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Perfect Square (2006)  
    Animation Duration 10'25"  

Audio excerpt - 1'09"

    Stills from Perfect Square  


The visual component of this piece comprises sections of a high-resolution scan of an insect's wing. Only through technological mediation are we able to view the intricate precision of the design and function of the tiny wing. At this microscopic level images become abstracted and symbolic, and evoke a variety of visual and cultural connotations.

The structure employed for the layout and transformation of the images is an interpretation of the mathematical formula known as perfect squares. Perfect squares are our most familiar numbers. They are 1x1=1, 2x2=4, 3x3=9, and so on. This piece is constructed using 64 images [8x8], which form a spread of patterning across the screen.

The sound component of the work comprises five field, or phonographic, recordings of the songs of cicadas. These minimally manipulated field recordings consist of the seemingly less apparent sounds of the daily round, and focus attention upon that which is commonly overlooked or even psychologically ‘inaudible' much of the time. The frequency and repetitive nature of many of such sounds ensure their inevitable drift to the backwaters of consciousness by local populations. They constitute the sounds that evoke a sense of place place and are frequently noticed only by visitors. This experience is common when visiting another culture – all senses are heightened, and in particular sound becomes a powerful tool for making sense of a different set of cultural values.

The recordings are taken from both urban and rural landscapes including roadsides, temples and gardens in south-eastern Australia , northern Thailand and northern Cambodia . Repeating phrases form patterns of rhythmic sound which consist of varying cycles of ticks, clicks, trills and whistles. Cicadas produce a mechanical sound through the use of timbal organs located at the base of the abdomen, and create the loudest sounds of all insects. The cicada's song is familiar in many warm climates, yet the specific calls of cicadas vary dramatically from a single almost continuous note to the complexity of tonal harmonies. The cicada features as a powerful symbol in many cultural mythologies around the world.



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