In collaboration with Bleached Arts Ltd and Guerrilla Digital I creatively directed and photographed some of key visual identity work for the Bleach* Festival 2018. The monochromatic work for the program was a conceptual collaboration with some of the contributing performing, visual and recording artists; prominent members of the indigenous community; and Festival 2018 - The Commonwealth Games. The 2 dimensional digital artefacts that were produced in this context, and which have converged across a variety of digital media spaces and types including sound, now form the basis for further exploration into producing 3 dimensional artefacts that can exist in the context of real space.
Concept, creative direction, photography and post-production: Peter Thiedeke
Collaborating Artists: Aunty Joyce Summers, Kyle Slabb, Brian Ritchie, Lawrence English, Dr Corrina Bonshek, Gavin Webber, Bec Reid
Interviews: Trevor Jackson
Agency: Guerrilla Digital
Client: Bleached Arts Ltd - Bleach Festival - ‘The signature annual multi-arts festival on the Gold Coast’
Aunty Joyce Summers is a highly respected Aboriginal Elder who has tirelessly volunteered her time to educate the Gold Coast community about our culture for the past 43 years. Her passion was recently recognised when she was awarded a Premier's award in recognition of her tireless work.
Q: How do we change attitudes in terms of appreciating and embracing our indigenous culture?
I see it as coming through the school system. Our kids and non-indigenous kids, they’re the future of this country, so you have to let them know about past events, things that did happen but they should never be allowed to happen again, and about the history of our people, the history of their people.
We were more than just black fellas running about in the bush naked. We were more than that. We had a society that worked for us and a culture that worked for us.
I’m not what you call an … well I am an activist, but I’m an activist in a different way. I can get on my soap box if you like, but I try not to. I do cross-cultural training and my son says when I start getting carried away, he just says, “Mum, mum, mum.”
We’re there to give the facts and to teach, not blame people. Just to teach and give them the facts and they can make up their own minds. Our job as cross-cultural trainers is not to say, “You people did it.” because those people didn’t do it. It’s not those people.
The younger (indigenous) ones seem to want to embrace different cultures these days, so our younger ones have to be reminded that the freedom that you have today comes at a price.
A lot of people had to fight for the right to walk the streets without being hassled, without having people having a racist attitude. Even to have our own recognition as being Australians in this country. Now that Churaki has been recognized as someone who is an identity and being the first lifesaver is something that I think should always be remembered.
I say, if we want to make a difference in our lives, we have to get educated and place ourselves where we can make a difference.
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Kyle Slabb is often found sifting through the wreckage at the collision point of two cultures. Creativity as well as pragmatism is needed when salvaging the pieces, reframing and building solutions for going forward in modern multicultural communities. With ancestral ties crossing Gudjingburra, Bundjalung and Yugambeh, Kyle credits Indigenous cultural frameworks and intelligences as being at the heart of many successful initiatives and business. As a director of Jaali Inc. Kyle and his team love to have culturally conversant conversations, using language art, music or installation.
Q: What cultural knowledge and practice informed the creation of The Spirit of Churaki performance?
The land is the centre of identity for Aboriginal people. It's at the heart of the whole cultural framework. That's the beginning of everything for us. Everything comes out of that — language, our law and ceremony.
Churaki’s a hero and he’s actually actioning a cultural principle as a person that belongs to that land — you have a cultural responsibility to look after people that come into that space. His father recognised that and Churaki executed it. I think Churaki really is a symbol of that for us.
As Aboriginal people, we come from a cultural framework that is actually inclusive and brings people into it, and to actually be able to share that and express it through The Spirit of Churaki I think is definitely an invitation.
He is a real person and he's an ancestor of a lot of the people in our community so when it comes to telling someone else's story, there are cultural protocols and considerations we had to make.
But yeah, overall I'm excited that people understand there's a good contribution our people have been making for a long time, and still are making to society. That's probably largely gone unrecognised over the years.
Music’s always been a voice for Aboriginal people and lots of other people to be able to put forward ideas, ideals and philosophies that might be a bit counter cultural at the time.
One of the things that was in the back of my mind (with this project) was how far can we go away from our traditional expression before we start to lose what that expression is, because that expression is about singing the land. We sing the story of the land, we sing the heart of the land, we dance that story.
When we're looking at different contemporary expressions, how much can we add, and how much can we go away before we lose that?
Brian Ritchie started his musical career in Milwaukee, USA as a busker with folk-punk pioneers Violent Femme which skyrocketed to record deals, press notoriety and international touring, playing more than 2000 concerts, 40 countries, over 30 years. He is currently Music Curator at MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) in Tasmania and Artistic Director of MONA FOMA. Brian has continued his performing career as a member of modern surf-rock band The Break with three ex-Midnight Oil members and Italian Punk band Zen Circus. He is a master shakuhachi (bamboo flute) player, regularly tours internationally with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and also is currently touring again with The Violent Femmes.
Q: Tell us about your involvement in The Spirit of Churaki project?
It’s a pretty complicated brief because it involves having to delve into the local stories of the Aboriginal people and in particular the Aboriginal music, but also the visual aspects of it, and the philosophical aspects of it. How it ties into the Gold Coast history, in general. Also, how it ties into the Gold Coast surf culture and surf life.
It's a pretty elaborate story to tell. And then to do it in an artistic way and not make it too didactic, it's gotta be entertaining. And it has to have musical power.
Kyle Slabb is the elder of the Fingal mob and he's also a really good musician. He told us the stories, the mythology of the area, some of the historical figures. We were jamming on the stuff that people usually jam on, like ‘Big Boss Man’ by Jimmy Reed, and ‘I Feel Good’ and some country songs.
And then I said,
"Well, what's your traditional music like?”
Kyle and his family started hitting boomerangs together and singing, chanting in their language, some of the pre-colonial stuff. Gradually people just started playing the other instruments. I had my Shakuhachi (flute) and some of the other people had bass guitar, drum set. And within about twenty minutes, it was revved up into this kind of chant with really jazzy improvising on top of it.
At the end of it everybody was like, looking at each other…
"Oh, that's cool."
And then Kyle said, "I didn't know that we could mix the two."
That was the break through.
Bleach* Festival 2018 Program / print media
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Lawrence English is composer, artist and curator based in Australia. Working across an array of aesthetic investigations, English’s work explores the politics of perception and prompts questions of field, perception and memory. English utilises a variety of approaches including visceral live performance and installation to create works that ask participants to consider their relationship to place and embodiment.
Over the past decade, English’s sonic investigations have traversed a divergent path within which musical languages and environmental sources are granted equal value. His work calls into question the established relationships of sound, harmony, distortion and structure and is sculpted, colliding overwhelmingly intricacy with roaring waves of low vibration. The music is evocative and invites the listener to explore their own narratives and impressions shaped by their subjective histories and experiences. His recent albums Cruel Optimism and Wilderness Of Mirrors revel in ‘extreme dynamics and densities’ and resolve into an ‘overriding aesthetic of harmonic distortion’.
Sound is promiscuous, fugitive…
My father was a keen bird watcher, an interest he introduced me to. When I was young, he would take my brother and I to the old port of Brisbane, which was, in the eighties, an overgrown wilderness.
I became fascinated with one particular bird, a Reed Warbler. It was very difficult to spot as it was well camouflaged. After many failed attempts to catch a glimpse of the bird, my father said to me “Put the binoculars down, just close your eyes and listen to where the bird is.”
It was this moment that I had my first memorable sonic experience. In that instance, I recognised the implications of sound as a way of knowing the world; that there are multiple senses we have at our disposal. What that experience demonstrated was we all can navigate the world in a variety of ways.
I think what I find really interesting about sound is the idea that it doesn't function like light. Light travels in a straight line- it's a linear spectrum. Sound is fugitive, it's promiscuous, it's always coming around corners, it doesn't behave in linear ways. The other thing for me that I really find powerful about sound as a medium to work with is that it requires you to be present and attentive to it.
The moment sound is appreciated by us, it’s gone, we can never listen to it that way again.
So there's this constant extinction of sound I think is simultaneously both harrowing and beautiful. There's a poetry to that loss, and the fact that all we can do is bury sound in the shallow grave of memory.
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Based on the Gold Coast with roots in Berlin, The Farm is an international network of highly respected artists, ranging from choreographers and independent dancers to musicians and designers. The artistic direction of the company is led by Gavin Webber and Grayson Millwood who have been making work together for the past fifteen years across four continents. THE FARM works out of Queensland but retains and builds on its national and international pedigree and touring record.
Touring highlights include, Venice Biennale, Tanzplattform (Germany), Barbican Theatre, Europe, Canada and Australia.
The Farm is driven by a desire to connect to anyone, from dance and theatre virgins to aficionados and professionals. Often described as cinematic, our work is based on universal subjects and themes that matter. Finally and perhaps most importantly, The Farm create contemporary performances that transcend expectations of what dance can be and how and where it should be viewed.
Composer Corrina Bonshek’s writes music that is inspired by the sounds and patterns of nature, and her own meditation practice. Her music has been described as ‘beautifully shaped and contemplative’ (Clare MacClean, 2013), and ‘deeply spiritual in intent’ (Anne Boyd, 2002). Her recent compositions include Nature Spirit for pianist Alex Raineri (Australia), A Bird Amongst Flowers for Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra (Taiwan) and Desert Time for Pipa player Yu Rong Chen (Taiwan). Foremost in her practice is the desire to create deeply transformative, listening experiences. This has led her to create immersive, sound installations and music-art events in unusual spaces. An example is Journey to the Centre – music for a labyrinth walk (2014), which is permanently installed at the labyrinth in Centennial Park, Sydney and features nature sounds by Wild Ambience. This piece was broadcast on ABC TV Compass Program, ABC Radio National Off Track, and is the subject of a 30-minute feature for ABC Radio National’s The Rhythm Divine.
I feel very fortunate that through my artistic practice I can connect with so many diverse people.
At its heart (my work) is about diversity and inclusivity.
The tip of the iceberg is in that moment the participant feels really strong and good about their bodies and what they’re doing, but then underneath the iceberg is what resonance they might have. They might have some transformative experience that could happen six months later, a year later, or start to see the world in a different way.
We have so much opportunity to be in our bodies in our daily lives in Australia with so much potential to really live a dynamic, kaleidoscopic creative culture.
If I can create something where someone can experience an artistic, creative way of seeing the world, that’s absolutely what gets me out of bed in the morning.
This research is within the field of applied art and digital portrait photography in which commissioning agents increasingly require innovative solutions to visual problems across a variety of media including print, digital and broadcast. Convergence culture describes how fans are central to how culture operates. The flow of images, ideas, and narratives, across multiple media channels, and the subsequent interactions that occur between the consumers, the texts and the producers, demands more active modes of spectatorship (Jenkins, 2014).
My work alters the way in which the photographic portrait can be understood by taking advantage of the affordances of convergence culture and how consumers’ interactions are conditioned by online interactive media designs. By treating portraits as connective nodes, similar to textual hyperlinks, audiences interact with narratives through a multiplicity of transmedia artefacts including digital imagery, text, objects and sound. The notions of the photographic portrait, as a depiction or questionable reality, are expanded upon and the viewer experiences what Jean Baudrillard called hyperreality. These digital simulacra do not seek to be taken as truths but rather point to other associated realities, amplifying both the narrative and the definition of digital portrait photography.
Commissioned by Bleached Arts Ltd, and in collaboration with Guerrilla Digital, I co-developed and creatively directed the visual identity concept and produced original photographic portraits for the Bleach* Festival 2018 visual identity. The final work had a total print reach of 4,635,963 and an online coverage with a total audience of 37,668. The portraits appeared as key imagery in the following media: 60,000 printed catalogues; 30,000 editions of Blank magazine (cover image) with an additional 25,00 online versions; 32,545 unique users visited the Bleach* Festival website; 13,641 unique users viewed the Facebook page and 5,208 unique users visited the Instagram feed. Refer to the 2018 Outcome Report below.
This podcast is a wonderful convergence of many of the broadcast media stories involving the incredible people that I have had the pleasure of working with. It includes unique musical performances and interviews.
Well worth the 52 minutes of listening, at the very least tune in to 49:00 (minutes on the timeline) and listen to so the Spirit of Churaki - a brilliant fusion of Surf rock and traditional indigenous music and storytelling.
A circulation of 30,000 print editions with an additional 25,00 online versions
The constraints of the brief for the Bleach Festival 2018 commission were defined by timelines, media budgets and logistical limitations. My role as a creative director involves developing a creative approach that is on strategy and within the scope of these constraints.
This process often leads to a number of un-resolved creative approaches that, although outside of the scope of the final delivery, have a great deal of potential as designs for future commissions. From these residual materials and speculative concepts, I have developed a methodology for iteratively testing and sharing new derivative works that act as a catalyst for new creative directions where the unknown quantities – often considered to be too high a risk to implement – can be considered for the next.
The following illustrations demonstrate a process for actualising a 3 dimensional sculpture from a digital photograph. The process involves the transformation of pixels into digital illustrations through vectorisation, extrusion, 3D modelling and metcap rendering. The 3d models and virtual reality scene renders illustrate the spatial and dimensional possibilities for an installation. Possible approaches to digital fabrication include: extrusion; additive manufacturing (3D printing); subtractive processes such as milling; CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining; and laser cutting.
Detail #01 :: Digital Photograph
Detail #04 :: 3D Extrusion
Detail #07 :: Large World Virtual Reality Render
Detail #02 :: Digital Illustration
Detail #05 :: 3D Model
Detail #08 :: Reverse World Virtual Reality Render
Detail #03 :: Vector Graphic
Detail #06 :: Matcap Render
Detail #09 :: Small World Virtual Reality Render
Detail #10 :: Wireframe image of extruded sculptural piece / materials, scale and location TBC
Detail #11 :: Interactive Prototype 02 / hosted by Sketchfab / Large scale sculptural piece /aggregate units TBC