Video Art and Experimental Film

RMIT University, Building 80, Level 10 – Room 80.09.09

Invisible Traces

Dirk de Bruyn, Deakin University

This paper surveys the use of the Swanson St and Elizabeth Street intersection and the Flinders Street Station clocks fagade by Melbourne Based Film Artists. This includes Lynsey Martin’s visceral and gestural Automatic Single Continuous (1982), originally shot with a highly mobile Super 8 camera and John Dunkley-Smith’s formalist Flinders St (1980), influenced by 7Os British Structuralist filmmaking. Also included is the ritualist documentation of public events by Michael Lee in the 7Os, that stands in contrast to the surveillance videos by unknown ASIO camera operators of similar events. These varying approaches to this iconic pre-Federation Square site are placed in relation to the rich history of Melbourne based innovative film practices documented in Cantrills Filmnotes. The paper will conclude with some of my own stereoscopic work Empire (2014) and my recent documentation of Paul Carter’s poetry, materially inscribed into red-brick surfaces of Federation Square.

Dirk de Bruyn is Associate professor of Screen and Design at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. He has made numerous experimental, documentary and animation films, videos and performance and installation work over the last 40 years. He was a founding member and past president of MIMA (Experimenta). His book The Performance of Trauma in Moving Image Art was published in 2014. His feature length time-lapse animation Telescope (75 minutes 2012) screened in July 2013 in the Australian Perspectives Series at the Australian Centre of the Moving Image. His experimental film work and performances have screened internationally.


Screen Dance: Cultural mirroring through movement and ambience 

Mitch Goodwin, University of Melbourne

Part visual essay part performance text, Screen Dance will explore the intervention of the screen – the mobile screen / the televised event/ the corner store TV/ the mobile app – in the public life of the city.

Yarra Yarra, a Kulin nation meeting place pre-contact; now the site of this metropolis called Melbourne, a grid overlaid on the landscape, is a vertical convergence of glass and steel and glittering light. As a newbie, from the West but mostly from the North, to explore the meandering grid of this urban space is to conduct the rather colonial act of mapping: through a screen. Marking the screen, meeting via the screen and ultimately documenting via the screen. The screen is a now a feature of the cityscape – public, private, commercial. Screens punch holes in the night. Life accompanied by screens, life lived through screens.

A merry dance is underway.

Through the rain pelted window the glow of the television calls to arms the excited pack – it’s game time! The pearls of contrasting colour speak to history, to territory and to the drama of an evolving mythology brokered by the screen.

There’s a stir in the playground tonight, just behind the monkey bars, beneath the crisp clear sky tilted faces glow with electric blue luminance as screens drift and sway in eerie silence. This is not your typical social gathering this is an augmented space. The battle for the King of the Hill is a subdued affair albeit facilitated by a poke, a swipe and a deft flick.

They warned me about the 86, the Smith Street trundler has a history they said; well yes, it is certainly a lively affair especially on the fringes of daylight. Yet it is also a carriage of travelling screens of football highlights, of sexting, of LOLs, of earthquakes, of suicide bombings, of bleaching coral, of gum trees, of craft beer recipes and of GIF cats.

This is their story as much as it is mine. This city/ this screen/ this blue planet.

Dr Mitch Goodwin is an independent media artist and academic with a research focus on digital aesthetics, visual culture and media communication design. He is the Founding Director of the Screengrab International Media Arts Award and curator of the associated exhibition program. In 2015 Mitch presented at a number of diverse engagements including SXSW Interactive in Austin, the David Bowie symposium in Melbourne, the Balance/Unbalance conference exploring the intersection of nature, art and science at Arizona State University, the Moral Horizons conference for the Australian Anthropology Society and he chaired a panel, The Violent Body, at GOMA in Brisbane for the Art Association of Australia & New Zealand’s annual conference.

In October, Mitch’s film Mineral Machine Music, will screen as a part of the IEEE VIS Arts Program in Baltimore. He has been shortlisted for both the MADATAC video art award (Madrid), the prestigious Lumen Prize (Cardiff), and was selected for the 16th WRO Media Arts Biennale in Wroclaw, Poland for the European Union’s 2015 City of Culture program. For more detail on his creative practice and research interests visit


Metro Trains and Melancholy: Daniel Crooks’ Post-Cinematic Mapping of Melbourne

Simon Troon, Monash University

Daniel Crooks’ use of a ‘time-slice’ technique and other cinematic experimentations leads to the creation of moving images that are wholly fragmented. They offer oblique links to the worlds that they represent as objects, places, and bodies shrink, expand, split, and repeat as they move across screens. In this paper I trace slices of Melbourne across several of Crooks’ video works, exploring the relationships between the images and the city they are cut from. Trains and railway tracks are a key part of the works I examine; in Train No.1 (2002) a train departs from Richmond Station, and Phantom Ride (2016) moves viewers along disused tracks throughout Victoria and New South Wales. Their presence as a motif helps to locate Crooks’ work in relation to trajectories of film history as well as notions of urban experience. Phantom Ride is named for early single-shot films for which cameras were affixed to the front of moving trains, but in Crooks’ work viewers are propelled through discrete and disparate segments of space and time. Melbourne’s Metro network physically maps the city, segmenting its suburbs. Trains provide travellers with a modality of experience that Michel de Certeau claims “generalizes Durer’s Melancholia” as a speculative experience of the world, detached from reality. I suggest, however, drawing on Steven Shaviro’s theorising of ‘post-cinematic affect’, that the splintered indexicality of Crooks’ body of work constitutes a realistic impression of what it can feel like to live and move in contemporary Melbourne: a sprawling and diverse city that is contested, haunted, surveilled, and indeed fragmented, but also eminently ‘liveable’.

Simon Troon is a PhD candidate in the Film, Media, and Communications program at Monash University and has previously completed an MA in Theatre and Film Studies at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. His research explores cinematic representation of disaster and is concerned with issues of realism, ethics, trauma, affect, and ecology.