A Drone Opera, 14 to 29 March

The advancement of new technologies in the digital age raises concerns for what we know about surveillance in the 21st century. What is our awareness of how, when and why we are constantly being watched? Visual artist and filmmaker Matthew Sleeth, explores the complexities of our relationship with new media technology in ‘A Drone Opera’.

Matthew Sleeth, A Drone Opera. Photograph: Lucy Spartalis

Sleeth has created two 66-panel LED screens mounted on trusses that will take over the central gallery at Lyon Housemuseum Galleries in Kew from 14 to 29 March. The cinematic experience will immerse the audience in a dramatic video installation reminiscent of a rock concert and intensified by four speaker stacks to amplify the sound.

‘A Drone Opera’ airs a narrative of desire, fear and destruction inspired by the myth of Icarus – an ancient Greek tale of a father and son and their tragic attempt to escape from Crete with wings made of feathers and wax. ‘Don’t fly to close to the sun’ Daedalus told Icarus, but Icarus did not heed his father’s warning and so… as the wax melted poor Icarus plunged into the sea and drowned.

Matthew Sleeth, A Drone Opera. Photograph: David McKinnar

Sleeth shared, ‘A Drone Opera was always imagined as a sensory experience – for an audience to viscerally encounter often abstracted ideas like total surveillance, military violence or our fear and fetishisation of new technologies.’

Operatic song, the choreography of custom-built drones and laser set design coalesce to form a unique environment for poetic reflection on the anxieties we experience under the increasing phenomena of the watchful eye. Live mapping of the space brings awareness to these notions of observation, while CIA FLIR footage (thermal imaging) lifts the lid on military violence.

The progressive nature of the digitised world we live in presents a dichotomy of intrigue and worry, but let’s face it we can’t live without it now.

Programs and events
A series of multi-sensory programs and events including two panel discussions; ‘Surveillance Cities’ on Sunday 15 March from 1-2.30pm and ‘Expanded Fields of View’ on Saturday 28 March from 1- 2.30pm will delve into our fascination with technology and the realities and implications of constant surveillance; facial recognition, autonomous vehicles and computer-aided design.

The two-week show closes on Sunday 29 March from 5.30-7:30pm with a music performance by drummer/percussionist Nat Grant on two drum kits alongside noise guitarist Dave Brown.

The Lyon House Museum opens its doors to the public for tours of the Housemuseum and Collection on selected days throughout the year, which includes commissioned video art, large-scale installations and 3D printed sculptures by Sleeth, as well as a 30-year Collection of contemporary Australian art by 55 artists from the likes of Howard Arkley, Patricia Piccinini, Kathy Temin, Polly Borland, Brook Andrew and Callum Morton.

Visit the website to find out more about the museum, its public programs and ticketing.

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