By Betty Milonas
Skunk Control is a Melbourne-based art and science group from Victoria University, consisting of scientists, educators and engineers who are reinventing the means of combining art and science. The group uses their scientific and technological knowledge to create visual art installations by reflecting upon their childhood curiosities of the natural world and technologies.
Skunk Control encourages us to ponder how scientists and engineers transcend their technical skills and scientific knowledge into art. Thus, they are inspired to create a magical world that play on the viewer’s mind and sensory experience while also educating us about science. By combining art and science, Skunk Control reminds us of the sixteenth century wunderkammer – ‘cabinet of curiosity’ – a collection of scientific and medical instruments, antiquities, relics, and animal specimens.
Similarly, Skunk Control has constructed a contemporary twist of wunderkammer that represents their personal journey of exploring and collating art. Their recent exhibition, Contemporary Curiosity at Mailbox Art Space in Melbourne, presents an intimate space using miniature historical mailboxes to collate various objects. Each mailbox holds a particular item depicting a range of science-related themes such as: wings of a moth, crystallized trees, glass rods and light bulbs. The items are either a found object or a self-creation by Skunk Control, depicting their personal identity and technical background as scientists and artists. The collection brings together a scientific and aesthetic element that constructs Skunk Control’s self-discovery towards understanding the world. We are invited, as the viewer, to follow their magical journey and admire the mechanical and refine details of each object, emphasized by the use of natural and artificial lighting.
Lighting, mechatronics, technologies and electronics are prominent features in Skunk Control’s visual art installations, attracting viewers to explore both science and art. Their installation works have featured in a number of community outreach programs and Light Projection Festivals on a global scale and in Melbourne. For example, Secluded Evolution (2015) is a visual art installation exhibited at the Gertrude Street Projection Festival 2015, Melbourne. The installation was constructed at Rose Chong Costumiers’ store window creating a wunderkammer style light show, thus, forming a twisted and tangled web of light and darkness. In this work, Skunk Control is concerned with “light’s influence in the transformation of a species secluded in darkness,” manufactured in a small and secluded stage.
In the vimeo video below, from the Secluded Evolution (2015) installation, we can see the tiny objects brought to life through movement and a mesmerizing evolving light show. The viewer is invited to follow the light installation and become immerse into the light and darkness experience. Additionally, the delicate shapes, butterflies and spiral objects resonate a magical world, transcending us into a wonderland experience – a world of play and curiosities.
(Warning: this video has sound)
Skunk Control presents their own reality by combining art and science, and inviting the viewer to learn and respond to scientific themes through visual art installations and light projections.
For further information and upcoming exhibitions, please visit: http://www.skunkcontrol.org