If you visit the Force of Nature exhibition, opening today at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, you can’t miss Laki Sideris’ work.
Titled Sonar Sight, it is a gigantic photo 3 m X 3m wide, which covers an entire wall of the gallery. It features one species of Melbourne’s trademark fauna, the Yarra Bend Park flying foxes (or fruit bats), waking up at dusk and taking flight. Complemented by a recording – sound layers of human audible bat calls and high frequency echolocation bat sounds re-sampled down for human audible range – the installation offers the documentary photographer the opportunity to share his musings on nature. After all, this is the exhibition’s theme.
Curated by Gretel Taylor, Force of Nature features the work of 10 renowned Victorian artists, presenting their response to environmental change and their perception of nature. Sideris wanted to address just that – that human perception of nature is different to that of other species.
“The idea is that bats sense the world differently to us,” he told Neos Kosmos.
“They use echolocation, they are pretty blind and they ‘hear’ the world. But the sound they make is beyond the frequencies that humans can hear, so there are two separate things here, two sides of reality,” – one side is that they don’t perceive the world as we do, and the other that we can’t actually see the world as they do, because we can’t hear what they hear.
“The point is that nature is different to different creatures,” he explains.
“We tend to ignore how other people and other creatures see the world. We have this human understanding of nature, but there’s a whole world out there that is beyond our understanding, our sense of reality is not the only reality.”
An acclaimed photographer and filmmaker, Sideris has a background in physics, which dictated his approach to this exhibition. His other work makes testament to just that: it is an installation titled What is behind the curtain?
It is not a photograph; it is a large green velvet curtain, which opens to reveal a 2.4 meter-long mathematical equation representing all the fundamental forces of nature and their interactions with the observable universe; the equation of everything.
“It gets down to the core of what nature actually is,” he says.
“My background is in science; when people think about nature, they think of trees. When I think of nature, I think of the laws of nature, of atoms and particles and forces.”
‘Forces of Nature’ runs from 8 September-14 October at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum (33 Castella St, Lilydale, VIC).