The Time Traveller
Antoinette J Citizen is a time traveller – at least, time, and how we can slow it and make it go faster with apparent ease, is the theme of her artworks now on show in the Institute of Modern Art’s Fresh Cut program. Citizen is one of a number of emerging artists to look out for, as chosen by IMA director Robert Leonard.
Citizen’s in Melbourne doing her PhD in Arts at RMIT, but she’s originally from Brisbane. She’s exploring the way electronics can be used in art, and how the process of being an artist can itself generate art: even if it annoys the Parisian art elite, as she did with the proposals she sent to Paris’s Palais de Tokyo art space, where she turned exhibition proposals into a form of art-spam.
“[Brisbane artist] Courtney Coombs and I, we’ve colluded a few times, decided to send proposals to them,” Citizen explains. “We’d been travelling together in Paris and we’d fallen in love with the emerging artists gallery. So I sent proposals every two weeks, until they asked us to stop sending them.
"We’d decided to send them for a year – 26 proposals – but we actually only got to 23, three short of the target.” Why stop? “I think it was a nice ending for it – ‘Could you please stop sending us proposals!’” she laughs.
On show at IMA is her work The Time Machine (1899 - 802,701), a screen showing the 1960 film The Time Machine (starring Rod Taylor) but stretched out over the story’s 800,802 year timeframe. “It shows one frame just under every five years,” Citizen explains. “The second frame is due to flip over towards the end of next year.”
Elsewhere, a mechanical device – Citizen uses the Arduino electronics system to power her wizardry – is tapping on a mouse, causing the Google calendar to scroll rapidly through the weeks towards the far distant future, perhaps to find the ‘end of time’ some cultures have mythologised about.
Citizen says she doesn’t actively set out to make works about time, it just happens that all her works are about time. “I’m obsessed with time travel,” she says. Her piece ‘Black Box’ is a small cube with a digital display in one side showing how many kilometres it’s travelled, how often it’s been turned on its side or back, how long it’s been in existence. The idea came after she exhibited a hacked Mortal Kombat arcade game in Luxemburg.
“We got a 300kg arcade machine sent back to Australia and it was really difficult to get it back into the country. It made me think about artworks travelling around before and after they’ve been in the gallery. I get sad when I think about art in storage, so I liked the idea of this box that collected its own memory of when it wasn’t in the gallery. It’s collecting all this information.”
IMAGE: 'Black Box' by Antoinette J Citizen.