Arts

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3555 logoMy recent critique of Attorney-General George Brandis’ comments about copyright reform in the digital age attracted plenty of positive comments — and also some media attention.

That critique was my ZDNet Australia column on the day of Brandis’ speech, Friday 14 February, What the Dickens will Brandis do to copyright in the digital realm?

The first piece of media interest was from Michelle Bennett, presenter of Spoke, the weekly social issues program on Melbourne community radio station 3RRR. The interview was recorded on Sunday 16 February and broadcast in the Spoke episode of Tuesday 18 February.

The conversation wasn’t just about Brandis’ comments, but also some of the background — including the so-called iiTrial between the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and internet service provider iiNet, the graduated response or “three strikes” rules for tackling copyright infringement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty, and the idea that internet access can be considered a basic human right.

I also mentioned Dr Rebecca Giblin’s research paper, Evaluating Graduated Response, which looked at those three strikes rules. The conclusion was that “there is little to no evidence that that graduated responses are either ‘successful’ or ‘effective’.”

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The interview is ©2014 Triple R Broadcasters Ltd. Over at their website you can listen to the full program.

DiG Festival logo: click for official websiteThis coming Wednesday I’m catching the Shitkansen north from Sydney to Newcastle for the inaugural DiG Festival and Conference: digital plus interactive plus green technology.

I won’t repeat the event’s own website. You can read that for yourself. The key days are this coming Thursday 3 and Friday 4 October 2013.

But I will say that apart from the conference program itself, I’m interested in catching a few glimpses of the city. It’s been three years since I visited Newcastle to speak at the National Young Writers Festival, and four years since I looked around properly and wrote my Letter from Newcastle. So of nothing else, there’ll be an observational essay about that.

There’s a strong-looking conference thread about the future of online payments — could the fact that Commonwealth Bank is a major sponsor have something to do with that? — and I’ll be writing about that for Technology Spectator. It’ll be a nice follow-up to my recent piece about Westpac’s $2 billion invisible bank. And I’m sure I’ll be writing about other things for other outlets.

If you’re in Newcastle at the time, don’t forget to say hi. I plan to stick around until Saturday afternoon.

Six Pigeons for Jeffrey: click to embiggenI was saddened to hear that Australian artist Jeffrey Smart died two days ago, on 20 June 2013, aged 91. I liked his work. This image is my tribute.

The original photograph was taken in San Francisco, at the corner of Broadway and Mason Street, on 12 May 2013.

I’m thinking of making a few prints of this image for sale. What do you think? And if it’s a good idea, how does one go about such things these days?

These architectural features on Cumberland Street in The Rocks, Sydney, look quite lovely I suppose — until you stop, look and think. Then you’ll realise they’re completely pointless. They’re an architectural wank. Wankitecture.

The things with the red canopies look like they’re some sort of, well, canopies to protect people from sun and rain. But they’re positioned such that they offer no protection whatsoever to the benches and picnic tables. No, the benches and picnic tables sit fully exposed to the elements. The only things the things with the red canopies protect are bleak patches of pavement.

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Last year ’Pong wrapped up his Masters of Digital Media at UNSW’s College of Fine Art by making the short film Memory of You | Reflection of Me, winning the prize for the schools “best video” that year. I’ve previously shown you a photo. Now you can finally watch it online.

It’s a powerful nine minutes about depression and maternal strength, and was certainly a worthy winner. It had stayed hidden until now because ’Pong had been entering it into film festivals, many of which have this arsehatted notion that you can’t enter if your film previously been posted online. But time marches on…

’Pong is now seeking support for his next film, Exist.

Exist explores our part of psychological mechanism that alerts us of treats and dangers — anxiety. It is the second instalment of DASS (Depression Anxiety Stress Scales) trilogy, which is a common test to assess mental illness in modern society.

You can watch the teaser video, then head over to FundBreak to hand over your money.

The 9pm Edict

Australia’s smartest meth dealer found in Leichhardt. ABC chairman Maurice Newman branches out into staff supervision. And Sydney property developers whine because, well, they just didn’t automatically get everything their own way.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, no more than 20 minutes late, is episode 5 of The 9pm Edict. Finally.

You can listen to this episode below. But if you want them all, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

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For more information on what I discussed today, try the NSW police media releases about Sunday’s explosion and Monday’s arrest, the Urban Taskforce media release and the ABC’s story on same, this Sydney Morning Herald story on various NSW Labor connections, Kristina Keneally’s Wikipedia entry, my post on Maurice Newman’s speech and the PM report on same, and Marcus Westbury’s column for The Age.

If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Credits: The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]

The 9pm Edict

Kristina Keneally confuses mindless populism with leadership. The nimby-burghers of Glebe confuse concerns about the urban environment with selfishness. And the Vivid Festival… another white middle class baby boomer nostalgia wankfest.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is episode 4 of The 9pm Edict. Finally.

You can listen to this episode below. But if you want them all, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

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If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Update 6 March 2010: I really should link to the material I discuss. That's the Harold Park redevelopment plan and the local residents' objections, the Vivid Festival, Laurie Anderson's Language is a Virus, Dom Knight's The Premier, the portrait and the paedophile and NSW Premier Kristina Keneally's video A New Direction.]

[Credits: The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]

Photograph of newly-built apartment and signage reading Harbour Lifestyle

“That ‘This is Not Art’ thing this weekend, it’s like a fucking freak show walking past,” says the old guy in the yellow-tiled front bar of The Clarendon Hotel.

It’s just gone noon on Saturday. Apart from ’Pong and I having a burger and beer, he’s the only customer. His worldview of what Newcastle‘s Hunter Street should be like is challenged by the stream of paste-white black-clad comic fans, straggly-bearded eco-hippies, random hipsters and nose-ringed alternagothpunkteendykes strolling past the boarded-up shopfronts.

Noticing a skinny guy wearing yellow overalls and a torn red-striped t-shirt, our frowning drinker puts down his VB. “Hey, is there a circus in town? Because I can see a clown”, he calls out to the barman.

The barman smiles politely, but says nothing.

“Hey, is there a circus in town?”, he mutters, and takes another sip. He looks out at the soulless office buildings that replaced the landscape of his memory, in silence.

Yet these weird out-of-towners, with their experimental robotics, knitting and YouTube mashups, have brought more life to this industrial city’s ailing heart than any grandiose “development” plan.

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Cover of Without Warning by John Birmingham

John Birmingham has followed up his highly-successful Axis of Time trilogy of military thrillers with another “ripper yarn” novel, Without Warning: America is Gone. It’s a good read, but not as good as it could be.

Like Axis of Time, which posited a 21st-century naval task force suddenly finding itself at the Battle of Midway and the final volume of which I reviewed earlier, Without Warning is alternative history. One the eve of the 2003 Iraq War, an unexplained energy field obliterates all human life across most of the United States. As the world realises the last remaining superpower is gone, the novel tracks the political and military conflicts which emerge through the eyes of characters ranging from a US general at Guantanamo Bay to a female assassin working undercover in France.

My perceptions of Without Warning are coloured by Katie Harris’ comment that my recent Gonzo Twitter effort was like Hemingway. I still haven’t read any Hemingway, but I’ve been thinking about writing styles. In a previous review I described William Gibson’s noir prose as “a richly textured cabernet merlot” in comparison with the “slab of VB” simplicity of Adrian d’Hagé’s action thriller. Birmingham’s writing is another slab of VB. It’s a fast, easy read without too many difficult words or complex metaphors to slow you down.

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A portion of a Bill Henson nude photograph of young womanMaybe I’m jumping the gun here, because the actual recommendations aren’t online yet. But news today that the Bill Henson “scandal” has prompted an overhaul of NSW art laws really gets up my nose.

Australian photographer Bill Henson is no stranger to controversy. His images, like the one here, are of nude or semi-nude adolescents, and “protecting the innocent children from the evil pedophiles” is a powerful rallying-call. Newspaper columnists and talkback radio hosts alike revel in its ability to stir the emotions — attention-seeking pricks that they are.

In an incident earlier this year, some of Henson’s photographs were seized by the police — but returned once the Office of Film and Literature Classification found that none of them were “child pornography”. Indeed, it called their nudity “mild and justified” and gave them a PG rating.

Got that? PG. Suitable for viewing by children under the age of 16, with parental guidance.

But apparently the considered judgement of the official body charged with this kind of analysis — the people who deal with and (sometimes) ban material which is pornographic — isn’t good enough.

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