up in lights

this is my favourite picture of john baldessari

this is his work in australia at the moment

Your Name in Lights

your name in lights

here’s my ‘time’ for my name up in lights in sydney.

Thursday 20 Jan 08:29:20 AM

see? i’m a fame whore and a sycophant like everyone else 😀

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sound in public: audiology australia conference

whoa! what a day!


Art and Audiology Poster

yesterday was the first day of the national audiology conference in sydney. i’ve been invited here as a participant of a project i’ve been working on with a small group of audiologist in a community health centre in broadmeadows. we’ve worked primarily with indigenous teenagers to teach them and engage in education about hearing.

you may or may not know that otitis media, a disease which attacks the outer ear affects about 85% of indigenous children in remote communities. their hearing is severely impaired, which then translates to difficulties with schooling, social development, language (which is where i come in) and spatial perception.

the figures are pretty scary and i learned the true nature of it yesterday in a round table discussion on indigenous hearing health.

the numbers are not so dire when it comes to urban aboriginal and torres strait islander children, but their general and hearing health is still far below colonial australians, so we’ve been working with them to develop ways in which that can improve.

the initial project we developed was a program that involved some interactive workshops, interactive/performance art and some publications. it was, for a pilot program, pretty successful and gave us the impetus to keep delivering.

we presented a (last minute) paper about the work and have a poster as part of the conference/research section – which i have souped up with an inbuilt podcast, of course. it’s all pretty exciting and new and a little bit daunting.

i learned so much here about how the medical/scientific world works, what are the real concerns for those working with hearing/listening/sound in the public health system, who are the key organisations interested in research and how does that all fit in with private practice and/or clinical diagnosis. my mind was being blown into a hundred different directions.

at each session, i took away something relating to my area of research – something that i can adapt to, or consider working with. i also realised that, even more than i originally thought, sound in the public space continues to get even more interesting for me and is revealing even more areas of opportunity. who would have thunk!

and although it might be a bit daggy in the art world, working with community/indigenous health like this is becoming increasingly important to me personally. i’m looking forward to designing some new artworks with/for them in future.

EDIT 1: this forum with artist lucas ihlein will be interesting to attend, in that light too.

EDIT 2: i’m hoping to find links to the papers from the interesting sessions and when i do, i’ll post it on my delicious feed.


SSR_ 33

so, as if that wasn’t inspirational enough, i finally met up with a fellow public/private sound/device researcher – michael walsh – who is submitting his PhD next month to Monash,and who has been researching the behaviour around sound in public, especially public transport and relevant to the use of PLDs (personal listening devices). i stumbled upon michael’s research whilst trying to recruit a fellow presenter for the architecture + philosophy lecture i’m giving at the end of the month. we have a mutual love (read: biography referrals) of dr michael bull and his essays on headphone/ipod use in public life.

we ended up trading opinions, findings and general information for an hour and a half, perched in the thoroughfare at a QVB cafe. it was so fantastic and although it would have been fantastic to compare notes whilst i was doing my masters, in a way i’m glad that i could share my information afterwards instead. i tell ya – meeting of the minds.

social audiology

after a well-deserved home-delivered pizza, the audiologists invited me to join them at a supplier party in the v-swanky ivy bar in george st. i almost lost my shit at the tracey emin neon work in the lower foyer ‘take me to heaven’ (not the image above, which was pinched from the guardian site, and the hip penthouse bar was a real treat: sunken round lounge, cast concrete planks for the curved walls, free cosmopolitans (and they made me up a shaken orange+cranberry mocktail) and super-cute cupcakes. these audiologists are a spunky bunch, i tell you!

needless to say, i was absolutely knackered by the end of it, but man i’m havin’ a great time. i’m so grateful to the crew from dianella hearing services for their courage to work with art as a means of communicating health issues and to continue a developing relationship with me as an artist.

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camp pell lecture

a couple of days before leaving for my lightening fast sydney/brisbane escapade, lucas (the great connector) emailed me about tony birch/tom nicholson‘s work at artspace, which needed some [artist-as-]participants. i can’t remember lucas’ description exactly, but it mentioned a lecture, tom nicholson, a building in carlton and a spare spot on the 26th february.

lock me in!

i have been really interested in tom‘s work for a while and his sound/performance/list collaboration ‘lines toward another century’ with andrew byrne with had me hopping from side to side.

thanks to a bit of a crazy schedule, i didn’t have time to do any research into the project, which worked in my favour i think. i just rocked up, said hello to the gals at artspace, got instructions and launched into it. no time for over-analysing – plenty of time for that during the performance.

the darkened room featured included 5 desks, with a desk lamp and a series of projections behind the ‘stations’. each participant/artist read the lecture aloud and to themselves, according to the instructions, as we were giving a paper to a room of 30 students. easy. kinda.

the inbuilt difficulties (and points of interest) included reading at the same time as everyone else, the combination of reading internally and aloud whilst maintaining the same timing and the slight physical duress of sitting in the high-contrast environment for 40 minutes at a time. i always forget how quickly my body is affected by durational work.

despite having to concentrate quite heavily, i found myself thinking A LOT about the work in a variety of ways. so much so that it has taken me about a week to work out what the hell i need to say about it.

camp pell is based in and around royal park, melbourne, and the lectures are about a series of images from the state library of victoria. the idea behind tom’s research of the imagery was to not just imagine the context for the photos in question, but to catalogue and corroborate the stories and history of the time/place. unsurprisingly, the complex relationship to imagery, history and colonialisation comes up very early in the piece.

the area in question is very “local” to me – i ride across, around, through there regularly and is a permanent fixture in my psychogeography. reading about this place and its history/image-history was instantly transportive. rather than imagining the events or the landscape of the images, it was like i was remembering those places. the works, for me, were quite different to enacting an arbitrary narrative. they were infused with a sense of my own experience. which, as any good installation artist knows, is the stuff you want people to take from a work.

the sound elements to the work were also interesting to me – the syncopation of vocal relay and the differing tones was amazing. not to mention the randomness of timing. having to share the soundscape with others at times was amusing – another aspect to the territorial nature of the work – but also the sense of authority with which we all projected our voices. in a way, it homogenised the pitch and weight of our ranges. in the way that i guess memory will desaturate imagery, a lecture format desaturated our vocal contrasts. i think this is an area that my vocologist friend tim noonan would have been fascinated by.

reading aloud is physically exausting too, and i think that this shared effort required to communicate the work is another interesting point of connection with other artists and the work itself. it became a visceral task, which has become physical memory, as well as a mental one. something infinitely bound with psychogeography and a relationship with the indigenous manner of remembering ones place.

as well as remembering and listening, i learned a lot. despite the line in my lecture about ‘only the most demonstrative student could have gotten away with not hearing about this history of the ill-fated [burke and wills] trip’ i actually knew hardly any detail about the crazy hair-brained voyage up the guts of the place. in history lessons i only ever remember wondering why the hell they started the trip in the first place and thought it was blatantly obvious to trust the local indigenous kids to help you survive. but i guess, at 15 i hadn’t really discovered the true nature of the proud white colonial male.

as an aside, the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the burke and wills trip is on the 20th august this year and no doubt, there will be commemorations of some kind. it will be interesting to see what, exactly. given that its place as a valuable point in our history has become an uncomfortable indication of our true colonial history (ie bumbling idiots with too much money kill the only help they get and are survived by the only member of their trip who is humble enough to follow guidance from local aboriginal tribe). i’m almost intrigued enough to go along. almost.

other points of goodness in the work are the obvious conceptual links between art and text, art and language, language and meaning, text and meaning. not to mention tom’s regular investigation into publication/archive/library/reading-as-political-action and the contemporary nature of artist-as-participant/audience-as-participant in performative works. i can’t even begin to digest all that stuff today, i’m glad that i was able to participate – it gave me a burst of food for thought and reminded me why i make the kind of work i do, and to follow the lead of artists like these guys.

image credits:
burke wills.net

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i just got back from a roaring trip to sydney and brisbane. sucking in as much art catch-up as i possibly could in two days for each city. easier said than done.

olafur eliasson at the MCA was a massive drawcard and, thanks to sydney’s terrible public transport, and my awful time management skills in the face of such chaos, i didn’t get to the gallery until friday morning.

funnily enough, it was exactly the kind of exhibition i expected it to be. usually i like surprises in my blockbusters, but there was something extraordinarily comforting about this sense of familiarity.

the mirrored window extension as you first walk in, with its tunnel of one thousand reflections, was perfect for the vista over circular quay and his spectral mirrored architectonic passageway into some of the main galleries was just beautiful. that colour reflective acrylic is an amazing material that seems to be made for OE and his light/colour spectrum schtick.

on either side of the entranceway were two moving light-based works, both reminiscent of film history (especially hitchcock) – one created spaces using the angles of 7 massive quartz light cans and the other used the combination of filter and refraction to create a revolving light/colour installation.

i have seen the lego room before, so didn’t participate, but i wasn’t surprised to see it filled with teenage boys, building their koolhaasian architectural monuments to the phallus. it was so cliche, that it took the glee out of it for me. although i was pleased to see the one asian boy building a great wall-esque extension – going for span rather than height. interesting ethnographic studies in that room abound!

bracketing the lego room were two spaces that investigated pure colour and light. the circular reflection cylinder was dreamy – on a slow time-loop which graded the colour from one end of the spectrum to the other, slowly moving through from violet to red and every shade in between. as i overheard, at no time, were you ever a witness to a single pure colour – always moving from one to the next.

the other colour-light room was all pure colour. yellow (which, strangely, is the single colour i have always associated with OE. probably because of his sun work, but maybe even before that..). whilst loads of visitors were all freaked out by the purple compensation sensation, i enjoyed the strangely flattened depth of field. it was beautiful to just watch the human form in an altered palette – all nostalgic and dreamlike. i could have actually stayed in that room for a really long time, but sadly i had time constraints.

tracking back through the gallery, past the entrance to the southern wing i flicked past the photos of geological colour samples. i kind of found it boring, although it certainly put his practice in to context. and i went straight into the model and print room, where i fell in love with his 3-part colour wheel/palette prints. they were embossed and layed over each other so that the colours were in a wheel, created by an overlapping triptych of prints – with a perfect triangle of space in the middle. oookkkaayyy, so it does sound pretty simple, but my colour/shape/math geek self went a little weak at the knees.

which was backed up by the part of the show that made me go quite silly with love. i call it the tessellation station.

the first room was lined with his moss wall. by this stage of the show, it was whitey-yellow, all the chlorophyl having been drained out of it. in fact, it reminded me of how the great barrier reef is going to look in the not-too-distant-future, will all the coral being bleached out of existence by the lack of ozone.

in that room was the coolest kaleidescope object – aluminium cones joined together to create a myriad of facets and reflections that produced such simple, but beautiful shapes of reflections. these were visible either through being inside the space and looking out through the cones, or from the outside, looking into the cones. even the structure itself, with its quasi-industrial connections and materials. and, at the same time, the whole thing reminded me of something out of Dragonball Z. or something like that.

the final space was the water-room, which was preceeded by an earthenware brick corridor, floor to ceiling, which modulated temperature, insulated the space and acoustically deadened it. although most treated it as an interstitial space, i loved that in and of itself.

so much so that i forgot to go back into the cloud room. d’oh! if you’re going to the show in the next 4 weeks, don’t do that. go all the way to the end and into the cloud room. especially if you don’t have the chance to go back. like i don’t. boo!

anyway, the OE show is fantastic. i was a little concerned that the show might end up being an extension of ego and i would end up hating mr eliasson, or at least feel slimey afterwards. not so – its timbre is so perfectly weighted that i could go back again and again and again.


image credits: all pinched from the mca site.

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Nick Waterlow RIP

i just assume that people are going to die of old age. especially people i don’t know personally, but who are in my peripheral vision. I’m always afraid that my close friends and family will die in horrific ways, but every one else i know – the guy who owns the video store, Karen who i buy my felt from and any director of every biennale – they all just die of old age.

i’m shocked and saddened – to use an overused expression – to hear about the murder of Nick Waterlow, Sydney-based curator and Director of Ivan Dougherty Gallery at COFA. I didn’t know him personally, but a couple of his exhibitions and essays have stood out in my memory – especially his views on art practice as research. And he was a feature, a mark, of the australian art scene. A constant, of sorts.

My thoughts go to his family. So sad.

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yay for chris doyle and his yellow pencil.

i never posted about it here, but a while back, Christopher Doyle’s Identity Guidelines flew around email/interweb circles. i fell in love with them (and a little bit with chris in the mean time) and began to tell all and sundry about them.

it is an awesome document, lovingly taking the piss out of corporate identity guidelines and promoting himself as a freelance creative (clearly with excellent skills-to-pay-the-bills).

my personal favourite was always the bit about language/tone of voice and, being the sweary type, would always quote it:

Cynicism and criticism should follow the I think rule. This rule allows me to take ownership of critical statements, lessening any negative impact.

This rule simply involves beginning statements with ‘I…’ Take for example a common, aggressively delivered statement:

“Nickelback are fucking awful.”

When the I think rule is applied this statement now reads,

“I think Nickelback are fucking awful.”

While coarse language is a common element it should be used appropriately (for example, when discussing Nickelback), and never in the presence of Mum_Full Colour Vertical.

If you’ve never had to work with these kind of guidelines, or needed to develop a document with this kind of ‘code’, you probably don’t find it as awesome as I do. But there are many that do.

Which is why he won a D&AD Yellow Pencil the other night, amongst a whole swag of brilliant designers and creative types. W00t!!

Chris Doyle

congratulations mr doyle.

download the guidelines here

image credit: chris at the awards by ben terrett.
christopher doyle™, identity guidelines.

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