Skip to content

Marvellous, Electrical: Eustress

“Dance, whatever you say, it’s mostly all about me: its own kind of hedonism. You look in the mirror and judge yourself. You entertain the audience, maybe you inspire one or two kids who’d like to be dancers themselves, but that’s about it. It can be overwhelming to focus on yourself that way.”

“What I do now, I don’t stop people getting sick, I don’t fix every problem, but at least I know I’ve helped.”

Queensland ambulance

A classic Queensland amublance. Image from Queensland State Archives.

This week’s Marvellous, Electrical tells the story of a top-flight contemporary dancer turned Brisbane paramedic.

Read Curious, Mysterious, Marvellous, Electrical: Eustress here.

Local History, Local Music

Got to love a conference which takes place in a pub: I’m speaking at next week’s Australian gathering of the International Association of Music Librarians, and the venue is Brisbane’s Ship Inn, a “rowdy sailors’ drinking den now transformed into a civilised gastropub”.

My paper’s called “Wondrous Strange, Marvellous Electrical” and it’s scheduled for the afternoon of Friday, 30 September. I’ll use a playlist to explore musicality, play, makers, archives, uncomfortable histories, and information science in the digital age.

It’s not too late to sign up for the conference via their Eventbrite page.

Attendees will get to hear a bit of Powerwolf during my presentation, but sadly Mina’s ‘Se Telefonando’ didn’t make the cut.

It’s lovely, though, so have a listen below:

 

Marvellous, Electrical: Substance

This week’s Marvellous, Electrical explores the Brisbane drug scene of the early 2000s.

Fortitude Valley by Wikipedia user lilywatanabe, used under a CC-BY-SA 3.0 licence

Image by Wikipedia user lilywatanabe, under a CC BY-SA 3.0 licence

A drug support worker who worked a beat in Fortitude Valley, the historic hub of Brisbane nightlife, joined me to talk about the rhythms and routines of heavy drug use in Queensland’s capital.

Read Marvellous, Electrical: Substance here.

Comic Makers at Brisbane Parking Day

Yesterday I took a team of staff from the State Library of Queensland to run a pop-up comic making stand in Brisbane’s West End.

Brisbane Parking Day - Comic Maker Stall

Drawing on previous experiences with comic book dice at Bermondsey Street Festival, we took over a car parking space to let Brisbane locals tell their own sidewalk stories using simple three-dimensional cartoons. Read more

Download the Code: Fun Palaces Comic Maker

State Library of Queensland’s Online Comic Maker returns for the 2016 Fun Palaces event celebrating the arts and sciences in communities across the world.

1462274578

I devised the Comic Maker for Fun Palaces 2015; it was designed and built by Talia Yat and Phil Gullberg of the State Library of Queensland, where I’m currently Creative in Residence. (You can read the story of its origins in this Comics Grid interview).

The deceptively simple site encouraged users worldwide to surprise us with non-narrative comics, cheeky horror storiesand even comics in Te Reo Māori.

This year the Comic Maker has been fully integrated into the Fun Palaces homepage, but we’ve also released the code behind the site as a Github repository.

If you’d like to use the Comic Maker code to design and devise your own website – to reimagine, remix, or adapt the State Library’s work into a whole new online offering – visit the Fun Palaces Comic Maker page at Github.

tumblr_nvn2prhoyd1uhhidmo1_1280

Science and Belonging at Brisbane Writers Festival 2016

1: Anti-panels

On Sunday, I hosted the Science and Belonging panel at Brisbane Writers Festival.

Scientists Tamara Davis and Maggie Hardy joined writers Ellen van Neerven and Maree Kimberley for a conversation about their work and the crossovers between art, science, storytelling, and identity.

We wanted the people attending our event to be participants, not just an audience – so I helped the library devise an “anti-panel” session inspired by our Broadband and Heritage workshops earlier this year.

In the “anti-panel”, the audience split up into four groups. Each group got to spend ten minutes in conversation with each of our four guests. At the end of that forty-minute session, we held a plenary panel where our guests reflected on the discussions they’d had, and more questions could be fielded from the floor.

The aim was to change audiences’ experience at a festival panel from “sitting watching VIPs have a conversation, with maybe a few questions at the end” to full interaction and engagement.

Our tools weren’t digital devices or social media apps, but wheelie chairs and a stopwatch.

And we learned as we went – adapting, for example, to the acoustics of the space during group discussion.

The experiment in event design was part of a broader conversation I’ve been having with David Robertson around audience participation and public engagement. You can read more of his work at the Beyond Panels website, a great one-stop shop for alternative event formats.

2: We Need To Talk About Kelvin

The 2016 Brisbane Writers Festival will be notorious for Lionel Shriver’s controversial keynote, which challenged notions of cultural appropriation, and the powerful response to it from Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

Festival organisers quickly organised a right-to-reply for Yassmin and other writers, which you can watch on Yassmin’s Facebook page. (The live stream was filmed by Yen-Rong Wong, whose account of the dispute is also worth reading).

Our Science and Belonging event, presented by the State Library of Queensland for the Festival, was part of the library’s year-long theme of Belonging – an exploration of many different Queensland identities and experiences.

During the event, we were asked if we had deliberately chosen an all-women panel of experts. We hadn’t – we simply wanted outstanding practitioners of science and science-fiction – but we also acknowledged the importance of bringing together women, migrants, and Indigenous people as experts on a panel which was not “the token diversity panel”.

I’m proud that the Library and the Festival were able to deliver this special celebration of science and speculative fiction with a distinctive Queensland flavour. See more from Brisbane Writers Festival via the #bwf16 hashtag on Twitter.

Castralien

“Castralien” – a fantasy of the 1940s, a German refugee’s vision of a world-encompassing internment camp where displaced persons are shuffled between Britain and its colonies.

Hutchinson Square, Douglas, Isle of Man

Hutchinson Square, former internment camp in Douglas, Isle of Man – Image by Wikipedia user jamesfranklingresham under a CC-BY-S.A 3.0 licence

This week’s Marvellous, Electrical brings together Queensland ghost towns, Sixties television, European wars, plus histories and fantasies of offshore detention.

Read “Castralien” here.

Marvellous, Electrical: The Dough

And this is how it works when crossing a border doesn’t feel like a crime…”

This week’s Marvellous, Electrical visits the midnight bakeries of Brisbane to tell a story of migration.

c1274ed6-afa4-44e7-92eb-30c553585edd

Read “Marvellous, Electrical: The Dough” here.

New Adventures at the Brisbane Writers Festival

This weekend, join me for two events at the Brisbane Writers Festival.

On Saturday 10th September at 4pm, I’ll be on the Rules of Engagement panel with Kate Pullinger and Caroline Heim, talking about the shifting relationships between institutions, artmakers, scientists, audiences, and participants.

Then, on Sunday 11th September at 11.30am, join Ellen Van Neerven, Maggie Hardy, Tamara Davis, and Maree Kimberley for Science and Belonging, a special presentation by the State Library of Queensland.

Instead of the usual panel discussion, we’ll be running a Beyond Panels session which maximises your chance to talk to our guests.

Our panel of scientists and speculative fiction writers will talk about their work with Festival  visitors before leading a discussion exploring the collisions, contrasts, and common ground between speculative fiction and scientific practice.

Find out more about Rules of Engagement and Science and Belonging at the Brisbane Writers Festival website.

Townsville Adventures

Last month, I went up to Townsville in North Queensland with a team of staff from the State Library.

I worked with Townsville staff on strategy and innovation for a couple of days, then we invited around sixty people from across the region – and across the culture sector – for a day of workshops focussed on service innovation and professional development.

We discussed everything from robotics to scrub turkeys, David Bowie’s creative process to President Obama’s response to Muhammad Ali’s death, all the while thinking about how our organisations could better serve the communities we’re part of.

You’ll hear more about all of these projects in coming weeks, but for now here’s a report from attendee Sabine Carter.

Townsville was famously the setting for turn-of-the-millennium cartoon series The Powerpuff Girls – our team’s iPads are named after the lead characters Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup.

I’ll leave you today with Frank Black of the Pixies signing a Powerpuff-inspired song…