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hangin' out crafty in the back alleys of melbourne

ariadne's tangled mess: craft vic

for those of you who are in melbourne; and for those of you who perhaps walk down flinders st, perhaps you've seen a little mess hanging off the edge of a building on spark lane. a little discarded knot of cable, or thread? some kind of undealt with complexity left to swing in a dark alley?

well, if you haven't, my work is installed at craft victoria, as an extension of the work in craft cubed, so check it out if you have the chance.

also, there's a closing party for the craft-based festival next week: september 4th.

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isea days 2 + 3


the last two days of isea have been jam-packed. i'm kind of glad that i need to leave on friday night, because i suspect after more late nights tonight and tomorrow night, i'm going to need an early night in very soon.

a large chunk of yesterday was punctuated with problem-solving to do with my iphone, so i missed a bunch of excellent sessions and the rest of the electronics workshop.


however, i did get to the session i had most wanted to get to - sonic strategies. 4 speakers all talking about interaction with sound, audification, sonification, mapping and the gesture of listening/playing. rachel o'dwyer from ireland, yolande harris based in the netherlands, shintaro miyazaki based in berlin and marc chia, currently based in spain via indonesia.

both shintaro, and yolande had listening/mapping elements to their work, which related to my listening/mapping works and marc, whilst not directly related, reminded me about the need to maintain the soul of music/sound/performance and that improvisation can help maintain that.

unfortunately i missed rachel's actual presentation, but we had an excellent natter at the festival club afterwards - we both fawned over michael bull, bill smith and hearing/sound cultures publications.

alessandro ludovico moderated that session and after georg klein's fantastic 'don't call it art' intervention, i was planning to see his presentation at really existing social media in the afternoon, when technology called. so many people have said how great it was - the slides were sent to the audience's devices and they had to listen to (not watch) presentations. we also ended up having great discussion about the fanzine>blogger transfer phenomena at domicile later.

and speaking of domicile, last night i saw an unexpected, but super-awesome performance of UK performer infinite livez - think rick james vs radiohead vs beanie man vs peter gabriel. and maybe a bit of george clinton/sly stone in there. he totally played up on the black-man-soul image, but totally fucked with a stack of field-recording/relay/synth-beats stuff. so much so that there was some seriously terrible german dancing going on in the front. i fell in love a little bit.

today, whilst everyone was out and about through the ruhr region, i stayed in dortmund and wandered around the e-culture fair and the exhibitions. perfect day, actually.

i discovered that most of the e-culture labs/projects that i was interested in (and had the best conversations with) were from the netherlands/belgium. those low-landers know how to float my boat. v2, foam, dropstuff, and UP Labs - all doing great things with sound/public space/interventions/fashion or generally rockin' stuff.

joyce hinterding

the trust exhibition, on the floor above, featured a few good works, but didn't really sweep me up to suspend my belief. joyce hinterding's graphite sound drawings were completely rad and the robotic camera arm work (which followed you around the room) by seiko mikami was really unnerving, but really quite beautiful. carsten nicolai's work was an great concept and pretty intense: a light-based hypnotic work, although the placement of a sound work nearby disarmed the complete mind-bend/altered state that the work could have been. perhaps that was intentional.


unfortunately, my biggest criticism about the symposium so far has actually been about the site that is housing e-culture fair and the trust exhibition: dortmunder U-tower. it's an amazing building, with a fantastic media facade, but it's still really under construction: wires are still exposed, plaster dust is everywhere, floors shut off and whole sections still behind scaffold.

the only really great thing about this is that you're sharing the lift with workmen as you go up to the exhibition - keeps us all honest in a way. but seriously, as an audience, there are enough barriers to interacting with art, let alone media/electronic art, that physical barriers and perceived spatial barriers are kind of unhelpful, really.



i saw two other great exhibitions: one at MKK - full of excellent sound and interactive works. the other, agenten 2.0 a student show, which surpisingly kicked arse over some of the more 'professional' works. in a shopfront, it is the document of a series of interventions, actions and situations which challenge the sleepy, comfortable, gemütlich public of dortmund out of their complacency. actually, i think i will write a whole post about just these two exhibitions, so i'll cut it short here. but if you're reading this and you're in dortmund over the next 2 days, go to lütge brückstraße and the MKK on hansastraße.

right now i'm off to go dancing. again. for the closing party of the e-culture fair. see you in the morning!
[which of course was written last night, but i'm fuckin' with the time-space continuum, can't you tell]

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ISEA2010 day 1

today was the first real day of proceedings in dortmund and it started off with a bit of a fizz. i was ill, so missed out on the first session. but the second session was a good mix of festival experience: a bit of an experimental electronics workshop, some internet catch-ups and then a few presentations on media in the public space: one establishing engaging criteria for good media/public projects -

interestingly, i'm sure that advertising planners and media buyers would have similar criteria, and a valid question was raised about what differentiates these questions for art, as opposed to, say, a children's playground, etc.

one of the key ideas in that list was 'challenge'. i do see that a lot of works that are not quite successful (including my own), don't necessarily have an element of challenge to them, which is a common element within public audience.

this was furthered during lanfrance aceti's presentation on isea2011, in istanbul, a city with many challenges in public space. seemingly good public projects challenge both audience AND artist and that perhaps artists' work can become complacent without them.

after that, i went back to my circuit-bending workshop and finished fucking with a kids music instrument. i've never done anything with electronics before, so it was all new to me - but it was great fun and tomorrow i'm going to go back and insert a jack into it, so we can either amplify it, or listen to it with headphones :)

before dinner and the official opening/performance of the festival, i went to see the Heavy Matter exhibition at the Westfalen Forum. I'm a bit critical about it because quite a few exhibits were still not working and there wasn't a lot of knowledge/understanding. It also seemed a bit derivative. But then i realised that it is a student exhibition, so maybe there's a little more room for error.

I hope the other exhibitions aren't also like that, though, because so far, my first impressions of the festival are good, but still a lot of unfinishedness/unpreparedness - the U-tower is still all wires and plaster dust, i had to wait a day to get my festival pass, and then a few difficulties with the wifi too - doesn't reflect so well. but maybe it's just first day jitters.

After the official stuff, it was over to domicile club for drinks, more performances and some excellent discussion over beer.
the germans do alcohol-free beer, which makes my life much more fun.

we covered the gamut of australian and german politics, feminism, gender studies, gentrification, media festivals and art in general.

not bad for the first day, huh.

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quick update: LDN >25

i'm currently suffering badly from a punishing hangover. except i don't drink alcohol. so it's just the result of punishing my body with an all-night raggahton/boombahton/dance-ahton, arriving home at 6:30 am. i haven't had one of those for a while and, let's face it, i'm not as young as i used to be. [although the girl i'm sharing a dorm with did the same and she's still sleeping, so bully to her]

tomorrow will be the start of my ISEA2010 experience, so my wrap up of london is going to have to be brief. [sorry lucas, you're wrong about me being thorough now].

so, pretending that i'm entering a competition on a cornflakes pack, here are most of the london galleries i saw in 25 words or less:


national gallery, 18C
discovered gainsborough's late landscapes. beautiful active figures in the environment. also drank in chardin, vigee le-brun and the french rococco titillation.

tate britain: mike nelson's coral reef
largely uninterested by banner's planes - kids posing underneath them, repulsive. getting lost in nelson's labyrinth was thrilling: FPS game + inception -styles. redeemed orwell st.

MOT: ongoing program
i like this revolving project. good selection of works - especially brian's twitter treatise on sculpture: daily tweets transcribed onto shutter door, transferred to a weekly poster.

chisenhale: 27 senses
nordic responses to kurt schwitter's hütte. excellent theme, great space, nice works underpinned by drawing - humourous merzbau, interesting video about an exile and intriguing spatial projection.

whitechapel: alice neel, chapman bros, john latham
alice's paintings were divine and the accompanying video accentuated them. chapmans' story was good, etchings 7/10. john latham, new discovery - love his knowledge processes.

not that there's a whole lot on in london right now - summer holidays has everyone shut. perhaps for the best, considering my short stay.

oh, and to add to that, i drank so much excellent coffee over those two days, that i was at once wired and embarassed for melbourne and its rapidly-declining scene. sorry.

images: major lazer from maddecent.com
s. mark gubb at concrete hermit. never laughed so hard at a gallery.

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london: wednesday.


the last couple of days have been like a dream come true, really: art, coffee, art, coffee. as a result, my reporting is a bit behind.

on wednesday, with my inimitable art-pal, john dodds, i took in the V&A, the saatchi gallery and a weird place called chelsea futurespace (which i'm not going to go into, but it was kinda weird and all display-home).

V&A: 1:1 architecture spaces.

this was the exhibition highlight of the day, really.

a series of 1:1 spaces designed/built by architects as investigations into small spaces. there were 2 in a designated area for the show, with the rest dotted around the collection, perfectly responding to the various galleries and sections*.

all of them were great - you can see them here:
and here

but there was one in particular that totally floated my boat people and i'm going to devote the rest of my laptop battery to it: the bookshelf space.

the space, called Ark, by Rintala Eggertsson Architects is kind of a well-made, solid, ikea open bookshelf x 4, facing in on itself. the 'walls' are enclosed using books, the ground floor opens into the bookshop, whilst the roof meets the floor of the library upstairs. in between is a spiralling space of booky goodness! oh my lordy i almost fainted with overwhelm of all the books. i find going into book shops and libraries hard enough - i often need a chaperone in readings.

of course, john and i took the opportunity to do a quick little intervention into the space, rearranging the books to make a whole shelf of the conqueror by jan kjæstad - a massive paperback with a distinctive cover.

i loved the obvious idea of a place of literature, where knowledge is the foundation of space (something that john latham would have gone a bit goo goo about).

i also loved also the idea that this situation - a site and non-site of shifting space as the same time. and that small spaces were being created and filled in by books. and that no book was more or less important than another.

the whole colour palette of the place also had me gabbling - the exterior, with the exposed pine beams and then the out-facing pages were all the same colour, because they were all the same 'stuff'. wood and paper together again.

and then on the inside, the colour explosion was so pleasing to the eye - in a way that something more contrived would just make me wanna vomit. part of me wanted to spend hours in there, organising all the spines by colour. but then the whole bottom floor would probably be orange :)

the smell of the place was so comforting and homely. it reminded me of all my favourite bookstores and the times i've spent with friends just wandering, head tilted, perusing.

if you're in to books, in even the slightest way, go see this space at the V&A.

saatchi gallery: newspeak.

newspace too - i didn't get a chance to pop in last time i was in the hood, so i'm grateful for the opportunity to do so. for the most part, the show was frightful. i haven't had such a violent opposition to works in a while - there was some real shite there. but, there was also some excellent work, and some obvious themes being investigated, which was intriguing and enlightening. even if i didn't like the particular works investigating those themes.

new british artists (still mostly painters, according to the saatchi kids - maybe because painting is still the prime-market) are mostly looking at human disfigurement and apparition.


not part of this show, i loved two works in the two large project galleries: richard wilson's 20:50 - a beautiful, reflective space made from the gallery filled with oil. the reflection was slightly disconcerting, the smell even more so. and as atmospheric and moody as the work was, i also ended up feeling angry that it somehow vindicates the disaster of oil-space c/- British Petroleum. I felt the need to make the work political by chucking a stack of animals in there to float and then see how beautiful it looked. not that it has anything to do with mr wilson's formal concerns, i guess.


the other beautiful work was john wynne's pianola composition for 300 speakers - a stack of various speaker boxes, mostly beautiful old ones, with a pneumatic automated playing system that cardiff-miller and meireles would have been proud of.

there were a few other good works, namely the pixel rug and guillotine by rupert norfolk and the boys in the corner by littlewhitehead.

it was great to see the gallery in the flesh - i hadn't ever seen it. i expect it will be a fairly regular visit for me when i'm in london town now.

*almost funny anecdote about the studio mumbai work: you have to remove your shoes for this exhibit, and while we were putting them back on, we were accosted approached by education staff from the gallery to survey our response to the show. she kinda messed with the wrong sinatra, 'cos when she asked about how i would describe the show to a friend, little did she know that my friends are all pretty well-versed in architecture/art vernacular and i started rattling on about interstitial spaces and textured experience. ha! what wanker i am.

ark images are from the V&A site and REA.

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london days

i'm in london for a few days before some exciting times at ISEA2010 and ars electronica. it's only really enough time to catch up with the lanky midlander, the german AD, the pedant and the art historians - but i have so far managed to squeeze in couple of good shows and some great coffee.

thank god for monmouth coffee
this place was a fantastic find last time - fantastic double-shot espresso for £1.30 = that's about $2.30 for you australians back home. which should have you squirming.

francis alys - a story of deception at tate modern

i found this title a strange one, considering alys ongoing concern with action, movement, borders and points of intersection. and more than 'deception', he acknowledges the 'myth' in all art.

however, the show itself was fabulous for me to see. i had seen a few of his works last time i was in this neck of the woods, but have been reading more and more about his work and its relation to site/nonsite/situation. and i had a whole new perspective on his work because of this.

if you're in london and you haven't see this work, you really should. as is an artist whose work on the concept of territory/lines of division is incredibly important -

personal highlights:
paradox of praxis i. video documentation of alÿs encircling the centre of mexico city pushing a block of ice around until it melt. it's the most common image of his work (and one that is also at the deception and procedure exhibition i mentioned earlier), but it's still a great image, pretty important in terms of his modus operandi and his ongoing idea of 'sometimes doing nothing leads to something' - the subtitle of the work.

patriotic tales with rafael ortega.
it is a fixed-frame video document of an action in a public square. around a pole (with a very sharp shadow that divides the space well), a man leads a single and increasing flock of sheep. of course i couldn't help but think about australian artist lucas ihlein's goat walks for the west brunswick sculpture triennial. so the highlight was also kind of for him too.

the green line
another seminal work of his, but it also feels like one of the most important works i've seen. ever.
based on the 1949 partition, where israeli moshe dayan took a green pencil and palestinian XXXX took a red pencil and drew out their front lines on a 1:20,000 map of jerusalem. but what did that mean, in real terms? francis alÿs walked across that armistice area, with a tin of green paint with a hole in its lid, demarcating a border that divided israeli and palestinian alike in loaded terms.
the video is still poignant and the associated documents are quite profound. his investment of poetic action into such a highly political situation is its true value and the work's subtitle: sometimes doing something poetic can become political. sometimes doing something political can become poetic, is an even more inspiring maxim that continues from sometimes doing nothing...

paintings: abukir and an unknown painting of a puddle.
alÿs' small paintings are beautiful objects, which extend his actions/investigations. these two in particular stuck with my all afternoon and both look at 'the line' from two completely different perspectives. they illustrate the difference between old ideas of site and the concept of 'situation'. abukir shows a hillside town divided by a wall. the hard, static wall defines a site with such rigity - there is no place for fluidity, greyness, ambiguity or flexibility in such a place. it is fixed.

i couldn't find the name of this painting and all the images from the tate online collection have been removed, but is my favourite work of the show. it is so unassuming, but i think it really highlights the ideas and the ethos of the artist perfectly.

it is a painting of two objects: a chest of drawers (marked A) and a bucket on its side (marked B), from which a puddle of water has spilt (marked C). the water floods between both objects and their reflections not only appear, but overlap in the water. the water blurs the line between where the edge of one object ends and another begins - it dissolves the structural edge and creates a space in which both objects are included, despite being 'separated'. separateness and territory are ideas that become murky and underrated, possibly.


at the end, i was slightly disappointed that, given alÿs' use of postcards, that the only postcards you could buy were a book of them for £7. not a single postcard from the show could be souvenired (sp?). but that's just me havin' a whinge.

all up, it's a great show and i'm really pleased that i have seen a good collection of his work all in the one place at the same time. it was an oppotunity to back-up my theoretical understanding of his work, having seen a few works here'n'there, with a nice juicy chunk of it.

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gesture and procedures

there is an amazing exhibition on at ACCA at the moment. i haven't had a lot of time to devote to checkin' out exhibitions at the moment, but this one is right up my alley.

the new macpherson commission is bianca hester's massive work Please leave these windows open overnight to enable the fans to draw in cool air during the early hours of the morning - it is a whole-gallery installation on action, movement and tension. from the school of fischli & weiss, it's an opus of balance, possible action, phenomenology and spatial composition.

(that's her above). bummed i missed out on seeing the horse!

the other show is a group exhibition of artists who work across concept/performance and action - gestures and procedures is great title for it, actually. a whole swag of my personal favs are in the show: marina abramovic, mike parr, francis alys, vito acconci, john baldassari, anastasia klose, beth arnold, tony schwensen and bruce nauman.

it was the kind of show i had seen on my european trips, so a perfect send-off for my impending departure.

i had actually seen a fair few of the works, which is reassuring and comforting sometimes. and they were all good and obvious inclusions. except, perhaps, daniel von sturmer's works - i would say that von sturmer concerns himself more with traditional, material and construction considerations, rather than process/gesture. but that's just me being a tad pedantic. and nothing to take away from how good mr von sturmer is as an artist.

i love mike parr's early body work - 100 breaths, and the ulay/abramovic aaa-aaa was great to see IRL. as was the abramovic art must be beautiful/artist must be beautiful. i'm reading her biography at the moment and these works are even more powerful within a context of an intense life story.

even though i have to store them in my best friend's garage for the next 6 months, i grabbed a couple of beth arnold's discarded object project posters, one of the objects - an old granny cart - was from carlton north, near my old haunt. i couldn't help but get a bit sentimental about that one. heh.

i actually really loved the video work by delphine reist of an empty fluoro-lit room in which the fluoro globes would 'randomly' fall down and smash on the floor - the noise was amazing and the heist of it was pretty damned delicious too. i'll be chasing up more work of hers, that's for sure.

i didn't have a lot of time to spend in the show, but still a great, great exhibition of works that are about the particular type of art i like - where art is a verb and space is an indirect object.

image credits: acca website, the age and eternalnetwork.fr

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last full geek week.


how quickly 3 months has past!

this week was the the final full week of my time at west space. it has been a week of excitement, disappointment, frenetic consolidation and hope that what i've done here has made a difference in some way. my last day here is tuesday, but today is the last day i'll get to hang with all of the peeps from the space, 'cos they work part time and rarely on a monday/tuesday.

there were two major things to sort out this week: one has been resolved. one isn't yet.

web design

at the end of last week, most of the content that we could chuck into the new back-end was there. it needs editing and tweaking, but 90% of the furniture was in last week, all in preparation for wednesday's meeting with the designer/developers. the big reveal. one of the interesting things about the project from the get-go was the fact that they were going to be designing-live. they would implement their designs onto the structure of the content and alter it on the site. the equivalent of live art.

we were all pretty excited, looking forward to seeing our armature - all the events, publications, projects, outline text and the structure - would look wrapped in colours, organisation, fonts, delineation, menus, etc.

unfortunately, the meredith music festival stole our thunder. i'm not really jealous, because the meredith site is amazing and only possible through the hard work of the kids at golden grouse, but because it was a lot of work, sadly the west space site had to be relegated to static sketches of what the site would look like. sculpture had become photography (ed - lesson, lauren?).

the site will have design applied to it from next week onwards - we will see the true form soon, and be able to engage with the design/development of it, but we have to be patient. and i'll have to do so from the northern hemisphere. bittersweet.


when i first arrived, after we upspecced the girls with new macs, back-up, etc; i set about making a better network for them, one that would approximate a file server: all data in a single place, separate from a computer and able to be backed up.

my network skills are not as good as i would like, but i knew the concept of what was important. i enlisted the help of my inhouse geek side-kick and we came up with an ethernet plan: modem>ethernet switch> main workstation>external hard drive>back-up.

over the last 2 months, this has been working well-enough, but occasionally we couldn't save to the file, or open a file properly
. no immense troubles, but enough to be annoying and problematic long term. obviously we really did need a file server, or a dedicated computer to control the traffic.

yesterday was the day in which i had to decide how to do it, so there was time to implement before i head off. i had been in contact with one of the other geeks, dan from TSO, and he was awesome, but really, we needed a fileserver*.

it was a pretty exciting day on an investigative mission:

i googled how to set up a basic mac file server - thanks to the very clear, if slightly naff, about section on macs

we had a G4 power mac spare and i used mac tracker to find out how high we could upgrade

i've obtained a copy of leopard, which has excellent file-sharing capablities, and we're going to install it and transfer the data on monday.

it's gonna work nicely! yay us!

it's a situation

party time

i wish i got a photo of our little party, but the gals threw a little lunch party for me to say 'cheerio' and wish me well. it was super lovely and they got me a couple of excellent books: letters to a young artist, and situation, edited by claire doherty. awesome.

next week is going to be little amounts of tidy up and then i leave these kids, hopefully with some more knowledge, a bit more confidence and a whole lot of capability to do the awesome things they do.

* i had a nice little family moment - i called my stepdad who has been in IT networks for years - and he helped me out and assured me that i wasn't as dumb at this as i felt. geek families rule.

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craft cubed and whitebox


if you had've told me 3 years ago that i would continue to create work that actively includes craft practices in spatial and media arts practice, i would probably have vomited on you. or at least told you that you had the wrong lauren brown.

but, it's true. my short time spent at craft victoria influenced me profoundly and i find myself creating works that relate to fashion, thread, wearability, patterns, measurement and insertion.

craft victoria have reinvented their winter festival program from a single textile-based festival, to one that encompasses a range of craft/making practice and aims to remind everyone that there's more to craft than bloody knitting scarves.

one of the interesting projects is called whitebox - a selection of video works that interact with the ideas, materials or gestures of craft practices. this year they also relate to the festival theme of childhood. and i'm privileged to have a video work in there: ariadne's tangled mess.

it also includes some spanky works by some of my fave peeps: dell stewart, cory archangel and holly mcnaught.

the festival opens tonight at craft victoria and there are a stack of exhibitions, commissioned works, satellite events and online programs to participate in. check out the site for all the deets.

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danteh's interwebs

thanks to the real west space geek in residence, kieran stewart.

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