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Eavesdrop

2004 Brisbane, Australia
Coauthor: David Pledger

Software: Adolf Matthias
Hardware: Huib Nelissen

Eavesdrop is an interactive cinematographic installation that was developed for the panoramic projection system first shown in PLACE - a user's manual (1995). Eavesdrop’s immersive movie, filmed in 360-degrees, features actors in a club-like location, and the interactive PLACE platform lets viewers look around during the playback of this film and choose which characters to ‘eavesdrop’ on.

Eavesdrop is a multi-narrative mediation of psychological states in around the theme of moral inertia. Its characters are all caught in a loop wherein they are doomed to repeat the last nine minutes of their lives. Each narrative emphasizes a spiritual, moral, ethical, psychological or physical landscape: a young man tries to escape the suburbs, a minor celebrity wrestles with his conscience, an elderly couple work out how they might end their lives, a political activist is intent on a new revolution, two young boys enact negligence upon themselves, a woman uses cosmetic surgery to find an identity, a middle-aged man is undone by the grief of unrequited love.

The stories play out in a literal-metaphorical space, at once a club and a purgatory. Some of the characters have been here a long time, and their familiarity with their surroundings is telling. Others have only just arrived, and they play their immediate passing over and over again in search of some flicker of awareness. The stories are interconnected through their unity of time and place, and in some cases there are direct narrative crossovers with the characters. A band plays throughout the nine-minute duration, and the patrons are obliged to participate in singing-and-dancing choruses. A waiter provides a unifying presence in all the narratives and sometimes he is simultaneously present in several of the narratives. He is the agent of a space that is the central character of the project.

Special to this space is the ability to enter into the private, interior landscapes of each of the characters. These interior landscapes convey a compressed sense of the emotional states that the characters are experiencing. Get too close to any of the characters and the spectator will be bumped into this interior life without warning. In this way, Eavesdrop works on three layers: the interior landscapes of the characters, their public narratives, and the engagement with the spectator through the simple interactive media of its zoom and rotation functions that the user employs to navigate the space.

Exhibition Record

2004/9/7 - 9/19:  Brisbane Festival, Block Gallery, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

2004/10/7 - 11/7:  Melbourne International Festival of the Arts, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne, Australia

2005/1/8 - 1/30:  Sydney Festival, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia