Empire of Dirt: Behind the Scenes
Artist James Geurts and RMIT Professor Andy Ball talk about the collision of art and science behind Empire of Dirt, a public installation in RMIT's Rodda Lane.
This video features artist James Geurts and RMIT Professor Andy Ball talking about the creation of Empire of Dirt, a new public installation in RMIT’s Rodda Lane.
Voiceover plays over experimental music that shifts to light, inspirational music.
Duration: 2: 13 mins
RMIT University logo
EMPIRE OF DIRT
Visual: Empire of Dirt’s light-boxes and termite mound sculptures in Rodda Lane.
James Geurts [artist] (narrator): Empire of Dirt is about the reconstructed landscape. It looks at the relationship between the ecology of the soil and the ecology of the architecture and its infrastructure as a living system. The project draws out these layers of perception that are embedded in the site to make what’s already present more visible and works at connecting these material structures back to the landscape.
Visual: Vehicle drilling into the ground of a construction site.
James Geurts (narrator): The project responds directly to the site, looking at the soil that’s been laying dormant underneath the concrete for years.
Visual: Scientists testing the soil sample in a lab; James Geurts and Andy Ball examining the soil sample; microscopic images of the soil sample.
Professor Andy Ball [Director of RMIT’s Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Remediation] (narrator): I think to understand that these soils are the most diverse environment in the world… there are more microbes in just one cubic metre of soil than there are people on the planet, as an ecosystem that continually evolves, and it’s been evolving for millions of years and it’s evolving faster now because of the contaminants. We’re getting things that have never been there before because they’re man-made, and so these organisms are continually adapting.
Visual: 3D scans of Northern Territory termite mounds and sculptures; James Geurts designing and producing his termite mound sculptures.
James Geurts (narrator): Looking at the architectural fabric of the soil led to the large termite structures of the Northern Territory. The project relocates these living structures to colonise Melbourne CBD in the south. This relocation reflects the patterns of migration that’s been following the shifts of temperature. The artworks are a composite – they’re installed, reconfigured back into the site, draw out ways we experience time and matter.
Visual: Men installing light-boxes in Rodda Lane; attendees at Empire of Dirt’s opening night.
Professor Andy Ball (narrator): This is trying to really reconnect people to the land, to the soil. I think we’ve become disconnected. Through an artist’s work, we get a clearer insight into what’s happening, and the importance of that is that we are then able to offer a better insight into what’s happened to the public.
Video created by Singing Bowl Media
A proud collaboration between
Wonderment Walk Victoria logo, Carbon Arts logo, RMIT University: Centre of Art, Society and Transformation logo, New Academic Street: “Transforming the heart of the city campus” logo, Urban Animators: Living Laboratory logo, Lightscapes logo.
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