In 1998 I began to createa video artwork of the Mountain’s biodiversity in the only way I could, as a visual artist. I did not want to run the risk of it succumbing without trace to the threat posed by development and population increase in Australia’s fastest growing region. The Mountain’s biodiversity now faces the further threat posed by global warming.
Since 2007 I have filmed in High Definition. Tamborine Mountain is the only place where I use my video camera and I use it exclusively to film the Mountain’s biodiversity. My artwork records small events which are always absorbing and frequently exhilarating as I look out for the overlooked. I experience a recurring delight in filming the kinds of plants and animals which are the essential content of my footage. I film species simply because they are there, because they and I are alive on earth together. This opens up a strange world full of often unheralded beauty and fascination.
In the years since I began the archive, I came to realise that I was presenting the subject of biodiversity on digital video, at least as far as encompassing the range of species is concerned. I make the point because, as far as I know, biodiversity per se has yet to be the subject of a blue chip documentary series. I also saw that biodiversity is a 24 hour a day, seven days a week proposition and that I needed to compile a dossier of night footage. In 53 night shoots in the past 3 ½ years primarily with the help of Jaap Vogel and Mark Gould, I have filmed 10 ½ hours of night footage in the rainforest.
My art is non-interventionist and non-interpretive. I do not manipulate the natural scene. I participate in the events I film by my presence and through my feelings about what I am seeing and my aesthetic sense. Thus, until well into the archive, I did not doctor sets – so much so that I would not remove a twig, a frond, a blade of grass or a branch if it got in the way of my subject, even to the detriment of the footage, which was really rather stupid. Subsequently I have removed obstacles to obtain a clear shot, but in a minimalist fashion and rarely.
I can best sum up my work by saying that I celebrate biodiversity. With each frame I shoot, I am piling up the evidence of the unfathomable species variety in my one small place on earth, because this needs to be done by someone somewhere, if not by me here. There is little to indicate that this is happening around the planet.
All it takes is a video camera and being open to the wonder of the myriad life forms which can be found on such a quest.
I go back to the avant-garde art scene of swinging ‘60s London. I belonged to a group of young artists who staged multi-media, performance art and street theatre events. In my view there is nothing in art as avant-garde as the biodiversity on Tamborine Mountain.