2 June, 2021 – Time’s Strange Tissue

2 June, 2021

Time’s Strange Tissue 

Presenters: Sue Jowsey, Dr Andrew Denton (artists), Dr Len Gillman (Biogeographic Scientist, Drone Lab, AUT)

Chaired by: Dr Janine Randerson

This panel discussion between artist and science collaborators focuses on their shared project Time’s Strange Tissue, currently on exhibition in the Auckland Festival of Photography.  The work explores aura using images captured by Biogeographic Scientist Len Gillman during a scientific expedition to Antarctica. Working mainly alone setting up GPS points, his photographs record the omnipresent terrain that is Antarctica.

Artists Sue Jowsey (of F4 Collective) and Andrew Denton collaborated with Gillman to create an exhibition exploring physical and psychological isolation.

Standing by the margin of the Ross Sea at Botany Bay, in one of Earth’s most isolated places, we are confronted by physical isolation subservient to time’s isolating touch. In this place, ghosts of struggle and survival are ever-present. A winter of darkness marks one of the most desperate and prolonged ordeals of human endeavour; though eight men survived, the traces of Scott’s expedition are caught in Zephyr’s frozen breath. The skeleton of a dog, still chained to the hut wall, an uneaten seal carcass lying on the floor, tins of food – each a story etched into the edge of time. Antarctica is a place alive with what Walter Benjamin’s describes as aura, a “…strange tissue of space and time: unique appearance of distance, however near it may be.”[1]


Sue Jowsey is a multimedia artist and founding member of the F4 Collective. Over the past 14 years, Susan, as part of the F4 Artist Collective, has been involved in national and international collaborative endeavours, including a six-month Residency at the ISCP in New York. The F4 Collective was the creative force behind the MBIE Unlocking Curious Minds funded Art Science research project, O-Tū-Kapua, a multi-sensory, participatory multimedia installation for children.

Len Gillman is a researcher in Biogeography including forest ecology, polar ecology, global patterns in primary productivity, and environmental influences on the rates of genetic evolution and speciation. Len is an experienced adventurer: climbing around the world including granite walls in America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. He has pushed through powerful icy rivers, negotiated steep unstable rocky moraine. He has camped on the Arctic glaciers of Baffin Island and the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, cycled the Tibetan Plateau, flown drones in the cold deserts of Antarctica and in the hot deserts of Namibia. Len is a conservation advocate and has written a YA novel.

Andrew Denton is a media artist that applies practice-led methods aligned with essayist cinema and video installation, as well as historical avant-garde film. He works predominantly with the subject of ‘ecological emergency’. His films and photography respond to subjective experiences of ecological devastation, which have induced a personal state of melancholy. Andrew’s work responds to his belief that the sensate realm offers an alternate and provocative phot0-cinematic approach to expressing threats to our environment, eschewing ‘storytelling’ or ‘documenting’ a crisis in favour of  poetic-emotional registers.

[1] Benjamin, Walter. “The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction.” Media and cultural studies: Key Works, 2nd edn, Blackwell, Malden (2009): 23.

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