Portrait of an astronaut
Erica Seccombe, Do you read me over? A portrait of an Astronaut, 1995, edition of three, 4m w x 1 m w, 32 panels screen print on Stonehenge paper.
- One edition acquired 1997 for the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery print collection.
Do you read me over? A portrait of an Astronaut is a work that explores the proximity of the viewer and embodies two perspectives from close up and from a distance. The panels are structured around a depiction of open wings in flight and are screen printed over a silver pattern of trilobites, extinct marine arthropods.
It was during a Graduate Diploma degree at Sydney College of the arts that Erica first began to investigate the relationship between the visual arts and emerging digital technologies. Inspired by space travel, the environment and science her research project was entitled The Fool, the Astronaut and the Scientist. Drawn from Erica's readings of Robert Romanyshyn’s Technology as Symptom & Dream and Jean-François Lyotard’s The Inhuman, this work is a metaphor for the human desire to leave Earth. This work also embodies concepts of of time and space by considering the passage of evolution, and the future of humanity if our connection to Earth is lost. It many ways it is a memento-mori, reminding us of the possibility of our own extinction. The work was created by using digital print-outs of half tone screens by using a computer and a laser photocopier.
To put this work in context of its time, in 1995 very few people I knew had personal computers, let alone a personal email account. I’m not even sure if any of my friends even owned owned a compact disc player as I remember I was still listening to tapes on my walkman and typing essays on my Ollivetti. Sydney College of the Arts, still in White Bay, Balmain, had only one B&W Mac Classic in the library. To get access to a colour computer I had to borrow a friend's lab card in order to use the Apple Macs in the design school next door. At this time I was granted access to VisLab at The University of Sydney where I was introduced to the concepts of scientific visualisation with programs such as Houdini. My computer scientist friends were all working on artificial intelligence so I was exposed to a lot of developments I might not have been otherwise. Even though I was introduced to new ideas I still felt my place was as an observer, hence the perception of feeling like an astronaut, of looking down on Earth and wondering where all this technology is leading us. I became really concerned for the future. It also caused me to start to ask some fairly pertinent questions about the relationship with technology and art, the foremost question being, if artists use art to make technology, what happens when that technology is superseded; does the art survive?