Preston, Julieanna. "Stratified matter: moving things again", In Drawing On, vol. 1, 2015.


Stratified Matter, moving things again (2013) is a video that reflects upon a public performance Moving stuff (2012). In its original proposal, moving stuff asked: What new notions of ecology and economy emerge from acts of material exchange? How might such acts offer alternative approaches towards resolving or responding to the complexities of contemporary place? As a performance, Moving stuff operated across and between the Whau River estuary edge and Rosebank Road located in Auckland New Zealand with an aim to dispel artificial boundaries that segregate the natural world from the artificial world, the estuary from the industrial zone, and the ecological from the manufactured. As mud and water, the stuff of the biological environment, were shifted bucketful by bucketful up to the road’s edge, timber pallets, an object symbolizing the economies of an industrial manufacture environment, were transported down to the tidal zone. The repetitive, labourious and absurd task of shifting these materials back and forth across a zone rich in vegetal, geological, human, and climate exchange was meant to prompt alternative relationships between place and people and material stuff. Visitors were welcomed to join the performance in order to heighten a sense of community engagement and increase the rate of exchange. (Many hands make work light.) The hands-on participatory aspect of the performance aimed to invoke a collective empathy towards the complexity of the site, its history, its current occupants, its on-going processes and its futures.

Given the temporal nature of the performance and the impossibility of representing the fullness of its action, the video was created using a process of thinking-through-doing that included analysing film footage taken during the performance and editing it as a multi-layered visual (second) experience. As a creative work in its own right, the video neither documents nor reports on the event as it happened, but instead, takes creative license to recall and recount, even fabricate, the scene. Stratified Matter, moving things again highlights the intensity of the performance as an act of labour, to some degree a labour of love, an intimate interactive exchange with various material bodies: sky, traffic, asphalt, hill, people, mud and river. These material bodies structure the video’s composition and sequence in accordance to movement traversing the site’s topographical cross section during the two-day event. 


Credit: Tristan Maxwell, video editor and Mick Hubertus MICA, research assistant

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