Window onto time

Rosemary Sorensen | Bendigo Weekly | 15-Jun-2012

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IN THE FRAME: Artist Paul Fletcher.
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When he pitched the idea for a projection artwork to celebrate 150 years of Bendigo Rail, Paul Fletcher didn’t factor in how hard it would be to whitewash huge arched windows.

The Lockwood artist last night launched The Railways Time Machine.

 It is a continuous-loop video projected from inside the Discovery Centre out into the small amphitheatre at the entrance to the railway station precinct.

Earlier this week, he was sloshing around water and wiping down the glass, then squirting on a thin wash of white paint, in preparation for the installation of two projectors in time for last night’s dusk opening.

“I don’t want to give too much away,” Mr Fletcher said.

“I don’t want to spoil the experience, but I can tell you there are eight loops, synchronised across the two windows, and structured so there are different parts shown at different times.

“I want it to be a little bit mysterious, to show the amazing industry and work on the railways.”

The Railways Time Machine is part of a series of events scheduled this year as part of a celebration of the history of rail in Bendigo.

Mr Fletcher said he built on the expertise he gained from his Hidden Creatures installation in the Rosalind Park conservatory to create this big new installation.

“I had to spend a couple of weeks in bed with a leg injury, so I used the time to trawl for images online,” he said.

“That’s where I found Les Brown’s photographs, who worked on the railway in Bendigo.”

Those photographs, as well as animation sculptures by Daniel Agdag and also work by Robert Stephenson, have all been used in the final projection.

There are also archive images from the Railway Museum and the State Library of Victoria.

Mr Fletcher said he tested the projection on the glass kitchen door at home (much to the amusement of his family), but he wouldn’t know exactly how it worked on the Discovery Centre’s arched windows until the launch last night.

“The idea behind it is that in the present you can see our past, present and future,” he said.

“It’s a time machine, a non-linear archive of life on the railways.

“Did I know how I would make it all work when I started out? Course I didn’t!

“But I knew I’d do it somehow.”

The Railways Time Machine  installation can be viewed every day from 5am to 7am and 6pm to midnight until July 14.

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