Laila O’Brien chats with Dani Terrizzi about her recent work in the LIGHT exhibition, Trembling in the Balance

Over several visits to 30upstairs recently I spent a fair amount of time watching Dani Terrizzi’s work Trembling in the balance in the small dark room at 30upstairs. It was a part of the LIGHT exhibition that finished last Saturday.  I say ‘watching’ as despite being stationary and on a 26 minute loop, I felt the work had some impossible capacity for independent activity.  Would I blink and then hear it proclaim that it won the staring contest?  Well, I didn’t hear anything that Dani hadn’t intended to be heard in it, just things my own mind imagined.  For me, it was a dialogue between sand and water, and I keep feeling my head tilt to the side in an attempt to understand.  I could stalk around the dark room, and break/enter the illusion with my body, but I couldn’t manipulate the sound.  It was a language I knew, grainy reminders of the everyday, a sister language to the one made by my shoes crunching on gravel, and the sound my skin makes when I rub my hands together.  And so I stared, and hovered, and wanted to be included and to understand what it was doing, and what Dani was thinking as she made it.  It was an exciting day for me then when Jhana and Mal asked me to get Dani in for a chat.  I felt very lucky to be on the receiving end of Dani’s generous revelations about herself and her work, and can’t wait to see what she makes next.

How would you describe Trembling in the balance in terms of content or subject matter?

I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted the work to be before I started making it.  Instead the work came out of the processes I used when I was filming, and subtle things that interested me, or parts of things.  I then started to edit things down, cropping, and layering, learning new video techniques and repeating them.  I built on my past video experience. So the work became about the process as well as the images I used. I think there’s power in little moments of discovery – in the ritual of capturing images and the act of reproducing them. This work reveals my engagement with movement of the hand, water, and environmental sound. I would describe it as a composition, a living form shifting through moods and phases of instability and transcendence.

What did you read/listen to/look at/research when making this work?

I was collecting a lot of sound and video recordings. I was also reading about transitory states and liminality. That’s where the title came from. An idea of finding the balance between fixed states, and identifying periods of unknowing which aren’t always felt as positive. I’m both interested in and hyper-aware of environmental sounds, to the point that I can barely listen to music through headphones. Sometimes when you hear a sound, it can ring in your head long after the initial encounter. During the making process I would hear certain sounds from the work everywhere, echoing repeatedly. The sounds from my external environment would find their way back into the work. In this way I developed a dialogue with sound through memory and association.

Dani Terrizzi screen grab

What were your biggest challenges creating this work?  How did you deal with them?

The hours and hours spent sitting at the computer were quite draining, but I did enjoy making it. It was a work that came together well, and once I started making it I knew what it would become.

What do you want this work to do?

I hope for it to be confronting and engaging. I like that some people seem unsure, and don’t know what it is, or what it’s meant to be. For me its a lot of different things and I want it to be that for other people as well.

Now that the exhibition is coming to a close, have your thoughts about your work changed in any way?

After the opening it was strange, we celebrated the work and then we leave it.  It was like a parting.  It’s nice to be back here talking about it, knowing that things have been happening to it in my absence. Previously it was exhibited in a shipping container for the Exposure exhibition, with a wooden floor which created a nice echo. Here is seems to be in a home, or a little room, and I like that as it didn’t seem to have a home before.

What’s next for you?  Where do you see your work going?

I want to continue experimenting with video, with more investigation into how to enhance the physicality of a projection.  I’ve been using similar processes over the last few years, capturing things and making them more than what they seem to be in that moment when you find them.  That is a strong theme in my work.


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