An unsuspecting shop window on a dark street, empty, except for a few wooden chairs and tables.
A trickle at first, then pooling, sloshing, filling, water floods the restaurant.
Tables bob,tip and capsize, gigantic Groper-like fish swim in and around.
On the street outside a small crowd gathers to watch in disbelief, passing drivers crane their necks to do a double take of this uncanny scene.
I’m watching documentation of artist Craig Walsh’s digital projection work, Incursion, a site specific project for the 2007 Nuit Blanche in Toronto, Canada, and a featured work in our lovely exhibition Fish in Australian Art.
In just a few short weeks Craig Walsh will be here at the museum for an in- conversation event with Stephen Scheding, co-curator of Fish in Australian Art. It will be an opportunity to hear from Craig on his work, his use of technology, his collaborative process and a chance to see extracts and documentation from some of his diverse and spectacular site-responsive installations and projections. After the talk, audiences will also enjoy wine, cheese and the chance to pop in into see the beautiful exhibition as it enters it’s final weeks.
Craig is well known for his large scale public artworks, projections that simulate surreal scenarios, artificial life forms, portraits and stories onto the landscape or sites of significance. He plays with the sculptural properties of projections to instil a kind of mythology into any chosen location. Having exhibited as far and wide as Yokohama, Gwangju and Murray Bridge, Craig has had the opportunity to work with people and places from all over the world, particularly through the recent Digital Odyssey project, a tour and residency that saw him packing his life and his studio into a caravan to travel around Australia producing 16 new works the space of 18 months in collaboration with regional communities. For the moment, he is enjoying the stability of a home in the suburbs while he undertakes a residency in Sydney.Looking at Craig’s body of site-specific work makes you wish you had seen all this in situ. There is something special about accessing the insight that an artist can shed on their own practice, particularly in revealing the visual trickery behind artworks. For example Incursion is not just a projection, it has elements of performance and sculpture- the footage was made by creating a scale model of the restaurant into which water and fish and miniature furniture were all placed and filmed through the glass. The resulting footage projected onto a rear projection screen covering the glass windows of the real restaurant created a captivating illusion, an environment where the fish were not part of the “…of the day” menu but rather the dominant species invading and consuming the space of the restaurant.