Cover image of the review
Christian Thompson, *Baya Gardiya (Singing Desert)*, still, VR, approximately 7 minutes. Courtesy of Dr Christian Thompson AO and ACMI.

Christian Thompson: Baya Gardiya

25 May 2019
1 May - 23 May 2019

I am ACMI.

I'm here to see Christian Thompson's newly commissioned VR work at ACMI. As the attendant places the VR headset on my cranium, he asks me to check that the rig is working by acknowledging that I can see the ACMI logo on the screen. Instead of a 'welcome to country' acknowledgement, I'm saddled with a marketed brand on my eyes, which I must acknowledge before the attendant can press play.

I peer at the white letters, slightly pixelated and blurred as per VR's stereoscopic imaging screened so close to the retina: it's always like you've put on someone else's prescription lenses by mistake. As I'm looking at the bland capitalized font hovering in the black void, I feel like I'm being forced to see the world as ACMI does. I'm reminded yet again of how cultural institutions of all kinds insist on announcing their presence, their legacy, their relevance and their importance in whatever 'world' which they profess to either belong to or construct. For ACMI, it's the culture of the so-called 'moving image': a quagmire of museographic spectacles, pseudo-cinema installations, televisual couch-criticism, constructed interactive experiences, kiddie-friendly events and corporate-aligned ethno-cine festivals. And they're all heavily branded and promoted as if ACMI itself created the moving image. The silent logo in front of me confirms this ongoing strategy.

To read for free enter your email address.

Log in with your registered email address.

Memo can continue to publish free, quality, and independent weekly art criticism with the support of our readers. Consider becoming a Patreon supporter or making a donation.