Sunday, October 31, 2004

Welcome to Konst och Teknik Kortkurs i HUMlab 2nd November 9:00-12:00

Stelarc: Third Arm Suspension

These are the sites we shall be going through and discussing during the short course Konst och Teknik in HUMlab on Tuesday 2nd November 2004. There will be a lot of extra material present during the course:


Research as Art, Art as Research:

Bio-electric Media Artists:

Game Hacks and Reality Script

Global Positioning System (GPS)

Live Machines and Real Art

Performance as Unconfined Body Machine

Multimedia Live Document:

3D Worlds:

2D Visual Arts:


Net Art:

I am looking foward to what is going to be a very interesting three hours.......

Saturday, October 30, 2004


In contrast to my sharing a nationality with ex-Australian Rupert Murdoch, I am actually proud to have been born upon the same landmass as the artist and philosopher Stelarc.
I saw a presentation at Arts Space gallery in Sydney in 1999 by Stelarc and it was a revelation for me. Today he continues working as a performance, installation and body artist. His "work explores and extends the concept of the body and its relationship with technology through human-machine interfaces incorporating medical imaging, prosthetics, robotics, VR systems and the Internet. The interest is in alternate, intimate and involuntary experiences." (from his "authorized" website). He also has a visible sense of humour and this comes across strongly when he speaks. When I saw him in Sydney he told the story that the reason why he stopped with the robotic third arm after wearing it for three years was that his wife told him he was not allowed to sleep in their bed if he continued wearing ít!
Here is an interview with Stelarc. It was conducted by a body modification magazine so they concentrate on that aspect of his work but much of it is excellent background to who he is and what he does.

Computer Games as Learning Tools

I am a supporter of the concept that computer games have the potential to be educational tools (in a similar way that television does but often it is not). This is a popular discourse with many in IT and the humanities. It has been the subject of a conference at the University of London this week. I find it exciting that formal education can be undertaken even while having fun. This was not a stressed concept when I was at young child in the 1970's. I wish it had been.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Roy Ascott

In relation to art and technology I have been reading Art, Technology, Consciousness Mind@Large Edited by Roy Ascott. It has some really nice metaphors and connections made within the text.
I had heard of Ascott but had never really looked much at his work. I'm glad I have started to.
Two online essays by Roy Ascott:
Turning on Technology and The Architecture of Cyberperception
I am adding here the video archive of 2001. A conference in Germany "on artistic, cultural and scientific aspects of experimental media" which went under the theme of "Mixed Realities" and contains among many a long video presentation by Roy Ascott.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Art and Technology

On Tuesday 2nd November at 9am I will be conducting a short course in Art and Technology in HUMlab. I will be using this Blog as a resource site so over the next few days the postings will concentrate on this subject, which is (for me anyway) really cool.
The course will begin with a very brief historical overview and then look at some contempory examples of the joining or mixing of what was famously described by C.P. Snow in 1959 as the two cultures of Art and Science. Of course this in itself is historical and I want to discuss the concepts of art and science in the light of what Hayles describes as the Posthuman.
I myself have always seen art as relying on the presence of representation but this is also not so much the case in a postmodernist world. An interesting definition of Art I found in the excellent text Information Arts by Stephen Wilson is:

"Art making may be described as the process of responding to observations, ideas, feelings, and other experiences by creating works of art through the skillful, thoughtful, and imaginative application of tools and techniques to various media. The artistic objects that result are the products of encounters between artists and their intentions, their concepts and attitude, their cultural and social circumstances, and the materials or media in which they choose to work."
Wilson 2002:17

The Roland Collection

For anyone with a fast enough connection The Roland Collection Film Archive is a treasury of films on all aspects of Art. With over 600 films online it is an important resource with potential for education and enjoyment. Great for a rainy day!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Guerrilla News Network

The crew at Guerrilla News Network ar not only advance hosting the latest video by recently out-of-the-closet-activist Eminem (nice one Marshal)but they have also begun multi-media blog hosting server which seems to be free. It has the ability to host video,text, and images without charge. Taken from the website:

"Welcome to the beta launch of GNN 2.0, the new citizen news network. In the coming days, we will be turning over the site to you, our loyal users. The new site will allow you to create your own home page, publish a blog, write full-length articles, publish your own photo essays, and participate in collaborative, ongoing investigations. You'll also be able to create networks of like-minded "friends" to blast your news to. Most importantly, the media revolution will now be in your hands. Guerrillas will decide what is news, and what isn't - with the emphasis on producing original, thought-provoking content. The more you contribute, the more of a voice you will have on GNN 2.0."

I think this is very interesting in light of what I posted below about the nature of journalism in light of Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire. Interesting times.......

A site listing grad students in Eng Lit

A website has been established to list all the graduate students in Sweden studying English Literature. Much credit must be given to Stefan who gathered the information and built the site, which looks excellent. My blurb is under the Umeå University motif.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Gradually the mighty spectre of electronic literature avails itself to the wider public gaze...sorry I am reading too much 18th Century literature at the moment...anyway is a new organization devoted to (as you may guess) electronic literature, primarily in the Scandinavian region but not exclusively. There is to be a meeting of those involved and interested in Bergen in conjunction with Sosial og Digital but alas I shall be staying in Umeå for the visit of Howard Rheingold to HUMlab, which promises to be exciting. I am a 'member' perhaps one could say, even 'the representative' in Sweden of ELINOR at this stage but I hope it shall not be so exclusive for too long as the more the merry I believe and the field of electronic literature is just too exciting to ignore.
I am planning a few things for HUMlab as ELINOR activities and I can see I shall be working hard through the winter...yeee Ha!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Journalism and Politics

I studied to be a journalist once upon a time. It was from 1987-90 and during this time we in Australia were lucky enough to have many highly trained journalists from Britain come out and work in our universities and newspapers as they were fleeing the radical changes being made to newspapers and their production by Maggie Thatcher's regime.
My chief lecturer was an amazing man named Charles Stuart who wowed us with stories of covering the Six Day War in Israel and the intrigues and characters of Fleet Street. He sadly passed a way several years ago. Another teacher was Anthony Delano, a director of the Mirror Group of newspapers until 1985, and a then associate of the outrageous Robert Maxwell.
Our teachers instilled in us the excitement and adventure of journalism. It was also much about ethics and how much power the mass media actually has in the everyday lives of ordinary people. After three years training and doing fairly well at it I decided I was going to work as a nurse instead as the mainstream media was just too plain evil to get involved with. At that time I shared a nationality with Rupert Murdoch (he has since become American in order to buy the Fox Network) and that is something that used to really irritate me. Murdoch has done more to dismantle the concept of mass media as the fourth estate than any one person has.
This idea of independent integrity has been rather well critiqued in 'the field' with the appearance of the writer and comedian Jon Stewart on the CNN network's Crossfire program. There are few real answers given to his satire and very direct confrontation of the mad theatre that most of us take for granted as 'News and Current Affairs' where explanations are short (if ever present), sound bites sharp, and visual props used to re-enforce stereotypical thinking.
I have a poster on my wall that I bought in Paris this summer from the 68 student rebellion there, which reads "Retour a la Normale". I suppose CNN will do so after Stewart leaves the building, but for a few second there the clouds parted and the sun shone in.

Anthony Delano on Robert Maxwell: "He saw how eminently corruptible the British were and how cheap they were to corrupt"

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Book The Screen and 1000 Children

All systems are many directions!
Have been reading (oh I have I been reading!!! Try breezing through Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress for upliftment...Hell Fire and Bush...I mean Brimstone).
Writing Space by Jay Bolton, a slightly dated discussion on hypertext (1991...things move fast these days) although still very good for general historical contexts. Bolton in the intro muses upon the eventually decline of the printed book (many were concerned with the "Death of Books" in the first wave of hypertext and internet) and this is something I've been thinking about over the last few months. Who knows really what will happen to our tree eating friends but I know I would sure miss them.
The alternatives are interesting and many but when reading a book does not usually require a manual?
In my studies at the moment I am moving between Restoration and Seventeenth Century literature (course work) and texts of the 21 century (thesis research). This contrast is interesting in itself. Reading a Blog by a woman living in present day California and then returning to Samual Pepys Diary provides for contrasts in a list almost as long as the years between them (Gender roles, Private/Public Self, Education, even the position of imperial power in the world today etc. etc.). Yesterday I read Aphra Behn's The City Heiress and that surprised me. Around the middle of the play opinions are expressed that would be considered modern today, particularly concerning marriage. Although it all ends in 'normality’ with a wedding and consensus. I think Aphra would have been a cool person to sit next to at a dinner party.
I am now alone with my son until Sunday as my partner goes to her Chi Gong course out in a forest village. Tomorrow I will be spending the whole day attempting to communicate the power of language to hundreds of young children as they take over the university for Upptäcktsfärden. I am the English Institutions representative and I really hope I can convey to these curious youngsters just how incredible language is (in ten minutes) and it is really worthwhile to study as many of them as possible in one short lifetime. No worries ;-)

Friday, October 15, 2004


Yesterday I stumbled on a magic piece of sound and vision set upon the web (via The Wire magazine). A group of musicians from Kinshasa in Congo called Konono:

"The band's line-up includes three electric likembés (bass, medium and treble), equipped with hand-made microphones built from magnets salvaged from old car parts, and plugged into amplifiers. There's also a rhythm section which uses traditional as well as makeshift percussion (pans, pots and car parts), three singers, three dancers and a sound system featuring these famous megaphones."

The Likembé is a thumb piano often made from bicycle spokes beaten flat, arranged in tonal progression and placed over a sound board and bar. The sound of Konono is AMAZING!!! On the website they have a short vidoe stream and a Mp3 for download. They have a full lenagth CD coming out soon.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

In the Style of Pepys

Arose early but felt myself unrested. This however lifted with the taking of coffee and breads with my good wife as the sun fell pleasantly upon our little kitchen. Answered mail before taking the offspring to his day centre where they were commencing an excursion into the surrounding woods, a most stimulating undertaking for the young as the woods are beautiful this time of year. Such colours!
I continued with my correspondence following the departure of the young master of the house. Among them was to be found a letter from New Zealand, one of the former colonies of the realm. From a young artist who is interested by and is working in the field of digital texts as means for instruction:
Following correspondence I repaired to my office where I finished the annotation for my bibliography of text used in the proceeding months in my studies on the Renaissance. An uplifting scholarly time it was. I took luncheon with my wife in one of the student cafeterias; I ate a delightful salad sandwich on brown bread and took a quart of juice.
After this I bid farewell to my wife as she is attending instruction also at the university and I proceeded to the library where I spent almost an hour searching for books concerning the next portion of my studies; the Restoration and the Seventeenth Century. I began immediately to read The Diary of Samuel Pepys Vol.1 and am still feeling its influence as I type....Now to bed.(I wonder if I should wear the grand skirt and the shoes with the silver buckles tomorrow, I should not have eaten that second duck in lard)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Straight Out of Brisbane

Those wacky kids in the sunshine state are doing it again with another Straight Out of Brisbane festival:

"Straight Out of Brisbane is a multi-arts festival of independent and emerging arts, culture and ideas. It's on this year from December 2nd to the 12th.
SOOB is Queensland's largest gathering of young and emerging artists and creative industries practitioners.
The festival was started in 2002 by a community of emerging artists in reaction to the institutionalised and hierarchical nature of much of Queensland's cultural sector.
The goal of the festival is create a platform to build audiences, showcasing and professional development opportunities for south-east Queensland's young and emerging artists, artsworkers and creative entrepreneurs – especially in contemporary and emerging art practices not funded or supported by the broader cultural sector.
The 2003 SOOB Festival featured more than 620 local and inter-state artists and creative practitioners across 152 events. An estimated 8,000 people attended. This makes SOOB the largest festival of its type in Queensland, and the third largest in Brisbane as measured by numbers of participating artists and events."
Straight Out of Brisbane is a multi-arts festival of independent and emerging arts, culture and ideas. It's on this year from December 2nd to the 12th.

If you are anywhere near Bris-vagas during this time get into it!!!
Also I am welcoming a new addition to the Blogs I Read list, MusicYourMindWillLoveYou is a collection of audio-artists from the forests and inner-city backstreets of Oz, taking to the blogging format to get the Art out there.....

Unlicensed Printing 1644

"Since therefore, the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human wirtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely and with less danger scout into the regions of sin and falsity than by reading all manner of tractates and hearing all manner of reason? And this is the benifit which may be had of books promiscuously read."
John Milton Areopagitica
A Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing to the Parliment of England 1644

I read the Areopagitica last night and kept thinking about the struggle surrounding intellectual property and copyright that exists today. It seems to me if there had not been Open Source and Fair Use in the 16th century there never would have been a Renaissance.
Milton did not succeed in his appeal to Parliment, and by 1653 Cromwell had assumed dictatorial powers as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. Freedom of information and expression is needed, perhaps more so now in our society of completete
media dependance.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A Sign of the Times

This has been painted on several surfaces around our building during the last few weeks. With weapon mediated violence being a featured staple of news broadcasts the image of a self-defeating gun is welcome. I wonder if Bofors, the Swedish arms manufacturer, would consider making such a gun in cooperation with peace organisations around the world.
"Give Chance a Piece"

Sunday, October 03, 2004


Last night I had a long chat with two friends in Australia who are sharing a house and a computer at the moment. We spoke of how great it would be to have webcams and stream online performances (concerts, readings, happenings) as both of them are in bands. The great German band EINSTUERZENDE NEUBAUTEN are running from their studio in Berlin a system whereby one can pay a subscription fee to their studio webcam and chat network and thereby interact with the band members over the web and download special, otherwise unavailable editions of their recordings.
In my chat with my friends I attempted to establish some visual presence by sending the above picture of the room I sit in when I am data-interfacing/making music/cybertext etc. It is described by my son as 'the workroom' and by my partner and I as 'the studio'....I think I like the term 'Webroom'.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Introductory Guide to Critical Theory

Just want to register a fine link here for anyone wanting to get their head around the rather expansive subject of Critical Theory. I began reading 'The Differend: Phrases in Dispute' by Jean-Francois Lyotard (1983) this morning and one of the first things that struck me was the elegance of it. However it can be rather intense at times and that's why something like THIS is great.