Shy (dissolution + exchange)

63 people from the southern hemisphere photocopy a photocopy and post the results westwards around the world.

This is a project by artist Perdita Phillips. It will be exhibited in an exhibition called Yonder at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts curated by Jasmin Stephens from 8 September – 21 October 2012. It involves a combination of mail art/photocopy art.

63 people from the southern hemisphere have committing making two photocopies of a photocopy that they receive in the mail. Each participant will then post one of the copies to the next person on the list and the other back to

Perdita Phillips
PO Box 747
Fremantle WA 6959

People on the list are arranged in Longitude order, west of Fremantle, Australia. What happens when you photocopy a photocopy? Over 50 copies the image slowly starts to degrade, dissolving into blackness. Different photocopiers will also behave differently so there is a large element of chance in the project.

Shy (dissolution + exchange) 2012 by Perdita PhillipsThe original image


Dissolution and exchange

The process of photocopying a photocopy degrades an image down to a network of nothing. At the same time, the network of people participating in the project grows and flourishes. Shy (dissolution + exchange) is a project that was in proposal form a few years ago (kinda this one for the exhibition called Melbourne 2010: How Can a Network….? It was originally developed in response to the statement:  ”As a network of arts and crafts practitioners, arts workers, writers, and others interested in culture in the southern hemisphere, The South Project asks: how can individuals and a community facilitate culture in public, and with the public?” Thus this work, in part, addresses the invisibility of southern hemisphere arts practice and encourages linkages between southern hemisphere communities.

shy animation (quick trial)

What’s the bird got to do with it? Albatrosses are a group of large long-lived seabirds that range widely in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. As a group their distribution forms a band around the Southern Ocean. The Shy Albatross is a Mollymawk type albatross species that breeds on a few islands off the coast of Tasmania. Juveniles are known to fly across to the east coast of Africa and birds have been found around the Southern, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Adult albatrosses spend large periods at sea before returning back to the same islands to breed. Pairs form very long lasting bonds, taking many months to raise the single chick that is hatched.

There are many gaps in knowledge about the Shy Albatross. It generally measures 90 to 100 centimetres  in length and 210–260 cm in wingspan. It is regarded as being near-threatened, and in 2007 there were about 25,500 breeding pairs. In the past birds were killed for their feathers and like other albatrosses they are potentially threatened by long-line fishing and plastic ingestion. Long-lining is a fishing method where thousands of hooks are baited and dragged on lines of up to 100 kilometers long behind fishing boats. The birds scavenge the baited hooks and get caught, leading to drowning. Laysan Albatross chicks on Midway Atoll have also shown significant problems from ingesting plastic (which the adults mistake for food). This may be a problem amongst other species such as the Shy Albatross as well.

Like many animal species that range widely, Shy Albatrosses are at the mercy of activities by people in many southern hemisphere countries both on and off-shore and from fishing fleets from many nations around the world. By crossing many borders (visible and invisible) the fate of albatrosses alerts us to our individual and collective responsibilities, as well as alluding to the potentials for deep and lasting environmental and social change through creative means.

What do participants receive? The creation of a new hemisphere-wide creative network. A copy of the Yonder catalogue. A zine with details of the project and a cd of the final animation of all the photocopies at the conclusion of the project.

What else can be done by participants? Please do not intentionally alter or draw on the photocopy as this will stuff the whole thing up. However, envelopes received during the duration of the PICA show will be exhibited in a vitrine next to the wall work. For those with a creative bent (artists and non-artists are taking part), you are very welcome to alter/embellish/work on the envelopes that you use. Feel free, too, to document your process and it can be blogged here on the website. A selection of material will also be included in the zine produced at the end of the project.

How long will it take? We started on 1 June in East Fremantle, Western Australia (Longitude 115.759480). It could take up to 10-12 months to make its way around the world. All copies received prior and during the exhibition will be displayed on a wall in PICA 8 September – 21 October 2012, but the zine will be released when the project is finished (to encompass all participants in the project).

Current status
The shy albatross has crossed the Indian Ocean and is somewhere in southern Africa.

Finding your longitude

Go to the bottom of the left hand bar of Google Maps and click on maps labs (right down near the copyright sign). Enable the LatLng Tool Tip and press save. Go back to the map and press the shift key and you will be able to get lat long by running the cursor over your house.

1 thought on “Shy (dissolution + exchange)”

  1. Pingback: Shy (dissolution + exchange) — needed 25 more participants! | Perdita Phillips

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