i have not previously given too much thought to the idea of autonomy. in theory i know what the word means, and i value it as a principle in my personal life (especially related to family and other relationships). but it has not been until the residency at the collingwood housing estate that i have considered the real value of autonomy and its relation to public and social welfare.

the department of housing does a great job in providing housing for people whose situations are otherwise very precarious. it is an excellent safety net, that i’m very proud of in this county.

and having to bring together large groups of people to live relatively harmoniously, regardless of cross-cultural considerations, is a difficult job.

and in doing so, i wonder if the first ‘luxury’ to go is the luxury of autonomy.

it’s not that there isn’t freedom in a housing estate, or certain levels of creature comfort and community. but only to a certain level. major decisions all stop with DHS. public space is within the directorate, permission must be granted for all kinds of things.

this keeps residents – whose lives have been traumatic, or dangerous, or disastrous – safe. for the time being. and i wonder what a difference having a sense of autonomy might bring to these lives. and how does one learn a sense of autonomy in a community situation?

and can autonomy – the notion of freedom earned from self-responsibility – exist alongside welfare? or is it a utopian ideal – a luxury afforded the bourgeoisie and bratts like me, who are actually privileged enough to believe that choice is the ultimate freedom.

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love is… [according to age]

following on from the kids and the psychoanalyst, here’s a story about love from age and his blog, in my atmosphere. on his blog he discribes himself as ” wannabe sneakerfreaker, wannabe music producer, film maker, skater, street wear aficionado, mixtape DJ, screenwriter, baller, blues guitarist with jazz influences, cultural commentator, cultural contributor, but right now, I’m a strategic planner for an ad agency.” but he’s also a straight-up romantic:

There’s a guy I work with, a really nice guy who was originally born in India. Playing on our email work server one day he typed in his surname and hit Ctrl+K. What this does is search our entire global network for matching names. To his surprise, his surname came up with 2 matches… his own, and a girl from our New York office. Working in Account Manglement he was looking to procrastinate a bit so he decided to drop this girl a random hello email from Oz.

Turns out that this girl grew up in the same area of Mumbai as he did (in fact, surnames in India are usually an indicator of where you grew up, not so much which family you belong to). They continued to exchange emails, and a little more, and a little more… A few months ago after planning a trip to India to visit relatives, she decided she too would also take time off work to visit family in India. Of course, they could finally meet face to face! Catching up with him on his return to work a month or so later, he divulged this entire story to me as a well kept secret going on for many months – and of course I kept his word but loved asking him “how’s your sister?”

What’s love?

The other day we were in a meeting room discussing a brief. Still, procrastinating, we began discussing the status of his relationship. He told me that he had resigned from the agency and would be leaving in a few weeks. Whoa. I was amazed. I automatically assumed that he would be relocating to New York to hook up with his sister… ok, his girlfriend. His throat got kinda dry as he explained not. See, he had only recently been diagnosed with a serious kidney disease. And the situation was not great. Knowing his condition, his family had requested he fly back to India immediately so they could send him to a renowned Kidney specialist who was also a close family friend. They wanted him close and he needed them close. Love. I was genuinely saddened to hear this news. I asked what that meant for his relationship – because I knew that it was one of the best, and most important things in his life right now. Now his eyes were watery. He told me that he had spoken to her on the phone and explained his condition and his plans to fly home. The next day, she had quit her job at the agency too and booked a ticket to be there when he arrived – for how ever long she needed to be with him she would.

What’s love? I don’t know but I reckon that’s pretty damn fucking close. It’s more than the little things… it’s when it’s everything.

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the good, the bad and the beta

parties are funny things really. they can bring out the best and the worst in people.

organising them is both fun and awful at the same time. no matter how many i’ve thrown, there is still that inevitable fear that no one will turn up. or worse, 3 people will turn up and instead of a party, it becomes a wake commemorating the death of an idea i had that i’m somehow popular, good company or just fun to be around. and i guess, as an artist, i’m going to have to get used to that fear, ‘cos unless i become so uproariously famous in the next 6 months and never have to organise an opening again, i’ve got a few more parties to throw.

thankfully the closing party for entropy at platform 2 went OK. not as pumping as i would have liked, but still a pretty cool little intimate affair, with a bunch of family, friends and a few platform regulars. the setting was pretty cool and if i had my time again, i would still cart a bunch of furniture into the subway and have a loungeroom party there. i sold a couple of pairs of undies and anita and din from platform were both taken with the little boxes of remnants i had there too.

the other thing about parties is being invited. or not being invited. there are some parties you don’t need to be invited to – you just hear about them and rock up, the more the merrier and they’re always fun. except when the house gets trashed and you have to fix a broken tap spouting water 15ft into the air at 3am. for example. then there are other parties where you get the invite: the special parties like weddings, 30th birthdays and golden anniversaries. or to transfer your blog to beta.

for the last month, while the rest of the cool art blogger kids were sprouting about beta blogger, i was left staring at my feet, wondering when i was going to get an invitation! i had flash backs of being chosen last for the lunchtime football team in grade 6 and not being invited at all to a princess party in grade 3 (who wants to be a stupid princess anyway).

thankfully, i’ve finally been asked to cross over to the dark side of the blog! she sees red will soon be in glorious beta technology and joining the ranks of the fully qualified again 🙂

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relational aesthetics

i’m sure this is so last century, but i’ve recently been hearing stacks about relational aesthetics and i’m intrigued! i guess i took it for granted that people create ‘political’ work, work that relates to their particular situation and circumstance in a meaningful and informative way, and encourages some kind of discussion about that idea, circumstance, etc. but now it seems that there’s a real ‘movement’ of it now. (that all sounds very cynical, but it’s not meant to, honest!)

in reading about artists that have been linked with this idea (those in the T’fouh exhibition, Zanny Begg, Lucas Ihlein, Art Interactive), i have wished that i was one of those artists. i’m generally an outspoken and political person, and when i see artwork, i like seeing works that are responsive to specific things, work that encourages me (and hopefully others) to participate in something other than reality tv.

unfortunately, i’m not one of those artists and it’s kinda got me bummed. i’m having to realise that i’m a daggy, conceptual artist that wants you to think about the human species as a whole, rather than relate to a particular group, event, idea. so last century.

Relational Aesthetics
Aesthetic theory consisting in judging artworks on the basis of the inter-human relations which they represent, produce or prompt.

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celebrity death match: audience vs author

after an update from one of my favourite blogs, the SEE life differently blog, i started thinking about the relationship between author and audience and how that has and will change in future, and also what effect that may have down the line.

the kids at SEE have developed this great interactive technology that they’ve used on a few of their branding projects, as well as in the cafe where it kicks in as they serve your coffee to a bunch of hungry butterflies. it features on their award-winning Elwood jeans website, and I for one was impressed ‘cos it allowed me to scribble over the web page and not get in trouble!! ha ha!
it’s part of their development of branding ‘experiences’ rather than the traditional dictatorial approach to marketing/branding/advertising/selling. Read their thing on it, they’re better at explaining it than i am.

Anyway, in reading about this new way of relating to consumers, it got me thinking about the necessity of current author/audience relationships. How important is that traditional role of audience to author where the author says and the audience responds? As an artist, i don’t want to treat my audience with contempt and force them to experience the work from a particular point of view, but at the same time, the reality of the situation is that i create the work expecting that, based on the traditional role of audience to author, the audience will interact only up until a point, but mostly consume (for want of a much less loaded term). Even interactive works have this as the basis from which they depart to encourage the audience to interact.

If, as i hope they do, companies and brands BEgin to address their audiences on a more authentic and possibly personal level, and consumers, or perhaps people in general, begin to interact on a far more active level, will this lead the way to affecting culture in raising the level of interactivity we will expect? Or will art continue to operate from the tradition standpoint and the divide between art and advertising becomes greater. Does art influence advertising or advertising influence art (by influencing consumers, who then engage with art)?

It will be interesting to see if, down the track, this does see a paradigm shift in the way a person perceives that which is presented to her/him, be it advertising, a performance, an artwork, what the resulting artwork will be. If the beginning point from which an artwork is created is based on a highly interactive audience (as opposed to a more static and reflective one) what will that look like, feel like? Will the work that bases itself on stasis become the new avant garde (as interactive artworks are now)?

I have no answers.

In fact, i don’t really know if i want answers. I could go and study a bunch of theory on the subject – in fact i could probably develop a goddam thesis on it, but just for now, i’m enjoying the questions. I don’t usually think about what form of perception i base my artwork on and just for a while, i’m going to.

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