Nick Athanasiou

Skunk Control, Victoria University’s unique team made up of scientists, engineers and students, create wildly imaginative installations that not only capture the imagination, but also bring to life scientific principles.

After exhibiting installations locally and internationally, Skunk Control is currently exhibiting at one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious festivals — the Venice Biennale.

Often called “the art world Olympics”, this is the first time Skunk Control has been invited to exhibit at the Biennale, where thousands of art-lovers flock to one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, to take the pulse of the global art scene.

Engineering lecturer and founder Nick Athanasiou has just returned from Venice, where he and his team installed two pieces: Dynamic Equilibrium and Fragment of a Dynamic Equilibria.

Nick describes Dynamic Equilibrium as a “seemingly transparent and derelict landscape reclaims its paradise by evolving into a metamorphosing system, which begins to instil within its conquerors a conceptual understanding of equilibrium.  Transient choices, past missteps, and stories to warn are its means of defence. And although it provides a vista to a world eager to be explored, its constant colour evolution suggests a deeper haunting and a present trying to protect an uncertain future.”

This larger of the two pieces took six weeks to make and had to navigate Venice’s historic canals before being painstakingly reassembled at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello. Made up of stainless steel, different types of plastic, organic matter, electronics and LEDs, Dynamic Equilibrium draws on a physics principal in terms of the ways light can be effected by certain plastics and materials. The piece also mimics some of properties that can be found in nature; the exoskeleton of insects and the way butterflies produce colour on their wings.

“Venice is what the postcards suggest; a picturesque city on water with perfect vistas, elegance and a certain venerability. Just after 10am the crowds swell and take over the city. It’s hard to take in just how crowded the city gets unless you’re in the thick of it. Italian is drowned out amongst the various travel guide instructions, anecdotes and introductions to the city in a multitude of languages and dialects. But solace and the city’s authenticity can be found in narrow lanes, cul-de-sacs, family run eateries and gondolier’s pit stops”, says Nick. 

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