Sunday, December 14, 2008

Grow Australia

7 Plants, 7 Continents

Grow for Australia!!!

Be quick, ends soon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


While on the subject of books about urban space and design, there is another good one just out, Heterotopia and the City, Public Space in a Postcivil Society edited by Michiel Dehaene and Lieven De Cauter. It "discusses the concept of heterotopia: urban spaces that carry multiple, fragmented meanings. Heterotopia and the City seeks to clarify this concept and investigates the heterotopias which exist throughout our contemporary world: in museums, theme parks, malls, holiday resorts, gated communities, wellness hotels, and festival markets."

"Heterotopia, literally meaning 'other places', is a rich concept in urban design that describes a world off-center with respect to normal or everyday spaces, one that possesses multiple, fragmented, or even incompatible meanings.... The term was coined by Foucault in the late 1960s but has remained a source of confusion and debate since."
The book combines theoretical contributions on the concept of heterotopia, with a series of critical case studies that probe a range of (post-) urban transformations, from the 'malling' of the agora, through the 'gating' of dwelling, to the 'theming' of urban renewal. Wastelands and terrains vagues are explored as sites of promise and resistance in a section on urban activism and transgression. Heterotopia and the City provides a collective effort to reposition heterotopia as a crucial concept for contemporary urban theory and redirects the current debate on the privatization of public space.

In both this and Steffen Lehmann's book, art is assumed a "natural" instrumental or relational role, which needs to be critiqued, as the practice could be seen to have become 'formalised'.

While pondering this I came across this comment by Calin Dan on Nettime.
"Autonomy entitles art to float freely in the interstices of the social fabric, to experiment and to steer in unexpected directions. When experiment and steering relate directly to the fabric itself, the art discourse looses autonomy and gains relational power (in the sense designed by Nic. Bouriaud). Relational art has an increased chance to acknowledgement, but also - naturally - to criticism, coming not only from the comfortable inner circles, but also from the structures to which the respective discourse 'relates'. Needless to say that both concepts (autonomous, relational) have no axiological power; they are not about quality, they are about method.

Back to the City

For those who found the talk at Art inTent interesting, you might be interested in a publication edited by Steffen Lehmann.

The 'Back to the City' book was launched last week at the office of SUTERS Architects in Newcastle.

It is a very well produced book which addresses many aspects of a form of art practice now well developed in urban contexts. It is good to see that the field is being opened to theoretical examination, even if the $90 price tag will direct it to the design/architecture end of the market.

Details of the book:

'Back to the City. Strategies for Informal Urban Interventions'
Edited by Steffen Lehmann
15 essays by leading authors (academic papers, all fully refereed); authors include University of Newcastle academics, such as: Prof. Michael Ostwald, Prof. Anne Graham, Dr Steven Fleming, Michael Chapman, Dr Angela Philp, and others.
The book includes the documentation of 28 site-specific, temporary installations in Newcastle, Berlin, and Brisbane.
The book discusses models of interdisciplinarity, the value of small public spaces, and the potential of temporary interventions as a resource for urban renewal.

Ph.D., AA Dipl.

UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Urban Development for Asia and the Pacific
Chair, School of Architecture and Built Environment The University of Newcastle
Director, s_Lab space Laboratory for Architectural Research and Design
Editor, 'Journal of Green Building'

On the same occassion, the book Temporary and Permanent, by Cida de Aragon was launched. It introduces some of the major interdisciplinary, collaborative works by this Brazilian/Australian artist, who brings her design and architectural background to her work. Cida was also at Art inTent, as you might recall.

They send their regards to those they met in Kibble park.

Monday, December 01, 2008

GRG Advisory Committee.

There has been some confusion about recent advertisements in the local newspapers calling for applications for community representation on the Regional Gallery Advisory Committee.

Correspondence from Debra Schleger, GCC Arts and Culture Manager, has clarified the position.

A decision of the committee, which some of you know about, to end the committee was not made with a quorum, so has not been enacted.

In response to a recent Council resolution, on November 4th, expressions of interest have been advertised for community representation on the various committees including the Regional Gallery Advisory Group. This is for community not organisational representation.

This means that anyone interested in being part of the committee, including existing community members, will be required to submit an application.

Check the council website for details about submitting an expressing of interest.

Naked or Nude

Recent controversies about the public display of ‘unacceptable’ prepubescent naked imagery in art, has highlighted the way in which photography is regarded as a special case in its relation to ‘reality’.

Pick the real frog.

Simon Martin. Untitled (2008), a single-screen video installation.
High definition, CAD (computer assisted design) animation.

“In 1998 Martin made a photorealist painting of a strawberry poison dart frog based on a found photograph. Untitled returns to that same source image though here it is rendered in a fully three-dimensional state. The animation of the frog could be seen as a collection of establishing shots, carefully observing the creature and exploring the virtual space of the synthetic image. Moving between stillness and motion, Martin's digital rendering of the photographic image creates an uncanny effect and a self-reflexive comment on the construction of images.”

This is an Argentinian ornate horned frog.