as a matter of arty fact

Well here it is the last week of our lovely little (!) mooc, and time to submit a digital response of some kind… the biggest challenge – making time! It seems to take so much longer to make a decent visual text than language one… but it’s fun trying 🙂

I submit, in evidence of my learning, this blog…. I also submit the video just below here, which I did this week.

  • The blog is an epic triumph of will… a log of an amazing ride and the people I encountered along the way. It represents how I imagine the whole course and my place within it…. please browse around if you have time…
  • The other digital story… the video below… is an epic fail of will…. because I always like to keep a healthy balance in life… it makes perfect sense to me, but that’s because I can hear the responses to the questions… something happened when it moved to… the Internet.. 

There always seem to be at least two choices…. in every micro second of life…

I can leave it as poetry for you to make sense of as you willl…. be amazed by the suggestions and subtleties and let your mind run wild….

or I can add something to the video that will force you to interpret the story as I originally intended…

Maybe I’ll just let you have an unsettling experience first, think about it for a while…. then I’ll post a hangout where I ‘explain’ away what is missing… or maybe I won’t….. such is the nature of a mooc…. you will be kept guessing… the web is a dynamic environment…. nothing ever stays the same… and you never really know where you are…

So, here is my ‘thing’ – I hope you enjoy it!

And now that you have been suitably unsettled and have no idea what I am going on about…. here is a version that probably makes more sense….

Now I’ve got this done, I am going to really enjoy browsing through everyone else’s I can find ‘out there’ and commenting, because it’s that community building part that’s so valuable to me in the end.

Good luck everyone – it’s been such an enjoyable journey, I hope you all make it safely back to earth, and I hope we’ll meet again on some other amazing future journey into space 🙂

Sound by:

“Rasp Scours Gleam” – Elizabeth Adams & Praxis ensemble at Free Music Archive

Images (in order of appearance) by:

“Mark 1”, the pre-digital electro-mechanical computing machine by Howard Aiken, and its paper tape, at mvrhs.org

Charles Babbage and his ‘difference engine’ at Wikipedia

Planet earth at Mail Online

Retinography at Wikipedia

“Glass” by Jjb@nalog at flickr

“Freud” by Alan Turkus and “What lurks behind” by Enrico (One From RM) and “A most famous sofa” by Robert Huffstutter

“Philips Reel to Reel” by Jacob Whittaker

“Musical note” by The Rising Sky lesson 29

“Typewriters Resurrection” by Jeremy Mayer

Words, Psychology and Relationships at The Electric Typewriter blog

“Untitled” (stairs) by ecastro

“spiral staircase” by Ross Grady

Words by:

well, me, I guess… if you believe we are authors of our own discourse….

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visually learning, collectively yearning

#edcmooc

what a blast the past week has been with all these lovely pictures to look at and ponder on!

and the google hangout by the course teaching team this week was just wonderful, from my point of view. As I’ve been saying in various comments online (such as), I’m finding the ‘openness’ of this online learning we’re doing within and beyond this mooc quite extraordinary and fabulous… I am acutely aware of the storyline that says moocs are a disaster for higher ed, and fully expected this one to be pretty crap, as I said to Angela when we first met before this course began – we happened to attend the same small group meeting at the uni where I work about moocs and eLearning and in introducing ourselves around the table as you do we found we were both enrolled in the same upcoming mooc.. Angela had a bit of experience already, and was clearly quite enamoured of the potential riches they offer (girl in candy store was the feeling she described having), while I was the sceptic, enrolling just to see if it was or wasn’t possible for students not yet particularly proficient in English (the sorts of students my work at uni focuses on helping), and fully expecting this kind of environment would evidence a hundred reasons why it’s not a great place for them to be… and after this past month I have come away with quite the opposite than expected experience.

Obviously I’m not in the linguistically vulnerable position here (I’ll experience that when I try to do a mooc in one of my ‘other’ languages), and I don’t pretend to speak on behalf of others, but what I am finding amazing is the amount I’ve learned and been freely able to consider in this environment about my own teaching practice and what else I could be doing with available technologies and task ideas and subject design…. I mean I’m pretty happy with what I do generally (or I was til I came here), but I have learned far more than I anticipated I would, and I am coming away with a very different conception of what ‘open’ education means…. which I’ll probably elaborate on in the final artyfact thingy I guess…

but meanwhile, I’m just enjoying thinking about what a great opportunity this is, not just to learn a few new technological tricks of the digital trade, but to learn by doing what effect networking on this scale and at this speed can do for a renewed sense of joy and value and potential in an eLearning environment. and best of all is the ability to see so much of what goes on not just in this course context, but also in others, so that we can compare, and we can also immediately see and hear what others with every possible level of experience and perspective think about it all… I mean, here we are, hearing the team who have designed and are managing the delivery of this course, talk openly and honestly about what they are thinking as it happens! How often have you experienced that as a student? How often do you, if you’re a teacher (which most of us here are) how often have you been that transparent with your students?

This is a kind of openness and connectedness to ‘the literature’ (which now includes various modes of representation and delivery) that I have NEVER experienced before – not this fast. I mean it normally takes literally years to get this level of juxtaposed information and opinion based on extensive observation and experience happening in this way… that’s the big impression I’m getting at present anyway, and I’m really impressed! I think because of the ease of sharing digitised material in these social networking spaces, we’re currently able to make comparisons and develop collective understanding of what does and does not work well in eLearning not only faster, but with far greater fun and joy than is the usual dragging of self through the academic treadmill of ethics approvals to ask your own students a few bloody questions and publishing and peer review and yawn yawn – here it’s all happening live and now and it’s fun. what? no this isn’t higher education as we know it, it’s a damn site better! And what is more, and better still, the community of learners is more diverse and is growing and diversifying all the time. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see the facebook and G+ pages being posted up with messages in languages other than English – this is how it should be. It’s real. and it’s human.

None of which is to say I am oblivious to the problems and limitations, and I’ve been tracking the growing great debate for some time, and reading with interest various other and no doubt better trackers of this debate (such as Ronald’s blog and scoopit pages)… but somehow the more diversity that appears in this debate about moocdom, the more interesting it becomes, and that’s of course the other great take home message – opening up discussion like this is what higher ed is all about, not limiting and pretending there is only one ‘correct’ way of looking at anything

Anyway, that’s enough for today, got to look at some more visuals and read more blogs by others, and get to the beach!

playing with pictures, managing metaphor, thinking visually

#edcmooc

This week we are encouraged to imagine things visually and come up with an image to share at the fair… I couldn’t quite contain myself to a single image, so I have a 3-part story happening here…. hope you enjoy this little bit of fluff in the air, and do favourite the image in flickr, if you care 🙂

vis art comp wk 3 EP

I enjoy thinking visually, and messing about in words…. I guess what prompted this little photo story is my musings this past week on ‘open’ education, and on the nature of representation, and human ‘identity’….

I’m just playing with the metaphor of the ‘digital cloud’, and the potential dystopia of the web’s presence and intervention in everything we do as we cloud gaze… and then with the idea that our humanity, our identity, is just the representations we make, mainly in language, that are reflected in the cloud where we make so much of our meaning these days… does the increasing visibility of language (because it’s online and written and everywhere to be noticed) actually help us see where ‘we’ are, as we stand on earth and spend our conscious lives in discourse? how grounded is our sense of self?

… these are all thoughts I was having in the past week or so, especially as I read the triffic text by Badmington… what I’m reading into it, and what we’ve been watching in the film festivals, is that the ‘post-humanist’ way of looking at things is an all-but-lost-cause… however hard we might try to understand ourselves in terms beyond the established but questionable and perhaps intellectually bankrupt and dead metaphor of human ‘essence’…. corporate sponsored popular culture just keeps bringing it back and dominating the discourse…. epitomised by the sorts of ads we’ve been watching in the mooc… the battle for the popular imagination of the self, the ‘real’ human, is always being re-won by the image of the fixed, unchanging essence…  and nobody pays much attention to the role of representation…. of storytelling… we just get seduced over and over again

I should note here the image sources…  the first is a photo I took last year, just outside my home, on a lovely summer’s day. The other two I found, as you do, in a cloud…. one via flickr (CC license of course) and the other via um i forget now, one of the other photo search places you see when you go to CC…. anyway, the second photos is called, brilliantly, “broken sky” and it’s by Lee Haywood, and the third is called “glass” and it’s by Jjb@nalog.

and, for those who take art criticism too seriously, here’s a spookily accurate assessment of my creative work, generated in next to no time with the wonderful bs text generating software 500 letters

E P (°1962, Sydney, Australia) is an artist who works in a variety of media. By applying a poetic and often metaphorical language, P seduces the viewer into a world of ongoing equilibrium and the interval that articulates the stream of daily events. Moments are depicted that only exist to punctuate the human drama in order to clarify our existence and to find poetic meaning in everyday life.

Her artworks sometimes radiate a cold and latent violence. At times, disconcerting beauty emerges. The inherent visual seductiveness, along with the conciseness of the exhibitions, further complicates the reception of their manifold layers of meaning. By manipulating the viewer to create confusion, she tries to create works in which the actual event still has to take place or just has ended: moments evocative of atmosphere and suspense that are not part of a narrative thread. The drama unfolds elsewhere while the build-up of tension is frozen to become the memory of an event that will never take place.

Her works are given improper functions: significations are inversed and form and content merge. Shapes are dissociated from their original meaning, by which the system in which they normally function is exposed. Initially unambiguous meanings are shattered and disseminate endlessly. By rejecting an objective truth and global cultural narratives, she presents everyday objects as well as references to texts, painting and architecture. Pompous writings and Utopian constructivist designs are juxtaposed with trivial objects. Categories are subtly reversed.

Her works appear as dreamlike images in which fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse. Time and memory always play a key role. By putting the viewer on the wrong track, she tries to approach a wide scale of subjects in a multi-layered way, likes to involve the viewer in a way that is sometimes physical and believes in the idea of function following form in a work.

Her works are on the one hand touchingly beautiful, on the other hand painfully attractive. Again and again, the artist leaves us orphaned with a mix of conflicting feelings and thoughts. With a conceptual approach, she tries to grasp language. Transformed into art, language becomes an ornament. At that moment, lots of ambiguities and indistinctnesses, which are inherent to the phenomenon, come to the surface.

Her works directly respond to the surrounding environment and uses everyday experiences from the artist as a starting point. Often these are framed instances that would go unnoticed in their original context. By examining the ambiguity and origination via retakes and variations, she makes work that generates diverse meanings. Associations and meanings collide. Space becomes time and language becomes image.

Her works focus on the inability of communication which is used to visualise reality, the attempt of dialogue, the dissonance between form and content and the dysfunctions of language. In short, the lack of clear references are key elements in the work. By emphasising aesthetics, she creates intense personal moments masterfully created by means of rules and omissions, acceptance and refusal, luring the viewer round and round in circles.

She creates situations in which everyday objects are altered or detached from their natural function. By applying specific combinations and certain manipulations, different functions and/or contexts are created. By investigating language on a meta-level, she creates with daily, recognizable elements, an unprecedented situation in which the viewer is confronted with the conditioning of his own perception and has to reconsider his biased position.

Her works doesn’t reference recognisable form. The results are deconstructed to the extent that meaning is shifted and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted. With the use of appropriated materials which are borrowed from a day-to-day context, she often creates several practically identical works, upon which thoughts that have apparently just been developed are manifested: notes are made and then crossed out again, ‘mistakes’ are repeated.

Her works never shows the complete structure. This results in the fact that the artist can easily imagine an own interpretation without being hindered by the historical reality. By applying abstraction, she wants to amplify the astonishment of the spectator by creating compositions or settings that generate tranquil poetic images that leave traces and balances on the edge of recognition and alienation.

Her works question the conditions of appearance of an image in the context of contemporary visual culture in which images, representations and ideas normally function. By studying sign processes, signification and communication, she tries to increase the dynamic between audience and author by objectifying emotions and investigating the duality that develops through different interpretations.

Her work urges us to renegotiate art as being part of a reactive or – at times – autistic medium, commenting on oppressing themes in our contemporary society. E P currently lives and works in Wollongong.

quite – couldn’t have said it better myself!

new media

#edcmooc New Media (2:21)

GC says this very short film, with visual echoes of “Bendito Machine III”, is a grim representation of the effects of technology on humanity, and want us to consider what similarities and differences we can you identify between the two films…

Like Bendito Machine, I found this visually very interesting (and similar in some ways). There are also some audio echoes in the ‘noise’ coming from the media, and the fact that there’s no clearly discernable language, but hints and static-type noise.

The narrative development here is minimal – we move from images of aged buildings with a rustic appeal in the vegetation overgrowing them,  but the initial peaceful image is disturbingly replaced by threatening metal objects, reminiscent of cogs from massive machinery, or perhaps even some form of landmine…. the cityscape becomes surreal as these objects seem to float along the street, and gradually we see tentacle-like swaying pipes, and then strange, threatening, grey unidentified flying objects hovering above the buildings… it seems a dystopian vision of an army of invading machines…

Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 5.03.22 PM

As we see a close up of a remote control, and then a person’s face in the blue light of a TV screen, and that one of the floating tentacles is attached to his ear, we get a nightmare image of the invading force of machines either sucking human brains out to fuel themselves, or just rendering people mindless so they can take over the world… all the while to soundtrack of strange repetitive techno noise, devoid of language.

I started reading the academic discourse after I’d watched all the short films, on purpose – I didn’t want my readings of the films to be influenced by the literature before I’d had a chance to think about them.

 

week one wrap up

thursday

#edcmooc Thursday’s space waltz (7:34)

Ground control says Thursday depicts a tension between a natural and a technological world, with humans caught between the two. They want  us to consider what message the film is presenting about technology, what losses and gains are described, and who or what has agency in the film…

I find it the most difficult to interpret of the four short films in week one of our mooc.  The opening would seem to be introducing a story about twitter… but I’m never sure throughout whether it’s taking the piss and trying to say something critical, or whether it’s just a cheesy fun bit of fluff, a bit like Inbox. I’m guessing the latter, as the animator’s website I just looked up (http://www.matthiashoegg.co.uk/Thursday ) describes this as “an everyday love story set in the not so distant future” where we see blackbirds “battling with technology, automatic palm readers and power cuts”. It was made for Future Shorts, a global short film festival – like Tropfest in Sydney, but online (http://www.youtube.com/user/futureshorts/videos )

My plot recount: a birdie seeks food on the street and, threatened by a street sweeping truck, flies off into the traffic noise of a dull and endless cityscape where its voice is quickly lost…. merging with the alarm of a waking person, who goes straight to his computer to start the day. We see his ‘tweets’ seeking and finding a lady in a park somewhere in the depths of the grey cityscape…  who similarly spends her every waking moment managing messages on a phone or computer… in the park she traverses, the birdcall is clear, but that is soon drowned by a cacophony of noise emanating from the telecommunications towers around the city… She goes up to her characterless office on umteenth floor…. the bird enters into a shaft from the roof of the office building and starts pulling at wires that look like worms… communications are interfered with, the office block is short circuited, but the bird brings its bit of wire to add to its nest in a satellite dish…. workers in the office block go mad with boredom not knowing what to do without their power supply and digital activity…  except the young woman, who is on her phone to the man at his home computer… he tries to block out the irritating sunshine through the window that interferes with his view of the computer screen…  getting her message, he heads to where she is, and they go on a date to the highest structure in the world to see the view… hours later they reach their destination at the top of an elevator to space, where they float about marvelling at the distant electrical activity on earth and the sparking stars in outer space… for a brief few moments before being rushed back down the elevator. The next morning as she heads off for work and he makes his morning coffee, one of the baby birds from the nest smashes into his apartment window…lying stunned, its eyes and those of the man meet. The end.

thursday

If I had to categorise it as either utopian or dystopian I’d say the latter, simply because the cityscape depicted is so bland and bleak, and the relationships so apparently meaningless….

On the question of agency, the social structure we see human characters engaging with is predominantly digital, and we don’t see people or birds making ‘choices’ exactly, other than to tweet and go to ‘work’. Noone is portrayed as thoughtful or deliberative. the only stop and think moment is when the bird smashes into the window, and both bird and man stare at one another, and we see them reflected in one other’s eyes… but there is no indication of whether or what they may be thinking, whether or not they are affected by this event. The bird gets up and flies off. The man sort of shakes his head, and then the film ends. I find that irritating to be honest, I wish it went somewhere and said something. It’s beautifully done, and has received much acclaim, but has a visual animation style reminiscent of cheap mindless computer games that I don’t relate to well, so I didn’t enjoy watching this as much as the other films this week, to be honest. Some of Hoegg’s other work looks more interesting (to me)….

 

week one wrap-up

inbox

#edcmooc Inbox (8:37)

Ground control describes this is a quirky representation of the ways in which web-based technology connects people, the limitations of those connections, and the nature of communication in a mediated world. They want us to consider whether, and explain why, this is a utopian or dystopian account… how we interpret the relationship between the two main characters, and the ending.

It’s a great contrast to Benito Machine and New Media that’s for sure! It’s a very cutsie and banal take on the social benefits of social media, displaced onto the classic narrative device of strangers with the same type of bag in a shop taking home the wrong one and then finding each other to return the other person’s goods. It’s making social media like Facebook look very benign and beneficial. The much desired relationship is found through their carry bags, that seem to be old technology but have been ‘magically’ transformed into connected peer to peer teleporting machines.

It seems a pretty unambiguously utopian vision of how social media works to enable shy lonely but clearly very nice honest people to find each other and begin a relationship based on shared experience and mutual attraction. Unless you want to take the view that the relationship is superficial and the characters are pathetic and this is a condemnation of facebook…. but I don’t think it is meant to be mocking anyone. The young woman is portrayed as intelligent and focused, and irritated by the sort of people she normally encounters in a daily basis but can’t avoid. Through the magical technology, she can develop an agency that is more difficult to achieve offline. The connection she makes with the nice young man is not entirely random (the bags were somehow connected and placed where they in particular would find them necessary and useful at a particular moment), and the boy she is put in touch with seems compatible, sensitive, thoughtful, and just right for her, and they end up very happy to have met.

The main difference between this and the other videos is that there’s perhaps not so much to think about here – it’s just sweet, innocuous and positive fun. Except of course if it’s meant to be saying something about the personal freedom and social change that could be brought about by social networking technology, in that young people can develop agency and make choices and direct their lives in more positive ways than is perhaps is the case in traditional arranged relationships…. maybe the film resonates with and is felt to be quite empowering in some contexts. Or maybe just innocent fun. Either way, it’s a utopian message.

 

week one wrap-up

bendito machine

#edcmooc bendito machine (Episode 3 – Obey His Commands) – 6:46

According to ground control, this short film tells the story of technological development in terms of ritual and worship – the characters in the film treat each new technology as god-like, appearing from the sky and causing the immediate substitution of the technology before it, and it suggests there are ecological and social implications of an obsession or fixation on technology… they want us to consider the characteristics of technologies portrayed in the film and whether the characters have any choice in relation to their technologies…

I read it as a dystopian vision of waves of techno-led mass communication colonisations, and ‘progress’ that goes nowhere good. I found it very visually interesting – and amusing. The opening image reminds me of sisyphus, as a figure struggles up a mountain pushing not a rock but his own enormous head… but as he arrives at the top I’m reminded more of Moses receiving the commandments from god (and later of Abraham sacrificing Isaac).

The visual style of the whole film is reminiscent of paper cut-out shadow puppetry you might see in many Asian cultures, and the figures seem deliberately styled to evoke an ‘ethnographic’ scene of ‘tribal culture’ studied (constructed) in anthropological discourse, so in the context of media studies, there seem to be some ironic references going on to not only the social behaviour being examined but also the ways in which we study social behaviour…

Then the juxtaposition of the traditional culture construct with the spaceship beaming down a new technology is unexpected and funny, and perhaps linking more to the sort of anthropology currently influential in this media studies space through the work of Michael Wesch (given that the figures and topography is reminiscent of New Guinea)… but it’s all deliberately non-specific, with various references and distortions, so maybe it’s mocking the way the west constructs ‘exotic’ cultures in academic discourse?

Anyway the story is clearly one of technology worship, and suggests that the mass global media coming to the social group (invading and invited) do drive their behaviour, so this is a good example of the ‘determinist’ view. The people depicted haven’t created the technology themselves, they’re represented as ‘passive recipients’ and mindless worshippers of the latest new shiny thing, and unable or unwilling to think about how it might negatively (predictably) affect them…

The most striking aspects of the overall style to me are dramatic colour, shadow puppet animation per se, and the absurdity of juxtaposing the utter banalities coming out of the tv screen with the constructed naive ‘primitive’ culture into which it is beamed… their mindless consumption of it all, as though it were meaningful and important, is both funny (especially when the village people start bopping along to the 1950s style nonsense pop music on the TV ads) and disturbing. What is coming out of the TV is an uninterpretable cacophony of noise and random imagery, but it is influencing the behaviour of the ‘tribe’.

It’s clearly mocking mindless consumption of new media, making fun of the technologies (by presenting them as relentlessly banal and beaming de-contextualised and potentially dangerous nonsense) but especially of the social ignorance of how they work and what effects they might have. It isn’t clear whether the critique is more aimed at the colonising force of the media, or at the ignorant who worship it to the point of giving it total power over their lives… both I guess… but the displacement of this whole critique onto some unspecified ‘other’ culture is presumably an indirect way of critiquing ‘us’ – the digital culture most enmeshed in the kind of mindless behaviour represented.

The TV is clearly carrying ill intent (there’s a subliminal face of evil that keeps popping up between the banal TV snippets, and then the TV starts attacking people and becoming increasingly threatening), but it’s not clear why the people’s response is simply to enslave themselves utterly to the new would-be dictator… they’re not portrayed as making choices about that, and we aren’t really pushed towards feeling they’re innocent and to be pitied, or feeling they’re fools refusing to learn from their experience and take better control of the invading, potentially threatening forces coming from above.. it’s just ambiguous.

I’m tending to read it as more a critique of ignorance, and a plea for education I guess – a critique of the  idiotic desire for infotainment represented in the story, that leads to wastage, environmental and social. The one who initially climbed the mountain top to receive the new technology seems to try at one point to ‘save his people’ by returning to the mountain top and, David vs Goliath style, attempting to fight back at the cloud-based invader, but then he returns to the community in command of a shiny new TV that’s integrated into a war machine with hidden guns… and on the story seems to go forever, with new technologies rapidly becoming old and dumped onto the rubbish pile in favour of the latest new shiny thing, that bodes even greater danger…

Whatever the message of this production, it is itself part of a rapidly growing commercial media empire (http://benditomachine.com/en), a whole ‘campaign’  project funded by Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq/kickstarter%20basics?ref=nav). I’m not clear from my very brielf google search just now whether it’s some kind of social-political campaign or a campaign in the advertising sense, promoting and expanding the creative work for its own sake, but they are certainly a growing phenomenon and I’m now following their blog (http://www.zumbakamera.com/blog/) just our of curiosity to see where they go with this work

week one wrap-up

 

btw loved the scottish version 🙂

disruption as storytelling device

I was just listing to the radio briefly as I passed between rooms and heard a novelist in interview saying how she (and all creative writers) needs to construct a disruption in a situation in order to be able to go on to tell a story, and of course this rings true – we all know narrative technique well enough to know the importance of the initial ‘crisis’… but what interested me was how that obvious truism suddenly struck me as just as true of the sort of creative writing we are engaging in as students in this course, and how the course itself is an emerging narrative enabled by an initial discourse on how ‘disruptive’ the mooc is to everything and anything in higher education: it’s irrelevant whether we take it as ‘true’ or not, we simply need to suspend disbelief in order to engage in the joys of the storytelling… it’s like we need to construct that disruption or ‘crisis’ in our situation so that we can proceed to join in the telling of a big story – which is nothing other than the doing of this course (‘learning’ as it were)…

exploding-brain4

I don’t even see that as an ‘are we in our out of the matrix?’ scenario, because in my old age I have come to see less and less difference between fiction and non fiction, between story and history (or hers), between creative and ‘academic’ writing… it’s all just language, in varying genres and registers…. I’m in the middle of writing a thesis and have taught both creative and academic writing for two decades, to a wide range of students, for various purposes (including to ‘learn English’ and to ‘learn Australian Studies’ and to learn some ‘Science’ or ‘Health’ or ‘Engineering’ discipline they’ve chosen to study) and I believe less and less in there actually being any real difference at all… and to see more and more the cross-over relevance of analytic techniques and developmental strategies I’ve used in one area for others…

just thought I’d share that one 🙂

all we see and seem, is but a dream within a dream, as Mr Poe once so eloquently penned…

either that or I’ve just been thinking about language philosophy for too long….

this is my story:

Panel_08

re-volution

back on deck again after a lovely, rejuvenating break at ‘Wordfordia‘ – that’s the ephemeral tent village which appears each year around a folk music festival, for a week just after Christmas at a rural place called Woodford, then disappears again as quickly as it came…. sort of Australia’s contemporary answer to the Woodstock of an earlier life in another country …

pulp_31jul11_sbooth-179-2

This was my first time at Woodford, and made me feel both very old and very young at once… I went because my 13 year old daughter has been at me for a few months about it, since she found out her ‘favourite singers in the whole world’ were to perform there… while I’m very glad she’s so passionate about music of a certain kind, reminding me of how I felt about Dylan, Baez, Mitchell, Guthrie, Melanie, Cohen etc, but it is a big ask to go there from where we live, it’s over 1,000 kms… I opted for a road trip rather than a flight, because they’re fun, and good for our relationship… lots of quality music to share in the car, lots of quality talk and good laughs… memory making stuff.

Well anyway to cut a long story short, it was a delightful trip and the festival was fabulous. What made me feel very young again, and included in the atmosphere at the festival is perhaps best summed up in a line from one of the songs on a Gregory Page cd I bought while hiding in the festival music shop tent from a random torrential downpour that ended the oppressive heat of the first part of the day and began the rather more pleasant cool of the late afternoon and evening… on the journey home a few days later I was being regularly reminded by him that “it’s never too late to be the person you’re meant to be” … and that just felt so right. After the main event for us – performance by Julia Stone (in which her brother Angus also appeared, yay) – we stayed for Kate Miller-Heidke, whose first number (politics in space, or space politics or something) includes the line “the 60s was 50 years ago, get over it” – which made me laugh out loud, and feel old…

Other flashbacks included an appearance by Bob Hawke (former prime minister from the 80s) who spoke (disappointingly lamely, but the guy is over 80 now so I’m a bit forgiving) about our relationship with China, and then a comedy debate with a very good Kevin Rudd impersonator…  then on Sunday the current pm actually appeared at the festival… it was all bit surreal – not because the festival was therefore a bit political, but because it was incorporating politicians rather than just slagging off about them. Somehow I can’t quite imagine a sitting president appearing at Woodstock in 1969… but it didn’t (surprisingly, to me) make the whole thing a conformist sell-out, it struck me as rather more intelligent, engaged, and just being part of critical public debate. It was rather good.

Also spent a day at GOMA exploring the Asia Pacific Triennial… Again making me feel old in that I’ve been to most of these and the first one was 20 years ago. Good grief, seems like yesterday. But more important – the show was fantastic and images are as alive in my mind now a week later as the day I saw them – perhaps more so, as they become more part of the daily re-woven patterning that constructs the coherent sense of narrative we call understanding, thought and identity…

wish we could have stayed away another week at least – but can’t leave the dog with neighbours for too long, and oh yeah, there is that thing called a job to be getting back to… but yay – there is also that emergent community online I have just started engaging with 🙂 Time to get back to cyberspace and meet up with all my new pals in edcmoocland! yay