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sydney biennale 2008

i know i promised that "tomorrow" i would give you the extended version of my biennale trip, but well, i've been snowed under with paperwork shit. and running around like a blue-arse fly.

OK, so here's my headline: BIENNALE OF SYDNEY 2008 IS THE FUCKING BOMB!!!

As a whole bunch of you may know, I saw a lot of biennales/art festivals last year. in fact since the last biennale of sydney, i've been to sharjah, venice, athens, lyon and ars electronica. plus i went to 150 galleries last year. this doesn't actually mean that i know anything, but it does mean that i have a reasonably decent base for comparison. And i can categorically state that this year's biennale is world-standard. Yes, kids, world-standard.

It's shitloads better than the last one, better than Hans Ulrich Obst's at Lyon and better than Robert Storrier's at Venice. In fact, I would say that Athens is only slightly better, simply because of the context of the theme within the city. But only just. The way that Caroline has grouped artists with absolutely relevant approaches to the idea of 'revolution' was fantastic. She disected and deconstructed the spread of the theme with such alacrity that sometimes i almost wept with excitement. That sounds rather dramatic, but it's true.

And either despite of perhaps because of this, the Australian artists absolutely held their own against the créme de la créme of contemporary art. I know i sound more surprised about that than i should, but please forgive my parochial cynicism. Special gold stars go to Mike Parr, Shaun Gladwell and Raquel Ormella as my personal favourites for stickin' it to 'em.

Day 1
AGNSW: Top 5

Joseph Beuys/Adolf Luther/Raquel Ormella
It took us fucking forever to get there, but we were able to spend a couple of hours at Agnes Wales. not enough time to really see everything, but enough time for me to fawn over the Beuys/Luther/Ormella room - fantastic grouping of artists and these works illustrated Beuys' process of revolutionary philosophy sooooo much better than the Beuys/Steiner exhibition at the NGV last year, simply by having some better descriptions, the video of his speeches and 1 blackboard. And Raquel's revolving/interactive political landscapes on whiteboard were gold. i hoped for a print out. Not to be.

Fischli & Weiss
My dear friend Seb was blagging about how he got to see the Fischli & Weiss show in Hamburg the other week. Well, this was a hella cool close second. All 80 Equilibres photos - the bits and pieces balancing in a state of equilibrium and/or tipping point. The titles are great, but i just loved the sheer volume, the survey of the nuance of balance. Like the difference between The Time At Our Disposal and The Secret of the Pyramids. I think my favourite was As Far As It Goes - a series of objects creating a 'trajectory'.

Gianni Colombo: Elastic Space
I freaked out over this one. It is gasping! It's a black-lit dark space, mapped out with a grid of white string, which glows in the dark. My first impressions were that it was pretty cool, if not slightly reminiscent of Yasoi Kusama's Infinity of the Soul from the APT 4. I thought it could be really cool if the viewer could move the string and change the nature of the grid and therefore the space, but left. Then, on wandering into Dan Graham's piece, I noticed the winch attached to the outside of the space, realised that it was winding the string from Colombo's space, pulling it slowly to and fro. I ran (literally) back into the space to watch it ever-so-slowly morphing and changing into a distorted structure, an elastic space. It was brilliant! I was so delighted and could have sat there for days. And days.

Yoko Ono's phone.
She didn't call. She promised she would. I don't even know if she even will or has. But i promised myself that if the phone rang, I would be unashamed to rush that damned telephone to talk to the Fabulous First Lady of Fluxus.

Michael Rakowitz: Tatlin's Tower
So many reasons to love this work: I love the original. I love Michael Rakowitz (I saw his work at Sharjah and ICA, London). I love architectonic works and I love anything that responds to the political climate. The physical structure is beautiful - made of recycled wood and flying the aboriginal flag as the new revolutionary state. my only pedantic problem with the piece was that the "two tiers of parliament" - the square and triangle - were originally intended to be transparent and revolving, representing the principle of a transparent, revolutionary and rotating (dynamic) government. these spaces in the Rakowitz piece are closed spaces made of rusted corrugated iron. i'm not sure whether this was just an aesthetic and material consideration, whether he's conceptually suggesting that the australian government is closed and rusted, or the aboriginal leadership. perhaps i'm reading too much into it. loved the piece anyway.

Day 2
Cockatoo Island (or Cock Is): Top 5

The Island itself
This venue is the most like the Arsenale at Venice than any of the other venues for the Biennale that I have ever been to. The ferry ride over, the industrial landscape, the buildings in a state of slow degradation. And to be honest, i don't think that's a bad thing.
What i absolutely loved (and kept going on about) with Cockatoo Island is the fact that, relative to a gallery, the place is pretty unsafe - there's crap falling off walls, old stairs, smell toilets, puddles, broken bits, etc. And, while there were some safety barriers and a fair few volunteers keeping an eye on things, it wasn't the constricted panic about public liability that plagues australia as a nanny state. and you know what, the visitors were careful, no one slipped over or cut themselves or cried litigation! which shows me that if you treat people with dignity and respect, give them the responsibility for taking care of themselves and having some accountability, they act like responsible adults! how's that for a revolutionary idea...

Shaun Gladwell
warning: this content is unabashed fan-do. it has a lack of critical objectivity and may be unsuitable for some readers.

Shaun Gladwell is fucking king. I know he's darling of the artworld. I realise that he may, in fact, be an arsehole, but based on his prior work, and the work at Cock Is, he gets an A+ from me.
As some of you may know, i've been doing a lot of thinking about moving through the city on a bicycle and the effect of movement on the rhythm of a city. and, you may also be aware that i've been investigating the role of sound within space and architecture. well mr gladwell has created works that touch on both these aspects (in a way that i could only hope to) and a small work which made me laugh out loud.
his film features guys on downhill bikes popping monos through the back streets of darlinghurst. the cycle and the revolution of time/space tracks past the old jail, the mental institution, the law courts, the health centre that gives out fits and the place where the mob hang out. interesting places to intervene with movement.
Gladwell's pipe organ, made from the tubes of the Specialized bikes was also fucking amazing. An amazing foray into sound vs space vs movement. Also amazing to use those bikes, obviously used by whomever is sponsored by Specialized these days. And still with the markings of their owners: gaffa, stickers, marks and markers. I haven't been that close to a DH bike since I busted my arm at Thredbo, but I almost drooled, remembering the almost-fetish nature of being involved in the sport - where each part of the machine was as collectable as the whole.

And for me, the piéce de resistance was actually the model piece of three upturned DH bikes, alongside three white wooden stools: a contemporary deconstruction of duchamp's readymade. fuck it made me giggle.

Mike Parr
Well may you complain that Mike Parr gets almost a whole pavillion, that he has appeared in the last 3 Biennales, or whatever your gripe is. But you have to admit, his work is phenomenal. Seeing it all in the one place, surrounded by the degrading sailor's quarters and so charged with pathos, it was really powerful. And apparently i missed a whole swag of it, so caught up with writing about the importance of his lips being sewn up. I may just transcribe my garbled notes [next post], just because it was so inspiring. I think, in terms of australian politics, mike parr reminds us to not get complacent either. just because mandatory detention has been revoked and that indigenous politics is being discussed, doesn't mean that freedom of speech and civil liberties are guaranteed and that we must continue to protect them.

The facade at Jannis Kounnelis
OK, so it wasn't made by Kounnelis, (and i did find his work quite beautiful), the facade which made the entrance to his work was exquisite. a throwback from hollywood blockbuster set, it perfectly replicated the chipped brick, steel girders, bolts and rubble. in fact, i only knew it was a facade when i saw one of the volunteers knocking on it.

Jeremy Deller
I didn't get to see the whole thing, but i really enjoyed watching Deller's documentary on the re-enactment of the english miner's strike in the 80s. it's a piece of political/military history that i know hardly anything about (the diary of adrian mole, billy bragg and brassed off being my primary sources of information). i was fascinated with the strategy of allowing the miners a place to process their experience of the strike through recreation, and also as a training ground for riot police in dealing with future strikes/demonstrations. there's something slightly perverse about the whole idea. but it did also switch my perspective to thinking that political action is on the same level as warfare (in terms of re-enactments). i'm looking forward to the miners stirke warhammer figures to come out.

MCA: Top 5

There were loads of awesome works at the MCA this time (unlike last time). I'm only choosing my Top 5, but it's not to say that there weren't a shedload more.

Helio Oiticica's Hammocks
I saw Helio Oiticica's survey at the Tate last year, so it was fantastic to see his work again: room with a series of hammocks and projections of jimi hendrix clips and music. surrounded by music of the 'revolution' - 1969, the year that 'changed the world' supposedly. knackered after trying to absorb all the artwork, i lay in a red hammock for about half an hour. i'm sure some of you were in the queue, waiting for me to fucking leave, but i'm sorry, i didn't care. i just enjoyed the time to absorb and stop. i did wonder how revolutionary laying around in a series of hammocks could actually be. but perhaps that's the point, right?

Allora & Calzadilla/Tony Schwensen
Both these works reminded me about the value of art, in a monetary sense, and the value of a statement, in a conceptual sense. Allora & Calzadilla, when asked to make a work for the biennale for nothing (is this standard practice?) decided to auction off the whole biennale through sotheby's auction house. according to the wall text, sotheby's agreed and then cancelled at the last minute. the result of the process was a drawing of a cheque addressed to the sydney biennale from sotheby's (or the reverse, i can't quite rememember) and an interesting thought about assuming that artists will/can create work for nothing. in fact, it kind of reminded me of my friend sam ismail's response to m&c saatchi's task to turn an A4 piece of paper into a job (sam auctioned it off on ebay and they didn't like that very much).
Tony Schwensen held a barbeque to raise funds for the 2010 Biennale of Sydney in front of the MCA in june. sum total raised for the next Biennale: $732.19 (or thereabouts). I love this acerbic whit and and poignant critique of the truth and committment of arts patronage in Australia.

Olafur Eliasson
I wished I could have seen Eliasson's Weather project at the Tate last year - the images i've seen on flickr have been amazing. And his waterfall/sound projects happening at the moment have been really intriguing, so I was really looking forward to seeing his work in Sydney. Like the rising/setting of the moon, this oscillating light/fan work takes you into cycles and rhythms of earth, from an unexperienced point of view - maybe like google moon, or something.

Geoffrey Farmer
I love a good spacial intervention, so Geoffrey Farmer's hollowed out collages of space were fantastic. Taking advantage of the interstitial spaces, the in-between places of the MCA, Farmer collected the detritus from the venues of the Biennale and other found objects, posting them up, like a collage, into the niches. I think the first one was the best one: it was filled with bits of paper, like graffiti in the girls' toilets, showing a side to art exhibitions that aren't often seen. Then at the end of the space, there was a block and rope with the warning: CLOSED DUE TO SOCIAL REALISM. heh.

His three-part play, cockatoo clock was also a major highlight [click to enlarge]:

As was the brief flirtation I had in the space with the beautiful french boy. Heh.

Guy Debord: Society of the Spectacle
More than any other time, I wish I spoke French. I am really interested into the Society of the Spectacle and Guy Debord's Situationists. I was looking forward to seeing the film version of his theories, but it was largely a grouping of images, with a voiceover. In French. I loved being able to absorb it to the best of my ability and i love the fact that his work was included - it has given me the impetus to learn to parlez française.

And they were just the top 5. there were loads of other awesome works and as a whole, a great festival of contemporary art. If anyone is umming and ah-ing about going to the Biennale, just go. It's bloody briliant.

• I might save my rant about sydney for another day 'cos i've got a rant about transport brewing, and i can tell you that public transport is 90% of what was wrong with the city.

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art bender weekender


Well i’ve just returned from 4 days on an art bender in Sydney and what a helluva 4 days it has been! I’m still catching up on all the stuff I have to do, plus I went to the first of the Blindside Networking Nights tonight, so i’m knackered.

The short version is:

Day 1.
Jade Pegler at WCG

Day 2.
Biennale at AGSNW/Simon Collins at Frances Keevil/Catch up with Dave + AJ

Day 3.
Biennale at Cockatoo Island/MCA/Catch up with Sarah Mosca

Day 4.
Catch up with the kids at NAS

General rave: The biennale was amazing and it was so great to see some of my dear arty farty peeps.
General rant: Sydney city is in a fucking sad state of affairs and I won’t be going back for a while.

The longer version comes tomorrow. It includes blatant, unbiased fawning over Shaun Gladwell, Mike Parr, Jeremy Deller, Joseph Beuys, Fischli & Weiss, plus unabashed ranting over public transport and rude bastards.

Schlaf gut.

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one word meme: via miss jones

1. Where is your cell phone? table
2. Your significant other? dunno
3. Your hair? two-tone
4. Your daughter? annabelle
5. Your son? sam
6. Your favorite thing? warmth
7. Your dream last night? fraught
8. Your favorite drink? coffee
9. Your goal? fulfillment
10. The room you’re in? cosy
11. Your church? truth
12. Your fear? rape
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? home
14. Where were you last night? ArchitectsOB
15. What you’re not? stupid
16. Muffins? thanks
17. One of your wish list items? MEL-LHR-CDG
18. Where you grew up? melbs
19. The last thing you did? ate
20. What are you wearing? black
21. Your TV? nope
22. Your pets? sweetheart
23. Your computer? lap
24. Your life? brilliant
25. Your mood? greatbuthavefearandanger
26. Missing someone? heartache
27. Your car? neglected
28. Something you’re not wearing? rings
29. Favorite store? readings
30. Your summer? anticipated
31. Like(love) someone? naturally
32. Your favorite color? black
33. Last time you laughed? constantly
34. Last time you cried? sunday
35. Who will repost this? noone



lock it in, eddie

Who wants to be a millionaire?
who wants to be a millionaire pic by the inimitable roo reynolds from his flickr spot

today i finally got around to ringing vic roads so i can change my licence to a victorian one. yes kids, cutting the ties that bind.

i made an appointment, realised that i double booked, rang back and transferred it (total hold time: 30 mins). when making the second appointment, customer service agent #2 asked me if i wanted to 'lock it in'. i thought about it for all of .1123 seconds and said yes. the crowd went wild.

i hate 'who wants to be a millionaire' and i think eddie mcguire is a douche bag. but i find it interesting and delightful that "lock it in, [eddie]" has become such a part of our vernacular that even employees of government agencies use it! ha!

And in other roads news, did you know..

that the closest vic roads office to the city, other than next-appointment-is-in-two-months-carlton, is either campberwell or sunshine? and apparently they are equal distance from the city? (Bet campberwellians love hearing that..)

AND, there is a suburb in melbourne called Travancore? The Battle of Travancore... sounds noble, almost.

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tate modern extra bits

nicholas cerota from the tate and architectural überlords herzog & du meuron have 'unveiled' the plans for the tate modern 'bit on the side'.

as much as i love previous work of theirs, as you may have guessed, i'm non-plussed about it. i'll certainly be interested to see how it pans out and what it really looks like, but the current concept maps and mock-ups leave me feeling a little bit, well, fifth element, to be honest.

i know, i'm a philistine.

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having my cake and eating it too

regular readers will know about my crazy roller-coaster ride with employment in the last 12 months:

• getting a job as a kitchen hand in london after a PSFK conference by just walking in off the street. only to walk out by not turning up one day - stressed out and seriously ill.

rejected from a job in a high-volume copy shop/print room after the third interview, because i wasn't M-----t material. (ie, I wasn't from either financial or legal fraternity aristocracy.)

• working over summer at the sydney myer music bowl and getting to see jon bon jovi, cypress hill and kanye west!

• landing a fab job at a craft and design organisation, doing what i love, then having it become something that i didn't love anymore.

• giving up full-time employment to go back to uni, letting go of a 'real' salary in return for some 'real' time whilst getting a job in an international aid organisation, within the design and architecture fields.

• and the clincher for 'oh my god, can my work life get any more operatic?', i went looking for a bit of contract work, just to get a bit of money happening in between gigs. the lovely ms g at the recruitment agency rang me and told me about this short term thing which was right up my alley: arts, culture, environmental/social issues and advertising (ok, so i'm not quite a cliche, yet). i went along, thinking it would be just a nice place to spend some time, earn some money.

two weeks later, it's a life-long love affair and we're vowing to stay in touch. all of them were on my wavelength - we talked structure, the value of creative thinking when developing strategy, the importance of sticking to your principles and the art of staying true to who you are as a person and as a company (made up of people). bliss, i tell you, bliss!

that is the bit about life that i find absolutely amazing and gets me EVERY time - you find it when you're not looking. in fact, hanging out with the kids at midnightsky* not only restored my faith in the gloriousness of life's twists and turns, but restored my faith in the power of authenticity, self-belief and well-aimed business strategy. i have also learned a whole lot about value from these guys. namely that i undervalue myself ALL THE TIME! i knew this already, but this time i saw it with fresh eyes and saw, in practice, that when you value yourself highly and know thyself absolutely (both financially and emotionally), it is reciprocated.

i know, this sounds like something Agony Aunt would love, but it has been quite a profound experience and one that i think marks the passing of age, actually. i don't know if i could have had this kind of experience 5 or 10 years ago (fortunately, or unfortunately).

perhaps this was just a long-winded story filed under 'to thine own self be true'.

* actually, for any of you strategy/planning peeps out there, the midnight sky crew are looking for team mates. go and talk to them, they're amazing.

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from swiss miss, via a cup of jo

how awesome is that poster!

and the irony of it doing the blog rounds whilst there there are two design festivals on in melbourne at the moment. ha! although, perhaps i don't get the last laugh, because instead of being able to get out and about and check all kinds of nutty stuff, i've been indoors all weekend, flat out with a sore back. stupid back.

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i don't care who banksy is

Flower power by Banksy

there. i said it.

in fact, even if it is robin something-or-rather and there are supposed photos, i don't wanna know.

the man has become a sleb without having a more tangible physical identity, so can we just let it stay that way, for god's sake.

it's almost like the only way your MOR appreciators and press can deal with a big deal is if they can write, robin such-and-such from bristol, 35. box, ticked. category fit, actual person to focus on and not the message.

the fact that his 'elusive identity' and the search to unhand that has become such an issue is COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINT, people!

grumble, grumble, grouch, grounch.

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2 things i love about the melbourne international arts festival

...so far:

1. this image.

it's their new branding identity* and i have to say that it's fucking brilliant.
all i can think of is anish kapoor when i see it, but it's still brilliant.

2. i'll be going to see patti smith perform on sunday 12th october!

for those who don't know, this is particularly special to me as i had a ticket to see her at shepherd's bush empire in london on the 20th october last year and had to leave the country 4 days beforehand. i still have the unused ticket in my journal as a heartbreaking reminder. i can cross that regret off my list now. eep!

*i pinched it from their site. i hope they don't mind.

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in the galleries

Forms of Deceit
Counihan Gallery

my dear friend dunja rmandic co-curated her first exhibition and it opened on thursday night at counihan gallery in brunswick. it features a series of artists, who common thread is their focus on deception, distortion and the bending of truth. mostly contemporary works, although there was a fascinating display of painted lightbulbs from finland, where the custom is to throw them off the cliff as the first rays of spring sun arrive over the edge.

other works i enjoyed included the photographic essay by marita lillie on consent and permission - timely, considering the current intense discussion about consent in australian photography happening in the dailies and art mags. [edit: the art life have launched the ultimate 'statement' about art, sexuality and censorship' over on their blog]. i loved the photo of the four afro-carribean girls sitting on a fence, all with whistles around their necks. it was obviously at the notting hill carnival and it reminded me of the fantastic time I had there last year. It also reminded me about all the underlying tension and difficulties that get raised during that festival - both from a socio-political level and an urban/navigaton level.

i loved the slightly-obvious-but-still-amusing neonthis is not a sign by kiron robinson, which was hanging in a cabinet dividing the space. and the jon orth banana skins stapled to the wall spelling aposthetic were beautiful. in fact there's a great pic [on facebook] of the curators and jeff kahn, who opened the exhibition, standing in front of it. cute.

hidden away in its own room was a role reversal, the sound installation by mutstumi nozaki of life in reverse. it was quite good, although not something i felt like listening to, but more to have around.

interestingly, the work which was the feature image on the press, maria stolnik's Untitled, 2007 of a woman with a mask across her face, actually looked better in the gallery than it did as a stand-alone image. the actual masks were displayed, with photographs of them being 'used' or performed with in-situ and these made the whole context for the work change and become a whole lot clearer.

the catalogue is ace. i love a free catalogue with a show - especially 'cos it helps me write a blog post about it, but also gives me time to read the context and let it sink in.

all in all a great show and totally worth the hellish trip up there in the freezing-cold wind.

Darn Thorn, Unknown Zone
Natalie Ryan, A Void
Tim Webster, Affected Urbanism 4
Kings ARI

i hadn't been to kings in a while, so i popped in there on saturday afternoon for a quick peek at their current show, which opened on friday. it's fantastic! a great mix of media, styles and all clear, concise and top-notch. originally my interest was piqued when i read about tim webster's show (having a current obsession with all things urbanism), but i'm so glad i got to see the rest of the works too.

darn thorn's wallpaper works are beautiful, cinematic and haunting works that remind me a little of twin peaks, a little of lost and quite a bit of izabela pluta's wallpapers. that front gallery at kings is the perfect space for them and the lighting was amazing - just single spots which corresponded to the spot lighting of the works. noice.

natalie ryan made some very creepy looking figures from black material (didn't catch exactly what, but it looks like valour). the installation is a diorama of black ground, black figures and as such becomes completely about something else. the forms become purely formalist, the objects become metaphors or codes for who knows what and the whole piece becomes about mystery. it's great. and lovely to draw too.

tim's work was not as grand as i thought it was going to be, but i still really got a lot out of it. two video/moving works: both of urban indicators - one more literally than the other. red light green light was alternating red/green traffic lights over two screens, like an urban rhythm, or dance. the indicators piece was a grid of 6 flashing orangey-yellow indicators of different shapes and patterns. i realised how much the shapes of these things tell a lot about the car: the age, the brand, the model, all which can give clues into the people driving the vehicles. these codes are especially urban, only really noticed in the bumper-to-bumper-ness of traffic congestion.

and, same as before, top show - go and see it before it finishes at the end of the month.



when is a city a city?


is a whole bunch of big and impressive buildings put together a city? or does it feature other things? is the mark of a city in its infrastructure? roads, traffic systems, street signs, etc. or can you have a city without all of them? if there is no urban planning, is there no metropolis? and what about the people? can you have a city without buildings at all, just citizens?

again, inspired by the rmit architecture studio, where there was a megalopolis of models, all on the one table. it just got me wondering, that's all.


Envy and Jealousy Week

coloured card disc letter j E McElman_071126_2006 Bead Letter L o-sf4 U - up DSC_1641
words from here

I am jealous of those who do stupid things and feel no shame. I am jealous of the dead for their reduced workload, jealous of newborn babies for their clean records. I'm jealous of those older than me for what they know, and those younger than me for what they don't. I am jealous of dogs who don't think about living, or dying, they just do.
[excerpt from Dave Morrison's Jealousy]

Inspired by my crazy horoscope guy, I've decided to post my own version of the poem:

I’m jealous of people who are in loving, fulfilling relationships – they know what it means to share love.
I’m jealous of those who have money - they never have to worry about not having it.
I’m jealous of my friends in the northern hemisphere right now who are having summer and get see great art at the drop of a hat.
I’m jealous of dead artists – they get the acclaim and financial reward from their art and never have to write an application.
I’m jealous of my mother’s stunning beauty and of the girlfriends of the boys i’m in love with.
I’m jealous of people who have fantastic book collections. And record collections. And art collections.
I’m jealous of people who possess grace and of those who think before they speak and act.



blatant prostration

as some of you may know, i'm kind of into design, art and architecture. in melbourne next week is the design capital conference and i no longer have a ticket [minor detail of having to still work for an organisation in order to take advantage of the professional development opportunity].

anyone got a freebie? or not able to make any of the days? i'd love to check out lots of the speakers on day 2, but hey, i'm not fussy! or subtle.



what's in my bag


i found this pic yesterday. taken after the project at CERES, i had literally dumped all the stuff outta my bag. it mostly reflects the kind of crap i carry around anyway. minus the rubbish, cucumber and deodorant - that was site-specific. [andy dear, don't go there, it'll only disappoint.]

and these days i'd also add lip balm, my new ipod, a metal (as opposed to plastic) fork and a scarf. and my laptop is usually close by.

what's in your bag?


airports, design and emotion

i wrote here a while back about my particular relationship with airports and air travel. in fact, i discovered a hot book called airplane the other day at gemma's place - all the cool stuff about airplanes. naturally including ms penelope-inspired hostess outfits from the 70s. swoon!

but this is not a post about pan am. or pam ann

when i was at the RMIT architecture open studio thing, i was checking out the lower pool concept drawings and projects - quite a few at docklands (yawn), a stadium and and one which caught my eye about airports. while the sketches and mock-up didn't altogether float my boat, there was a strategy diagram which underlined the whole reasoning behind her project which was amazing - focusing on the sad, happy, lonely and waiting places of airports. yes, that's right kids - emotions! the intangible, but incredibly real element of human-ness in airports. i can't tell you how pleased i was to see this appear in the working docs for the plans.

i'm not an iconoclast. i like a building to look beautiful. but i also firmly believe that architecture has to work. it has to support the process for which it is intended. it has to respond to the brief (which, interestingly, i heard as the main difference between craft and design). what i think happens a lot of the time is that the brief can easily get swallowed up in the tangible: on time, on budget, OH&S standards, building codes, material considerations, door widths, step heights, dimension, depth, reflections, etc, etc. of course those things are important, but and then don't forget about the fact that within that space, somebody is going to feel something.

this is the bit that keeps me thinking about place and looking at space, is this consideration for how somebody feels somewhere. and perhaps good architectural design - be that exterior, interior, landscape or urban, is the best possible consideration for our emotions.*

*which just got me thinking again about empathy. hmm. spaces for empathy.

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no pens or pencils allowed

Interesting Sketchbook P5

i know the ngv went through this a while ago. i know they've got some good reasons for it (mostly financial, really), but can i just say that i'm fucked off that i won't be able to take a pen or pencil in to sketch their winter masterpieces Art Deco show next week? i'm a student and will be taking advantage of their extra discount, but what's the point in encouraging students to see the show, if you can't actually learn from the show in a way that is helpful: ie, writing about and sketching about the show? ok, so as i write that, i can see that there are other ways to learn from the show, but as an artist and a student of art, architecture, design, craft, etc. [ie, all the good stuff of the art deco era], i get the most out of an artwork when i can stand in front of it and draw it. i process it on a very deep level and can learn by imitation from master artists and craftsman.

if a public institution is serious about having educational quality, surely allowing people to learn on this level is important? or am i just being selfish?

UPDATE: this says it all, really

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summer of design books

ben from noisy decent graphics has opened up his blog for reviews of design books.

it's summer there right now so of course everyone in london has plenty of time to read the stack of books that gather on the bedside table, while gettings tans and sipping pimms.

i don't have such luxury, but i stumbled on a cool book the other day that i wanted to review anyway, so thought i would do so here and for ben's books (also a great bookstore in bentleigh, in case you were asking).

Designed Maps
Cynthia Brewer

i've become a bit of a fan of maps. since i did some travel around europe last year i realised that there's a definite art to developing that little valuable set of codes and indicators that will (when it comes to tourist maps) be mauled like it's a baby's dummy (pacifier for those NYC peeps). so when i walked into my trust RMIT library and saw this on the 'just released' shelf, i thought i'd check it.

and actually it's pretty cool! it's for GIS Users, which I'm not. and it is probably the geekiest thing i have ever thought was cool (aside from twitter). But i did enjoy checking out the difference between an infrastructure map, topographical map, tourist map and geo-political map. i know, it's kind of obvious, but when they're all together, and when each of those ones has a variety of scale, colour, type, etc, it's quite an interesting lesson in design and visual heirarchy:

Book deets:
Title: Designed maps : a sourcebook for GIS users / Cynthia A. Brewer.
Author: Brewer, Cynthia A., 1960-
Item ID: 31259009136388
Call #: 526.0285 B758
Publisher: ESRI Press.

OK, so it may not be the next hit wonder on the 'must read' list, but if you're into design, urban design, drawing, mapping, place - whatever, then it's an interestingl little book to check out.

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bus gallery: jeremy bakker, alone together

A piece from Alone Together
image thanks to betsyinoz from flickr

last week, the delectable miss jones and i went to bus to check out the space. [we're going to be doing a collaborative work there, and i'll be showing some works from abracadaver there separately, but at the same time. if you're asking.]

of course we couldn't resist checking out the shows that were on and were delighted with jeremy's exhibition which took sound as a departure point. there was an array of works: drawings, relief sculptures, readymades, paintings, photographs and some video works, all looking at white noise, miniature multiple, static, colour and aural perception. they were all great, although both gemma and i went absolutely ga-ga over a pencil drawing of tiny circular forms. so exquisite! and we just loved this 3D wall piece, with those little cone thingys sticking out of the wall, like megaphonettes. at the other end were little images of what initially appear to be either mouths or ears. turns out they were belly buttons, which was slightly creepy, but thrilling nonetheless.

unfortunately, if you didn't get to see it, the exhibition finished last weekend. but if you're going to the young writer's festival as part of This Is Not Art (TINA) - which i know you all are, jeremy's part of the artextart exhibition up there.

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