listening and silence in the built environment


if you’re in melbourne on thursday night, and feel like participating in some discussion about sound, listening, silence, contemplation, architecture, the built environment, philosophy and quietitude, you’re in luck.

i’ll be giving a lecture as part of the architecture + philosophy series,

covering ideas about listening/silence and the forms of acoustic spaces which facilitate them, i’ll focus on the grotto, the cloister, the autobahn and the headphone as a bit of a progression of those spaces.

i may also quote some adorno, some john cage and even wikipedia. just to keep it real.

and i’ll also be speaking about some of the work that i’ve done which relates to a lot of these ideas.

starting at 6:30 pm, it is held at RMIT and will be an interesting night with some thought-provoking discussion. which usually comes from the audience 😀

Thursday May 27, 2010
RMIT Building 8, Level 11, Room 68 (8.11.68).
Entrances are on Swanston and Bowen Sts, between Franklin and La Trobe Sts.

No need to RSVP, just turn up.

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

on purpose, act III

i’ve been thinking about the relationship between purpose and beauty a lot lately. it seems i believe that the purpose of all good humans is to be beautiful and that if you’re not, you’re pointless.

yet, if you had’ve said that directly to me, i would have told you to get fucked.

i’m practicing the art of having purpose lately. not the kind of purpose that rationalises the bejesus out of everything, but the kind that counteracts the idea of beauty-as-value that rationalises the bejesus out of everything. and yes, i do see the irony of this situation, given that, as an artist, i’m supposed to be on beauty’s side.

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i’m a whole week behind on posting about this, but it’s always better late than never, right?*

last friday, as part of the architecture + philosophy series, design research institute and the urban interior research group from RMIT, jane rendell – writer, architectural designer, art critic and historian from the bartlett (ucl) in london- gave a presentation: to and fro: site writing.

she spoke about the role of writing in terms of art/architecture, the role of critique, the influence of ego and the id on critical architecture and the inevitable interstitial space between public and private.

i left the lecture almost bursting with ideas. in fact, i almost left myself a voicemail message as a reminder of all the cool stuff i had heard. i kind of wish i did because, 7 days later, all i can remember is the feeling and a faint connection to the notes i took.

she does have a new book coming out soon – site-writing, in which the process of critique and writing has been developed into a more formal process-based work, in which the various forms of language about site and experience are interspersed, a collage of sorts, even.

and as interesting as that is, a point of discussion which we had included the importance of purely functional writing and/or critique. where the traditional roles of object and outcome remain separated and the writer takes on the role of designer – responding to a brief: to articulate the nuance and visual code of an artist/architect/performer’s work

there were a couple of key points, which i thought were particularly interesting.

1. immersive critique – whereby the writer responds to the work, not as a detached observer, or dissociated object, but from within the space. it reminded me about andrea fraser’s ‘little frank and his carp’ – the video work she did where she responded to the guggenheim by literally following the directives of the audio guide – rubbing herself on the smooth walls, etc.

2. repression presents itself through repetition. i thought this was a particularly interesting concept. coming from a ‘history never repeats’ aspect, but i guess from an aesthetic position, it’s something i’d be interested in researching some more.

3. the relationship of feminist theory and psychoanalysis to architecture. luce irigray is prime example, but i love being part of a discussion where the concept of design acknowledges gender politics and sexual identity. goodness abound.

i’m hoping that her presentation/paper will be uploaded to the arch+phil site soon, because i need a refresher course, but in the mean time, here is link to her presentation for one day sculpture in nz.

and some pics of my notes. you know, writing as image and back again [click to enlarge].

*except having your period. then it’s always better never.

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today i make a commitment to the future we design together.

initially this was going to be a post about the state of design festival, a project that i planned and one organised by those fabulous ladies over at architecture + philosophy. it was going to be about the future of acoustic spaces, one of choice and the generation which has a commitment to choice.

but instead it’s going to be about backing out of a commitment in order to preserve ones integrity. about not designing for the sake of an opportunity, but having the restraint to remain authentic to a level of quality and/or clarity of message.

you’re all sick of hearing about my research into sound in the public space, but when i was working towards project for this final semester, i checked out to see what the state of design and their fantastic cultural program were doing, remembering that their theme was ‘sampling for the future’ – what an awesome partnership: sampling, sound, choice, the future, architecture/design and public space.

i got in contact with the peeps at SoD and it was all very exciting – a last-minute inclusion, but one which could still happen in the 6-week turnaround. sometimes, when the timing is right, everything just flows and you can pull off a project in record time.

this was not one of those times.

as soon as we locked it in, everything just ground to a halt: suppliers were out of stock, samples couldn’t be shipped and, more importantly, i just couldn’t unlock any money from anywhere and i was fast running out of time to find some. [granted, it’s not my field of expertise and i’m sure if it was i would know exactly where to find some, but hey – i is what i is].

i started to be anxious all the time – losing sleep about where i was going to find the money for this, how could i source that from overseas to save time, how could i work the timing around work and i needed to brief the volunteers. the list of things to do kept getting longer and longer. and i wasn’t kicking any goals. as each day towards the deadline kept ticking over, the project was getting less and less finished. it was going to be a really crap install, the way this was going.

and, more importantly, i was miserable about it.

i had no faith in the work, i was barely talking about it – i sure as hell wasn’t promoting it anywhere until i had a level of satisfaction about it and i was losing any kind of perspective, commitment and aesthetic judgment, fast. i was hemorrhaging.

so, whilst at the ballet with my mum, after barely noticing the first act, i decided that i needed to pull out of the project. i needed to risk disappointing a few, in order to salvage the best parts of the idea. to not present a half-baked design which would benefit, delight or inspire no one. i made a commitment to the future i designed. just not together. and just not right now.

i can’t tell you how much lighter i felt. it was instant. and i suddenly had room in my head (and excitement in my heart) for the other projects i was working on. i suddenly had some clarity about works that really did have enough time. and enough money. and i knew that i had reached some kind of milestone – some weird internal rite of passage, where i had said ‘no’ to a great opportunity, for the sake of my work. it seemed almost old-fashioned (you young whippersnapper, you).

unsurprisingly, i had a whole swag of support for this lack of commitment. LI, NT, DR and GJ were all stellar. and of course my mum was delighted. not just because i paid attention to the second half of the ballet, but nothing worries a mother more than seeing a furrow tattooed into her child’s brow.

so, today i make a commitment to the future we design together. by pulling out of projects, in the interest of my own integrity.
and in doing so, i commit to the value of that design and of that future.

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

having the courage of your conviction.

Donkey Kong

2008 has been a doozy of a year. i thought last year was crazy, but that was all fun and games and meeting people and seeing art, really.

this year has been a year in which i’ve had to learn some really hard lessons about following dreams.

in fact, following on from the last post about gaming, i feel like 2008 has been about clocking level after level of donkey kong. those barrels have just kept coming, but releasing the big guy from the cage has become more important and more important.

a couple of times i swore i was just going to roll over and be a lawyer or investment banker. well, then the financial vortex happened and i realised that maybe being an artist on the other side of the world might just be the coolest thing to do ever! ha!

This year isn’t over yet, and there are still a few hurdles to jump: like trying to convince the biggest entity in the universe (not god, but close) that an idea of mine is worthwhile shifting slightly sideways for; and the next round of employment goodness (more on that later); but i did just want to say thank you to a few people who kept yelling from the sidelines (you know who you are)- i think i finally realised what conviction really means.

it’s all about donkey kong and jumping barrells.

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