View of Geelong: Trans Panorama

Cameron Bishop
Simon Reis
Geelong, Victoria

Eugene von Guerard’s View of Geelong is iconic for a number of reasons, including its detailed interpretation of the landscape and its special place in the imagining of the region. Bishop and Reis seek to honour this by manipulating the science behind the view and at the same time question the viewer’s relationship to the scene and the work. The artists use the husk of a ruined fireplace to house a camera obscura and stereoscope – pressed concaved metal into which the viewer puts their head and looks through a divided hole into the unit. The camera obscura mimics the mechanics of the eye, and is able to capture the scene perfectly while the stereoscope splits the scene, makes it partial, layered and temporal.

In doing this, the artists layer von Guerard’s view with change; acknowledging the effects of European civilization and, peculiar to this historical panorama, suburbanization of the landscape. The creeping suburbs are seen on the left-side of the stereoscope through a camera obscura, which presents a real-time view of the scene from the point at which von Guerard allegedly painted it. On the right side, the viewer catches the light, but only to illuminate a transparency of von Guerard’s original work. The technologies drawn upon – the camera obscura, stereoscope and landscape painting – create a confluence of images, both real and imagined.

Images: Ruin and Viewin', Bishop & Reis. Photos: Cameron Bishop