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UOW: day 6

UOW_day 6 meter

I was pretty relaxed when i went to bed on monday night, if not with a head full of code and programming and interactivity mush (like i said, i'm totally novice and still have to bend my head in new ways about this stuff a lot). 

But do you think i slept well?? no. some squeaky noise kept going all night - woke me up enough to bother me and i got up this morning with a headache. Not a good start to the day in anyone's books.

Today's account will be in point form, in keeping with its tone:

- Schlepped to Jaycar to get aligator clips (found bonus set of wireless digital headphones to hack into - the most expensive chip i've bought so far. 

- Almost back at uni, I realised that i left my phone and sunglasses at the hotel. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
All that smugness from yesterday's sense of accomplishment: down the gurgler.

- Found missing arduino and raced into class. thankfully I presented at the end of the lesson, so had time to deal with my lacking caffeine levels.

Surprisingly, after that the day impoved.

Chatting to second years was fun - some of them are feeling so overwhelmed with electronics. 
Which i can relate to. 

I passed on some valuable information I received as a student from one Philip Wilson, who was a third-year to my second. Phil said: use second year to experiment. At no other time will you have access to the kind of material and studio that you do now. Plus you have leeway. In first year, you don't get time to do anything, third year, you have to focus on your project, but second year - go nuts. (And i did.). Actually, the second year spirit underlies a lot of my practice nowdays, so it was nice to revisit that important moment in my learning.

I had some beautiful conversations with a couple of students who were keen to chat either about coding environments, or about how to 'get out there'. it was so lovely to pass on 'how to be keen'.

UOW_lilypad flex

During lunch i pulled apart my super-expensive transmitter, excitement plus!  i realised i must have been learning something about how circuits and electronics work 'cos i ascertain what was important and what what wasn't. I don't quite know, yet, how to make it interact with an arduino board, or control it yet, but hopefully i will. 

After talking to the second class of second years, who weren't quite as interested in what i had to say, i raced over to Bldg 25 to join the faculty of creative arts for an afternoon tea. whilst not quite as rad as CIA's morning teas, it was pretty special anyway. great cake, nice to be introduced and chatted briefly with some music teachers. yay.

UOW_flex sensor solder

Back to Innovation Campus to spend 3.5 hours not getting anywhere with my arduino. I managed to hamfist a soldering job and bust my lilypad development board. huzzah. i just wanted to set up a script so that i could test the flex sensor, and set up and if/else statement to write to digital, so that when the flex sensor flexes up to a point, the light goes on. and anything over or under that, it goes off. no luck. nada. zip. 

i gave up, ran for the train (again) and spent the rest of the trip writing up these blogs.

meh, yah, meh.

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UOW: day 5

For a Monday, i had a pretty good day. 

I spent most of it on the main campus in Building 25 - i started off sorting out some problems with my computer and setting up insurance, which was very adult of me. 

-I did some other application/admin-type things;
-Uploaded the documentation from Thursday's Listening Project and
-Emailed around a call-out for participants in another one, planned for 4pm.

I caught up with Jo Law,  one of the Media Arts lecturers, and whose students i'll was booked in to talk to the next day and we sorted out what I might discuss.

UOW_fabric list

Then i met Robyn Douglass, the TA in the textile studio, with whom I'd booked a textile screen-printing session. I had been trying to print the lists from Listening and Being for ages - having little success at CIA
And now i know why - i had too heavy a hand and too narrow a squeegee. Philosophy for life, really.

It was excellent to get a print refresh - i hadn't done any emulsion exposing for ages and my process was a little rusty. Now i feel like i could do it again really easily (and may do, if i get some time).
Mostly i printed tests, albeit nice-looking tests. Red ink on calico and curtain backing fabric, with varying degrees of success. 

The ultimate plan one day is to print some large, long scrolls of the sounds heard on listening projects - replicating old public documents, or manifestos, or creeds. That will require a much larger screen and a large-format printer, but it can be done.

IMG_3668 small
documentation from Day 3

At 4pm, I started my listening project, then had a student from third-year, Jess Millman, join me. 
We listened (in stereo) for 30 minutes, to the same site I did on Thursday. It was great for me to revisit the site and note the differences in the time of day and the quality of headphones i was using as a prop. In the comparison afterwards, it was quite validated to realise we heard similar sounds (the overwhelming sound of scuffing shoes) and had similar difficulties discerning large volumes of conversation. I'll upload some documentation for that later today, hopefully.

Overall, it was a good day. I had booked into a serviced apartment for the night and perhaps because i knew that i didn't have to rush back to Sydney that night, i was a lot calmer.

UOW_hotel studio

I set up the apartment as a mini-studio, paid the overpriced internet connection (a future rant on that later) and did a bit of work, made dinner being as resourceful as i could (boiled pasta in a salad bowl full of boiling water in the microwave) and worked on a presentation for the students.

Annoyingly, when it came time to sit down and start working on my arduino, i realised that i left the main board back at the University! Aaargh! so annoying… especially as i've been carrying it around with me for the last 4 days, working on it on the train (and maybe trying to become one with it so that i understand it better).

I really couldn't do anything more, so i did some more research, trying to find code that might fit what i want to do: use flex sensor (input) to create sound with the wave shield (output), use lilypad accelerometer (input) with arduino shield (it included an extra 4051 chip, though), and simple code for flex sensors.

When i knew that i had enough, i did what any self-respecting girl would do in such circumstances: 
I went to the spa and sauna.

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UOW: day 3

read all over 4, 2006

it's the beginning of day 3, and i'm on the phone to ITS again. 

i'm sure that if i've ever really hurt anyone in this life, i'll be coming back as an ITS worker in some university. surely it has got to be the shittest job in the world. i bet mark zuckerberg spent half a day working it and unleashed facebook on the world as a result (i know, i've seen the social network, it's really 'cos he didn't get laid).

whilst being amongst other artists and educators and students is great for arts practice, dealing with university admin for 25% of that time has been extremely frustrating. 

like, i want to cry.

i can see why artists prefer a studio/independent cell model to an institution model because simple things like accessing the internet are relatively easy. even on an overloaded multi-router tangled mess like the one that CIA had. 

so far i've had a very lovely time meeting loads of great artists and teachers. i've had lots of coffee and talked quite a bit. i've met up with an honours student whose work crosses over nicely with mine and all that has been great.

i've now got two workstations set up - one in the creative arts faculty, which i am using for admin garbage and sewing, when i get to it. and i've also got a tech set-up on at the digital media centre on innovation campus, for working on my arduinos. it's in a small black-box room, with amazing sound qualities, lighting, space, great flooring and access to all kinds of gadgets and media things. projector? sure!

DMC setup

i met glenn anderson, the UOW geek overlord who has recreated Orac from  Blake 7 with arduinos, who has kitted out these great electronics kits for everyone to use and is super nice and helpful. actually, being over at the innovation campus is very welcoming and i have a feeling i'll be spending more and more time there.

i think ideally i would like the tech setup to be amongst other students, but actually it's also nice just being around students who are there for media arts and interested in that kind of thing. and glenn and i have already compared notes for arduino shields. i might help him make a chucky-doll :)

not being able to access the internet, though, is majorly problematic.  are you seeing a pattern here? amazing equipment, friendly people, infrastructure breakdown. i think this is the main drawback of the institution.

open source programming is all online, so again my work on arduinos has stalled. argh! i want to tear my hair out. luckily, i have a multi-headed practice and can find something else to work on until the admin_sys jerks send paperwork somewhere. 

by the end of the two weeks here, i really wanted to have a prototype of a garment, that i could at least start to test at electrofringe and two listening projects.

at the moment, i have had coffee with sarah miller, brogan bunt, boni cairncross and lucas ihlein; lunch with derek kreckler, michelle elliot, mike leggett, lucas ihlein and brogan bunt; three blogposts, bookmarks on lilypads, the wave shield, planning diagrams, research notes and two workstations. 

i'm known for my impatience, so take all of this with a grain of salt. but it's something for me to bear in mind for the future.

i think i'm going to get coffee and do a listening project. hopefully the act of listening for 30 minutes in the middle of campus will help calm me down. and at least i'll have some documentation of that, and an understanding of the university that way. perhaps i should have done this on day 1.

listening to learning

UPDATE: i've done a listening project - it was very successful and firmly grounded me back in my practice and on the site. i'll write about that later, and will post it on the listening to the city blog later.

i now also have net access. i'm a happy camp(us)er again.

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interaction, part 1: goodbye.

Excellent goodbyes

i may be writing a bit about interaction in the next few weeks. primarily because the project i'm working on sits pretty firmly in the 'interactive' camp of arts practice. but also because i've been reading a bit about the philosophical aspects of interaction have been thinking about the dynamics of human interaction - listening, conversation and relationships.

counterintuitively, one of the first things i'm interested in unpacking a bit about is the interaction of 'goodbye'. i recently wanted to say a formal 'goodbye' to a stack of peeps in perth after spending much time in their tribe. sadly, and for a stack of reasons, not many people were able to make it, and i left wondering about the ritual of saying goodbye.

even though 'goodbye' is the end of an interaction between characters, it is also the beginning of a new interaction. it has its own set of variables and etiquette, rarely discussed in white, australian culture. the country of the laid back 'g'day' are also not so formal with their goodbyes. 'see ya'.

perhaps because i move around a lot, or because i've spent time in cultures for which the goodbye is given (linguistically and culturally) more weight, i'm finding that casual-ness a bit unsatisfying.

in schlock pseudo-psycho terms, there is no closure.

it's a metaphysical sentence that has no full stop. and when there's no punctuation, there ceases to be meaning. there also ceases to be intent. and therefore no beginning of the next interaction - the one of 'still friends, but separated by distance' or something.

in coding/system term, there's no } - no end to the instruction, which creates errors, which means you don't have an interaction. in not saying 'goodbye', one nulls and voids the interaction at all.

ok, so that's abstracting it and perhaps creating an analogy that simplifies things too much - human interactions are far more complex than a missing }, / or . but i do wonder if we lack consideration of the deeper sides to human interaction protocol (HIP) in the same way as we now do our other forms of interaction.

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artist in residence, again.

out of one bed and into another, it seems. 

for the next two weeks i will be an artist-in-residence at the faculty of creative arts at the university of wollongong. two former perth amazing artist peeps have invited me to be here, lucas ihlein and sarah miller and i'll be working on some early prototypes of my wearable tech project.

i'll also take the opportunity to blog a little more regularly about it - because it's much closer to my regular practice than the geek was. and, as you lovely readers might remember, i use this blog as a process place. a sandbox for concept, or, for those that way inclined, as my text-based github-esque code repository. with plenty of forks.

listening garments

i have been trying to kickstart a link between listening and fashion for a while, with not so much success. probably because i'm neither a fashion designer or a sound artist. so i'm smushing things together that i have no idea about. and maybe these things just take time.

some of  you may have been familiar with my garments for listening project and some of my loose sound/listening-based fashion works. 

well, the main aim of the game is to be able to create garments that, based on the pose either switch sound on/off, switch between sounds or actually play a score based on the on/off-ness of the sound (like a pianola and binary code).

over the next two weeks i'm going to be prototyping one of those garments using arduino and some very rudimentary patterning.

listening projects

i'll also do a couple of these performances on the grounds whilst i'm here. especially as i've started reading a new listening/philosophy text which has not only reignited my focus on my act of listening, but has rekindled the place of heidegger in the act of listening (see? i wasn't just making it up)

plus, i've been able to catch up with boni cairncross who is doing her honours here and is interested in performance art and documentation. she and i have already tittered over tino sehgal's work and perhaps it will be interesting to discuss documentation of my fairly dull-looking performances with her. i may even do some more test ustreaming. although web access in universities can be a leetle restrictive, so we'll see.

i would have loved to shown you all loads of exciting things i did today, but sadly, it's been a day of administration, meeting people, struggling with zero access to the interwebs and an all-out crash on my mbp. not v. productive.

but, here's a pick of the wave shield that is balancing together, and some diagrams of the collar i'm working on.

arduino wave

collar diagram

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geeking out

i know that i haven't written a whole lot of blog posts about the last 4 months - i've been erratic, sporadic thanks to being boring and having my head buried in work and writing. i promise to write a little more about what i'm up to at the moment but i've just finished up as full-time geek at CIA, so here's my last post about it for a while.

i'm going to talk less about the specifics, and more about the process - that of 'resident', 'geek' and 'collaborator'.

the resident
despite the focus on remote connections, the act of 'being there' made quite a difference on the place, according to pvi collective (chief tenants) and other regular residents. my excitement and 'doing things' energy is apparently infectious. i was 'around' a lot and participated in discussions and posted things in the facebook group and talked to people and ran up and down the stairs and made coffee and laughed. from a sound perspective, my presence resonated. i think that makes a difference.

and i enjoy being that person too. my 'geek factor' is really less tied up in the technical sharpness and more about being the chatty enthusiast (steve is the proper technical geek in this project). i'm the one who gets excited at the possibility of doing things better, faster, cheaper, collaboratively or funner (word? yes it is). and whilst the concept of 'viral' is one of art in a digital era, it's hasn't got quite the same influence as live excitement. i tell you, i do a mean happy dance.

and apart from me, as a singular person, the act of being in residence with a collaborator made a difference too - together we would work things out, discuss our projects, hypothesise about possible implications. there was a lot of show and tell - steve would show me how things worked and i would tell him how amazing it was. :) on a physical level, i would walk up and down those stairs, forget half the details of what i was discussing, but regularly end up laughing and/or being completely confused about the slightly different angle we were taking on an approach.

i think there's something necessary about the very physically human synchrosies of awkwardness, forgetfulness, laughter, confusion, boredom, procrastination, urgency and randomness. all of those things provide a noticeable difference in a building (especially in a building shared by discreet practices), that the slick, organised, efficient and logical world of digital and online-ness can gloss over. i may be talking through my arse here, but i think it's the balance between the chaos of human beings in a dynamic and the order of zeroes and ones that is going to be the sweet spot of this project.

other geeks may disagree, but i'm wonder if the great things of having geeky-nerdy-thinky-types on site would be lost if we all just organised a bunch of interactive works or applications from our behind our forums, groups, sandboxes and remote connections and just delivered them. like pizza.

to go with the metaphor, home-delivery is great, but how much more amazing is a dinner party?

the geek
there's a whole lot of fun stuff on the internet about geek culture, and the australia council go into their rationale a bit too. but want to go into why i feel the place of the geek in the arts is important. and what that place is.

one of the questions i asked of us, when we first arrived was 'why geek?': what is a geek? and how does geek thinking differ from how a philosopher, theoretician, marketing manager or mathematician might solve a problem? i think i've said before that geeks have a really strong allegiance to fun and pop culture. and collaboration and connecting between existing ideas/networks/tech. in that sense, i would argue that they are the result of post-modernism. i know, gratuitous cultural studies reference. but that's what they bring to the table. and that's the connection between tech/weirdo and art. they are absolutely interested in mashing it, fucking with it, getting excited by it and crossing barriers. whilst they may suffer in the romance department (speak for yourself - Ed), i don't know any geeks that haven't created ways that enable them to easily cross social divides.

CIA was, before the geeks arrived, a place that housed several similar, convergent and concurrent art practices, but mostly kept separate by social divides, disparate itineraries and few ways to connect easily without feeling overwhelmed.

the 'being' element of the residency, added to the action and reaction of collaboration, all under the hello kitty umbrella of geekness has started to spark and fizz in the building - residents are talking to each other, formal collaborations are happening, plans are being hatched and everyone is opening up to new and exciting possibilities of what next. i think that's pretty rockin'.

for those actually interested in how it's all going, follow #residentgeeks and @ciahq on twitter, like their facebook page.  and in a few months' time, when we open up the wiki to the general public and have a brand-new website, you'll be able to read/see more there.



Please don't cut ABC Arts programming


To the ABC Board,

I never beg. But I’m begging you to reconsider the decision to cut ABC arts programming.

The media landscape in Australia has never looked so grim – there is so little quality, interesting, thoughtful or relevant content on most of the commercial/SBS bandwidth and the ABC makes that just a little brighter.

The arts division of ABC is such a core part of the ABC and as an artist I need it to continue. Its features, documentaries, mini-series and news support our art production and inform our audiences so that we’re not having to dumb down to Murdoch-reading standards.

When John Howard was fixing to scrap the ABC, it was the arts community who really got behind the cause – playing gigs, making works, organising articulate public argument and designing those beautiful “I <3 the ABC and I vote” stickers that harrangued the politicians.

Please. Don’t forsake Australia’s right to have intelligent, interesting and relevant content about beauty, creativity, innovation and collaboration. The encroachment of trite, mindless, commercially sullied content is already overwhelming and ABC Arts has been the last line of defence against a nation of imbeciles.

Kind Regards,

Lauren Brown


lauren brown

thinker-in-residence at CIA studios || http://facebook.com/CIAStudios
artist-in-resident at AURA project ||  http://auraprojectresidents.blogspot.com
electrofringe listener-in-resident || http://electrofringe.net

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instagram sycophancy


right now i'm super in love with instagram i know that for all my friends without iphones, they miss out and i miss out. yes, it's a bit annoying, but i'm still totally in love with it.

it's a brilliant sharing kinda thang and i tell you, it's like the early days of twitter where i really did have some some quiet online time with people i would like to know but don't get a chance to.

i like the fact that it's a bit hokey. and that the social side of things still needs to be sorted out. but i feel like it's the next new awesome thing.

and i feel like artists and image makers really should be bullying it more than they should.

what is it?

amber's nest at cia studios

OK, for those who don't know, it's an iphone app that is an image-based social feed, a bit like twitter. you can take a pic from your phone and apply a stack of filters to it, give it a name, geo-tag it and upload it to the stream. other people see the stream and can 'like' your image if you want.

there's a sense of close-ness about it and it's fantastic for us arty-visual types. it reveals the visual motivations or processes for a person, and being visually motivated myself, i find that element of exchange so satisfying. 

there are a couple of artists on there who i really only know through their instagram, despite technically sharing a studio space with them. 

call to artists

red. tiles.

frankly, i would love to see a whole lot more artists on there. not just from a 'functional' point of view of showing new works, but as an artist, i would love to see what, say, miranda july sees on a regular basis, or spiros panigirakis, or olafur eliasson

this is such an opportunity for artists to really grab hold of a social network and gain some cohesion or interest or involvement. 

i think it's also perfect for some of the arts organisations, especially the GLAM crew - i follow brooklyn museum on there and it's so sweet, every couple of days, to see an item that is being conserved - i got to see the Rietveld Dollhouse being restored and it was stunning.

if you were an old-fashioned, art-historian hater-type, it could be argued that it trivialises Art (note the capital), but i think a lot of people said the same thing for reading/writing about twitter. but the amount of writers i follow, and literary events i attend because of writers on twitter has grown. i hold books and heavy theory in higher esteem since finding an outlet for my text-based piffle. perhaps the same happens with instagram.


it's still in the fairly early stages of being, so there are still a few pitfalls that i would like to see resolved:

- being able to organise my feed into lists - like twitter. i have a few peeps i've had to unfollow because they are prolific (which is rad) and clog up my stream (which is not).

- make the switch to multi-platform. i really miss seeing the daily perspective from a few particular people who are part of my twitter crew, but who don't have iphones (and i still manage to love them). it must be a contractual, or financial reason on instagram's part, but i just wish they could open up the doors a little. maybe they need to deal with more server space first.

- find it easier to find people. it's still a 'tunnel' based social thang - i have to find people and go to their 'who they follow' section and then follow a person. it's not quite so easy.

- share pics. this bit is particularly hard. i've taken to leaving a cc @user tag in a comment, which will notify that user that they've been mentioned in a comment, which leads them to that image. it would be much quicker to just be able to do something like RT/re-tweeting.

there's still something cute and secretive about it this way too (which the nerd/hipster in me kinda likes)

and even after all that, i'm still quite excited to see where this little app will head in the near future.
now, artist buddies get on it.

UPDATE: oh look, @topfife has posted something similar. waddyaknow.

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