Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Map of Melbourne Firsts

The map of places passes, the reality of paper tears.
- Laura Riding, The Map of Places, 1927

Last year, when Lisa & I were throwing around ideas for creative mapping projects, we considered how we had presented data in the past, and all the digital possibilities. We are place-centric, forever fascinated with how environment influences behaviour, and how even places that no longer exist can become storehouses for memories. We decided to make a sound map that featured strangers talking around the theme of 'firsts'. We are used to working with narrative, and knew there would be a textual element, but we were also excited at the different textures and layers that would come through using sound. The idea was that we would go into the city and make field recordings, but also ask strangers questions and try and coax 'illuminations'. The resultant map features a diverse range of people telling story snippets that are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes revelatory, sometimes ordinary. For the project we had five young artists participating, significant support from Signal - especially in the realm of Sound tech - and four weeks with which to do it.You can find the finished map at the link below. Just click on a marker to either hear, see or read a Melbourne first:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Flash fiction techniques

Flash Fiction techniques:

From The Masters Review blog:

And my favourite:

It’s very hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who’s learning to play the violin.” That’s what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver.

 - Richard Brautigan, The Scarlatti Tilt

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Map of Melbourne Firsts

Map of Melbourne Firsts

cartography / writing / sound
Imagine a map of Melbourne where the landmarks are memories, anecdotes, sound bites and images. How would you shape and present this data?
For the Map of Melbourne Firsts you will create a digital map using personal and public experiences of first Melbourne encounters through text, art and voice. The project provides opportunities to develop your writing, interviewing and sound editing skills.
Work with artists Simmone Howell and Lisa Donofrio to discover social cartography, discovery, happenstance and city stories.
Dates and time:
Saturday 6 June, 11am to 4pm
Saturday 13 June, 11am to 4pm
Saturday 20 June, 11am to 4pm
Saturday 27 June, 11am to 4pm
Bookings essentialBook online

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Art of Disaster - An Interview with Klare Lanson

The Art of Disaster - an interview with Klare Lanson
Simmone Howell

More than halfway up the wall of Klare Lanson’s hallway she’s drawn a horizontal line and the words, THIS IS THE FLOODLINE. “I put it there for tradies. Their first question is always How high did the water come?” Lanson says with a wry laugh. We’re having cups of tea on her porch to the dulcet sounds of Auskick. In the distance is leafy, tree-lined Barker’s Creek. It’s small, as creeks go, but looks can be deceptive. In 2011, during four days of unreasonable rain, the drains collapsed and Barker’s Creek finally overflowed, transforming the football field and the lower section of the street into a muddy lake. Klare Lanson was at home with her young son, moving from anxiety to fear as the rain kept coming. They survived the flood physically, but the emotional repercussions have been profound. 
What is art for, if not to save us from despair? Post-flood recovery, Lanson began to think about how she could re-imagine her experience in a creative context. This thinking, and her subsequent experiments in sound, poetry and location media practice have culminated in #wanderingcloud, one of the local highlights of this year’s Castlemaine State Festival. 
Lanson has been a sound artist and performance poet for over twenty years. She explores connections between humanity and technology, and her practice is deeply connected to her environment. In the early noughties she made a tree-change from Melbourne to Castlemaine: 
“I couldn't find anywhere in Melbourne to rent that was affordable and conducive to bringing up a child. If I'm going to live in a city I want to live in the city - I have a bit of a fear of outer suburbia and the impact it would have on my son's upbringing. Too much Bertrand Russell perhaps. I was looking for a place that values the same things I do. Friends. Space. Small schools.” 
Lanson was settled by the time of the flood, but her experience of country life is now divided into before and after. In the first wave of interviews she undertook for #wanderingcloud, the mark on the wall became something else again: “The first thing people wanted to do was show me their floodlines: immediate connection.”
Lanson’s first post-flood production was The Cloud Mistress in 2012. The work incorporated a soundscape using field recordings, the artist responding to a radio interview, audience storytelling and excerpts from an 1897 letter in The Argus regarding a Castlemaine flood. Over the personal experience was layered a community’s experience, a sense of place and history, the small ‘i’ of the artist in the storm of the world.
#wanderingcloud had its first life in 2013 at Castlemaine’s Theatre Royal. The project grew to incorporate the communities around it. The artist interviewed people from satellite towns about their flood memories: “The interview process was incredible and very rewarding. Most of the interviewees were happy to talk about their flood experiences, especially when they understood that I too was devastated by the 2011 flood event. The like mindedness, the stories they shared, the different (sometimes indifferent) experiences I recorded, led me on an amazing journey of sound recordings and imagery. The need for silence in the aftermath was also there, sometimes a voice in itself.”
#wanderingcloud is local and locative, it explores the collective experience of communities who have been through a traumatic event.
“There was so much sadness and anger. It was a huge challenge as an artist to find the beauty within. I am thankful of my time spent with all the people who shared their stories, there wouldn't be a #wanderingcloud project without them.”
The cloud is building. The upcoming performance at Castlemaine’s Woollen Mills includes artists from near (Neil Boyack, Jacques Soddell and Andree Cozens) and far (Brisbane based Clocked Out Duo). There is a collaborative site installation by designer Zoe Volpato and performance art by Kathrin Ward. The site itself has endured its own share of disaster - three fires have been noted in its history. It’s located alongside Barker’s Creek, like a cosmic wink to the cyclical nature of life.
Lanson cites as her inspiration “artists who understand working across platforms, whose work is based on spoken word and who move across mediums.” Miranda July, Bjork and Laurie Anderson, as well as artists and academics working in the field of location media practice like Larissa Hjorth. 
“I was affected by a Richard Long exhibition in London in the early 90s, whose meditative sculptural walks all over the world are seminal. I sometimes think of those itinerant poets in the Renaissance era who preceded performance art, roaming and wandering about trying to make a living.”
The timing of the project is fortuitous. The draft of the flood management plan for Castlemaine has just been made available for public comment. A levee wall is proposed for Barker’s Creek and Lanson expects community input to be considerable. “There are questions about engineering and aesthetic inconsistencies that need to be answered. I’ve been involved in a few projects that are timed with broader community issues. The process involved in creative practice is seminal during any kind of development of people and place. Art is change.” 
But for now, the creek trickles on unguarded, clouds drift in the blue sky, the footy horn sounds and kid’s feet clomp on the green.

I’m still thinking about the floodline. Lanson’s graffito is also symbolic: as a reminder of the capriciousness of Mother Nature, a warning not to get too comfortable. It’s a mark of endurance, a record, like a child’s height charted on the side of the door, and it’s a story that rings with the echoes of stories past.

#wanderingcloud is performed from March 19-21 at the Castlemaine State Festival 2015

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Palimpsest zine and Exhibition

The zine is done! It looks like this:

Yesterday we had a rather frantic time putting it all together. The exhibition is in the niche cabinets at the City Library - there are drawings, photos, assemblages, cut-outs, cut-ups and a teapot. Also included is out map of (mostly) true Melbourne stories. 

The exhibition will be up until the end of September, and the zine until all the copies get taken away. You can find it at the City Library, Sticky and Signal

And here we are post-hang and pre-dumplings!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Palimpsest 4 - Books, Nouns, Buildings

This week we meandered to the City Library to check out their niche cabinets for the exhibition. There are lots of nooks and crannies and the library has a lively buzz and everyman feeling. What would we do without libraries?! We each selected a book from their Melbourne section and chose a picture to write a postcard scene/poem.

The book I found selected was Ola Cohn's Fairies Tree. But I was too absorbed in it to write from it so that will have to come later. The lines I found most arresting:

"It is believed a magpie that lived in its branches carried a lit cigarette there, and so started the blaze soon to light up the sky ..."

Following on from last week's homework - to write about our days in nouns - we each chose three nouns, put them in a pot and then attempted to write something that incorporated all three. There was some complaint of the sameness of our days, and I think from now on I'm going to stretch my brain to find the most interesting noun of my day (surely there must be one) ...

My three words were: container, tunnel and children.
Here is a snippet:

"I promised I would not show them or tell people. But, but, but. You would not think they would be so hard to look after. I grew to hate their little faces, their high, pinging voices..."

Our workshops are relatively short (2 hours), and looking through my notebook I seem to have collected a lot of beginnings. I will save them for a 'stuck' day.

The homework was to select a building - either from the lovely Collins St Sketchbook or from our own wanderings and create a story from it.