The compassionate, connective relationship one can potentially have with one’s self, as well as with others, is the fertile grounding of Kate Mitchell’s large-scale installation All Auras Touch. Part of this year’s Sydney Festival, the exhibition explores human affinities by entwining two seemingly unalike aspects of life: our jobs and our auras.
Mitchell has long interrogated notions of work. All Auras Touch extends this by delivering 1,023 photographic portraits that directly relate to Australia’s occupation classifications, as identified in recent census data. As Mitchell explains, “I’m searching for participants, each with one of these jobs, and then I’m taking their portrait with a camera called the AuraCam 6000, which is a camera that makes a visual representation of a person’s energy field.” Through sensors and algorithms, the AuraCam 6000 transforms the heartbeat and body temperature of portrait sitters into hazy, meandering hues which will hang as A2 prints. While an open call-out secured many early sitters, those occupations without a portrait will feature a placeholder question mark, awaiting a potential sitter to come forth during the exhibition.
By playing upon the relationship between surfaces and our inner-lives, Mitchell mines the quiet, collective complexity of simply being. “I want to get beyond the surface level of what work people do and show them in another light—literally. It’s a kind of duality in that we are our jobs, and that we are not our jobs,” says Mitchell. “I’m an artist. I’m a parent. I’m a partner, a friend, a daughter, a colleague, a teacher. And simultaneously, in this moment, I am this luminous energetic being who exists in a way that I can’t quite comprehend, and we’re all multi-faceted beings with complexities.”
This article was originally published in the January/February 2020 print edition of Art Guide Australia.