Cross-Media Challenges

Reblog from TraceyBenson.com

Tracey M Benson || Bytetime

This post could also be called Cross-media schizophrenia: managing multiple channels online. Why, you may well ask?

Since the advent of Web2.0, I have been an avid collector of channels, it started with designing a blog, creating a delicious library, creating profiles on twitterscribdflickridenticaslideshare instagram, pinterestfacebook and the list goes on… Now I have multiple blogs, a number of Facebook pages and not enough time to manage all these channels!!

Sometimes I do not look at these profiles for months and when I do, it is a complete surprise. For example, I went to SlideShare recently and saw that I have had over 8,000 document views, of which over 2,600 people had viewed my 2010 presentation New Media Art, The Law and Activism. On Scribd, my PhD thesis has had over 2,500 views and another 2010 paper…

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New place for stories, media and projects

Hi all,

I have noticed some recent subscribers to this blog and I would like to say thanks for following me. Your support is really appreciated! It might be useful to know that this blog is not being regularly updated anymore – see my post Remote Connections blog on hold.

You can keep up to date with all of my projects, art and writing at www.traceybenson.com. On occasion I will repost to this blog but my mediakult and geokult blogs will be the likely sites for reblogs.

If you have any subjects you would like me to write about let me know via my contact page.

Cheers
Tracey

Remote Connections blog on hold

The Remote Connections (remotexmedia.wordpress.com) blog is temporarily on hold. To keep up with the project, head over to Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RemoteConnections?ref=hl

You can also check out related blog posts at the geokult.com blog. This editorial decision has been made to streamline Tracey’s publishing activities.

If you are interested in Tracey’s posts on media cultures, you can also subscribe to mediakult.wordpress.com

Looking forward to seeing you there!

SCANZ2013: Potentiality

It has been nearly a week since we left New Plymouth and the hub of SCANZ2013. Many conversations, thoughts and moments are now echoing, in particular the notion of ‘Te kore” the space of nothingness wherein lies potential, presented to us by Te Huirangi in one of the workshops.

The residency has presented many questions for me not only regarding how I approach my creative practice as an artist, writer and researcher, but how I can ultimately mesh my separate identities as writer/artist with my work in government with LivingGreener.gov.au

One of the big questions is about how I can be more aware and act in a more sustainable way, in terms of how I live, where I live and what I consume. Firstly, I am thinking that I need to be more remotely connected, meaning that I should where possible create and distribute work that does not require huge amounts of CO2 emissions. That is a tough call as I love travel and my eyes yearn for new landscapes to experience. Perhaps one of the answers is to work more with augmented media and play with spaces in a virtual context.

Secondly, I need to be more engaged in my local environment. Although I have lived in Canberra for nearly 12 years, a part of me has never accepted this place as my home and I have not engaged with my local community very well. My strategy for fixing this problem is simply to be more present and involved in local community activities, especially arts and environment. I am planning to have an exhibition at Belconnen Art Gallery later this year, which is in my local area.

So how can I be more present, active and able to tap into ‘potentiality’? I think this is an ongoing conversation and one that I hope to continue with other SCANZ peeps and anyone else who is interested.

When I was at the residency I created a dry point etching, sort of a return to home as I was trained as a printmaker at art school nearly 25 years ago. This work is an imagined topography of Mt Taranaki, influenced by my experience of walking on the mountain, which was physically difficult but in a magical, natural environment. I am now in the process of developing these images into an animation, which I will publish once it is completed. Here is a still from the animation below:

Topography, still image from Terrain
Topography, still image from Terrain

I found SCANZ2013 quite an amazing experience on all levels, revitalising heart, mind and spirit. I also found that the diversity of the artists perspectives very enriching. In many ways we all had similar concerns, but all focused on different issues within the context of our work and lifestyle choices. Personally, the message of connectedness also rang loudly, as this has been a challenge for me personally as I try to balance my separate identities as parent, wife, artist, writer, activist, researcher and civil servant. The difficultly has often been about ‘how do I speak’ through these identities in a way that is proactive and cohesive. I suspect that this question will sit with me for a long time as I try to work it out.

But for now, my thoughts turn to potentiality, what is possible and what can be created that can support the ‘new consciousness’ proposed to us the first day by Ian when we were at the Parihaka marae. My first step is to start a conversation via this blog and see where it leads me.

SCANZ2013: Crossing borders – identity, culture and place

On Tuesday we had an excellent workshop where the topic was focused on ‘crossing borders’ and what that meant in terms of negotiating different scenarios. The speakers came from a range of perspectives including a Māori leader, scientists, and people who have worked extensively with Indigenous peoples.

One of the things that has really been powerful for me is how Māori people identify people they meet. When you meet Māori the way you introduce yourself is through where you come from (where you were born) and your ancestors. This is very different to a European or ‘western’ way of knowing a person, say through their qualifications, work and academic achievements. For me, the connection to place as informing identity and ‘meeting’ each other, offers a rich possibility for linking and sharing experiences.

A lot of my work as an artist over the years that been an exploration of ‘where’ and ‘how’ I fit, in terms of a relationship to land and place, especially in the Fauxonomy project. But even when I was working on Big Banana Time Inc, there was a need to discuss issues around place and identity within an appropriate context, given my ‘bitza’ migrant heritage. In many ways I have struggled with this question of ‘where’ I am from, in terms of a sense of belonging. I often tell people that I was born in Brisbane, brought up in Darwin and since then have lived in Victoria, Sydney and now Canberra. In terms of where I felt ‘connected’, I always think of Darwin, the countless hours I spent walking on the rocks at Nightcliff beach, and I still have dreams of diving off the rocks into the tropical waters of the Timor Sea. It was the place where I witnessed the power and beauty of nature, through monsoons, sweltering humidity and lush vegetation. The stars were like an enormous sparkling blanket and I realised as a child that humanity is such a small part of the story of nature.

Lightning Over Nightcliff Beach, 14 Nov 2010 by Andrew Brooks
Lightning Over Nightcliff Beach, 14 Nov 2010 by Andrew Brooks

The problem (in my mind) with claiming a place as ‘where’ I am from is a direct result of my migrant background. By living in Darwin and going to school with kids from remote communities all of the Northern Territory, I learnt that in Aboriginal cultures there is a wholistic connection between land, spirit, language and identity, that manifests in ritual, art, song and performance – as all of these elements are connected. In ‘western’ culture all of these elements have been described and located into separate compartments, called ‘disciplines’. Anyway, that is a much bigger topic that I won’t get into here…

I have been considering ‘where’ I am from and have had some very rich conversations around this topic with other SCANZ residents. When I think about it, I wasn’t actually born in Brisbane, I was born in Redcliffe, about 30 kilometres north of Brisbane. It was the original site of the colony of Brisbane, which was later disbanded for the current site of the city. Mr Wikipedia says:

Before European settlement, the Redcliffe Peninsula was occupied by the indigenous Ningy Ningy people. The native name is Kau-in-Kau-in, which means Blood-Blood (red-like blood).

Redcliffe holds the distinction of being the first European settlement in Queensland, first visited by Matthew Flinders on 17 July 1799. Explorer John Oxley recommended “Red Cliff Point” – named after the red-coloured cliffs visible from Moreton Bay – to the Governor Thomas Brisbane for the new colony, reporting that ships could land at any tide and easily get close to the shore. The party settled in Redcliffe on 13 September 1824, under the command of Lieutenant Henry Miller with 14 soldiers, some with wives and children, and 29 convicts. However, this settlement was abandoned after one year and the colony was moved south to a site on the Brisbane River at North Quay, 28 km (17 mi) south, that offered a more reliable water supply. For more information on Redcliffe’s history see http://www.redcliffehistoricalsociety.com

Redcliffe became a pastoral district in the 1860s and in the 1880s boomed as a seaside resort town with the paddlesteamer Koopa making regular trips to its jetty from 1911.

Postcard from Redcliffe
Postcard from Redcliffe

When we moved back to Brisbane from Darwin, I had huge issues adjusting to the culture and environment of Brisbane, I was extremely unhappy and became very rebellious, causing my parents more than their share of grief. One of the ways my parents would cope would be to send me to my Godmother, who lived in Redcliffe. When I would visit her, we would go for long walks along the coast and swim, and in many ways, when I think back, it was very healing for me to be near the sea.

Redcliffe
Redcliffe

So considering all of this, perhaps I need to explore and identify more with Redcliffe as the place I am from, or at least try and find and build the connections. In Māori introductions, you invoke your mountain, your river and your ocean. My mountain is Clear Mountain, my river is the Pine River, which snakes through northern Brisbane, though Aspley where I lived as a child and my ocean is the Pacific, deep and blue.

References 

Fauxonomy links

Walking on Mt Taranaki – Maketawa Hut

On Saturday a small group of SCANZ residents (incidentally all Australians) got together and did some bushwalking on Mt Taranaki. This was an important part of my project for SCANZ as the artwork I have made for the exhibition at Puki Ariki focuses on aerial maps of the mountain. I needed to have an understanding of the terrain and the vegetation that was ‘felt’, not just observed.

It was probably one of the most beautiful walks I have been on for a long time and one of the most physically challenging. As we walked from the Visitor’s Centre, we headed up to the three way turn off to the summit walk, then headed towards Maketawa Hut for lunch. The first part of the walk was walking uphill along a series of ridges, with beautiful views of the valley below and the coastline. Mt Taranaki however was hidden under cloud so we were not able to see the summit.

Around the mountain circuit - from Dept of Conservation website

Around the mountain circuit – from Dept of Conservation website

(From http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/taranaki/taranaki/around-the-mountain-circuit/)

After lunch we started to head down the track, through what I can only explain as an enchanted forest, with tree roots in many parts acting as natural steps. Once we arrived at the lowest point above sea level, we then went up and down some steep ridges and creeks. I found the landscape was both gentle in its beauty but difficult in terms of traversing. Along the way were a number of ladders up and down, giving a real sense of the undulating land formed by lava so long ago.

It was also wonderful to see elements of the imagery that I had collected of aerial views in the landscape. For example, these beautiful shapes in the image below.

Mt Taranaki

Mt Taranaki (from ‘Message to the mountain’ 2013)

Here is some information about the walk we did from holidays in New Zealand website (note we did the walk in the opposite direction):

Maketawa Hut Round Trip – 4 hours

This is for those who are fitter. Take the Ngatoro Track from below the Information Centre and turn left at the Maketawa Track Junction.

This takes you through more mossy forest, changing to nikau, cordylines and other flora and fauna. It takes about 2 hours to Maketawa Hut.

Walk through the hut to the outdoor deck for extensive views. Leaving the hut you walk up through alpine vegetation………….steps…steps… and more steps! Eventually you come out on the road just below the Translator Tower. From here you walk back down the road to the Camphouse.

One of the things I have learnt about mountains in Māori culture is that they are like people being male or female.  In an earlier post I discussed the story of how Taranaki came to reside in this region. Something else I found very interesting is that in Māori culture, one should avoid touching the top of the head as it is the centre of all knowledge and memory. For this reason, it is not culturally appropriate to climb to the top of the summit and ‘stand’ on someone’s head. To learn some more about cultural protocols go to http://www.headspace.org.nz/maori-mental-health.htm.

A special thank you to Jo Tito for reviewing this post.