arriving

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so if you don’t follow me on twitter or facebook or speak to me in person, this might come outta left field: 

i’m now in perth. 
for three-and-a-half months.

yes, that’s right, kids – livin’ the high life. 
no, really, i’m here to do a residency with some properly amazing peeps – more details can be revealed later on – and already perth is proving to be an interesting little place for me to hole up in over the melbourne winter.

Northbridge, Perth.

and it seems that all the travel i did last year has actually given me a method-of-sorts for arriving and adapting to new places.
i say this because, even though i’ve only been here for about 3 hours, i feel like i’m getting an OK sense of the place and of course myself. both of which help when you’re trying to land and morph into a new city/town/universe.

firstly, I catch PT into the city from the airport (as much as possible), because i  get to interact with and observe the public nature from the get-go: the system of exchange, etiquette, language, road systems and priority – all subtle cultural stuff that doesn’t make it onto the wallpaper guide app. 


today the bus driver told me to take my luggage all the way to the back ‘cos the bus would be fulla pushers. he was right – young mums going into town for late-night shopping. that told me loads about the area where they all got on and some of the mercantile customs of perth.

secondly, i walk as much as i can. tonight i walked from downtown st. georges terrace to northbridge, crossing through the guts of town as everyone was leaving work and milling about. i had a chance to take note of dress codes, uni students, suit hangouts and where the trains go at peak hour. i feel like i’ve got the beginnings of a geo-cultural layout happening, which helps. 

i was also quite pleased to discover a few bookshops not far from here, a stack of cheap/rad asian eateries (open late) and the perth outré gallery. huzzah! 

once i arrived in my new digs, i unpacked and hilariously discovered a stack of things about myself that i hadn’t quite noticed before. 

turns out i’m into jackets and totes. 


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i have brought with me seven (yes 7!) varieties of a black waist-length jacket and 4 calico/cotton totes. i don’t own stacks of shoes (i commit deeply to my shoes, so love them until they’re ruined – rather than flitting between them), but i learned what i consider important by the shoes i did chose: my usual tiger trainers, a pair of flip flops and my arse-kicking pink fakeskin stiletto boots. 


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i also filled half my suitcase with possible art materials and tech bits’n’pieces – headphone bits, a door chime i want to hack, paper, gouache, jewellery bits, a tripod, camera and a mini toolset.

and with my precious luggage restrictions i’ve squeezed in a small (and restrained) stack of well-worn books (heidegger, debord, barthes) and mags (map, art&au, premsela) plus 3 journals and my daily planner. all the vital things. 


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and there’s a little thing i now take with me on every art jaunt: the 5 balls that are the header for this blog. 




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i made them when i was in the UK and had them up in my room here. i took them with me to berlin, not quite sure why, but when i packed them automatically this time, i realised that they have become a little token – a totem for some of the underlying stuff that happens on this blog and some of the inexplicable feelings i have about myself and my arts practice.

funny, don’t you think.
image credit: that extra northbridge shot is from chuck_notorious on flickr (best username ever)
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said the head redhead

it’s already all over the twitters and the fezbook and the online papers, but i just have to say that i’m pretty flabbergasted by the political coup that happened this morning in australia.

as i was watching the football last night, i noticed a flurry of twitter activity on the #spill hashtag. given the amount of oil leaking into the gulf of mexico, my first thought was that it had something to do with the slick. i wasn’t too far off. i guess

kevin rudd has been wildly unpopular lately – even amongst supporters and voters. including members of his own party (and its inherent factions). julia gillard, deputy prime minister launched a challenge on the top gig and massive debates and closed-door discussions ensued. rudd called a caucus vote first thing this morning, but in the end stepped down, with indications that it was going to be a landslide victory to ms gillard.

you could be forgiven for skipping the above detail as ‘blah blah blah’.

but the punchline is, we have a new prime minister!

and her name is julia gillard.

she’s our very first female prime minister. [she has red hair]

it’s kind of a big deal here.

For those of you in the UK, NZ, Pakistan, India, Iceland, Germany, Israel, Chile, Argentina, Malta and the former states of Yugoslavia, you may wonder what the fuss is all about. And what took us so long.

We have a lot to learn in this little country of ours, but it feels like today we made a bit of a leap towards an evolved nation. At least on a public scale, high level responsibility is no longer withheld on the basis of having ovaries and a uterus.

As much as i’m totally a fan of her on a bunch of levels, i’m actually quite suspicious of the new PM at the moment. As the Deputy and Minister for Workplace Relations, she recently has made some dubious calls regarding the taxing of miners and their billions (poor loves) and she has supported harder lines on refugees, which i’m not a fan of.

She’s not an outspoken feminist like the icelandic PM (bummer), but i’m looking forward to seeing how much things change now that the glass ceiling on the top tier has been smashed.

And even if she only makes it until the next election in 6 months’ time, it’s a start.

And when my nephew asks me in 15 years’ time where i was when Australia got its first female Prime Minister, I’ll proudly say that I was drinking coffee after pulling an all-nighter watching England scrape through to the final 16 and Australia bow out of the 2010 World Cup.

I reckon he’ll think that’s pretty old fashioned. In a cool kind of way.

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technospaces: the edge

The Edge

in the forward to the fantastic book, technospaces: inside the new media, editor sally munt writes about the dynamic nature of culture, that is both binary and complex. And in it, she highlights the unanswered questions about what the future holds for culture in the so-called Information Age:

“what will be the new strategies, tactics or dispositions [in this Age]? What will happen to identity after Postmodern? Will cyberlife ensure further fratured forms of consciousness and social atomism?”

most of the ‘spaces’ discussed in the book are that of the public realm: online/institutional and traditional public spaces and the ways in which technology, or technological systems are changing/influencing dynamics in these areas.

I would be interested to see what the contributers to the book thought of the SLQ’s new venture The Edge: Digital Culture Centre and whether it answers any of those questions.

It is a quasi-programmed public space, within a public institution, that is specifically geared towards investigating, researching and sharing new and traditional kinds of experiences within the culture of (digital) technology.

Lab 3

When i went to Brisbane last month, i happened to time it perfectly so I could attend the opening of the new space/program (note the forward slash. no rocket ships). i had previously applied (unsuccessfully) to the resident program, but was still very keen to check out the space, see for myself what kind of possibilities it held and to show my support in a way. plus i got to attend a low-key, but very exciting workshop on Fruity Loops.

My excitement, as it stands to date, is at the potential of The Edge.

The launch seemed like fun – a bit of music stuff, a few peeps sitting around, obligatory twitter hashtags (including a very cool twitter blimp) and some live streaming. The next day was super quiet – a lot of people still trying to figure out exactly what the crux of the space is about; mandatory technical difficulties (some matter with projectors and labelling – see, technology is really all about the labels) and a lot of touch screens.

I registered for an Edge Account and I’ve got myself a little project planned (even from Melbourne), but i can imagine that if I was in Brisbane, this is a space that would quickly ramp up in my usage. As far as I can tell, it’s like the awesomest library/AV department you’ve ever seen, with a cafe, on the river. I’m not quite sure what some of the meeting spaces will be used for exactly, but if i was a film-maker, or musician, i think they’d be great project spaces to work in for development.

Given the size of the auditorium, i was kinda amused it wasn’t fitted with surround sound, especially given the depth of amazing sound artists in Brisbane, who could probably benefit from a space that was geared more towards a particular array. But the availability of the space and its focus on multi-ness will be interesting to keep tabs on.

Stools

It is early days yet and i have no doubt that the esteemed David Cranswick (ex-d/Lux Media Arts) and his team will crank this into something amazing – their workshops alone are enviable. Although i can’t wait until their blog is a little more social and a little less bulletin board. ahem. 🙂

Watch this space peeps.

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hello alice?

i’m thinking of possibly doing a road trip from melbourne to alice springs – get back to country, check out some of the central desert arrernte/walpiri area and maybe making some works on the way.

but i’m a naive white gal from the ‘burbs and don’t wanna go blazing in there with blinkers on. anyone got any suggestions? [apart from ‘take plenty of water and never leave your car if you break down’..] do artists even do trips to the centre anymore?

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

on purpose, act II

i just finished my masters’ degree and, as part of it, spent time reflecting on the 5 projects i did over the 8 weeks prior to handing in my thesis. one thing i didn’t go into in that document, but something which was a vital aspect of doing a masters course was the level of professional development.

in australia, there are a variety of ways that artists can further their careers without sleeping with the men at the top.

big arts grants are just one of them. having not actually receive one (yet, ahem), i’m still riding on the ideal that they provide a financial (and maybe critical) base from which artists can create better works – ones that mr illogical from the mx might actually like, or even better, hate. i don’t think australia is very good at handling its public arts money, in that it’s still a bit of a gamble – on both sides of the fence.

in my limited experience, professional development is most beneficial when it is an inherent aspect of the projects and opportunities we’re given.

one of the reasons i did my masters was to give myself the opprtunity to burn out really focus on my work for an extended period of time with access to technical know-how, resources, networks and critique. it wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely a concentrated development on my professional practice and one that i could not have done on my own. public money (as well as a huge chunk of my own, thanks very much) well spent? i think so.

InchesAboveTheMud

even better than doing my masters was the experience i had at electrofringe. they gold starred on a whole range of professional development areas (at least for me, personally) and i would encourage loads of government, cultural and funding groups/strategies to take a little from them.

gold star #1. selection process.
firstly, the process to be validated selected was simple – an application via email with an image or 2. none of this crazy ’25 page thesis; 10 images – either still or video, but never both; calculated CV and proof that you’re a sure-fire ROI’. phew!

gold star #2 accommodation.
then, once selected, i had my accommodation organised for me. not only did this save on stress and anxiety, but the importance of having a little base was taken into account – i had somewhere to sleep, eat, organise my shit (so to speak). it sounds basic, but having this level of support was vital to being able to focus on the work and not on stupid day-to-day garbage.

gold star #3 artist fee.
i was paid to be part of the festival. not a lot, but you know what – that’s ok at the moment. the gesture is there and i’m sure artists with a lot more experience got paid a lot more, appropriately. the fact of the matter is that, as an artist, my presence was valued financially too and i wasn’t just expected to do work for the old ‘exposure/CV/fun of it’ deal. ironically, this was one festival that i would have happily done that for, but don’t tell them that. 😀

gold star #4 programming
it was awesome – i had enough performances and/or time to get out of the work what i wanted/needed to, with enough time to see a few other works, make those connections and have some down time. they tried to make my trip to newcastle as worthwhile as possible, including giving a presentation.

gold star #5 networks (accommodation, part 2)
at every opportunity, daniel and somaya introduced us to other electrofringe artists. partly so they could rush off and do other things, but also because they knew that the level of conversation, chit chat, meetings and greetings that can be had – from a purely social to the quasi-american psycho styles – are incredibly valuable. to humans and to artists alike. heh.

plus, with the accommodation, they chucked a mixed bunch of artists all in the same apartment together and left us to our own devices. it could well have been a disaster in other apartments, but i had a lovely time in ours and learnt loads from talking to that bunch of strangers. it also gave us an instant audience. i made sure i went to the works of my room mates if i could and they regularly asked how the cone was going – chatting in the street when we passed.

and the best thing? it was all with the spirit of generosity, guidance, experience and flexibility. not box-ticking, or conservative risk management. because i felt supported and connected and valued, i was able to feel at ease about developing my work (which helps make better work). i could also reciprocate – help out where i could, chat to people and enjoy myself. nothing kills the buzz quicker than being overwrought.

Despatch

and, dare i say it, i’m not really sure an arts grant could have quite given me that experience. i don’t really want to give our illogical friend a reason to say ‘i told you so’ because i think that divesting funds to artists in helpful ways is fucking vital, but perhaps it’s time to reassess the tradition of arts grant hoop-jumping and boring ‘where’s my money ralph?’ economic rationalism that goes with it.

and, as i mentioned, this is just my perspective and i’m not expecting that others’ experiences are the same. but then again, it’s my blog, so you probably figured that bit out already.

UPDATE: marcus westbury has just written a valid and slightly depressing article on how the australia council (the federal arts funding body) are missing out on opportunities that they really could have pioneered. here’s hoping that the ABC goes into arts funding soon, otherwise half of us will die starving or overseas.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

Human Rights Act, 2009

I’ve been wanting to post about this for a while, but have been a little, well, manic. Then I get an email about it and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to chat about it here.

Human Rights. And the fantastic book by Geoffrey Robertson Statute of Liberty.

Don’t groan – it’s actually really interesting!

I’ve been reading the book over the last few weeks – as much as i can before i collapse into sleep – and it has been amazingly educational and still absorbing as a novel-of-sorts. I keep getting sucked into it, reading way past my bedtime.

The reason i first got the book was because i felt that, as a citizen in a democratic country, it was my responsibility to engage politically with what goes on here. It was only $20 at Readings, which impressed me no end – i think books about politics should all be super cheap, so that we can actually afford to read them and find out how it all works!

Anyways, when i finally got around to reading it, i was suprised how fluidly it was written – it’s like i’m sitting on a couch in an easy lecture by Mr Robertson and he’s just telling me, in pretty straight-up lingo, all about the history of human rights law, the history of parliamentary democracy in England (of which i had no idea), Australia’s role in developing the Universal Declaration for Human Rights (an Australian lawyer was part of the leading committee in developing it and the main reason we didn’t continue the momentum with implementing our own act was because we had everybody’s favourite conservative PM in power – Mr Eyebrows the First, Robert Menzies).

The last part of the book (is this call for a spoiler alert? i don’t think so) is the draft bill that Robertson has proposed that we enact. Geoffrey (as his wife Ms Lette probably calls him) is a renowned human rights lawyer and all-round good-guy. He is probably biased towards a statutory bill of rights because he’s used them time and time and time again to defend a range of people whose rights are being transgressed. But in the book he also addresses the failings of various nations’ bills and addresses the arguments from the main critics: the usual suspects – the church and the media. [ed. oh the irony!].

So, when i got the email from Get Up today about the campaign to enact Australia’s Human Rights Act, it was bloody awesome to know a little bit more about it than before and to really feel quite confident in writing to my local MP, who just happens to be Essendon Football Club’s #1 Ticket Holder: The Hon Lindsay Tanner, MP.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx