Justas Pipinis

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Journal Entry #3
16/12/2020

Image–Justas Pipins

Everything flies this week in Bogong. I’ve just seen a sizable bit of my Bogong Chronicle sculpture fly away with the wind. My painting support without the painting has been repeatedly flying into the grass for the last few days. A big old tree flew through the air today crashing next to the pedestrian crossing sign. I took a selfie with flies. But most of the time it is the time that flies. Three weeks have gone by in a blink of an eye. Is that why I started asking the locals here not to blink? At least, the ones who found their way to my pop-up video portrait studio.

Image–Justas Pipins

I know, it’s a tall order – I barely managed to stare into the camera for five minutes myself while testing the concept. And my eyes ended up tearing – a lot. Yet, it is not about succeeding, but rather making a good effort. There is something interesting, something beautiful, something mystical about people trying hard – whatever they may be trying. The video captures that process as opposed to a momentary shot of a perfected photographic pose. But the difference is evasive and uncertain, not least considering the early days of photography that required just about the same durational motionless sitting. I am not sure to what extent those olden days’ photographers aimed for a true representation of the sitter. Somehow, it must have been about the likeness, but considering all the retouching and colouring techniques frequently employed, it remains an open question – likeness to/of what? For my portrait series I was less concerned with the likeness and more with the tension between our ideas of the natural and the artificial. Not that it is easy to define either of them, but it is fun to play with those concepts. ‘Natural’ surroundings and ‘artificial’ canvas, ‘natural’ persons behaving ‘artificially’, ‘natural’ video footage and its ‘artificial’ processing… Or have I already messed it up? Anyway, Tatjana and Peter were my first adventurous visitors who had their portrait filmed. Great spirit, mesmerising result!

Image–Justas Pipins

Now, when tweaking concepts of the natural and artificial, human and non-human, why stop at what’s in front of the camera? This week a new emergent talent has been discovered in Bogong – the camera dog Archie! He definitely appreciated being a Very Important Dog, attentively receiving all the equipment inductions and then generating hours of very arty footage. Good boy, Archie, good boy! The resulting work is an oddly forged perspective – neither truly canine nor human. I’ve come up with the idea, equipment and editing, Archie did all the filming, Madelynne navigated the field from the other end of the leash. And now I am looking at the result trying to make sense of it – it must be one of those ideas described by Sol LeWitt, “idea becomes a machine that makes the art”. I might be able to share some footage in the near future, but for now you will have to do with my more literal swinging between the natural and artificial.

If a tree falls in the forest,
It makes a sound.