VEGETAL / DIGITAL
Image : Alison Benett - Vegetal/digital - 2022 - photogrammetry point-cloud
VEGETAL / DIGITAL - ALISON BENETT
A partner event of ISEA2023, 28th International Symposium of Digital Creation.
Interactive expanded photography
Artist Alison Bennett (they/them) has rendered Australian native flowers as celestial encounters in the form of 3D point-clouds that coalesce and dissolve in response to the presence of the viewer. “Arising out of the heightened sensory perceptions of extended lock-down, this creative investigation began with contemplation of flowering street-trees. Through 262 days of lock-down, residents of Melbourne retreated to the hyper-local, often reinforced by a 5-kilometer travel bubble and a one-hour daily time-limit outdoors. The sublime ephemeral springtime flowers of street-trees were amplified by the extreme sensory and social constraints of social distancing. Drawing us into a suspended moment of slow encounter, we attuned to the contained glowing pulse of plants.”
The works were created using photogrammetry, a technique for generating 3D models from a large set of photographs taken from all angles of the specimen. The process of photogrammetry generated 3D point-cloud files that are presented as an immersive gesture-controlled interactive projection. Bennett has brought together an innovative combination of processes to create awe-inspiring real-time embodied interaction with the 3D point-clouds of Australian flowers. The use of a gesture-controlled sensor creates the impression that the work literally turns towards the viewer. This mirrors Bennett’s perception that, just as they attuned to plants, the plants were also turning toward us. The interaction design encourages the viewer to slow down and attune to the pulse of plants and computers, inducing an almost meditative state of mind.
In this project, Bennett engages with ‘vegetal thinking’, a concept of critical plant studies that considers our symbiotic relationship with plants (Gibson 2018). This theoretical context is placed alongside the practice of ‘digital gardening’, of “seeds of thought cultivated in public” (Ness Labs) through slow thinking and organic speculation. Indeed, these domains of the vegetal and digital come together in post-human philosophy (Haraway 2016) and notions of compost and soil, seeking to subvert subject/object dichotomies. Mediated through an autistic queer lens (Yergeau 2018), Bennett’s work sides with the object, creating encounters that collapse the spectral, floral and machinic.
ISEA 2023 - Southern Winter exhibitions
DU 15.08 AU 20.08.2023
9h > 12h
Hangars Numériques - Digital arts overseas
L'Academie - 66, bvd Lancastel
97400 Saint-Denis de La Réunion
Alison's broader practice is situated in ‘expanded photography’ where the boundaries have shifted in the transition to digital media and become diffused into ubiquitous computing. Creative projects have tested the creative and discursive potentials of augmented reality, photogrammetry, 3D scanning, point clouds, virtual reality and webXR as encompassed by the medium and practice of photography. As a neuroqueer new-media artist, it have explored the performance and technology of gender identity and considered the convergence of biological and digital skin as virtual prosthesis.
It work has been shown at international venues such as Musée du Louvre, Kunstmuseum Bonn, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and featured on ABC TV Australian Story, the New York Times, Mashable, The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Motherboard, The Creators Project, ABC TV News, Artlink and The Guardian.
Alison is a founding member of the QueerTech.io artist collective, a member of the Gertrude Street Projection Festival Advisory Committee and have served on a number of development panels for the Midsumma Festival. In 2021 it was a member of the Digital Advisory Group of the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Government’s arts funding and advisory body. It work as a senior lecturer in photography at RMIT School of Art where Alison is the associate dean (photography).