The word ‘ephemeral’ was probably invented to describe creative explorer, Laura Jade Hindes, who has been embracing the globe in 2016.
I met Laura at National Art School, Sydney in 2005 and, as I’m sure many can attest to, was immediately cast under her whimsical spell. Since leaving art school Laura has expanded her creative practice venturing deep into the parallel field of science which has taken her literally around the world.
Where have you been and what was the catalyst for your infinite adventure this year?
I have been in Europe for the past five months following my nose on a self-directed art and science “pilgrimage” you could say. I’m out here connecting with artists, institutions and designers who are working with science and technology. I have been very fortunate to have made some beautiful discoveries, progress ideas and collaborate with people in amazing settings.
The real catalyst that launched the journey was an astronomy and music conference called Starmus situated on the volcanic island Tenerife in the Canaries. I’m really inspired by science and it’s thrilling to be surrounded by the people who are doing amazing things in the fields of cosmology and particle physics- so the conference is my version of heaven! To give you a quick snapshot, imagine Stephen Hawking, Brian May, Brian Cox, Brian Eno, Brian Greene (there were ALOT of Brian’s) Neil Degrasse Tyson plus a whole bunch of moon guys (what I call astronauts) all hanging out together on a tropical island- pretty incredible!!
This year I received a media pass so I could officially meet and interview many of these science-guys for a research project I’m working on connecting the fields of art and science. One of the many highlights was talking to Neil Degrasse Tyson about the importance of art in relation to science and him giving me his deep toned wisdom and also chatting to Brian Eno by the pool in our dressing gowns- what an honour!
During the conference I hatched a plan to put my mini travelling “brain in a box” (an interactive illuminated brain artwork that reads your mind) on all the Brians. Brain on Brian- perfect idea huh? I managed to capture 2 brains out of the 4 Brian’s which was extremely satisfying (given the silly spontaneity of the idea).
What do you find stimulates you creatively of late?
Too many things! I’m currently in Iceland working on consolidating all the experiences I’ve had in Europe, trying to focus my interests into a containable direction.
One focus is on researching light and magnetic fields as the natural light in Iceland is so incredible, especially now as we delve into winter, there is a prolonged twilight. When it gets dark you can see the Aurora. It’s very easy to be inspired by the otherworldly quality of the light and landscape- it’s like being on the edge of the earth. So in between taking trips to see ice caves and glaciers I’m currently immersed in the science of magnetic fields and solar winds. These are the invisible forces that create the northern lights, it’s so fascinating how electromagnetism works at the microscopic level to create these natural grand mystical experiences.
I’m also very interested in Icelandic culture, myths and music. In the remote town where I am living, in the north east, there are only fishermen, farmers and one museum which happens to be the museum of prophecies, so I am learning about the belief systems and way of life here and the ancient stories from the Sagas.
Next month I’ll be spending time in an old textile factory, so I’m hoping to put some of my light research into a new textile based performance work – hopefully with the use of some mild explosives and phosphorescence.
Have there been any particularly memorable moments in the wilderness on your travels?
There have been so many, but I’ll recount a few that come to mind. Back at Starmus, I went up the Volcano on Tenerife at night to view the stars. It is the clearest place to view the sky with the naked eye in Europe and I was showed the star constellations and planets by a local guide who used a giant green laser, pointing it up into the infinite night sky (Star Wars style) to bring to life the celestial narratives. It was like being a child and taking a grand tour of the universe- very transporting and humbling!
Another fond memory was in La Gomera, whilst exploring the little island covered in moss and forest in the canaries, I learned to speak a little bit of Silbo- their native whistle language. Another memory that springs up was during my month in Croatia, while I was doing a bio-hacking residency in the Dubrovnik Natural History Museum, a group of artists and scientists were exploring a local island called Lokrum which happens to be cursed (according to legend). It was in that particular wilderness that I learnt how to ejaculate a sea urchin- that was a bit strange and memorable.
But zooming forward to this moment in Iceland, one of my best moments so far was travelling through a lava field to get to a huge glacier lake where I followed giant aqua ice sculptures that crack off the glacier and flow out through a lake onto a black sanded volcanic beach. For hours I watched the giant blue pieces of ice melt in the crashing waves, the low sun refracting light through them like crystals.
Is there any advice you would give a younger Laura knowing what you know now?
If I told her that one day she’ll have a whisky on a tropical island with Brian May, she might die!
So I’d probably be a bit more vague and reinforce the idea that there are so many wonderful things in the world to know and explore, quit procrastinating by doing things that don’t interest you. Life moves so fast- get into the good stuff now and follow these inspirations wholeheartedly because they will lead you to great places.
At the same time as telling her to get stuck in to her creative ambitions I’d also tell her to simultaneously try and slow down, feel what is around her, tune her body inwards and be satisfied with what she has in any given moment. Time changes everything and every day is a little death, so value you things around you that you love.
Also- making better friends with Uncertainty only makes things more mysterious and surprising.
What’s coming up next as your global pursuits continue?
I’m currently working on a pitch for an art and science festival called Starmuse in Norway, to go alongside Starmus festival- it’s a hugely ambitious plan but why not?!
I’ve also just finished an application for the Antarctica Biennale, connecting my grandfathers work as a physicist in Antarctica in the 50’s (he studied light and was hanging out down there eating seal and bouncing radio-waves off the ionosphere) with my own explorations in light phenomena.
When I get back to Sydney in December for the summer I will start work on a longer term collaborative neuroscience project that is exploring an interactive visualisation of the brain and MS for a science exhibition and festival in Brisbane in 2018. I have the desire to continue my involvement in Europe next year too so I’m currently hatching plans and following up on some of the connections I made in order to spend more time in the Netherlands and Iceland.
You can follow Laura’s adventures here.
All photos are courtesy and copyright Laura Jade Hindes.