Intimate Transactions

Up next is Keith Armstrong, presenting on his interactive installation Intimate Transactions. This project has developed over the last four years; it is a dual-site installation by the Transmute collective with a number of additional interdisciplinary collaborators, using image, sound, and tactile elements. It was shown in various stages over the last few years in a variety of venues in Brisbane, Sydney, Glasgow and Doncaster. Now it's going to be dual-sited between Brisbane and ACMI in Melbourne before heading overseas again.

Home Videos in the Block

And we're back for the next session, in the multimedia arts space the Block on the Creative Industries Precinct. The presentations in this session will be by my colleagues Patrick Tarrant and Keith Armstrong, and blogging them will be an interesting experiment as they're largely multimedial and it's very dark in here.

Patrick opens with his project Planet Usher, billed as an interactive home movie. It is based around 20 years' worth of home video films created by his brother Peter who is deaf and gradually losing his sight as a result of Ushers syndrome. The project was always also devised as a creative practice as research project.

Perverse Research Practices

Finally for this session we're on to Allison Richards from the University of Melbourne, speaking on 'perversity as method' in practice-led research. She suggest that the advent of such research is an inherently paradoxical activity for universities, and follows on from some other paradoxes and historical accidents in the field. While some disciplines (e.g. music, art history) have been represented in universities for a long time, others have only recently joined arts programmes, and not all of these have traditionally had an active research culture, so that the pressure to engage in research has in some cases been an external rather than an intrinsic one. The scramble to engage in research has led to some interesting positional shifts, then - and have occasionally also led to the wholesale importation of existing modes of discourse into newly established university discourses (e.g. dance disciplines which are placed in applied science departments).

Realising Living through Practice as Research

Next up is Jondi Keane from Griffith University, speaking on practice-as-research and the 'realisation of living'. He suggests that such practice may need to re-positioned away from traditional arts models (which attempt to find emergent and pre-adaptive conditions for the purpose of finding new possibilities), but also away from possible science-based models (which transcribe the organism in action within a prefigured solution space, using the laws of probability).

The key question here is the position of the observer inside or outside art. Cognition is embodied and distributed, and so the activities of practice as research need to consider anti-utopian, anti-teleological, and anti-expressive qualities. He runs through a number of images to underline this point, many of them apparently by a group called Reversible Destiny. Anti-utopianism appears in a refusal of architecture to build utopian spaces, while anti-teleological approaches have much to do with a reconceptualised presence and identity, again through architectural practices (and Jondi uses the Bioscleave House project in East Hampton, Long Island as an example here). Anti-expression is pursued through the development of procedural rather than functional spaces, for example through playing with perspective. In other words, Jondi concludes, the innovation of practice-as-research signals a reconstitution of knowledge: anti-utopian approaches critique the faculties of reason; anti-teleological approaches re-examine what constitutes border identities and their rules of judgment; anti-expressive investigations emphasise the heuristic benefits of the research for 'organism that persons'.

Collaboration in Architectural Practice

Some good conversations in the lunch break, including with my colleague Christy Collis here at QUT, whose mum apparently also reads my blog - hi! Christy and I will share some ideas about approaches to teaching with technology and teaching media studies in a non-historicised format soon.

A conference like SPIN also opens up some very interesting questions - will I choose the sessions I see based on their blogability? In this session, I have - I'm in a session with relatively traditional scholarly papers... First up is Joanne Cys from the University of South Australia, presenting on 'Collaboration: Experiment, Mess and Risk'. She begins by discussion collaboration in a professional context (here, architecture), and notes the increasingly blurry disciplinary boundaries which might in turn blur the lines of what is and isn't collaboration. Architecture is problematic here as it has placed relatively low value on collaborative practice for some time. The common view is that 'those secure in the knowledge of their own field make the best collaborators.'

SPINning the Web of Creative Practice

I'm spending the next three days at SPIN - the Speculation and Innovation conference. Not a long way to travel as it's literally just held outside my office door here at QUT. The subtitle for SPIN is 'applying practice-led research in the creative industries', and so it's mainly dealing with the question of recognising creative practice as research - an important issue for the Creative Industries Faculty in particular, but beyond this for creative practitioners throughout Australia and the world.

We're now starting the first keynote session which will set the theme for the conference; it will be delivered by Arun Sharma, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research & Commercialisation at QUT after an official welcome by Rod Wissler, Director of Research and Research Training. Arun speaks on competitive advantage in the globalised research environment. He notes that from the perspective of commercialisation of research there exists a hierarchy of impact, which determines the public governmental perception of researchers - and he also reminds us that internationally this impact will be determined increasingly in the Chinese, Indian, and Japanese markets. Success and impact in cutting-edge fields also determines the quality of life for a country's population, of course - and these fields now stretch well beyond pure science and technology. Australia in particular may not be able to compete in these fields alone, given the current economic climate. It may need to seek its successes in innovation rather than manufacturing and service, for example - exploiting what Arun calls its domain knowledge in the fields where it is a leader (he mentions mining management software and bionic ear implants for example) but leaving other fields to those countries which are leading there.

Blogs and Wikis in Teaching at QUT

I spent most of the day today at QUT's Carseldine campus, with the team of a large teaching and learning project involving staff from Creative Industries and Humanities & Human Services. As part of the project we're exploring the use of blogs and wikis in teaching, and we've now set up the first testbed systems to do so (not for public viewing yet, sorry...). I mentioned some of this work in my interview with Trebor Scholz recently. If anyone's interested, we're using Drupal and MediaWiki as the base technologies.

(My) Online Opinion

Hmm. I've been invited to contribute a piece to the April feature of Online Opinion, which will look at online and alternative media in Australia. So, I guess I'll have to make up my mind about what I think about this topic... Here's a first take:

News You Can Produse

Much of the debate around online, and even alternative online media in Australia continues to miss the point. So much of online publishers' thinking about their work is still couched in an outmoded language which upholds increasingly hollow and counterproductive approaches to publishing. Indeed the terms 'publishing' and 'media' may be part of the problem themselves. 'Media', after all, implies the existence of a mediator, an agency presumably in the middle between producers and consumers which 'publishes', that is, makes public what was previously unavailable.

M/C Journal 'bad' Issue Launched

I've just sent out the official announcement for the latest issue of M/C Journal, for which I'm General Editor. Kylie Cardell and Jason Emmett have put together a very nice collection of articles on the (unlikely?) theme of 'bad'. On the site I've also added the blurb for our upcoming issue 'copy' and confirmed the last issue for the year, 'affect'. We're still looking for an editor for 'scan', by the way - email me...



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