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so, what i thought was going to be a gutsy leap back into seeing art has resulted in me being ill.


but i've still managed to get excited about a few cool music thangs lately.
and one exhibition. i know, i'm supposed to be an artist. pfft!

last week i went to see the show at TCB by nic tammens. i like nic - he's a cool guy. and if he's not super big famous real soon, well, i don't know who will be. lucky i like his work or i'd be extra jealous :)

there was one work in particular that i liked - sister. it was the photographic documentation of a recent record purchased by nic and its murky legal past. the record, sister, by sonic youth (1987)

i'm a sucker for a conceptual piece at the best of times, but combine it with music nerdism, copyright controversy and sharp execution, and i'm sold.

the key to the puzzle was actually the room sheet you picked up when you walked in. (or didn't, as a few of my friends didn't). it outlined the cease and desist order from richard avedon's legal team.

richard is the copyright holder of the image in the top left of the rekkid there (the girl with the spots). in the first pressing, sonic youth didn't seek permission and/or licence for it, so it was recalled.

geffen/sonic youth reprinted, re-released and the cover we all know and love became the cover we all know and love. and richard's nickers went back to a state of untwistedness.

nic's installation includes a large, mounted photograph of a limited edition LP version of the recalled cover, released by flying nun records that he purchased for a cheap-ez $100 in hobart last year.

not just a boasting 'look what i got' (although i would argue that it's a justifiable chunk of it), the work obviously raises the copyright issue again, in the light of 21st century, megaupload, remix culture-ness. i'm all for it.

it also highlights that action of fanaticism and otaku that happens with collecting vinyl and musical obsession.

the rest of the works i'd seen before at VCA and i chose to ignore the remnants of some wacky lobster tank thing (for reasons of cynicism, squeamishness and weariness).  and whilst the whole install was solid but save, this work was the clincher for me and made my night.

image credit: pinched from the sonic youth site


ambient jewellery and external listening devices

media lab ear

this week is my first week back on deck and what a week it has been already. in fact, i should have modulated my stress levels a little better 'cos i've fallen ill with a stupid sore throat/virus thing, right in the middle of doing some cool stuff.

and it's the cool stuff i wanted to chat about briefly.

media lab melbourne have their second sprint event on. for more info about what a sprint is, you should go to their site. it's pretty rad, and i was sad to have missed the last one.

but this one is just as rad, and a little more drop-in than the last one, so it means that i can still participate, even when i'm working and/or sick.

the two main projects that ended up happening were up my alley in two slightly different ways:

the first is a perspective changer, which is using sound/listening, rather the sight to alter the viewer's perspecitve. it comprises of a wearable headphone kit, including mobile accellerometer app (or inbuilt one) which controls an external microphone/transmission rig.

media lab rig
when i last saw the rig, it was on a lazy susan, with wooden struts and three servos controlling x, y and z axes. i can't wait to get back to the lab to check out where it's at now (like i said, shitty that i've become sick today).

the other project is a series of wearable data stream items, transferring data from magnetic activity, solar activity, earth tremors and underwater acoustics and visualising them in a physical form. we've been checking out solar flare twitter streams, earthquake twitter streams, aururo borealis streams and are holding back on the underwater one, but likely something to do with the geology of it all.

mechanically, we're working with a peltier chip (which gets really hot and really cold), vibration motors, ferro fluid and electromagnets, and a simple bell. they will become physical indicators of real time environmental data.

it's jess kilby's project, really, but because of my interest in wearables, i've enjoyed helping out. whilst jess sourced data streams that we could (fairly easily) scrape, yesterday i spent time making a database of how to connect the digital data streams into the analogue physical properties. what kind of mapping we'd need to do, what we'd take and how it would convert into input/outputs. it's all starting to make a little more sense to me now, thanks to just a little play time.

(hopefully there's more play time coming up and i can transfer the skills and the time over into the wearable sound works that i've been hoping to dev for a while.)


2011 playlist

for the last 2 years i've been making a smart playlist in itunes of all the songs i listened to in that year.

it's a slightly flawed attempt at getting a snapshot of my musical year. between that and my last.fm charts, i have an approximation of what kind of music i've liked, what the big hits were for me and how behind i am on pop-culture and actually listening to new music.

ok, so maybe it's a bit weird and self-obsessed to do that. i'd like to blame age conte and russell davies, both of whom talked about lists of songs they listened to using last.fm and itunes. but the reality is that i've kept it up long after they wrote about it...

which just makes me a sad sack, with not enough self-obsession to do it properly, and not enough reason to not do it at all. lucky i like myself for a whole bunch of other reasons :)

here's last year's list (you should be able to click to enlarge)

*it's slightly flawed because i keep forgetting to reset the play count, and it doesn't include songs i play on my iphone (which is increasingly the bulk of my listening these days).


the musicality of humans

i'm reading musicophilia by oliver sacks at the moment. from what i gather, serious psyche/neuro peeps don't really dig his writing (just like serious philosophers treat alain de botton with a bit of disdain), but i quite like it.

the book is a collection of stories and case studies of musicality and the way the brain processes music, with a focus on anomaly or neurological disorders that fuck with the normal way of experiencing, perceiving, feeling or understanding music.

the first grand statement, which hadn't actually occurred to me before (stupidly), was that only humans are musical beings. sound is universal, but music is specific only to us crazy homosapiens. of course it is.

what a revelation!

and i watched that in action just yesterday.

i'm staying with my folks at the moment and their dog zephyr.
with an empty house to myself, i put watch the throne on the stereo and proceeded to dance and sing along. because it's a shithot album and i can't help it.

and i noticed, for the first time, a completely quizzical look from zephyr and a sense of confusion. he wasn't sure exactly what i was doing - was i raising my voice because i was angry? is that upper register falsetto (in why i love you) trying to communicate something specifically dog-ish? and what's with the wild arm gestures and the hip swinging around the loungeroom?

obviously my parents don't jive around their loungeroom to jay-z and kanye west like i do, so the poor mutt is not acclimatised to such weird behaviour. and it was the first time that it occurred to me that what i was doing was kind of weird to anything other than another human (and even then...).

i love it when my world shifts a little like that.

brain image credit: miller-mccune


first gig

on tuesday night i went with my sister to see the arctic monkeys. this was the second time i had seen them and although it couldn't compare to my cardiff experience in 2007, it was still pretty rockin'. it was great to go with my sister, who has been a fairly recent convert - we haven't been to many gigs together really (except a stand-out summersault festival in 1995)

apart from the gig itself, the other standout experience was watching the father-son combo taking up the seats in front of us. the son was likely about 11/12 and a wannabe drummer (judging only from the air-drumming). 
dad was clearly into rock music and liked the arctic monkeys - especially their earlier stuff. both were dancing, rocking along. both were making bad videos of some of the songs. there would be knowing glances between them and in particularly amazing bits of musical genius, the dad would nudge his son - as a guide to true art.
it was hot in there and son would wipe his sweaty forehead on dad's shirt - which was perfectly acceptable to dad - all in the spirit of truly experiencing a rock'n'roll gig.

i was really proud of that man and a little jealous of that kid. my first gig was at 15, thanks to my best friend and the influence of her older brother. and my sister went to her first gig with her best friend at the time. but this kid is getting handed down a tradition of gig-going from an early age. and being able to share it with his dad, too. what a fantastic way to see a band.