Inertia was my first solo show. It was shown in Gallery two at KickArts Cairns between March and April 2018.

Featuring 50 interactive spheres of light, visitors can explore how their presence influences everyday life. Custom software determines how the motion of each sphere changes. When accelerating during interaction, the spheres glow brightly. When left alone, the spheres glow dimly.

Engaging with the exhibit alters the experience and outcome for those around them. These transient social experiences hint at interactions with a wider community. How, through collective effort, local communities can become bright, attractive places.

I don’t know jack about abstract expressionism. So last year I started reading the biography of Robert Irwin to start to try and figure it out. It’s an excellent book, I highly recommend it. Anyway Robert is this American artist who started out with abstract expressionist paintings. He used words like ‘energy’ and ‘vibration’ as a way of try and describe his work to mere mortals. Nah, he didn’t mean that as some sort of karmic nonsense, I think his intent was more along the lines of some form of perceived intensity. Robert had a strong opinion that his work should return more ‘energy’ than the perceptual effort it took to view.

So he spent decades going through a process of reduction, slowly migrating from painting into sculpture and beyond, in a quest to minimise the effort it took to perceive his art and to maximise the ‘energy’ the viewer experienced. It was a steady transition away from objects and into experiences. He even got to the point where he met Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman - the guy who painted symbols depicting particle physics on his van.

Anyway, Irwin wanted to remove the object completely and just have his audience experience an energy. But it is right at this moment that he meets NASA psychologist Dr Ed Wortz and artist James Turrell. He leaves that idea of removing the object completely and drifts down a different track of how people perceive and experience art.

But that energy thing? Those ideas that Robert left behind? I found them interesting, so Inertia was my attempt at them. Inertia fell well short of that pure Irwin style of disembodiment, but hopefully I made energy and how it gets transfered a little more of a tactile and visible experience.

While I was working on this project, it got me thinking about different kinds of energy. Like what’s found in sociology and communities. It made me reflect on my time when we first moved to Cairns three and a half years ago. I was pretty isolated and depressed and the time. It wasn’t till I ‘found my tribe’, and made a connection with the community that this place became brillant. And I guess that goes for anywhere, it’s only through collective effort that a community can become a vibrant place.

Inertia installed at KickArts.
Completed Inertia sensor unit
All the assembled Inertia sensors.


Inertia has been generously supported by:

Cairns Regional Council Logo
Queensland Government Logo

The Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Cairns Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.


  • 2018/04/27 - Completed project documentation.