Humanity’s impact on climate is profound and yet the collective will to act is absent. The explanation for this paradox may lie in our inability to distinguish the physical reality of the world we live upon from the perceived reality of the world we live in – a world largely experienced through consumption and mass media.

The installation The Bell Buoy explores this idea. While the approaching asteroid of disaster-movie fiction becomes a metaphor for the imminent climate catastrophe, its source in physical reality, the spinning fragment of fossil fuel, draws a parallel with our hyperreal world. The lone, silent buoy is an impotent warning of the danger. As Rudyard Kipling’s poem The Bell Buoy heralds, “By the gates of doom I sing, On the horns of death I ride.”

The Bell Buoy, is an installation in a darkened gallery space involving two video projections, sound, an electro-mechanical device, video camera, computer, electronics and coal.

 The Bell Buoy from Andrew Styan on Vimeo.

Exhibition history:
  • Canberra Contemporary Art Space, July 2016
  • Newcastle Art Gallery from February to May 2016
  • Stills gallery in Sydney from July to August 2015
  • PICA in Perth, from May to June, 2015, for the national graduate show Hatched:2015 and awarded the Dr Harold Schenberg Art Prize – installation images below
  • Continuation, the Graduate Show, Watt Space gallery, November 2014.
  • Shorts for the University of Newcastle create2308 program during August 2014
  • First exhibited at the photo-media studio of the University of Newcastle in June, 2014.
Reviews:
  • Rebecca Gallo in The Art Life, 10 August 2015:
    “Coal is such a dominant agent in climate change and environmental discourse, but most of us understand it only in the abstract. In Styan’s installation, coal is both demystified, and imbued with symbolism and power.”
  • 2015   Judges* comments for the Dr Harold Schenberg Art Prize:
    “… a power in its simplicity… …video, light, sound and sculpture installation collectively envelop the viewer, creating a ‘device of wonder’. ”
    *Amy Barrett-Lennard, Director, PICA; Lisa Slade, Assistant Director Artistic Programs, Art Gallery of South Australia; and Ted Snell, Director, UWA Cultural Precinct
Installation images:

Newcastle Art Gallery, February to May 2016

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Stills gallery, Sydney, July 2015 – also see installation images

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PICA Gallery, Perth, May 2015

Image credit: Alessandro Bianchetti

Watt Space Gallery, Newcastle, November 2014