good and great

today i caught up on some reading, ‘cos i’m procrastinating and i couldn’t help it. but i wanted to post about some of the ace things i’ve seen, which mostly happen to be from GOOD.

clapping your hands when you like a band – music and social media.

brilliant posters for the kent state folk festival. they sparked a few little thoughts looking forward to the time when social media and social interaction get really close. i think they’re getting closer, but it’s gonna be awesome when we really smush them up and really value both.

i also had a utopian idea the other day that the death of television should be welcomed and that it was only ever going to be a small invention on the way to the much bigger awesomeness of the interwebs anyway.

in fact, if i was in charge of cultural radness in australia, i’d get rid of all funding to TV content production, turn it into good production for DVD/online video/live experience and radio; chuck money back into films, gaming, online stories and books. i guess like the media equivalent of thanking a lover for a good time, but committing to a long-term relationship for the future.

but i digress.

tourism is the march of stupidity

i’m a bit of a traveller/tourist at the moment, so of course i couldn’t help but LOVE LOVE LOVE this post about tourism and literature by miles allinson. miles is a super-fucking talented writer and thinker and artist-type. readings is a melbourne institution that really supports literature, reading, thinking and artist-types.

BOMF wisdom to know the difference

and then there’s the fantastic and worthwhile and ‘oh i wish i thought of that’ Back on My Feet running program coming out of the East Coast in the US – brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

it’s programs like this that remind me that humans are not stupid. we’re not heartless. and although life circumstances can freeze over our hearts and minds – at either end of the poverty scale – it is the simple, meaningful, heartfelt actions that really help us keep our shit together.

oh, and just one more thing from good – a great article about the history of the word OK.
i personally love the spelling ‘okeh’ and am going to use it from now on.
meh, teh and okeh.

image credits:
44th kent state folk festival posters by marcus agency from the GOOD blog
miles allinson/reading st. kilda from his confrontation with falling blog
eric fair image from the GOOD blog/lauren e. friedman [best name ever, BTW]

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ISEA2010 day 1

today was the first real day of proceedings in dortmund and it started off with a bit of a fizz. i was ill, so missed out on the first session. but the second session was a good mix of festival experience: a bit of an experimental electronics workshop, some internet catch-ups and then a few presentations on media in the public space: one establishing engaging criteria for good media/public projects –

interestingly, i’m sure that advertising planners and media buyers would have similar criteria, and a valid question was raised about what differentiates these questions for art, as opposed to, say, a children’s playground, etc.

one of the key ideas in that list was ‘challenge’. i do see that a lot of works that are not quite successful (including my own), don’t necessarily have an element of challenge to them, which is a common element within public audience.

this was furthered during lanfrance aceti’s presentation on isea2011, in istanbul, a city with many challenges in public space. seemingly good public projects challenge both audience AND artist and that perhaps artists’ work can become complacent without them.

after that, i went back to my circuit-bending workshop and finished fucking with a kids music instrument. i’ve never done anything with electronics before, so it was all new to me – but it was great fun and tomorrow i’m going to go back and insert a jack into it, so we can either amplify it, or listen to it with headphones 🙂

before dinner and the official opening/performance of the festival, i went to see the Heavy Matter exhibition at the Westfalen Forum. I’m a bit critical about it because quite a few exhibits were still not working and there wasn’t a lot of knowledge/understanding. It also seemed a bit derivative. But then i realised that it is a student exhibition, so maybe there’s a little more room for error.

I hope the other exhibitions aren’t also like that, though, because so far, my first impressions of the festival are good, but still a lot of unfinishedness/unpreparedness – the U-tower is still all wires and plaster dust, i had to wait a day to get my festival pass, and then a few difficulties with the wifi too – doesn’t reflect so well. but maybe it’s just first day jitters.

After the official stuff, it was over to domicile club for drinks, more performances and some excellent discussion over beer.
the germans do alcohol-free beer, which makes my life much more fun.

we covered the gamut of australian and german politics, feminism, gender studies, gentrification, media festivals and art in general.

not bad for the first day, huh.

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super-official: geek in residence.

aw man, i’ve been holding onto this info for what seems like an eternity!

but now it’s all official:

i’m one of the geeks in the australia council/arts digital era Geek-In-Residence program.

read the press release here.

what does this mean? well, i’ll be doing a fair amount of tech/system-based stuff with the super-awesome peeps at west space and some of their friends.

it also means that this blog will, from tomorrow for the next three months, feature a blow-by-blow account of the tech vs art battle. there may be some bad geek jokes. sorry.

and if it’s really not your thing, i understand. i’ll see you when i’m in berlin 🙂

so, here’s to good news.

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public societies

my public life is sometimes fun

After I slovenly put together that last post about secret societies, i found myself divvying up (with my stepdad) this week’s Australian Literary Review, which seemed to have rather a lot of articles relating to the business of being a citizen – politically engaged and discussing issues pertaining to the broader notion of the public sphere.

I thought it was kind of a nice pendulum swing from the interstitial space of being in a secret society: neither public nor private.

Firstly I was excited to see that Jock Given wrote about the notion of privacy, using the ALRC’s recent review of Australia’s Privacy Act, For Your Information, as a prompt to review three publications which address the notion of privacy and ‘the public sphere’ – specifically in the media/comms realm, but still relevant to this little bunny (who, in case you hadn’t picked it up, is interested in art that addresses the line between public and private spheres).

Given reviewed The Spy in the Coffee Machine by Kieron O’Hara and Nigel Shadbolt; Blown to Bits by Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen and Harry Lewis and Privacy: A Manifesto by Wolfgang Sofsky (one which I own). He broke the reactions to contemporary issues of privacy within the books into three ‘camps’: the ‘get-on-with-its’, the ‘get-over-its’ and the ‘get-out-of-its’: those that accept the changing nature of privacy, those who advocate it and those who rebel against it.

Some of the gems from the articles include:

…public melieux where one would not ordinarily expect to indulge in hightly private or intimate behaviour… (as a definition of the public sphere, in relation to surveillance)


“…Privacy to them (authors of Blown to Bits) is not a right to be separated from society, but one that makes society work. People need room to experiment, to deviate from accepted social norms, because there are no universally and permanently satisfactory one. They also need to develop and rehearse independent thought before its public exposure…”

Then, after a great article by Robert Dessaix on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s book on Fyodor Dostoevsky (one of my literary lushes), I read what was left of an article by Mr Kathy Lette – Geoffrey Robertson, about suggested format for our bill of rights. An excerpt from his upcoming book, Statute of Liberty: How Australians Can Take Back Their Rights, it was surprisingly rousing for me. I had tears in my eyes reading some of the statements to which Australians would pledge (according to Robertson’s proposal).

Most of them were fantastic, in tone, intention and content. I only had two minor issues with them:
Article 9, The Right to a Fair Trial is obviously taken straight from current statutes and not edited, as it all says “he” this and “to him” that. All the other rights are gender-equal and I would like to think that at the end of the first decade in the 21millenium, Australian’s first bill of rights would be one that addresses the rights of all citizens – in content and language.

And then Item iii of Article 15, Right to Own Property, states that “there shall be no confiscation of private property by the state other than when it is in satisfaction of a judgment deb or if it is reasonably suspected to be the proceeds of crime”. Whilst technically not confiscated, there is no mention of the fact that land which is being repatriated to Indigenous communities will be done so according to the Native Title act. Technically this contravenes the idea of all ‘owning’ land. I would like to think that Australia’s first bill of rights would acknowledge this important process of our national identity.

In fact, between those two rather chunky articles, it felt like I had read the kinds of things that should be discussed in mass media publications: the business of being a citizen: the politics of public life, rather than the private lives of people who have a higher paid stylist than me.

Wouldn’t that be something!

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warning: a blog post about blogging


i know.. it’s so 2007 to write a blog post about the nature of blogging, but i promise i’ll be quick. i recently listened to the most excellent interview with the lovely marcus and faris (both well-spoken and slightly mad brit expats) about all kinds of things, including the vortex of the US/global economic ‘downturn’ and the changing ‘volume’ of blogging.

marcus and faris both agreed that all the hoo-har about blogging has died down quite a bit. and the general chit-chat, back’n’forth – conversation – has died down a bit. [so much for the Age of Conversation]. there’s theory that RSS feeds may have killed a bit of that comment action – to which i’d probably agree – given that i now read from about 30 feeds every day or two, extending to 100 on a weekly basis, leaving not much time for banter.

however, i’ve noticed that there are still a small number that i continue to check manually, still comment regularly on and consider a huge influence on my day.

last year, a couple of memes went around and we all had to pick our top 5 blogs ever. what i’m finding fascinating is that 18 months later, after the hundreds of most excellent blogs that i have discovered and discarded, my top 5 remains largely unchanged.

for a while there, marcus wasn’t blogging, so NP stole his spot, then colman wasn’t blogging and seb stole his spot, now seb is hardly blogging and colman is back, so it’s all back to, pretty much back to square 1:

1. rob
2. age
3. marcus
4. ben
5. colman

plus seb, northern planner, dan hill, stan and swiss miss making up the top 10 of must-reads

this isn’t to say that i don’t have a slew of other awesome blogs that i read, or that i’m not constantly finding new stuff, but i’ve just realised that consistency matters. those 5 are the ones where i usually have something (lame) to say, where i make sure i check in and the volume is high. the others i keep an eye and get excited when there’s new content, but the volume just isn’t as high – either they’re quieter or i don’t have anything to say really. and i find it infinitely interesting that, despite a few more artists blogging more regularly, it’s still the ad/comms/design blogs that i engage with. opinionated bunch maybe?

many have mentioned that blogging has merely returned to the influence of friendship and not into some greater über democracy that was being predicted. not sure whether that’s the case, but i’ll be interested to see who my top 5 are in another 18 months. i have a sneaky suspicion it will be much the same…

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irreplaceable as the new currency

this post contains offensive language. if you can’t deal with it, that’s OK, we can still be friends, just come back in a couple of days.

so the other night at aha!, the creative get together at the commercial tavern, some cunt stole my ipod, and my mate charles’ bag. cctv didn’t pick up squat and the police, well, I suspect they won’t find anything anywhere.

and while this post could easily be a vent about all of that, it’s actually about sentimentality and preciousness. you see, my ipod was covered in this:

in case you can’t tell, it’s a hand-made felt cover, made by my best friend Sarah, with my name stitched into it! how cute is it! it was a farewell present from her before I came to London and a general ‘I love you’ gift. see how loved it is in that photo? and now, it’s gone. and it hasn’t gone to a good home, either. in fact, said cunt probably just turfed it before she/he hocked the 80GB video pod for about 4 hour’s worth of crack, smack, or fuck.

and, even though public transport is now a bit tougher without my toons, and my travel insurance will eventual replace it, it’s this special cover that I’m devastated about.

my new friend nina was there that night and when I was telling her about the nicked cover, she told me a similarly shit story about her teddy bear. nina has just moved from germany. in fact, her bags are still being shipped and the delivery company rang to tell her two days ago that her backpack had been stolen. which is really fucking annoying, but the only thing in that backpack that nina really cared about, that couldn’t be replaced or covered by insurance, was her teddy bear. she’d had it since she was born and you can’t replace that stuff!

which highlights how important that element of ‘hand-made’ really still is to us. as humans, with the access and capabilities to generate an enormous amount of FMCGs (Fast-Moving-Consumer-Goods), technology, replaceable, recyclable and disposable stuff, it’s the authentic, sentimental, ephemeral and memorable items that we really care about. not just me and nina, but everyone. ask anyone what they’ll grab to save in a housefire and I can assure you (unless you’re Patrick Bateman), it won’t be the Prada bifocals, the Paul Smith suit, Manolo Blahnik strappy stilettos or the Bose 5 Channel Surround Sound Digital Entertainment System. It’s the photo albums, the vinyl records, the teddy bears, the trinket Grandma gave you when you were sick from the chicken pox, you save. the sentimental and irreplaceable.

as an artist, that comforts me a little. knowing that as humans we still care about the time and effort something is put into being. and that the art of making tangible, irreplaceable things, is still a worthwhile pursuit. in fact, i’d go so far as to say that in the years to come, the irreplaceable will be the new currency in the face of a backlash against disposable.

And if you read this and you’ve got my ipod cover (or nina’s teddy bear for that matter), fucking give it back.

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