Aeon: A Sonic Walk, A Queer Nature In Perth

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Aeon: A Sonic Walk, A Queer Nature In Perth Image © Bryony Jackson
Co-created by a team of multidisciplinary artists including Lz Dunn, 'Aeon' lands a portable speaker in your palm and invites you to meet your fellow audience members at twilight for a one-hour walk through a secret parkland location 8km from the CBD.

To find out more, we asked Lz some questions.

Where did the idea for this come from?
'Aeon' developed out of an earlier project, 'Flyway', which is a cinematic, walking meditation on urban ecology and migratory birds. It was also a collaborative work with Lawrence English as Sound Artist and Lara Thoms as Dramaturge. 'Aeon' came about really as an expansion of some of the conceptual and formal interests that began with that project. In devising 'Flyway' (in 2011/12) I'd been thinking about cohabited spaces and contested areas, false ecological boundaries between urban and wild zones and considering these through a lens of migratory birds. In 'Aeon' I was interested in floating together two related ideas: queer ecology and bird flocking. Queer ecology is a way of thinking that looks to question dominant heterosexist social and institutional ways of understanding sexuality and nature and to re-imagine evolutionary processes, ecological processes and politics through queer theory and queer experience. It's one of many ways people are trying to navigate this very complex and unsettling period of time as a society. We seem to be really looking for some collective direction but not a uniform one. Always this balance of our need for individual expression and a group (or whole species') need for survival. Bird flocks are also a way to think about direction and survival. They have a quite mystical quality for many people (myself included). Partly because they unfold in the sky and we can never know what that might feel like, to fly, to dance in the sky like that. And because they have these fascinating strategies for navigating together, for arriving at a consensus of some kind. Trusting in and communicating through their various bodily intelligences. I think as humans we've become less and less attuned to our own bodily intelligences, quite disembodied in many ways.

It "questions what it means to be natural". How so?
I like to think 'Aeon' creates a momentary mirror or window that we can look at ourselves through and just think about that question. What is natural? What does that word mean? Am I that? Are they that? Is this that? Is this also that?

Image © Bryony Jackson

What went into the preparation of 'Aeon'? How long did it take to put together?
We had our first development working on it in July 2015 and it premiered in Melbourne in March 2017. We were really lucky and thrilled to be supported by Performing Lines and a group of affiliated performance venues around Australia (which PICA is one of). This meant that we had a sort of touring development where Lawrence, Lara, Shian and myself travelled to different places to keep creating the work in different locations (parks mostly) and work with local artists each time. It was really amazing to be able to learn about how to shape-shift the project for each new context and keep it responsive. It was also really challenging for the same reasons!

Have you stumbled upon anything like this before/can you relate it to anything you've experienced?
It's similar to a bunch of things I guess, but also quite different. Lots of people have made performative walks that invite people to move through public spaces with a shifted focus or agenda. PVI Collective from Perth of course have made many. 'Aeon' also draws on some meditative walking practices. We invite people who come to be silent for the duration so it's quite a solitary experience within a collective setting.

Image © Bryony Jackson

You've had your installation and video work presented in many places around Australia. What's the most rewarding thing about what you do?
I've been thinking about this quite a lot during making 'Aeon'. I think for me it's that living as an artist helps me to remain open to possibilities and change and be excited about what might be unfolding. It can be a tricky life to navigate sometimes because you are challenged by constantly needing to create your own trajectory, which can feel overwhelming at times (especially I've noticed, when you become a parent, which I did in 2016) but those periods always seem to pass. It's beautiful to think about how my practice can become expansive and responsive to whatever else is becoming in my life. It can be like a home that you return to even if you don't live there all the time. And it's through making art that I've met really amazing people.

What are you hoping happens to those involved in 'Aeon' as a result of being a part of it?
That they feel like they got space to work it out for themselves.

Image © Bryony Jackson

As the creator of the original concept, how do you feel about 'Aeon' now that it's ready to present?
'Aeon' has been presented for audiences at every stage of development so there wasn't a such a clear line between being in development and 'finished'. We have always needed to invite people into the process in order to understand what the experience that we were crafting for people actually was. And it shifts each time we take it to a new place so I feel like it's a constant process of repositioning it and re-navigating the making process which is challenging but what keeps it interesting for me. We work with local artists in each new city as well which I love. They all bring in different perspectives and new energy and it's one of the most special things for me – getting to invite new people into the process and just spend time moving through the park together.

'Aeon' is presented by PICA and Tura New Music as part of the 13th Totally Huge New Music Festival and plays from 26-29 October.


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