The Pitfall Exhibition

Filed under Reflections on Process


Pitfall is a new media installation created in light, media, object, text and multi channel sound. It builds upon ideas and cross disciplinary processes developed during a recent ANAT Synapse Art Science residency in collaboration with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

The AWC have instigated radical approaches to conservation in order to stem the rapid decline of Australian small mammals across our landscapes, with species-focused recovery programs and the use of large-scale feral proof fencing techniques. An extensive use of scientific trapping, tagging, measuring and counting processes allows the AWC to demonstrate net gains. One frequently used technique involves the use of pitfall tube traps to catch small mammals and other invertebrates.

During a ‘ground truthing’ residency in Kalamurina sanctuary (North of Lake Eyre in SA) I began to reflect upon the cultural and ecological ideas of a ‘pitfall’ – as an unapparent source of trouble or danger; a hidden hazard. Indeed our very presence out there searching for rare and endangered species suggested we had both fallen into some form of trap, and yet believed/conceived some viable ways out. I was profoundly torn between concern, hope and fear for truly exquisite species in crisis, the astonishing almost gone .. and I, we, had barely even heard of them.

This love, loss and lack inspired me to devise and conduct a playful ‘survey’ of my own for the tightly-knit scientific team, working together for a short time at that location. I devised ‘Pitfalls, An Opportunistic Cultural Survey’. As the surveys were undertaken and returned to me I then ‘ran the numbers’ through my own custom artistic processes – in order to conceive Pitfall, an artwork which references the rich diversity of ideas contributed by this highly focused group of scientists on some very big, and very little, picture topics. Pitfall is both heartfelt and wide ranging – and yet it presents a very simple, potent message straight from the conservation ‘coal face’ for species past, present and future (including our own).

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