Archibald Prize 2013

23 03 2013

I really love the portrait of Hugo Weaving titled ‘hugo’ by Del Kathyrn Barton, the winning entry of the $75000 Archibald Prize for portraiture for 2013.

To be honest, I don’t usually write about painting. Probably because my professional and creative practice has focused more on the online and digital space where objects are created via an interface, electronically using software keyboard and mouse as opposed to canvas, paint and board.

Painting as art occupies a commodified space as a media form, because of the sale-ability and collectibility of the object, creating networks of power to barter the objects, something I have never felt comfortable with to a certain extent. When I started to use digital imaging to create souvenir objects in the Big Banana Time Inc. project and making my first vanilla html website in 1995, I was drawn in by the potential for people to edit and share media, and for the possible creation of new and different art forms as a result of that convergence. Art for everybody. Of course, that is a utopian idea, as there is still a digital and economic divide.

I think it was one of my painting teachers stating that it was the only media that mattered in art, and that it was the apex of art forms, that put me off being a painter. This is beyond paintings I create for myself, better known as therapy art.

From memory the teacher went on to say that within painting was another hierarchy of value – ¬†portraiture, followed by landscape followed by still life. Funnily enough, it was my pencil drawings,¬†portraits and self portraits copied from photographs and images from¬†women’s magazines, that got me into art school. Autobiography plays a continuing role in my work, although not via a form of literal self-representation, rather it is via transmissive media and a connection to place, that a narrative is constructed around ‘self’ and experience. Scalpland was an exception of course, but it in a way it was a necessary linking between the body and the map.

As a viewer, I enjoy looking at paintings, particularly portraits, and marvel at the technical skill and broad interpretation of the genre. Earlier this week I was checking out the finalists of the Archibald prize on the website and spent some time looking at the mediums used by artists selected as finalists. I was curious because I primarily paint with acrylic and am starting to play with watercolour. Many entries were oil on canvas or oil on linen. One of the things stuck me about ‘hugo’ was the use of mixed media – watercolour, gouache and acrylic, it was good to see such skill in handling the media, each medium is recognizable in the work in a way that strengthens the image.

Archibald winner - hugo

Archibald winner – hugo by Del Kathryn Barton

I love how the cat ties the picture together, its tail wrapping like a snake and then morphing into the gum leaves. There is something appealing about the way the figure of Hugo is painted in watercolour, making his form translucent, like background painting, giving the sense that the painting is not quite complete, a story not fully told. The gesture of how he is absent-mindedly holding the cat, its claws creating scratches on his arm is quite intriguing. Is it a pet, is it a wild cat?

As yet I have not seen the exhibition ‘in the flesh’. I can’t wait to head to Sydney for a weekend soon ūüôā

Having the freedom to make bad art

23 03 2013

A while ago I was talking to a friend about my art making ‘therapy’, who had incidentally also been playing in the studio, experimenting with painting and mixed media just for the sake of it. We were discussing how this form of making is very cathartic as it takes the pressure off the production process. Therapy work is often made by artists and it is usually work that is not made for the public domain.

Bad art logo surrounded by elegant polar bear blanket - gift from grandma

Bad art logo surrounded by elegant polar bear blanket – gift from grandma

Quite often this type of work is considered ‘bad art’ as catharsis is not a quality valued in serious art, hence the reason it is usually work that is made just for the artist’s benefit.

My friend told me the great story about how she had gone as far as creating a separate mark for this type of work, stamping it as ‘bad art’ and thus letting go of the pressure of the work being serious. I thought this was a fantastic idea and have started to incorporate this symbol in all my self-proclaimed ‘bad art’.

The mark of bad art: M.A.A

The mark of bad art: M.A.A

This symbol is composed of my initials T, M, B, and also features the initials M, A, A which stands for ‘middle aged anarchist’, a joke nickname given to me by friends a couple of years ago.

So, if any time in the future you happen upon my work and it has this symbol, you can be guaranteed that it is bona fide ‘bad art’.

“Unlike Us” conference and reader

14 03 2013

Are you over all the hype of social media networks like Facebook? Are you tired of reading all the delusional self marketing that goes on? Perhaps a bit jaded by all the cat memes? If so, and you are in Amsterdam, then you might like to get along to the third Unlike Us conference March 22 and 23, 2013 at TrouwAmsterdam.

Unlike Us #3 Mini Poster

Unlike Us #3 Mini Poster

Unlike us is a project that was conceived by Geert Lovink (Institute of Network Cultures/HvA, Amsterdam) and Korinna Patelis (Cyprus University of Technology, Lemasol), which is designed to ‚Äúanalyze the economic and cultural aspects of dominant social media platforms and to propagate the further development and proliferation of alternative, decentralized social media software.‚ÄĚ

The project is supported by the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam, founded by Geert Lovink. You can check out more information on my earlier post Unlike Us: Understanding Social Media Monopolies and their Alternatives

To complement the conference,  Unlike Us will also be launching the first-ever Unlike Us Reader at the event. Here is some information about the reader:

Unlike¬†Us¬†#3¬†has “Social Media: Design or Decline” as its theme and will be centred around the following sub-themes: ‚ÄúTheory and Critique of the Social‚Äö‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúAre You Distributed? The Federated Web Show,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúPolitical Economy of Social Networks: Art & Practice‚Äö‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúMobile Use of Social Media‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúFacebook Riot: Join or Decline.‚ÄĚ Speakers include Bernard Stiegler (FR), George Danezis (UK), Reni Hofm√ľller (AT), Arvind Narayanan (US), Spideralex (ES), Benjamin Grosser (US), Tobias Leingruber (DE), Simona Lodi (IT), Hester Scheurwater (NL), Nathan Freitas (US), Marion Walton (ZA), Miriyam Aouragh (UK) and many more. Additionally, there will be a set of workshops: Facebook Resistance and the Social ID Bureau with Tobias Leingruber, and a ‚Äėhackathon catalyst‚Äô‚ÄĒall held at the MediaLAB Amsterdam.

A full list of speakers, more information about the program and details on locations and tickets can be found here on the Unlike Us website: .

Gephi and making charts with Facebook data

13 03 2013

Last semester I signed up for a Social Network analysis course with coursera, which unfortunately I never had time to do. This semester, I have reenrolled and have been watching the lectures and starting to play with Gephi with my facebook data which has been fun.

I created this image of my  first visualization.

Gephi - My Facebook data

Gephi – My Facebook data

The big cluster or ‘connected components’ are mainly artists, writers, cultural workers and academics. The cluster up the top is all my Facebook friends based in Central Australia, mainly from Yuendumu. The smaller networks in the middle are friends from school, family and work. The colours refer to gender, green for male, blue for female and not defined is red. The size of the nodes represent the degrees of connection (the friend who has the most friends in common with me), which happened to be good friend ¬†and writer Linda Carroli.

I also came across this link to an article discussing the top 20 data visualization tools which discusses some really cool looking tools and even the tried and true, like Excel.

3 03 2013

New post on geokult


Finding Balance: Mura Gadi is the title of a forthcoming exhibition at the Belconnen Art Centre in 2013.

A series of walks in national parks in the Australian Capital Territory and southern New South Wales is the source material for a new body of work by Tracey M Benson, which explores the idea of finding a place of connection in an environment far from a familiar notion of home.

The traditional owners of the ACT region of Australia are the Ngunnawal people, with the Yuin closer to the coast, the Ngarigo to the south east of Canberra, Wiradjuri to the west of the ACT and Gundungurra to the north.

‚ÄėMura Gadi‚Äô ¬†translates from ¬†the Ngunnawal language as ‚Äėpathways for searching‚Äô.

Benson has lived in the ACT for more than a decade but on many levels has not really settled into the Canberra community, despite enjoying the location, people and natural environment…

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