colours flashing through the fog which is thick enough to barely see the person in front of you. You experience blinding flashes of colours as you speed past the sounds of thunderous booms and crashes increasing in intensity before mellowing away at the end.

For the 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire, internationally acclaimed Australian artist Callum Morton has transformed the Dog-Leg Tunnel of Cockatoo Island into a readymade site for The Other Side (2014) – an experiential, ghost-train inspired journey. Visitors will enter into the tunnel on a purpose-built train and, once inside, will be transported through the tunnel and experience a range of surprises devised by the artist. Morton will use light, sound, wind and smoke to create a type of black hole or deep universe, an elemental atmosphere that is unexpected in rides of this type. This elemental darkness is the base note for what will be both magical and frightening.
Biennale Website

It was this work that drew me into considering the multi-sensory experience as an art form to explore in my own artistic practice. However, this work seems to be an outlier to the rest of Callum’s installation and sculptural work.

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Morton Callum’s Monument #28: Vortex (2011), on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Monument #28: Vortex replaces the human element behind the closed doors with a natural one, opening up a portal from business end to back end, from built to excavated. In doing so, he toys with the disparity between what facades reveal and conceal and hints at the political realities of Australia’s mining boom, commodifying natural resources as it drills deeper into the earth.”

MCA Description

Something I haven’t previously considered incorporating into my own work are political statements – which as an academic, Callum seems to have an interest in. He combines his interests with his skills in architecture and observations of human interaction to create installations and sculpture works which are on display in many galleries throughout Australia and a few throughout the world.

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Reception (2016) Installation at the Anna Scwartz Gallery

So, what to make of this?

Looking at Morton Callum’s work has given me a few ideas and a few questions about how I’d like to create my own work and shape my approach. The biggest question that I have is whether or not to have my multi-sensory experience intimate or have it shared with a larger audience.

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