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Birdsong and sonic patterns win first digital billboard art award

Melbourne-based artists Catherine Clover and Daniel Kotsimbos will share the $30,000 Fivex Art Prize: Billboard Art Reimagined - taking home $15,000 each in Australia’s first award dedicated to digital billboard art.

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CLOVER Catherine Song Cycle a
 Winners of the Fivex Art Prize: Song Cycle by Catherine Clover (above and lower left), and Peak Frequency by Daniel Kotsimbos (below and lower right)

art prize second winner Daniel K

KOTSIMBOS Daniel Peak Frequency bcommon starling art prize 2 2020The inaugural Fivex Art Prize, sponsored by outdoor advertiser QMS Media, attracted more than 500 entries from graphic designers, photographers, street artists, illustrators and architects across Australia.

From a group of six shortlisted artists, the winners were announced by Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp at an exhibition that displayed all of the finalists’ works on two prominent QMS billboards opposite the Flinders St Railway Station in Melbourne.

Catherine Clover’s (VIC) Song Cycle is centred on the phonetic words used by bird field guides to approximate the bird songs of the Indigenous Red Wattlebird and the introduced Common Starling, both local to Melbourne’s CBD. “These seemingly nonsense texts incorporate phonetic words used by naturalists to approximate a bird’s call or song,” Clover said. “The Red Wattlebird’s scratchy raucous song is rendered for the horizontal billboard using the rhythm and metre of an early morning exchange. The complex song of the Common Starling includes a long dropping melodic note, ideal for the vertical billboard. Hopefully, viewers will find it irresistible to sound out the calls as they pass by. Both birds are common to Melbourne. The Woiwurrung word Yan-Guk (Red Wattlebird) is a translation by Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Gail Smith."

Daniel Kotsimbos’ (VIC) Peak Frequency presents a visualisation of the sonic patterns recorded at Melbourne Square Crossing to reflect on the public space and routine foundations of our public lives. “Peak Frequency is a data visualisation of sonic patterns recorded at Melbourne Square Crossing,” said Kotsimbos. “Made from a site-specific audio recording, the artwork is essentially a spectrogram of the billboards’ location. The spectrogram on the ‘wrap’ billboard shows time represented horizontally on the x-axis, and sonic frequency on the vertical y-axis. A colour key indicating decibel intensity is shown on the vertical billboard. Peak Frequency is a hypnotic representation of a public space, encouraging critical awareness of the systematic and routine foundations of our public lives.”

Capp said: “The Fivex Art Prize: Billboard Art Reimagined is an innovative addition to our city’s rich creative heritage. Showcasing the best digital art from across the country on a prominent CBD billboard is another reason to come into the city to enjoy what’s on offer.”

The jury included Charmaine Moldrich (CEO, Outdoor Media Association), Jane Devery (curator, Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Victoria), Liss Fenwick (public art project lead, Melbourne City Council), Gary Deirmendjian (artist), and Alessio Cavallaro (creative producer, Fivex Art Prize and media art curator).

The finalists’ works will be on view at intervals until the end of January, interspersed with commercial advertising content. The other finalists were awarded AU$1,000 each.