Lots of old content gone, lots of new content coming. Several planned exhibitions on their way… Plus I have begun learning Xcode (am I too late?). Anyway, apps are on their way so that is exciting… Meanwhile I have been writing writing writing my little heart out on some new papers so… When I’m done, ill share the knowledge as always. Either way, visit 8artists.net to see what else I’ve been up to! If you are in Wagga Wagga or surrounds, come to the opening this Friday from 6-8pm!
It has been a super busy time at the moment. Working through finishing touches on my masters thesis, making new work, building a house… So many other big things I can’t yet share! More work is coming though! It really is so stay tuned! Sorry it has been a while between updates. I have attached one new work for you to enjoy. I recommend downloading it, opening it in a slide show full screen, and really taking sometime with it to let it really sink in.
[EDIT] : Whilst this work began as a postmodern critique and a bit of a joke, it appears I may have an opportunity to exhibit this work.
I have been having the best time at work lately now that I have a number of Honours and Postgraduate students of my own to stir my brain in to some sort of order. This is the link that brings Lacanian Philosophy, Gender Dimorphism, Post Documentary and Romanticism together, hallway conversations, coffee dates and a renewed environment of higher-education learning. All it took was stopping the barrier between academic and student by offering offices to these students (Hons/Masters). A space where we can freely and openly discuss ideas, under no pretense and without title or relationship of student/academic to come between.
I have been enjoying the progress we have made so far and I am in the appreciative position of watching the following projects take shape. While these are not word-for-word the topic proposals, they are in my mind indicators that exemplify the direction of each of these students at the current time… I think we have some interesting projects coming along.
* Homospatial Thinking: Lacanian Psycho-Analysis of Animated Visual Metaphor.
* Gender Dimorphism: Image and Representation of Gender Dimorphism in Early Animation Practice.
* New Romanticism: Exploring a 21st Century return to notions of the Sublime.
* Historical Agencies: The Role of Narrative and The Artist’s Book in Post Documentary Photography.
* The Gothic and the Sublime: Subversions of Traditional Religious Representations of the Body in Art.
As I have mentioned before, I consider myself a conceptual designer, but not an actual physical object designer… so in a hope to prove that, because Im okay that I’m not that good, here are my latest two designs.
I usually keep this page very professional, so perhaps some slippage in to a conversational style every now and then wont be too problematic. I have found myself well and truly daunted by the prospects of house buying/building. So many choices, so much budgeting & then there is every second person with advice that often conflicts with previous advice. I think it is a mine field where you may get what you need, and might just get some things you want, and in the end its a battle of compromise. Now, I am lucky in the sense that so far everything I have wanted is the exact same as my partner Shona Pratt wants, so thats a good thing, but gee its a mental drain!
I began these thins as a sceptic, became a convert and now I am a sceptic again. I find them to be quite dystopian, its like a wall of opinionated white noise between the over-educated. The idea that the free-ing of university education results in some greater level of educational equality seems far fetched to me. If you don’t know ‘how to learn’, which I think is what realistically university courses are actually designed to do, then a MOOC wont help you one iota. You need to begin a MOOC knowing how you, as an individual, learn best, and how to ask questions, and where to go for answers. Its a rich get richer and poor get poorer scenario; the educated can further or expand their field of knowledge, whilst those who haven’t had the good fortune of learning self-initiated educational skills will likely just disappear in the nameless and faceless mass of opinion. Let us not forget the fact that the very basis of a MOOC lies in the adaptability and availability of expensive technologies, which are genuinely not in the hands of the poor who need education in order to remove themselves from the cyclical nature of poverty itself. Will the MOOC save higher education? I don’t think so. I can do it, I am doing it, but give me authentic experience over this stuff any day.
Atleast the one thing I have learned from this so far, is that time spent in front of technology is useless without time spent away from it in critical self reflection. I have taken up morning walks again… one hour, every day of the week, 6am-7am, no excuses.
I have enrolled in four subjects for the Jan-February uni break, something to do, occupy my mind, learn some new things… here they are!
Introduction to Digital Sound Design - The University of Edinburgh
E-learning and Digital Cultures – Emory University
Introduction to Sustainability - University of Illinois
Introduction to Guitar – Berklee College of Music
I have also just finished my application for PhD… mid year start I hope… study, study, study… keep the mind active!
The solar plate workshop was much more fun than I expected, and quite insightful. I am yet to figure out a way that this process might be utilised throughout my own work, but now that I know the process then perhaps in the future I will have concept that marries up with this methodology. There is a few ideas going through my head, but nothing concrete. I am going to source some plates and to practice the technique, the plates only last 6 months so I will have to use them, but thats fine with me… all good practice.
In the meantime I have been thinking about the paper I want to write for gamestudies.org… here is some preliminary thinking…
From the earliest gaming intermediations setting up the predominant character-led narrative has required users to subscribe to the façade that their explorations only form part of a larger body of interwoven explicit or potential narratives. These explicit and potential narratives sit as perceived histories and observed accounts played out concurrently to a deep-play in the minds-eye. The suspension of reality in the complete generation of a second space or dreaming state has asked users to contribute their own imaginative capacities to support the predominant story arc. To capture and exploit the creative facility of the expanded human biological condition requires a landscape to be perceptibly known and culturally familiar. Familiarity in turn produces a manifestly recognisable set of psychological conditions that force the user towards a framework of the symbolic.
The symbolic here is utilised to generate meaning in the digital vista of the observed infinite. Edmund Burke writes of the infinite in A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1756) that:
Infinity has a tendency to fill the mind with that sort of delightful horror, which is the most genuine effect, and truest test of the sublime. There are scarce any things which can become the objects of our senses, that are really and in their own nature infinite. But the eye not being able to perceive the bounds of many things, they seem to be infinite, and they produce the same effects as if they were really so.
In this game-space the user is asked to subscribe to the notional absurdity of the profound and unlimited landscape. The distinct roles in which the player must undertake are bounded by a number of other perceived roles being played out in our mind simultaneously and with a level of cultural similitude to our avatar. This is to ask the user to generate meaning in the digital life of their proxy-self by allowing for a superficial acceptance that the game world extends beyond the feasible boundaries of technological capacity. This is to say that regardless of moral propensity within game mechanics any player must be sufficiently capable to ponder the infinite, and in time, their individual role within the infinite
Through the integration of the vista, a space in which the user is shown the immeasurable landscape of the unknown, a player is forced into a duality of natural mechanics. This state of excitement and fear becomes expressed as a stifled melancholia and flaccid recognition of a societal loss. In Zen Buddhism this is described as a state of sad-beauty or suchness. In The Broken Connection (1983) experimental psychologist Robert Lifton highlights the state of sad beauty as ‘…often used to express one’s involvement in and, in a sense, passive acceptance of the slow, sad truth of life and nature’. The truth referred to is a submissive acceptance that in time; we all must die, as time dictates a constant march forward towards an inevitable end. In this panorama of sad-beauty that defines a commonality and similarity in generating the melancholy inherent in much of Bethesda Softworks Role Playing Game success. B. Spilka in The Psychology of Religion (2003) writes that; ‘We lament those who die, and dread the awareness that we too, in time, will confront the end of our own existence’. When confronted by the seemingly infinite, it is the dual response of fear and awe reflected as sadness that allows us to accept the mortality of our proximate dreaming self and avatar as indicative and symptomatic of the mortality of our own waking self.
In Bethesda Softworks Fallout 3 the vault dweller, known in game as the Lone-Wanderer, acts as our proxy within the detritus of post-nuclear America. As our avatar leaves the fluorescent-lit hallways of their underground Vaultech nuclear vault for the first time, he or she is forced to make a monumental re-adjustment to the perceived worldview. We have been moved from an observed internal space of compressed home politics, infighting and pedantry of the Vault 101 cast to a frame of the seemingly infinite [figure 1.1]. This scene is strewn with years of accumulated human waste and discarded traces of the vernacular landscape and subsequently asks the user to contemplate two very serious moral questions. We are shown through the landscape of the infinite and sublime the death of self. In the vernacular landscape we can see clearly the death of the other and are forced to make critical self-reflections on death, dying and bereavement. In Discovering the Vernacular Landscape (1986) J.B Jackson says that ‘the beauty that we see in the vernacular landscape is the image of our common humanity: hard work, stubborn hope, and mutual forbearance striving to be love’. When confronted by the desolation of The Capital Wasteland and these crumbling pillars of humanities progress we are forced to consider the inherit mutability of social construct and physical infrastructures of cultural collective existence. We have, beyond simple day-to-day social interactions now been asked to ponder the apocalyptic, and the pursuant moral obligations to rebuild a common humanity.
Coupled at this point with the question of whether the formative years of your character creation have put you in good stead to face the façade of the infinite, the user is forced into a state of persistent melancholy through a questioning of their characters own self-worth and usefulness in post-apocalyptic Washington.
International Conference on Narrative Studies
Here s the abstract for my proposed paper for this conference…
The paper explores continuing investigations into death, dying and bereavement through a system of symbolic immortality and terror-management theory. Through the artist’s own net-art pieces and the works of self-extension in external post-human artworks, the paper draws closer the social reflections on technology as a cultural force. This occurs through the generation of audio-visual anthropological remnants utilising the Internet as a medium for dispersing compound autobiographical narratives. The major arguments centre on symbolic immortality as a space in which several of experimental psychologist Robert Lifton’s major convictions become magnified.
In a 1994 International Cultic Studies Association review of Robert Lifton’s The Protean Self, Rev. Walter Debold lists six fundamental questions raised or hypothesised by Lifton, the most relevant of which is that; ‘We are cultural animals for whom the resources of culture are ingredient and not merely accessory to human thought’. Since impermanence and knowledge of our own transience is one of the greatest factors influencing our psychological well being, the generation of complex cultural systems, Lifton argues is an obvious psychological response. The knowledge that we are to die is crucial to the sense of self and with this comes a need for acceptance or membership within a cultural institution, or institutions. Subsequently this need manifests in perpetuating a fundamental human requisite to maintain culture and the sense of the symbolic immortality. From here we explore the weblog (blogs) role in self-extension of our own biological conditioning towards defining a fluid self and a protean self-narrative.
Tonight and tomorrow I will be doing a Solar Plate Workshop with master printmaker Andrew Totman. I have to admit to having no idea of the process, what it involves, what prints look like done this way or really anything about it at all… so I’m going in blind. I have a general idea of what Im trying to produce but anything could happen, and the chances are I will stuff it up somehow, but whatever, all good experience, and for only $78 I couldn’t turn the opportunity down. There are a number of other print making workshops by Andy coming up in Sydney and other regional areas so look it up, google has heaps of info on them, and get involved why dont you? Unique Christmas gifts or just a bit of fun, we will see!
In the meantime, I’m no designer, but here is the latest label for my latest beer.
A few practical upcoming projects happening concurrently… one I don’t know If i will have time enough for, but I am hoping that I do…
I am trying to get a photograph together for the National Photographic Portrait Prize and I am sure I wont have enough time to get what I need together but I am really hoping that by throwing this out there that perhaps this friday I will get what I need to make the project happen. The prize entry closes Monday next week, so the turn around is super fast on this but I am still going to try and get what I need together. If anybody, anyone at all knows a young Wiradjuri woman willing to do a studio shoot on Friday (at any time day or night) out in the CSU studio, and can fit in to clothing that is American size 10, then please, please, pretty please get them in contact with me. The work would need to be a collaboration to be a success so I need a person who is willing to sit with me, talk and to me about the ideas, and be an active collaborator in this subversive project on contemporary cultural uneasiness.
I am working with a gallery in San Franciso to produce a second series of heirlooms. The first series you can view here. I will need to take the camera out shortly to begin capturing these images, or try and take what I learnt from number one back in to the studio… time to put my thinking cap on.
I have the opportunity to shoot some more contemporary landscapes for an exhibition of landscape photographers in Vermont. I am trying to find the spirit of the Australian Landscape, it so far has been elusive to me, but I’m sure with quiet contemplation I will find it!
So much more coming up too… lets get on with it!
I have to say it has been another very busy year with a big rush at the end towards a spectacular finish… but here we are in November with university teaching commitments over for another year and time to really get gun-ho into turning some of those big-ideas sitting in the back of my head in to real projects. Several major things have happened since I last updated that Im going to go in to some detail with below, so bare with me on this, there is room for collaboration and I do need your assistance! ALSO new site design? you dig?
Master of Arts (Honours)
Well, this thing nearly killed me (not really) but I got there in the end, and it has been huge. I have had several major exhibitions, one that toured on a 7 date international schedule, have had my work collected by several major institutions including the National Gallery of Australia, and completed writing a 184 page book on Sublimity, Transcendence and Loss particular to american formalist landscape photography. A huge relief to have it handed in and now I just wait for assessment feedback to make minor edits then its off to the publishers, yahoo!
The Photo Critique
Wagga and Photographic theory and practice just are a match made in heaven. We have so many talented photographers in this area who’s skills, above technical capacity, are in advanced creative problem solving and conceptual capacity. Some of us have formed a collective and will be releasing our manifesto shortly on our new website.
I have just not had the time to get this freaking thing done, and I need help. I am looking for an assistant editor for this journal… I am also going to turn it from a quarterly paper into an annual so that it can more accurately reflect the strength of work from those involved. The turn around for the quarterly proved too intense, and as such the journal will become an annual from now on. You can view more about the project at the website.
I have begun working on an abstract for the gamestudies journal which is a scholarly journal on the video games industry. I have been writing a paper called, The Perceived Infinite: The use of the Vista in Computer Game Design. The paper make an argument for character-led narrative having a requirement for users to subscribe to the façade that their explorations only form part of a larger body of interwoven explicit or potential narratives. These explicit and potential narratives sit as perceived histories and observed accounts played out concurrently to a deep-play in the minds-eye. Here the symbolic is utilised to generate meaning in the digital vista of the observed infinite. I am after occurrences in recent video game history where the avatar is met with a vista that shows a game world that extends beyond the actual technological boundaries of the game world itself. Please contact me if you feel as though you can help in this.
Thanks for sticking around and reading! Hope you like the new site design!