Tyrrell Dark Emu
Tyrrell Dark Emu, 2009-23
Gelatin silver films created en plein air at Lake Tyrrell in the Victorian Mallee, silver gelatin films of an Emu’s feathers and medical x-ray films. Each artwork is encapsulated in a Mylar envelope. Displayed backlit. 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, inferred here in two sets of artworks. The artworks are a suite of diptychs pairing 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.
Another series of Emu footprints recorded with graphite on tracing paper at Lake Tyrrell constitutes the affiliated project, Tyrrell Dark Emu – in Graphite.