Below the mountains...gives us an opportunity to tune in to the natural cycles of the environment. Whether that means visiting the work once or over the course of a degree, you will see this environment in different states of change, and maybe in small ways reflect on those cycles of change that are always around us.
-Grant Stevens, Artist
Below the mountains and beyond the desert...is a computer-generated artwork programmed to change and evolve over a limitless duration. Seventy virtual cameras are positioned throughout a vast simulated landscape, each capturing scenic vistas of forests, deserts, mountains, lakes, oceans, and grasslands. As in the natural environment, day and night come and go, the ocean ebbs and flows with the tides, seasons pass, the weather changes, and the geological and natural landscape evolves.
In this artificial world, time is accelerated: in an hour, four days will have passed; in a year’s time, 100 years will have passed; ten years will replicate 1000 years. The cameras slowly pan through the landscape, capturing subtle changes in the weather, light, and features in the landscape. In a context where digital technologies and interfaces often compete for slices of our fragmented attention, this artwork reminds us to reflect on and tune into the natural rhythms and cycles of the natural environment.
Below the mountains and beyond the desert...plays at daily intervals between other commissions on the UTS Broadway Screen.
Born 1980, Brisbane, Queensland. Lives and works Sydney, New South Wales
Grant Stevens is an Australian artist based in Sydney. Working predominantly with moving image, photography, and installation, his art practice explores the intersections of emerging digital technologies, wellness culture, and experiences of selfhood. He has exhibited widely in Australia and internationally, and held numerous solo exhibitions in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the United States. Stevens’ computer-generated artwork The Mountain featured in the group exhibition After Technology at UTS Gallery in 2019, which considered how Australian artists have registered the rise of technologies since the 1990s.
In 2007, Stevens received his PhD from the Queensland University of Technology and has subsequently held a number of academic positions. He is currently Deputy Head of School (Art) at UNSW Art & Design, and his work is represented by Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney, and Starkwhite, Auckland.
Stevens’ work is held in many collections, including Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria; Kaldor Collection, Sydney; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas.
My name is Grant Stevens, I’m an artist mostly working with video, photography and installation. Often my works explore the relationship between new technologies and the ways that we communicate or represent our experiences. So often I’m drawn to the paradoxes or contradictions of new technologies, and in my most recent work I’ve been using 3d gaming software to replicate or recreate natural cycles and representations of the natural environment.
My particular interest in the natural environment is its relationship to technology and how it’s often perceived as something separate to or distinct from our daily urban lives which are often quite hectic and busy.
So, with this work what I’m hoping is that people will have an opportunity to tune in to or reflect on the natural cycles of the environment. Whether that means visiting once or over multiple days, months, years, that people will see this representation in different states of change. And maybe in small ways tune in to those cycles of change that are always around us.
The work is created using software that is normally used for computer gaming. And so instead of creating a game where players can interact this artwork is set up in a more cinematic way but using the potential of that software to run in real time and for it to generate and perpetuate over a really long duration.
The site here was really important in thinking about how to develop the work. As a kind of thoroughfare type space or a foyer type space I was thinking about how a lot of the audiences might walk past the work multiple times. It could be multiple times in a day or a week or a month or a year or over the course of their degree for example. And so, whether they stop and look for an extended duration or not, hopefully they will see different iterations of the work. And so, the kind of subtle changes moment to moment may or may not register for people but hopefully they walk past it again later in the afternoon or a month later they’ll be seeing a different state of the artwork and that might trigger some thoughts about those subtle cycles of our everyday life.