Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Extinctions – Carnovsky Copy

Theano June 18, 2021

Step One: Immerse yourself in the artwork

What is this?

For the duration of the Triennial one of the gallery rooms at the NGV has a new wallpaper alongside the ornaments that are always on display in the space.

At first glance the wallpaper appears as a technicolour graphic experience as different animals appear on the wall before you. However, as you look at the walls it dawns on you that something more deliberate is playing out.

Red, green, blue and white light is projected on the wallpaper in rotation. As that happens the installation comes to ‘life’. Playing with the way the human eye perceives the Red Green Blue (RGB) colour spectrum, different coloured species are concealed and revealed depending on the colour of the light shining on the wall.

If you have Facebook you can see a video of the exhibition here

Step Two: Understanding the artwork

What does it mean?

Red, green, blue and white light is projected on the wallpaper in rotation. As that happens the installation comes to ‘life’. Playing with the way the human eye perceives the Red Green Blue (RGB) colour spectrum, different coloured species are concealed and revealed depending on the colour of the light shining on the wall.

Referencing the International Union of Conservation of Nature Red List – a categorisation of seven risk levels from Extinct to Least Concern – a selection of insects and animals will be rendered on the wallpaper in either red, green or blue ink based on their threat level.

The drawings reference the 18th and 19th century Western specimen illustrations. The wallpaper is in a room which contains, among other things, British military artefacts.

Through this manipulation of sight, the designers remind us of the interconnection between all life on the planet and the precarity of existence in a world being made increasingly inhospitable by human behaviour.

Click the link below to explore the species depicted in Extinctions

Step Three: Draw your own conclusions

In the Masterclass you will be introducing your peers who looked at other works to Megafauna. As such, it’s important that you feel comfortable talking about Carnovsky’s work.

Create a document and take notes on the following prompts (150 words per prompt):

  • What interested you about Extinctions that made you choose to investigate it?
  • What is depicted in the artwork Natural History (what is this artwork about)?
  • What point do you think is being made by depicting this artwork alongside British military artefacts?