Links for 29 May 2009 through 08 June 2009

Stilgherrian’s links for 29 May 2009 through 08 June 2009. Yes, another delayed posting which will give you plenty of Queen’s Birthday holiday reading.

  • How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live | TIME: Yes, TIME magazine’s cover story is about Twitter. It starts extremely badly: that clichéd, lazy trope about people tweeting what they had for breakfast. Despite that inexcusable slackness, it’s a useful addition to the cornucopia of Twitter-based articles.
  • 10 Things I would do differently | Still A Newspaperman: Written with the benefit of hindsight, a former newspaper journalist considers how he’d have handled running a metropolitan newspaper. He’s spot on in many ways.
  • Can the EU play Battleships? | Global Dashboard: Is it time for Europe, as a united entity, to develop a naval strategy? The article’s illustration is also a remarkable example of period gender stereotyping.
  • How IT Can Save Africa | SAP Network Blogs: While clunkily-written, this piece outlines why getting decent IT to Africa isn’t a “waste”, but in fact a core element of getting rid of poverty.
  • How Twitter’s Staff Uses Twitter (And Why It Could Cause Problems) | ReadWriteWeb: It turns out that the staff of Twitter don’t use it like “power users” like me use it. Could this affect the tool’s development?
  • The oldest sculpture ever discovered is a 36,000 year old woman with really big breasts. Is anyone surprised? | 3quarksdaily: Dubbed the “Venus of Hohle Fels”, this 6cm tall sculpture us about 36,000 years old. And it has large breasts.
  • Live Streaming Video From The live video streaming service Mogulus has re-branded as Livestream. That should Hoover them into some generic wordspace, yeah. (Google it!)
  • Spootnik: A tool to automatically synchronise information between 37signals’ Basecamp (which use extensively) and OmniFocus (which intend to use).
  • Tom’splanner: Another software as a service start-up, this time about “creating and sharing project schedules”. Their website’s menu bar is the clichéd list of Home, tour, product Info, Pricing and — of course! — “Buzz”, so it must be good. Sigh.
  • How Journalists Are Using Twitter in Australia | PBS: Julie Posetti’s rather reasonable article which responds to “the views of resistors and detractors” who argue that “Twitter isn’t journalism”. “Sound familiar to veterans of the great blogging vs journalism debate?” she asks. “Of course Twitter isn’t journalism, it’s a platform like radio or TV but with unfettered interactivity. However, the act of tweeting can be as journalistic as the act of headline writing. Similarly, the platform can be used for real-time reporting by professional journalists in a manner as kosher as a broadcast news live report.”
  • Light Rail to Summer Hill | Metro Transport: The other Monday, yet another proposal for a new transport line in Sydney went to NSW state cabinet. This one involves extending the existing light rail line by 3.7km from Lilyfield to Summer Hill by converting the Rozelle freight line. It also has the advantage of running through the state seat of Balmain, where sitting Labour member Verity Firth runs the risk of losing to The Greens in the 2011 election.

Review: Fiona Hall’s “Force Field”

Photograph of detail from Fiona Hall sculpture: Tender

I’ve always liked the witty, organic forms of Fiona Hall‘s sculpture. A massive collection of her work, Fiona Hall: Force Field, currently fills two floors of Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s an almost overwhelming but immensely satisfying journey through her mind.

The photograph shows details from “Tender”, a collection of birds’ nests made from shredded US dollar bills. They’re incredibly realistic — especially in the exhibition environment where they’re collected into museum-style glass cases with each species’ nest labelled with its scientific name on the front of the case, the banknotes’ serial numbers listed on the back.

Other works include the finely-detailed sculptures of Paradisus Terrestris made from sardine cans, Scar Tissue, Understorey, Cell Culture and Leaf Litter. There’s also a smattering her photographs, and something about bees.

Cell Culture and many other works such as Dead in the Water are constructed from myriad tiny glass beads threaded on fine wire, shaped with loving attention to detail into precise organic forms. Photographs do not do them justice — you must see them in three dimensions, walk around them, revel in their reality. A video shot on a tropical field trip with botanists in search of blooming water lilies reveals Hall’s passion for getting it right.

Hall’s work explores the boundaries between the natural and the man-made with subtlety and humour. Works like Leaf Litter show how the global plantscape has been shaped by human economic “needs”. I’m still bubbling with the thoughts it triggered the morning after.

Fiona Hall: Force Field is at Sydney’s MCA until 1 June 2008. Free entry. Give yourself at least an hour for just this exhibition, let alone what else the venue offers.

[Photograph: Details from “Tender” 2003-2005; Image from Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery via UTS Gallery.]

Contemporary art for sardines

Photograph of Marrickville Contemporary Art Prize launch night

“Just how many people can you pack into one tiny art gallery,” I wondered as I squeezed through At The Vanishing Point‘s winding displays to find a drink.

The launch of the inaugural Marrickville Contemporary Art Prize was an upbeat but slightly chaotic affair last night, with 61 works packed into a narrow gallery space and probably every contemporary artist in the village jammed into a narrow corridor trying to reach the dodgy chardonnay and too-few spring rolls being served in the back yard.

Continue reading “Contemporary art for sardines”