Water not hung out to dry

on 06 August, 2013

An RMIT University art exhibition held in a shipping container in central Tokyo has focused on water and climate change in the Asia-Pacific.

The art exhibition was the latest phase of Spatial Dialogues: Public Art and Climate Change, a trans-disciplinary research project investigating the environmental significance of water in Melbourne, Shanghai and Tokyo.

With funding from the Australian Research Council and held in partnership with the Boat People Association, the exhibition looked at the effects of overdevelopment on Tokyo's Shibuya River.http://mams.rmit.edu.au/2zbri9nkiqip.jpg

Shibuya: Underground Streams featured a series of projects by Japanese and Australian artists who used screen media, sound and sculpture to draw attention to the role of water in cities across the Asia-Pacific region.

The shipping container was home to performance art, a public seminar and recordings of the Shibuya River, its surroundings and infrastructure.

Team leader, Associate Professor Linda Williams from RMIT's School of Art, said the latest phase of the Spatial Dialogues project was especially rewarding.

"The artworks, on site presentations and online connections have drawn public attention to the images and sounds of the Shibuya River as it flows far beneath the concrete, roads and buildings of Shibuya in central Tokyo," she said.

Professor Williams said she hoped the research project - which will continue in Shanghai later this year - would encourage international dialogue between artists and others on the cultural communication of climate change.

"By drawing attention to rivers and to the significance of water as the lifelines of cities in the Asia Pacific Region, the Spatial Dialogues art project seeks to make visible the crucial role of water in the context of global climate change."

The research project explored the vital role water played in shaping the culture of regional cities and new ways of understanding the constructed landscape.

Project partners include Grocon, Australia's leading privately-owned development and construction company, and multi-platform media company, Fairfax Media.

The partners have joined the RMIT team to actively engage the public in civic dialogue on contemporary environmental questions.

David Hoath, Chief Operating Officer for Fairfax Media's Melbourne publishing division, said the project was the kind of community involvement the company wanted to be part of.

"With a strong editorial stance on sustainability and environment generally and water conservation specifically, the Spatial Dialogues project is particularly relevant at this time," he said.

"We are delighted to be working with RMIT, and are thrilled to be able to provide a showcase for their work."

The collaborative projects were conducted by: sound artist, Associate Professor Philip Samartzis, School of Art; media and cultural theorist, Associate Professor Larissa Hjorth, School of Media and Communication; video artist, Associate Professor Dominic Redfern, School of Art; sculptor and public artist, Simon Perry, School of Art; art and cultural theorist Dr Kristen Sharp, School of Art.