Julie Louise Bacon | Sentinel


  • 01 Apr

  • jbacon

Sentinel featured in the group exhibition Make Known the Exquisite Order of Infinite Variation shown at UNSW Galleries in Sydney. The work revisits a defining moment in the history of human civilisation when, as a species, we began communicating through the intermediary of satellites. The launching of an extra-planetary device to relay our consciousness through time marks the threshold of a new era: our immersion in the digital Network Ages.


Sentinel features three elements:

Sound: A looped sound collage of satellite signals, approximately 8 minutes long, plays in the space. The stereo sound is assembled from a variety of archival sources, beginning with the frequencies transmitted by Sputnik 1 in 1957, then Explorer 1 and Vanguard 1 in 1958, Oscar 1 in 1961, and so on. As the numbers of satellites launched into space increase at an exponential rate, the samples move at intervals of years, until we reach a satellite signal from 2018. The loop then repeats.

Moving image: A silent, Black and White film, approximately 2 minutes long, is played every 15 minutes in the space. When the projection comes on, the sound collage stops. The film is an edited sample of imagery depicting the Sputnik launch, through a combination of staged shots and archival footage. It begins with an image of a clock approaching midnight – 0 hour – and ends in a simulation of the satellite as a flickering light in outer space meeting the dawn. The low-resolution of the analogue-pixel frequencies transforms into abstraction, light becomes material. (See Images 1, 2 and 3 below)

Performance-drawing, Carbon on rag paper:  

The drawing is the visual trace of a durational performance, an embodiment of the performer’s breath captured in Carbon. To produce the work: a wide ring of charcoal powder is distributed on the paper, forming a black halo on the ground. The performer lays on the paper, and rotates slowly, over a period of around 96 minutes, the time of the first satellite’s orbit of Earth. The movement faintly echoes the hands of a clock face. The performer displaces the black carbon mass with breath, in silent voicings.

Documentation of the installation Sentinel, 2018