Local businessman Zac from True Float put posters up at uni, looking for artists who would swap float tank sessions for art. I’ll try just about anything once so I wandered down and made a booking. It was good fun. You really do float on the salt water rather than in it (it’s 40% Epsom salts; the sea is only 3.5% saline). The tank was warm, dark, cosy and had plenty of room.

Just as your body floats on the warm water, your mind floats on your heartbeat as your breath sound flows through your ears. The tank is pitch black (there’s a light if you need it) so you don’t have to look at anything; I shut my eyes for some of the time and there wasn’t any difference. It was very relaxing.

Anyhow, I left still feeling a bit floaty, and over the next few weeks I developed two works: a series of eight drawings and a collage.

Each drawing consists of one continuous line (they don’t show up too well on a screen). The first three are with a 0.1mm pen, the rest are 0.2mm as it made a clearer mark. Each picture is inspired by the flow of water in the tank when I first got in (it settles to perfect stillness pretty quickly though). They also reflect different brainwaves and the way my thinking ebbed and flowed in the dark: at times anxious, calm, and inspired. Zac referred to VIII as “definitely overthinking it”. Lol.

Every collage becomes real when you glue the first piece of paper. After that, there’s no going back, you’re committed to finishing (a bit like a jigsaw). Yes, I’m working on the coffee table in the lounge room at home. I really do need a studio. And generous patrons out there want to set me up?

This piece took about eight hours all up; cutting pieces of paper into triangles and gluing them down takes a lot of time! I decided on isosceles triangles because they have direction and provide psychological impetus. To save your brain, I made an animation so you can see it developing.

Time lapse showing the development of Floatation

The white dot is the lid of the glue stick: a reference point for the circular fields and also useful for colour-balancing the photos as there’s no white in the frame. My pasting method was to work outward blocking the different colours then turn back inward blending the edges and filling in the gaps. Here is the final work…

Matti, Floatation (2019), paper on foam board, 42.0 x 59.4cm

You’ll notice that it’s round the other way; that’s because I made it upside down. I find this helps me to not pay attention to details and just look at the big picture. Bahahahaha! But seriously folks, I would otherwise get carried away trying to make everything look perfect rather than be guided by the materials and process.

My inspiration came from something I “saw” or “envisioned” while floating: a small but intense purple light over my head. I thought it was part of the tank until I got out and saw there were no lights like that, purple or otherwise. Rather than have a dot in the middle of blackness, I inverted the concept and had a small black circle in a sea of blue and purple.

Interestingly, Zac has also seen a purple sphere while floating, so he was quite taken with this work.

My second float was also incredibly creative. Once my mind settled down, I had ideas for future works popping into my head so quickly I’m surprised I remembered them all. I can’t wait to get started!

True Float is at 50 Oxford St, Paddington NSW 2021. You can find out more about them at the website: https://www.truefloat.com.au/.

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