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Peter Callas

Author 
Andrew Frost

Peter Callas is one of the key artists working with new media in Australia. His work in video, installation and digital media examines themes of national identity, history and memory. His work, particularly in video in the 1980s, was notable for its high end production values and innovative installation techniques in gallery settings.

Key works by Callas, such as If Pigs Could Fly (The Media Machine) (1987), Night’s High Noon: An Anti-Terrain (1988) and Neo Geo: An American Purchase (1990), are prime examples of Callas’s thematic concerns, appropriating images of Australian and American popular culture and animating them using simple techniques, often placed over pulsating and psychedelic backgrounds created via technologies such as the Fairlight CVI. Callas’s works are sharply critical of the received wisdoms of history and those often convenient political alliances — personal, national and global — that whitewash the present to obscure the past: a pointed political stance leavened by a sense of the absurd.

After studies at the University of Sydney, where he gained a BA (Hons) in 1974, Callas obtained a Diploma of Art from Sydney College of the Arts in 1980. He has lectured extensively in Australia and overseas, and the many exhibitions of his work have ranged from shows with commercial dealers and public museums, to major touring shows and retrospectives. The survey exhibition Peter Callas: Initialising History, Video Works, 1980–99 toured Australian museums in 2003. His work is held in the collections of numerous Australian museums including: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of NSW, Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, as well as in international collections including the Kunsthaus Zurich, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. 

Date 
b. 1952
Birth place
Sydney
Period of activity 
from 1980

Lives and works

Sydney
Australia
Selected works
Selected events
01-peter_callas_singing_stone_720h.jpg
01-peter_callas_singing_stone_720h.jpg – from Singing Stone 
Still frame from Curtain (1980) (c) Peter Callas
Still frame from Curtain (1980) (c) Peter Callas – from Curtain 
Still frame from
Still frame from "I Would Have Run But I Had a Heavy Cold (1980 (c) Peter Callas. – from I Would Have Run But I Had a Heavy Cold 
Frames from Our Potential Alllies. (Australian Perspecta). (c) Peter Callas.
Frames from Our Potential Alllies. (Australian Perspecta). (c) Peter Callas. – from Our Potential Allies [Version 1] 
Pair of frames from the video installation Shared Shadow.
Pair of frames from the video installation Shared Shadow. – from Shared Shadow + Evidance 
Three frames from the three monitors used in A Story Story.
Three frames from the three monitors used in A Story Story. – from A Story Story 
Three frames from the three monitors of Elementary Alphabetical.
Three frames from the three monitors of Elementary Alphabetical. – from Elementary Alphabetical 
Three frames from the three screens in Two of Swords
Three frames from the three screens in Two of Swords – from Two of Swords 
05-peter_callas_massage_720h.jpg
05-peter_callas_massage_720h.jpg – from Massage 
Frame from Kiru Umi no Yoni (Version I) (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from Kiru Umi no Yoni (Version I) (c) Peter Callas. – from Kiru Umi No Yoni / Cutting Like the Ocean (Version I) 
Installation shot of Kiru Umi no Yoni - Cutting Like the Ocean
Installation shot of Kiru Umi no Yoni - Cutting Like the Ocean – from Kiru Umi No Yoni/Cutting Like the Ocean (Installation version) 
07-peter_callas_nin_nin_719h.jpg
07-peter_callas_nin_nin_719h.jpg – from Nin Nin 
Installation shot of 1979 Animals at Roslyn Oxley9 gallery
Installation shot of 1979 Animals at Roslyn Oxley9 gallery – from 1979 Animals 
Frame from Image Music (1985) (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from Image Music (1985) (c) Peter Callas. – from Image Music 
Frame from How to Make the Famous Pisco Sour (1986) (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from How to Make the Famous Pisco Sour (1986) (c) Peter Callas. – from How to Make the Famous Pisco Sour: A Videotape in Three Locations 
Frame from Bon Voyage (1986) (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from Bon Voyage (1986) (c) Peter Callas. – from Bon Voyage 
Frame from Double Trouble (1986). (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from Double Trouble (1986). (c) Peter Callas. – from Double Trouble 
Frame from Kommunication (1986). (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from Kommunication (1986). (c) Peter Callas. – from Kommunication 
13-peter_callas_kinema_no_yor720h.jpg
13-peter_callas_kinema_no_yor720h.jpg – from Kinema No Yoru / Film Night 
Frame from Karkador (1986). (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from Karkador (1986). (c) Peter Callas. – from Karkador 
Frame from The Esthetics of Disappearance (1986). (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from The Esthetics of Disappearance (1986). (c) Peter Callas. – from The Esthetics of Disappearance 
Frame from Visions (1986). (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from Visions (1986). (c) Peter Callas. – from Visions 
Kiru Umi No Yoni / Cutting Like The Ocean - version II (1986). (c) Peter Callas.
Kiru Umi No Yoni / Cutting Like The Ocean - version II (1986). (c) Peter Callas. – from Kiru Umi No Yoni / Cutting Like the Ocean (Version II) 
Frame from East Meets West (1986). (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from East Meets West (1986). (c) Peter Callas. – from East Meets West (Sandii & the Sunsetz) 
Instalaltin shot of A Burning Church, Ohya Underground Quarry, Utsonomiya Japan, 1986.
Instalaltin shot of A Burning Church, Ohya Underground Quarry, Utsonomiya Japan, 1986. – from A Burning Church 
Australian Video Festival Commercials (1987). (c) Peter Callas.
Australian Video Festival Commercials (1987). (c) Peter Callas. – from Australian Video Festival Commercials 
If Pigs Could Fly (The Media Machine), (1987). (c) Peter Callas.
If Pigs Could Fly (The Media Machine), (1987). (c) Peter Callas. – from If Pigs Could Fly (The Media Machine) 
Frame from Style (1988). (c) Peter Callas
Frame from Style (1988). (c) Peter Callas – from Style 
Frame from Night's High Noon: An Anti-Terrain (1988). (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from Night's High Noon: An Anti-Terrain (1988). (c) Peter Callas. – from Night's High Noon: An Anti-Terrain 
Image from Technology As Territory: Video & Desire in Japan.
Image from Technology As Territory: Video & Desire in Japan. – from Technology As Territory: Video & Desire in Japan 
Installation shot of A House Divided at Ars Electronica, Bruckner Haus Linz, Austria, 1988.
Installation shot of A House Divided at Ars Electronica, Bruckner Haus Linz, Austria, 1988. – from A House Divided 
Frame from Neo Geo: An American Purchase (1989). (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from Neo Geo: An American Purchase (1989). (c) Peter Callas. – from Neo-Geo: An American Purchase 
Installation shot of A Hole to China, In Transit: Festival of Canterbury, Canterbury UK, 1989.
Installation shot of A Hole to China, In Transit: Festival of Canterbury, Canterbury UK, 1989. – from A Hole to China 
Installation shot of Night's High Noon, In Transit, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 1989.
Installation shot of Night's High Noon, In Transit, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 1989. – from Night’s High Noon [Installation Version] 
Installation shot of The Fujiyama Pyramid Project, Long Beach Museum of Art.
Installation shot of The Fujiyama Pyramid Project, Long Beach Museum of Art. – from The Fujiyama Pyramid Project 
Frame from Museum of Contemporary Art Video (1991). (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from Museum of Contemporary Art Video (1991). (c) Peter Callas. – from Museum of Contemporary Art Video 
Frame from Adelaide Festival Video (1991). (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from Adelaide Festival Video (1991). (c) Peter Callas. – from Adelaide Festival Video 
Frames from two of the three monitors used in this version of Our Potential Allies.
Frames from two of the three monitors used in this version of Our Potential Allies. – from Our Potential Allies [Version 2] 
Frame from Ambient Alphabet (c_of_meaning), (1992). (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from Ambient Alphabet (c_of_meaning), (1992). (c) Peter Callas. – from Ambient Alphabet (c of meaning) 
Frame from Bilderbuch fur Ernst Will: A Euro Rebus (1990-93). (c) Peter Callas.
Frame from Bilderbuch fur Ernst Will: A Euro Rebus (1990-93). (c) Peter Callas. – from Bilderbuch fur Ernst Will (Ernst Will's Picture Book): A Euro Rebus 
The Deep [digital mural, 5 metres x 80 metres] installed at Luna Park.
The Deep [digital mural, 5 metres x 80 metres] installed at Luna Park. – from The Deep 
Announcement for Men of Vision: Lenin + Marat, Adelaide Festival, 1992.
Announcement for Men of Vision: Lenin + Marat, Adelaide Festival, 1992. – from Men of Vision: Lenin + Marat 
Installation shot of Um Novo Tempo - Reimagining Brazil, Heterosis Conde Duque, ARCO, Madrid, 2002.
Installation shot of Um Novo Tempo - Reimagining Brazil, Heterosis Conde Duque, ARCO, Madrid, 2002. – from Um Novo Tempo 
Void, from the collection Vinculum, Stills Gallery Sydney, 2002.
Void, from the collection Vinculum, Stills Gallery Sydney, 2002. – from Vinculum 
Gallery entrance shot: Squareize, Arc One, Melbourne, 2004.
Gallery entrance shot: Squareize, Arc One, Melbourne, 2004. – from Squareize - analogue to digital conversions 
Image from the series: Circle of Confusion, 2004.
Image from the series: Circle of Confusion, 2004. – from Circle of Confusion 

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