Friday, May 25

Kia ora / Shanghai

Greetings all - thanks heaps to Luke for the initiative and nice to see many old and new friends on the blog.

Not really ready for a substantial post, but just thought I'd post the link to the essay for Geomatics and Ecomatics: Three Stories - a show of three NZ media artists (Janine Randerson, Douglas Bagnall, Natalie Robertson) which was open for five days (and approximately 150 000 people!!!) in Shanghai last week.

Tuesday, May 22

Vegetable Memory: Time-based works at George Fraser

Briefly dropped into this opening at the George Fraser on Tuesday (Update: revisited Saturday) and snapped a few shots. Really cohesive and successful overall, with a number of interesting works. Karena Way's undulating light work installation uses a long field recording to trigger speakers at different intervals and seems to have evolved - when I revisited today she'd removed the paper coverings, exposing the quivering cones of the tweeters and subs on the floor. Below that is Boris Dornbusch's Funkstille, a montage of shots from office interiors to motorway tunnels, all shot on grainy 8mm and projected. Finally at the bottom, and my highlight of the show, is Sonya Laceys sound installation. With a lovely DIY aesthetic, the piece uses an array of cheap FM radios to create feedback from a tone which seems to emanate from a microphone on the glass next to them. Other artists at George Fraser include A.D Schierning and Jenny Laycook. There's also another range of works as part of the show currently at the Film Archive.

open content

I have just read a MACD Dissertaion by Tobias Lee. Titled Copyleft...he traces the origins of copyright laws and presses that The Open Content Model as a from of collective practice is invaluable for sharing ideas and principals for the development of art practice. Tobias is Vj, hacker, and stencil artist and promotes collective and subversive pratices. Currently residing in London.

I have pasted the closing statement of this paper.

"Today, as more and more people are becoming increasingly technologically empowered with micro processors embedded in everything from the mobile phone to the kitchen fridge and more open information is published online, people are increasingly breaking away from traditional houses of learning. For example, with respect to programming, simply watching other programmers at work can be much more rewarding and affordable than the conventional method of attending a computer science course. Each year as university fees increase and grants all but disappear more and more people will opt for this pathway for their education, working collectively on projects and taking a more hands on approach without hierarchy. Learning on the job with full team cooperation and a common goal for all those involved is becoming more and more appealing; essentially what we are seeing is a return to the days of apprenticeships.

This collective effort is the only real chance we have of reclaiming not only the internet and returning it to its original state, that of the public domain, but also of information and its democratic dissemination. It is important to remember that the vast majority of computer networks are private and closed, owned and controlled for financial gain by powerful multi-national companies. Commercial and civil networks did manage to co-exist for many years but the original distributed power structure of the net has slowly but surely been eroded ever since the arrival of Mosaic [ [i] ] in 1993. No sooner was the net able to show its commercial potential as a multimedia platform than the corporations quite simply smelt the money and closed in around it, disregarding its social significance. Add to this the growing digitalization and globalization of many sectors of the world economy and the result is a diminishing public space and the over-regulation of content.

We must innovate and begin to think about how we can regulate rather than be regulated by these big conglomerates, build homes in the ether where we can accommodate and educate the multiplicity of public interests and defend ourselves against the overwhelming influence these corporate players have on our lives."

Show and Tell: Web-based performance

A small Japanese girl in traditional kimono steps onto the stage and begins a countdown. 3....2....1, before executing a perfect backflip onto a white box. Another performer responds by repositioning a second box in front of her. The first performer is the Second Life avatar of Markus, an artist based in Munich, the second is Mark, a RL (real life) artist based in Auckland. While this scenario is currently fictional, it's a potential for a show at Window sometime this year.

Changing technology means it's actually relatively easy to create this type of scenario. The onstage performer can see the virtual performer projected behind him with a basic computer logged onto Second Life. The virtual performer can see the action in the gallery via a cheap webcam which streams video to a page online.

It's this augmented reality aspect of Second Life which is rich with possibilities. There are dedicated performance groups, like SecondFront, which stage recreations of fluxus actions, or flamboyant, over the top events: cars are lit on fire, screenshots get LOL captions, members fly around a tower shouting lines and lines of Babelised text chatter. But there's a certain lack of subtlety and awareness there, which becomes apparent when you look at more thoughtful alternatives like Eva and Franco Mattes re-enacting of Beuys, 7000 Oaks, or the quirky, slightly alienated video pieces by Markus Kleine-Vehn (mentioned above), both practicing in other disciplines.

Locally, Marcia Lyons of the Digital Media Design section of Victoria, has plans to launch their programme in-world sometime in the next few months. This should provide some opportunities for collaborations, either in performance, world or object building, or just experiments in this relatively recent space.

Also around town is UpStage, a "web-based venue for live performance" project co-ordinated by Helen Varley Jamieson. She's just announced a series of performances using the online framework, based on themes ranging from childrens stories to virtual sex, big brother paranoia to air guitar.

And while the lo-res avatars and bandwidth limitations mean the platform is literally a little jagged around the edges, UpStage seems to provide a good degree of freedom and personalisation. It also stresses openness - audience members ("chatter" in UpStage lingo) can easily watch and contribute live feedback, albeit in a less overt fashion that the speech of performers ("players").

I've invited Helen to the group and also asked about the regular viewing/participation times that UpStage sets up, every first Wednesday of the month. So if you're interested, there might be an opportunity shortly to get involved or experiment with the platform.

Monday, May 21


It's great to see so many of friends as contributors! I hope everyone's doing well..
I am doing a small show showing my parking work at CNZ office.
Closing night event 31 May 5PM.

Friday, May 18

Be one of the first 3 posts - be in to win Bachelorette

Writing the first post on the blog seems to have a little stigma attached, so I'm resorting to bribery and corruption to break the stalemate. One of the first 3 posts (not written by myself) will be chosen at random, and that writer will receive a copy of "Isolation Loops" by local solo electronica band Bachelorette, via Of course, if you write all 3 posts, your aural bliss is virtually assured. Terms are substantial posts only and judges decision is final. ;-)

Real Groove Magazine calls the album “…Quietly psychedelic, the quavery vocal harmonies, wheezy synthesisers and attic-salvaged stringed instruments are layered with a shy urgency, a breathtaking tangle of dreaminess and directness… Having understood the implications of technology – electricity having made us all angels, etcetera – she’s fractured herself into a girl-group of one, clouds of ah-ah-ahs and shoo-wop shoo-wops both underscoring and distracting from her tales of gravitational and hormonal pull….” So for a beautiful electronic soundtrack to your writing, start posting.

Thursday, May 17

Getting started

Just thought I'd do a quick 101 as a few people have had questions about logging in and getting started.
  1. If you don't have a Google account, click here to create one.
  2. You should have an invite email from Blogger containing a link. Click it and you'll be made an Author. We've got quite a few pending invites, so if you need it resent, just let me know.
  3. Go to and login using your Google account.
  4. Click on New Post, enter text, images, video, and links, and click Publish. More info here.

Tuesday, May 15

New contributors

The blog is gaining momentum with some more contributors joining the fold. New recruits are:

Kentaro Yamada, designer, new media artist and expert parallel parker,
Robert Appierdo, designer, VJ, and short filmmaker based in Welli
Paul Moss, dataminer, astronomer, musician, and environmentalist
Jaenine Parkinson, writer and lecturer at the university of auckland

Update #1: Wed 16
Carol Yung, architecture student at victoria interested in digital culture
Ryan Cockburn, sound artist/sculpter orig from dunedin, currently in melbourne
Damian Frey, sound/light based installation, currently on residency in UK
Trudy Lane, digital media designer for the arts/museums, SCANZ organiser
Annie Bradley, sculptor, sound and new media artist, spam manipulator

Update #2: Thur 17
Michelle Menzies, curator, sculpture/film artist, currently at u of chicago doing postgrad
Naomi Lamb, video artist, filmmaker, VJ from wellington
Karl Willis, interaction designer, media artist, currently research student in tokyo
Yeoh Gh, designer of experimental interfaces, human interaction, based in wanganui

Update #3: Fri 18
Danny Butt, consultant, writer, educator on technology, on Cultural Futures team

Thanks for all the interest, and again I'd encourage everyone to get their first post up there. If you're having issues with signing up or logging in, let me know and I'll try to sort something out.

Monday, May 14

3 Interventions: Undermining the digital landscape

Came up with a few ideas last weekend on actions to highlight power structures in the online space. If Web 2.0 means the Time Person of the Year is me, then how can I use my authorship as an activist? (3 of 6 total)

Me vs. Google AdWords. Works like Google will Eat Itself and Cory Arcangel's Kurt Cobain's Suicide Letter vs. Google AdSense exposed the weaknesses in keyword based revenue. Exploit.

Mistag Flickr images. Most tags for photos are relatively benign and objective ("red","apple","landscape"). What happens when these becomes value judgements ("freedom","terror", and "perfect")?

MySpace puppet. Users on sites like Bebo, Facebook, and MySpace manipulate representation and identity to show themselves as they want others to see them. NZ/London artist Leon Tan has proposed a single identity/page controlled by many, while NYC artist Derek Lerner has extended this to his "sock puppet" Robin Astro, giving out "Robins" login info to Digg, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Second Life. Exploit.

Sunday, May 13

Something Old, Something New at Te Tuhi

Funky Razors and a couple other shows opened at Te Tuhi the Mark this weekend, which I checked out. Te Tuhi supplies a free bus from the city, complete with cassette-mixing DJ and sporadic stereo sound depending on how passengers held up the speakers. Richard Killeen had several works on display as part of "Something Old, Something New", contrasting some early works from the mid 60s with more recent digital pieces.

Technically these are achieved by constructing 3d scenes which are then texture mapped over. Traditionally this mapping process is meant to be invisible - artists shift and stitch together maps so they're seamless - creating a photorealistic table with some simple geometry and a high-resolution timber texture. Killeen largely goes against this practice with textures that distort, clustering together in dots in places and being skewed out into long lines in others. His texture choices also run against the grain - an eclectic mix of standard libraries - like a brick wall, and more stylized or conceptual elements like a Hokusai painting wrapped around a hat. A giant tarp spewing smoke heralded the arrival of blip-hop duo Golden Axe, who gradually peeled back the covering to reveal keyboard, smoke machine, and fluroscent kneepads. A fitting finale. More recent digital works by Killeen here.

Friday, May 11

Welcome to all contributors

Thanks for all of you who have responded to the invitation to contribute. Not sure if you can see the list currently on the blog, so in no particular order we have:

Luke Duncalfe - ipod lover, programmer, online curator, pxter
Marcia Lyons - programme director for digital media design at victoria university
Pippin Barr - currently doing phd at comsci department of victoria on videogame values
Sean Kerr - new media artist, curator, lecturer at elam
Hye Rim Lee - artist working with digital video, 3d modeling, animation, etc
Luke Munn - curator for window, writer, digital designer
Chante Inglis - lecturer on digital art history at the university of auckland

Might take a little while for the blog to get momentum, but it's a great start. Again, really inclusive, so if you know someone who might be interested in contributing, just send through their email and they can be added as an Author.

I'm going to post a couple entries this weekend. Some of you are really experienced bloggers, others aren't so used to it. So I'd suggest just starting small: throw up some images or video of works in progress, a couple paragraphs on an event you've seen, or some notes on theories or ideas you're considering.

Wednesday, May 2

We want you: Call for participants

Scene was conceived as a group blog, using the world's easiest, most accessible platform, Blogger. Posting is done with a editor that looks like Microsoft Word. Uploading images, creating links, and inserting video are completely intuitive.

We're inviting all artists, programmers, writers, academics, engineers and students to sign up and start posting. Use the previous post ("Raison d'être") as a guideline and post frequently.

1. Setup a Google Account, if you don't already have one.
2. Send your email address to
3. I'll respond with an email to join the blog as author.
4. Click the link in the email, and you're done.

Raison d'être

New media work, digital art, even the less used, whatever you want to call it. This space has undergone an explosion in the last few years, as our societies and cultures get more comfortable with navigating the terrain. From performance groups in Second Life (SecondFront), to art games challenging traditional gameplay (Braid), to activist pieces taking aim at institutions (Google Will Eat Itself), work in this space is becoming more accessible to more people, with more complex, interesting ideas being incorporated.

But while there's a deluge of work coming out of the US, Australia, and Europe, New Zealand seems strangely quiet. Searching for 'digital art' brings up cut-price webdesign companies. Our core cultural site, The Big Idea, has a confusion of terms and pages which don't get updated. Other art sites, while great, focus on other areas, or ignore the space entirely. Artists, designers, coders, and writers working in the space seem isolated, lacking a central place to share ideas, a rich media hub to post projects, a collection of texts to learn from.

This blog hopes to tackle some of these areas and provide some of these resources. It's a start.