interaction, part 1: goodbye.

Excellent goodbyes

i may be writing a bit about interaction in the next few weeks. primarily because the project i’m working on sits pretty firmly in the ‘interactive’ camp of arts practice. but also because i’ve been reading a bit about the philosophical aspects of interaction have been thinking about the dynamics of human interaction – listening, conversation and relationships.

counterintuitively, one of the first things i’m interested in unpacking a bit about is the interaction of ‘goodbye’. i recently wanted to say a formal ‘goodbye’ to a stack of peeps in perth after spending much time in their tribe. sadly, and for a stack of reasons, not many people were able to make it, and i left wondering about the ritual of saying goodbye.

even though ‘goodbye’ is the end of an interaction between characters, it is also the beginning of a new interaction. it has its own set of variables and etiquette, rarely discussed in white, australian culture. the country of the laid back ‘g’day’ are also not so formal with their goodbyes. ‘see ya’.

perhaps because i move around a lot, or because i’ve spent time in cultures for which the goodbye is given (linguistically and culturally) more weight, i’m finding that casual-ness a bit unsatisfying.

in schlock pseudo-psycho terms, there is no closure.

it’s a metaphysical sentence that has no full stop. and when there’s no punctuation, there ceases to be meaning. there also ceases to be intent. and therefore no beginning of the next interaction – the one of ‘still friends, but separated by distance’ or something.

in coding/system term, there’s no } – no end to the instruction, which creates errors, which means you don’t have an interaction. in not saying ‘goodbye’, one nulls and voids the interaction at all.

ok, so that’s abstracting it and perhaps creating an analogy that simplifies things too much – human interactions are far more complex than a missing }, / or . but i do wonder if we lack consideration of the deeper sides to human interaction protocol (HIP) in the same way as we now do our other forms of interaction.

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at the beginning of 2009, 4 artists from my masters class answered a call for artists to make ephemeral work in a carpark space in collingwood.

at the end of the meeting it was proposed that, rather than install yet more artwork, the organisation (collingwood neighbourhood house) install artists on site, to be there and do what we do. based on a canadian hospital residency program, the idea was that artists on site, engaging directly with the community and making a variety of works is far more beneficial than a slightly disembodied work. it was also an opportunity to have a series of artists working with each other, supporting projects and populating the (previously scary, unsafe) space.


2 years’ on, many prototypes and significant funding applications later, the program has recently started, with its first round of artists on site.

roarawar feartata collective are in the space at the moment, and doing an great job of breaching and infiltrating the spaces of the estate in magical and interesting ways. they’re getting to really know the nature of the estate.

we had harvest festival on the weekend and although it was rained out, i had the chance to dress up and play character for some Q&A style surveying about art.

we’ve got a blog that is in its early stages, but i’ll link to it a fair bit over the next 12 months. i’ll be in residence during september/october/november doing my sound/listening/acoustic works – watch this space.

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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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found(ed) object(ion)


i found these posters, plastered up on bus stops in frankston.

i found them so despicable that i tore them down. thankfully, no one seemed to want to stop me doing that.

i found the whole experience completely weird. it’s not like frankston isn’t without its fair share of violence and rape. not to mention its filthy drug habit and general trashiness. it’s just that it’s mostly white there.*

i found the whole dialectic aspect of it kind of strange too – some racist wanker puts up these posters in prominent places, trying to sway a particular section of the public, and then i come along and tear it down – my action conveying a specific retort. and that , in a free country as ours purports to be, both actions are as ‘valid’ as each other. as much as i wanted to vomit all over the creator of said racist propaganda, i value the freedom of a politic which supports this kind of exchange – where he (and i’m being gross in my gender generalisation here) puts up shit i don’t agree with and i get to take it down. equal and opposite reaction again.

i found it quite important to be having a ‘remote’ clash of values, in the public realm. on equal footing almost. rather than it being facilitated through the all-powerful broadcast media, or the insidiousness of behind-closed-doors-deals-and-policy that happens at either end of the big power structures. it was almost mano e mano. one citizen against another in hand-to-hand combat.

i found out what what frankston looked like according to its sound a while back. it might be interesting to see what dandenong sounds like. and compare the two – see what frankston would sound like if it ended up like dandenong.

*disclaimer: for those not from melbourne, frankston is a southern outer-suburb which has had a bad name for years. it’s pretty low on the socio-economic scale and has a disproportionate amount of young pregnancy, amphetamine abuse and unemployment. superseded only by toorak (i jest, just). and my generalisation about frankston is just that. of course there are amazing people in frankston, doing some fantastic things. and plenty of ordinary people doing lovely ordinary things. naturally, this post isn’t really about them.

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whinge whinge, whinge.

a few weeks ago, i had a self-righteous whinge about my mildly annoying delays on the trip home from europe.

thankfully, i’ve finally got around to having my arse kicked, by being reminded how fuckin’ awesome it was that i could a) fly to europe; b) afford to do so; c) have an amazing time there, with the ability to communicate with friends and strangers in different languages and cultures and d) all of the above.

i promise to never whinge about travel and/or technology ever again. i know, i’m spoilt.

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the third place and vicarious taste

brother baba budan

while i was showing will some of my fav. places about melbourne, i mused about the importance of the third place. i know, it’s quite an old theory now, and i’ve gone on about it a bit in the past, but i had a new revelation in its relevance to design, aesthetics and identity.

following on, i guess, from the musing about designing for places to eat, i was wondering why i like my favourite cafes, restaurants and the other social public places i frequent, noticing their decor.

take one of my regulars – kent st, for example – it’s a complete mashup of stuff – amazing light fittings, second-hand furniture, sit down arcade game, numbers and signage, photographic mural and pink walls. there’s some stuff that i would totally have in my home, and other stuff that i love, but couldn’t live with it.

which i think is a vital part of the third place (and an area that i’d be interested in pursuing some more – especially with design/interior stuff in mind.) it is these places in which we get to experience an aesthetic that fulfills us, or challenges us, or resonates with us, but in which we can’t participate in our own environments. that we need places to be lavishly decorated, or quirky, or completely sparse, over the top or completely minimal – so that as a society we can take some of that with us, own it without possessing it.

and that communal places – cafes, bars, clubs, restaurants – hell, even swimming pools, gyms, shops – are the places in which we need to invest a level of innovation or courage or outlandishness (in terms of interior design/decoration). that, as well as feeding, entertaining and socialising us – the third place, the social space – teaches us an aesthetic, or perhaps provides us with a range of aesthetics from which we can then discern our own. the third place, it seems, is in the business of taste, on all accounts.

image credit: the fabulous barista miss browne at brother baba budan, taken by janey on flickr

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