By Baillie Lee
We all view and respond to the world in diverse ways. Our reactions to everyday encounters differ from person to person. Thus, by entering into a new spatial dimension our interactions with this space will generate multiple responses. Artist Biljana Jancic explores this dynamic in her exhibition ‘Surface Tension’. Upon entering this installation, the viewer is instantly drawn to projected images extending across an entire wall of the gallery. These images reflect from the wall onto both the glass and concrete surfaces, altering the boundaries of the space, and complicating the relationship between audience member and video projection. This destabilising gesture enables the viewer to have a more intimate connection with the image. Jancic’s interests in contemporary art and architecture are distinctive in this piece, and this large-scale spatial installation makes interventions into the structural features of the gallery space.
These structural features are prominent as the eye begins absorbing the visual information of the space. Instantly, the flood of natural light and the way it has been integrated within the existing gallery space attracts the viewer. This attention is then redirected through the use of silver aluminium tape that extends across the concrete floor and is situated in a solid line of two-dimensional stripes. These stripes create an intersection with a section of blue tape that develops from a select corner and trespasses across the gallery floor. Then the blue tape extends up the front window, and makes a visual connection with the industrial qualities of the outdoor environment. The blue tape is a chroma key gaffer tape which by the film industry in the production of computer generated imagery. As Jancic explains, ‘I like this colour because it is a sort of stand-in colour that suggests it is a placeholder for something else’.
The viewer becomes conscious that the physical experience of the space is of a transitional nature. The integration of the matte and reflective tapes along with the doubling of the video projection complicates the temporal dimension of these architectural interventions. Jancic describes her interest in ‘warping perceptions of time’. This is depicted through the projected shadows that extend across the central white wall, which as viewers walk across creates natural shadows that become part of the work. This creates an optical illusion, which is extended by the ambiguous atmosphere and the blurring of the indoors and the outdoors.
‘I wanted the video aspect of this exhibition to feature light spills of windows in other spaces. So it’s a way of remixing ephemera from one space to another,’ states Jancic. The artist’s experimentation with light within the existing space begins the development of an alternative space, that extends the spatial elements existing within the gallery space. This portrayal is also enhanced with the linear qualities of the tape fields.
The one-way relationship between the audience and the work has been altered within this installation. As a viewer myself, the relationship that I had with the piece was intimate. I connected with the piece as I walked around and my shadow became one with the art that was projecting off the central wall. My experience is reflected in Jancic’s statement, ‘I’m always very interested in creating interventions that destabilise perceptions of a space or that articulate unseen tectonic forces inside a space’, not only in the merging of shadows and projections but also demonstrating an emotional dimension within the construction of each other. This has been articulated through the title of the work, ‘Surface Tension’, and my experiences as the viewer was transformed by the exploration of these tensions. This work gave me a chance to become one with the art and also experience an emotional connection with the existing space.
Baillie Lee is in her third year of studies in Photography at UTS and a writer who captures images that evoke written material. Follow her on Instagram here.
This essay was produced as part of the UTS Gallery Student Writing Program.
Surface Tension is on display at UTS Gallery from 28 February – 28 April 2017.