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It may not be very often that the paths of art and academic research cross paths, but when they do, you can expect something strikingly vibrant and compelling. The ANU Mural Initiative has brought the magic to the fore. Combining the creativity of 24 students from the ANU School of Art & Design with current world-renowned research, the project has paired each student with an academic undertaking research at one of the University's seven academic Colleges. Each pair met at length to discuss the academic's research and consider ways in which the most vital elements of the work could be conveyed to the general public through the artist's chosen medium.
The Mural Initiative has culminated in the INSIGHT OUT Exhibition. This collection of captivating artworks traverse a range of disciplines such as painting, illustration, photography, and digital art, as well as a broad range of topics including memory and truth, heritage rock art, the mechanics of the human knee, block chain, stillbirth, solar cells, global health and infectious diseases, and artificial intelligence, to name a few.
As part of the ANU Mural Initiative, the research of CHL’s Ari Larissa Heinrich (pronouns: he/they/他) has been the inspiration behind 面对面 (Face to Face) by artist Sydney Farey. The artist has created a portrait of a quest for self-understanding during a timeless conflict between the unfiltered human form and technological life. Based on Ari’s most recent work, a translation of Chi Ta-wei’s queer speculative fiction The Membranes from Chinese to English, 面对面 takes into consideration themes of identity politics, gender, literacy, technology, social change and the future. Influenced by horror manga and the work of Junji Ito, 面对面’s monochromatic colour scheme and focus on clean line work presents a graphic narrative for the viewer’s interpretation. With no clear storyline across the panels of this piece, the artists asks you to consider your own relationship between human experience and technology to carve out a unique narrative.
"It was a privilege and an honour to work with this outstanding and gifted young artist. As a scholar I often find it challenging to put to words the kinds of research I do, because the various strands—medical history, visual culture, the body, queerness, Sinophone cultural production—can seem so disparate on the surface. This wonderful artist has created a work that captures everything in one place, with minimal words, through the power of art. Maybe the next time I need to describe my research, I’ll simply reference Sydney Farey’s amazing illustration!" — Ari Heinrich
Ari’s work revolves around contemporary visual cultures from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, with a focus on experimental works that employ medical and biological materials like body parts. For Ari, translation is a way to contribute to cultural exchange to help Sinophone literature reach larger audiences; it’s a form of outreach, as it exposes material and perspectives to those who are not students of Chinese Studies. Ari’s latest translation will be out in June from Columbia University Press. For Ari, The Membranes is essential reading, as it lends represents the diversity of voices—including queer ones—in the speculative fiction Sinosphere at a time of peak international interest in Chinese speculative fiction.
The INSIGHT OUT exhibition is free and will be on display at Exhibition Avenue 24 hours, 7 days a week until Friday, 7 May 2021.