Naviar Haiku

I was introduced to Naviar Records via the Disquiet Junto. They're similar projects in setting weekly prompts for musical responses.

Naviar use haiku to stimulate tracks and intermittently release collections of the material. Above is a playlist of the tracks I've submitted.

This is sensational

I mean, if you play video games it is a sensational comment but, this guy's laugh is truly remarkable and infectious.

P.S. Okay, I get that it's a parody. Also just got that my friend Bernie has made a version that's a parody of the current Coalition government in Australia.

Almost an embrace

I was reading Realtime's review of Vic McEwan's installation at Wagga Art Gallery and thought I'd write down some thoughts I'd had while attending. The image shown comes from there, a pic of the installation credited to McEwan.

Shortly before I left Canberra earlier this century, there was a weird sort of arms race among the increasingly upmarket bars in the suburban shopping centres. They seemed to be outspending each other on bathroom renovations.

One near the house where I was leaving exceeded my expectations and transformed their humble pissoir into something approaching a liminal experience for me. It seemed as though patrons were required to piss on the walls of the bathroom itself, although it was more obvious when sober that only one wall had a glass layer and then a drain below. Subtleties are often lost on me.

Anyway, I still remember the magic of approaching the dimly lit toilet and feeling the luxury of beer flowing out of me in what appeared to be lavish surroundings. It was a moment I remembered when visiting Vic McEwan's Almost An Embrace installation at the Wagga Art Gallery.

The square-shaped trough sits in the middle of a darkened room. On the walls are projections of water twinkling as they descend in streams. Above the trough hoses hang and streams of water descend. Your eyes slowly adjust to the subdued lighting but not enough to feel as though you can see everything. There isn't much to see, aside from a ramp to avoid tripping on hoses and a hum from the behind the movable wall lining one side of the gallery that suggests a computer.

When visitors first approach they must overcome any resistance to being wet and engage with the streams. If they are in suitable contact with the metal trim on the trough and the upper part of the stream, the audiovisual content will change to a rhythmic flashing of lights and percussion. Triggering successive hoses reveals the water will trigger audiovisual content in other musical keys.

My kids aren't particularly accustomed to art galleries and had little resistance to getting wet. They didn't have much luck triggering the work though. I had a better understanding of the circuit that needed completing, showing them the trick. They explored it a little more, finding the changes in the key of the audiovisual content but not making the leap to playing the trough like an instrument.

By coincidence, after we left the exhibit we met Vic McEwan on the stairs. I shared my observation that the kids hadn't been encouraged to engage with his work and he replied to the effect that a good instrument doesn't give up it's secrets easily. It led me to think about the inevitability of art being misunderstood by an audience in all but the most commercial of mediums.

Downstairs, in the main part of the Wagga Art Gallery's viewing areas, was another exhibition that used similar technology to trigger audiovisual content. The Wired Lab worked with students from the Karabar Distance Education Centre during their quarterly program that provides positive face-to-face social interactions and collaborative learning opportunities between students and specialist teachers.

This exhibition presented the outcomes of these workshops which explored the nexus of art, science and sound. The colourful panels had triggers for audiovisual content embedded within them. It took me a few minutes to make the connection between the technology mounted on the wall and the wires hidden in the artworks, but once I showed my kids they raced around looking for all the triggers.

While both Vic McEwan and The Wired Lab's installations used similar technology and had triggers that weren't immediately obvious to the audience of one adult and a few kids, it was interesting to see that the kids lost interest in the content once it started playing. For them it was enough to find the trigger, before racing on to the next one. It made me think the content in both installations could be more engaging.

Which leads me to the idea I have to repurpose Vic's infrastructure. The running water reminds me of a urinal but it also leads me to consider how all water is recycled and how there's a similar process that happens with music. As there are only a limited combination of notes that sound pleasing, music is a limited system that recycles itself. I'd like to see Vic's fountain trigger music from a variety of musicians, as a way of commenting on how music flows like water through us all.

My eyes look back

There’s a photograph of my father’s mother as a girl. It’s a sepia-toned picture of her immediate family out the front of their house. In it you can see her broad brown eyes looking back. Her mother also has brown eyes and they’re like my eyes. My sister has them and our sons too.

These brown eyes are a dominant trait in my family. My daughter has the same chocolate-brown irises. They’re eyes like my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s in the photograph. The sepia adds a richness to the brown tones and underscores our family trait.

The photograph also shows my grandmother’s father, my great-grandfather. Something about him reminds me of the man she would marry. The roundness of the head maybe? Definitely the beard, which is funny because my partner likes me to wear a beard too. I have a head more like my mother’s though, I think.

My bearded great-grandfather is remembered by my father as a grumpy and distant figure, which seems apt. My kids probably remember their grandfather as a distant but lavish figure. He wears a beard too. His brown eyes are framed by grey hair but they have that crinkle around them that darkens when smiling. My aunt has that too and my uncle did though I can’t think of seeing him smile.

My grandmother died when I was young, so I can’t remember her eyes. Photography is a technology that allows me to reflect on my family history across decades. In a similar way social media reflects my family from across the world. When I visit Facebook I see my family from across the world. It reminds me of that line ‘A friends’ eye is a good mirror’.

The old photograph also shows my grandmother’s brother, who has written a book on his research into the family tree. It’s quite fascinating to read about the interests of my forebears and achievements and consider the shapes of our lives. To look over history and to select moments from their lives that resonate with me, or share something of my own experience. It’s a form of ego-centric curation of facts that supports the story of me.

At university an anthropology lecturer said that kinship is a social construct. I’d guess that family history is too. In a way we collect our families by choosing who we recognise as part of our own history. I like this idea because my family has given me siblings after the divorce of my parents. Although relationships between our parents aren’t recognised, my brother and sisters and I share brown eyes.

My siblings and I may not have eyes like my grandmother and great-grandmother in the photograph but the colour is a common feature we share, like our history of growing up together. As time passes I appreciate more and more this history as it is a pleasure to understand ourselves through each other and continue to share our family ties largely via technology in the present.

Riverina Fresh Gold Promo

Today couldn't get much better, then a hamper from Knights Meats arrived courtesy of Riverina Fresh Gold Promo.

Below is my photograph that won me the bounty shown right.

Knights stock my favourite Arcadia Farm salt bush lamb, so the voucher won't last much longer than the Knights Own chocolate-dipped oranges and toffee-dripped dried apple pieces. Their Moroccan-style nuts are quite amazing.

Oscar sings

My son Oscar is crazy for video games. He loves playing them, he loves watching other people play them and he loves learning about them. I bought a Nintendo Game Cube when he was two and it's been a big part of his life since.

Today he had a 'mental health day' where I let him stay home from school so we could spend time together. I asked what he'd like to do and, after rejecting playing video games, Occy suggested recording video game themes in the style of Smooth McGroove.

Above is Song of Storms from Ocarina of Time, which is one of the Zelda games. It's the second track he recorded today.

The first song Oscar wanted to record was the Sanctuary Boss theme from Earthbound. We've been talking about this game recently after I mentioned that Hirokazu Tanaka was visiting Melbourne soon. It turned out that Oscar is a massive fan of Tanaka and asked me to pursue an interview for Cyclic Defrost. However, Tanaka-san doesn't speak English and my Japanese won't get us very far, so it's not likely happening. Hopefully Good Game will talk with him.

Below is the version of the song that Oscar covered. I'm curious to hear more music by Tanaka as Occy tells me he has a musical signature in his work.