F O N O - O P T I K

assemblages & improvisations

Barry Brown & Irene Proebsting

e: info@fono-optik.com



INDUSTRIAL VESPER #11, 2023, HD Video, 18:33

… A meditation on bureaucracy … Steve Middleton, 3RRR Arts show

Elliptical, hybrid reportage documenting the initial stages of the restructuring and privatisation of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria.

Comprising text fragments appropriated from official memos, engineering manuals and cost reports intercut with re-composed archival photographs set to surreal, minimalist guitars. Draws upon the political theatre of Erwin Piscator, B-grade sci-fi, constructivist design and classical silent cinema.

Industrial Vesper #11 was initially made in 1993 using an Amiga 2000 computer with 1MB of RAM and a 50MB hard drive. The production utilised DCTV hardware, Deluxe Paint and SCALA software. The Amiga hard drive master copy was damaged and for two decades the piece has only existed in an unplayable hyper void on antiquated floppy discs.

In 2023 the image and text data was retrieved by the Digital Media Heritage Lab at Swinburne University and this information has been transposed and reassembled in HD video. This HD reconstruction is a cross between a remake, a remaster and a restoration and features an alternative magnetic tape composition sound score.

Industrial Vesper #11 was exhibited at the Born Digital Cultural Heritage #BDCH23 as part of the Reviewed/Reconstructed Panel discussion at ACMI, 2023.


FIELD, Super 8mm film, colour, sound, 6 mins.

Evocative, poetic, terrain study investigating asthetic chance. Scored for six guitars and slow motion toy recorders.

Field is in the collection of the Latrobe Regional Gallery and can be viewed here: FIELD


RISING THERMAL, 2022, 9.46 mins, Video from original Super 8 Film

Rising Thermal was part of the FRAGILE EARTH: EXTINCTION exhibition, 2022, Gippsland Art Gallery, SALE.

Rising Thermal creates an unsettling, ominous atmosphere of uneasiness reflecting on the rising temperature of earth’s warming atmosphere and how it is causing catastrophic changes to Alpine Regions and the species that live there.



INSTRUMENTS FOR CHORUS AND ORCHESTRA, 12 mins, video (originated from Super 8 Film) 1999


Political Feminist Anti-art, Screened in 2021 at La Mama, Carlton Vic

Instruments for Chorus and Orchestra is an extraordinary experimental film with a masterful electro punk soundscape produced on Super 8 celluloid when sound and stop-frame animation were at the forefront of emerging experimental art in Melbourne during the 1990’s. Kate Zizys, Melbourne Independant Filmakers


Image: Still from Industrial Nocturne No. 2

INDUSTRIAL NOCTURNE NO. 2, 2016, 6min, Col/B&W, Video.

Industrial Nocturne No. 2 examines class, identity and ideological fabrication via fractured auras and strategic abstractions and is concerned with (i) the absence of full and meaningful employment (ii) the intransience of capital to formulate sustainable organisational modes and (iii) post industrial alienation.

The video amalgamates archival photographs from the former State Electricity Commission Victoria, Super 8 freeze frames of the decaying (now demolished) Yallourn E Power Station and recent B&W stills of disused power utility infrastructure. The industrial images are augmented by ambivalent agitprop intertitles and miscellaneous snapshots.

The texts are a collage and composite of diffuse narrative elements combining payroll codes, medical interviews, mechanical inventories and polemical slapstick. The uncertain queries, directives and interjections form a sinister inquiry.

Haunted, whimsical and alogical, an oscillating montage of obscure ambiences, (in)discreet didactics & random occlusions. Part hystorical cut-and-paste, part contemporary critique of capital, Industrial Nocturne No. 2 unfolds at the interstices of documentary illusion and absurdist fiction.

Screened at Centre for Contemporary Photography 2018



LUNA BERLIN, 2013, 9.30 min, Col, Super 8mm.

Documents the spaces between an uneasy reunion … A sombre and suspended gaze of erased traces.



ABANDONED EMPIRE, 2012, 9 min, Col, Super 8mm.

Features an immersive, futurist muzak soundscape of metallic anti-rhythm, dysphonic strings and hyper-mechanical auras. Exhibited in DISCREET MONTAGE at Latrobe Regional Gallery, Morwell.



HARMONIC GHOSTS, 2009, 2:30min, B&W, Super 8.

… where faintly Gothic images brush against each other like dry, blown leaves… Jake Wilson, RealTime

A random montage of unknown passers-by and incidental scenery is transformed into an ambient horror photoplay by a somnambulist drone performed on six amplified electronic guitar tuners.

abstraction    documentary constructs    
error muzak    inconclusive fiction

Irene Proebsting and Barry Brown live in Boola Boola, Gippsland on Gunaikurnai Country and have collaborated on numerous projects incorporating experimental audio, photo-media, super 8 film, text and video.

Their film works and installations utilise a variety of styles and genres ranging from neo home movies to sci-fi pop noir and feature immersive mise-en-phónics. The sound designs are inspired by and reconfigure early audio mixing techniques, in particular experiments at the transition from mono representations to stereo simulations.  

Recurring areas of investigation include explorations of landscape, the quotidian, and post industrial milieus.

They are currently interested in two strains of experimental (non) fiction — documentary reverie, and oblique agitprop narratives.



Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, Berlin

Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Melbourne

Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale

Latrobe Regional Gallery, Morwell



Collecting, Curating, Preserving and Researching Media Arts: A good practice report by Melanie Swalwell, Helen Stuckey, Cynde Moya, Denise de Vries, December 1st, 2023

Rising Thermal by Irene Proebsting & Barry Brown, Gippsland Art
, Gallery News, Vol 54, No. 1, Spring 2023

Between movement and statis by Kate Zizys, Imprint: Quarterly Journal of the Print Council of Australia, Vol 55, No. 4, Summer 2020

Two films predominantly about trees by Irene Proebsting
Film Is
, Issue 2, Oct 2018

Instruments for Chorus and Orchestra: A polemical feminist reading 
by Kate Zizys, Innersense Melbourne Independent Filmmakers, 2019

Mise-en-phónics by Jake Wilson, discreet montage catalogue,
Jul-Dec 2016

Experimental Film: State of play by Jake Wilson: Australian International Experimental Film Festival, RealTime, Issue #104
Aug-Sept 2011 pg. 35

Naked 8, Heinz Boeck examines the state of Super 8,
by Heinz Boeck, Cinema Papers, No. 114, February 1997.

Industrial Vesper #11 by B. Brown & I. Proebsting.
Cantrills Filmnotes, No. 79-80, November 1995.

(silent cinema) or the lazy fitter by Barry Brown Melbourne
Super Eight Group Newsletter, Special 100th Issue, March 1995.





© Barry Brown & Irene Proebsting 2024

Amphitheatre Press Publications