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time vs money

i haven't been so exhausted working in ages. but it's been a fun week.

i'm working on this still-kind-secret project at cia in perth involving people and space and measurement.

yesterday we (my partner in crime, steve, and i presented to the board  a bit of our methodology, some of our early findings and threw out a few questions/points of discussion about our project. which is kind of hard to describe to you guys, because it's a) still confidential and b) we're yet to properly describe it to ourselves.

but we're close.

what i can say, though, is that money is easier to achieve than time, and we're more motivated to make people go away, than we are to make them come here.

and we found that through a program of depth testing and intense focus and insight developments, complex social engagement protocols.

otherwise known as tug of war.

[pretend there's an awesome picture of the teams holding a rope here]

it was brilliant. danger zone from the top gun soundtrack played in the background, primal grunts and angry reserves of energy were drawn on.
michael, tony and kelly - the money team pulled time (steve, kate and bonnie) over the line,

in the second round: come here vs go away, it was a tough match. everyone learnt from the first round's experience, they dug heels in, yelled, encouraged each other, grit teeth and the swearing came out. at the end of it all, there was more prepulsion for go away and just not quite enough energy for come here.

we all learned something that day.

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last week i turned five!

and when i say 'i', i mean, this blog. or me as a regular, consistent blogger.

here's my thrilling first post. back when the world was full of possibility and i was stuck in wollongong.

since 2006 the iphone has given birth, twitter has started (yep, i'm on that too), facebook has become MASSIVE, america has a black president and australia a female prime minister. the australian dollar has tripled against the pound, avaaz and getup have become big political players and michael jackson and louise bourgeois have died.

in that time i haven't been married, had children, bought a house or had a death in the family, although i have become a super-rad aunty (arnie loz to him).

i have lived in both london and berlin for shortish periods of time and have moved back to melbourne as my australian base. i have finished a masters degree in the last 5 years and have steadily intensified my arts practice.

i acutally hope this blog is still relevant in 5 years' time. not because i want to be relevant, but because i want the reasons i started it (as a way to circumvent the trad arts media gatekeepers and to vent my artspleen) to still be relevant.

here's to the future, kids.

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home away from home

there are a few cool kids' gangs that i feel like i'm part of, even though i'm not really. or not really 'there'.
probably to the point of embarrassment. 
like, i'll walk in there one day and say 'hi!' to everyone, and they'll have NO idea who i am:

the design conspiracy is one of them (especially before ben terrett left) - in fact, i think i did walk in there like i was part of the crew. luckily ben was there and i could just shuffle into doing something to help out

coffee mornings was another - i would see pics and read about who was there on every friday morning at the breakfast club in soho and i felt like i was part of the crew. when i did arrive in london, of course i would rock up. even though they were mostly planners and russelldavies fanboys (sorry russell). but i had a good time and everyone was welcoming and i met people who i continue to keep in touch with in elastic ways.

slightly less chummy, but just as 'part of' was actually tate modern. although it was more because i would read TATE ETC, their members' magazine, and my friend/husband john would send me stuff from their exhibitions. and it only takes one visit to the museum i reckon and there's a physical connect.

kaotic craft kuties is another club that, when it was in full swing, i felt like i was there when i wasn't there; my friend esther's new loungeroom sunday salon, where artsy and/or farsty crew talk about the stuff they're up to, discuss themes like committment, burnout and collaboration - i get a great wrap-up of what happened at the salon, and i feel like i was almost there, which is great.

i sometimes forget that i don't work at ARUP with dan hill from city of sound or  geoff manaugh at bldgblog, or rory/simon/stewart/christine from The Architects - because when i read their stuff, or listen to them on the radio, or watch them present, i feel like i could be there if time, money or qualifications were no issue.

WK London

the big one, hilariously, is wieden + kennedy. i have so many blog/twitter/instagram friends who work in their offices around the world, who are always posting pictures about what they're doing, writing blogs about their stuff, i see youtube videos of campaigns and have had discussions peeps in person, that it's like i'm the kid next door. 

i'm sure i'm not alone with that one - there are tonnes of advertising creative types that want to work there, i'm sure their receptionist in london gets it ALL THE TIME. and i supposed their CEO and creative directors get emails from strangers asking for advice and think 'who the fuck are you?'. annoying maybe, but then hopefully they see it as proof that they do a good job of keeping people connected to them.

it's a bit sad that there aren't many art organisations that i feel that connected to really. e-flux does a good job of making me feel at home in the art scene generally. as does artlife. but i'm yet to walk into a gallery, or arts organisation for the first time and get weird looks when i say 'hi!' like i've been there a thousand times before.

maybe i'm not trying hard enough. maybe there's something in that...

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art and isolation

a while ago, a friend of mine sternly told me that i should watch that amazing TED video by Brene Brown on vulnerability. it took a few days, but on a cold, gloomy day in Berlin i sat in bed and watched.

i cried and i laughed. i laughed, like she said, in a knowing way 'oh god..'

and apart from hitting some personal nerves, i loved what she says about humanity's need to connect. actually i believe this need built into our cell.db - but even if it isn't, history has consistently presented to us our need for connection and the damage that is done in isolation.

Mauer Monument

having said that, when i was in berlin, it was the first time i got in touch with a level of isolation (and therefore vulnerability) that i hadn't experienced before and i thrived.

i was removed from my big group of friends, my sense of complacency about navigating public space/the shopping experience, my command of language and even the outside world for a couple of weeks (i spent a week only going downstairs to get coffee and then coming back up to the apartment).

but there was something about that 'outsiderness' that enabled me to really get to know myself, my work and my place in the world. sorry. i can't believe i just wrote that either.
what i'm trying to say is that i discovered the complexity of isolation. it turns out i needed a little something of 'removed' in order to have the space to be.

obviously, i'm a modern young lady/geek, so wasn't completely isolated. i was still checking into blogs i hang out on, twitter, facebook, e-newsletters and phone calls to people. and, to be honest, the fact that i was in germany and within a culture that doesn't reject art-making kind of helped.

cut to: perth.


isolation is a thing here.

the population is actually small (as opposed to the rhetoric of small population as excuse for poor public service. another rant), the feeling of being closer to jakarta than the canberra is palpable and unless you live within walking distance to work like i do (ha!), it takes bloody forever to get anywhere. it feels like time slows down here.

so, it's little wonder that there is a combination of intense frustration and intense production here. the artists that are here are super generous, fruitful and really focused on making work that is interesting, engaging with technology and pushing boundaries. i think there's a reason that there are more art schools in perth than in melbourne, that anyone interested in working with bio/body/electronic art comes to perth and that the state of WA was the first to implement a percent for arts scheme.

perhaps in the same way that iceland is a feminist country - there's not the overbearing bully neighbours to tell you what to do, so you just fuck it and do it anyway.


i could go on and talk about the link between isolation and space for shame, that enables people to act freely. and i could go on about space/time for contemplation too.

but the other aspect to being separated from the rest of your pack is that you feel vulnerable.
and lonely.
and there's no room for complacency.
sometimes being complacent is a wonderful thing, even for an artist.
not having to fight for your right all the time can be valuable.

how can technology and the internet and the rest of the world help meter your isolation, so that you have just the right amount of "come here and go away."

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so if you don't follow me on twitter or facebook or speak to me in person, this might come outta left field: 
i'm now in perth. 
for three-and-a-half months.

yes, that's right, kids - livin' the high life. 
no, really, i'm here to do a residency with some properly amazing peeps - more details can be revealed later on - and already perth is proving to be an interesting little place for me to hole up in over the melbourne winter.

Northbridge, Perth.

and it seems that all the travel i did last year has actually given me a method-of-sorts for arriving and adapting to new places.
i say this because, even though i've only been here for about 3 hours, i feel like i'm getting an OK sense of the place and of course myself. both of which help when you're trying to land and morph into a new city/town/universe.

firstly, I catch PT into the city from the airport (as much as possible), because i  get to interact with and observe the public nature from the get-go: the system of exchange, etiquette, language, road systems and priority - all subtle cultural stuff that doesn't make it onto the wallpaper guide app. 

today the bus driver told me to take my luggage all the way to the back 'cos the bus would be fulla pushers. he was right - young mums going into town for late-night shopping. that told me loads about the area where they all got on and some of the mercantile customs of perth.

secondly, i walk as much as i can. tonight i walked from downtown st. georges terrace to northbridge, crossing through the guts of town as everyone was leaving work and milling about. i had a chance to take note of dress codes, uni students, suit hangouts and where the trains go at peak hour. i feel like i've got the beginnings of a geo-cultural layout happening, which helps. 

i was also quite pleased to discover a few bookshops not far from here, a stack of cheap/rad asian eateries (open late) and the perth outré gallery. huzzah! 

once i arrived in my new digs, i unpacked and hilariously discovered a stack of things about myself that i hadn't quite noticed before. 

turns out i'm into jackets and totes. 


i have brought with me seven (yes 7!) varieties of a black waist-length jacket and 4 calico/cotton totes. i don't own stacks of shoes (i commit deeply to my shoes, so love them until they're ruined - rather than flitting between them), but i learned what i consider important by the shoes i did chose: my usual tiger trainers, a pair of flip flops and my arse-kicking pink fakeskin stiletto boots. 


i also filled half my suitcase with possible art materials and tech bits'n'pieces - headphone bits, a door chime i want to hack, paper, gouache, jewellery bits, a tripod, camera and a mini toolset.

and with my precious luggage restrictions i've squeezed in a small (and restrained) stack of well-worn books (heidegger, debord, barthes) and mags (map, art&au, premsela) plus 3 journals and my daily planner. all the vital things. 


and there's a little thing i now take with me on every art jaunt: the 5 balls that are the header for this blog. 


i made them when i was in the UK and had them up in my room here. i took them with me to berlin, not quite sure why, but when i packed them automatically this time, i realised that they have become a little token - a totem for some of the underlying stuff that happens on this blog and some of the inexplicable feelings i have about myself and my arts practice.

funny, don't you think.

image credit: that extra northbridge shot is from chuck_notorious on flickr (best username ever)

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at the beginning of 2009, 4 artists from my masters class answered a call for artists to make ephemeral work in a carpark space in collingwood.

at the end of the meeting it was proposed that, rather than install yet more artwork, the organisation (collingwood neighbourhood house) install artists on site, to be there and do what we do. based on a canadian hospital residency program, the idea was that artists on site, engaging directly with the community and making a variety of works is far more beneficial than a slightly disembodied work. it was also an opportunity to have a series of artists working with each other, supporting projects and populating the (previously scary, unsafe) space.


2 years' on, many prototypes and significant funding applications later, the program has recently started, with its first round of artists on site.

roarawar feartata collective are in the space at the moment, and doing an great job of breaching and infiltrating the spaces of the estate in magical and interesting ways. they're getting to really know the nature of the estate.

we had harvest festival on the weekend and although it was rained out, i had the chance to dress up and play character for some Q&A style surveying about art.

we've got a blog that is in its early stages, but i'll link to it a fair bit over the next 12 months. i'll be in residence during september/october/november doing my sound/listening/acoustic works - watch this space.

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sound out

melbourne in train

transience has afforded me some thinking time about public transport.

i've been spending a bit of time on it lately and noticing the difference between transport in melbourne and those systems that i experienced in berlin, london and dubai.

i noticed, particularly, how loud our trains were. and i don't mean to run, but the human noise level on them. people talk much, much louder, teenagers actually shout and scream at each other on them, so many people have mobile phone conversations on them and there is a general din about them.

and which probably explains why we have far more people with headphones on trains that i ever noticed in any of those cities*

i've managed to come up with two quick, simplistic reasons for that so far, separate from a cynical view on the commercial influence of personal music devices:

most of the trains in berlin and london have large sections of train with a central aisle in which many people stand and people sit flanking that aisle. people face strangers and sit next to each other. conversations between compatriots are rarely conducted across the divide, and so the conversations are far more hushed. added to this, the sound of train the underground perhaps drowns out a possibility of discussion, and certainly of mobile phone discussion.

whereas most trains in melbourne have small series of facing banks of seats and a central aisle. in peak hour, people stand in the central aisle, but don't interrupt the flow of cross-conversation. generally it's actually quieter at peak hour, because there are more strangers sitting opposite each other, but even still, it's pretty chatty. 

given that only 4 stations are underground (and thus have access to networks except vodafone), the amount of mobile chatter is also way more than i became used to.

teenagers still act appallingly in berlin and london (i watched a boy spit on strangers into the window of a train as it was taking off in berlin), but they don't seem to be quite so loud as our obnoxious youngsters, which indicates that culturally, there is an etiquette around noise in public.

even shouting across streets in berlin and dubai was rare. i think this culture of australians as loudmouths comes from our sense of space. we have a large soundspace, born from our stereotypical access to space (which gives me the shits). we're rarely walking/sitting/being in confined spaces with millions of other people - we walk so far apart that we have to yell. we can't possible sit so close together that we almost touch - which leads to practically yelling at each other from across a train.

melbourne's population is growing like mad at the moment - it will be interesting to see in 5 year's time if this changes the way we relate to each other on an auditory level. will we evolve to communicate closer together, or will we grip tightly to our sense of entitlement at space and continue to yell over a chasm of public space?

*i haven't done controlled experiments, but for those who may critically object, suggesting that perhaps i don't have evidence, you're probably right. but i suggest you read my blog more and remember that i have spent the last 3 years obsessed with how people wear headphones in public. so there.

image credit: sinan229 from flickr

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oh how did she know...

so, so true.

thanks to sarah bear for finding this one. thanks to natalya from flickr for posting it

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on wednesday night, the latest bill henson show opened at tolarno galleries in melbourne. i couldn't make the opening, so went with my best friend - a photographer - on friday afternoon as part of a lovely art mission.

despite being vehemently against his early, highly-suspect means of procuring wasted junkie models, i have been a fan of bill henson's work since my photography undergrad degree back in the last decade (sssh. i'm scared how long it's been too).

his early, dramatic cut and tape works that replicated romantic painting and baroque ceiling frescoes captured my heart and i have had a soft spot for his dark ways ever since. even in this post, i've defended his practice against a silly art-ish writer muppet who was convinced he was a conceptual artist.

and despite this, i walked into the beautiful art deco foyer of the tolarno building with a vague sense of cynicism.

after all the hyperbole of that bloody roslyn oxley show, and all the rah-rah-wah-wah surrounding the use of children in art, i held little hope that bill's work could still be so strong and beautiful and dark. i was actually expecting him to just phone it in and reproduce some old stuff, or keep away from the human, adolescent figure at all. i think i would have even forgiven him a mild resignation. i mean really, it must have been fucking exhausting listening to kevin rudd, former prime minister and part-time minister for expressing aesthetic opinion, find his work 'revolting' - like he'd even stood in front of one. or to be the subject of yet another miranda devine tirade, boldly going where no brain cell has gone before.

if there was a sign on the gallery door saying 'sorry, bill's moved to iceland, where he is surrounded by erudite and educated individuals', i would have sighed with disappointment, but understood.

but instead, bill henson has just kept doing what bill henson does. none of the images in this series are particularly shocking - i honestly think they hardly ever were. but in this show, he has strengthened the comparison between the 'disgusting' naked, nubile, human form of his photographs and the images of naked, nubile, 'depraved' form of jesus and friends that titian and michaelangelo made that the masses ram themselves in to see.

he also returns more firmly to the link between body and landscape - the dark, dangerous, mysterious and isolated aspects of nature's elemental forms, and those equivalent in the human figure.

someone from the murdoch mafia will probably find something in this series to have a whinge about.  delta bloody goodrem's marriage is front page fodder, surely a bunch of thin, sickly teenagers in dark moody photos is something to feature, right?

but for the rest of melbourne who haven't quite lost the function of their frontal lobes, go and see this show. it is beautiful.

yes, i used the word beautiful.

image credits: 
bill henson, untitled 1995-6 pinched from the monash university globe back catalogue
bill henson, untitled 2011 pinched from the age