Polly Stanton, Artist/Filmmaker

Polly Stanton is an artist and filmmaker. Her work primarily investigates the relationships between environment, human actions and land use. Her films and installations focus on contested sites and extractive zones, presenting landscape as a politically charged field of negotiation, entangled with history, technology and capital.

  1. 1. Indefinite Terrains 4K, stereo sound, 17m 00s 2019
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    Indefinite Terrains is an audio-visual essay that interprets the plantation forest as an assemblage of colonialism, capitalism and country. Through the location of the plantation, the effects of wood harvesting is explored through both narration and the audio-visual tracing of the forest’s controlled and operationalised terrains. Via this prism, the work examines the spatial and temporal patterns of the forest as a means to interrogate the relationships between bodies, beings and extractive processes.

    Punctuated by the diaristic entries of the fictitious ‘plantation officer’, acts of listening and looking become speculative imaginings as the shifting geographies and histories of the forest are explored. Drawing on both the subjective and the real, Indefinite Terrains turns the seemingly factual site of the plantation into questions and uncertainties, situating resource extraction as a mechanism that remodels and remakes the world.

    Indefinite Terrains was created with the support
    of RMIT Gallery. The work was filmed and recorded on the country of the Dja Dja Wurrung, the traditional owners of Central Victoria.

  2. 2. The Spectral Field 4K, stereo sound, 25m 45s 2017
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    Commissioned by The Cinema’s Project, The Spectral Field is a moving image and sound work that traces the delicate and hidden ecologies of the ancient Mallee landscape. The work is set in the remote Murray Sunset National Park and is a speculative exploration of three ephemeral salt lakes and the adjacent ruins of a salt harvesting farm. By interrogating and destabilising notions of scale, The Spectral Field envisages macro and micro observations of the lake's surface through the use of drone footage, micro videography and vibrational recordings.

    The work brings the uncanny nature of the salt lakes into focus through these situated and intimate recordings, giving rise to a field of vibratory resonance. Attuning to the spectral and sonorous underpinnings of the site, The Spectral Field seeks to activate notions of the elemental, hinting at the deep time of the lakebed through animating the muted agencies of the past. By documenting these hidden facets of the land, The Spectral Field presents the Mallee as an eerie and hauntological space that is both material and meditated.

    This work was supported by Creative Victoria
    and The Mildura Arts Centre. The Spectral Field was filmed and recorded on the territories of the Latji Latji, Ngintait and Nyeri Nyeri Peoples. Sovereignty of this land was never ceded.

  3. 3. Between Two Suns 4K, surround sound, 17m 2016
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    Between Two Suns is a moving-image work that documents the landscape of Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari Island: two disused military outposts located in the grey waters of the Finnish gulf. Connected by a small land bridge, the islands formed an initial line of defence for the mainland from invading forces in the early 19th century. Colonised twice, once by Sweden and then later by Russia, the islands were handed back to Finland during the Finish independence in 1917. Because of these histories, the uninhabited islands were declared contaminated zones and for decades the public was restricted from visiting the tangled web of buried artillery, underground forts and abandoned dwellings.

    Over time, the environment became a wild and overgrown place, evolving into one of the most biodiverse sites in southern Finland as birds, moose, foxes and insects returned to reclaim the forgotten islands. Utilising sound and video documentation captured from the surrounding landscape, Between Two Suns creates a geo-traversal of these landscapes through movement and activity undertaken during three months of fieldwork. By attending to interstitial spaces and sites, the work explores non-linear and embodied productions of knowledge that bring forth a negotiating and reworking of the small spaces and small happenings. Through this framing the work considers what it means to move, look and listen in contested environments.

    Between Two Suns was supported by
    The Helsinki International Artist Program and The Australia Council for the Arts.

  4. 4. Undercurrents HDV, surround sound, 30m 45s 2015
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    Undercurrents is a moving image work that traces the path of water as it travels through the distinct sites of the Kiewa Hydroelectric Scheme. The work is an audio-visual mapping that documents changes of place and time over a 12 hour day – from the first moments of the dawn ice-melt, to the last stages of dusk as the current is halted by the dark water of Junction Dam. Filmed over a two-week period in the Victorian Alps, Undercurrents stages a series of sensory moments in the creation and production of water as it flows through the remote country of the Alps. Set in three main locations within the Alpine National Park, the work charts the movement of water as it cuts through thick tundra, deep river valleys and sites of industry.

    Beginning with the yearly ice-pack melt, the work explores the rarely seen process the water takes as it is funnelled through a maze of underground aquifers, generators and pipes, revealing the hydro scheme as a hidden and affective element within the landscape. The title of the work refers to these layered spaces that the water passes through – a layering that is all at once cultural, political and geographical. In documenting the convergence of water, land and industry, Undercurrents considers the hidden and contained experience of landscape as it shifts through the different paradigms – above and below ground, private and public space – positioning both human and more-than-human participants in lively ecologies of labour, value and meaning. At the core of the work is a sensory interaction with landscape and the underlying geo-technical frameworks where the nature/human/culture divides collapse and become a meshwork of actions, moments and stories-so-far.

    Undercurrents was filmed during a supported residency at The Bogong Centre for Sound Culture and was acquired by the Parliament House Art Collection in 2016. It was filmed on the unceeded lands of the Ngarigo peoples, the traditional custodians of the Australian Alps.

  5. 5. Three Rooms HDV, stereo sound, 9m 25s 2014
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    Three Rooms is an audio-visual work that documents the interior remnants of an abandoned farmhouse in the remote sub-artic region of Iceland’s Westfjords. By contemplating the contingent moments of listening and light inherent in each room, the work presents the shifting ephemera and temporalities of Iceland’s deserted country – commonly known as Eyðibýli. With thousands of empty farms scattered across the landscape, these ruins stand as a reminder of the country’s rapid societal change shaped through the commodification of natural resources and the accelerated rise of large-scale industrialization. As commercial industry drained the land of small family-owned farms, it conversely shaped a new landscape of Eyðibýli – empty spaces of material pasts and hauntological futures.

    Created during a residency in northwest Iceland, Three Rooms stages durational moments that both sonically and visually explore these deserted sites. The spaces of the house act as autonomous and sentient bodies from another time, no longer dependent on human activity for their existence. Instead each room is a study in disappearance, characterised by its forsaken status. By reflecting on the neoliberal erasure of history through a sensory attentiveness to space, Three Rooms considers the silent force of dispossession and the erosion of community and place.

    This work was filmed during a NES residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland. The project was supported
    by the Australia Council for the Arts.