Deepspace is a multidisciplinary work that investigates arts and science as methods of inquiry into the unknown. From the immediate source of the body through to visual and sonic translations, Deepspace examines processes of searching for, collecting and ordering information that we use to understand the universe. In this work, the body is located between the extremities of remoteness and proximity, connectedness and isolation, certainty and uncertainty.
In 2016 James Batchelor and visual artist Annalise Rees were invited to be official voyage artists on a 2-month expedition at sea studying remote islands in the sub-Antarctic. This expedition led by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Australia took place on Australia’s Marine National Facility the RV Investigator, a state of the art marine research vessel. It journeyed to the UNESCO World Heritage Heard and McDonald Islands, with the purpose of studying submarine volcanoes and their relationship to the Earth’s biosphere.
The expedition was an environment where art and science as research were occurring simultaneously. What then is the relationship between art and science? How do these practices contribute to or interrogate one another? What are the potential platforms for art and science to engage with people today and in the future? These are ongoing questions that Deepspace is concerned with.
‘As a choreographer this was a particularly unique and inspiring environment to study and research the body. It was a highly challenging space, taking me well outside my normal modes of practice. It required me to be profoundly patient and observant; to question what is ‘work’ and when does ‘work’ happen? The extreme isolation, confinement and repetitiveness of my daily experience required a profoundly different approach to space and time. For the duration of the two-month journey, ‘work’ was occurring at every moment. On a constantly moving platform in the world’s roughest ocean, simply searching for stillness and stability was ‘work’. From this unfamiliarity, I developed a particular sensitivity to the body. Starting from sensation, the body became a heightened arrival and departure point for information.’
Read more about James’ experience and Deepspace in his essay Thoughts on Deepspace
'Deepspace, profoundly and superbly performed by Batchelor, fellow dancer Chloe Chignell and musician Morgan Hickinbotham, is in fact a shared experience that brings the audience onboard that ship and beyond it. Doors of imagination and perception open up and allow us to travel, to be moved and feel displaced. A constant but diverse rhythm gives the sensation of being shifted by changeable and hauling waves. The work is serious, attentive, delicate, alert, multilayered, spatial; it’s representation deeply poetic and enthralling. Deepspace is a wonderful embodiment of something ungraspable and majestic.' - Veronica Posth (Seeing Dance)
'James Batchelor evokes Antarctic journey in Deepspace' - Kerrie O'Brien (The Age)
'In the extreme circumstances that Batchelor found himself on RV Investigator (and, curators might argue, as the consequences of climate change continue to unfold), the body becomes an alien, remarkable thing that requires a new blueprint, a new cartography, to preserve itself.' - Barnaby Smith
Choreographer: James Batchelor
Performers: James Batchelor, Chloe Chignell/Amber McCartney
Visual Artist: Annalise Rees
Sound Design: Morgan Hickinbotham
Deepspace has been supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, the ACT Government through Screen ACT and the City of Melbourne through Arts House. Deepspace was developed through Arts House’s CultureLAB with the assistance of Creative Victoria.