Posts Tagged ‘Allsorts Online’

Allsorts Online 09 on the Web

The Collections Australia Network (CAN) has posted six videos from the Allsorts Online 09 Forum in Adelaide for the benefit of those people who were not able to travel the distance. Science communicator Susannah Elliot talks about how cultural institutions can use history to look at contemporary issues. Gavin Artz explains how the arts can benefit from the disruptive digital revolution from the perspective of the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT). Gavin Bannerman offers wild and entertaining stories about a mobile hairdressing salon in Cape York from the State Library’s Q150 digital storytelling project.

The presentations are a snapshot into some of the innovative projects happening in the sector. The panel discussion at the end of the forum was a terrific debate as to where the sector is going. It questioned whether institutions should become broadcasters or whether their role should remain as collectors and preservers of history. This is an issue the National Film and Sound Archive now faces as it relaunches its website Australian Screen Online. Allsorts Online 09 was hosted in collaboration with the State Library of South Australia and the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT). Here are some photos on Flickr of the event. State Library of NSW’s Ellen Forsyth uses Twitter as a note-taking device. The Twitter hashtag for the forum was #Allsorts09.


AusStage: Collective Intelligence and Data Visualisation for Performing Arts eResearch

Dr Jonathan Bollen: Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities, Flinders University
AusStage is the Australian hub for research on live performance, linking researchers in universities, industry and government. It stimulates smart information use, promotes collaboration on innovative methodologies, and integrates access to collections. AusStage is extending its infrastructure to harness collective intelligence, to visualise the knowledge embedded in the AusStage database, and to deliver next-generation tools and services for information analysis, while continuing to populate the database with comprehensive coverage of live performance in Australia.

Jonathan plays a leading role in coordinating research for the AusStage project, with particular interests in data visualisation. He is co-author of Men at Play: Masculinities in Australian Theatre since the 1950s (with Adrian Kiernander and Bruce Parr, Rodopi 2008). His research on gender, sexuality and performance has been published in The Drama Review, Social Semiotics and Australasian Drama Studies.


Disruptive Digital

Gavin Artz, CEO, Australian Network for Arts and Technology (ANAT)
Gavin Artz’s experience in business management ranges from multi-national companies, to not-forprofit community organisations. His diverse background spans arts and commerce – with a BA in Politics; Double Bass and Composition Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music; a Graduate Certificate in Business Management; and he is now completing his MBA. After working as a professional musician for many years, Gavin is currently pursuing creativity in business management with a focus on governance and strategy.


Digital Storytelling: Storylines – Q150 Digital Stories

Gavin Bannerman: Oral History and Digital Storytelling Coordinator, State Library of Queensland
Storylines is the State Library of Queensland’s digital storytelling project to capture the people, places and events that make up Queensland in its 150th year. Hear about the challenges of interviewing aboard moving steam trains, trying to contact travelling hairdressers in Cape York and making the outcomes accessible to the public.

Gavin has commissioned, created, acquired, registered, documented and made accessible oral histories and digital stories that relate to SLQ’s strategic objective of capturing “Queensland Memory.” Gavin is trained as an archivist, receiving a Graduate Diploma in Records Management and Archives from Curtin University. He has been involved with arranging and describing archival material, training cultural organisation staff in image digitisation, and consulting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities regarding cultural clearance for images in SLQ’s collection.


Open Access: Conquering Copyright

Jessica Coates, Project Manager, Creative Commons Australia and the Creative Commons Clinic, Queensland University of Technology
Navigating the ins and out of copyright law can often be the most costly and difficult part of providing open access to a collection. Jessica will talk about what can and is being done by collecting institutions worldwide to share their collections and engage with audiences in the digital era – legally.

Jessica examines the legal mechanisms that encourage innovation in the creative industries, and promote and track the implementation of the international open content licensing movement, Creative Commons, in Australia. Prior to working for the Clinic, Jessica spent most of the last decade as a copyright and communications policy officer with the Commonwealth Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA).


Web 2.0 and Social Media: Collections, Flickr and the Media

Jenny Scott, Content Services Librarian, State Library of South Australia
In her presentation Jenny describes the process by which she brought a small private collection to the attention of a nation. The collection of photos and documents that could have easily been lost or discarded over the previous 60 years became the foundation of a Web 2.0 project that gained front page media attention.

Jenny is implementing the State Library’s presence on Flickr. After completing an Associate Diploma in Photography in the early 1980s Jenny operated her own commercial photography business at Port Adelaide. In 1993 she graduated BA in History and Politics from Adelaide University and in 1994 Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Management from the University of South Australia. After three years as an archivist with State Records of South Australia in 2000 she moved to the State Library of South Australia to take up the position of Curator Pictorial Collection.


Building Relationships with Media to Promote Research

Susannah Elliot, CEO Science Media Centre, Adelaide
Mention the word science to a senior editor and you’ll see them shift uncomfortably and look around for an excuse to get away from you. But talk to them about the dust storms in Sydney, why there are more mosquitoes this year, the science of Taser guns or even the bizarre mating habits of redback spiders and you’ll have their interest.

The reason for this is that those outside the realm of science and research still see it as an academic pursuit of little relevance to their daily lives. This talk is about making research the topic of media interest by making it relevant to the current debates and the breaking news with which we’re all consumed.

Susannah works with the news media to inject more evidence-based science into public discourse. Prior to this she spent more than five years in Stockholm, Sweden, as director of communications for the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), an international network of scientists studying global environmental change. In the 1990s Susannah managed the Centre for Science Communication at UTS, where she helped establish the successful Horizons of Science series of media roundtables and was involved in numerous other initiatives such as Science in the Pub and Science in the Bush.

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Allsorts09: Collecting sector and media partnerships



Commercialising publicly-owned content. Feeding cultural heritage collections into the news cycle. Profiling the eccentricities of curators. Sharing collections with ABC Online. Cultural collectors as producers and broadcasters. The ideas discussed in the Allsorts Online 09 panel discussion, in Adelaide last week, challenged conventions and offered new perspectives on how the cultural sector operates. Allsorts09 drew on different media, arts and academic practices to start thinking about the future of the collecting sector in new ways. The sector will be able to contribute to Australia’s National Cultural Policy through the Government’s current public consultation process.


Chris Winter (ABC Innovation), Sandra McEwen (Powerhouse Museum) and Angelina Russo (Swinburne University). Photography by Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Social Media Co-ordinator Brent Blackburn

Swinburne University academic Angelina Russo opened the discussion on the future of cultural institutions by focusing on the connections between broadcasters and the collecting sector. She suggested the future of the museum will be as publisher and broadcaster. Curators will become commissioning editors. Ms Russo cited four examples where relationships have been built between media organisations and cultural organisations.

*Smithsonian Channel set up with an online television channel with Showtime Networks to capitalise on it extensive collection.
*Who Do You Think You Are? BBC and SBS broadcast archival material into living rooms about the family history of celebrities. This brought amateur genealogists back into the collecting sector as they researched their own histories. Who Do You Think You Are? strengthened the relationship between museums, archives, the offical sponsor Ancestry.com and the BBC and SBS.
*Origins of Australian Football website looked at the history of AFL using the State Library of Victoria collection. The library used a major celebrity (AFL) to push content out and then drew on people’s curiosities to bring the audience back in.
*Te Papa and the Colossal Squid. Te Papa filmed the public defrosting of the squid donated to the museum frozen using a web cam. Discovery Channel was invited to make a documentary and TV journalists were also present. Te Papa web team blogged, tweeted answering an active respoionse from the international scientist community. This built strong public interest in the lead-up to the exhibition over the next six months. The exhibition was tied in with public lectures, a children’s programme and an online 3-D game involving building your own squid.

The Allsorts09 panellists were: Susannah Elliot from the Science Media Centre suggested a Sarah Keith (SBS), Ingrid Mason (Collections Australia Network), Sandra McEwen (Powerhouse Museum), Fee Plumley (Australia Council), Angelina Russo (Swinburne University) and Chris Winter (ABC Innovation).

ABC Innovation Manager New Services Chris Winter has been actively working to remove the boundaries between the collecting sector and the national broadcaster. He believes collecting institutions like the Powerhouse Museum and State Library of NSW see the ABC as an attractive platform to showcase its material through projects like Sydney Sidetracks. Mr Winter also looked at the changing way broadcasters present stories. Four Corners, for example, airs its documentary on ABC1 while repackaging it for the web with timelines, maps, edits and behind-the-scenes interviews. These different formats attract different age groups. Ms Russo agreed that broadcasters and the collecting sector are natural partners. They need to support each other but do not necessarily need to collaborate. She also identified republishing and repurposing as the next point of tension.

SBS National Manager Client Solutions Sarah Keith agreed with Mr Winter that broadcasters have become a content delivery business and can no longer afford to look at themselves as producing television and web material separately. SBS focuses on content and audience as an overall brand approach. SBS no longer has a Director of Television and a Director of Online but it has a Director of Content. This wholistic approach operates in the advertising department where the SBS sales team sells across platforms. They look at which audiences SBS needs to connect with and who they want to partner with.

The cultural sector is going through an identity crisis, says Collections Australia Network National Project Manager Ingrid Mason, who believes cultural institutions need to ‘get to grips with what they are actually supposed to be doing’ onsite and online. They should be drawing on skills used in the media, the arts and academia to achieve its core function. The blurring lines between these sectors is a necessary function for success, Ms Mason says.

The role of Web 2.0 in the collecting sector has increasingly significant in the last few years. Creative Commons Clinic Project Manager Jessica Coates remembered only a couple of years ago people were worried that posted comments would undermine a curator’s authority. Now conversation has come a long way. A speaker in the audience articulated the importance of museums positioning themselves as an authorative figure in the education system as students needed trusted sources.

Arts Council Digital Programs Officer Fee Plumley stressed that people find their own trusted sources. ‘We find an aggregator that provides reliable information. We are all experts in something. The didactic approach of only one expert is outmoded. It is great that we all get to be experts in one field,’ Ms Plumely said. She also emphasised that as more people participate in the online environment, traditional sources will be more highly valued. People will want to pay for high resolution photographs as more low resolution photographs are seen on the Internet.

Museums take authority very seriously, says the Powerhouse Museum’s Prinicpal Curator Sandra McEwen. There is a need to maintain boundaries yet museums realise people are learning in different ways and so they need to deliver truth in an entertaining way. The ABC has come to realise the way news has to be delivered is based on social capital. There is tension between social capital and maintaining the brand, says Mr Winter.

Science Media Centre Chief Executive Officer Susannah Elliot’s is wary of the blurring lines and news services maintaining credibility. Lobby groups infiltrating the news broadcast process. Ms Elliot stressed the need to ensure separation between lobby and evidence-based information.

Allsorts Online 09 ended with some exciting possibilties for future partnerships and collaborations with the collecting sector and the media. Both entities need to have a conversation with its audiences and both draw on archives to share and preserve cultural heritage. Web 2.0 has made way for an exciting future and a new way of looking at collections.

Sarah Rhodes

Top image caption: High heeled shoe on tricycle, `Liquorice Allsorts’, designed by Ross Wallace, used in `Parade of Icons’ Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.

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Macroscopic Views? Allsorts Online!

Matt Webb, a British designer for Berg a design consultancy company, gave the keynote presentation at the Web Directions South conference in Sydney (October 2009). Matt had some good points to make about design per se and the direction of web design in general and in playful ways used both science fiction and hiking as pivot points to discuss design. He used his experience of crossing and seeing the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the USA more poignantly to illustrate the idea that design is part of a significant grander scale shift socially that is only perceptible over long distance and time.
 
Matt is inspirational, because he is passionate about design and underlying that passion is a very clear understanding of the principles of flexibility and efficiency in form which underlies great design. The examples Matt drew upon were intriguing and unexpected. Public housing in Levittown, developed in the late 1940s for returned servicemen in the USA was his standout example. Matt drew parallels between the modularity and utility in the modern design of these homes; the potential to extend and modify and decorate was left in the hands of the owners – a point of difference for each family.

Levittown, PA

Levittown, PA

 
So… how does this relate to the collecting sector? Rather than get into great discussions of aesthetics, function and form in relation to web design and development…what I think also can be taken from Matt’s talk is the need for strong but flexible foundations that can evolve as needs evolve from the community or consumers or sector or industry you serve. I drew out this point in a presentation called ‘Eternal Cities?’ about moving from – being online – to – living online at the National Digital Forum in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand in November. Using a quote from a text called ‘Design and the Elastic Mind’ (based on an exhibition at MoMA in 2008) I hoped to get the practitioners from across the collecting sector in the room to think about what it takes to be practitioner (or designer/shaper of collections and access to them online) in a time of great social change.
 
..one of design’s fundamental roles: “the translation of scientific and technological revolutions into approachable objects that change people’s lives and, as a consequence, the world. Design is a bridge between the abstraction of research and the tangible requirements of real life.” Foreword, Glenn Lowry, Director, MOMA, Design and the Elastic Mind, 2008.
 
The Allsorts Online forum organised by CAN in partnership with the State Library of South Australia and the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) in Adelaide this week (1 Dec) at the State Library of South Australia was also kicked off with this quote. The forum was organised to allow diverse practitioners from across the collecting, academic, arts and media to step back and take a macroscopic view and spend time thinking about what it means go to online and how the lines between different sectors and professions seem to be blurring (or is it just that we are using the same tools of trade and having similar experiences and our points of difference remain intact?). The Twitter hashtag #allsorts09 from the forum is a cascade of tweets documenting the many ideas and diverse perspectives offered by the participants (audience, presenters and panelists) on the day.
 
While forum participants pondered and asked themselves questions, having listened to a mixture of experiences in working online, elsewhere, and earlier, debate about social change and what working and living online means had already emerged at Sydney Media140 focused on the future of journalism (as another profession heavily implicated in this shift to operating online). Seems digital culture is high on allsorts of minds… people are online and finding out what that means and/or well past wondering – see Stephen Collins’ acidlabs blog in response to Lyndal Curtis’ column ‘Too tired to tweet’ (ABC) for different perspectives on this.

Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.

High heeled shoe on tricycle, `Liquorice Allsorts’, designed by Ross Wallace, used in `Parade of Icons’ Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.

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VJ Sustenance mixes digitised collection @Allsorts Online, December 1

Video jockey Lynne Sanderson, aka VJ Sustenance, will mix the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) collection at the Allsorts Online Forum on December 1, demonstrating yet another application for digitised collections. The Adelaide-based artist will draw links between art and technology during the Allsorts Online Forum wrap-up party by mashing-up the digital images and responding to the classic 19th Century library interior. The event will be set in the beautiful late-Victorian Mortlock Chamber at the State Library of South Australia. Lynne gives a little insight into the art of a video jockey and her approach to the cultural heritage collection.



What style of work do you make as a video jockey? What influences your own artwork?
My visual style is primarily photographic. I used layered and effected video concentrating on movement and tempo. I shoot most of the video that I use. The footage could be either something I shot on the street in Berlin or Adelaide or models shot in a controlled studio situation. Graphical elements also appear in my mixes, blended and affected throughout the mix. Sometimes I use royalty free archival footage. I have a large bank of loops that I draw from.

Often I will shift between thematic frameworks, changing with shifts in aspects of the music. I have recently been doing audiovisual performances with my physical controller the v-tar. It looks like a flying v guitar and it is custom built so that I can trigger audio and visual on cue, without sitting at a computer. This has allowed me to start experimenting with the performative aspect of my work.

There are many influences on my artwork. From other audiovisual artists such as Ryoji Ikeda, Severed Heads and Hexstatic to music video and movies to small things such as a particular movement or motion or something I might see happen in the street. I also take a lot of inspiration being immersed in music and sound. Then there are the unexplained accidents that can occur when I am playing with the software patches I have created. I am also highly influenced by the action of play.


A rear screen projector will be set-up in the Mortlock Chamber, at the State Library of South Australia, where VJ Lynne Sanderson will mix ANAT’s collection.

Your background is installation art, how did you move into vjing?
I have always done both… I actually started my career in the early 1990s showing slides (a kind of early vjing before the technology was ready) with a techno band. It was after that that I started exhibiting my artwork in galleries and then moved into installation works. I was still developing my club video works in parallel to the gallery works. I enjoy showing my work to different cross-sections of people. I get a different feedback from playing live than from installing an artwork in a gallery. Ultimately though, I like to involve others in my artistic process, whether it is people playing with my installations or enjoying a beat driven visual mix.


Allsorts Online and CAN is looking forward to watching you mix part of the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) collection on December 1 at the State Library of South Australia. How will you approach this project?
I have been given some moving images from ANAT’s collection. These have been cut up… and I am experimenting with manipulating them live. I am interested to see what comes out after they go through my software and are re-contextualised.

What type of material will you be mixing? What idea will you try to convey as you mash-up the work?
I will be mixing a selection of ANAT’s archive over a period of years. This will include some documentation of workshops that they have run and artists moving image works that have been included in their magazine Filter. There will also be some documentation of artists’ installations.

I enjoy improvising when I vj… So I will be listening to the music and mixing the works together with a certain tempo and motion. I will play with the material and see what happens. Ideas will be revealed.

VJ Sustenance @ Persian Garden Adelaide Festival 2006 from vj sustenance on Vimeo.

What potential do you see for your own work as cultural heritage organisations digitise more of their collections?
This the first time I have mixed other artists works. It is a bit of a different mindset than using my own video footage and animations. In the process of working on the project, I see a lot of potential to have access to rare early film footage or images. I have been wondering what would happen if you merged/mashed two or more famous artists works together. It poses the question.. Are you creating a new artwork from doing this?


As the world digitises to preserve and share, will you start using new material that you had not considered before (ie CCTV footage, plates from rare illustrated books)?
Possibly… it depends on what sort of access is granted to use these artworks and what I might be working on conceptually.

What opportunities do you see for collecting institutions in using digitised material?
It would be great to be an artist–in-residence in a cultural institution and have access to various famous works to create something new from something old.



Allsorts Online: the collecting sector, academia, the arts and the media
Event: Allsorts Online Forum
Date: December 1
Venue: State Library of South Australia, Adelaide
Cost: Free
Time: 8.30am – 5pm + Drinks
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Event: Allsorts Online Masterclasses
Date: December 2
Venue: Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) and the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus)
Cost: $250 per 3-hour session
Time: 9am – Noon, 1pm – 4pm
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Image caption: High heeled shoe on tricycle, `Liquorice Allsorts’, designed by Ross Wallace, used in `Parade of Icons’ Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.

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Mentoring digital media projects: Chris Winter (ABC)



ABC Innovation ’s Chris Winter is at XMedia Lab, Amsterdam, this week mentoring the development of future digital public media projects. This is where some of the most cutting edge work is developed. Chris will be speaking at the Allsorts Online forum in Adelaide on December 1. He will be speaking about the exciting new projects ABC Innovation is working on as well as giving insights on Sydney Sidetracks and Gallipoli.

What is your role at the ABC?
I have been involved in a number of projects over the last few years – managing ABC2 from launch in 2005 until mid 2007, the ABC mobile election & news application in 2007/2008, Sydney Sidetracks, delivered to online and mobile platforms in 2008 (and pleasingly winning some commendations and an award along the way), an oversight and mentoring role on a number of other projects – ABC Earth, ABC FORA, ABC Mobile (2009), the Big Diary — and now more and more developing and managing relationships with outside bodies that are pertinent to our work – universities, research organisations, museums and other collections (as a result of the Sidetracks project), government (state and federal) and helping organise for staff presentations by interesting visitors, as well as internal events promoting learning, discussion and collaboration – a day for the ABC’s web developers for example, held early this year.

What is the focus of this years’s XMedia Lab in Amsterdam – XML Amsterdam “Public Media”?
The general themes are articulated at XMedia Lab. I have chosen to focus on interaction and audience behaviours, and how the latter have affected our work and our strategies.

XMedia Lab is designed to assist people to get their own digital media ideas successfully to market. How does your role at the ABC support this idea?
XMediaLab is a golden opportunity for people seeking feedback and advice about digital media projects at various stages of development. Getting to market may indeed mean a commercial outcome, or it may simply mean an idea is on its way to realisation and publication. Helping any project along this path is completely consistent with my role at the ABC, and has the added benefit of improving my skills, knowledge and experience through exposure to both the other mentors and the project teams.

Over the years quite non-commercial ABC projects have benefitted from the hothouse of an XMediaLab and exposure to experienced media workers who may bring a completely new and refreshing point of view – not only through their formal presentations, but through the intense one on one sessions in the lab.

Do you see a role for collecting institutions within public broadcasters’ multi-channel programming? Is there an example where there is happening in other countries?
Absolutely – and by the time I return from my trip, I may have a more detailed answer for you! Perhaps not a whole channel though …

How could collecting institutions, as not-for-profit entities, apply the principles of “commercialising digtial media ideas” to their own operations?
My interest in collections so far has been confined to finding reasons and opportunities to give often hidden treasures an airing – again Sidetracks is one such example, a reminder of past places, people and events, and so too is Gallipoli, although much more focused of course – without any thought of making money. Interestingly, as the Powerhouse has discovered, making some of a collection more accessible under a Creative Commons licence – in other words, in a limited sense, for free – has not affected their ability to make money from the collection. However, one hopes that more and more examples of a collection become more and more easily browseable – making them more easily appreciated and acquirable. Of course I am talking of images here, rather than three-dimensional physical objects.

To what extent should publicly-funded cultural bodies be involved in developing digital media projects that competes alongside commercial entertainment in the marketplace?
Many publicly-funded cultural bodies are the homes of wonderful stories – the challenge is either getting them out so they can be enjoyed in places other than dark rooms in far away cities, or presented in such a way that word of mouth makes an exhibition a “must see” – perhaps ACMI’s new display area is one such example. Or its Mediatheque which allows rights-fraught material to be seen without breaking the law. Perhaps one day the three-dimensional objects that populate much of the real estate in museums can be enjoyed remotely and cleverly without losing any of their “presence”. After all, what’s important about a museum is not the four walls, but what its collections stand for and the staff who understand their importance and the stories that surround them. If solving these problems distracts people from “commercial entertainment” or even makes money, that’s fine with me. The ABC is publicly-funded, and largely not-for-profit, yet it is allowed to generate income from goods associated with its charter activities – although of course, not everyone is necessarily happy about that!

As an XMedia Lab mentor, what message will you be sending out to those people travelling to Amsterdam?
I’m not sure exactly who these people will be, and I don’t really have a single message – but what’s important to me about a place like the ABC are the wonderful storytellers who work there – whether the stories are real or made up – and whether we can keep a grip on how important it is to reach everyone with those stories – regardless of who they are, where they live, when they choose to become absorbed in our stories, what device they choose to use – and to ENGAGE them. Alarming for some perhaps is the reality that we are becoming curators as well as creators.



Event: Allsorts Online Forum
Date: December 1
Venue: State Library of South Australia, Adelaide
Cost: Free
Time: 8.30am – 5pm + Drinks
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Event: Allsorts Online Masterclasses
Date: December 2
Venue: Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) and the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus)
Cost: $250 per 3-hour session
Time: 9am – Noon, 1pm – 4pm
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Image caption: High heeled shoe on tricycle, `Liquorice Allsorts’, designed by Ross Wallace, used in `Parade of Icons’ Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.

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Digital Folk Art – A whole new world of art that is not art: Gavin Artz


Gavin Artz is finding business models for artists working in the digital arena. His previous career saw him working with corporate giants, now he is the chief executive at the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT). As he undertakes his MBA exploring the relationships between creativity and business management, the arts community has someone looking after its financial future. Gavin will be delivering a session at the Allsorts Online Masterclasses in Adelaide on December 2.

“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” – Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)

Digital folk art comes from open source technologies and associated open distribution channels and raises many questions for the arts.

The price of technology has fallen, often to nothing, as access to technology and technological know how has exploded. Whole open source industries offer easy to use, powerful, creative tools that build digital communities of shared creative meaning. There is a digital culture that creates and distributes online, that reflects on the world and represents it to a community ready to digest.

This is a vibrant, living, creative culture and just as folk art is a daily response to the world people live in, decorating and telling stories on everyday objects, this digital folk art does the same. As with some folk art, digital folk art can be seen as kitsch, amusing and distracting decoration; some also can be seen as powerful and influential art. With the multitude of work created only a small proportion maybe seen as art, the people who create it and experience it don’t care what it is called, they don’t care about the art world; they live and respond to a bigger world, they live art.

If we live art, if our daily lives engage continually with artistic expression, do we in a modern western society have the capacity to recognise such a creative culture as art?



Digital folk art benefits from the change in economic models that the digital era has ushered in. The digital world encourages abundance (Anderson 2006), server costs are negligible, access and software are cheap or free. All work can be made available and no one person is mediating your experience. No one is limiting access to the full breadth of art and culture.

Galleries, museums and exhibitors are at a crossroads. These organisations have traditionally operated within the economics of scarcity; limited wall space, limited storage space. The digital world does not work on that model. The digital world does not need to show work in a building and you don’t have to leave your daily life to experience it.

*What spaces will be the environments in which to have an arts experience?
*Will we know we are having an arts experience?
*Do we need to know that we are having an art experience?
*What will be called art and what work should be preserved?
*Do digital artists want work preserved?
*Is there a role for curators when scarce resources no longer need to be allocated?
*How do artists make a living when it is difficult to show work and very difficult to sell work?

We are on the eve of a shift to a different concept of artistic creative culture. We are moving to a conception of the arts that does not just have its domain as a cultural activity, but one where this creativity is central to culture, community and the economy. This new conception of a creative culture is full of opportunity not only for artists, but all citizens. However, to get to these opportunities we need to review concepts we have long taken for granted.

Gavin Artz will be presenting one of the four masterclasses CAN, the Royal Institution of Australia and the Australian Network for Arts and Technology are running on December 2. Gavin’s intensive workshop will cover the issues facing artists and galleries as they enter the online world to promote artworks and collections. He will be running the classes with Australia Council Digital Programs Officer Fee Plumley. With just 10 people in the three-hour workshop, there will be ample opportunity to draw on their wealth of knowledge and experience.



Event: Allsorts Online Forum
Date: December 1
Venue: State Library of South Australia, Adelaide
Cost: Free
Time: 8.30am – 5pm + Drinks
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Event: Allsorts Online Masterclasses
Date: December 2
Venue: Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) and the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus)
Cost: $250 per 3-hour session
Time: 9am – Noon, 1pm – 4pm
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Image caption: High heeled shoe on tricycle, `Liquorice Allsorts’, designed by Ross Wallace, used in `Parade of Icons’ Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.

Anderson C. 2006, “Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More”. Hyperion, New York.

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News cycle and collections

GLAMs can set up their own little media empire online using YouTube and a blog. Web 2.0 has made traditional media platforms like television, radio and print available to everyone to utilise. Now there are opportunities to engage new audiences by tuning into the news cycle and analysing how a collection fits within this framework. Making a collection relevant beyond its cultural heritage.


Tram in Loftus St (detail), photographer unknown,1955. Len Stone/Vic Solomons collection, City of Sydney Archives.

Shooting Through was a beautiful exhibition of old photographs, tram conductors uniforms, tickets, destination boards, historical footage and interiews about the trams in Sydney at the Museum of Sydney. What made the exhibition especially interesting was Historic Houses Trust and Sydney Tramway Museum’s contemporary approach to the subject matter by trying to “reignite the debate for light transport in Sydney”. Bob Carr was chosen to open the exhibition as he was responsible in 1997 for the only light rail in Sydney. Within the exhibition, Lord Mayor Clover Moore talks about her vision for Sydney and advocates for the development of light rail to improve the public transport system.

As you may know, CAN is hosting a forum in Adelaide that will look at how collecting institutions are becoming cultural producers. If you are interested in using online publishing to get your stories out, then it will be worth the trip to South Australia to meet like-minded people and share ideas.

Allsorts Online: the collecting sector, academia, the arts and the media.
Date: Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Time: 8.30am-5.00pm + drinks
Cost: Free
Place: State Library of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia
Enquiries: enquiries@collectionsaustralia.net
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

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