Three Body Problem

I keep waiting for somebody to joke about a ménage à trois in the Netflix adaptation of Three Body Problem

Let me say how much I enjoyed the books and the Chinese TV show.

The Netflix version reminds me that, like Avatar, they're not afraid to change scenes up.

In this case the result seems a bit like Friends, but they're attractive physicists who argue about working for the military industrial complex and don't have threesomes!

Actually, I think it's obvious the American version has removed everything Chinese except the bits the Chinese originally buried in the book to appease censors.

In particular the scenes from the Cultural Revolution are foregrounded at the expense of detailing the character that starts an alien invasion.

The Panama scene was everything I hoped to see, but the opportunities to show phsicists grappling with questions of science has been diminished.

It's not surprising, they've shrunk 30 hours of the Chinese adaptation into eight hours for the Netflix version and ended up covering ground from the second book.

New art

The theme for the Leeton art competition this year is "dust and rain"

I find their themes irresistable and, unfortunately for me, there's was a change of plans while making my artwork and it ended up being disqualified from competition.

It's great to be part of the exhibition.

Nova Lisa

This image appeared in my Facebook Memories today 

It was shared six years ago but I've got a new appreciation for this dissection of Da Vinci's masterpiece after reading a biography of the artist last year.

Leonardo spent years working on the Mona Lisa and during that time he also made a number of discoveries about the human anatomy. 

The artist might be Hannes Kreuzer and I appreciate the way he's captured some of the diversity in Da Vinci's output.

Are you being served?

David Henry Taylor recently returned to the counters at Taylor Brothers Store in Griffith Pioneer Park Museum

This building is a replica of the first business in the main street displays many of the items that were sold during the early days in our city.

It's a reminder of the times before self-service supermarkets and a recent visitor shared their recollection of working downstairs to package stock for sale.

Avatar the latest story bender

There's a lot to like about the live-action Netflix adaptation of The Last Airbender

The show feels like a remix of the original cartoon story.

It works for me in a way like the Zelda games all begin to blur as the story is retold over and over again.

These days that deja vu-like telling is explained by a conceit like the multiverse, but I wonder if it hints at a Dreamtime sense that these things have always happened and will always happen.

It might be that dramatic arc that's laid out with Sozin's comet and other celestial movements that accompany the arrival of the Avatar.

The story always had a grandeur beyond the Nickelodeon format back when I first started watching the animated series with my firstborn son nearly two decades ago.

I've revisited the series with successive children and there's been a pleasure in rediscovering the characters who populate the universe of the elemental kingdoms.

My kids didn't take to the Netflix series but I thought the action sequences were a massive improvement on the animation.

They bristled with sacrilege in the mergings of half-hour stories into the new hour-long episodes.

Yet every reworking of the characters seemed to make sense within the grander scope of the live-action drama.

At first the casting of Katara felt wrong and then I realised it made more sense for her to be closer to Aang's age.

Likewise Uncle Iroh took a little getting used to but, in the subtle details like when he handled the game tile, I gained a new appreciation for the role of Pai Sho in the Order of the White Lotus.

I didn't think I'd like the Netflix version after being horrified by the film version, yet now I want to see a seriousness taken with the political subplot in the Earth Kingdom.

And now I want to see the Library in the desert fully realised and there are so many other stories that I can't wait to see retold.

Meta won't save journalism

It seems ridiculous to expect Facebook to pay media companies for content that's published behind paywalls

I can understand the importance of news organisations but most of the commercial ones are just republishing PR and media releases anyway.

Meta were stupid for giving money to them, since now every other government are asking for millions to pay for media companies that couldn't make the leap to a new paradigm.

When classifieds went online, the business model for journalism broke.

It's a serious concern for democracies and evident that no one is watching some areas of government.

Yet you've got to wonder if that's any of Facebook's business?

Everything exists in history

As I neared the end of my first degree, it became obvious that I'd missed an opportunity

Many of my friends at ANU were majoring in History and I began to realise the scope it provides.

My favourite major at the time was Cultural Studies (it was the 1990s!) and that subject was liberating for the breadth of analyses and interests, yet history encompasses all subjects.

"Everything exists in history," I said to my mates and it's a realisation that few seem to have noted.

(I recently googled the phrase and there was only one mention other than my own.)

Now that I work within a museum, I often wonder why more institutions don't act on the opportunities available to reflect this broad scope.

So yesterday I took the opportunity to present the Southern NSW Heritage Group with a survey of creative projects from around our region.

These are public outcomes that engage with history in various media, both inside and outside of museums.

I began with some context by outlining my background and interests, particularly a key lesson from my career working in public relations that human interest stories are effective and often affecting.

A lot of my work as a curator at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum involves putting a human face on history.

People can't help but look for faces and it will often bring into focus experiences as a way of giving context for an item.

My curating role is part-time and I shared with the Group that I consider myself a full-time creative who has achieved some recent success in writing.

This includes poetry and it's a style that provides an example of how writing in museums could be done differently.

There are many layers of meaning available in poetry and I often think back to this quote from Harrison Young.

(As an aside I noted that not many people have heard of Mr Young, who left the Board of the Commonwealth Bank and no longer gets mentioned in the Australian Financial Review for writing erotic fiction. I think the latter is great because everyone should have a creative outlet!)


One project that brought creative writing to regional museums was the Encounters program run by Orana Arts.

They recruited a group who were mentored by Ruth Little to produce a book that includes a range of styles, from an essay to poetry.

Ruth crammed a huge number of consideratons into our heads during a two-day workshop at Port Macquarie and the photo shown here was taken by project coordinator Andrew Glassop.

I thought it would be easy to write about Pioneer Park, having worked there for a couple of years, and my creative non-fiction piece led me back into the role of curator.

Another project I shared was Leeton Memories, which I developed for the not-for-profit organisation Red Earth Ecology.

We commissioned a series of oral history recordings and recruited Leeton-based artists (and writers) to interpret the conversations as displays in the local community op shop windows, which have an excellent location on the main street of town and faces the zebra crossing.

Shown here is Cynthia Arel, better known for her work as a designer for stage and screen, who interpreted the memories of Julie Maytom.

You can sorta see the sign in the lower left-hand corner that showed the QR code which linked to the recording of Julie.

I was surprised how often I'd pass the Leeton Memories displays and find people were listening to the recordings at these links, but it's clear that audiences are more familiar with this technology since COVID-19.

One other example of an artist working with local history is the work by my partner Jo Roberts called "Geo/graphology," which was part of the Ngurambang exhibition at Griffith Regional Art Gallery last year.

This used the Cut-up Technique to investigate hidden histories, providing an interactive exhibit that blurred the line between artist and audience while gently questioning perspectives.

I gave couple of examples from my work at Pioneer Park, such as the current exhibition based around Gugabul and my 2016 photographic exhibition to celebrate the Museum's 45th anniversary.

The latter presented images from the past in the present day locations around the Park's grounds and coincided with Griffith's centenary celebrations.

To conclude my presentation I gave a couple of examples from museums in our region, including the "Old is New..." project recently run by The Cad Factory at the Parkside Museum in Narrandera and the "Old:New" exhibition curated by Kate Allman at the Museum of the Riverina in 2020.

Kate made an observation that it can be a challenge for museums to engage audiences:

“Maybe we read a little about it and think about that object’s place in history but putting an artist’s perspective on it adds a different layer.

“It can make us think about some deeper themes, some deeper connections to history, and I think that’s what this exhibition does through the stories it tells us.”

It was fortuitous that on the morning of my presentation I read that people will spend "around 27 seconds" reading the information accompanying an exhibit.

And it was wonderful to be introduced at that time to this cartoon by Lynda Barry that I quickly incorporated to conclude my presentation.

I think it shows a connection that can be rewarding when visiting an exhibition and believe this is something that curators should aspire to achieve.

There were lots of questions afterwards and I had an opportunity to tell the crowd from regional museums to "embrace the freak" when a weirdo like me comes along with an idea.

And, any artists reading this, please consider reaching out to your local history group as you might find it advantageous to have the support of an incorporated community group when preparing a funding application.

I'd rather knot

Spotted this old-fashioned fencework outside Stuart Town

It was outside a house that appeared to be a wattle and daub construction, so probably old as well as old-fashioned.