Event Name Grant Stevens: Art by Accident
Start Date 5 Oct 2017 10:00 am
End Date 15 Apr 2018 4:00 pm
Duration 192 days and 7 hours

In Art by Accident Grant Stevens brings moving representations of the natural environment to the accidental art spaces around the museum.

The exhibition brings together two recent moving image works, The Sun and The Sky, together with Waterfalls XXI, a large scale digital print, to explore enduring questions about where and how we find meaning in our everyday lives.

Whether optimistic, nihilistic, or romantic, these works deliberately encourage us to slow down to look, listen, think, and contemplate in more considered ways. Stevens’ works often use digital production processes, and these works all digitally simulate or sample the natural environment in some way to explore the ways that our lived experiences entangle with virtual and imagined realities. The seductive beauty of these works serve to highlight the absence inherent in mediated experience.

Grant Stevens, The Sun, 2016, HD video with sound, 6 min 15 sec, Image courtesy of the artist and Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney.

In Stevens’ video The Sun (2016), which plays on the outdoor screen, a male narrator describes facts about the Sun while a virtual camera moves slowly towards a digitally animated solar mass. The narration charts the lifecycle of the Sun, from its formation through to its eventual destruction. As this narration develops, the virtual camera gradually approaches the animated Sun, progressively consuming more of the screen. Borrowing from the formal language of nature documentaries, The Sun deliberately mixes awe and wonderment with hopelessness and nihilism. In this way, The Sun is as much about the logic of quantum physics, as the enduring human need to meditate on existential questions of life, death, and the paradox of our seemingly central but insignificant place in the universe.

Inside MAMA, Stevens’ mutli-channel video, Sky (2016), plays across the screens in the museum foyer. In this work, a virtual camera floats across a panorama of endlessly generating digital clouds. Created with a single photograph as its starting point, Sky explores the possibilities for the proliferation of the digital image, while also seeking to evoke a sense of quietude and contemplation. Sky’s panorama is deliberately without progression or climax. Instead, as a counterpoint to our ‘culture of distraction’, it offers a kind of meditation on the perpetual present; an ever-changing, yet consistent experience of the present moment.

Grant Stevens, The Waterfalls XXI, 2017, digital print on vinyl, Image courtesy of the artist and Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney.

Artist Bio

Grant Stevens is an Australian artist based in Sydney. Working predominantly with moving image, text, photography, and sound, his works often merge the personal with the everyday to explore the emotional vacillations and quests for meaning that plague the 21st Century self. Stevens has exhibited regularly since the early 2000s, with numerous solo in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, as well as many group shows at public museums and contemporary art spaces nationally and internationally. Stevens is also Deputy Head of School (Art) at UNSW Art & Design, and is represented by Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney.