Based on Ngunnawal Country (Canberra), Ella Barclay explores the complex yet universal experience of living in a networked world. In Dense Bodies and Unknown Systems, we peer into tanks of bubbling mist to see numerous round bodies swimming across brightly coloured and tempestuous oceans. The work is about the experience of navigating systems that are increasingly automated and explores the very form that information takes - a substance that is at once mesmerising, ungraspable and flickering between all of us constantly.

To create the work, Barclay worked with a drone pilot to film herself swimming across an Olympic diving pool. She has then used generative compositing technologies and hand-built electronics to create what looks like three humming, strange computer servers filled with lofty visions. Dense Bodies and Unknown Systems queers our understanding of information technology as masculine, entrepreneurial and corporate. Here, it is celebrated as non-masculine, gothic, messy and uncanny.

Ramsay Art prize 2021

installation view: Ramsay Art Prize 2021 featuring Dense Bodies and Unknown Systems by Ella Barclay, 2020; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; photo: Saul Steed.