Adam Sébire — Portfolio for RMIT Application
All work by Adam Sébire unless otherwise credited.
PDF Document: Curriculum Vitæ (if required)
No Man is an Island (Polyptych Nº2)
December 2013, Sydney College of the Arts
5-channel HD video playback with 5.1 surround audio, 29 mins.
LED displays, steel & wooden frames, glass, hinges, handles
Electricity generator, petroleum, oil, offset credits for 82kg of CO₂e
Dimensions (open/closed): 2400 x 905 x 170mm / 1200 x 905 x 340mm
Stills from installation view + 3 documentation videos
Graduation work for Sydney College of the Arts MFA (Dec 2013).
No Man is an Island is a 5-channel “documentary polyptych”, a form artist/filmmaker Adam Sébire has been developing ever since an encounter with the van Eyck brothers’ Adoration of the Mystic Lamb(1432), perhaps the world’s most famous ‘painting with doors’ in Ghent, Belgium. The few polyptychs still in existence can no longer be opened or closed as intended, denying the form its unique kinaesthetic affect.
This affect is vital: the work reveals itself via physical engagement, through a gesture of openness made by the visitor's arms. The wings perhaps constitute an Early Renaissance form of immersive interaction, and here they are updated for an era marked by the proliferation of digital screens. Only very recently have new, thin LED screens made such a work possible.
The artwork takes as its theme the phenomenon of sea level rise, contrasting experiences on two ‘utopian’ isles (Venice & Maldives), and juxtaposing them with Norway’s rapidly retreating glaciers. Audio and visuals create a sense of drowning while consistent horizons and parallel actions link geographically disparate locations. More information here if required.
Raise | Retreat | Rise (Polyptych Nº1)
LUCA SCHOOL OF ARTS, MAY 2013
Sydney College of the Arts, May/June 2013
Parsons The New School, New York, Dec 2013/Jan 2014
Three HD videos, each 8hrs05mins at 24fps.
HD monitor. Wooden housing 100 x 100 x 9cm with three circular apertures.
A video triptych which deals with the sensory imperceptibility of climate change in our day-to-day existence — postulating it as one explanation for our collective inaction in the face of an existential threat.
We are presented with three porthole-like apertures which take their cue from various spheres of the Earth sciences: in this case, the atmosphere, cryosphere, and hydrosphere. Through them the viewer encounters three shots of extraordinary duration. Each shot, recorded at 60 frames per second and played back at 24, runs simultaneously and continuously for eight hours and five minutes. They are recorded using digital technology unencumbered by the need to swap film-rolls or videotapes.
The duration references another work which plays with the idea of imperceptibility: Andy Warhol's 1964 film Empire also runs for 8hr05min. A single shot (but for film-roll changes) of New York's Empire State Building as it disappears into the night, Empire was filmed at 24 frames per second but is slowed to 16 during projection to further the imperceptibility of the on-screen changes.
In raise | retreat | rise each shot appears essentially unchanging but for waves, passing clouds and periodic lens-cleaning by the artist. Yet in the time taken to view the work once from beginning to end, peer-reviewed science tells us anthropogenic atmospheric CO₂ levels will be raised by approximately 14 million metric tonnes; Switzerland's mountain glaciers will retreat an average of 20mm; and the world's oceans will rise by at least 0.003mm. These changes — though disturbingly rapid in geoscience terms — lie beyond the perceptual limits of both the medium, and our senses.
Below: 1 production still + 1 installation view.
Roads to Nowhere (solo exhibition)
47 George St, The Rocks, Sydney
2 May — 11 June 2012
This two-month solo exhibition in The Rocks (curated by Anique Vered for Head On Photo Festival, The Rocks Popup and Vivid Sydney) comprised a dozen large photographic stills; two screens, one 9:16, one 16:9; and a window projection.
Roads to Nowhere is an exhibition of photographic stills & video art shot in and around Dubai after the global financial crisis. Deserted, fully-signposted multi-lane highways cut swathes through the sand, only to end equally precipitously in the middle of nowhere; monuments to excess and the money that ran out.
Surrounded by desert, the city-dweller feels small and exposed. There is an uneasiness at such immensity, and intensity, of nature. The desert resists perspectival representation — until it is penetrated by that icon of 'progress', the Highway. It arrives pre-packaged with its own vanishing point and sculpturally minimalist aesthetic, inscribing the sandy void with the familiar markings of civilisation: dotted white lines, roadsigns, streetlights and roundabouts.
With these symbols we attempt to tame the desert, to insist on perspective, to prove we are bigger than its expanse. A desert highway need not have cars; it has just to offer potential: to lead us, in our vehicular isolation, to civilisation at high speed, from even the furthest reaches of nature. Which is precisely what makes a highway that runs out so disturbing. What happened, we ask? What does it mean? Do we turn around and go back? Or do we motor onwards? And so off with bravado we head toward the horizon, confident in our technology, yet secretly fearful of being swallowed by the sands.
The symbolism of desertification hangs heavily over our species as our addiction to fossil fuels slowly cooks the planet. Our car culture leaves its mark on the world not just by upwards manipulation of the global temperature, but in these asphalt and concrete monuments to excess that it leaves behind.
Imaginary cities built with imaginary cash.
Mirages shimmering in the desert,
Only upon closer inspection did they evaporate.
Highways served the SUVs that sucked her oil.
Overnight, they became Roads to Nowhere;
The desert had at last found its vanishing point.
Camel Roundabout (2012)
Single-channel High Definition video.
Stereo audio. 16:9 screen ratio.
Single-channel High Definition video. Sound design by Jeff Carey & Merlijn Twaalfhoven.
16:9 screen ratio. Dur: 1’31”.
The Workers (2012)
Single-channel High Definition video, Mono audio.
9:16 screen ratio. Dur: approx. 6’00”, looped.
Feeling the Heat (working title)
(Work in progress August 2014- for residency at Culture at Work, Pyrmont, Australia)
Interviews with climate scientists about their emotional relationship to their research.
To be presented as a moveable diptych of iPads in wooden fascia.
Screen shot from initial proof of concept video.
Thermal imaging by Adam Sébire at Culture at Work, 10 September 2014.
Thermographic camera courtesy Dr Andrea Leigh, C3 Cluster, UTS Faculty of Science.
Al Quds Underground
HTML5 Online Documentary, Jerusalem
(Work in progress; initial proof of concept below.)
(Also known as “I Live in the Centre of the World”) (2012-)
Directed by Adam Sébire. HTML5 programming by Saima Ali. Commissioned by Merlijn Twaalfhiven for Dutch cultural group La Vie Sur Terre.
In this online documentary, you can navigate your way through the web of streets that form the Old City of Jerusalem (Al Quds). The interface gives you an impression of moving through it. Sometimes, you will find doorways that you can enter, doorways that take you into the hidden layers of Jerusalem.
Inside these spaces, be they a living room, cellar, rooftop or hamam, there is a panorama: you can look around, click on certain spots. Such a spot activates a film, soundtrack or slideshow. There is also an “exit” so you can return to the streets and continue your journey. A walkthrough demo is shown below:
Selected Film & Video Works
Please find below four short excerpts (and one complete 10min film.
Adam is cameraman, director & editor for all these projects except as noted.
Echoes Across the Divide (2008). 52 mins, ABC TV, Al Jazeera International, STVDIO, and others.
Premièred at the United Nations in New York. Invited to various festivals.
In Nicosia, the world's last divided capital, Turkish & Greek Cypriots attempt to bridge no-man's-land with a performance like no other.
In 2007 I was invited to present it at its world première at the United Nations headquarters in New York; in Russia’s prestigious Message to Man International Film Festival in St.Petersburg; and later at half a dozen festivals across Europe. Broadcast rights were bought by ABC Australia, Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Jazeera English, and Doen Docs in The Netherlands.
Carried by the Wind (2009). 10 mins. (Complete film, above).
Winner of prizes including the Premio Gian Fracesco Malipero at the Asolo Art Film Festival in Italy, 2009 and Best Overseas Film at the Movisie Art & Culture Festival, Holland, 2009.
10 min documentary I filmed, directed and edited in 2008 in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Palestinians separated from each other by the 8 metre- high Israeli Security Fence attempt a performance across it. Originally made for the web, this High Definition video subsequently screened at half a dozen international film festivals.
Le Violoncelle (2004). 4 mins, 35mm/Dolby Surround. (90" excerpt only). Cinematographer: Cordelia Beresford.
Experimental short for the NSW FTO Young Filmmakers' Fund, based on Man Ray's surrealist image Le Violon d’Ingres. Bought by various TV stations and shown in festivals around the world.
NB: A complete list of Adam's works may be found at