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Sparks's 3D light works may, at first glance, seem a departure from the montaged, composite and highly controlled beautiful landscapes for which she is well-known. However, these light works continue her exploration of immersive installations that has occupied her practice.
Sparks position as an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the Monash Immersive Visualisation Platform at the New Horizons Research Centre provides her with access to cutting-edge 3D mapping technology and the opportunity to work with engineers and scientists. This is a project that builds on the work she commenced in 2015 with the support of the CSIRO in Brisbane, who provided 3D mapping equipment training. This led into her residency with the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory (PERCRO) in Pisa 2017. The technology is capable of scanning complex interiors and exteriors previously un-mappable by fixed scanners. ​The works on exhibit at MGA were created using Zebedee to collect data through which she adds, subtracts, carves into and blends datasets. She has utilised this technology at a number of sites including Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne. Some might recognise the buildings of Heide II or the dining room of Heide I, or the gardens at the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens.
Sparks has no preconceived notion about what may eventuate from her point cloud explorations. Her desire is to create an immersive visual field so the viewer becomes part of the image space. The outcome, as she puts it, is unknown. When she asked the scientists what can she do with the technology, they turned around and said you tell us what you want to do and we’ll figure out how to do it. It is a project that recognises scientists and artists ask different questions which can enhance each other’s understanding of technology and its potential. 

Supported by the CSIRO, The Artist's Career Fund and the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory (PERCRO) Pisa.




(work in progress)  2016

video loop snapshot

Embracing 3D mapping technology in the quest for an immersive environment

When conceiving the Le Vol series, Sparks was exploring the work of artists and theorists who looked at the history of immersive and illusory environments, particularly the theorist Oliver Grau. Sparks points to Grau's discussion of virtual reality as a technique that is not a new phenomena. It can be traced to the classical world which is now evident in immersion strategies of contemporary virtual art. It is fascinating to tease out what has driven Sparks to rupture her own practice and utilise digital technology that contrasts her aesthetically beautiful large scale printed works. 
For Sparks it is the all consuming, immersive environment that breaks down the boundaries between the viewer and the image. Suddenly there is no barrier as the viewer becomes an active participant in the work; forcing the viewer into a dislocated space and inducing a sense of vertigo that forces them to look at and experience the world differently. Historically, illusory installations such as fresco paintings on walls in Pompeii, tromp l'oiel garden scenes and panoramic ceilings in Baroque churches were forcing down the forth wall to create the illusion of another space. With Sparks's 3D light works she is dissecting the objects through points of light, and dissolving the everyday forms that surround us into the digital realm. 
A new reality

As with the Le Vol series, Sparks has created a new reality within a work that in itself in flux; a state of becoming. These 3D light works create points of light that reference landscape and architecture that surround us everyday, but pulls the viewer into the object itself – bringing the outside in – a vertigo inducing experience. 
In playing with reality Sparks asks us to experience the world differently. Virtual Reality alters the environment in a unique way. The disorientation of the viewer physically changes the environment causing a 'heightened bodily awareness'. The 3D works create the sense of vertigo and disorientation in a way that her previous works have not. It creates a real dislocation of place for the participant to become an immersive experience for the viewer who is forced to actively become a participant. They bring themselves and their own experiences and worldview into interpreting and experiencing the work. She is asking the viewer to become an active participant by stepping into a virtual landscape. 
Sparks is interested in how these 3D technologies might enable her to activate the entire gallery space; to create an environment where the viewer can move through and become part of the visual field. At the heart of Sparks’s practice has always been the intersection of the idea and the medium, constantly in flux and responding to each other. This experimental sensibility, a desire to explore the medium with new and cutting edge technologies, is illustrative of how fundamental creativity is to innovation. It is exciting to think where Sparks will take us next and how far she can push the medium.



Valerie SPARKS

Heide light 3  2016

pigment ink-jet print

30.0 x 60.0 cm

collection of Tracey Lamb

Valerie SPARKS

Heide dining  2016

pigment ink-jet print

32.0 x 52.0 cm

courtesy of the artist

collection of the artist


Valerie SPARKS

PERCRO CAVE Video - 2017, Work in progress filmed at the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory in Pisa, Italy - March 2017

Valerie SPARKS

PERCRO Cave (work in progress)  2016


2 minutes, 29 seconds (loop)

Valerie SPARKS

PERCRO CAVE Video - 2017, Work in progress filmed at the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory in Pisa, Italy - March 2017

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