Thought Train - Wynscreen Launch
01 July 2017
Detail from 'Thought Train'
Finally we can talk about the Wynscreen project that we have been working on for almost a year. Ian Hobbs and I have create a moving image artwork titled Thought Train, it will be up and running for the month of July.
'Thought Train' - Wynscreen Photo by Sam James
Wynscreen is a 23-metre wide curved LED screen showing a constantly changing series of moving images created by Australian sound and installation artists using contemporary digital technology in their art practices. Situated within Wynyard Walk at the Clarence Street Entrance to Wynyard Station, Wynscreen is the first major immersive public art project commissioned by Transport for NSW in conjunction with Cultural Capital.
Wynscreen project Programme
Nomandslanding in Glasgow
15 June 2017
Singer listening to the wall
Nomanslanding June 2017 at Tramway, Glasgow.
A major international artwork that has been specially conceived to take the audience on a unique journey through Tramway’s epic theatre space. At the heart of the piece is a monumental machine architecture designed to be a space for listening, contemplation and performance.
The work has been developed for this presentation in association with Refugee Festival Scotland and touches upon contemporary themes of migration and asylum as well as more personal experiences of journeying, separation and loss.
Nomanslanding June 2017 at Tramway, Glasgow.Nomanslanding is a unique collaboration by five international artists whose different practices involve public art, sound work, architecture and performance. Co-commissioned and co-produced by Merchant City Festival Glasgow, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority in Australia and Urbane Kuenste Ruhr in Germany. It is an outstanding piece of interdisciplinary work that has been experienced by thousands in Sydney and the Ruhr and has now been re-conceived for this, its UK premiere.
The Nomanslanding collaborative team
The Glasgow production presented inside a black-box theatre space - not on water.
Spaced 3: North by Southeast - week 3
15 July 2016
WEEK 3: COMPLETION OF WORKS (july 2016)
The new “products” that we produce, as artist guest-workers, will be presented/disseminated as interventions into the historical and contemporary narratives of the factory. These products will be embedded in the history of the factory in two primary ways: 1) by installing them in the Rejmyre Glass Factory Museum, amongst the other historical objects on display and 2) in the form of a catalogue of conceptual products, in the style of industrial product catalogues/indexes. (DP)
image: John and Robyn develop the concept
The final week was a very intense working on the final series of work for the product catalogue. After 3 weeks many relationships and collaborations had been established and an understanding of our distinct ways of performing labour. My final work was divided into 2 series: A collection of glass listening-devices and 2 meditative films.
GLASS LISTENING WORKS
This week I had my glassblowing session with John. He blew more that 8 pieces in 2 hour. He took on the challenge and mastered the form. He attempted to fulfill my desire to add a small wipe of red to the clear glass but this proved to be difficult. As I had already discovered, the Rejmrye Red is difficult and expensive, in fact the red I was looking for was not in stock, generally only used for special products, due to cost. We tested blue and dark orange but the conclusion was that clear would be the best solution. From the series of 8 glass pieces one contains a recording of Stefan Orstofsson - the Rejmyre Antique Dealer and glass specialist telling the mythical story about the lost recipe of Rejmyre Red glass the work is title Rejmyre Red Recipe.
The annealing table is a work of pure observation or quiet anticipation. The annealing table is the most contemplative place in the factory. The annealing table exists at a snail pace, it gives birth to the glass objects. The steel wire skin carries the works out and presents them as successes or cracked rejects. This table is mesmeric offering—a place of intoxicating calm.
There are two versions; the second version includes the audio of Sissi instructing the glassblowers in a meditation about heat, one of Daniel’s exercises. The work is titled I am Rejmyre Glass.
Like wise drink fountain was another captivating film study made in the first week and then revisited in the concluding week. The continuous running water is for quenching the thirst of the glassblowers. While filming on the last day in the factory one of the glass blowers noticed that I was filming and signaled that he would take part and perform in my film. This was a collaborative act and a glorious moment.
The 3-week process was intense and deeply focused. The framework of Performing Labour offered a springboard to establish new thinking and offer a platform to engage with the processes of other artists; observing one another to develop ideas and then put them aside to make room for new investigations. The question is… when is an idea ready to be freely disposable. The Art Lab/spaced 3: north by southeast residency is generous opportunity, thanks to Daniel and Sissi’s commitment, calmness and creative intelligence. The collaborative individualism was successful in this group but I can imagine not all artists would be comfortable to give over to such communing. It is rare to observe the process of other artists so intimately…I appreciate the experience and look forward to the second part in 2017.
1 Excerpt from Daniel Peltz’s proposal for the residency/workshop
image: Stefan listening to the Rejmyre Red story
Spaced 3: North by Southeast - Week 2
08 July 2016
WEEK 2: DEVELOPING PRODUCTS (july 2016)
Within this context, the workers inhabit a state of dual-consciousness, their labour becoming both process and product, embodied and disembodied. (DP)
image: Meditation glass
After the first week of workshops and exercises this week became more focused upon ideas development and then creating a product. The idea of product was discussed and pulled apart. The product didn’t need to be a tangible object, although in the end everyone created at least 1 glass product. It was hard to resist the pull of the molten glass especially as Rejmyre is one of last surviving glass factories in Sweden. Daniel and Sissi had negotiated with the management that each artist would have an opportunity to work with the master glass blower John. We could work with him for a limited 2-hour session at a set hourly rate. To effectively work with the glass blower we had to develop a very clear concept that could be discuss and completed with John—one artist per day in the 2 hour session. This was creatively challenging for all; firstly for the artists’ to resolve a strong idea and for John to interpret and technically produce the work in glass within such a short time frame – pressure was on.
Much research was undertaken during the week. Ulf the owner of the factory supplied us with many historical books. One that I spent a lot of time with was titled Glass: The Miracle Maker – from 1940’s; the Rejmyre factory remains frozen in this time zone so this book was relevant to the space.
In the second week the performance studies scholar Ioana Jucan joined the group as ethnographer-in‐residence. She conducted an ethnography of the labour at the Rejmyre Glasbruk, while the artist-as-guest-workers developed the product. This entailed discussion and feedback sessions with all the workers in the factory during the Performing Labour residency. These interviews where recorded and will assist in Ioana’s conclusive report.
Towards the end of the week many of us needed supplies to complete our products. We made a trip to Norrkoping’s amazing electronics supplies Kjell&Co. Ardino boards, discrete mp3 players and small headphones where purchased. In the limited time available I decide to use a ready made sound systems but intend to develop a specifically programmed ardino board for the next phase—the residency in 2017.
Quote of the week
I am happy to hear you are doing fine 
1 Excerpt from Daniel Petz’s proposal for the residency/workshop
2 From the Roy Andersson’s film A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Swedish: En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron) 2014
The glow form the furnace
Spaced 3: North by Southeast - Week 1
02 July 2016
WEEK 1: ArtLAB Rejmyre Glass Factory
Sissi Westerburg - SWE; Daniel Peltz - USA/SWE; Alex Auriema - USA, Filip Olszewski - USA; Robyn Backen - AUS.
We had a very intensive week in the factory starting each morning at 6.15am with the glass workers. We positioned ourselves in a very orderly fashion behind the tourist view space. We are there to be viewed and observed by the tourists, glassworkers and management.
The days have been filled with group exercise/workshops, meditation, conceptual challengers and collaborative discussion about each persons proposed product development. Nothing is out of limits and there is so much opportunity to develop ideas individually as well as through the supportive critical feedback of the group. Slowly we are starting to get to know the glassworkers and this allows for an opportunity to understand from the other side.
RESEARCH PROJECT SYNOPSIS
…the site, an industrial glass production factory in Östergotland that, like many contemporary industries, has turned to auto-exhibitionist tourism practices to supplement a struggling economic position. Within this context, the workers inhabit a state of dual-consciousness, their labour becoming both process and product, embodied and disembodied. They enact functional craft gestures and produce industrial products, while simultaneously producing a tourist spectacle that renders their labouring bodies, and gestures, as pure aesthetic products. This research considers how a conceptual performance of labour, about labour [in the context of these hybrid industrial/tourist factories], might be used as a strategy to invoke a parallel state of dual-consciousness in a group of artistresearchers. The research explores understandings, of the complex role of contemporary human labour, that might be glimpsed from assuming this position.
(an extract from ArtLAB synopsis)
Spaced 3: North by Southeast
01 July 2016
Robyn Backen selected for the Spaced 3: north by southeast project.
Spaced 3: north by southeast is a program centred on an artists’ exchange between Nordic and Australian visual artists, managed by International Art Space in partnership with key Nordic and West Australian organisations.
The program will span three years (2016–18) and comprise 12 residency-based projects that will take place in regional, remote and outer-urban locations in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Western Australia. Nordic artists will undertake their residencies in Western Australia, whilst Australian artists will be placed in the Nordic region. These residencies are positioned as the means to develop new works that will be created by each artist in response to their engagement with the social, environmental and historical contexts of the host communities.
Selected artists are: Robyn Backen (NSW), Keg de Souza (NSW), Deborah Kelly (NSW), Danius Kesminas (VIC), Sam Smith (NSW), Dan McCabe (WA), Gustav Hellberg (Sweden), Hulda Ros Gudnadottir (Iceland), Tor Lindstrand (Sweden), Linda Persson (Sweden), Michelle Eistrup (Denmark) Heidi Lunabba (Finland).
Selection by Marco Marcon (director of spaced3) and ArtLAB (Daniel Peltz & Sissi Westerburg) for Rejmyre residency
Spaced3 North by Southeast Website
Exposure performance - 2011
There are many unused rooms in the Rejmyre glass factory building but this room invited engagement. It is a room without light, only a slight spill at the entrance. When I entered this room it offered potential. The darkness suggested prosaic questions: Is it empty? Is it full? What was the space used for? This room asked for disclosure and with subtle performative intervention the room will be exposed to the senses of the audience.
(Statement supporting the performance presented in 2011 at the end of the short residency period link to my website)
Exposure detail - 2011