Symbiotic Illusion



— Kurt Vonnegut, “Cold Turkey,” In These Times, May 10, 2004

FOW ER TOO     42

— military call sign of 42

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the civilization created a super-computer DEEP THOUGHT to discover the meaning of life. It took 7.5 million years, and the produced answer was FORTY TWO. They have forgotten what the question was.

These descriptions of Modern Times are key references for Michael Morgan’s new work  Symbiotic Illusion. It examines the nostalgic glorification of conflict in contemporary societies compartmentalised within their biased geographical, cultural, religious, ethnic and ideological spaces.  The authors of Bhagavad-Gita would never comprehend modern day philosophers’ awareness of digitised destruction such as drone killing televised in our lounge room, while eating dinner.

Humanity considers that “symbiosis” is the ideal, an idea of mutual benefit. However, humans are far from being able to adopt symbiotic relationships.

Symbiotic Illusion is a large scale sculptural installation that features enclosed environments. Both “natural” and artificial (plastic and ice head casts, water, ceramic figurines, LED lights, air pumps contained in fish tanks) —  these environments portray illusions and the escape of meaning through temporarily sustained transitory formations of life which, regardless of their agenda, are the subject of the nature’s progression.



Michael Morgan website.




Image – Motion.Lab

Created by Deakin Motion.Lab researcher Dr. John McCormick, PhD candidate Stephanie Andrews and researcher Dr. Jordan Beth Vincent, Duet is a Virtual Reality artwork that invites viewers to don a VR headset and engage in a movement interaction with an Artificially Intelligent entity.

“The AI entity incorporates machine learning and neural networks in its design,” says McCormick. “The AI agent is able to accumulate movement knowledge in a way that mimics human learning and transforms an interactive experience into a collaborative one.”  In other words, the AI entity learns from previous participants in terms of how to move and respond like a human, and allows a user to embark on a movement-based dialogue between participant and digital partner.

Duet incorporates virtual reality, full body motion capture, and the AI entity to explore concepts of embodied knowledge, shared movement poetics, and distortions of personal identity.

As Andrews describes, “both the human participant and the AI avatar become performers, spontaneously improvising with each other and exploring wordless communication.” 

Within the VR headest, Duet generates a visualization of the relationship between the user and the agent, exploring illusions of perceptual space through the use of minimal aesthetics, and offers a new perspective on how virtual reality might expand the possibilities of human-computer interaction.



Images – Motion.Lab



Telematic Café: On Air – Friday Night 6 May 2016, 6-10 pm


The next edition of Telematic Cafe is here – and will form a part of Geelong After Dark, 6pm to 10pm, Friday 6 May 2016. Addressing this year’s festival theme – “air” – Telematic Café draws on the nature of air as it signifies immateriality and space, and is titled Telematic Café: On Air. “Telematic communication models” are therefore relating to the capacity of constructing new spaces, highlighting the merge of separate worlds and modes of materiality and providing expanded/new areas for communication, experience and existence.

In the framework of Geelong’s own Night Arts festival – Telematic Cafe will open up for the night to temporarily occupy and transform two very different but close locations to create site(s) that will make the art experience a tangible /physical activity which – metaphorically – compares to the process of having a coffee within the social environment of cafe.


Telematic Cafe: On Air is composed to offer four projects across two locations.

LOCATION 1: BEAVS BAR (Little Malop street, Geelong). This people’s favourite eclectic lounge bar will host:

Kazuhiro Goshima (JP). SHADOWLAND. Through a poetic narrative this stereoscopic (3D) film explores the creation of 3D vision with DSLR camera. The work brought the artist the Award of Distinction at Ars Electronica 2014.  

Radio Whispers (Bhagavad-Gita) with THE PULSE 94.7FM (community radio) and Geelong Amateur Radio Club.  A collaboration on radio waves and a chance to explore the construction of radio as the apparatus of communication – from live production and broadcast to listening.

LOCATION 2: VACANT SHOP (Cnr Little Malop Street and James Street). This rustic place will focus on the creation of new realities featuring two artist projects:

Stephanie Andrews, John McCormick, Jordan Vincent and Deakin Motion.Lab. DUET. Exploring the newest technologies, this virtual reality experience brings you into communication relationships, via movement, with your artificially intelligent partner.

Michael Morgan. SYMBIOTIC ILLUSION. A monumental installation reflecting the material qualities – solid, liquid, to air-like and a statement of the metaphor about illusionary nature of coexistence and the contradiction contained in human-related conflicts.

Telematic Cafe: On Air is curated by Marita Batna.

Top Image: Michael Morgan. Symbiotic Illusion (detail), 2016.

Preliminary Announcement of the Next Event of Telematic Café

Hello! — Telematic Café (TC) is greeting you and announcing the coming of its next event! The inaugural appearance of TC as part of Telematic Embrace – Café that took place at George Paton Gallery (University of Melbourne Union House, May 2015) – the venue famous for its radical approaches to art in Australia in the 1970s and 80s – established TC as an archaeological and reflective project seeking meanings of technology-based mediation in post-digital conditions. It is the wider motivation of TC to revisit and refresh avant-garde visions in the time of digital culture.

The next edition of Telematic Café is making its way to you by continuing explorations into old and new technologies. Its key guidelines are: to create transformative, transient and temporary “telematic communication models,” – this may take various forms including distributed spatial constructs by means of telecommunication networks but should ultimately focus on awareness and creative thinking about the Medium of our expanded connections and experiences.

The TC project is not programmatic, but rather discursive, and curious to ask a question – what can be learnt by the possibilities of the post-digital aesthetics of representation within the meta-space of networks (the data extracted from these networks) but also – the avant-gardist tradition of instigating, within an experimental art process, alternative real-time systems for communication, or even relationships? A platform of testing and “tasting” of what’s on Menu, TC occupies the field of art where it matters how it operates here and now: TC functions as an interactive environment in social, collective, possibly – collaborative contexts.

Welcome to Telematic Cafe

Dear friends,

Telematic Café (TC) is going to open and operate at George Paton Gallery from 13 May though to 29 May. Situated in the heart of the University of Melbourne it will welcome visitors into its relaxed warm space, where the coffee will be available for free.

What can you expect from TC?  It is a discursive environment aimed at considering communication networks and will enable critical and creative experiences of communication in the network space. Works by Camille Robinson, Travis Cox, Tara Elizabeth Cook, Richie Cyngler and USA-based Chris Williams will resonate as unique ‘telematic communication models’ and you need to find out for yourself what they are about. Teaser images for some of these models are posted here.

Integrated in the Telematic Café will also be blogging and live-tweeting (#telematiccafe).

Travis Cox. Still from ELAINE's generated mosaic, 2014. Monitor.

Travis Cox. Still from ELAINE’s generated mosaic, 2014.

The work by Travis Cox – ELAINE (Encapsulated Learning Algorithm Interpreting New Experiences) will create a dynamic framework of exchange between VCA and Parkville by being located at VCA Digital Hub Foyer and the George Paton Gallery.

The promotional image for Richie Cyngler, Ideological Picnic.

Richie Cyngler. Ideological Picnic, 2015.



Image from the work by Camille Robinson. I'm Here to Listen.

Camille Robinson. I’m Here to Listen II, 2014



Venue: George Paton Gallery, University of Melbourne Union House (2nd level), Parkville  +  VCA Digital Hub Foyer
Time: 11am-5pm Monday to Friday
Dates: 13 – 29 May
For more information contact curator Marita Batna,, 0425 326 728

Disable access (via elevator). Seating provided.

Telematic Café is partnering with George Paton Gallery and the University of Melbourne Student Union Creative Arts Department.

The artists involved in Telematic Embrace—Café acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which this work was developed and is presented on. We pay our respect to their elders past and present.

Bush Video (1973-1975)

” Hello … this is BUSH VIDEO transmitting some printed messages. We are people who are putting our heads into the common information space of video communication. We define video as a tool for the reception, codification, and transmission of audio/visual information, and as the technological extension of the human brain’s memory/image processing, storage, and retrieval system. After consciously and unconsciously, seeing and dreaming, video and metavideo 24 hours a day for the last four months we are now giving a brief report of “these instrumented revisits to paradise” (Bucky) and the discovered educational, social integrational, global culture participational, and simply world turning-on potentines of video communication which make the present pre-programmed, one-way broadcast TV as obsoletely relevant as the town crier.” [1]

The hippie video collective Bush Video – pioneers of democratic media in Australia – are best known for their seminal project at the student festival in Nimbin (1973). They gave out cameras to festival participants and laid a cable network for community broadcasting. The contributed material was shown on multiple monitors around the festival. Back in Sydney, these were used in the studio which was the home for a ‘collaborative anarchy’ centered around experimentation with electronic video.  Read the full story of Bush Video documented by Stephen Jones here.

Poster for Bush Video Theatre (1973). From [2]

Poster for Bush Video Theatre (1973). From [2]

One of the Bush Video’s founders Mick Glasheen on the ecological aesthetics of the electronic medium (from the conversation with Stephen Jones in 2005):

“I was drawn to the organic nature of it, … it seemed to me that video and electronic art is really an image of … energy! It’s live light energy! Electromagnetic fields that are made visible! And so I was just attracted to that, [and I thought] … This is amazing! That we’ve got our hands on this… that we can look at… Just like … the first time I saw a television image I couldn’t believe it. You know, there’s this glowing cathode tube with an image there that was alive. So I just felt that there’s life there, this new life-form, that could be felt – when you’re doing video effects, when you’re doing feedback, the feedback effect of video, Bush Video pursued hours and hours of this feedback… Then I was feeling drawn to that because it was this kind of… it seemed to be that that’s where the life was… in this machine. And what could be coaxed out of this? How could this be understood? What was this? And years and years later I kept on puzzling about what is this? What is the philosophy behind it? What is the scientific principle that’s going on here? I didn’t understand what it was at all. But now it seemed to come out that it’s like a Mandelbrot set, in its kind of feedback formula. Like, this simple iterative process.” [2]

[1] Quotation from article ‘Bush Video Tharunka (August 1973)’ – on Scanlines: Media Art in Australia since the 1960s (

[2] Quotation from article ‘Bush Video’ by Stephen Jones – on Scanlines: Media Art in Australia since the 1960,

Intersecting Reality and Illusion

Imagine being in two places at once… In quite different moments of techno-culture, these art projects – 30 years apart – interpret and challenge the same thing – link between two different cities to extend and transcend communication in public space. A play in the networked space on the intersection of reality and illusion.

Year 1980

A Hole in Space: LA-NY (1980) by artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz

For more info go to Turbulence/ Networked_Performance blog here.


Year 2014

Occupy the Screen (2014), a telematic public art installation by Paul Sermon and Charlotte Gould, linking participants in Riga and Berlin

For more info go to Occupy the Screen site here.