ISEA2013 workshop

26 04 2013

Just saw this great workshop as part of ISEA2013. So disappointed that I won’t be able to participate.

If you are interested in the connected themes of art, education,  technology and sustainability, try to get to this event.
 
I can vouch for the great energy and ideas of Nina Czegledy, Ian Clothier and Nigel Helyer and the other workshop leaders look fantastic too.

Here’s the blurb:

ISEA 2013: THE ROLE OF ART EDUCATION IN AN AGE OF ECOLOGICAL CRISIS AND THE GLOBALISATION OF KNOWLEDGE

A workshop presented by ISEA2013 with Leonardo Education & Arts Forum (LEAF) in collaboration with ISEA2013 Education Workshop and in partnership with the MCA and the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA) at COFA, UNSW.

Location: Creative Studios, the NCCL (National Centre for Creative Learning), Level 3
Museum of Contemporary Art
140 George St Sydney, NSW.
Date: 14 Jun Friday.
Time: 2-5pm

What is the role of art education in an age of ecological crisis and the globalisation of knowledge? This workshop positions transdisciplinary approach as the key to sustainable, meaningful solutions. It will address the development of an art and science cloud curriculum, based on cross-disciplinary initiatives in North America and Europe in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) and Science, Engineering Art and Design education (SEAD).

About Leonardo Education & Arts Forum (LEAF)

The Leonardo Education and Art Forum (LEAF) promotes the advancement of artistic research and academic scholarship at the intersections of art, science, and technology.

Workshop Structure:

1. Presentation by workshop leaders and theme moderators – 1 hour

2. Breakout discussions – 3 groups – 1 hour

The role of the art institution in developing sustainable cloud curriculum that address the STEAM/SEAD vision (globalisation of education).
The shift needed to take place in art education in order to explore the new realities of evolving reorganisation of practice, research and knowledge.
Current thinking on the role of education in the age of ecological crisis, and sustainability of art and science’s mobilisation of collective group learning methodologies.
3. Summary of groups and general discussion – 1 hour

Workshop Leaders:

Nina Czegledy
Paul Thomas

Theme Moderators:

Jane Prophet
Mike Philips
Andrea Polli
Ian Clothier
Nigel Helyer
Joanna Hoffmann

LEAF, a working group of Leonardo ® /ISAST

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SCANZ2013: Crossing borders – identity, culture and place

29 01 2013

On Tuesday we had an excellent workshop where the topic was focused on ‘crossing borders’ and what that meant in terms of negotiating different scenarios. The speakers came from a range of perspectives including a Māori leader, scientists, and people who have worked extensively with Indigenous peoples.

One of the things that has really been powerful for me is how Māori people identify people they meet. When you meet Māori the way you introduce yourself is through where you come from (where you were born) and your ancestors. This is very different to a European or ‘western’ way of knowing a person, say through their qualifications, work and academic achievements. For me, the connection to place as informing identity and ‘meeting’ each other, offers a rich possibility for linking and sharing experiences.

A lot of my work as an artist over the years that been an exploration of ‘where’ and ‘how’ I fit, in terms of a relationship to land and place, especially in the Fauxonomy project. But even when I was working on Big Banana Time Inc, there was a need to discuss issues around place and identity within an appropriate context, given my ‘bitza’ migrant heritage. In many ways I have struggled with this question of ‘where’ I am from, in terms of a sense of belonging. I often tell people that I was born in Brisbane, brought up in Darwin and since then have lived in Victoria, Sydney and now Canberra. In terms of where I felt ‘connected’, I always think of Darwin, the countless hours I spent walking on the rocks at Nightcliff beach, and I still have dreams of diving off the rocks into the tropical waters of the Timor Sea. It was the place where I witnessed the power and beauty of nature, through monsoons, sweltering humidity and lush vegetation. The stars were like an enormous sparkling blanket and I realised as a child that humanity is such a small part of the story of nature.

Lightning Over Nightcliff Beach, 14 Nov 2010 by Andrew Brooks

Lightning Over Nightcliff Beach, 14 Nov 2010 by Andrew Brooks

The problem (in my mind) with claiming a place as ‘where’ I am from is a direct result of my migrant background. By living in Darwin and going to school with kids from remote communities all of the Northern Territory, I learnt that in Aboriginal cultures there is a wholistic connection between land, spirit, language and identity, that manifests in ritual, art, song and performance – as all of these elements are connected. In ‘western’ culture all of these elements have been described and located into separate compartments, called ‘disciplines’. Anyway, that is a much bigger topic that I won’t get into here…

I have been considering ‘where’ I am from and have had some very rich conversations around this topic with other SCANZ residents. When I think about it, I wasn’t actually born in Brisbane, I was born in Redcliffe, about 30 kilometres north of Brisbane. It was the original site of the colony of Brisbane, which was later disbanded for the current site of the city. Mr Wikipedia says:

Before European settlement, the Redcliffe Peninsula was occupied by the indigenous Ningy Ningy people. The native name is Kau-in-Kau-in, which means Blood-Blood (red-like blood).

Redcliffe holds the distinction of being the first European settlement in Queensland, first visited by Matthew Flinders on 17 July 1799. Explorer John Oxley recommended “Red Cliff Point” – named after the red-coloured cliffs visible from Moreton Bay – to the Governor Thomas Brisbane for the new colony, reporting that ships could land at any tide and easily get close to the shore. The party settled in Redcliffe on 13 September 1824, under the command of Lieutenant Henry Miller with 14 soldiers, some with wives and children, and 29 convicts. However, this settlement was abandoned after one year and the colony was moved south to a site on the Brisbane River at North Quay, 28 km (17 mi) south, that offered a more reliable water supply. For more information on Redcliffe’s history see http://www.redcliffehistoricalsociety.com

Redcliffe became a pastoral district in the 1860s and in the 1880s boomed as a seaside resort town with the paddlesteamer Koopa making regular trips to its jetty from 1911.

Postcard from Redcliffe

Postcard from Redcliffe

When we moved back to Brisbane from Darwin, I had huge issues adjusting to the culture and environment of Brisbane, I was extremely unhappy and became very rebellious, causing my parents more than their share of grief. One of the ways my parents would cope would be to send me to my Godmother, who lived in Redcliffe. When I would visit her, we would go for long walks along the coast and swim, and in many ways, when I think back, it was very healing for me to be near the sea.

Redcliffe

Redcliffe

So considering all of this, perhaps I need to explore and identify more with Redcliffe as the place I am from, or at least try and find and build the connections. In Māori introductions, you invoke your mountain, your river and your ocean. My mountain is Clear Mountain, my river is the Pine River, which snakes through northern Brisbane, though Aspley where I lived as a child and my ocean is the Pacific, deep and blue.

References 

Fauxonomy links

Postscript: I just noticed on Facebook that Redcliffe celebrates Waitangi Day – synchronisity!





Contemplating SCANZ2013 Themes – Revisiting Scalpland

24 01 2013

scalpanim

One of the things I have enjoyed most so far about the residency is the diversity of artists and art forms included in SCANZ. I have particularly loved the strong links between art, the environment and Indigenous knowledge. A powerful theme that has resonated is the connection between land and body – not being separate entities but coexisting and connected. This is strong in many Indigenous cultures and we have learnt so much over the last week, through the generosity of the Māori people involved in the residency and the people we have met through them, in particular Jo and Terri.

This relationship between land and body, especially articulated through performance and song has reminded my of one of my earliest works addressing land, body and identity – Scalpland.

This ‘poetic performance’ involved me clippering my hair off, using my head as a metaphor for land development and as a way of challenging feminine stereotypes of beauty and conformity by using the pseudo science of phrenology to highlight the perpetuation of assumptions derived from physical appearances. It was also a means to address a singular notion of history, one that was written onto the land by ‘clearing the surface’ and erasing the stories and histories that had gone before. Essentially this work was a response to the changes I witnessed returning to Brisbane after ten years away and the sense of loss I experienced.

When I returned in 1993, I did not recognise my old neighbourhood, the creek I played in as a child was now under a four lane highway, the bush where we made humpys (pretending we were Aborigines) was turned into retirement villas and my street was now a dangerous, major arterial road. It had become polluted and ugly, a place where traffic pollution was endemic and seemingly devoid of a community ‘heart’.

As I reflected on this work at SCANZ, I decided to do some research and came across some interesting historical images and maps. The picture below shows the site of Aspley State School, about 200 metres from home (on my street Maundrell Tce), before it became a school.

Aspley 1887 - site of Aspley State School

Aspley 1887 – site of Aspley State School

Here are some early maps, including an aerial map from 1946.

1925 Chermside and District

1925 Chermside and District

1937 Chermside and District

1937 Chermside and District

Chermside1946 Aerial

Chermside 1946 Aerial

In this image I have placed a current aerial map over the 1946 map to highlight the change, the close up follows after the next image.

Chermside-1946-Aerial_540-old-and-new

Chermside District 2013

Chermside District 2013

This shot is a much closer view of my block

Maundrell Tce 2013

Maundrell Tce 2013

One of the very interesting things I found out was that Gympie Road and Albany Creek Road were Aboriginal tracks. The creek where I played as a child was a meeting place and crossroad for potentially tens of thousands of years. Mr Wikipedia states:

Soon after Brisbane was declared a free settlement in 1842, people began exploring the lands north of Brisbane City. A northern route followed aboriginal tracks through what is now Kelvin Grove, Enoggera, Everton Hills, Albany Creek onto North Pine. This route is still known as “‘Old Northern Road'” and “‘Old North Road'” in places.
Another aboriginal track branching eastward from the Old Northern Road at the South Pine River crossed towards Little Cabbage Tree Creek and continued towards Downfall Creek. This track is now known as “Albany Creek Road” and “Gympie Road”. Albany Creek Road was known as “Chinaman Creek Road” before 1888.

Here is a map of where the tracks used to be, the line in the centre is Maundrell Tce (my street) with my house highlighted. Please note that Maundrell Terrace was NOT a track.

Ancient Tracks

Ancient Tracks

At this stage of my life, the idea of shaving my head is not very palatable (it takes too long to grow back), but I am really interested in exploring this piece on some level again, not sure how, but my time here at SCANZ has certainly reinvigorated my thinking about body/land/history/knowledge in an immediate way.

Check out these websites for more information:
http://queenslandplaces.com.au/node/39
http://www.chermsidedistrict.org.au/chermsidedistrict/default.asp

This post was also published on http://remotexmedia.wordpress.com





SCANZ2013 Update

23 01 2013

It was my intention to publish a blog every day we were here at the SCANZ2013 residency, but it has been so busy and I have been so immersed in the residency workshops, meetings and conversations that time has slipped away.

The residency formally started on the 20th January, but many people arrived a few days earlier. People who did come earlier were encouraged to go with the group to visit Parihaka, a Māori community about 50km south of New Plymouth. These visits coincided with monthly ‘days of observance’ where on the 18th and 19th of every month, people meet at the marae (meeting place) to acknowledge the historically significant events that occurred between 1860 and 1900.

The Parihaka website states “It is still the meeting place of the peoples of Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi. The 18th day of every month is still the pivotal forum of the community wherein the traditions and teachings of Parihaka are maintained. The spiritual legacy is one of living in harmony with the land and humanity. It is also a legacy of nonviolent resistance action and a belief in the peaceful and respectful co-existence of Māori and other races.”
For more information, go to http://parihaka.com/.

On the journey to Parihaka, we all learnt a song, which is now embedded in my brain forever. Here are the words:

Te Aroha
Te Whakapono
Me te rangimarie
Tātou, tātou e

The translation (hugely simplified as one word has many meanings and implications in Māori):

Love
Faith
Peace
For us all

Such beauty in meaning! As we traveled to Parihaka, Mt Taranaki loomed majestically above us, although the view was not clear as it is in this image below.
2013_0122CU

It was an experience that was humbling and overwhelming. As we proceeded into the house where the meeting was happening, we exchanged hongi (a traditional Māori greeting, where you press noses). We then sat around in a circle, where a number of people spoke and sang in Māori. I think the initial speakers were elders. Although I didn’t understand the language, I sensed that there was a lot of focus on remembering the past and its connections to now, family and some community business. At a certain point the conversation then was predominately English, and we were invited to introduce ourselves. I was very nervous, and when I announced that we were Australians, there was a bit of laughter, as my accent gave me away, lessening my nerves. I don’t wish to go into too much more detail of the meeting except to say it was a very welcoming and open environment, where although there were structures around who spoke when, everyone had a voice…

After the meeting, we all gathered in the community hall and had a delicious lunch, prepared by the community, relaxing and getting to know each other.

Here is a picture of the group, image by Ian Clothier.

SCANZ group at Parihaka

SCANZ group at Parihaka, image Ian Clothier

That evening all the artists gathered again to participate in a whakawhanaungatanga, a traditional way of introduction where we focused on three things – our identity and heritage, our impressions of Parihaka and what we wanted to achieve at SCANZ. It was a really great way to get to know each other, and draw out some interesting linkages and connections, between our identities and foci as artists.

It was an amazing day, which for me was a great introduction to SCANZ and the place and people of Taranaki. More coming soon!

I would also like to give a special thank you to Jo Tito for helping me with this post.





Growing a local social media presence

1 07 2012

Ideas about how to best engage with communities have been central to a number of my ongoing projects over the years. For example, the geokult collaboration focuses on notion of social and cultural mapping, another project Remote connections which explores technology uptake in remote Indigenous communities, and of course in my work with livinggreener.gov.au.

Recently, I have been considering how social media impacts on the concept of local, specially within the context of a postcode for example. Linda Carroli’s Placing project resonates for me – particularly as Aspley is a place I know intimately. I spent a number of formative years living in the Brisbane suburb and a range of creative work has been based on my experiences and perceptions of this suburban space – see Scalpland.

So what is happening in my local community? There are community noticeboards at the library and child care and family centre, but there appears to be little social media presence that has currency on the ground. We have the tools but not the engagement it would seem. Gumtree classifieds has reasonable listings for my suburb, and local Canberra online news website The RiotACT did have some recent stories. Some of these were a bit disturbing with a number of recent reports about shops and people being threatened with knifes. It wasn’t all bad news, there were also stories of developments that benefits families with a new childcare centre and new playgrounds being built.

The online factiods about my suburb do little to really give a sense of a place, excepting the obvious need to provide safe and creative places for children and young people. Over the time we have lived here we have seen many signs of growth in the west Belconnen area. New suburbs, much more traffic (though less public transport), and the local shopping centre is becoming busier and busier. Last week Coffee Club opened at Kippax and signs a McDonalds will be opening on the now vacant block indicate that there is much more  development to come. More people are moving to the area, but I still don’t know my neighbours that well after four years. Is it Canberra, or suburbia or just modern life?

Many ‘community’ building websites offer empty promises of being connected at the local level. For example, urban farming and sustainability facebook group LocalBlu https://www.facebook.com/localblu sounds like an amazing initiative, although when I go to the website there is nothing for my community or any of the other 6 Australian postcodes I submitted (including city centre of Sydney and Melbourne).

Facebook has three pages that could be starting point for local conversations – Kippax Fair, Woolworths Kippax and a page for suburb of Holt.

Community Engine is another community building website that uses Facebook to promote its message about growing your local community. When I went to the Community Engine website and plugged in my postcode, there were a lot of returns in the search, so it would be worth learning more about this tool.

At geokult we are developing a series of workshops and a ‘toolbox’ of tools for exploring and mapping communities. The aim is to promote and facilitate a more connected community. What we realise is that social media will not promote the project alone, it is important to remember the old school ways of raising community awareness – leafleting, letterbox drops and local stalls are highly effective ways to get to know people F2F. Over the coming months, I will be monitoring how my local community is engaging online, and experimenting with a range of techniques, with a purpose of developing a strategy for other community engagement projects.





From Geokult – Istanbul and ISEA2011 – physical and virtual access

18 09 2011
Lost at the Spice Bazzar or 'Leeches at the Pet Market'

Lost at the Spice Bazzar or 'Leeches at the Pet Market'

One of the biggest challenges we have experienced in Istanbul is actually working out where we are on the map. It is relatively easy to identity significant sites like the Hagia Sofia, The Blue Mosque and Taksim Square, but to try and find small galleries, restaurants and hotels off the main streets is somewhat difficult. We have four different tourist maps of the Sultanahmet and Taksim areas of the city and none of them are the same. That said, we have now been here nearly a week and have worked out how to get to most places that we want to go to.

We have also experienced other issues with access, primarily around accessing the Internet. At our hotel the WiFi connection changes with the wind, despite a wireless transmitter being on every floor. At the moment we are sitting on the rooftop terrace and the wind seems to be holding thankfully. Besides, there could be a lot worse places to sit and wait to the WiFi to blow in.

Navigating the ISEA2011 festival is also somewhat challenging, both physically and virtually as there is so much happening at many locations around the city.

Nicholas Knouf made these incisive comments about accessing the main ISEA2011 venue on the -empyre- list:

This requires being checked off of a list and then traveling through a metal detector with your belongings x-rayed. You find yourself in front of two gleaming towers of uncountable numbers of floors that reflect the blue sky. You realize that this is not the university, but rather the headquarters for Sabanci Holding (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Sabanci_Group), which appears to be the largest industrial and financial conglomerate in Turkey, while also the organization behind the founding of Sabanci University. Once you make your way through men and women in perfectly tailored business suits and executives being escorted into Mercedes to be driven to power lunches, you find yourself in front of another metal detector and x-ray machine which may or may not be used (I didn’t have to go through it when I entered). Inside is bland corporate decor not unlike anything else in the globalized world. Hacker or DIY space this certainly is not, and the internet seems to block anything that doesn’t travel on ports 80 or 443 (meaning any local e-mail clients on computers or smartphones won’t work; Blackberries won’t work; and seemingly only web traffic will go through).

Language is also proving a challenge at times. Many people do not understand English and when we have attempted to speak Turkish quite often we just get shrugged shoulders. What we have found effective however, especially in cafes and on the tram is to use French. This is quite hilarious as our French is very rudimentary, though expressions like ‘Pardon?’ and ‘Bon chance’ seem to be working well.

As we finish writing this blog, we now are at the Karakoy campus of the Sabanci University, because there is no WiFi access at our hotel. Apparently (according to the hotel manager), the entire area of Sultanahmet is without Wifi. Hmmm, I don’t think so.

Despite the challenges in access and language, we are still enjoying Istanbul and ISEA2011. We have seen some wonderful exhibitions as part of ISEA2011 and the Istanbul Biennial, which we will report on later.

This post has also been published in Geokult.





THATCamp CBR – Digital/Augmented space session

1 09 2010

In this session, the focus was on how we can traverse physical space with digital tools, map our location and connect with others. There was a particular focus on who has been in the same location and what this could mean for sharing an experience of a space or idea of place. The discussion was led by Dr Chris Chesher, who initiated the discussion by sharing his interest in robots and augmented space.

This topic is close to my heart as it is related to my creative practice as well as my PhD research.

This discussion covered a lot of ground in terms of covering tools, conceptual issues, future possibilities and challenges. For this reason, the majority of this blog post is a list of dot points which are split into three sections – concepts/issues, tools and references. The best aspect of this session was that there was a lot of blue sky thinking about what was imagined, what was possible and what is already emerging. Thanks to @ellenforsyth for providing the initial list of discussion points.

Concepts/issues

There were so many ideas, concepts and issues that emerged from this discussion, that I thought it prudent to try and only list some of the main themes:

  • how robots inhabit space – robots moved from science fiction to reality
  • gps – networked connections which inform about the space
  • spaces which have embedded information systems
  • what are the regulatory questions?
  • using mobile devices to record knowledge, stories in situ and feed it back for others
  • problems have changed – the technology gets smaller – perhaps the tablets are the solution – better image size – can make available in museum (Puke Ariki doing this now or soon)
  • two sides – using location based information to access received wisdom (museums, libraries, archives) but the other side of the community generated knowledge – accumulation of wisdom about specific locations – mention of 4square as a way of getting local recommendations
  • looking at memory – it may be the experience of the place, not the place itself – the personal stories, example of visiting the site of the former World Trade centre and the stories around
  • issue of following people on twitter who may over tweet their location – are we interested?
  • question about how to represent “my space” in a physical and an online way – how can an indiviual represent their physical space
  • second life mapping? dashboard with all spaces represented – could have a physical representation at some point, virtualising
  • artists working with gps locating combining in physical space – eg. Nigel Helyer
  • need for a truly topological architecture which can change, be exploratory, but can leave a trace others can interact with
  • AR – example which uses face recognition technology – as a navigation and access tool – using separate feeds for interaction,
  • is there an intiutive, pure way of leaving the trace in the environment?
  • the audio moving as you move through physical space – wanting diversity
  • who funds the staged experiences? collaborations? scalable? interlinking? example of staged experience cycling through inner west Sydney looking at galleries – other wise would not explore
  • push space – potential for marketing, but also possible for heritage and art discovery
  • example of Blutooth enabled signs in Adelaide for a band – song sample played
  • rfid – can slide tags in everywhere – no way of judging/evaluating them – perhap a solution is to be able to put filters on?
  • is there a market for the cultural sector to be a collective filter for people to opt to – as a collaboration rather than organisation by organisation?
  • idea that aggregators with crop up in the future – subscription option – also location filtering?
  • there could be a place for local aggregated information for discovery
    multiple view points helpful for many areas/locations
  • are the technologies providing the connections or enabling the connections
    broadening connections and also ultra local possibilities
  • different platforms with different norms about who you will have relationships with – differences with facebook, twitter, delicious…
  • need to keep in mind W3C standards and full accessibility – plus multilingual options? also social inclusion is very important – eg. iPhone ad showing people using their phone to sign
  • example of developing countries doing really interesting things with mobile phones, mobile phones as leap frogging technologies
  • example of using mobile phone technologies in refugee camps, and in transitioning to settlement
  • mobile phone as private space – this feeds into the notion of augmented space and personal/public have become blurred with the use of technology
  • banking transfer system in one African country based on mobile phone
  • are we already augmenting reality – by sharing things in different ways?
  • phones in West Bank provide a way around the changing boundaries – as can reroute people about the changes, adn map for boarder crossing pathways with real time updates
  • parking police mobile app – you know where they have been…
  • rfid tracking of cattle and sheep – genetics and feeding
  • stories from the US passing laws the prevent employees being micro chipped

Tools

  • readcloud – for ipad – people in a book club can comment, add images, where they are, twitter feeds, within the application of the book club, bringing together online and physical
  • soundcloud – similar with comments on the audio track, or kindle ap with high light within text to share possible sections of reading
  • Parramatta Library/Heritage centre will loan devices for accessing the walking tours
  • Museum which created a story ending at at secret room at the museum, online sources from Nina Simon blog
  • Tools for geocaching audio – blockchalk.com, graphito (iphone app)
  • What about qr codes, qr queries? has their time passed? Issues of adding qr codes to buildings – who owns the plaque, can the code fit? Not all phones can read qr codes
  • new forms of fiction – King Park app finding your way to particular points – you are part of the story – also a version for Sydney Park
  • judas goat – feral goat tracking device – way of doing feral goat reduction
  • mesh technology could tie in with local applications as well
  • in France – Free – two boxes – networked foneros (?) works feeding “extra” maps.fon.com bandwidth into shared area – sharing your own bandwidth
  • 4square – using gps to recognise where you might be, and can share information with friends or tweet or post tips for anyone to read – game mechanic “mayor” of place
  • Parramatta Heritage i-phone app for Governor Macquarie heritage walking tour, walking the past in Parramatta through the built up environment
  • mesh mobile phones – mobile phones reaching the tower through other mobile phones – for emergency phone towers

References

  • Cyberspace first steps (text title) this book was refered to, circa 1999, but I have not yet found it in a collection)