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THE INVISIBLE HAND
with sound by James Hayes

2014

Fontanelle Gallery

I have an app on my tablet called World Live Cams Pro where the user can view live streams from security cameras located around the world.

One of my favourite cameras to visit is located in a Russian village called Beloozerski. The camera is mounted on the side of a tall residential building with 180 degree views over a high rise housing estate situated in a semi-rural area 80 kms from Moscow. The app allows the user to control the high definition camera; pan left and right, up, down as well as zoom controls. Beloozerski is a popular camera and there is often a queue to take over its controls, which is of course interesting to see what other people are looking at.

I chose the location because it is residential and I can view people in their local environment. Its pretty every day stuff, kids, prams, supermarket, notice board, dogs, waiting, playground, talking, looking. Does occupation create an emotional relationship to architecture and landscape and fosters feelings of nostalgia and belonging . This highlighted my thoughts about housing within the context of Australia's obsession with property/land ownership that have informed previous works.

Prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990 housing in Russia was fully state owned and while rents were very low apartment sizes were very small and based on an allocated sqm per person, also people didn't have any choice about where they lived. Since the 1990s all Russian's have been given the title of their rental properties for free. Following this process of individual privatisation, the private construction/housing/mortgage market has taken hold. Since I have been recording my visits to Beloozerski at least three new high rise buildings have been built.

My movement and control of the cameras singular heavenly view found another socio-economic reference in the term The invisible hand conceived of by political economist Adam Smith in 1759. The invisible hand is used today by polictical-economists as a theory of the self regulating behavior of the free market where acting in ones self interest produces socially beneficial results (the term was most used during the greed is good 1980's) The self regulating market is the basic precept of the Laissez-faire economy we are familiar with today. Smith's metaphor proposes that individuals efforts for personal profit will positively effect society as the rich create a trickle down effect through employment and their own consumption creating demand. And the every day consumer exercising thier choices wil have the power to determine the success or failure of a product or service.

Observing Beloozerski Russia from my tablet screen in Melbourne Australia feels distant and insignificant but I find myself feeling a connection to this place. My research identifies that the building right below the camera is an artschool, and the local Artist Union - organisations that were established during the Soviet era is still operating today. While I can't fully understand the context of the lives people are living here my next stage of this project is to establish more methods of communication.

 

Left
THE INVISIBLE HAND
with sound by James Hayes
HD video 13:41mins 2014

Images right
THE INVISIBLE HAND
digital print on rag paper 42x30cm 2014

 

elvis richardson