Perfecting the Art of Levitation

Our lives revolve around habitual activities. When watching fish jumping, the contingencies of existence becomes hard to ignore. A quartet of 3’30” chapters explore the drama of an estuary using text and voice over.

1. Earth is not round (Chance is a mystery that denies witchcraft and denies God).
2. Thinking aloud (What’s happening beneath the surface?)
3. The sea is always on edge (A young man left us from this mouth, his body never made it back to shore).
4. What are you looking at? (In playing the game, the player is played by the game).

This work interweaves, through the visual field, discourses of the theoretical, the poetic and the ecological. Art is serious and art is play. We think of play as the opposite of seriousness, not often noticing how universal and important it is. Requiring emotional and social intelligence, play is the brain's favourite way of learning and manoeuvring through the world.

  • John Bennett
  • John Bennett
  • John Bennett
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental
  • Genres:
    environmental, nature
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    November 20, 2019
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Director Biography - John Bennett

I am a poet, published worldwide, who has won major poetry prizes. I also write essays on environmental issues and my PhD explored ecopoetics. I now live in New South Wales by the sea in a beautiful sub-tropical region of rivers and forests, and have become a visual artist, but one with text embedded in most of my work.
I give talks at Coffs Harbour Regional Art Gallery where I exhibited a multi-media presentation ‘First Light - from Eos to Helios’, Coffs Harbour Regional Galley, from July, 2017. A documentary on this project, ‘Poetry at first light’ was broadcast by ABC Radio National’s Earshot, February, 2016.
Other screenings/exhibitions include: Biligan (commissioned), Bellingen TurtleFest, 2016; the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre, Blackheath, Oct 2013; Matilda St Gallery, Macksville, Sept 2012; Balmain Watch House, Syndey, Oct 2011; Sydney Writers Festival, 2010; Newtown Underground Film Festival, Sydney, 2010; a multi-media installation, MacLeay Museum, University of Sydney, 2007.
Videos have also been published in the special 30th anniversary edition of Going Down Swinging; ekleksographia (USA); Poetry Australia and online.
My images are used by The Dept. of Primary Industries, News South Wales, National Parks and Wildlife Service, local councils, tourist authorities, festivals and schools.
I have been Artistic Director of the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival for five years, I am currently providing texts, photographs and videos for artists, and teaching schoolchildren, for the national ‘Overwintering’ project (migratory shorebirds), Coffs Regional Gallery.

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Director Statement

Art is both serious and play. The word derives from the Indo-European (plegan, to take a chance). Play's original purpose was to make a pledge to someone on one’s life. Play involves chance, daring, risk, concentration, the ability to live with uncertainty (what Keats called ‘Negative capability’), to work within the bendy rules of the game. In Nietzsche’s contrast between the Apollonian and Dionysian, the latter prefers more risky and playful aesthetic experiences – but they complement each other and sometimes come to some kind of arrangement. Just as often, in the search for transcendence, whether it be for, love, justice, freedom or flight the two face off.
We do not give much attention to our everyday lives, which is why art and play are important to enriching our lives through an everyday aesthetic. Environmental educator Mitchell Thomashow suggests that attention to our immediate environment is best way to learn to appreciate the biosphere and become aware of our environmental crisis. If we get to know nature better, we will come to appreciate, even love it.