Well, the plan was to start audio tagging some more populated areas of the city, but due to some time constraints and other priorities (such as tonight's Tyndall Assembly concert) I've been unable to get around to doing it. However, I managed to upload the video I made of my activities yesterday afternoon. You can watch it here.
From here on, there's the opening tonight of Calin's exhibition at 6pm, I've got a concert to conduct at 8.30-ish pm and tomorrow we'll be presenting our projects and wrapping everything up. (Hopefully I'll be able to do a bit of quick tagging before the concert tonight.)
August 30, 2007
August 29, 2007
Yesterday was dedicated to doing some fieldwork and developing our projects conceptually and practically. Aside from finding appropriate locations to 'audio tag' I spent some time designing a 'sonic identity'/'sonic signature' for the project as well as putting together a short soundscape which one of the participants had requested for her work.
Today's activity consisted of discussion amongst the group and reporting on how our projects were coming along. A couple of examples (too many to list here.) Marget's investigation into the atmospheres of spaces is very interesting as she presented a video capture she made yesterday (at the wheat silo location of the bus tour - see Day 1) of her performing very slow gestures against a static backdrop - drawing onto the atmosphere with her movements and gestures. Sarah examined the public use of public space for artistic purposes in a video capture of a site off King William Street. The site used to be a warehouse which has since been demolished and in now an empty lot strewn with rubble and e-trash which local street artists have used for shooting films and urban art (incl. some very creative graffiti.) Adele is currently working on a short film in (as she put it) the style of Luc-Goddard and the French New Wave. The film comprises of three characters meeting at various locations around the city. Logan is developing his idea (summarised in the Day 2 post) by postering and stenciling around the site of his assault. Calin provided some very thoughtful comments as well as proposing some new ideas for the projects in terms of examining the role of 'presence' and 'tension' in public space.
As for my own project, the 'audio tag' premise remains intact and this afternoon I picked out some convenient locations to hit. They are listed below.
Madley Lawns - University of Adelaide
Next to Oliphant Building - University of Adelaide
Next to South Australian Art Gallery/Museum - off North Terrace
I'll upload the YouTube video of these activities sometime tomorrow as the server isn't capable of handling large files at the moment.
I'm a bit too mentally tired to encapsulate some of the conceptual ideas underpinning this project, so I'll leave that for tomorrow as we've got a free day to spend some time firming up our works. Tomorrow I'll be striking Rundle Mall and locations with more human and sonic density.
August 28, 2007
A 'free day' today of fieldwork and developing our projects. Since my post last night, my project has changed its course somewhat. Instead of creating a soundwalk with a conceptual (and perceptual twist), I've decided to simplify my approach somewhat and focus more on the overarching idea which has dominated this workshop: identity in public space. To do this I've decided to create a 'sonic identity' as a virtual audio tag and situate it around designated locations in the city. As I've only got a couple of days left to realise this idea, I can't spend a great deal of time designing some elaborate sound generating device (which I intended to do leading up to the workshop.) Instead, I'll rely on my trusty combo of an iPod Shuffle and my portable speakers with built in amplification. It's a relatively inconspicuous set-up with a reasonable sound projection, so it shouldn't draw attention to itself too much visibly. The sonic identity will be a short looping audio track with a reasonable dynamic range as to articulate its surroundings to varying degrees. So overall at this stage the 'sonic identity' will be used to explore the relationship between an audible tag and its surrounding environment. Hopefully it will make a bit more sense once it's put into action tomorrow morning.
August 27, 2007
Refreshed after a weekend's worth of recuperation and reflection, today's activity involved some general roundtable discussion amongst Calin and the participants regarding our proposed projects for the workshop. We were also treated to a presentation by Calin of some of his observations and works influenced by his experiences. A majority of ideas for projects are circulating around ideas of conflict, voyerism and identity in public spaces.
Discussion of projects:
A couple of examples. Participant Logan proposed a project based around his experience of being the victim of a group assault nearly a year ago just around the corner from the EAF. He explained he would use video capture and map out the site (using chalk lines, postering) of the assault to recreate the experience in an abstract fashion. Amy wanted to use the experience of the bus tour (see previous post) as a basis for exploring atmospheres of places and juxtaposing them against each other - such as the grain silo location juxtaposed with the warehouses of Port Adelaide. Such an idea comes from her motivation to engage with atmospheres which evoke contrasting subjective feelings and present these using video and photo media.
My project (such as it is at present):
As for me as the sole sound-based participant, I've decided to explore the role of auditory culture in public spaces by examining Walkman/iPod culture in a soundwalk for a city block in the CBD (possibly the Hindley St. circuit.) I will make a recording of the walk whilst mapping and timing it out accordingly. This recording will be used as the guide track that the participant will use (with Walkman/iPod) to navigate their way along the walk. Specific points along the walk will be chosen as designated 'observation points' where the Walkman/iPod is either paused or left running as a means to draw the participants perception towards their surroundings. Foreign sounds also will be added to the guide track in pre-production as a means to enhance/contradict/obscure the participants perception towards their surroundings.
This isn't an original idea by any stretch, it has its roots in the work of Canadian sound artist Janet Cardiff who in the 1990's put together these sort of soundwalks for Walkmans to tour the city. What I'm specifically interested in is combining this idea with the phenomena of Walkman/iPod culture in public/urban spaces. In an essay for The Auditory Culture Reader entitled "The Sonic Composition of the City", Jean-Paul Thibaud examines this phenomena by highlighting the dominance of the visual over the auditory in urban spaces and the common tendency to use the Walkman or iPod as a 'sonic bridge' to 'flatten their perception' as the person moves from one location (such as their home) to another (such as work.) Thibaud uses 'the knots of the urban environment' to describe intermittent and loud sounds which interrupt this state of flattened perception, and in turn draw the persons attention back to their surroundings and situation.
From this perspective, the construction of my soundwalk would take advantage of this state of flattened perception and (in a sense) turn it on itself by superimposing a prior recording of the walk onto the same walk in real-time. A temporal shift (or schizophrenia) of sorts, methods of lowering/raising volume, pausing the guide track and introducing foreign sounds could serve as a means of drawing the participants attention to their surroundings.
This is obviously still an idea in a state of rough conception, so I'll stop here before I start repeating myself and summarise Calin's presentation instead.
Calin delivered a great presentation on what he describes as 'Emotional Architecture' using the capital cities of Bucharest (Romania) and Tallinn (Estonia) as examples. By 'Emotional Architecture', Calin approached the architecture of these cities to evaluate the relationship they have with their citizens.
Bucharest - where Calin spent most of the 1970s and 80s under Communist rule - was presented with a peculiar brutality in its decrepit Bauhaus-style high rise apartments juxtaposed with 19th century facades decaying under years of neglect. Calin alluded to Bucharest as a city with a history of ruptures, instability and 'a brutal activity of reshaping'. He identified this motivation towards reshaping as a cultural dissatisfaction with the way things are, which was pushed to proverbial extremes under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceauşescu with the construction of the enormous 'People's Palace' at the expense of surrounding neighborhoods and the construction of the said high rise apartments. This architectural activity and its relationship to Romanian society was used by Calin to explore the subject of public ownership of public space - a persistent topic of discussion in this workshop and a concurrent theme of our bus tour on Friday.
The analysis of Tallinn focused on the strange monolithic structure which is known Linnahall, an enormous building built for the 1980 Olympic Games. Essentially a proposed 'representation of the people' under Soviet rule, the structure became a site for events and demonstrations leading up the fall of Communism. Post-Communism, the structure has fallen into neglect and has (unsettlingly) been adopted by the Russian population of Estonia as a monument of the Motherland.
The ideas of identity in public space in Bucharest and Tallinn were then described respectively in the conception of two films by Calin, Sample City and Trip, which will be shown as part of the EAF exhibition of Calin's work opening this Friday.
(Whew...that's almost a couple of wiki entries right there.)
Overall, a good day. Calin is an absolute pleasure to work with as well as the fellow workshop participants.
 Thibaud, Jean-Paul. "The Sonic Composition of the City", The Auditory Culture Reader. (Berg: Oxford) pp. 329
 pp. 333
August 26, 2007
The City Tags workshop facilitated by the EAF (Experimental Art Foundation) and headed by visiting art critic, curator and artist Calin Dan got underway on Friday with introductions, orientation, presentations and a bus tour around Adelaide and surrounding districts.
Introduction and orientation:
Workshop participants backgrounds and areas of practice are situated more or less in the visual arts (print/video/photography). I am the only participating sound artist, though a majority of the participants show a good understanding of sound and its application within their own and other art practices. During introductions, Calin asked questions relevant to each participants background, focusing specifically on where they come from, their heritage, family diaspora and how they relate to their city. These questions led onto a series of short discussions on space and memory, environments as habitat (places of residence), growing up with struggle, urban diaspora and 'conflict' in urban spaces. I'll be coming back to some of these themes over the next couple of days.
After an hour or so of formalities, Calin gave a short presentation of some work of his and discussed how it relates to themes associated with the workshop. More info can be found [here.]
Around midday the tour got underway with 'guides' Francesca da Rimini and Caron Ward. Using the theme of 'lost/loss' the tour involved visiting various Adelaide-centric landmarks and locations. Fran and Caron had programmed the tour as essentially a 'mystery tour' with the itinerary listed with deliberate obscurities such as "The Big Drop", "Cataplasmic Aspirations" and "Unspecial K via Fuck off Fences".
The itinerary was as follows:
1. Pilgrim Church (aka "You built this city on the bones of our ancestors")
2. The River Torrens Beat and footbridge (aka "The Big Drop")
3. Blair Athol/Kilburn (aka "Unspecial K via Fuck off Fences")
4. Yatala Labour Prison (aka "Wiry Build. Bar None")
5. Mawson Lakes (aka "Cataplasmic Aspirations")
6. St. Kilda (aka "Stand up for the Queen" and "Leaving Alaska")
7. [Unknown Location] (aka "The Grainy Train")
8. Port Adelaide (aka "The heritage! Oh, the heritage!")
9. Pelican Point/Biodiversity Park (aka "Skeleton Mosque" and "The struggle continues")
The first location (prior to boarding the bus) reflected on themes of lost/loss from the perspective of dispossession and genocide. The Pilgrim Church on North Terrace (one of the first churches erected in Adelaide) was built with the sacred stone of the Indigenous inhabitants. This stone was also used in the construction of Old Parliament House and Government House (Genocide Corner.)
The next location was along the River Torrens and a visit to the gay beat of the 1960's and 70's. We were told the story of Dr. George Duncan who was thrown from the Torrens footbridge by two police officers after visiting the beat one night in May 1972. The murder and subsequent investigation led to sweeping reforms of gay rights by the South Australian premier at the time, Don Dunstan. There is a body of evidence to suggest that the murder of Dr. George Duncan was connected to the infamous "Family" serial killings of the 1970's.
The bus then did a drive through of the northern suburbs of Blair Athol and Kilburn, ostensibly a housing trust area and a designated area of residence for Afghan and Sudanese refugees. The State Government has recently approved a bill to sell over the housing trust homes to private enterprise, and thus force the current residents to seek more affordable housing. Essentially a push towards gentrification, such houses are expected to been sold at a starting price of $400,000 due to their 'close' proximity to the inner city. 'Fuck off Fences' refer to the trend in such suburbs to erect imposing spiked fences out the front of their houses. The sense of loss for the current residents must be palpable given their respective backgrounds, forced to undergo another migration (urban-style.)
Next stop was a visit to Yatala labour prison. Approval was sought prior to our visit as a dozen people taking photos and video capture of the razor wire perimeter would be certain to raise a few hints of suspicion. Especially since this is where David Hicks is currently held.
The 'asperational nighmare' that is Mawson Lakes was next on the agenda. A sickening eeriness was evident as we swept around the streets viewing frontyard/backyard-less houses with occasional meagre plots of open space and unhealthy man made river systems. Houses start at half a million dollars, built with cheap pre-fab materials. Four Wheel Drives are everywhere, replete with Gucci, Dior and vacant looking children. Glue sniffing kits and syringes are often found along the riverbanks and incidents of self harm and attempted suicide are high. Numerous billboards proclaimed 'Mawson Lakes is for Families' and 'Designer Living' and the ideal place to 'Watch Tensions Unfold' [!!!].
A drive through the disappearing market gardens of Virginia took us to the tiny suburb of St. Kilda perched on the perimeter of mangroves and salt lakes. Apparently birds migrate from Alaska in the warmer months to nest here. Despite the relative quiet and serenity of this location, the occasional thud and groan of the outer harbor could be seen in the distance.
Thousands of birds could be seen in the sky and around the grain silos at an unknown location (about 5km of St. Kilda.) Juxtaposition of the urban and natural environments was a dominant theme as the native dolphin populations (a few of which we occasionally saw in the inlet) are dying off due to the increasing pollution in the area. Fortunately, the birds can fly and seems to have adapted to their location with a good feed of spilt grain from the passing semi trailers.
Next stop was the old factories and warehouses of Port Adelaide which are due for demolition to make way for housing developments in the area (the boat houses are also slated for removal.)
The final stop was at Pelican Point (Outer Harbour) where we were given a tour of Bio-Diversity Park by local Friends Committee member Nick Davies. The site is the last of the original dune system along the Adelaide coastline and is currently under threat from the Maritime Authority who want to use the land for ASC's secured defence contracts. The ecosystem is comprised entirely of native regrowth and is the habitat for a variety of rare wildlife.
I have to admit that the tour was not what I had expected. It was a fascinating tour of Adelaide and especially sobering in its themes of loss: sacred land, mortality, migration, freedom, space, heritage, habitat and ecosystems. I would certainly say that my perceptions were challenged slightly at first as I was under the initial impression that we would be going around looking for urban tagging practices. However, it would seem (at least to me) that the theme of tagging has been extended to accommodate the broader scope of society and its relationship to a city undergoing change. The themes of space, memory, identity and conflict were dominant for me as we observed things that have or are disappearing and being moved somewhere else. The phenomenon of tagging and street art wasn't especially relevant to the tour itself, though the concepts which are attached to tagging (primarily identity in public spaces) were certainly evident in the thematic and conceptual breadth of the locations we visited.
So where from here? I'm currently enjoying a couple of days off this weekend before we re-commence the workshop on Monday. I can see a great deal of inspiration for my project and collaborations with the other participants. I'm still not exactly sure how I am going to apply these ideas to my primary practice of sound, though I think over the next couple of days these ideas will coalesce into something a little more substantial than amorphous thoughts and tinkerings.
Now I'm going to go and dig out some R.Murray Schafer and David Toop as well as my enormous tome on Auditory Culture and indulge in some light reading. Stay posted.
August 23, 2007
Starting tomorrow I will be involved in a week-long workshop facilitated by Adelaide's EAF (Experimental Art Foundation) and led by visiting new media artist Calin Dan. Operting under the moniker of City Tags, the workshop will involve participants exploring the phenomenon of public/urban art and its socio-cultural associations through various media. I am very excited about it and will be posting periodically over the next week.
I'll be dragging out my rarely seen slippery velvetine persona once again for the annual Helpmann Academy awards tomorrow night. Yes, Raoul Valentine in all his splendor for your corruptable eyes at the Colonel Light Hotel (off Light Sq. City) around 9pm.
August 21, 2007
The 2007 Tyndall Assembly concert series continues next Thursday night with presentations by Poppi Doser, Milkcrate and a performance by Darren Curtis. For more details go to www.tyndallassembly.com and www.tyndallassemblyblog.blogspot.com
August 15, 2007
Since aquiring a new laptop my work ethic has improved in leaps and bounds, insofar that the much neglected research page has finally been given some love and attention as well as a sensible makeover. I've even started up a YouTube account!
August 13, 2007
Last Thursday night I opened for Pretty Boy Crossover's album launch at the Jade Monkey. It was my first 'electronic' gig in awhile and beforehand I appeared to be more nervous than someone should naturally be when all they have do is sit themselves behind a laptop. I performed two pieces - the first The Sky Is Falling is a revised 'vocal' work I had previously performed, and a new work Conversation Piece which is essentially a tasteful mash-up of previous smaller works interspersed with new sonic treatments. I think it worked to some effect with the audience who were also treated to the excellent retro synth pop of Belittle League and a lovely chilled performance by Pretty Boy (Crossover) Mr. Sweeney.
Cheers to Seb Tomczak for taking some photos and video footage.
August 02, 2007
I will be participating in a workshop called City Tags to take place later this month at the invitation of the EAF (Experimental Arts Foundation). The workshop is part of a visit by the (new) media artist Calin Dan and will focus specifically on the phenomenon of tagging in urban spaces. I will be participating as a sound artist and developing an aesthetic of 'audio tagging'.
More can be read here: http://eaf.asn.au/2007/dan.html
August 01, 2007
The second Tyndall Assembly concert got a nice review from Rodney Smith. You can read it here: http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,22167735-5003361,00.html