My book has arrived

…with an assortment of the other beauties in the series of Documents of Psychic Amateurs.

My book is here!

A video posted by Sally Rees (@sallyr) on

It looks LOVELY and the other books are just dreamy too.

So excited to be a part of this collection and I wish I was going to be at Lucky’s Comics tomorrow for the launch but sadly, here I sit on the other side of the globe. Regardless it still makes me feel a bit more EXCITING and INTERNATIONAL.

Below is a quick flick of a few (but by no means all) of my DoPA colleagues.

Some more (but by no means all) of the other DoPA (Documents of Psychic Amateurs) publications.

A video posted by Sally Rees (@sallyr) on

It’s all making me very cheery and all thanks to the fine folks at Perro Verlag and the Institute for the Science of Identity for their co-publishing efforts.


I <3 Perro Verlag

Perro Verlag Books by Artists have taken Ectoplasmic and turned it into a book, Ectoplasm, to be released in Vancouver August 29 as a series of publications, Documents of Psychic Amateurs. Quite a few years back I was proud to be involved in another Psychic Amateurs project, iPAWS (International Psychic Amateurs Work/Study) so the continuity here is like a nice deep breath. This project has been in the works a while so seeing photos this morning got me so excited I got muddled and posted everywhere except here so I shall just repost my instagrams on the subject below. For the sake of proper record-keeping. And information giving. Incidentally, in a nice dab of synchronicity, my book was printed last week on my birthday.

The book will be available from Perro Verlag’s website (click the link above) after the launch August 29.

(photo by Jo Cook)

(photo by Emily Jarvis Goodenough)


Sweet Tribology

The image in the new header above is one of three I’ve made for French-born, Tasmanian-based artist Julia Drouhin‘s new project Sweet Tribology: radiophonic women. I got really excited after I made them and suddenly replaced my head all over the web with this witch.

Drouhin is primarily a sound artist and this project draws 40 women together to create new sound works with accompanying images.  A boxed collection of the recordings published as picture discs and wrapped lovingly in their artist-designed covers will travel with Drouhin for broadcast throughout a series of garden picnics around the world (firstly in Spain @ LABoral) where chocolate disc pressings of the same recordings will also be played and eaten.

The source material for each work comes from recordings Drouhin has made from wax cylinders archived at SPAT (the Sound Preservation Society of Tasmania) that she’s selected for each of the sound contributers.

I have made three images to adorn and house the work made by Nancy Mauro-Flude a record featuring Miss Despoina (AKA Nancy Mauro Flude)’s 0 mythical Land on side A and Rosa Menkman‘s Chocolat ghost on the B side.

Front cover:         SweetTribologycoverRecto

Back cover:         SweetTribologycoverVerso

and picture disc: SweetTribology_picturedisc2

It’s nice to be a part of something Julia’s cooking up.  She seems to tackle everything with a light touch but a considered heart and a sense of fun that I really enjoy.

Funds are being raised via a Pozible campaign to assist with the projects costs and there are some GREAT rewards, including (but definitely not limited to) customised Glomesh accessories, nibble-packs of broken chocolate records and unframed prints of the artwork of your choice. So if perchance you follow this blog because you like my work (as opposed to following because you’re my Mum and Dad – Hi Mum and Dad!!!) you could donate money to help a cracking project along AND get a print at the same time. Interested? Go here to view the full rewards list and to make a donation.



An old work is out again. Discussed earlier. It needed a second chance.


Annete Messager – Le Chapeau Sorciére (The Witch Hat)

from http://edar-messager.weebly.com/the-artworks-dates-and-materials.html

Annette Messager, Le Chapeau Sorcière – ‘The Witch Hat’ (2012)

I write first from memory.

Such clever, cunning simplicity. A wig, a black cone and a fan. I encountered it with surprise and delight. It was not what I had come to see and not what I had expected to find. Le Chapeau Sorciére touches on several pet elements; the unseen force of air made visible by the streaming hair, the absence of trickery (all engineering clearly visible), animation (in the broadest sense), a suggestion of a simple magic at work in the ordinary world and A WITCH. Immediately, I secretly adopted it as some kind of mascot, the perfect symbol of the unruly woman.

Hours later I refer to my own documentation.

I set my phone up by the computer where I am writing and hit play again and again on the brief video I shot. I get a sense once again of the scale of the thing – relatively small against the large installations that comprise the largest part of Motion/Emotion, the MCA’s recent retrospective of Messager’s work. It is contained – a one liner – but it is the work that resonated strongest and has stuck in my mind most persistently.

I hit play again and realise I have no idea what the cone/hat is made of. It looks like it may be heavy, which would prevent it being moved too wildly by the air current, which in turn means it is only the hair streaming wildly in the artificial breeze, not the whole object being buffeted about. I remember that I recently heard the fan+hair equation described as something requiring ‘hairography’ in the world of music video production.

Then I wonder if this work was pulled together quickly by Messager. Or did she go through several trials in the studio constructing the hat out of a variety of materials until she found the perfect stability. Or a selection of wigs until the correct ‘hairography’ was apparent.

I remember my own studio battle to create a ghost for a gallery from a sheet thrown over a helium balloon. In embryo it was one of my better ideas. I still think so. But the sheet needed to be so delicate so as not to weigh down the balloon that I couldn’t source a material both delicate AND large enough. The helium was never strong enough to carry any weight greater than the balloon itself and dissipated frustratingly fast. I spent more money than I could afford on balloons, gas, tissue and lightweight plastic tablecloths over two weeks before I gave up on the object.

I wonder if the wig is cheap or expensive…

I paint for a while, return to the computer and run an image search on the work.

I’m still convinced that hat is heavy. But a witch can cope with a heavy hat. To be a witch must bring a weight with it and you would become familiar. Responsibility, isolation…

To be honest I’m playing a game with myself now. When I next sit down to write I will refer to the catalogue and images, and then I will probably know what the hat is made of. But I won’t look till then.

I recently changed my Facebook cover image to a William Mortenson studio photograph from 1927 in which a young, nude witch rides her broom over the rooftops of a town. Her hair is relatively coiffed by comparison (no hat) and the lack of movement to it makes me feel she is simply hovering. Messager’s witch is either flying fast or staring into the face of powerful magic. My Mortensen witch is playful but static while Messager’s is exhilarated.

I leave these earlier words to marinate overnight and return the next day to open the exhibition catalogue.


Le Chapeau Sorciére – The Witch Hat


mixed media, fan


Mixed media.

And to compound my frustration, in the catalogue images the hat looks as if it is made from a heavy felt (probably a better aesthetic choice) rather than the metal it reads as in the video on my phone. I realise I’ve been somewhat distracted by it’s materiality. A good magician never shows you their tricks. Maybe all the engineering is NOT clearly visible at all.

I read over the words I’ve written before now – add a word, take a word away – and realise the most relevant thing I have had to say about Messager’s work came at the end of the first paragraph of this text – the perfect symbol of the unruly woman.

It is this that draws me into her work time and again – the unruly woman, the unruly body, the unruly mind – here all three are clearly represented in Messager’s invisible witch.

The unruly woman – the witch is immodest, highly sexual and powerful.

The unruly body – that refuses to conform to standards of desire. This one is invisible, completely unattainable.

The unruly mind – that makes things happen with the power of intent matched with arcane knowledge.

An anecdote.

I attended a social pub drawing evening in February. I had dashed out the door grabbing a notebook and pen and when I arrived, sat down with a glass of cider in convivial company, chatting, laughing, some people bent deep over sketchbooks. My friend was taking the opportunity to complete some illustration work but I had come somewhat unprepared with a lined notebook, a green fine point Sharpie and no intent.

And after some hesitation I simply drew my recollection of Le Chapeau Sorciére over and over until it was time to call it a night. My notebook now contains 8 green renderings.

SR, March 2015


Invisible forces, known and unknown

  1. With matter, as with people, we see only the skin of things. We can’t see into the engine room. We can’t see what makes people tick, at least not without difficulty. And the closer we look at anything, the more it disappears. In fact, if you look really closely at stuff, if you look at the basic substructure of matter, there isn’t anything there. Electrons disappear in a kind of fuzz, and there is only energy. And you can’t see energy.
    John Lloyd, Inventory of the Invisible
  1. As a teenager in the 80’s I had a friend who was constantly shifting residence between one or the other of her, entirely unstable, parental households. Looking for a peaceful existence was for her a matter of finding the lesser of two evils in the present moment. The instability of both Mother and Father was also reflected in the fact that the cycle of moving from one residence to another, never turned back upon itself – for when it was time to move on, there was nowhere to return to – the parent in question had inevitably changed address; done a runner, moved in with a new partner or perhaps been evicted. I always visited with some trepidation – her mother, a violent and slightly delirious born-again Christian, her father an alcoholic known for ‘bothering’ the teenaged female friends of his kids.
  1. Some of the things John Lloyd lists in his inventory include gravity, consciousness, the stars in daylight (the universe disappears in the day – the more light the less you can see), time, atoms, gas, electricity, galaxies (out of 100 billion we can only see 5), radio waves and what he identifies as ‘The grid on which we hang’ posing the question that if we are entirely physically regenerated every 7 years – what then are we? I spend a great deal of time musing on the invisible – consciousness and cognition in particular and about how to give them form, either to emphasise their ‘knownness’, their indisputable ‘realness’ or alternately to suppose the existence of forces in doubt (spirit, telekinesis, voodoo etc.).
  1. As she watched, he climbed down and ran toward the rock band’s equipment. He caught hold of one of the microphone stands and was transfixed. Carrie watched, amazed, as his body went through a nearly motionless dance of electricity. His feet shuffled in the water, his hair stood up in spikes, and his mouth jerked open, like the mouth of a fish. He looked funny. She began to laugh.
    (by christ then let them all look funny)
    And in a sudden, blind thrust, she yanked at all the power she could feel.
    Some of the lights puffed out. There was a dazzling flash somewhere as a live power cord hit a puddle of water. There were dull thumps in her mind as circuit breakers went into hopeless operation. The boy who had been holding the mike stand fell over on one of his amps and there was an explosion of purple sparks and then the crepe bunting that faced the stage was burning.
    Stephen King, Carrie pg. 172
  1. Once I visited the aforementioned friend at yet another new address. I approached the front door, knocked and awaited a response. While waiting I noticed a ceramic insulator with fuse hanging half out of it’s socket in the fusebox. I pushed it back into place with two fingers and was brutally thrown by an electrical current backwards off the doorstep and onto the front path where I was knocked unconscious on the concrete. I know what happened yet in my memory the force is as much the energy of a troubled location and my own anxious anticipation of the door being answered as it is of voltage. I awoke to the curious face of my friends drunken father as he pondered what to do with a large, unconscious teenage girl collapsed on his front path and clearly visible from the nature strip, her assailant nowhere to be seen.

March 2015


Reconsideration, blue then green.

I have worked with moving images for the entire time that I have also named myself as an artist. For as long as I have defined myself as an artist, I have worked with the moving image.

For ease of exhibition, an artist working in moving images ALWAYS works with loops, even for a work that has a clearly defined beginning and end or sits amongst a program of other pieces. As a viewer you come in, usually part way through the cycle, you watch, and if you like enough what you see, you stay to see the beginning again.

These days my loops are short (a matter of seconds). My loops are so brief, that to place them in a stream amongst other works would be like dropping a pin into the ocean. They play alone, into infinity (or until a switch is triggered to shutdown) each as their own screen or projection. While they are still made of more ineffable substance – light and electricity – they now have an objectness too in their obstinate permanency or at least an appearance of same. I am fascinated by how such a short sequence (no time at all) becomes infinity (all time).

These works are video self-portraits, now augmented by handpainted animation that is free in form but draws close against, around and over the figure as if drawn by a force. I refer to two animation-industry terms often:

Rotoscope – initially a machine for (and later simply the term for the process of) tracing over live action to achieve realistic, filmic motion, usually of the human or animal body. I use a technique that is very close to rotoscope except that it’s purpose is to tie animation to and augment the human form rather than to emulate it. In animated + video form the paint buzzes and fizzes and crackles around the figure like an electric aura. Thought, as a subject and in analogy is reduced to pure energy.

Boil – a term that describes the effect of misregistration of line and form in animation. It’s a quality that gives away the handwrought animated image as much as it lends charm. In my work all animation is handwrought and partly out of control. I tend to work automatically and somewhat blind; only stitching the painted frames together to see the motion after all the painted work is completed. So the boil is cultivated through this blindness to a degree.

So between them, the studied rotoscope and the blind boil combine to depict energies emergent or inseperable from the human form. Haunt, emotions, thought, cognition all in varying degrees of harness or surrender. It is a reconsideration of the videographic image. An imagining of everything unseen, but held within the image frame.

The works could be considered an exploration of my own haunting (through artworks) by my own image. I have always made self-portraits and I have worked with moving images for the entire time that I have also named myself as an artist. For as long as I have defined myself as an artist, I have worked with the moving image.
May 2015

Like sands through the hourglass (AKA archived posts)

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