Archie will fetch the ball any time, but my chances of getting it back are remote. Unless we are playing in a mountain river, that is. Land is for serious business; water is for fun. I am not from here, sometimes I mix up those two.
They say Bogong is a remote community. Yet, according to the formal ASGS worldview, it's 'Outer Regional Australia', which is just a notch from 'Remote Australia', right in the middle of their five-tiered classification system. Almost remote, then? But if you travel at hypersonic speed, you can get here from Melbourne in just five minutes – see for yourself!
So, I make some 400 km and then use some 60 meters of cables to set up my 5.1 surround sound system up here. Occasionally, I add some extra channels over remotely operated portable speakers. It’s all driven by electricity that must be passing through kilometres of the power grid even if the power station is just down the road. I upload and then fetch some recordings from a remote server that might even be on the other side of the planet – judging by the time it takes, it’s got to be. Bogong must be just as remote in digital terms, if not more, than in analogue ones. Weirdly enough, all those wired and wireless remote resources are enacted just to let my sounds hit me back from a distance of a few metres.
I am listening to the sound recording of yesterday's walk, where Archie, Madelynne and myself were trying to outrun the sudden thunderstorm that eventually has left us totally soaked - just like our laundry left hanging to dry in the sun... The sounds sound familiar, yet different - there was not much time to pay attention to them while running... Sounds of the mountain river coming from the speakers are also recognizable, but not exactly the same as I experienced them while wading in circles. Following the water probing its way over or around the boulders, I was co-creating a very particular sound-track through the river... Wet water is for play, dry burbling is for art. Or was it the other way round?
This distance to the original experience is interesting. Re-experiencing the experience. Re-framing it - what re-emerges as significant and what gradually fades out. Re-adjusting attention, focus, relations between its parts, its context and whatever other associations it happens to evoke. Re-making sense of it all. Processing experience into meaning. Or is it even a meaning, if it does not mean anything in particular, only enables me to re-experience something from a distance in time? Or is it even a distance, if I am once again experiencing it here and now? Only from another here and now this time.
I roll out ten meters of newsprint in the garden. I want to see what local news would get imprinted on it as the time passes by. Tiny events that quietly fade into remoteness of the past unless recorded by this meticulous yet disinterested chronicler. What is it that matters here? How does it matter? The Bogong Chronicle provides all the answers.
I thought I was looking for remoteness.
I think I have found artistic distance.