all 5 of my regular readers will probably remember me talking about that listening project eddy and i did last month? where we 'plugged in' to the city and listened to the public soundtrack with our headphones on.
well, in the spirit of all things bold and beautiful, i'm upscaling the project for a performance next month and i'm looking for helpers.
i need people to listen with me. in public.
there will be 20 - 30 of us, all with headphones, randomly plugged into aspects of the city and its structure/infrastructure, all paying attention, noting the sounds of the city. radiating from the key intersection of elizabeth and bourke sts, but still in a relatively tight formation, the work will draw attention to the act of listening, the object of headphones in public and the sound of metropolitan melbourne.
unlike last time, you don't have to dance. all you have to do is listen and be willing to do that for 30 minutes, in a group.
if you're interested in participating, drop me a line in the comments section, DM me on twitter, or email me lauren @ sheseesred.com.
if you're one of my current angels, and i haven't got back to you yet, never fear - the group email is nigh.
and here are some related links, just in case i haven't made myself clear enough.
my mini-DVR (pdf)
my blog post
eddy's blog post
michael bull's essay in google books
personally, i was rooting for tracey's work. i wanted to see meerkats in trafalgar square.
and, to be honest, thanks to the oversaturation of gormleyness a few years back, i was feeling a little lacklustre about one and other. until i started hearing about it online and i saw the live streaming.
yes, i'm talking about the fourth plinth commission - the public art work that is
situation situated on the spare plinth in trafalgar square. thomas schütte's hotel for the birds has come down and has been replaced by the controversial winner of the public competition. beating tracey emin and yinka shonibare to the post. heh.
but this, kids, is an ace use of technology and art in the public space. yes, the 'ordinary englishmen' aspect of it can be a little ho-hum, but getting to know the 'plinthers' is pretty cool, and the live streaming is almost as good as nils september and his ikea durational performance last year.
i could go on about other shit aspects to it, and pick apart the 'everyone is an artist' beuysian references, but i can't be arse at the moment. what i like most about it at the moment is the sheer car crash television aspects of it. i am addicted to it. in terms of durational/ritual/torture work, it's kickin' arse over the tour de france and master chef anyday!
initially this was going to be a post about the state of design festival, a project that i planned and one organised by those fabulous ladies over at architecture + philosophy. it was going to be about the future of acoustic spaces, one of choice and the generation which has a commitment to choice.
but instead it's going to be about backing out of a commitment in order to preserve ones integrity. about not designing for the sake of an opportunity, but having the restraint to remain authentic to a level of quality and/or clarity of message.
you're all sick of hearing about my research into sound in the public space, but when i was working towards project for this final semester, i checked out to see what the state of design and their fantastic cultural program were doing, remembering that their theme was 'sampling for the future' - what an awesome partnership: sampling, sound, choice, the future, architecture/design and public space.
i got in contact with the peeps at SoD and it was all very exciting - a last-minute inclusion, but one which could still happen in the 6-week turnaround. sometimes, when the timing is right, everything just flows and you can pull off a project in record time.
this was not one of those times.
as soon as we locked it in, everything just ground to a halt: suppliers were out of stock, samples couldn't be shipped and, more importantly, i just couldn't unlock any money from anywhere and i was fast running out of time to find some. [granted, it's not my field of expertise and i'm sure if it was i would know exactly where to find some, but hey - i is what i is].
i started to be anxious all the time - losing sleep about where i was going to find the money for this, how could i source that from overseas to save time, how could i work the timing around work and i needed to brief the volunteers. the list of things to do kept getting longer and longer. and i wasn't kicking any goals. as each day towards the deadline kept ticking over, the project was getting less and less finished. it was going to be a really crap install, the way this was going.
and, more importantly, i was miserable about it.
i had no faith in the work, i was barely talking about it - i sure as hell wasn't promoting it anywhere until i had a level of satisfaction about it and i was losing any kind of perspective, commitment and aesthetic judgment, fast. i was hemorrhaging.
so, whilst at the ballet with my mum, after barely noticing the first act, i decided that i needed to pull out of the project. i needed to risk disappointing a few, in order to salvage the best parts of the idea. to not present a half-baked design which would benefit, delight or inspire no one. i made a commitment to the future i designed. just not together. and just not right now.
i can't tell you how much lighter i felt. it was instant. and i suddenly had room in my head (and excitement in my heart) for the other projects i was working on. i suddenly had some clarity about works that really did have enough time. and enough money. and i knew that i had reached some kind of milestone - some weird internal rite of passage, where i had said 'no' to a great opportunity, for the sake of my work. it seemed almost old-fashioned (you young whippersnapper, you).
unsurprisingly, i had a whole swag of support for this lack of commitment. LI, NT, DR and GJ were all stellar. and of course my mum was delighted. not just because i paid attention to the second half of the ballet, but nothing worries a mother more than seeing a furrow tattooed into her child's brow.
so, today i make a commitment to the future we design together. by pulling out of projects, in the interest of my own integrity.
and in doing so, i commit to the value of that design and of that future.
i know that it's my blog and i'll post when i want to, but i did just want to fess up to being slightly pre-occupied at the moment and having a little trouble with making time to blog.
between a tonne of new projects, new semester, a weird sleep-inducing-sickness-thing and a stack of interesting stuff in town, it's a long time between drinks.
in the mean time, here's a disco burger, courtesy of maurice golotta at don't come (a pretty rad gallery soon to disappear, sadly).
yesterday afternoon I went to Sticky to see ∏O (Pi O) speaking about his mathematical poetry - a maths class of sorts. I had seen him ‘perform’ once before – with a couple of other shit hot poets in Wollongong (namely my gorgeous friend Alana who is the rockinest poet/writer this side of Excene Cirvenka).
But today it was a far more intimate affair and we got to hear some of the machinations behind his works - generally geek out to poetry, mathematics and sound – all so interwoven through rhythm and patterns.
There were some quotes that I would love to include here, but stupidly didn’t write them down, so apologies if they’re misquoted:
“If there is a pattern in a number, the mathematician always seeks to find out why – to discover the hidden function, its meaning”
“..we can imagine small numbers, but it takes a poet to imagine the huge numbers. Whilst the world becomes more complex, the numbers become more complex. But they are never infinite. Mathematics and poetry helps make sense of these huge numbers.”
One of the works I loved hearing about was his Ode to Arthur Eddington.
Eddington was a ballsy astrophysicist from the early 20th C who was one of only 3 to fully grasp Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. He’s been famously quoted as saying ‘so, who are the other 2?’. swoon!
∏o’s work was based on a quote of Eddington's, which stated that “you can’t square root a sonnet”.
Which of course prompted ∏o to prove him wrong.
It is a work about a vast nothingness – an existentialist equation, where the final number also equals but a tenth of a sonnet.
We listened to ∏ read the poem and heard the ongoing rhythm of nothingness (as a train passed overhead) and, as he said himself, it was like some strange appropriation of John Cage’s 4’33” – a mathematical formula of a silent composition.
Believe me, I was geekin’ out hardcore.
And then we talked about Pythagoras.
Whoa, nelly! I haven’t done a whole lot of research into Py, but based on what I do know, in my book, the man is king. He influences a whole bunch of stuff I do – my secret crush on mathematics (and my subsequent day-job), my psychogeography stuff, through the rebellion of the diagonal in traversing the straightened pathways through the city. And of course being the father of music and composed sound, through his research into harmonics. Put it this way - without Pythagoras, we wouldn’t have Slayer. And, if we didn’t have Slayer. Well, that’s just too much to grasp in one day.
As ∏ said, there is more poetry in Archimedes than in Homer.
I would have loved to hear more of his works and to chat more about the relationship between mathematics, patterns, art, poetry, sound, but I had to catch a sodding train down south and had to leave after the debaucherous Office Banquet (x3).
But if you get a chance to see his work, or get his books, please do – the man is a legend in Australian poetry and as tech-punk-rock as they come. Nice work Sticky.
UPDATE: and then the Plump performance, at Liquid Architecture was all sound and tonal responses using angular tubes and wires.. straight outta the early atonal stuff from Pythogoras! awe....
red number planet image by sidelong. on flickr.
I've been working on one of the baking architecture projects for this year's state of design festival*- the one between jill's restaurant and hassell. It has actually been a fantastic merger of my many loves: sculpture, food, architecture and family. The crew at jill's have been an extended family to me for a while, and my mum happens to be the sous chef there. So when she told me about the project, that she'd be partnered with hassell and was a little nervous, i jumped at the chance to get involved.
And, as it turns out, my skills have been quite useful. i've been able to translate between the lanugage of architecture and food, on both sides of the form/taste divide. And the collaboartion itself has been an amazing experience. The idea of combining both these practices is genius.
In terms of 'practice', there have been a surprising number of similarities (as well as some of the obvious differences). On a basic structure, they have very similar hierarchical dynamics - head chef/principal architect, sous chef/senior designer, model maker/dishpig. on this project, it has also been inspiring (and a little bit scary) to see that both of the 'seniors' are women and have a similar type of engagement with the project. it's all about ideas and throwing in possibilities and thinking big.
and then you have the designer/artist/model makers reeling them in to focus on the project, discussing the practicalities, making the work, rearranging the pieces. it has been fascinating to watch unfold.
in terms of the materials, the work really does sit firmly in the middle of architecture and food. the duration of the exhibition is 10 days. which, for architecture is like the blink of an eye. for food, it's like eternity. and so, the forms are essentially a big compromise and a stretch for both sides to think a little further afield.
the architects have been liberated by the lack of building codes and planning infrastructure durge - allowed to play with texture and colour and wobbliness and smell. [since when did you judge a building on its smell]. materials are tested with our tongues and our noses and if a bit breaks, they get to pop it in their mouth.
whereas the chefs have been focused by the intensity of the timeframe - it has been a great challenge to find foodstuffs that will last the time but still reflect a prescribed form. instead of tasting the work, to see if it works, it is about shape and image - the structure and 'behaviour' of food. it is about combining flavours that might ordinarily be awful, but work because, when it sets, best reflect that alcove and overhanging floorplate. or something along those lines.
from where i've been sitting, it has been a great project of problem solving goodness. and i have the fortune of being relatively objective in the whole process - not my building, not my 'cake'. i get to work with some of the decorative elements, to be a studio assistant again and to work with some of the most amazingly talented creative types in Victoria.
I'm looking forward to (and a bit nervous of) seeing all the entries, which are unveiled on the Festival opening night at the AIA - Architects Institute of Australia - on the 15th July and pretty chuffed at the good times had by all.
*especially as i was supposed to have a work of my own in the festival, but had to pull out for reasons i won't go into yet.
following on from that post about feminism, it seems that there's a bit of a 'thing' going around called 'manweek'. part of an initiative of reachout.com.au, some of the boy bloggers are expressing their feelings about being a man, in an aim to get boys talking about how they feel about stuff, in an effort to stop the crazy depression/suicide rates of australian men.
and as much as i stand and applaud the initiative (and its fantastic mix of twitter hashtags and radio), i'm going to be challenging some of my boy blogging friends to dig a little deeper yet again. whilst it's vital to express ones emotions, nostalgia and responses to life, i think it's also necessary for these particularly articulate mates to also ask questions like 'why?' and 'how?'. why do i care what my father thinks of me? why do i feel it necessary to be extroverted, macho and/or brave? how can i use my feelings to reflect/develop my idea of masculinity? who are my male idols and why?
again, i think it's about a continual assessment of what identity and gender roles are placed on us and whether that leaves us as human, social beings.
I’ve been to see a few shows recently and have stumbled upon some recurring themes: white text on black wall; and feminism.
The white text on black wall is really just on the block of Gertrude street that contains Seventh Gallery and Gertrude St Contemporary Artspace.
There’s a series of shows at seventh at the moment that are fantastic and predominantly text based. The first thing you see when you walk into the space is an epic FAIL. As in, a huge F-A-I-L in white on a black wall. Awesome. And then in the back room, it’s spectacularly ordinary: white neon ‘ordinary’ in a black room, by Kristin McIver.
Between the wordplay is also a beautiful project piece that is playing with magnetic force and light, creating a trajectory between a magnet on a rotating motor/crank with LED – a picture of attraction and repulsion. It’s simple, delicate and beautiful.
Then, across the road, the front gallery at Gertrude is lit up and open to see at night (which I love!) work by Newell Harry ("The artist with the first name last and the last name first" - The Art Life), which, as well as an installation of bottles, clay pots and broken glass, is the neon sign reading THENATIVESARERESTLESS coupled with its own anagram in reflection. It’s such a striking diorama, especially in light of these other text pieces across the road.
I love that kind of synchronicity.
And to follow on from that, in the last 2 weeks, there have been 3 - count them – 3 shows about feminism in various galleries about town.
Instructional Guide to Femininity at Jenny Port Galleryis a work by my studio-mate Naomie Sunner and is a fabulous work which critiques fashion and media-based ideas of what it means to be ‘feminine’. Using costume, and more importantly, the idea of the pose, the is like a storyboard of the female gesture – rarely seen in reflected in mainstream images of ‘beautiful’ or ‘feminine’.
There was quite a bit of discussion about feminism and its ideals at the opening – a refreshing change from some of the banal conversation that can creep into such gatherings.
I got a lot out of the show - being a straight girl who very rarely subscribes to the traditional idea of ‘feminine’ and apparently challenges the idea of what it means to be straight, as a consequence. This work reminded me of a time (not all that long ago) when female fashion was all about rejecting a narrow-minded view of gender stereotypes and that blonde-long-hair-big-tits-short-skirts were a fashion faux-pas to be fucked with.
Over at Kings ARI is a great work –in the form of a publication – Accidental Feminists by Victoria Bennett. This work combines a series of documentary images of incidental or ambient feminist discourse –graffiti in womens’ toilets and various groups of women together – interspersed with 3 essays about feminism in a contemporary setting by Clare Rae, Nella Themelios and Anna Knight. It is almost a curated exhibition in print form and has the perfect balance of fun, intense critical dialectic and pride in feminism as a vital social mechanism.
At the opening, it was fantastic to see people sitting around, reading the publication, discussing feminism and the images/words surrounding it. I had a romantic and/or sentimental moment, imagining that this is what it means have been like in early 20th century paris, sitting around, drinking wine, discussing political theory and contributing to the shaping of society. And then the crowd got too much and I got too hungry, so had to leave. Real life, baby. Real life.
However, it’s great to see that feminism as an important topic of discussion continues to knock on the door in Melbourne.
And then...next week there’s a show at Shifted: Unfixing the Feminine with Meg Andrew, Justine Barlow, Kotoe Ishii & Jade Venus. I’m looking forward to seeing how that relates to these other two shows and to start to experience a city-wide focus on feminism. It’s great to see a resurgence of its presence in 'output' and I’m hoping it’s the beginning of a new round of regular discussion about the role of feminism in contemporary life.
FAIL by Anthony Sawrey
Lifeless by Kristin McIver
Instructional Guide to Femininity by Naomie Sunner
Accidental Feminists by Victoria Bennett
Unfixing the Feminine from the shifted website