THE REMNANT (v.1) is a major commission for the 2010 TreeLine ecoArt event by Keith Armstrong, James Muller and Leah Barclay. A remnant is something that remains when the majority of that something has been lost. By focusing upon an isolated remnant rainforest set within a patchwork quilt of surrounding blocks, this art-science project challenges audiences to re-imagine our conceptions of country in ways that will lead us to better reconnect and sustain today’s heavily divided landscapes.
THE REMNANT (v.1) draws upon the dramatic power of holographic 3D illusion, satellite imagery, surround sound and intuitive body driven interactivity. Participants peer into a mysterious, long tunnel of imagery whilst navigating entirely through their gentle head movements – allowing them to both ‘steer’ in three dimensions and also ‘alight’, as a butterfly might, upon a sector of landscape – which in turn reveals an underlying ‘landscape of mind’.
The work was first presented at a stunning remnant block of subtropical rainforest called ‘Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve’ – located 100kms north of Brisbane near the township of Maleny. Once a small part of a thriving subtropical rainforest region called the Maleny Plateau, Mary Cairncross Reserve is now the only significant rainforest block left in that vicinity. Cairncross is an archetypal ‘remnant’.
THE REMNANT (v.1) draws upon a range of local but universal themes: The tragedy of an ecological ark contrasts with the vision of the site’s bequestors and a local community of support. An argument continues between preservation and pasture; between crops and housing. The voice of local indigenous custodians contrast with the fences and boundaries conception of private property based democracy. And in between these clashes sits the story of a critically endangered butterfly, hanging on through dint of community will and one key host plant found in the reserve. Butterflies and their rainforest hosts are flagship examples of that which we are losing – threatened species who have suffered so much because of us now depend upon us to ‘allow’ them survive.
THE REMNANT’ therefore speaks for a fundamental rethinking of the critical relationships that frame our worlds – the social, the political, the economic and the cultural, asserting that the ecological crisis is not out there .. but that WE are the crisis and therefore it is we who must now understand how to act.