Tyrrell Dark Emu, 2007-19

Tyrrell Dark Emu, 2007-19

Seven pairs of gelatin silver films created plein air at Lake Tyrrell in the Victorian Mallee. Each of the 14, 35 cm x 35 cm films is encapsulated in a 40 x 50 cm Mylar envelope inscribed with a laser-engraved number. Displayed backlit atop light tables. Unique objects.

Writer Bruce Pascoe coined the phrase ‘dark emu’ to describe the indigenous Australian conception of the dark zones of the Milky Way, a celestial spectre of the flightless bird (Dromaius novaehollandiae) apparent to anyone peering skyward on clear, dark Antipodean nights. It is a vision redolent of the vast and varied corpus of lore linking earth and sky found in all pre-modern cosmologies. This suite of diptychs pairs negative film ‘chemograms’ recording a living Emus footprints made in daylight with their contact-printed positive ‘shadows’ exposed by starlight on moonless Mallee nights. In a real sense the images are congealed starlight since each has been metamorphosed from invisible silver halides into dark metal literally by exposure to the ‘light of the universe’: the first under the blaze of our local life-giving star and the second by the nocturnal, diffuse, ‘dark emu’ overhead. Their making was a ritual of remembrance and hope: a photo-kinetic coda for lost and imagined enchantment.

Other starlight-exposed emu photograms from this project have been incorporated in Dancing on Mars (films) pieces.

Painting chemogram medium on to Emu’s feet prior to imprinting on film. Photo by Ryan Letournau

Painting chemogram medium on to Emu’s feet prior to imprinting on film. Photo by Ryan Letournau

Time-lapse photograph of films being exposed to starlight on the dry bed of Lake Tyrrell, July 2008. Photo by Glenn Wilson

Emu tracks, Lake Tyrrell.

Time-lapse photograph of films being exposed to starlight on the dry bed of Lake Tyrrell, Victoria, Australia, July 2008. Photo by Viren Mohan

Attempting to get an Emu to walk across imaging material laid on the ground. Photo by Ryan Letournau

Time-lapse photograph of films being exposed to starlight on the dry bed of Lake Tyrrell, Victoria, Australia, July 2008. Photo by Viren Mohan

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