A Closed Box (2020)

A Closed Box was an exhibition curated by David Harris at the Grey St. Gallery, Griffith University, Australia, in February 2020.

The exhibition consisted of a series of interactive works which were all contained in a closed locked gallery, but which could be operated or interacted with from outside the gallery.

Artists in the exhibition included Paul Bardini, Andrew Brown, Seth Ellis, David Harris, Jason Nelson, and Gerard Rutten.

What is an art exhibition if the door to the gallery is permanently locked? A Closed Box explores this idea with a set of interactive works physically inside a gallery but interacted with from outside the gallery. Interaction happens via techniques such as vision recognition, nearby human presence, and forms of touch activation and control.

By highlighting the physical separation of the viewer/interactor from the objects by glass walls, the works encourage us to think about how we interact and explore the world over a range of space and time and through a variety of forms and interfaces. That works can be activated unknowingly by passers-by reminds us that we are immersed in a sensor-saturated world, but to what end?

Works included

Wonderment Twelve plus/minus Yerself

Artist: Jason Nelson
Year: 2020
Medium: Interactive video animation, custom software, video camera
Dimensions: 3m (W) x 2m (H) x 5m (D)
Artwork description: Data is a connected line, a topography of streams, a reborn visualisation of the world. And while we often experience others in the flatness of imagery, the singular capture, a program understands us as a timed geography, a spreading moment of difference and sameness, textures and contrasts, distances and speeds. Wonderment Twelve plus/minus Yerself is the computer as you or us, an extruded land in light. Or move, see and distort.


Artists: Andrew R. Brown and Paul Bardini
Year: 2019
Medium: 3D printed forms and interactive microelectronics
Dimensions: 50cm(W) x 20cm (D) x 60cm (H) (x 2)
Artwork description: The relationship between natural and human beauty is intricate and complex. It is often uncanny how closely related the geometry of mathematical form is to naturally occurring forms, and how the elegant behaviours of simple life forms can be so compelling. In this work the artists explore those relationships combining simple yet fluid forms and lighting behaviours that, through interaction, remind us of our coupled interactions with nature and how it in turn influences our creativity and aesthetic judgement.

Textural Textual Traversal

Artists: David Harris and Paul Bardini
Year: 2020
Medium: Wood, aluminium, acrylic, paper, ink, 3d printed forms, interactive microelectronics
Dimensions: 2m (H) x 3m (W) x 5m (D)
Artwork description: Texts define a spatial relationship with a reader by the interplay of the scales of the textual object and human biology. But surrounding that typical scale are other phenomena that allow texts to be read. In this work, a viewer is too far from a raw text to read it, the magnified projection makes the text too close to read, and if the text is reconstructed through a viewer’s microscopic traversal, is it even readable anyway? The text eschews any semantic purpose and becomes a prompt for exploring scales ranging from the microscopic to the human.

Figure No Figure

Artists: David Harris and Gerard Rutten
Year: 2020
Medium: Wood, aluminium, fabric, cardboard, fan, interactive microelectronics
Dimensions: 1.9m (H) x 0.6m (W) x 2.5m (D)
Artwork description: A picture frame as a face invokes a surreal figure. On a viewer’s approach, the face takes unexpected dynamic form. But what do we read into that activated “face”? Is it horrifying? Uncanny? Whimsical? Cathartic? Our past experiences and cultural environment cast the figure into a reflection of our subconscious. Through our interaction, do we read more life into a figure trapped behind glass or does it just dissolve into a responsive dynamic sculpture?


Artist: Seth Ellis
Year: 2020
Medium: Sound
Dimensions: Variable
Artwork description: Zvezdochka (tr. Asterisk) is the brand name of a children’s radio produced in the Soviet Union in the 1960’s-70’s. For this installation, a custom microphone and amplifier scrapes the interior of the radio for the traces of the sounds it has played over its life. The result is a history of Soviet radio, from Lenin’s 1921 broadcasts to Christian broadcasts just before the collapse of the Soviet Union.