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blatant self-promotion #232

melody ellis, who has had an awesome history of arts admin/curating/getting-stuff-done type stuff, has started a new thang in her home town of canberra. garage openings, literally in the garage of her place, shared with sarah logan, is the new site for emerging and contemporary art bits and pieces.

their first show is feathering the nest, a mail-art project, where artists have been invited to send a work via the post. 'so long as it fits in an envelope' was the primary requirement. all works will then become a 'nest' in the space - a true mashup.

i sent along some of the patterns/wallpaper works from 1300 x 740 x 47, which became bias, which has now had another cool manifestation (more on manifestation and installation another time). and getting the works back is optional (and i, for one, haven't requested mine back), so it's becomes more about the participation, rather than some kind of commodity.

so if you're in canberra , head to the opening! mel is going to send me pics, which will end up on flickr, so keep an eye out.

the deets:

feathering the nest
opening night: saturday 4 april 6-8pm

garage openings
68 hopetoun circuit
yarralumla, ACT

UPDATE: Here's the list of artists:
Marc Alperstein
Jonathan Baskett
Zanny Begg
Lauren Brown
Kate Carr
Monica Carroll
Melody Ellis
Marc Freeman
Somaya Langley & Christian Malejka
Sarah Logan
Annette Marie
Paul McGee
Brendon McKinley
Sarah Mosca
Vedanta Nicholson
Kalina Pilat
Francesca Rendle-Short
Spyridon Simotas
Peta Sirec
Richard Spellman
Alison Spence
Sarah St Vincent Welch
Casey Temby
Nella Themelios
Amy Thompson
Stedman Watts
Zuza Zochowski

image credit: nest in a tree, melody ellis.

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matilda mouse, max and monsters

this week has been filled with lots of cool stuff that reminds me about being a kid - swimming in the pool after dark, cycling in the sun, my mum's birthday, kids books and kids-books-as-movies.

tonight i found out about the seriously-long-awaited release of matilda mouse by simon griffin. simon is the brilliant copywriter from love, all round top bloke and fabulous childrens' story writer and i was lucky enough to get an audio book version of his book when i was in manchester in january. it's such a beautiful story and add to that a series of amazing illustrations, snazzy double gatefold in the middle and the smell of ink, and you have a very awesome childrens' book about a little mouse with hiccups.


i know that everyone in the universe has posted the trailer, but i couldn't resist.

where the wild things are is finally seeing the light of day.

a dear friend worked on the production, so i feel like i kind of know it a little more than i ordinarily would about a film. which means i'm super excited.

i'm usually a purist about books and their film adaptations. [i've only ever like one adaptation and that was, believe it or not, hitch hikers guide to the galaxy - mostly because of the cast.]

but this is one i'm going to break my rule and watch. how can you put spike jonze, dave eggers and that beautiful production design in a room and it not be at least worth $15. i have to wait 'til october, but that's probably for the best, because i'm kinda busy until then anyway. heh.

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public sound vs accoustic privacy

Broken Sony_StudioL

there have been a few times when i've sketched out my research on this blog and i'm afraid i'm going to have to do it again. apologies to those who think it's frightfully dull. as penance, i promise i'll soon post about some of the most-excellent exhibitions i've seen.

but until then, it's going to be a sketch on what my masters project is on. i handed in my proposal last week, but the whole thing is going to start taking shape, bit by bit over the next little bit. so i figure, that in the spirit of GenWhy and Web 90210, i thought i might post it here too.

it's a dry kind of post, but it's a starting point and i'll probably expand stuff into it over the next few months. of course, any feedback is always welcome :)

Soundproofing the city: Public sound vs acoustic privacy

What do you want to research and with what end in mind?
Investigate the relationship between sound in public and acoustic privacy, and the role that access to silence/quiet urban space has on the public sphere, through art means (as opposed to architecture, design and/or policy).

How will you conduct your research?
Being a conceptual installation artist, I will use a variety of means to conduct the research:

• Initial theoretical work will be done through reading and traditional research on areas of acoustics, sound art, public art and cultural theory.

• Community-based work/workshop will then be conducted in order to 'test' one aspect of the research in relational and qualitative terms.

• Using technology and public action in order to test the sonic/acoustic public space and the difference from private sound, in quantifiable terms, with the role of the artist occupying the public sphere as an important factor.

• A series of large-scale and city-wide public works will be developed as concepts, with a view to implementing a select few on a small-scale.

A rough timeline is as follows:

4 April
Community work Harvest Festival CNH

May - June
Public sound drawings/action Selected public locations and institutions

Community work Living in Art Festival

Early September
CBD public works Public toilet

Early October
CBD public works Public transport (possibly for TINA)

October Conceptual works
Building headphone

Why is this research worth doing? (boy i had to resist the answer: "it's not. art produces enough crap as it is")

The divide between the public sphere and that of the private has traditionally been a discipline of media/communication/cultural studies. Artists like PVI Collective, Guerilla Disco and Franis Alÿs have begun to address the issue through the visual arts, bringing it into a 'whole of society' issue. This research continues an interest in the line between public and private life and aims to improve a functioning public/political life through creating stability in the private life. The political nature of public art and its role in encouraging engagement from 'the public' is an important one in a country with an increasing level political complacency.

Simultaneously, acoustic engineering and its role in public policy, urban planning, architecture and landscape development is relatively recent phenomenon (but one with increasing importance) as the city and urban environments become the primary built environment. This research is an added reminder that Public Art has an equally important role in the discourse about die Öffentlichkeit (public sphere).

What will you produce?

Part 1: Mobile privacy

Poorly designed public housing means that residents are deprived of acoustic privacy and security, resulting in sleep-deprivation, insecurity, petty arguments and other anti-social behaviours that infect live in public.

This project is a workshop with the residents of The Collingwood Housing Estate at The Harvest Festival, in which residents will customise headphones, as means to block out ambient noise from public spaces, transport and neighbouring residents, known to cause social problems in areas with high social and spatial density.

'Mobile Privacy Kits' will be developed to fasten to the headphones. These include cardboard discs, felt, paint, wire and a selection of text (in English, Arabic and Spanish) including: 'ssssh', 'I have the right to be left alone ', 'having a quiet moment', 'privacy' etc.

Part 2: Public noise vs private sound
Psychoacoustics, or the perception of sound, has links with psychogeography as one way to map, or experience the city and die Öffentlichkeit. This project measures public ambient sound, and private sound taken into the public space - primarily music through headphones and externalises this liminal space.

Drawings will be made by occupying a selection of public spaces (the artist in the public space) and mapping the ambient sound using the online Sound Drawing Tool by ze frank and the iphone application: Wide Noise. The images will represent the sound of those spaces - both private public, and then will be overlaid as the difference between the two. The drawings will also map the conceptual action of being and listening to sound in die Öffentlichkeit.

Part 3: Soundproofing the city
This aspect of the project looks at the spaces of public life that are acoustically sensitive - places in which "private" sound is experienced or that inhabit the divide between public and private spaces, and therefore sounds.

These places will be soundproofed, using a collage of current soundproofing materials and art-based materials: felt, foam, rubber, wool. In order to reduce noise and amplify the experience of privacy. Two types of places have been currently earmarked: a public toilet and an aspect of public transport.

Simultaneously, a building in the CBD will have a huge pair noise-cancelling headphones attached to it. The aim is to have this happen in real life, although this aspect of the project may end up being solely conceptual, due to time and financial and engineering constraints.

Selected preliminary list of readings and references.

People to talk to
Pablo Romera - Arup Sound Lab, Melbourne
Derek Thompson - Bassett Acoustics
Romaine Logere - SIAL
Lawrence Harvey - SIAL
Dan Hill - UTS//City of Sound
Russell Davies - The Really Interesting Group//interestingsounds

Voice Drawing Tool by Ze Frank
Responds to sound through line: a clockwise curve for a soft noise, a counter-clockwise noise with a thicker line in response to a loud noise.

WideNoise by WideTag
Measures and maps the decibel output of its current location.

Public Art, ed Matzner, Florian Matzner; 2001; Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany.

Practice of Everyday Life, De Certeau, Michel; 1984; University of California Press, Berkeley.

Public Good, ed Slater, Marnie and Booker, Paula; 2008; Enjoy Art Gallery; Wellington.

Music, cognition, and computerized sound : an introduction to psychoacoustics; 1999 ed Cook, Perry R; MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Master handbook of acoustics, Everest, F. Alton, 1994, TAB Books, Philadelphia

A-Level Psychology Through Diagrams, Grahame Hill; 2001; Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Sensation and Perception: An integrated approach, Schiffman, Harvey Richard; 2001; John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Experience and the Public Sphere, Negt, Oskar and Kluge, Alexander; October - The Second Decade 1986 - 1996, ed. Krauss, Rosalind et al, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Listening and Sound: Phenomenology of Sound, Don Ihde, 1976; Ohio University Press, Ohio.

Privacy, A manifesto, Sofsky, Wolfgang; 2008, Princeton University Press, New Jersey.

Human Performance and Ergonomics, Hancock, Peter A.; 1999; Academic Press, San Diego.

Online references
Rane pro audio reference guide; http://www.rane.com/par-h.html
Wikipedia references on : noise
haas effect

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music and sound and art and craft and technology and stuff and that.

On Friday night i went to the last performance/public program event for Viva La Craft - the Chicks on Speed extravaganza* at Craft Vic and had the best time. In fact, the whole exbhitition has been totally inspiring for me.

The Chicks are amazing artists who combine craft,fashion,art, technology, music, sound, performance in their multi-disciplinary practice. They just make stuff. They're incredibly intelligent, focussed, friendly, political, inclusive and innovative gals. Hella inspiring to just throw of the shackles of image-based insecurity and just get into it. Just make stuff.

On friday night, they collaborated with another inspiration local artist, Dylan Martorell, and made the most amazing combined soundscapes i've heard in ages. Dylan does a pretty hot job of sound/art production as it is - being a maker of musical instruments, technology whizz, creator of whacky plant-based scores and general rad dude - and his work is all about the growth of a space, whether that's through nutty potato forms, or a soundspace, his organic (for want of a much less overused term) process was spot on for this.

Melissa &amp; Alex of Chicks on Speed

Add to that the stuff that the Chicks on Speed make: image and sound repetitions that create rhythm and melody: the images of painted fingernails slapping girls bums, fingernails scraping, stiletto heels scraping, a zip being done up in slow-motion and the occasional distorted scream. Plus they had their own instruments: sampler, these amplified headware contraptions that looked like felt french horns, plus the shoe guitar. All of it was an amazing cacophony of sound and sound-base art production, that was melded into a working rhythm between the 3 artists.

And the images/object surrounding the space were all so amazing - a complete mash-up and intervention into the gallery: Pipes from the ceiling, patchwork on the walls, string and fabric, and light projection and people everywhere. Good stuff.

The whole performance got me completely psyched, as did the exhibition and other performances. Lately i had been a little, well, consumed by my own self-consciousness. I had been retreating into myself a little and playing it a bit safe with my own personal aesthetics. Doing silly things like being concerned more with a flabby tummy than fucking with the stereotypes associated with fashion. Thankfully, i had a good kick-up the pants with this show and am releasing some of those dumb shackles and am inspired again to just 'fuck shit up'.

PS - If you haven't been to see the exhibition, go. For crying out loud, go. It's amazing. Unfortunately the artists left Oz yesterday, but the installation and tapestry theramin, the sewing table and clay lumps are still there. And if you don't check it out, may you be stuck in a rut forever.

*most excellent description lovingly borrowed from miss dell stewart.

image credits: Girl Monster applique wallpiece, Chicks on Speed
Melissa and Alex from Chicks on Speed, by Faythe Levine on flickr.

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proxy required in vienna

[click to enlarge]

could someone in vienna please go to this at MAK for me? (marita and alex?)

or even better, could someone in vienna please ship me over so i can see the show? [and pop in and see marita and alex]

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please give a fuck.

Amsterdam Sloterdijk

sorry about the swearing so early in the piece. can't be helped sometimes.

it's just a quick rant. in three parts. about private organisations providing public services. or perhaps not, as the case certainly is. in fact, when i grew up, all these industries were owned by the public. then, of course the 1990s happened. and john howard/jeff kennett happened and, well. look what we have now:

banks (financial infrastructure)

my bank charges me $2.50 to use another banks' teller. then that bank charges me $1.50 because i'm not their customer! what the fuck? last night it was cheaper to buy something at the IGA and get money on EFTPOS, than it was to use the banks' own infrastructure, to use the banks' services.

now, i might add, is not a good time for banks to be arseholes. and i know we've all whinged, but for god's sake, i'd like us to actually do something. what the hell is consumer regulation for, if its not preventing this kind of double-dipping. add insult to injury: UK banks don't charge a thing to use the ATM. in fact, they boast about it!

UPDATE: yes! the public have spoken (as has the ACCC) and banks aren't allowed to double-dip. they're still allowed to pillage you with fees, but no double-dipping at least.)

telstra (comms infrastructure)

i broke up with telstra years ago. in fact, as soon as T2 got off the ground and the service took a major dive, i switched teams. not that the others were all that much better, but as government infrastructure/structure/organisation, it was shit.

my mum and my sister kept on. they stayed loyal, believing that a company with years of service would aim to improve over time. nah-uh!

last week i rang my mum and her phone was disconnected. i called her mobile and she was in tears from frustration. they pay their bill automatically - each month - and are always in credit. in fact, telstra recently sent them back a cheque because they were in credit so much. telstra switches their systems and suddenly the money is not paying for the bill (but turning into a rebate cheque, douchebag) and their account goes into the red, while my mum calls the offshore call centre, trying to get an answer. being told that they have to pay the bill before the discrepancy with their credit (ie, telstra's fuck-up) gets fixed. then, still not able to speak to anyone who knows what the hell is going on, each time getting a different answer, but the same runaround, the number gets disconnected and my mum becomes homicidal. and, the problem still isn't sorted.

not only that fucking appalling example of service, but they are in serious fucked-up land at the moment and i can't believe that the ombudsman, the ACCC, the australian people in general and the government aren't on their heiny! here's the awesome timeline of events for the once-public company:

government brings in big-gun CEO, govt sells majority share and goes public. telstra focus all their resources into a decent dividend. cut costs by going off shore. worsening service, customers leave. no money coming in, so the service gets worse. exploit cheap foreign labour, local workers get sacked. CEO breaches contract, gets A$20 million pay out, share price drops and the shareholders are fucked. how shit is that!

this is what happens when public infrastructure (ie, communications cabling, workers' skills, telephone poles, manholes, switchboards, mainframes - the whole lot) goes from being owned by the taxpayer. to being shared between people who can afford to buy it (when they say 'public', they mean, open to purchase by those not directors. it isn't owned by the wider public). interests are privatised and the wider public are disempowered in the machinations of their own lives.

connex (transport infrastructure)

i know that many have ranted about the bastard lovechild of jeff kennett and an inflated ego, but you can't talk about failing private - public infrastructure without mentioning the trainwreck that is connex (at least in this state).

i don't think any amount of spin is going to improve their image, and given that the contract is up for tender v. soon, it will be interesting to see what happens with public transport in melbourne in the near future.

unfortunately, given the lack of money everywhere, financing major capital works and infrastructure is going to be harder than ever, but i really don't think melbourne/victoria will cope with current population growths without drastic improvements. the eddington report was a pile of shite and has done nothing to ease the pain of catching public transport. in fact, i praise some kind of higher being on a daily basis that i am a cyclist and only have to go near P(M)T on the weekends while visiting the parentals.

looking through the World Transit Maps book the other day, i couldn't help but being completely confused how a city like Hamburg, with a population of 1.8 million, can have a good, integrated system for half our population? i know that Germany itself has a larger population, but the transport system is still state-based.

I don't know what it takes to nationalise privatised infrastructure, but if it's at all possible to do, i think now is a most-excellent time to do so. at least for the trains. private partnerships can still exist for electronic ticketing systems (will they just get the oyster team in here please?) and labour, but the inability for a private company to maintain cohesion with the public is so obvious at the moment that it's embarrassing. in fact, the only thing that the government and connex have to thank for the continually bursting peak trains is that petrol prices, environmental awareness and inflation have been successful in encouraging people to reduce their reliance on cars. pity the government hasn't been able to pick that one up.

more importantly, all of these public 'institutions' which have become private 'firms' have been allowed to fall by the wayside because the level of ownership by the politic has been complacent. I would love to see Australians actually give a shit about their systems and infrastructure and take action, vote, write to local members, protest, whinge to the Herald-Sun or 3AW if you have to. But make some goddamn noise about it and become accountable for the state in which we live, and stop being whining victims - it's s000 19th Century.

image credit: amsterdam sloterdijk by just a guy who likes to take pictures


unexpected gems of insight and eloquence.

"It is nostalgia repurposed as originality under guise of danger, yet it is none of the three.
Attempts to use a humor framework to justify the "game" is simply another game, and is to be denounced as such."

From DB1.

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has anyone noticed...

there are way more people busking for cash in melbourne at the moment? like non-professionals: off key, crazy harpsichords, strange versions of traditional songs.

times are getting tougher much quicker than i thought.

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public societies

my public life is sometimes fun

After I slovenly put together that last post about secret societies, i found myself divvying up (with my stepdad) this week's Australian Literary Review, which seemed to have rather a lot of articles relating to the business of being a citizen - politically engaged and discussing issues pertaining to the broader notion of the public sphere.

I thought it was kind of a nice pendulum swing from the interstitial space of being in a secret society: neither public nor private.

Firstly I was excited to see that Jock Given wrote about the notion of privacy, using the ALRC's recent review of Australia's Privacy Act, For Your Information, as a prompt to review three publications which address the notion of privacy and 'the public sphere' - specifically in the media/comms realm, but still relevant to this little bunny (who, in case you hadn't picked it up, is interested in art that addresses the line between public and private spheres).

Given reviewed The Spy in the Coffee Machine by Kieron O'Hara and Nigel Shadbolt; Blown to Bits by Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen and Harry Lewis and Privacy: A Manifesto by Wolfgang Sofsky (one which I own). He broke the reactions to contemporary issues of privacy within the books into three 'camps': the 'get-on-with-its', the 'get-over-its' and the 'get-out-of-its': those that accept the changing nature of privacy, those who advocate it and those who rebel against it.

Some of the gems from the articles include:

...public melieux where one would not ordinarily expect to indulge in hightly private or intimate behaviour... (as a definition of the public sphere, in relation to surveillance)


"...Privacy to them (authors of Blown to Bits) is not a right to be separated from society, but one that makes society work. People need room to experiment, to deviate from accepted social norms, because there are no universally and permanently satisfactory one. They also need to develop and rehearse independent thought before its public exposure..."

Then, after a great article by Robert Dessaix on the Archbishop of Canterbury's book on Fyodor Dostoevsky (one of my literary lushes), I read what was left of an article by Mr Kathy Lette - Geoffrey Robertson, about suggested format for our bill of rights. An excerpt from his upcoming book, Statute of Liberty: How Australians Can Take Back Their Rights, it was surprisingly rousing for me. I had tears in my eyes reading some of the statements to which Australians would pledge (according to Robertson's proposal).

Most of them were fantastic, in tone, intention and content. I only had two minor issues with them:
Article 9, The Right to a Fair Trial is obviously taken straight from current statutes and not edited, as it all says "he" this and "to him" that. All the other rights are gender-equal and I would like to think that at the end of the first decade in the 21millenium, Australian's first bill of rights would be one that addresses the rights of all citizens - in content and language.

And then Item iii of Article 15, Right to Own Property, states that "there shall be no confiscation of private property by the state other than when it is in satisfaction of a judgment deb or if it is reasonably suspected to be the proceeds of crime". Whilst technically not confiscated, there is no mention of the fact that land which is being repatriated to Indigenous communities will be done so according to the Native Title act. Technically this contravenes the idea of all 'owning' land. I would like to think that Australia's first bill of rights would acknowledge this important process of our national identity.

In fact, between those two rather chunky articles, it felt like I had read the kinds of things that should be discussed in mass media publications: the business of being a citizen: the politics of public life, rather than the private lives of people who have a higher paid stylist than me.

Wouldn't that be something!

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secret societies: public or private?

last weekend i went to a club night i go to (mostly) each month. after some trouble and/or craziness at the last one, the organisers decided to be quite strict with the dress code.
"make an effort, or no entry" was the word on the street. ermm.. or the facebook invite :)

which is fine - i usually make a bit of an effort anyway. this time i went as full tilt as i had - furryy collared coat, high-waisted 40s skirt, quiff, stilettos. i had a ball and thought i looked ok, until i got to the door and was refused entry. i practically had to beg to get in, after having to take off my coat to prove that i was 'dressed up' and had tattoos, etc. and then, when in the club, found myself resentful and comparing everyone to make sure that all were at appropriate standard.

i felt quite ill and didn't really appreciate being in a sub-culture that generates that kind of segregation and separation, for the sake of 'safety'. methinks a little smarter 'crowd control' is in order. or an actual guest list. like the big kids do.

apart from it slightly spoiling my night, it did get me thinking about this strange concept of secret societies: the freemasons, the speakeasy, alcoholics anonymous and the secret seven.

is a secret society deemed private? or part of the public sphere? considering one's behaviours are regulated by the populace, and you are not in your own home, there's a leaning towards that of a public or political group. but then again, there's the idea that you have a sense of privacy within a secret society, that there is security and withdrawl from the greater public.

then again, perhaps the attraction or place of these societies in the greater public realm is that they inhabit the divide between public and private - that they provide social interaction that is neither and/or both public and private. that morals and conduct and finances and a sense of community are all addressed for >1, but at very controlled levels.

i have no great conclusion to this idea, but it's something i'm now very interested in... hmmm... [insert chin stroking and pensive look here].

image credit:
Freemasons' Hall, originally uploaded by ɹǝɯıʇɹoɯ

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in socio-economic terms, it's all fucked.

socialism doesn't work in practice, because the reality of the situation is that humans are inherently greedy and want what they want.

and then capitalism fucks out with increasing frequency because humans are inherently greedy and the privileged will always contain the power.

and, quite frankly, all the other options are just too grim to think about.