technospaces: the edge

The Edge

in the forward to the fantastic book, technospaces: inside the new media, editor sally munt writes about the dynamic nature of culture, that is both binary and complex. And in it, she highlights the unanswered questions about what the future holds for culture in the so-called Information Age:

“what will be the new strategies, tactics or dispositions [in this Age]? What will happen to identity after Postmodern? Will cyberlife ensure further fratured forms of consciousness and social atomism?”

most of the ‘spaces’ discussed in the book are that of the public realm: online/institutional and traditional public spaces and the ways in which technology, or technological systems are changing/influencing dynamics in these areas.

I would be interested to see what the contributers to the book thought of the SLQ’s new venture The Edge: Digital Culture Centre and whether it answers any of those questions.

It is a quasi-programmed public space, within a public institution, that is specifically geared towards investigating, researching and sharing new and traditional kinds of experiences within the culture of (digital) technology.

Lab 3

When i went to Brisbane last month, i happened to time it perfectly so I could attend the opening of the new space/program (note the forward slash. no rocket ships). i had previously applied (unsuccessfully) to the resident program, but was still very keen to check out the space, see for myself what kind of possibilities it held and to show my support in a way. plus i got to attend a low-key, but very exciting workshop on Fruity Loops.

My excitement, as it stands to date, is at the potential of The Edge.

The launch seemed like fun – a bit of music stuff, a few peeps sitting around, obligatory twitter hashtags (including a very cool twitter blimp) and some live streaming. The next day was super quiet – a lot of people still trying to figure out exactly what the crux of the space is about; mandatory technical difficulties (some matter with projectors and labelling – see, technology is really all about the labels) and a lot of touch screens.

I registered for an Edge Account and I’ve got myself a little project planned (even from Melbourne), but i can imagine that if I was in Brisbane, this is a space that would quickly ramp up in my usage. As far as I can tell, it’s like the awesomest library/AV department you’ve ever seen, with a cafe, on the river. I’m not quite sure what some of the meeting spaces will be used for exactly, but if i was a film-maker, or musician, i think they’d be great project spaces to work in for development.

Given the size of the auditorium, i was kinda amused it wasn’t fitted with surround sound, especially given the depth of amazing sound artists in Brisbane, who could probably benefit from a space that was geared more towards a particular array. But the availability of the space and its focus on multi-ness will be interesting to keep tabs on.


It is early days yet and i have no doubt that the esteemed David Cranswick (ex-d/Lux Media Arts) and his team will crank this into something amazing – their workshops alone are enviable. Although i can’t wait until their blog is a little more social and a little less bulletin board. ahem. 🙂

Watch this space peeps.

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

two important things to help

a few of things suck right now:

1. the massive earthquake in haiti.

that fuckin’ sucks. the place is in a total mess, millions of people are dead, dying, wounded, grieving, homeless, desperate, scared and isolated.

i’ve done two important things to help: given extra money to medecins sans frontieres to help with medical supplies and staff (they’re my particular favourite charity, but i’m sure you’ve all got yours that you give money to regularly);

shown gratitude for my amazing life. it seems not quite right to whinge about stuff when there are others who are having a gnarly time of it right now.

2. the tote is closing down.

The Tote, Collingwood, Victoria.

ok, read that bit again, above, where i say that it’s hard to whinge, etc.

i realise that the tote hasn’t collapsed in on itself and collingwood isn’t the epicentre of an earthquake. but, on a local scale, this sucks and i just have to write about it.

for those who don’t know melbourne, the tote hotel is a pub and music venue that has been in the back streets of working-class melbourne for the last 30 years or so. it has been a consistent supporter of underground music that whole time – hosting a ridiculous amount of local and international acts, not to mention people, that has helped make melbourne the kind of place that it is.

my favourite Tote Quote is from an old friend, Ray Ahn:

“I always liked the Tote because it has always been full of good looking well dressed people with immaculate taste. I felt honoured to be among such rock n roll illuminaries. As a Sydneysider I always felt under dressed and daggy there but I always learnt something from there whether it be a sideburn here, a pointy boot there.

And the pinball machine instead of poker machines (Sydney pubs are full of one armed bandits and as an oriental, I can never resist them) is a classy touch.

Well done Tote and thank you”

the state government, in their enlightened crack-down on drunk fuckheads, has decided that, because there have been brawls between bouncers and bogans in the CBD, that a pub with a license until 2am in collingwood (about 10kms away) is deemed ‘high risk’ and needs a heftier licence. one more like the ridiculously unsafe, but state-supported casino has. which costs a ridiculous amount of money and which has forced the owners to close.

i don’t know a lot about running a pub, but i know a fair bit about alcoholism and violence. believe me, the tote is not the cause of violence in the city. this weekend is the last weekend and there is pretty much a round-the-clock vigil-type atmosphere happening.

i’ll be doing two important things to help: writing to my local MP (not to mention posting a blog) and voicing my displeasure; and then going to the pub and paying my respects/showing my solidarity. for a place that has supported my musical taste, created a safe place for me (a single, white female) to go out late at night and shown commitment to music culture in melbourne.

3. police search powers have increased.

due to said crack-down on drunk fuckheads, police powers to search without a warrant have been extended to include ‘blitzes’ on geographical areas that have a history of violence, including ‘train stations and city blocks’.

these blitzes are only allowed to be 12 hours’ long and must be ‘advertised’ 7 days in advance, but they still provide cops with a blanket search.

this means that there is no specific suspicion of illegal activity – they’re looking for weapons and drugs across the board, just in case. it’s like a pre-emptive strike for civility. and i can tell you, they’re not going to be racially profiling anyone. nope, not our victorian police.

and when did this new law get passed? 16th december. that’s right kids, when all the politicians are home having christmas with their kids, or overseas getting the fuck out for a while.

i’m going to do two important things: write about it (tick). as an artist in public, i’m concerned about my right to actually be in public. you know, without an assumption of guilt; then i’m going leave this country for a while. not yet, but soon. it’s all getting a bit weary, so i’m going to go to an ex-nazi state to get away from this proto-nazi state.

i also wanted to write about the lempriere being swallowed sculpture by the sea, but that can wait.

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

The bottom line is not a design tool


Yesterday I finally got to see the inside of the Seaford Surf Life Saving club. The AIA (Australian Insitute for Architects) Award-winning building designed by Robert Simeoni is amazing and after seeing its exterior when first finished, I was hankering to check out the insides and have an delightful coffee in their cafe building, right out on the beach, raising some cash for the Club in the mean time.

I’m not sure how Mr Simeoni feels about it post-occupancy, but there is a big difference between the intentions of the person who designed the space, the person who is running the space and the people who are using it. I can’t speak for the SLSC, but the cafe is such a disappointment – it oozes bottom line design.


The space itself is all clean and raw materials – joined recycled pine beams, marine ply, stainless steel struts and wooden floors. The kitchen itself looks well-designed and full of potential. But, at 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon, there were 5 tables taken, when it should have been rammed (even with the rain) and it was almost as cold and lifeless as the fake bodies being rescued by the crew next door in their surf life-saving drills.


The tables were cheap plastic crap inside (sadly, the beautifully-recycled wooden ones stood saturated outside) and the chairs were even worse. There were off-the-shelf salt’n’pepper shakers (I know, small detail, but so obvious when they’re on the table!) – no sense of either cosiness, or attention to detail. Or even community spirit. It was all a little rushed really.

It is painfully obvious that the owners of the beach cafe have seen dollar signs and tried their best to replicate what they think would be a good look, without a sense of connection, passion or authenticity. Hell, even the line protecting the birds from the glass (or vice versa), was a half-arsed line of orange tape, obscuring the amazing horizon. surely they could have found a better way that that?


When you design (?) with this in mind, you make a cold place and your job difficult. In fact, a place with a little attention to detail, good atmosphere and true spirit – half the effort in running a social environment is taken care of. When people feel comfortable, or welcome, cosy – you know, it’s hospitable – the service, food and quality of coffee doesn’t get quite so much scrutiny and you can afford a bit of leeway.


In this case, with such awkward spaces and empty feeling, the sub-par food, stiff bunch of staff, bad logos and uniforms at the beach cafe (and that title!) were obvious. In fact, we didn’t even want to stay for coffee and/or sweets, that’s how ‘perched’ we felt. given the acclaimed building exterior – a tourist attraction and worth being proud of – it was disappointing.

Additionally, if you want to design across a bottom line – if you have 5 tables an hour NOT making an extra $12 on upscales, for 8 out of 9 hours’ trading, 5 out of 6 days a week, you’re losing a minimum of $2400. Not to mention the lack of customer retention – the novelty of the beautiful building will wear off soon and you have to sustain them somehow.

short black map

a while back i went to the effort to draw a map of melbourne (and inner city suburbs) to map out my fav. places to get a short black. well, since then, i’ve discovered more places to partake in my particular black gold obsession. particular is probably a nicer way to put it, but i called myself a coffee fascist the other day – i’m not sure if it’s accurate, but it’s getting close. the only difference between how i feel about espressos and what could be constituted as fascism, is that i’m not trying to convert others into my brand of coffee-ness. i think.

anyway, here are the new kids on the block (this is not to discount the OGs:


6. nashi
i know, i swore i would never drink coffee from a place that was set up to be kind of like a fast food place. but you know what, the lovely barista there is a coffee snob like me, makes me the best short black to have while i’m waiting and even lets me their sugar and metal spoons to stir in (and not have to use a plastic spoon with packet sugar). that’s love, that is.

7. switchboard
run by a couple of kiwi lads who are just lovely. great lunchtime foodies: the switchboard special toasted sandwich is my favourite. the only gripe – $3.30 for a short black. i don’t know but there’s a psychological $3 upper limit for me.

8. cumulus inc
everyone’s raving about cumulus now, but i was there first. in fact, the gorgeous baristas know our names and they know exactly what to make us. i don’t get down there as often as i’d like now (and i’m selfishly hoping the ridiculous crowds will diminish a little soon). but their coffee is divine. [and they use Single Origin coffee from my second-favourite cafe in sydney. You guessed it, Single Origin.]

9. mr tulk [otherwise known as the proxy meeting room for all RMIT staff and students.]
my first experience of the tulk was an arrogant shit of a hipster giving me and my friend attitude when i asked for a double espresso. we left, vowing never to return.
well, i go there pretty much every day now and they know what i want when i walk in and are just the bomb. i sit and have my little short black, read the business day section of the age (the only section left, and it’s actually quite interesting, believe it or not), before heading back to uni.


5. bistro flor:
555 nicholson st
down the road from my studio and open until 10pm at night. perfect for the late nights.

3. kent st [again]
i know kent st was in the first short black map, but i just have to give it extra props. it is my all-time favourite cafe. almost my favourite place in the whole wide world and worth a second mention.

i’ve still got a few more places to discover (like brother baba budan and st. ali), but the map is getting good now, don’t you think. maybe next i’ll generate an open source-ish google map, like dan did for the modernism map. until then, photoshop it is.

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

short black map

i have a confession to make: i used to order a decaf soy latte.

caffeine used to make me really sick [thanks to a greater addiction to nicotine] and i prefer to not drink cows milk [in an effort to reduce my contribution to a cruel dairy industry].

after going to europe and realising how fruitless it was trying to order all of that in german, i discovered the joy of espresso. oh my. from then, it was all i drank – right through germany, italy, austria and france: at €1 for a shot, it was just the way.

being back in melbourne, the ‘cafe culture’ city, i’ve now discovered that good coffee is not actually a given in this city. sure, there are a whole bunch of great cafes who theoretically make good coffee, but really it’s just mediocre coffee with great milk. fine for your latte-sipping set, but i’ve now joined the black coffee militia. and it’s proving a mission just to find a place to partake in the joy of a good, strong, coffee with depth and body. holy shit – did i just say that?

anyway, just for a bit of fun, i’ve started myself a short black map. i’ve got a few places on it that are ever-reliable on the short-black front. and, in the interest of un’espresso buono, i’m going to track my progess.

unfortunately, this probably means taking several bad blacks for the team, but i’m willing to make that sacrifice. if you’re in melbourne, and have a suggestion for a good espresso, please feel free to contribute. and for the rest of you, well you’ll just have to deal with an occasional post where i wax lyrical about finding a gold mine.

short black map

1. rouge galette. bonjour, ça va? they speak to me in french, know that i just get un café and make a killer brew.

2. pellegrinis. institution. never a bad coffee. sometimes a bit of attitude from the barista, until you start talking italian, then you’re bella ragazza

3. mag nation. i know, you wouldn’t expect magazine valhalla to be up there with great espresso, but believe me, it’s great. the only down side: paper cups: ick.

4. stacks. brilliant. opposite RMIT bookstore and next to melbourne artists’ supplies. perfect, if i could get there in my lunch break.

5. stellini. it’s pretty good. a little on the uncertain side, but it’s certainly worth a spot on the list.

and, seeing as I don’t hang out in the CBD on weekends, i’ve needed to find places closer to home, so i’ve got a map for the north side. although, given i live stone’s throw from the italian centre of the melbourne universe, it’s not that hard to find a good ‘un. but going to the same 4 cafĂ©s is going to get tiresome for my friends.

short black map

1. tiamo. institution. great coffee, fantastic atmosphere, italian conversation and only attitude from 1 or 2 of the barista.

2. DOC. my favourite restaurant. great people, fabulous mozzarella and top coffee.

3. kent st. sleezy, rock’n’roll bar with great stuff on the walls, wicked soundtrack, cute baristas and mind-jarringly great coffee.

4. rosamond. almost perfect coffee, but the best breakfast and ace people. so it makes the list.

so, there you go. completely self-obsessed list of places to get a decent espresso in this city. but it’s not enough i tell you. so the official mission has begun.

Ă  bientĂ´t!

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