Reverberating Futures (2021)

Fiona Hillary, Reverberating Futures, 2021, 360-degree sound and film work. Last image by Giles Campbell Wright.
The southern hemisphere is currently experiencing unprecedented occurrences  of algal drift, appearing as red tides during the day, noctiluca scintillans glow blue in the evenings crashing waves. Noctiluca Scintillans live in the ocean; they are nomadic and non-motile; they rely on the wind and the tide to move. Their glow works on a circadian rhythm, a 24-hour internal clock. They have a flagellum that extends from their cell, scooping phytoplankton, nutrients and other algae from the water as food. They use carbon and emit oxygen and are often useful as a bioassay tool to detect pollutants in water. Algae contribute 90% of the world's oxygen – it gives us life.

In this work, I am interested in the abstraction of ordinary experiences that allow audiences to encounter the possibility of recuperation in the age of the Anthropocene (Haraway 2016). Learning to culture and live with bioluminescent dinoflagellates in the laboratory and the field allows me to consider them as companion species. My research approach involves documenting Noctiluca Scintillans and other dinoflagellates with image, sound and film – creating digital representations of the research process. I am interested in the affect of their bloom and what the blooms actually mean. Awe and wonder create an affective impact in the same way a siren lures a sailor to their demise. The shimmer of the bioluminescent glow lures us into the reality of the impact of climate change.

Thinking with the ‘shimmer of the biosphere’(Bird Rose 2017), this work offers a reading of and for our times. This practice-led project is a creative enquiry for the future from a site on the western fringes of Naarm, the Woiwurrung word for Melbourne, Australia – the Western Treatment Plant and what remains of a decommissioned township that once was the Treatment Farm in the parish of Cocoroc.

Fiona Hillary

Fiona Hillary is a Melbourne based artist working in the public realm. Her passion lies in site specific practices and the human/non-human relationships that reveal themselves across time. Exploring scale through publicly shared moments of awe and wonder to more personal and intimate encounters, she asks us to consider who and what we are in the process of becoming? Working with site, neon, sound, human and non-human companion species, her work has shifted from a permanent incursion in the public realm to focusing on more temporary, fleeting encounters in and of the everyday. Fiona curated Posthuman PUBLICS, a laboratory of posthuman convergences for RMIT’s Project Space and is expanding this work through her current research.

Fiona has made and curated permanent, temporary, collaborative, performative works for a range of commissioning organizations. Her most recent work reverberating futures recently launched at Deakin University’s Nyall Precinct, further iterations will be performed as a part of Public Art Commission’s Treatment III in collaboration with Melbourne Water’s Western Treatment Plant. 37°57'02.5"S 144°38'02.0"E was an immersive sound and light experience commissioned for Treatment: Flightlines at the Western Treatment Plant. Fiona curated the 10th Anniversary of the Gertrude Street Projection festival in 2017, ‘Unfurling futures’.  ‘a place for gathering’ is a permanent, neon and sound work made in collaboration with Landscape Architect, Sarah Haq in Noble Park, commissioned by the City of Greater Dandenong.

Fiona is the Program Manager of the Master of Arts – Art in Public Space at RMIT University. She is a Research Lead in the School of Art research group Contemporary Art and Social Transformation.  Fiona is a member of the Scientific Committee and a co-editor for City Space Architecture’s Journal of Public Space - Art and Activism editions with Luisa Bravo and Maggie McCormick – Art and Activism editions. She sits on the Curatorial Advisory Committee for the Gertrude Street Projection Festival. She is a member of the Algae Society, a global collective of interdisciplinary researchers. Fiona is completing her PhD at Deakin University.

This project aligns with AEGIS UN Sustainable Development Goals  11 13 & 14.

Acknowledgement of Country

AEGIS acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we work. We respectfully acknowledge their Elders, past and present. We also acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters across Australia and its Dreaming.