Open Sky (2016), video 9:15 mins, narrated by Megan Drury.


Open Sky is based upon a fictionalised account of John Henry Pepper’s ‘cloud compelling’ experiment, which took place in 1882 at Brisbane’s Eagle Farm racecourse. Pepper is perhaps best know for his contribution in developing and popularising the theatrical illusion ‘Pepper’s Ghost’ which Lawrey & Middleton have used to great effect in a number of previous works; however he was also a passionate scientist and educator. For this exhibition, the artists have chosen to delve into Pepper’s life in Australia, drawing parallels between the illusion he popularised and his own delusions of grandeur.

As the narration of Open Sky reports the story of Pepper’s arrival in Australia, his tour of ‘the ghost’ across the country and the manifestation of his rainmaking experiment – the visuals slowly alternate between a scene of endless clouds and a drought-stricken landscape. It soon becomes apparent that the scenes are made from hand-fabricated miniature sets, manipulated in various ways to create impressions of depth and scale. Open Sky blurs the boundaries between film, sculpture and installation, revealing the artifice of a reality in which every certainty may well be false.