WRITING‎ > ‎

AMBIENT CAFE

Text accompanying an exhibition at create café, Kelvin Grove
In situ works by Luke Jaaniste 
11 Sept – 20 Oct 



Our surroundings are ambient, pervasive and enveloping. All around us. In an exuding material excess. But how much of it do we take notice of? How much do we see and hear? What is the state of our being in those surroundings? 

My practice over the last few years has orientated itself around such questions, ultimately coming up against the question of the ambient mode of being – in which our surroundings are experienced as the ultimate aesthetic place. Wherever we are, there is so much to see and hear, that instead of wanting to add to it or fill it with content (as if it were empty or inadequate), I simply want totweak the ambience of a place in such a way that we are drawn into a closer relationship with the ambience that has been there all along, regardless of our to-ing and fro-ing, our busi- ness and our particular tastes. 

My main creative process then is one of ambient tweaking or inflecting, which has several recurring traits. It is quite formal, in that I focus on highlighting the repeating patterns and forms in urban settings in terms of their material shape, colour, timbre, texture and the intervallic relationships between such things (this is not to deny there are other meanings that adhere to the work in terms of the social spaces where such formalities take place). It is also quite subtle because any large gesture tends to dominate the pre-existing ambient and draw too much attention to itself. Furthermore, I use simple found materials or what we might call readymade units, whether the pre-existing units I find in a certain place or those I introduce to it. The readymade is a classic tactic in creative practice within the twentieth-century, which means I can divest any interest in the objects themselves (not being expensive or intricate or skilfully hand- made etc) to instead focus on the interrelationships that the units have with each other and with the pre-existing ambient place. 

One of the creative tensions in my practice is the tension between the subtly of the work and the desire to bring this to the attention of audiences. Previous exhibitions have been experiments in how to navigate this tension. I have come to realise typical signage is either too heavy-handed for the work or too much like spoon-feeding audiences. Rather, it is a question of hints and clues, almost like a treasure hunt – providing a password or cryptic key with which one can unlock the experience of the work and then via this work, the ambience of a particular place. Pointing out the work tends to kill the element of discovery and surprise, and short-circuits one’s approach towards an ambient mode of being. 

So what clues may I give you regarding the work in Create Café? How about... 

Lego (white, grey and black) in various corners 
Marks (yellow, blue and green) on glass 
Holes punched through leaves 
Stickers (white) on metal 

This café exhibition is a satellite of the exhibition titled approaching the ambient, 3-6 October 2006, located in The Block and surrounding areas of the Creative Industries Precinct, QUT Kelvin Grove. This is the final exhibition in the practice-led doctoral (PhD) research that I have conducted since early 2003 through the Creative Industries Faculty at QUT, and is one of the components submitted for examination. The other components to be submitted include audio and visual documentation of works made since 2003, and a substantial accompanying text. 

I would like to thank Duane and the staff at Create Café, and also La Boite, for this opportunity.