[-empyre-] ISEA Empyre1.docx

Simon Biggs simon at littlepig.org.uk
Wed Jul 17 10:57:28 EST 2013

Bundanon and Tate are two ideals, utopian places that actually exist. As an artist who has had the pleasure of working at Bundanon twice I am very appreciative of its qualities, especially in respect of how that facilitate intense research and creative practice. As a regular visitor to Tate Modern I am also appreciative of its strengths (The Tanks initiative, in particular, was terrific).

Perhaps the dystopian 'other side of the coin' here is Marc Auge's notion of the non-place - those places that are more and more pervasive in our daily experience; the airport, shopping mall, university library or worker's lunchtime atrium. The non-place offers a simulacrum of the familiar and safe but strips out anything particular. It is a desolate space that can only inspire through highlighting what it lacks.

Bundanon is the very opposite of this, as is the Tate with its out of the ordinary scale and architectural style. Sadly, at the Tate, once you are in the exhibition galleries it pretty much resembles any other white cube museum space and becomes something of a non-place itself. The Tanks were interesting as their industrial purpose was not cloaked with white paint and deodoriser. The raw concrete, oil stains and sweet scent remained, the art co-existing with the place it temporarily inhabited.

How many of our mediale spaces, the social and other media platforms we use, are similarly non-places? Is facebook itself a large scale virtual non-place? That idea seems pregnant with redundancy and subsequent loss.



On 16 Jul 2013, at 13:09, Deborah Ely <deborah at bundanon.com.au> wrote:

Coming away from ISEA 2013 I’m left wondering about the term genius loci – a concept we engage with at Bundanon to describe this place. A kind of ‘heterotopia’ which human geographer Sue Beyer articulate as ‘places of otherness... that are neither here nor there, that are simultaneously physical and mental, like an idyllic home – an escape - separate from the world.”


How does the mediation of technology change the perception of place?  Does it transform and enhance it? Can we really go there on an app, on the web or on facebook? Is the technological experience of visiting a lesser version of being somewhere, or just a different one?


Since most people won’t come to Bundanon, and there are such controls about who can come (only on Sundays, only for events, only if you are invited, only if you are accepted into the artist program, only if your school is funded) then the digital visit is a legitimate alternative. You can save your carbon footprint and go somewhere you can reach on foot or push bike and just talk to us on line. Or work with your artistic collaborators in residence through skype.


Chris Dercon, who is in Australia this week, talks of the Tate Modern (of which he is Director) as being a campus for aspirational learning. Like a self sustaining village he sees the museum is a social sanctuary in the surrounding metropolis. This redefinition of the (physical) public spaces of art, and the recognition that people want to come together to have a deeper experience, to learn and participate, sets a challenge to the digital. The social spaces of the virtual are relentlessly trivial, and while we can sometimes have deep conversations on line it’s doubtful whether we can have deep experiences.


The clouds descend and wrap themselves around the hills at Riversdale and darkness falls like a curtain. The computer screens are illuminated in the nineteenth century buildings. The weekly electronic update has just been sent to all the artists in their cottages spread across the landscape and the wombats are out of their burrows.

Simon Biggs
simon at littlepig.org.uk
http://www.littlepig.org.uk @SimonBiggsUK http://amazon.com/author/simonbiggs

s.biggs at ed.ac.uk Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh

http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/  http://www.elmcip.net/  http://www.movingtargets.org.uk/  http://designinaction.com/
MSc by Research in Interdisciplinary Creative Practices  http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degrees?id=656&cw_xml=details.php

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20130717/bb941074/attachment.htm>

More information about the empyre mailing list