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so, my laptop is still in apple service centre purgatory and i'm writing this in an internet cafe on windows vista with internet explorer on a german keyboard.  i can't work out whether you should pity me, or be impressed at my committment to blogging in the face of such appalling conditions. actually, me and half the developing world are totally tight right now. maybe i should take up spamming and earn some cash, while i'm here.

so, christmas.

santa's sleigh

can i just tell you that it's sooooo awesome being in germany for christmas. it's super fluffy sprinkly white snow everywhere. candles are lit, everyone is cheery, the shop assistants offer you marshmallows when you're browsing and the decorations are rad. because it's dark at about 4pm, everything is really cosy. i went to my first Weihnachtsmarkt last week and that was the beginning of my christmas spirit.

i baked gingerbread the other day (and have now eaten too much of them - lucky i have a second batch to give away) and have wrapped almost all my christmas presents. i've made cards, wrapping paper and am all skipping and cheery and red-cheeked from drinking hot Kindepunsch (which is the non-alcoholic version of Gluhwein).

it's awesome.

and yet, weirdly, it doesn't feel like the end of the year. maybe it's the winter-thing messin' with my internal clock, but i have to keep reminding myself that there are only 10 days left of '10.

my dear friend rob has tagged me in one of those memes that are relentless, but which i secretly love. so here are my answers to that. and some extra for all the goodness for the year - to combat the ad-heavy bent on these ones.

merry christmas to all of you and big smooches for the new year.

1/ Best single thing [personal &/or professional] you did/achieved in 2010.sorry rob - my year can't be boiled down into a single awesome thing, thankfully (imagine having such a singular life! how dull...) so here's my top 5:

1. moved to germany for the second-half of the year. as all the australians and a couple of english peeps i know will attest, that is not easy. living in a city in which you're not a native speaker is hard enough, but then there's the unspoken elements of living in a place you're not culturally from that really tickle your haemorroids. the fact that i have done it, impresses me still. i haven't done it perfectly and will be heading home in feb (because of that), but i did it. and i know that i'll be back here again - hopefully soon.

2. made some really good work. it may not all have been received well, but i'm pleased with the work i made this year. and i made a lot of it, which i'm also pleased about.

3. i got some funding from the government. it was pretty handy and helped me do both 1 + 2. it will also mean that i'm going back to australia to do another amazing project.

4. went to some bloody fantastic festival/symposia this year. ISEA, ars electronic, agents/actors/applicants, thrilling wonder stories. i learned SO much and had my brain baked several times. which is fantastic.

5. danced every weekend until at least 4am from september onwards. so that may not warrant top five in anyone else's book, but it totally is in mine. i've had loads of fun and really got to see some shit-hot electronic and dancehall acts play over the last few months. it's something that i just cannot do back home and will be something i dearly miss in melbourne.

2/ Most shameful thing [personal &/or professional] you did/achieved in 2010.i would love to only have done one shameful thing this year, but i did quite a few. most of which i have either made amends for, or learnt from. but they still kinda sting too:

1. installed work that i didn't check properly. the file i uploaded to the ipod for a recent exhibition was incorrect - with parts missing and a double-time section of the the track. it was awful. and embarrasing. i learned about quality control, and taking time with making work. and having someone else look at it too.

2. took on a job then left again after four weeks when i got arts funding. i didn't handle it with the kind of courtesy that i would like to think i had. and i disappointed people i had known for a while.

3. made my mum cry. my mum and i have a good but slightly fraught relationship and this year the difficulties between us came to a head. it's all good now and we're going to be doing some awesome talking and working shit out when i get back, but that was not a nice moment.
 3/ Ad industry scandal or scoundrel of the year.
i have my opinions about a very specific 'scandal' i'm aware of, which i'll keep to myself.
but actually, there are greater scoundrels than some of the peeps involved in that anyway. actually, i think that rupert murdoch continues to be an ad industry scoundrel that has far too much control over media and public opinion. when i log out from my hotmail account and see the GARBAGE that passes for news, content or even advertising, i want to vomit. i also think that the fact that sexist, racist and homophobic content continues to pass as advertising these days is scandalous. can't we just leave that shit in the last decade, please?

4/ Your overall rating for 2010 out of 10.
9 there were a few weeks where i thought i was going to lose it there, otherwise it would have been a 10. this year has been pretty stellar. and, even better, i feel like next year is going to be even better!

5/ What do you think will be the most overhyped advertising related subject of 2011?

i think television should be euthenased. it is already become a bigger pile of stinking turdishness, for which content isn't really being 'developed', but is being kept on life support by the drugs of advertising. the sooner advertising pulls the plug, the more that writers, producers, actors, etc, will be able to focus their money, time and energy on producing great content for more selective media: dvd, online download, online viewing and mobile content. hopefully the days of all staring at a big box on a sunday night are almost over.

5/A The best exhibitions of 2010?

again, a top 5 is in order, as i saw quite a few (and apologies for the lack of art-related posts lately. you know, iphones aren't really blogging-friendly devices, as awesome as they are)

1. rachel whiteread's drawings at tate britain. ms whiteread is one of my all-time art inspirations, so seeing her drawings filled me with such joy, hope and kick-in-the-pants motivation that i could hardly speak.

2. & (ampersand) at the daimler collection. heavy with politics, determination and a whole lot of sadness, it was a show that wasn't 100% brilliant, but the ones that were, really stayed with me for a long, long time.

3. michaela gleave. both her work at anna pappas, and her work in berlin. i've like michaela's work for aaaages, so it was a pleasure to get multiple chances to see it.

4. abby mcculloch at helen gory. stellar. standout. every work was stunning and it sold out and i was really proud of her. even though i don't know her.

5. innere stimme at veneklasen/werder. uplifting, goosebump-inducing, long and heavy with meaning. it literally resonated with me. and sat in my sonic memory for a couple of weeks afterwards.

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things to not do in stockholm


miss your flight.

 because i had a ridiculously early flight back from skavsta airport which is about 80kms from stockholm, i stayed at the airport hotel. i had no mobile and no laptop and no alarm clock with me (for various reasons), so i asked to be woken up in the morning (4:30 for breakfast, thanks). i woke at the sound of my neighbour's door opening, raced to the foyer with the big clock on the wall and saw that it was 6:30. gate closed, flight departing. next one not 'til the next day.

it was like something out of trains, plains and automobiles - although i surprised myself by not swearing so much. l made it back home, 14 hours and €150 later, having learned some vital lessons. phew.

get blown up.

this super-sad story about a car bomb in stockholm was a bit shocking. not least because of the fact that peeps were killed, that the apparent reasons for it seemed a bit stretched (sweden's involvement in afghanistan is 500 troops. whilst still 'involved', that's hardly a major player from what little i know of military deployment), and the fact that me and my friend phiroze were there just a week earlier!

but on a lighter note, we had a fab time. see these pics.


STK_Mixtape Projector_web

STK_Phiroze overlooking STK_web

STK_Drop Coffee Brew_web

STK_Snow Sunshine_web

STK_Moderna Text_web

STK_Judd Stack_web


STK_Bookshelf Porn_web

STK_Gingerbreak MBP_web

UPDATE:  my laptop has overdosed and is now in intensive care in a berlin service centre. who knows when i'll be able to get back to regular drivel. merry christmas to all y'all!



the future

a few weeks ago, i popped over to london to take care of a few things: there were a series of excellent exhibitions on that i didn't want to miss (i'll write about them later); there were some friends i needed to touch base with; and there was a little symposium about the future to attend.

thrilling wonder stories, part II was organised by geoff from bldgblog and liam from tomorrows thoughts today at the architecture association in london.* and featured a stack of writers, gamers, interactive designers, artists and researchers talking about a whole range of fiction-based ideas about the future and its possible construct.

check out the list of amazing people involved!

oh, and did i mention it was free? charlie and i were there at 10:30am, expecting a marauding mass of architects falling over themselves to be part of the discussion. turns out architects aren't quite like that.

i don't really consider myself much of a futurist - sometimes i'm disappointed when discover that i'm actually too romantic to readily cast aside old ways of behaving in favour of new innovations. but i'm  really attached to the idea of innovating and changing and mixing it all up so that we don't get caught up in our stinking thinking.

and unlike my dear friend rob who thinks that kind of talk is bollocks, i do actually believe in the idea (one i think i've garnered from bldgblog or russell davies or some other awesome brain) that in aiming way forward to gain 10, with the inherent 'backdraft' of life, you can still actually gain 3.

science fiction (inc some of its design associates like buckminster fuller and pentagram), is an excellent tool for designing for the future in this way. if you get wacky and can really design for 'a galaxy far, far away' you might just unlock something that will be functional for a building that will be great for 10 years' time.

or, free from the constraints of 'must be viable', you can end up with 'could be possible' and you start to solve problems that no one has bothered to think about yet, whilst still make them believable to an audience firmly sitting in the present day. language, imagination and concept rooted in fact. ftw.

so, the day was split into 5 sessions (perhaps a little OTT, by the end of it all), but each session started to unpick different aspects of designing for the future.

i didn't really make very objective, journalist notes like rory did, so my report of the day is going to be quite subjective and perhaps influenced by where the ideas took me, rather than what was actually said.  (if that isn't a caveat for sloppy reporting, misquoting and laziness, i don't know what is!)

the ideas which floated my particular boat i'm calling designing for hiding, the smell of the moon, and using changed behaviour through gaming.

designing for hiding

geoff manaugh spoke about geologists dealing with nuclear waste having to come up with a protocol to signify to future generations: DO NOT OPEN THE CAN!!. basically, there's a stack of toxic waste being drilled into the earth, which is all fine and dandy for us who can read a sign or two, or who have the means to be in communication with the culprits. but how do you build a vault to hide that garbage, with those 60,000 years in the future in mind. given that we've no concrete idea about what stonehenge, the pyramids or macchu pichu are trying to tell us - how can we expect the equivalent to understand what our 'wrong way go back' signs might mean.

not only did this particular feat of language and signification pique my interest, but the whole idea of designing for the hidden was exciting too.

everyone knows that if you want to hide something, put it in plain sight. the real outcome of a tunnel, maze or complex series of encryptions is not safekeeping, but a means of revelation, discovery and inquisition. the safe is the best kind of learning tool. it got me thinking of other ways to use this kind of design process. maybe the best way to teach young boys to read is to bury books in a well, or the hide ideas about sound behind a glass soundproof door.

the smell of the moon

now, when i told this story to my scientific photographer friend, of course i didn't have all the facts and he picked holes in it straight away (spoil sport), but the idea and the possibility of what this means still totally floated my boat.

nicola twilley presented a story about perception from the moon - astronauts on one of the apollo missions recalled the particular smell of the moon - that it was something like gunpowder. they brought back a sealed sample of the moon dust and no aspect of its chemical added up to smell anything like gunpowder. which means that the way humans smell on the moon is different to the way we smell on earth.

which of course calls into question our whole perception of life itself, but also about the possibilities for the actual science of earth and/or the moon itself. if we perceive things differently away from earth, whose to say that things aren't actually different here. and if the chemical properties are different away from the moon, whose to say that what we believe is on the moon is not completely different. like, what if we only see a desert of sand and dust and fuck-all, but

now all of this is fascinating from a philosophical point of view, but the reason i think this kind of 'what if' thinking is important is for other areas of existence. like the perception of power, or the perception of life itself (like the couldabeen arsenic-ingesting bacteria from last week).

which leads me onto...

changed behaviour through gaming

ed stern spoke about the splash damage game brink, which was an intense FPS multi-player, multi-level game with some amazing architectural and wayfinding structure inbuilt. he spoke about the need to really make things work - "a barrel needs to big enough to really hide behind and small enough to jump over". each level had varying levels of decay - this being based in a future in which war is being waged. the imagery was brilliant and the architectural possibilities for archiving and spatial experience were super exciting.

when talking about designing the next version of the game, ed said that "it would have more women in it" -  highlighting the fact that v1.0 was all blokes**. which had me thinking about a game solely designed on feminist or gender equality principles - it could be a completely different world: social organisation could be different, motives and spatial organisation could be altered -  imagine what that could actually look like!

and what would the kids who played that game grow up to be like, if they had already experienced a world in which women and men really were treated equal? what if gaming is used to construct alternative social dynamics in which we experience an altered perception, reinforced by haptic and sensorial memory. i mean could we equalise men and women? could the israel/palestine conflict be solved through gaming?

epic win.

UPDATE: so it turns out jane mcgonigal has presented some similar ideas, and join the company and method are also doing work on the small ways in which you can use play/gaming for changing behaviour.

*here's the chain of promotion: @roryhyde;@sheseesred;@CharlieGower + @johndodds (who watched it live on the interwebs). who sez we're disconnected, yo.

** although the lead character, i noticed, was an afro-carribean man - something i haven't really seen in macho gaming this far. not that i'm a gamer, per se - i have zero dexterity.

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a list of things to do in stockholm

Gamla Stan - The Old Town of Stockholm

hi. yes, i'm sorry darling for being away for a long time. and i've rarely been in contact. i went to london and got caught up in life. but it doesn't mean that i don't love you, i promise. but i'll change all that. really, i will.

after i get back from stockholm.

eep! i'm super-excited. i know that it's already pretty damned icy here. snow in london, snow in berlin, snow in stockholm. but i'm looking forward to checking out a city i've not been to before.

i'm going with my friend phiroze, who has an amazing job and who has put me in charge of 'entertainment'. that could go anywhere, but in the interest of being a proper tourist for a few days, here's a list i've done so far...

moderna museet 

Kungsträdgården ice skating

drop coffee (i'm very proud of myself - it's only at #3 on the list!)


nordic museum

the office #15

boat tours of the royal canal

dark tours/rooftop tours

the globe

any other suggestions?

image credit: gorgios karamanis from flickr



hipsters v2.0

mayhem posted a link on facebook last week to an interesting article about hipsters
i have spent time scoffing at the hipsters, whilst feeling that somehow i was getting old and out of the loop. and yet, at the same time (especially after this honda jazz ad) had quiet feelings of shame about my own apparent hipster qualities - see the references to penguin classics, free trade and 200gsm.

since then i've oscillated back and forth again between compassion and absolute derision for the hipster thang.





knowledge, taste and aesthetic value

these are some of the qualities of the hipster. the true hipster.
and yes, i must accept that these are qualities that i actually support, quite like in others and sometimes in myself. the search for knowledge through reading (and the interwebs), shared knowledge, touchy-feely allegiance to the less-rational and a love of art, ethics and politics are all sexy. the dandy and the fop are back in form, as is androgeny, giving us some slight relief from the male = macho, female = t&a. and colour is a thing again. all of these, i concur, are actually pretty cool.

cool for the sake of it

and yet, last week i found myself in a nightclub in mitte* - one full of hipster types - who all displayed the very worst qualities of the sub-culture: completely self-centered, focusing only on their appearance to others, insular and talking all the way through some cracking dj sets. some were so busy flaying their hair across their oversized glasses and dancing to get attention that they completely missed the rhythm of the music. this from the curmudgeonly gen-x/y type in black who danced next to the decks for 3 hours straight.

*ahem. for those that care, it was 'cos trevor jackson AND erol alkan were playing. for €12. it was brilliant!

the romantics

what i've noticed, though, is that all these qualities are that which typify the romantic era of cultural history too. that well-dressed chap, lord byron and his poetry reading, love-letter writing, mincing, curvacious dandy-types were all the rage and helped veer culture slightly away from the rigid rationalist industrialists for a while. veronica kent often speaks about a neo-romanticism in art, and although i'm not a fan of the pyramid/hypercolour aesthetic aspect of the art being seen at the moment, i agree with her.

check out these v1.0 fucking hipsters

hipsters at trust
Hipsters at Trust


Hipsters reading Penguin classics

Hipster 2

granted, these are just half-thoughts, but if it's even a little bit true, it's going to be interesting to watch the neo-realist courbet/manet types coming through in the next 20 years.

hipster 2.0 images from look at this fucking hipster
hipster 1.0 images from the alte nationalgalerie, berlin

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