Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Poetics of Security: Skateboarding, Urban Design, and the New Public Space

I found an essay by Ocean Howell from 2001 this week on the politics of space in inner city environments. Using the often marginalised activity of skateboarding as a method of textual intervention Howell reads the space of central San Francisco determining intention over actual public use. For me it builds interesting connections between how meaning is imposed through spatial design principles.
It has been a good week for spatial theory as I also was recommended and bought a copy of Giuliana Bruno's Atlas of Emotion: Journeys in Art, Architecture, and Film (2002) which in my brief reading so far seems to deal well with the mapping of "the technologies of the visible". The text is divided into six sections: Architecture, Travel, Geography, Art of Mapping, Design, and House.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Random Visual Narrative

Grafik Dynamo is "a net art work by Kate Armstrong & Michael Tippett that loads live images from blogs and news sources on the web into a live action comic strip. The work is currently using a feed from LiveJournal. The images are accompanied by narrative fragments that are dynamically loaded into speech and thought bubbles and randomly displayed." From the Site

The chance meeting of a sentence and an image on an internet website seems to be a current point of form in web art. The new Grafik Dynamo, a work funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts reminds me of Understanding Vorn and I'm sure we will see more of this Exquisite Corpse style random juxtaposition and the new texts it provides. With a library the size of the internet and every image changeable it begs for it.

This random visual narrative sees a Game as Art create a Narrative that in its first component forms had but the most distant relation (being a LiveJournal feed and on the Net). Their joining in a Roy Liechtenstein-ish blue spot comic strip visual space (a pre-digital meeting place for juxtaposition: Ghost who walks, man who cannot die, talking ducks, Silver surfers.. etc. etc.) is enough to make a new the parts as one and then we the viewer are left to understand. It is interesting how they always seem to mean something...."They Are Splendid!"

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Mr Barrett is Unwell

Since last Wednesday I have been really really ill...Flu..a lot of time to think but unable to actually do much. I have managed to read about 100 pages of Dr. Siva Vaidhyanathan's The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System , which I recommend and will discuss further when I maintain a cohesive thought sequence for longer than 25 seconds...
oh..An announcement of some import..Since my family in Australia has finally been informed...My wife Erika is pregnant. We are expecting our next child in my little family...yiipppyy...a baby born in September is our hope :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

R.I.P Atmosphere

I have blogged this on the HUMlab blog already. The 3D web browser program Adobe Atmosphere is being scrapped :(
I still enjoy making content and visiting Atmo worlds. I feel it will become a classic "lost" program in the future. I found a Graveyard world today that seems to be the burial place of is haunted so be careful.
Also there remains at present sites where the player can be downloaded so PLEASE download as many copies as you can and hold on to them.

William Blake the vision voice and topos

This morning I arrived at my desk intending to read Thackeray's Barry Lyndon (1844), expecting some rollick, swash and buckle as counterpoint to the intensity of the last week when I negotiated both Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and Walter Scott's Rob Roy. Both are heavy didactic texts dealing with identity, society and "the right thing" to do in life. By chance I saw a reference to Blake's Vala or the Four Zoas when looking at a hypertext essay that was linked to an email I had opened.....I then picked up the fat and red "The Poems of William Blake" that sits on my shelf awaiting its place in the queue of my reading list for the 19th century. I remember reading Blake some years ago but not getting far beyond "Tyger Tyger Burning Bright". Today, since opening the book 3 hours ago I have not moved from it...Incredible. It has the feeling of entering a space or indeed a whole universe that I have not experienced since Milton's Paradise Lost. I think I shall remain there for as long as my busy reading schedule allows.
Blake is well represented on the web:
The William Blake Archive
The Complete Poetry and Prose
The Urizen Books of William Blake
A Glossary of Terms, Names, and Concepts in Blake

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Balance Bar

Are we becoming more interactive and immediate on the net or is this a hoax? I found today the "Balance Bar" downloadable software plug-in ("browser extension" according to the webpage) that purports to:

"..allow any user to editorialize any web page anywhere on the Internet. The "Balance Bar" will literally insert your comments/article/rant directly onto whatever web page you would like to expound on. The "Balance Bar" was developed because of the increasing need to "balance" the one-sided and isolated worldview that much of our media sources produce."

The work of Mark Daggett who bought us The Blurred Browser (2001), "Balance Bar" aims to prevent the web surfer from "insolating themselves inside their own particular opinion". If it does in fact work, and I have not downloaded it myself, I wonder why such a revolutionary (and clearly textually anarchic) tool has not received more attention. Try it yourself (let me know the results in a comment): "The Balance Bar"

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Black Side of Australia

I often have conversations with people over here in Europe about Australia, my homeland. Often locals here have very romanic ideas about what Australia is. Many use the word "Paradise" when the imagine how it is for people to live there. In one sense it is true that it is a land of plenty and of great beauty. But there is more to it than that as it is a very complicated society with a history that is both acknowledged and completely hidden. This morning I was thinking this when I looked at a photo a good friend had sent me that is stuck on our kitchen notice board:

This is a picture taken at Aurukun Community on Western Cape York, Northern Australia in 2004. These are Wik people dancing in a tradition that is part of the oldest living culture on earth. Aurukun is an isolated community 12 hours drive (dry season) north west from Cairns. Although administered by the white Australian government they have gained freehold title of their lands and the culture is alive and strong in many ways. The problems of alcohol and violence are being addressed and alcohol bans were introduced into the community last year and are holding. Petrol sniffing is another problem that is being attacked by motivated people in the community.
If you are interested in hearing more about contemporary Aboriginal Australia listen to THIS, the Speakout program from ABC radio, taken from just before this year's Australia Day by European Australia, called Invasion Day by Kooris. On the 26th January 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip and his crew of soldiers, convicts and privateers raised the Union Jack at Port Jackson (present site of Sydney) and claimed all he could see for the King of England.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Some Music

This is on the HUMlab Blog but I wanted to give as many people as possible to listen to it or download it. This was recorded a couple of weeks ago at a international conference at HUMlab, it is me playing at the conference dinner. It is called Red Text and can be found HERE (6MB file).

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Fatta Festival 2005 on TV

Today I was filmed by TV4 for the local news: You can see the whole program HERE. It is a report on the Fatta Festival which begins at 12:00 Sunday 13 Feb 2005 at Umeå Bild Museet. Please come as you will regret it if you miss it as the talent on show is amazing. My partner Erika is showing some of her art and in the news broad cast the photo of the Swedeish girl and the Indian child is taken by her.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

George W. Bush and The Brotherhood of Eternal Love

This is a photo of me playing didgeridoo with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a group made up of members of The Spacious Mind, The Holy River Family Band and more. Is is an image from a Moonshake performance which is in the process of becoming Norrlands first and only (to my knowledge) free form folk and psych acoustic trance music club.....Exciting stuff!! An Mp3 of the Brotherhood performance can be downloaded HERE.

The next point is only related to the first in the theme of sound. Sound and narrative to be exact. I recently received a link to a video detourment by Randall Packer and the US Department of Art and Technology. It depicted the State of Union address by President George Walker Bush (remember him?) slowed down and overplayed with opera of which the lyrics translate:

How gently and quietly he smiles
How tenderly he opens his eyes
Do you see it, friends?
Don't you see?

The effect is ingenious but why? The feelings produced as George licks his lips in 15 frames a second is unsettling. The raising of hands in a collective agonized struggle (some of which seem to have voted in the Iraqi elections judging by the blue dyed fingers...How did they get into the chamber of Congress?) and the tears which take minutes to hit the floor. The satirical proximity which is achieved by the imposed sound completes a scary tableau of power, prestige, position and a sad reality which reminds me of Wag the Dog. Underlying this appropriated reconstruction is the concept of manipulated narrative and this is where it gets interesting. Slowing the time frame and introducing an alternate sound montage effectively forms a non-verbal commentary through the whole piece. Actions are parodied, body language and gesture are transformed from contextual meanings of the origin, and instead become a disturbing sequence of too close for comfort transparencies. What is transparent in this is a theater of power and as the final frames drag by in a blur of, by now obviously staged, emotional situations we remember that this is government and not theater. Not just any government either but the government of the most powerful military power in the world. In Packer's State of the Union [The Fateful Embrace] we recognize this in the front row of dancing generals who move as if commanded by the lopsided grin of the Commander in Grief.
Doubla click on the blackness to get the full effect (click again if it gets too much):

Friday, February 04, 2005

Butoh and Flu

Today has been a stay at home with heavy head and sore body. The flu epidemic which seems to be sweeping Sweden (say that fast ten times) has hit my home..nasty. However that has only prevented me from moving, not from thinking. Last night as flu crept over me i was attending a lecture on Butoh: Body and the World by Su-En which was very intersting and thought provoking. The idea of universal room as the space around the body and the body as contextualized sign in situ applies in some ways to embodiment in virtual enviroments...will be thinking about that more.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Fatta Festival 05

A busy boy once again. Lets make a summary:

1. Reading:
Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens (1844), plus much more in bits and pieces.
Something choice from Dickens: "Listen to the promptings of nature and not to the siren-like delusions of art"..well on to some art I say:

2. Preparing:
It is almost here!!!! Fatta Festival 05 opens on Feb at the Bild Museet Umeå. This will be a great week of music, film, story telling, art and performance. I am playing a few times.

3. Working on:
Several projects some of which cannot be spoken of quite yet. However one exciting piece of news is that the group I belong to based (geo-spatially)in Australia, made up of cultural desperadoes and maverick psychic artist is to be included in a compilation by the American Label DCbaltimore. Called The Pincher, it will be 60 songs in 60 minutes and features such musical powers as Acid Mothers Temple, the Microwaves, Kinski, Xiu Xiu and Volcano the Bear. WOW!!!

More soon....