Neve's curse

My daughter had a tiff with her friends yesterday and was so annoyed that she put this curse on them.

She drew them within a circle, dead from drinking poison. You can see they attempted to cross out their names and substitute with hers.

She drew herself laughing at their demise, which is kinda chilling for a six-year old. Apparently all was forgiven by the time they got on the school bus this morning.


Scrivener's legacy

Earlier this year I read Terry Birtles' book Charles Robert Scrivener: The Surveyor who Sited Australia's National Capital Twice. It wasn't something I'd normally read but I'm glad I did.

His early life was fascinating and challenging, entering surveying after getting 100% in his entrance exam and earning the nickname hundred. The work involved a lot of travel and hardwork, including dragging of chains through bushland to triangulate measurements. He slept in canvas tents through winters, later designed the Scrivener tent that was still in use after his death.

Scrivener's legacy was partly known to me from my time in Canberra but reading this book made me aware of how misrepresented he has been. For example, a few years ago I read a piece that suggested it was telling that Scrivener Dam holds back the waters of Lake Burley Griffin because Scrivener prevented the American architect from realising his vision for Canberra -- which is one of only a few designed cities in the world.

Walter Burley Griffin rose to prominence after winning the competition to design the national capital of Australia and was given a position on site that allowed him to undertake this role, while working part-time on private projects including the designs for Leeton and Griffith. I get the impression he stretched himself and the delays in submitting plans for Canberra eventually led to his contract not being renewed.

Griffin's employment with Frank Lloyd Wright, where he met his wife Marion, suggests a lot of the possibility that Canberra could've been designed to be magnificent. Aside from the urban design that Griffin has become known for, like the circular streets bounding suburbs, the school of Frank Lloyd Wright is famous for designing houses from top to bottom -- including furniture and interior features. So I guess there's always been a tantalising question of what might've been as Canberra is only loosely based on Griffin's plan and I think I remember there's only one feature that was built to his specifications.

Birtles' book outlines how Scrivener's relationship with Griffin deteriorated as the American sought to shift blame for delays. But the book keeps this episode in perspective with the rest of Scrivener's career and provides a great overview, including his role in mapping many areas throughout the state.

It was fascinating to read descriptions of places with which I'm familiar as well as the history surrounding the national capital, like why Jervis Bay is part of the Australian Capital Territory and how Burrinjuck Dam got its name. As well as, of course, how Scrivener's Dam was named because he identified the spot as being the best place to build the damn thing.

Reimagining the Murrumbidgee

Western Riverina Arts' Reimagining the Murrumbidgee exhibition is now open at the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery.

My contribution is a soundtrack composed from recordings of the River, as well as photographs in the catalogue which I also designed.

If you can't make it to Wagga, you can download my Reimagining soundtrack and a copy of the catalogue from Bandcamp.

Neve's dragon

My daughter brought home this dragon from school this week. Indulge me, I think it's pretty cool. Tempted to show her some scenes from Game Of Thrones but won't.

Oppressed Majority

The feminist in me adores this representation of sexism inverted but it's only funny up to a point and that is the point.

Dat ass

Facebook Lookback movies

Yesterday my friend Jess commented on Facebook about the phenomenon of their personalised Lookback movies. Her phrase was 'mind-blowing' and it gave me pause because I'd discounted it as sentimental narcissism, in part because their choice of moments jarred with my own sense of my life. Though I liked the use of the format to comment on Vladimir Putin's Russia, see video above.

Here was an advert, Jess observed, that didn't work to demographic data like sex, age, salary, ethnicity or location. "Lookback is nothing more than an advertisement for Facebook itself, but it's an ad made just for you."

This innovation seems significant. It's mass-marketing at a micro level.

It kinda unsettles me, I replied to Jess, because it underscores how much they know about me and the potential for them to mine that data. Then again, I often think if advertising is going to get better then maybe that'll be good because they rarely interest me at present. I can think of only one advert on Facebook that gave me pause, when I watched a video about improving productivity when making electronic music.

The thing I learned reading Jess' thread was that a friend of hers had found she didn't have a Lookback movie to watch because she posts too infrequently on the site. "...There was just a polite but vague message about how they look forward to seeing more of her in the future, and she told me she is now planning to post more actively..."

Which leads me to see the purpose of the exercise as relationship-building. 

At present I think Facebook is the best social media platform because it has the biggest audience. There are a lot of people who I only manage to keep in contact with through the service. Google+ doesn't have that despite being thrust on me a number of times. Twitter is interesting for entertainment outside of my personal networks, and email is becoming a thing of the past.

Engagement is Facebook's advantage and to maintain it they will need to continue to innovate. Lookback is an interesting step and one that shows skill in repackaging individual data on a massive scale.

It was interesting that another aspect of their 10th birthday was a message to advertisers thanking them for being part of Facebook's life, envisaging this milestone as 1% of their journey. A Facebook millennium is an ambitious statement, possibly designed to shake comparisons with MySpace, but it also comes soon after their response to recent 'research' from Princeton and it's interesting to see how much they used Google's resources for that.

Another interesting aspect is Lookback shows Facebook can produce video content. Previously I posted a video called The Problem with Facebook where the commentator made an observation that they would have difficulty running video adverts because this was lacking.

I've seen good results from using Facebook advertising at work, in part because their metrics beat anything from traditional media. They can reach people in ways that others cannot and I hope they use this power responsibly.

In Real Time

Found a nice surprise when I opened a copy of Real Time at the Eastern Riverina Arts office last week. They profiled me last year for their website but it was gratifying to see my work alongside professional artists like The Ronalds, The CAD Factory and the Wired Lab. Also cool to see two Leeton-based arts events represented.

Cut-up poetry

William S Burroughs would've been 100 this week and the Disquiet Junto got me to make a song using the lead story from the local newspaper as lyrics.

My partner Jo has been making cut-up poetry for a few months, inspired by the originator of the form: Tristan Tzara. Apparently he was kicked out of the Surrealists for thinking he could compose a better poem automatically and, as a result, started the Dadaists.

Today I had a go, with mixed results. It's quite exciting the way the juxtapositions force your brain to make sense from random combinations of words. Burroughs thought the process could be a magical ritual, revealing hidden meaning. I like his idea of audio being used the same way to cast curses by intercutting 'bad' sounds into a recording, such as his example of closing a restaurant he didn't like by recording them and then adding police sirens and screams. It's a kind of remixing.
Call Me Burroughs records a quasi-magical revenge attack on a Boulder deli from which two of his opiated friends had recently been thrown out. First, Burroughs arranged for a surreptitious tape recording to be made inside the deli—ambient noise, kitchen clatter, waitress-customer banter—and then, days later, with equal surreptitiousness, he played it back from a cassette recorder inside his coat as he sat at one of the tables. As Miles writes: “Over the next hour he increased the volume so that you could just about hear it, but no one appeared to notice.” Yet subliminal damage was being inflicted: discontinuous time streams, information feedback. “After forty-five minutes … one of the waiters threw down his apron and stalked out, followed by the owner, arguing loudly. The owner returned and began to scream at the serving staff, sending two of the women running to the ladies’ room in tears.” Burroughs, psychic vandal, was 63 years old at the time of this incident.

Rising up

There's a piece on my music in The Narrandera Argus today which picks up on the new remix chain, as well as another online collaboration.

'Rising Up' is the recent project with other producers from the Ninja Tune Forum and I've written about it for Cyclic Defrost this week.

Building poetry wanted

Pretty sure Crikey mean 'versus' rather than 'verses' but now I'm curious about poetry on the topic of architecture.

Reminds me of Frank Zappa's line on how "writing about music is like dancing about architecture"