Evolution of a physical artefact

One of the issues with an eBook is that there’s nothing to hand over at a book launch. People like physical things, even if they are big fans of the digital format. As you know, I’m a printmaker, and I decided that I could create something fun that would be a proxy for the book.

QR codes are those two dimensional black and white blocky things you see all over posters, bus-stops, and movie advertisements. (The QR stands for Quick Response, if you’re curious.) You can take information and put it into the QR code, then someone can scan it with a phone that understands the codes and see your message.

This one says “Thine Antique Pen”, for example.

QR codes can also store URLs, the addresses that we use to locate things on the web. Of course, my eBooks will have URLs, one for the Apple store and one for Smashwords. This got me thinking; I could create a QR code that would take people to my book and I could print it out in a way that would allow me to sign and distribute them, just as you would for a first edition at a book launch.

Here’s my test run. I made up a goo.gl shortening link and I turned it into a QR code (there are many sites that will do this for you), leaving a big hole in the middle for me to be able to sign or personalise any of the prints that I see. QR codes can be set up to allow them to be very tolerant of missing parts of the puzzle and I wanted a big empty space in the middle to give me the freedom to make a simple print more interesting.

I decided to use a 29×29 grid and worked on lino, working in pencil to create the reversed image (relief printing is going to flip it!) and then cutting it out. Finally, I decided to print it at home using only hand pressure, Japanese paper and Gamblin black relief ink (one of my favourite inks). As a test, if the image can be scanned with the innate variability of my hand printing technique, then it will work really well when it goes into a lino press.

Here’s an animation of the process, a collection of photos that take you through the process to the end.

This makes it look a lot easier than it was but it was still huge fun. I worked on this at Union Street Print Studios in Stepney, as well. Want to get into printing? Get in touch with Union Street and the amazing Simone.

It takes about eight hours from start to finish to do this. I like to work slowly and take breaks to avoid over-cutting and I spend a lot of time at the start to make sure that what I have sketched is actually the correct image and is correctly flipped.

Here’s the final print, in all of its shaky glory. But it does scan and that means that, when I finally get the real URLs for my book, they should scan as well. And now I know that people at my book launch will have something that they can take away, if they want to buy something physical as well as digital.

Notice the beautiful “hand made” details. That’s artisanal impact, that is. Feel the quality.


Love and beauty

I’m very pleased to have been able to be part of the Little Rundle Street Art Project for 2016.

My work “Legends for Explorers in Uncharted Territories” is a mixed-media digital/linocut/monoprint/photography composite. All the quadrants are 15cmx15cm.

Statement: Love is a collaborative creative activity; we build a map beyond ourselves, with each participant’s perceptions rewriting the terrain and legends.

Details of the work:

The original linocut, terrain with a blank legend, was inspired by a visit to the Medici household in Florence. The great map room is full of documents that show perceptions of the world, represented as maps, including some highly racist references to the more southern aspects of Africa. As Korzybski noted “the map is not the territory” and this separation between the representative and actual, geographical and the geopolitical, was brought home to me, standing in this grand room where the very powerful once sought to contain a view of the globe.

I used a blended roll to achieve the rainbow colouration, as a recognition of the many forms of love, but also to subvert the traditional colouring of maps. Any two-dimensional map can be displayed with only four colours, without any two adjacent sections having the same colour, but I chose to use more to remind myself that love is not about the minimum required, it is about beauty and that is often gloriously multi-coloured.

The text was cut as a separate plate and, over time as I printed with it, developed a character of its own that I did not erase, forming a monoprint that I then printed in isolation. The four panels are formed from the original printed work, with an early text overlay, and then digital composition of the elements. The black and white terrain is a high-contrast digital photograph of the cleaned plate, reversed.

The words “Our Love” by themselves are, in the digital version, on a transparent background. This was a deliberate decision, to add to the first work where love is a lens through which a terrain is viewed, to show how self-contained the shared perception of love can be, where it can be applied over wherever you find yourselves.

Any recollection of love, whether happy or sad, is deeply personal and yet it must be affected by the actions and thoughts of others. A single map does not show us the true territory through which this love travelled, but it can give us an idea of the shape, the highs and the lows, and whether this journey is over or ongoing.

I hope that you enjoy the work. Thank you for coming to view it.

Legends for Explorers in Uncharted Territories
Legends for Explorers in Uncharted Territories


Feast Festival 2012 lineup

Feast Festival 2012 lineup


The programme for Adelaide’s queer arts festival, Feast, has been released, and it’s worth taking a look to see what’s on this year. The festival is held in Light Square from 10 to 25 November.

Most of the names I recognise are local performers. Of those, I can unhesitatingly recommend Libby O’Donovan. She has a huge voice, solid song-writing skills and a sassy-yet-vulnerable persona. What more could one want from a cabaret singer? She’s performing her show, Some of My Best Friends Are Single, for one night only. (Note that I’m posting this only after I’ve secured my own ticket.)

Jamie Jewell is back with a new show, Last Days on Earth. Jewell did a superb comic turn in La Chêvre Noir last year – even his knees were hilarious – but disappointed recently in the showtune melodrama, The Lonely Man, despite singing his heart out. Last Days on Earth is described as a “cosmic caper”, so let’s hope this is Jewell in better form.

Young performer Annie Seigmann is back. Last year she managed an irreverent, feel-good performance of her own songs even on a slow Tuesday night. She’ll have her work cut out again this time, as she’s been given the 11 am slot for Picnic in the Park. Another repeat show is New Coat of Paint: The Songs of Tom Waits, which I recall as being perfectly entertaining at the time but not actually memorable.

Feast Comedy Gayla should be worth a look. It will feature short taster performances from five comedians, including the acerbic, fishnet-wearing Hans. I usually find these compendium shows to be good value, as if any one performer is disappointing, there’s always another one on in a minute. Even better for the budget-conscious are the visual arts exhibitions, which are free. Last year they were held in shipping containers in Light Square, with a few works from each artist.

Otherwise, well, there’s lots. Cabaret, music, films, comedy, drag, and community events. Bowling, bingo, and the release of a pig by an animal liberation group (what?). The burlesque boom is well represented, so let’s hope some of that is less dull that what I sat through during the Fringe. Boyleqsue and Ambrosia do boylesque, Shaken and Stirred do “grrrlesque”, Trixie and Monkey do striptease acrobatics and Bad Barber Shop Burlesque involves man-eating plants.

Yes, that’s rainbow triffid burlesque. This intrepid reviewer may have to report back later.

Show Review: Fearless Nadia

Show Review: Fearless Nadia

Fearless Nadia is a musical performance and film about an unusual star of Indian cinema. Mary Evans, a white woman born in Western Australia, became a popular Hindi-language actor known for her alarming stunts, progressive views and vigorous fight scenes.

This OzAsia show presented a brief biographical film, followed by numerous highlights from her film Diamond Queen (1940), in which she plays a young, educated Indian woman who must team with a local bandit to defeat a cruel and rapacious overlord. There’s slapstick, romance and some excellent action set-pieces with a large cast and a moustache-twirling villain. There’s even a heroic horse.

The film snippets were accompanied by a small orchestra playing Western and Indian instruments. The musicians playing Western instruments wore their traditional garb of waistcoats and jazz hats. The Indian musicians performed sitting down, on raised platforms. All gave virtuoso performances, but it was the tabla players who garnered the most enthusiastic applause.

The combination of Diamond Queen and the Orkestra of the Underground was hard to resist. We in the audience cheered when Fearless Nadia punched out her first villains – her cinematic entrance is as an on-screen fist. We quailed when Mary Evans, who did all her own stunts, fell backwards into a waterfall. It was, perhaps, a little over-the-top when an electric violinist hung upside-down over the screen, suspended some metres above the stage while a scene reached a climax, but generally speaking, the music enhanced the film rather than distracted from it. After a long, luxurious, post-film outro, reminiscent of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, we gave the orchestra a standing ovation.

The show has closed in Adelaide but will be touring in India.

Game Masters @ACMI (Melbourne, until 28 October, 2012)

Game Masters @ACMI (Melbourne, until 28 October, 2012)

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is host to the Game Masters exhibit, showcasing the work of 35 learning video game designers, spread across a large interactive area that features the arcade games that preceded the home computer and console, the game changers that brought the arcade into the home and the rise of the Indies, independent game designers who are changing the way we play, without a large production company behind them.

Team Falkner attended the exhibit on the 14th of July, taking on a feisty Saturday crowd to look at the development of the games over time. The way into the exhibit takes you past the arcade games of yesteryear. I got in a quick game of Centipede but the queues on most of the other games were a little longer than my level of interest in failing to impress the crowd gathered around. Asteroids was there and it’s astounding how popular a black-and-white game with simple graphics can be – when the game is good!

(One piece of advice: the machines and consoles are in constant use. If you are the kind of person who doesn’t like to handle human warm stuff, then bring hand wipes. If you’re even vaguely germophobic, this is a spectator event for you.)

From the realm of the Arcade Heroes, we moved into the Game Changers: those games, companies and designers who made giant changes to the way that we game. What a range and everything was playable! From World of Warcraft and the way it revolutionised the massively on-line experience, to the comedic nonsense of Sonic the Hedgehog, the sweeping open exploration of Shadow of the Colossus or (my favourite) vast quantities of the design documents of Deus Ex, with Warren Spector’s original design documents. Like Rock Band? It’s here. Lost a week to The Sims? Watch an interview with Will Wright. If you have played games in the past 10 years, you’ll find something here to make you go “Wow!” (No pun intended.) If you’ve been developing hand cramps from over-playing for more than two decades, like me, then your jaw will be on the floor for most of it. There’s a big interview bank where you can relax and listen to your heroes talking about their ideas, drive and vision.

From the Game Changers, we moved sideways into the Indies section. Playing outside of the major studios and turning out fantastic games with far less dependence on the big resources, we see games that are quirky, even downright weird, and establishing new genres. There was a pretty diverse range here, from PaRappa the Rapper to Fruit Ninja and Braid. Again, everything here was playable, and, because of the nature of the games, it was often hard to tell if someone was playing, watching or just experiencing.

A giant dance studio is set up in one corner, next to the Singstar booth and the Rock Band facility: all full, with queues, of people jamming, singing and just having fun. While we were there, a girl in a giant bunny onesy was belting it out with a friend in the Singstar booth while a father and son tried, valiantly, to save family honour on the dance floor.

 If you like games, playing, watching or just thinking about them, ACMI’s Game Masters is a great way to spend a couple of hours. Admission is $22/$17.50/$16/$11 for Full/Conc/ACMI Member/Child (4-15) and there are family deals as well. It’s pretty family friendly and there’s a lot for the junior family members to do but, if you really want to get involved, you probably want to find someone to look after the really young kids. Check out their website here.
Definitely recommended and an A event on the Velour Future semi-random rating guide! Get there before the end of October!