Experimental Collaborations Grant

The Experimental Collaborations Grant is a program that supported eight student groups from the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music to create new, extra-curricular creative work. The grant was developed to encourage creativity, experimentation and community building within the student body throughout COVID-19 lock down and beyond. It served as an opportunity for students to combine skills sets and interests to create new, ambitious, and possibly cross-disciplinary work. It also acts as framework for students to build relevant professional skills and gain visibility as emerging creative professionals.

Projects were encouraged across  performance, sound, music, film, writing, or visual art mediums. However, all outcomes  were required to be presented as an accessible digital resource linked to each project website.

This program was facilitated by Student Enrichment for The Faculty of Fine Arts and Music.
The initiative was generously supported by the SSAF grant program and UMSU Southbank.

A Sensory Field is a multi-disciplinary performance that explores sensory immersion and self-care. Here, we ask the question:

‘When human-contact is discouraged in this pandemic, how can art evoke sensory memory to simulate positive touch and remind us of human contact?’

Inspired by isolation and touch deprivation, we have crossed our paths to consider the importance of self-care during this pandemic. This is an open-ended collaboration, accessible to everyone in their own comfort of their homes, aiming to address an underlying hunger for sensory stimulation within a wider community, and to help them appreciate their bodies and immediate surroundings again.

A Sensory Field was developed  by  Sarscha Lewis, Lou Wheeler, Jenn Tran and Derrick Duan, four emerging artists sharing a passion for multidisciplinary performances and collaboration. Sarscha Lewis is an aspiring choreographer, whose main focus is to explore human nature and to create works that leave the audience questioning their own behaviour. Lou Wheeler is a sound artist who explores the discourse between synthetic hyper-realism and tactile acoustic experiences. Jenn Tran is an animator, whose digital and analogue experimental animations are driven by her interest in art history. Derrick Duan is an animator who seeks to break the fourth wall with visceral, evocative projection art and performances.

Indoor Yachting is a project that stems from the questioning of how seemingly trivial and mundane objects or experiences add to the rhythm of life. In turn, elevating these elements of the everyday into more noticeable occurrences. Indoor Yachting is a small enquiry and exploration of these notions. Negotiating the potential for quotidian objects and experiences to cultivate a sense of grounding or new found intrigue throughout our collective monotony and day to day; especially throughout the COVID 19 lockdown. Indoor Yachting debuted at the VCA Artspace from the 24th of August until the 28th of August. This  project will also produce a publication, available  both digitally and as a physical book available to order.

Indoor Yachting is curated by Rebecca Suares-Jury and consists of eleven VCA artists currently studying, as well as 3 alumni and a guest artist. Featuring: Caitlin Aloisio-Shearer, James Ashley, Darcey Bella Arnold, Aretha Brown, Shanae Davies, Grace Culley, Matlok Griffiths, Evangela Lines-Morison, Travis MacDonald, Thomas Minchinton-Kimpton, Madeleine Minack, Eleanor Newbound, Lisa Radford, Miream Salameh and Rebecca Suares-Jury. With written contributions from Greta Wallace Crabbe (studying drawing at the VCA) in collaboration with Prof Chris Wallace Crabbe and another written piece by Isabelle Carney (currently studying screenwriting at the VCA).

Working with aesthetics of excess and multiplicity presented online, Chelsea Coon and Jess Williams  conceived of this project from a position of humour in attempts to grasp the unknowns of this moment, despite which there is the human desire to connect and make meaning. Amidst sustained physical separation and uncertainty, the artists critically reflect on the way in which popular trends of ‘twinning’ extend to philosophical notions of becoming, located through the digitally-mediated moment of glitch. Here, the artists enact two bodies mirroring each other towards collapse into one—the metaphorical extensions of which speaks to a collective body and the reciprocal desire to see extensions of the matter of ourselves in others.

Jessica Laraine Williams is an artist, writer and researcher. Her current projects interrogate post-human methods and critical identity practices in art. Chelsea Coon is a performance artist and writer whose performances utilise endurance to reconsider limits of the body through its various orientations to space and time.

In collaboration with Chelsea, an established performance artist, Jess will develop her newly unfurling experimentations in performance art practice and documentation. In collaboration with Jess, an established transdisciplinary artist who has worked with digital and web-based components, Chelsea will learn more about the potentials, confluences and generative implications of online presentation.

Find out more on the glitch.mirror website.

Short Film Synopsis: Set in an alternate reality ‘Second hand’ is inspired by the 2020 lockdown and the role technology plays in our lives. After the passing of his grandmother, 'Lucas' is sent to search for an expensive family heirloom. Upon his arrival he is confronted by old memories, hidden emotions and; an old friend?

The crew consists of Jared Plant - Actor and Sound, Bachelor of Music (Interactive Composition) and Madeline Davies -Actor and Director, Masters of Film and Television (Directing). Studying at VCA, Jared and Madeline are a creative duo lucky enough to live together and study courses that complement one another. Utilizing their skills during lockdown and with help from the Experimental Collaboration grant they aim to make work that deals with complex life challenges in relatable and entertaining circumstances.

Find out more on the project website.

What is it to have a practice of mutual aid?

This project explores the colours, sights and sounds of mutual aid between two multidisciplinary artists.
Tina Stefanou and Jen Valender aim to draw upon their collective skill sets to create new, experimental artworks that document an interplay between the digital and the physical realm. Both artists will use their respective bathtubs as the site for the generation of new experimental written, sound and performance works. The artists will develop a website to be used as an interactive tool for a mutual aid art practice between the artists and the public. This project will be the beginning of an ongoing collaboration that explores the works that the artists are pursuing now and will continue to pursue in the future. Life giving and the practice of nurturing is at the centre of this project, rather than a competitive approach that often clouds art in the making.

Find out more of the Volumes of Mutual Aid website.

The Isolation Improvisation Collective (IIC) is an evolving cast of musicians, artists, dancers, poets, animators and other creatives with a shared passion for innovation and experimentation. The group was formed in a direct response to the COVID-19 imposed lockdown and collaborates through the internet, using this medium as the impetus for exploration. The IIC interprets the limitations and idiosyncrasies of working online as creative parameters for exploration, rather than barriers. Latency, dropouts and glitches become a part of the performance as the collective bring connection, innovation and humanity to the internet concert experience.

The outcomes of the collective are numerous, as the participants span multiple disciplines, the IIC finishes each session with a glut of audio, visual and conceptual content. The ECG funding has supported the collective in bringing some of these outcomes together as a multidisciplinary online concert experience which acts as an accompaniment to a book and digital album which documents four IIC performances. The collective will present three live-streamed concerts which consolidate all of the dance, visual art and music into a single outcome.

The IIC has developed a nuanced and intricate language of experimental telematic collaboration, a process which is recursive and evolving. The outcomes of one session inform, inspire and accentuate the outcomes of the next, with different members taking turns to bring ‘scores’ to the group to test the limits of their digital medium and explore what it is exactly to make music online, pushing the limits of what is possible in the name of creative exploration.

Find out more about the project on the Isolation Improvisation Collective website.

Katarzyna Wiktorski Octet is an instrumental modern jazz/classical ensemble that focuses on exploring lush, ornate arrangements of Kat's original music. This project was formed in 2019 as an experiment intended for a university recital and continued to be Kat's main endeavour. The octet made their debut performing at Lebowskis in early January 2020 and will continue performing and recording together.

After recording and independently releasing two singles from isolation, Kat is currently leading the group to remotely record an EP. With the help from the Experimental Collaborations Grant by the Fine Arts and Music department, (University of Melbourne) From a Distance will be a four track album recorded remotely featuring unreleased material and a new composition. Each member will record in their home space, individually layering their parts to complete each track.

Katarzyna Wiktorski - Piano/Composer/Arranger/Director
Chloe Sanger - Violins 1 & 2
Alexi Kyrkilis-Kalathas - Cello 1
Ffion Stoakes - Cello 2
Jade Nye - Alto Saxophone
William Base - Bass
Ollie Ledi Hanane - Drums

Find out more about the project on the Katarzyna Wiktorski Octet website.

Interlaced is a live stream performance and virtual reality drawing project. This collaboration, between Susannah Langley and Ioannis Sidiropoulos, takes place during lockdown restrictions, whilst the artists are temporarily located in Australia and Greece. The project is to evaluate the viability of combining improvised performance and virtual reality drawing into a single live-streamed event in a shared virtual space. It will explore the creative process, technologies, and workflow needed to make this type of collaboration a reality.

The exchange will be conducted online and involves an initial development and testing phase of cost-effective tracking and VR headset technology that can be deployed in separate physical spaces then connected telematically, so that Sidiropoulos’s movements will be mapped into Langley’s virtual space and Langley’s drawings will simultaneously be mapped into Sidiropoulos’s virtual space. The fusion of these two spaces will also be viewable to audiences either online or in the two location as projections.

The collaboration, between Ioannis Sidiropoulos, a performance artist and PhD researcher, and Susannah Langley, a visual artist and MFA researcher exploring drawing and sound. Both artists are current students of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, University of Melbourne and works across the departments of Dance, Neuroscience, Production and Visual Arts.

Warren Armstrong is a new media artist, and mobile developer. The collaboration is interested in creating work that fuses improvised performance with virtual reality drawing in a time of lockdown, when performing live and presenting public VR events with shared headsets is not viable.

Find out more on the Interlaced website.

Artists Skills Workshops

Complementing the Experimental Collaboration Grant is a series of Artist Skills Workshops available to the entire Faculty of Fine Arts and Music community. Featuring creative and professional development sessions from local artists, this series is aimed at fostering community and inspiring new methods of creative exploration within the online learning experience.
This program featured online workshops hosted by Lia Stark, Manisha Anjali, Katy B Plummer, Pip Ryan, and Hannah Gartside.

This program was delivered by Student Enrichment for The Faculty of Fine Arts and Music. The program was generously supported by the SSAF Grant program and UMSU Southbank.