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Rainforest Machine Prototype 01

This interactive installation invites the viewer to experience sensory immersion while seated in the chair of the machine. A forest is simulated using a humidifier and cedarwood oil which provides a cool fragrant mist, and rotating disks that filter and vary the colour of light, mimicking the dappled sunlight of a forest. The experience is augmented by the sound of forest insects and birds, specifically the unrequited song of the last Kauaian ʻōʻō, singing his fragmented half of the mating call.

 

The work touches on global as well as personal themes. Universally the work speaks of ecological loss: deforestation, extinction, and climate change. Through this work I propose a way for future generations to experience a rainforest when there won’t be any left. Even though the work engages all senses, the crux of the theme lies in the visual aspect. The deliberate use of appropriated household items speaks to current ecological concerns of a dystopian future. The harsh mechanical assembly, in juxtaposition to the organic forest, enforces the theme of the work.

 

On a personal level, the concept for this work was sparked by a recent visit to the Victoria Falls. The walkway along the small rainforest at the falls’ edge became the site of a deeply immersive and transformative experience. I have spent the previous month outside an ICU ward, supporting a dear friend who was losing her husband to cancer. The contrast between the stark interior of the hospital and this vibrant forest, fed by the life-sustaining spray from the falls, intensified my experience. I was mesmerized by the play of sunlight through the leaves, the cool mist on my sun-warmed skin, and the overwhelming smells and sounds of this place that could potentially heal the soul. I had a strong desire to capture my experience in this rainforest and relay to my friend back home, and thus the idea of an immersive, sensory work was born. 

View Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards 2021 Catalogue

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