Client: Melbourne city council
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Completion date: 2014
Artwork budget: $70,000
artist designer manufacturer
Public Art Program Project Coordinator
City of Melbourne
Apparatus for Transtemporal Occurrence of Impending Space is an interactive artwork situated in Melbourne’s Docklands on the banks of the Yarra. The machine exterior pays tribute to the steampunk genre, while the internal automata theatre, hidden inside a porthole, shows a dieselpunk ‘future’ with suspended tram cars, dirigibles and grand art deco architecture that never materialised. To operated the theatre, a handle is hand-wound to generate power and light.
Extensive research suggests that Apparatus for Transtemporal Occurrence of Impending Space is indeed a 19th-century invention that sees 50 years into the possible future. The machine was recently restored after being ‘misplaced’ in Council storage for a period of 80 years, but the predictive automaton is permanently jammed on a fictional vision of Melbourne in the 1930s – as envisaged by its 19th-century inventors.
Exploring ‘imagined histories’ and developing fictional apparatus/instruments with accompanying narratives is a key theme of my APPARATUS Series. By firing the public imagination, APPARATUS invites speculation and discussion, prompting viewers to question to what extent the story is ‘real. As well as their physical presence, the evolving narrative becomes as culturally significant as the APPARATUS sculptures themselves. APPARATUS becomes an active part of the local community, reigniting public interest in local history and surroundings. Each APPARATUS is unique and site specific to the local area that it is created for with the story being inspired by the local history of the area.
With highly seductive surfaces of polished and cast bronze, brass, steel and copper; playful and responsive lighting and theatre; the machines encourage human interaction and exploration. Viewers are prompted to consider the nature of time and place, our impact and how we understand what was, ponder what is and speculate on the possibilities.