game controller soaps!!
if i was here for christmas, i would be sprinting to third drawer down (where these pics are from) and half my friends would be receiving them as presents.
in the mean time i'll be hoping they release playstation and old school nintendo ones too.
when i was in dubai a few years ago, i had an amazing time - such a mind-opener for me. the excess and excessive development was fascinating. and the polarity between rich and poor, ruling minority and voiceless majority was powerful.
on the way to visit the sharjah biennale, my friend and i drove past some of the labour camps and the workers walking home in 50º heat (no public transport there, darling). their accommodation was abysmal - fibro, prefab saunas dumped in the desert. you could see from the number of coveralls hanging on the rails how many people were crammed in.
it was desolate.
i was super sad and angry to read this article on al-jazeera english that speaks of the decreasing conditions for these people in the financial crumble. the rich developer skips out, no problem, of course.
it's all very well to speak of the amazing creative output of dubai architecture and the boom of the architects' playground, but it disgusts me to see an industry treating their labour workers as 'collateral damage'.
policy that protects the most vulnerable in any system is exactly for this purpose - not to spoil the fun and excitement of business risk and entrepreneurship. but to account for the reality of life when shit hits the fan and the oxygen masks drop down.
my friend and performance artist (in a printer's body) marcus brown, mentioned leigh bowery a while ago and it has taken a while to sink in.
today i happened upon a book of his fashion shoots with fergus greer and i have been instantly obsessed.
i'm craving a bit of OTT identity/gender-bending mischief in the fashion/performance style of things at the moment. there's a whole lot of stuff that just feels kinda vanilla. maybe i'm just jaded and restless. maybe i'm too gen x slacker for my own good.
as fabulous as her costumes are, lady gaga just doesn't really cut it for me - she's still doin' the ditsy diva with the pretty clothes business; american apparel and vice mag for the kids tried to pretend they were pushing boundaries but really, they were just perpetuating the same old skinny lolita pervert bullshit for the white middle class douchebags of the future. our own schapylle scragg is a breath of fresh air, but she doesn't get as much playtime as she used to (ahem. mayhem).
anyway, enough of my ranty business, i'm gonna go back and buy the book i spent an hour poring over and i'm looking forward to reading more about the sunshine kid, watching the legend of leigh bowery and making up for my terrible ignorance to date.
images: leigh bowery from from the inside out and fergusgreer.com
you're probably already sick of hearing about the ins and outs of the geek in residence, but i've only got 3 more weeks to go, so you'll just have to suffer.
lucky for you, this week was a quiet week - it's been all about the archive.
i have had the awesome help and conspiring company of cherie, the super-rad intern here and together we've been plugging away at transferring content.
there is a massive archive of information currently on the gallery's site that we need to transfer and sometimes it's all about copy and paste. setting up a migration tool was going to be too intense and too much of a time constraint.
as it turns out, working through the archive of the old site has been an amazing opportunity for me to understand the organisation and its history. i feel like the essence of a gallery or similar organisation can really be reflected through its living archive. our aim from the beginning has been to bring that surface.
i have learned some of the best ways to approach digital archiving and preserve links and integrity for this small organisation, which is really about self-containment. i can't imagine the archiving nightmare of a more complex site, with e-commerce, etc.
digital archiving is a massive deal that places like the national library, educational libraries and the australia council are all over. archiving for media art is a massive can of worms and it's one that westspace will benefit from in the future - there is an extensive archive of documentation and digital publications (CD-ROMs) that is going to be a whole project in and of itself.
long after i'm gone :)
this pic doesn't really give you an idea of how awesome it is, but there's an absolutely brilliant show at seventh gallery right now, by georgina cue. two massive three-dimensional tapestries that are interior dioramas/theatre sets.
there's something a little bit agatha christie's mousetrap/cluedo about them - all mysterious, dark and broody colours and set at an angle so as you walk in, you look into the depth of another room.
apologies for skipping the geek updates here kids, life kinda sideswiped me for a bit.
the end of geek week 9 saw me in sydney for the Major Performing Arts Educators workshop, which was a rather satisfying experience. fee and three geeks took the poor unsuspecting lambs on an exercise in using tech/digi-type tools for education.
interestingly, my group (2) - who made up a national contemporary opera company spent most of the time focusing on our audience, our intention, a tech inventory (what our low-socio kids probably had access to/could be given access to) and almost ran out of time without any content! but, thanks to all that work we had done, all that knowledge sharing, we came up with content and platform in 7 minutes and delivered a kick-ass program.
amazingly, it was very similar to the floating worlds program that i mentioned on here (without any mention of it from me, BTW) and we were all super excited about the 'choose your own adventure' style opera game/movie/thing we developed.
it was a great lesson in realising the importance of audience/content-driven programs, rather than platform/technology driven ones. i hope that we were able to reinforce the organisations' power in education and not have anxiety about 'keeping up'. we also reminded them that an openness and collaborative approach to digital education/innovation gave the best outcome, rather than a closed, competitive one.
back at west space, geek week 10 reinforced the importance of content-driven process.
we met with the web developers/designers for the second time and made some really helpful leaps towards our finish line. i had been spending the last few weeks uploading content like it was on sale, which gave them a whole chunk of awesomeness to design/structure around.
virginia and i worked on the structure - she gave me an extra level of access, we added some extra fields, move things around a little, sured up the templates, clarified how the tabs were going to work and answered a bunch of my functionality questions. it was pretty damned exciting, i can tell you.
apparently it's common to commission a website to be designed without content.
that makes about as much sense to me as tits on a bull.
i'm guessing their the same folk who want the logo bigger too. heh.
so, as it stands, the designers are working on the interface (which is concurrent with a new visual identity being developed), i'm continuing to drive the content - which feels a bit like playing 'chubby bunny' - and work on some of the meta bits'n'pieces like analytics, preparing our DNS to redirect, creating new paypal buttons for the publications and writing procedures.
i'm going to be leaving very soon, so the next few weeks are going to be more and more about delegating, managing, troubleshooting and working on the support aspect of being the geek. that's a whole other post, really.
throughout the residency, the geek project has been managed as a west space project - it will have a little publication that gives it context, the people who are part of it profiled, and some of the outcomes will have a section on the new site. our 'digital innovation' has been from a framework and personnel perspective and collaboration has been vital.
inventive labs and golden grouse have been such fabulous partners, because they also work that way and we're pretty excited here to be part of their new collaborative project, that mob. a little like the jacky winter group for webby peeps, they represent a swag of small designer/developer operations, which is a great way to take advantage of a broad range of skills, experience and clients whilst preserving autonomy.
west space and westspace.org.au are their first client which is super exciting for everyone and kinda fitting, given that westspace is a similar model of collaborative and collective practice.
i had to put my cat down on the weekend. she had been with me for 14 years and i cannot tell you how much i miss her already. it's crazy hurty at she sees red HQ right now.
something i've been thinking about during that time is related to 'their constant loving silences' that a friend used to describe our pets' companionship. it's the sound of her absence that is the biggest, painful silence:
no thump of her jumping on or off the bed
no loud, insistent meow when she heard the crack of a can opening, or the rattle of her catfood packet.
no low adorable rumble of her satisfied purring - the feline vuvuzelas
no sound of licking paws and general grooming
no scratching on the door, asking to be let in/out
no scratching all my magazines, insisting i wake up for her to be fed
no conjugations or diminutive versions of the word pussycat, cat or sweetheart (including poozie, pyjamas, pushkin or gorgeousness)
no concern about the sound of a vacuum cleaner - that machine monster that would drive her under the bed
no sound of three kisses (her particular call)
no gallumph of mad running down the hallway
no growling or hissing
no random skitters across the floor
no taps on the wedgewood saucer, that called for food
no tiny mew when she sees me crying
no general chit chat to a patient and quiet, loving listening cat
i'm a bit over my text-heavy, über-serious posts lately, so here's some random shit for you all. thanks to delicious.
facebook wisdom: there has been some amusing match-making on facebook lately. the least of which is this:
i don't know if hamish and andy would necessarily like this kind of simple-deduction promotion. the irrational part of me that supports essendon is not the same as the part that likes comedians. in fact, given my team's woeful performance, perhaps facebook is bang-on. although they should have chosen the cynics rich hall or bill hicks.
speaking of humourous associations, here are the follow-ons from bettina arndt's spectacularly terrible article about Prime Minister Gillard.
Bettina on Gillard
Catherine on Bettina on Gillard
Birmingham on Bettina on Gillard
and for more beautiful delusions, laura delaney has made these be-yoo-tiful mugs about mental illness. they're so sad and soulful. i never use mugs, but i'd consider owning one, just for the sweet sentiment. thanks to sublime-ation
and for the brave, there is an excellent forum on at melbourne uni this week on contemporary art: Australian Art Industry Networks, including some valuable sessions on Selling, Rights and Responsibilities, Provenance and the Indigenous Art Sector. Keynote addresses include Peter Garrett, MP and Sam Leach, APW*.
more deets here.
a stunning video taken from a shinkansen ride on an EP-1. thanks to raphael.
and lastly, i had to miss tonight's performance of the Sound Playground at fortyfivedownstairs, but if you have the chance, you should really pop in. Some stellar works and performances being played out - i especially love Rod Cooper's Sonic Portraits and, in my high-egoism, have ridiculous aspirations to be the subject of one someday. ha!
*Archibald Prize Winner
tonight i'm heading to sydney for an education workshop as part of the geek program. i've been doing a bit of research and in talking to phip, who also works with NGV, i found out about the sa-hu-pa-her cool gaming technology art education program, floating world.
here's a bit more info from the CAN blog, including the notes/ning by some of the teachers.
what jumped out at me first? "we put it up on the CLASS WIKI!!" (my emphasis). oh my god - i got so excited!
i think wikis are the bestest thing in the world, but i've only had a few really awesome experiences with using them. some people just don't get how they'll work. and perhaps email keeps people from really utilising them to their potential.
the interesting south crew used wetpaint really well, as did the candystripers for a couple of our projects so far. the website development part of geek program i'm doing here at west space is using basecamp, which is going well-enough, thanks to RSS and email capabilities, but could also be used a little more by peeps.
i've tried to get a few other groups using them, without success. and maybe its the interface, rather than the concept. or maybe i'm just not so good at convincing people :D
but the grade 5 kids from sydenham primary school have got a class wiki!! as the teacher said in her ning post - it meant that they could upload the links at school at the end of the day and then go home and be able to show parents what they had done for the day. and if they felt confident working on it at home, they could!
and it is the team aspect of this floating worlds project that i love the most - it just crosses a whole bunch of important learning outcomes: they're learning basic multimedia tools/techniques, they're using historical art as their source material (and they learn about the context for that art), creating stories and understanding narrative/dialogue, they translated the stories into japanese in their japanese class - excellent comprehension activity (not to mention ramming it home that technology is not just in english), plus they create the works in pairs and share the info with the class. this helps them also work problems out amongst the team and then wider to the class - information sharing and exchange 101.
no wonder it has been given the thumbs up by the New Media Consortium!
i'm excited again..
images from ngv.vic.gov.au
last week i popped over to prahran to check out the luscious ladies exhibiting in a bunch of spaces there. apparently people live south of the yarra, and if you're one of those people, you should get yourself to see some of these works - they're most excellent. triumphant and non-heinous, even.
i first came across michaela and her work when i was in sydney - she was on the board at first draft and made an amazing cloud room. more recently, she and kate mitchell hit headlines with their wall work for next wave (which i missed), so i made sure that i went to anna pappas to see her persistent optimism installation - another interaction with the form of water, but mostly through the system of irrigation and perhaps the waste of it that the western world puts up with.
it was such a delightful piece - i giggled with glee as i ran my hand under the spouting silver 'shower' - the joy of having a mess, a generator and a working, mechanical, loud work in a commercial gallery also filled me with joy.
i also appreciated the similarity, in parts, of her work to michael georgetti (another anna pappas artist) in the 'spurting' of material, which then makes the mark. georgetti spurts paint or wax, gleave spurts silver paper, but they both leave this art-based ejaculate as both the mark and the trace of the process. i think the expressionists would love that shit.
sadly, the work came down on saturday, so you'll just have to take my word for how rad it was. and if you collect art and didn't buy it, then bully for you - i hope you missed out. when i make a squillion, i'm going to buy a work by michaela, that's for sure.
some of you may remember me salivating over raquel's electronic whiteboard work at the sydney biennale in 2008. i still remember that work vividly. anyway, she's currently got work at uplands gallery - 2 video pieces that document a walk through a heritage-listed forest, walking through clearfells.
it sounds a bit dull, i know, but as i sat there and watched the 2 pieces/3 screens concurrently, i was struck by the immense beauty of the landscape, the intensity of the walking and the altered spatial viewpoint. i was also captured by the relationship between the birdseye view of the landscape seen in her videos, and the indigenous relationship to country represented through painting.
it was almost like she had adroitly transferred traditional dreaming dot-painting into video format.
i hope that doesn't insult raquel or indigenous painters, but i really valued seeing the works that way. and through seeing them that way, i was transported to the lands she was walking through. i felt what that forest was like - its damp, cool and pungent fertile cover. and also the fracture of the widespread clearing that is happening.
one thing i was disappointed with was (i'm assuming) uplands attention to the space. in order to darken the front room, they had plastered newspaper across the streetfront windows. it was pretty slapdash and i almost didn't go in, assuming it had closed up. i don't really like the new space at at the best of times, so i felt like this was such a dishonour to the space and the work itself. and if it was part of the work, well, it was a bit of an add-on and i would advise against it next time.
however, you have 5 days left to go and see the show, so do. just ignore the closed-up look and soak in the lush atmosphere.
paintergirl has done an excellent review of abbey's show, cabin fever, over at the vine, but i just wanted to quickly add something to it because i think it's a superfantastic exhibition.
friends have a stark, black'n'white linear painting of hers in their loungeroom. it's a beautiful pouty girl with long hair over one eye, and the dark outline is bang-on. i've always loved abbey's line.
so, from that, imagine my surprise and shock at the vivid colour and relatively painterly images that almost hit me in the face when i walked into helen gory.
sometimes i don't cope with change very well and my first reaction was disappointment - disappointment that her beautiful disegno line had flipped over into the colour tonal range.
thankfully i flipped back pretty quickly. in this series of hostesses, mcculloch has just upped her skills as a painter and has been able to combine the melding of colour, with the detail of line (especially her awesome way of doing teeth and pouty mouths) to make works that ooze the right amount of everything.
in terms of technique, there's something a little bit francis bacon about them, mixed with an enthusiasm and intense colour palette that bacon wouldn't have been able to muster even if he ate turquoise.
unsurprisingly, the works (and the drawings in the project space) were completely sold out and i can't tell you how pleased i am about that. i have a difficult relationship with painting - i love it with all my heart and hate the arrogance which the field continues to display. but painters like abbey mcculloch (who are so over the discussion about painting and just make beautiful works using paint) restore my love in it all over again.
if you have the chance and you don't go and see this show, you're a bigger fool than i am.
*i know abbey isn't from sydney, but i bought a cheap poetic licence for the occasion.
image credits: all images courtesy of the artist and the galleries who represent them. i pinched them from the gallery websites, except michaela gleave - i got that from live guide whilst the anna pappas site was offline.
Posted by lauren at 13:00
i have barely written about other people's art in the last 2 months, so i apologise profusely to all the poor souls who are sick of hearing about me.
but if you could be patient, i'm off to europe next month for a super extended trip, so you'll be hearing plenty.
back to geek-town, though.
this week liquid architecture were installing in the space and i had the great opportunity to assist Lionel Marchetti (top pic) with his work. It's a beautiful installation, referencing renaissance painting, with an electronic sound/loudspeaker element to it. it's super-dramatic and really captivating to watch.
having the sound boys and girls in here was a bit exciting for me - all that techy, specky goodness. it was also interesting to see what kind of mess sound-based crew make, compared to a painting or photography crew. i noticed that these media arts kids set up little workstations for themselves with laptops, powercables and chairs as tables - like little cities that sprung up in the gallery overnight.
of course i still had a stack of other work to do after database week last week, so it's back to uploading content to the new structure for the website.
i started to get into a bit of a rhythm, which was great and only just today i feel like i'm finally making inroads into it. thankfully i have a volunteer to help me, which is super-ace, as we're trying to upload at least 6 years' worth of stuff as much as possible before go-live.
we also had a web-meeting, to reconnect after a couple of weeks without different staff members, and we really nutted out some of the structure and the language of the site: how to name the pages/sections and exactly what order they're in. we had done 80% of that work, but we did the final tweak yesterday.
i found it interesting that, as in art, most of the discussion was about language. do you go with the tried-n-true ways to describe the sections of the site? or do you have it reflect something else about the gallery? how do you keep the tone?
and how does tech language change over time? how much risk can you take with it to reflect your identity, in line with social (tech) norms? i know that when i go to sites and they've got dicky menu names or navigation words, i vomit a little. but if there's no thought in it either, i roll my eyes.
so what do the structuralists/post-structuralists say about language in technology?
I had a quick peek and there are some interesting blogs and wiki articles i've stumbled upon today, which talk about structure vs agency, structuration and the social construction of technology. all social theory vs technology stuff. eep!
when i have some time and brain space, i think i might have to investimigate a little further*. it will be interesting to see how it will influence the decisions about the site made from here on in.
*excuse to hit the bookstores! huzzah!