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death 2.1

i found out today (via facebook) that an old friend died a couple of days ago. the synchronicity is shit.

pig, i hope you've finally found your big sexy robot in the sky.



attention architects


if there are any architects who have had to good sense to buy a ticket to the saturday workshop at the parallax conference with slavoj zizek (in melbourne next weekend), but who sadly can't make it and need to find a replacement 'delegate' - i'm happy to step up :)

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as easy as


when i was in london last time, i popped along to help out at an opening for the east end arts club in shoreditch. EEAC are as close to an ARI as london has right now and it's such a relief to go to a gallery where things are not in absolutely pristine order. i like my regularity, but please give me something that's a little loose every now and again too. i know that sounds like a backhanded compliment to helen and the gang, but i promise, it's all love.

anyway, their next project is about the alphabet.

anyone that has ever been within coo-ee of the east end should have a relationship with the alphabet. between eine's shutter door alphabet series, the myriad of art spaces, graphic and/or design studios and book shops, the east end loves its letters.

so, obviously it makes sense for the east end arts club to have a group exhibition about those 26 adorable figures. featuring 26 artists with all kinds of interpretations of the alphabet, 'said, why eggs?' is going to be ace. there'll be an installation by Swifty, which should be interesting, and a bunch of lovely LtdEd prints on sale too. [i'm lookin' at you, mr gower...].

the deets:
"Said, why eggs?"
Private view: Thursday 7th May 6-9pm
Saturdays 12-4pm
Sundays 12-6pm Until 31st May

Swanfield Yard
2b Swanfield Street E2 7DS (Just off Redchurch Street, top Brick Lane) [ooh, and grab a bagel on the way.. heh]

Swifty/Catherine Aguilar/Helen Lang/Mark Perronet/Tate Sisters/Phil Sheffield/Jess & George/Trent Siddharta/Anthony Peters/Chu/Ben Allen/Angie Crowe/Lucie Sheridan/Art House/James Brown/Bangkokney Belle/Michael Vanderson/Hennie Haworth/Jennifer Camilleri/Owen Tozer/Alan Dempsey/Amy Wicks/Elliott Wilson/Ben Eine/DrD


death 2.0


it's time to talk about death again.

ok, so i happen to have an exhibition about death and magic coming up soon, but this post was primarily sparked by the experience of a friend and the recent passing of JG Ballard. this friend, whom i happen to know IRL, but only because i first knew him online - through our blogs, friend's blogs and the early, heady days twitter (where we blogged about having cups of tea, and no-one used tiny.url).

anyway, i had been in email contact with john while he was in new york and not long after he returned and in it he mentioned that his mum was quite ill - she'd fallen whilst he was away and was back in hospital. it was more serious than her previous long-term illness had been.

i didn't hear anything for a while, figured that everything was going OK, although he was strangely absent from some of the usual online blagging and there were some cryptic 'take care' kind of comments flying around on other blogs, but nothing all that clear.

then, last week, in a blog post about bureaucracies and customer service, he slipped in an innocuous line "i had to register a death the other day"...

now, being a maths whiz, i put 2 and 2 together and emailed him. we spoke and i got the full story about his mum's death. i was shocked and saddened. and, unsurprisingly, i felt quite powerless and that i should have known what happened somehow.

in our discussion about it, we spoke about death and how announcing death within the digital social realm doesn't have any etiquette yet. it's easy to celebrate people's weddings, announce the birth/conception of your first child, birthdays, parties - all other kinds of social rituals and customs - except death. i'm yet to see a facebook tag of people at the funeral. including the dead guy. [blogging about the end of your own terminal illness seems to be ok, but not so that of others']

announcing the death of your loved ones on your blog, or as a facebook update/tweet is still a bit, well, rank. but how do you notify people who are now friends with you primarily through these means. we've all got permission now to be friends with people just in binary form, but how are the more complex or intimate elements of friendship broached?

i thought about emailing the people who i knew, mutual friends, to let them know that doddsy's mum had died (because he sure as hell didn't want to) - but then i kind of chickened out. i guess this post will let a couple of people know, so that they can be there as a support, but what of the rest of his friends?

and of course, with that line of questioning came the inevitable, self-centered question of 'what if i die?'. who will notify all you guys? who is going to set up the 'lauren is permanently out of the office' auto-responder on my emails? i have left my mother a list of passwords to some of my accounts, so that, should she be the one who has to do it, she has access to some of that information. but will she even want to do that? in the future, will there be a section on our last will and testament, outlining the online social activity which will need to cease and the accompanying passwords?

just say we've all accepted the future of social interaction will include twitter, facebook, blogs, flickr and probably a bunch of other cool/necessary sites, how do we continue to accept the fact that we are humans participating in a social forum, which includes the incredibly anti-social business of dying?

UPDATE: since i wrote this, i've seen The Satorialist post that his dad has died recently, and Dan The Man let us know that his granddad died. Times, they are a-changing.

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hippo birdy, two ewe.

One Digit / 3

just a quick post to boast about the fact that she sees red turned 3 the other day! i'm not quite sure whether it's a good thing for the world at large, really, but i'm proud of it. so there. hip, hip, hooray.

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The Coke Tree

I think i haven't laughed out loud in an art gallery for a while. Not like i did last week when i popped in to see Thing by Dell Stewart and Adam Cruickshank. I try to not act like a goofish fan around these kids, but then they go and do this great little show in the skinny gallery at Bus (where i'll be showing later in the year, ahem, thankyouverymuch) and, well, I can't help it.

It's a little show, about little things. Random bits of symbolism and whimsy, care and the carefree and the art of looking sideways. And stuff.

My absolute favourite bit - the one that had my giggles resonating through the gallery, was the interview about The Coke Tree. It is 400 years of philosophy, 3 years of art history, a lifetime of healthy cynicism and the kind of copywriting most of my adfolk wished that could capture (IMHO, of course).

I'd love to reproduce the whole thing, but in the interest of getting you lazy readers to see the show yourselves, i'm going to show restraint and just post a little bit. However, when you go to the show, pick up the catalogue - the whole thing is on the back there.

Anyway, go see the show, it's rad.

Q: To begin with, could you describe this work?
A: Yes, of course. What I"ve done is change a glass of cola into a full-grown coke tree without altering the accidents of the glass of cola

Q: The accidents?
A: Yes. The colour, feel, weight, size....

Q. Do you mean that the glass of cola is the symbol of a coke tree?
A. No. It's not a symbol. I've changed the physical substance of the glass of cola into that of a coke tree.

Q. It looks like a glass of cola.
A. Of course it does. I didn't change its appearance. But it's not a glass of cola, it's a coke tree.

Q. Could you teach others to do it?
A. No it's not something one can teach.

Q. Do you consider that changing the glass of cola into a coke tree constitutes an art work?
A. Yes.

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Preface to Stripe Painting

Preface to Stripe Painting (Frank Stella)

"Art excludes the unnecessary. Frank Stella has found it necessary to paint stripes.
There is nothing else in his painting.
Frank Stella is not interested in expression or sensitivity. He is interested in the necessities of painting.
Symbols are counters passed among people. Frank Stella's painting is not symbolic. His stripes are the paths of brush on canvas. These paths lead only into painting."

Carl Andre from 16 Americans [Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1959]

* cross-posted at The Candystripers

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"You might not be a rockstar, or a self-made millionaire. But at least you're not fucking a giant Chinese corpse-puppet in front of your mum."

quote of the year (so far) from content flavoured trousers.



conference hell


some people i know groan about all the conferences they have to attend - dull, boring, uninspiring, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. seems i've been pretty lucky, really - i mostly get to attend the fun ones like interesting, interesting south and IS II. plus i regularly go to presentation nights like drink + think, process, pecha kucha (of which the next melbourne one is gonna be ace!!). so i guess all of that kinda makes me a bit of a sad case.

all of which will explain why i'm in conference hell at the moment - there are a couple of ace conferences that i really, really want to go to, and i can't. in fact, they're so close, it's driving me nuts. i booked my flights to go to the artspace 'spaces of art' conference ages ago. kept running out of time to call up my registration and finally, when i did so, seems that the conference has sold out! aaargh!!! i'm hoping that all the slack VIPs decide to not turn up so i can still get a spot, but right now, i'm annoyed. mostly at myself.

then, this morning, as i was catching up on my podcasts by the architects, i heard about the parallax conference with the AIA where slavoj žižek is speaking! (not to mention a swag of other cool archi-peeps, like geoff from BLDGBLG) and in melbourne! i was so excited that i texted my friend at 8am to tell her about it. argh!! jump online, check out ticket prices. double-aargh!!

given that it's a professional conference, it's little wonder that it's professional prices, but forgive me while i cry into my meagre installation-artist-who-happens-to-love-architecture budget. sucks bad.

thank god for twitter, podcasts and video footage. hopefully everyone in both conferences will be smart enough (and business-minded enough) to be feeding back as i'll be techno-stalking as much as possible. heh.

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the bottom line is not a design tool


yesterday i finally got to see the inside of the seaford surf life saving club. the [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 awesome coffee 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 i'd have to say that i can definitely see the difference between the intentions of the person who designed it, 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 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 it oozes potential. but, at 1:30 on a sunday afternoon, there were 5 tables, 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.


the tables were cheap plastic crap inside (and, ironically, beautifully recycled wooden ones saturated outside) and the chairs were even worse. there was off-the-shelf salt'n'pepper shakers (i know, but it's obvious when they're on the table!) - no sense of either cosiness, or attention to details or even community spirit. it was all a little rushed really.

and, had i my way, i would have included a corner seat near the front window, with a table of newspapers and an amazing view; and a huge communal table with some more reading material and better seating - something with character. i also probably would have 'lowered' the height of the interior by about 30 cms. the place is pretty low and wide, and i think that the decor really needed to reflect that. as it is, it's angular and jarring.

you can tell 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?


and 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.


however, with its awkward spaces and empty feeling, the sub-par food, the awkward 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 beautiful building, it was disappointing.

and, in terms of 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. an empty box with a coffee machine doesn't cut it - not in seaford, or anywhere else.

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new 09

last week i popped in to see this year's 'new' show at ACCA, new09 - it was awesome. and it was awesome for it to be awesome, given that the last couple of been a bit, well, un-awesome. almost to the point of meh. (translation: it was good, thankfully as previous exhibitions have been disappointing)

while a fair few of the artists this year are hardly brand-spanking new on the scene, the show itself was a pretty tight snapshot of some hot young thangs:

simon yates

new09 girl robot

simon yates makes awesome 'matic' works - i remember that i loved his robot and drawings from primavera a few years ago - and his interactive robot type things here are fantastic. tissue over a wire armature, on wheels and radio controlled, the boy and the girl appear to interact, but then it's a bit random. and you're never quite sure if they're responding to you, or repelled by you. nice metaphors actually.

they're a great start to the show and it's nice to see works activating the (newly refurbished) foyer space at ACCA. in fact, it feels like a place to actually sit and read books/drink coffee. unlike before, when i always just wanted to get the fuck out :)

justine khamara

"father, i have sinned. i have used adolescent pop-culture as a frame of reference in viewing art. please forgive my shallowness."

"say three hail marys and give up television for a week."

my first impression of justine's work was, sadly, holly from red dwarf. in fact, the first words that popped into my head were "hello dave". i know. i'm sorry. it couldn't be helped.

but, having got that out of the way, these works are beautiful and elicited a sense of curiosity about the human face in 3D that intrigued me. i was able to really check out the detail of this photo-sculpture version of a man, up close and personal. in a way that i would probably never do. even towards my husband - i just walked up and analysed his face. which was strangely sexual and scientific at the same time. and it carried forth the idea about interaction and engagement with works, which the yates' robots had started.

pat foster and jan breamans

given the amount of love for these two about at the moment, i'm afraid to say that their work excites me not. and it's not like i haven't tried - i've been to see them/their work at MAF08, SCAPE08, Gertrude Studio 12 and now New 09 (numbers, numbers, numbers) - but their broken structures and interventions into 'institutions' leave me a little bored. zero desire to interact. maybe i'm not trying hard enough.

benjamin armstrong

i'm used to benjamin's organo-creatures.. brightly coloured visceral-type things and was looking forward to seeing what he had for new09. and, as much as i loved the forms, there was something not-quite-the-same as the white sculptures that inhabited the room. it's almost as though the alien was there, but had died and gone to some kind of matrix-esque purgatory.

matthew griffin

i didn't get a chance to hear a whole lot of these conversations, interactions between mattehew and peter stringer, but i loved the concept and the way they were displayed - singular screens of each 'participant' and then one for the conversation as the sum of its parts. i'm well into the subject of discussion/discourse in art at the moment, so i'm looking forward to going back and sitting down to listen.

marco fusinato

new09 marco fusinato

i've been a fan of marco fusinato's work since i read a conversation between him and sean gladwell in an artspace publication years ago. i've always loved his relationship with sound/signal/rhythm/code and am trying to figure out a way to go to the artist talk tomorrow.

unsurprisingly, i loved this work. and it may or may not have overtaken any feeling i had for the other works in the show. the installation is a huge x-like lighting rig with sexy silver scaffolding, a fine mess of leads, couplings, bolts, sandbags, amps and a sensor.

it is rock and roll.

the sensor is delayed and sets off the work, which ends up in a blast beat of light, sound and intensity of experience. it is brilliant. in fact, when it went off in front of me, or actually, behind me as i was facing the corner, i had to yell out 'thank you london!!!' it was straight out of stadium rock - a musical experience that is Spectacle101 and the 'highest' point of performance that you can get, when it comes to the 4/4 beat.

and even in its 'off' state, the work is impressive without being gradiose or arrogant. it states its place firmly and with a quiet dignity - which is something that i've always found about fusinato's work.

brodie ellis

the sky-cam construction by ellis was an interesting antidote to the full-on light works by fusinato and probably worth revisiting when i go back. i always find ceiling-based works intriguing, in terms of the viewer's gaze and obvious change in perspective, and did with this work too - especially the whole 'looking up at looking down' kind of perspective. in fact, i remember thinking at the time, of all the hours i spend in the pool, looking up at the sky. and wondering what it must be like to spend hours looking down. sadly, the sculptural work in the room wasn't something i connected with - perhaps in a different context i would, but thankfully, it didn't detract from the work as a whole either and i left the gallery feeling buoyed and excited.


blatant self-promotion #233

This weekend is a busy one for me! Not only do I have work in the first show at garage openings, me and 3 other artists are setting up a pop-up artists' studio at The Harvest Festival in Collingwood and conducting workshops.

Mobile Privacy Unit Sketch

My workshops will be around the idea of acoustic privacy and we'll be creating some Mobile Privacy Units - if you're in the Collingwood/Fitzroy area on Saturday afternoon, pop in and say hi. There'll be stuff to make, artworks to see and there'll be artists working in the open studio for most of the day.

Word on the street is that there'll be a car and car cosy installed in the studio, which should be fun :)