Guided by my physical and emotional self-discovery journey around kunanyi/Mount Wellington and nipaluna/Hobart, 'The Distance Between Us' is a web-based 'mapping' project navigating the intertwined online and offline, public and private spaces and the detached human-landscape and interpersonal relationships. It sought to examine the tension between the mountain and the city and the sense of place in different contexts.
The body of work consists of two parts: video art 'Where am I?' and text-based art 'What am I looking for here?'. Instead of presenting them separately, I combined both on the same web page to showcase their correlation. 'Where am I?' is a series of kunanyi time-lapse moving images from various sites across nipaluna, capturing the natural landscape and human movement within it. I added a layer of abstract line drawing animation to highlight the changing skyline dominated by the mountain. 'What am I looking for here?' is a selection of private messages I received on several location-based dating apps when visiting those filming locations, which accidentally became the meeting points for casual yet intimate connections with the help of network technology.
'The Distance Between Us' is a self-reflection of my relationship with the place and people in nipaluna after moving here in February 2021. As a new community member, I am still observing and understanding my surroundings. Edward Relph regarded 'place' as a combination of the physical setting, social activities and imagined meanings. Therefore, I started developing the project in response to the feelings and thoughts I categorised and mapped.
Geographically, kunanyi defines and shapes nipaluna. The mountain forms the eastern boundary and pushes against the city. Hence, the dwelling space has nowhere to expand but upstream along the river, eventually becoming a long and narrow shape on the map. However, one can hardly experience its significance on paper. Wherever in nipaluna, the mountain is always the breathtaking backdrop, like a lighthouse engendering the sense of where I am. Wandering from north to south, I created a series of time-lapse videos of kunanyi from different perspectives to document the interaction between the mountain and the city.
As with the features in the physical environment like kunanyi, I can also locate myself with the social environment, especially in the digital realm. As a queer man, I found it quite addictive to use proximity-based social networking apps to connect with other guys nearby in the community. As Andrés Jaque articulated, it is 'a multiplying type of space where simultaneous techno-human settings can be promoted'. The apps almost establish a private parallel universe based on the public environmental context but with different social rules, suggested by the animated line drawing in the time-lapse and the seductive text messages displayed in between. The videos are optimised for a vertical screen to recreate the viewing experience on mobile phones.
Adam Hsieh (concept development/art direction/production)
Web art with digital videos and texts
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