Sian Tjia Hennessy, Highly Commended 2023 GradFoto
The Ballarat International Foto Biennale presents the GradFoto 2023 exhibition, showcasing twenty-one finalists from ten universities across Australia and for the first time, New Zealand. This award celebrates the artistic excellence of graduating students, open to emerging contemporary artists and graduating students from selected Australian institutions whose artistic practice uses photography as its primary medium.
Three Highly Commended entries were awarded for their work.
Sian Tjia Hennessy for their series New Memories of Past Futures, 2023. International judge Virginia Woods-Jack said, ‘I loved this project, exploring a hopeful future rather than a dystopian one is refreshing, and using vintage film slide viewers to showcase potential future scenes is a unique and engaging idea. Overall, it appears to have been a well-conceptualised installation. Congratulations! I look forward to seeing where you go next with your practice.’
About the series
The concept for New Memories of Past Futures draws from science-fiction aesthetics and visions of technological utopianism that were created in the late 20th/early 21st centuries to explore the possible realities that may emerge as humanity continues to fuse with technology. The installation aims to explore a hopeful future rather than science-fiction’s predominant narrative of danger, embracing a grounding in history, nature, and culture rather than pure escapism. The installation uses vintage film slide viewers to present a series of scenes of potential future Naarm/Melbourne. The scenes were collaged together using a combination of digital and analogue layers. The resulting digital files were then transferred onto positive transparency film using a film recorder, a stop-gap technology used in the transition from analogue to digital, and mounted into plastic slides. By using remnant technology and combining digital with analogue, the installation considers what we can learn from the past as new technology increasingly continues to change the way we live. Furthermore, by forcing the viewer to physically interact with the slide viewers to view the scenes, the installation hopes to make these visions of the future tangible and thus encourage the viewer to consider how such futures could be made a reality.