Sue is deeply inspired by real-time effects

Sue O'Malley's video works 'Deep' and 'Vapour' are currently showing at Umbrella Studio IMAGE: Deep (still, detail), Sue O'Malley

Your average film-maker is an avid planner. Painstakingly crafting scripts and storyboards, planning aesthetics, scouting locations and wrangling talent all before the camera rolls.

But visual artist Sue O’Malley is not your average film-maker.

The Woopen Creek-based artist (near Innisfail) prefers to do things ‘backwards’, collecting footage from her travels as something catches her eye and later stitching snippets into a moving collage as her intuition dictates.

Sue’s latest works, Deep and Vapour, are currently exhibiting at Umbrella Studio contemporary art.

While Vapour was completed in 2017 and consists of footage from Malaysia, Japan and Sue’s own backyard, Sue finished Deep during lockdown in 2020.

“It was a project that I’d been working on for a while and being shut up at home gave me the time to focus on it and finish it,” said Sue.

“I think there’s a bit of a mood there, thinking about what the future of the world is going to hold.

One of my influences has been science fiction films and looking at how films depict ideas of the future, whereas what science fiction films are really showing is our fears and anxieties about what’s happening in the present world. Previously, I had traveled to Japan [where all the footage in Deep was shot] quite a lot and I guess when I was editing that footage, I was wondering about when my next trip might be happening. I don’t know if that will be in the near future.”

Stills from Vapour (detail) by Sue O’Malley

Another technique that sets Sue apart from your average film-maker, is her ability to see and harness ‘real-time’ effects – those that distort her images in naturally occurring ways, rather than digital effects applied in the editing suite.

“In Deep, there’s quite a lot of footage of people on an escalator that’s very distorted, but the image hasn’t got any digital effects on it,” Sue said.

“Instead, it’s all about how the image was occurring as it was when I was filming it. I was looking down through a glass roof that had a water pond in it. The pond was open to the wind, which was creating a ripple on the water and distorting the image of the people on the escalator below … I was really intrigued by the effect of the people underneath and how it was created in the moment rather than having to layer a video effect over the top of it.”

While Sue is not optimistic about a return to overseas travel too soon, she is able to continue creating her moving collages with existing footage she’s filed away and content from closer to home.

“It’ll probably be a good thing to look more closely at where I live and appreciate some of the qualities of that local imagery.


Sue O’Malley’s Deep and Vapour are showing at Umbrella Studio contemporary art until 11 April 2021.

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