Saturday, April 28, 2007

Musings on Japan #4: Hallelujah, it’s raining rain!

I live in Adelaide, which, despite what everyone says, is actually quite a nice place, and has a few claims to fame.

Some are good - such as our plonk, Coopers Stout, great pubs (Grace Emily to name just one), and … some other stuff that may or may not involve alcohol.

Some are negative, such as the Snowtown massacre, and West End beer.

The latter involves miserable, chemically fluids … actually, so did the former.

West End claims their beer is perfect for South Australia because it quenches the thirst of the "driest state on the driest continent". The quenching bit would not hold up in a court of law (afterall, beer is a diuretic. And West End beer is poop). However, the dry bit is unfortunately very accurate, as SA has suffered a drought for quite some time.

That is, until yesterday, when the heavens opened up on us like a drunken footy team relieving themselves on a bus stop.

The aforementioned deluge leads me to a convoluted, yet seamless segueway ... the next installment of my Musings on Japan.

When I lived in Koshigaya, Saitama, there was something that was optimistically categorized as a river nearby. It was, instead, numerous brown viscous puddles, connected by sluggish tributaries of slime.

That was until the wet season, which, I was reliably informed by everybody, would last from the beginning of June till the first week of July. Because that was what their calendars said. Well there must have been a misprint, because instead of the promised 5 weeks of torrential rain, we got, at a stretch, a few days.

But these few days were enough to transform our boggy, stinking riverbed into a raging, stinking river.

While looking from a bridge at this fast-flowing, brown soup, I remember seeing, honestly, at first, a dead carp bobbing along, all-glassy eyed and fetid. Following that was a dead cat, bloated like a fugu. Then there was a dead dog with its mouth gaping wide, seemingly in mid-bark. I waited to see if the old lady from the fable, who coughed up these delicacies, would follow.

She didn’t. Which is unfortunate because it would have finished this story off nicely.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Reviews from the Crypt #1: Read My Lips

Whilst sifting through some age yellowed files I found some reviews that I wrote for On Dit and the Adelaide Advertiser over a decade ago.

Today I'm feeling a bit fluey, so decided to type them up in between medicinal hot toddies. They are probably only interesting to me and possibly the artists who I reviewed. Anyways, here's #1 ...

Story title: These lips were made for walking
Artist: Various
Exhibition: Read my lips
Where: Union Gallery, Adelaide Uni
When: Sometime in 1994

A bunch of Melbournian artistes have invaded our humble harbour of harmony with some of the best work my jaded eyes have seen in the longest time. Read My Lips consists of 14 artistes’ diverse responses to the exploration of language.

Out of the 34 works on show, the following, in no particular order, stood out:

Damiano Bertolli provided four collages for the exhibition entitled Stappease: Rings of Ion. Number 2 conjures up an image of a Marlowe case in sleazy 40s LA. The pure cerebral fuck of raw jazz seems to drip from the gaudy wallpaper. Two beautiful, sinister women stand with their backs to some poor Joe, who is sprawled dead on the ground. Meanwhile scenes from Africa, Asia, America, and the mind are juxtaposed, and are seen through arched windows that frame the two indifferent murderers.

It is a very small collage that has been inconveniently hung about two inches from the ground, therefore forcing your drunken art correspondent down to the floor. However, the annoyance that is experienced on the journey down soon dissipates when you discover the Dali/Kahloesque piece that awaits you. It is made up of a Victorian portrait of a woman with a large blue eye instead of a head, as well as a bunch of chicken eggs instead of a stomach. Surrealism so good you can scramble it and put it on toast.

Kate Benyon’s Characters is an installation that demands to be noticed. It is a felt alphabet connected to the wall and sums up the whole exhibition’s emphasis on language. In addition there are fluffy, floating, felt things hanging from the ceiling. This use of the air is nicely contrasted by Wai-Ling Lai’s use of the ground in Supermarket Calligraphy, in which lentils have been neatly laid and symbols moulded by clay have been placed on top. Not quite sure what it all meant, but it tasted good and was good for me.

Susan Fereday contributed a series of doorknobs, all labelled with titles like Organic, Dreaming, Spiritual, Materialist. They are door knobs without a door, therefore lead to nowhere; the words hint at direction but are empty, meaningless symbols of the unobtainable. Heavy? Or glib? I can’t decide, but I like ‘em.

Anna Nervegna’s Signature (Picasso/ Monet/ Cezanne) is a large canvas with three spray painted copies of the famous artists’ signatures. They boom out at the viewer like glaring neon, saying the name is more important than the work, so fuck off you narrow minded lovers of sanitized old art. The works are reminiscent of one of the luminaries of Dadaist anti-art, Picabia. In his L’oeil Cacodylate he got many of his artistic and literary chums to sign their names on a large canvas.

Lazlo Romer’s Tongue Tied Yet Lucid intrigued me. I hated it at first; its canvas seemed to be tortured by washes and drips of paint. However, the triumph of this work is in its complexity, it is so confusingly busy that it takes a prolonged viewing for the aptness of the title to gradually emerge. Lucidity does indeed spring out in this clever piece, because calligraphy stands erect in a sea of incomprehensibility.

Polexeni Papetrou’s E.L.V.I.S I love you comprises three large photos with my favourite fat-arsed, burger-eating icon. Graffitied declarations of love are given to the modern, jump-suited Lazarus.

I loved Werner Hammerstingl’s The Difference Between Art and Craft. It is two welcome mats, one is on the ground, the other is on the wall adorned by a gold frame; therefore transforming a simple product of craft into a masterpiece that belongs to the heady realm of art. Simply profound? Profoundly simple? What is art? What is language? What is the language of art? Blah, blah, blah.

Good stuff!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Angsty poetry #3: Hot steamy luuuuurve baby

Tequila, boot scootin' and a balmy night in Arizona equals ...

Hot steamy luuuuuuurve baby

I saw you from a distance
You were wearing white and red
So I turned and wondered
Why can’t that lady be in my bed?

And when I got closer
And I saw that you were actually a man
I thought – “Hey what the gosh darn heck,
I’m going do whatever I can.”

So, I moseyed closer
And said whatever came to my mind
You said that you were a cattle rustler
It was then that I knew, baby, you had to be mine

We danced the hokey pokey
Oh boy did we pash
We didn’t even care about our stubbles
Giving us both a nasty facial rash

And when the party was over
And we were sharing our last cigarette
I realised I was in luurve baby
With a man that goes by name Yvette

Thursday, April 19, 2007

New CGSociety feature #4: Blood Diamond

Just finished a story about the movie Blood Diamond. Here it be...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New CGSociety feature #3: Future of Film

Just whipped up a feature by Renee Dunlop about Digital Media Wire’s ‘Future of Film’ conference, which brought together head honchos from the major studios and some creatives to discuss the wheres, whats and hows of fillums for the next generation. Read it here...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Latest paintings

Stormslapper is part of a series of acrylics done in a style I’ve audaciously named PopMash - a low-brow mix of icons from popular culture, mashed together to create an unlikey combination. In this case, a stormtropper and a 1950’s pinup queen.

10"x10", Acrylic on canvas


8"x8", Acrylic on canvas

I was watching one of favourite movies the other day, The day the earth stood still, whilst supping on a cheeky Shiraz and felt compelled to paint Gort. It’s a bit rough, but so was I at the time of painting...

8"x10", Acrylic on canvas

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Angsty poetry #2: What can I call my poem?

A friend (Rob) mentioned yesterday that my most recent posts all seem to be work related. The fact that all I'm really doing at the moment is work, probably has an awful lot to do with it.

Yep, all work and no play makes bigfatrobot a dull blog. So, as a remedy, of sorts, it's angsty poetry time ...

What can I call my poem?

My poorly stitched slacks
Now lie on the ground
Torn and legless

My slovenly manufactured shirt
Has fallen off me
Like a cheap male stripper’s faux Navy uniform

I am not cursed with good looks
I am blessed with ugliness
Which provides a good mask for my inner dullness

I am on the dole
That is why I cannot afford a good Chardonnay

I’m hungry
I ate my poem
But I’m still hugry

This poem will not satisfy my stomach’s needs
Because it is cooked on cheap paper and sautéed with cheap ink

They say cigarettes quench hunger
But I have eaten ten of them now
And I’m still hungry

What can I call my poem?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New release at Ballistic: ESSENCE: The Face

Just popped up the web pages for our latest title... ESSENCE: The Face.

Designed for artists with a mid-to-advanced understanding of 3D character creation, the book starts with the photo shoot of model Monika and draws on the methods of six professionals to create a digital model from beginning to end.

Working as a team each artist develops a piece of the 3D character puzzle to show you how lifelike characters are created in a production environment. The Face encompasses reference photography, modeling, UV mapping, texturing and rendering to create a digital double that would be at home in a next-gen game or HD movie.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Massive Black story

Just finished a story about our chums at Massive Black, which is a San Fran based studio doing some tasty art. Check it out...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Technical tome

At the moment I have my head buried deeply into a technical tome entitled Search Engine Marketing by Mike Moran and Bill Hunt. It's a book on effective search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Yep, my life rocks!

After a cursory peruse, here are some of the key points I gleaned…

Keyword prominence

To improve –
- Ensure that Query words are in titles and initial paragraphs.
- Use emphasized text (bold, italic, underline).
- Alt text on images.

Spiders (programs that crawl through the web, going from link to link whilst indexing)
To improve indexing -
- Break up a large page – improve keyword density.
- Very large pages might not get crawled.

Javascript bloat

- Move JavaScript to an external file – spider does not have to crawl through it.


- Lead with generic brand name (in our case Digital Art Books – because we don’t really have a globally recognized brand name (yet)).
- Tailor to what searchers are after (digital art, tutorials, how-to etc).
- Get rid of welcome, home etc. – leaving more untruncated room for keywords.
- Combine keywords – try to use one singular and one plural form to enure the page is found no matter which form the searcher uses.

(shown below title on the search results page)
- Place important keywords together at the start of description.
- Make sure brand name is there, so customers associate description with brand.
- Around 100-150 characters (Google).
- 150-200 characters (Yahoo).
eg. Ballistic digital art books present d’artiste: Character Modeling 2, featuring tutorials by … (96 characters) Keywords: digital art, character modeling, tutorials. Branding: Ballistic, d'artiste, Character Modeling 2

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Slowly fiddling with my 'bot.

Slowly fiddling with my 'bot. (That title is for you folks on RSS)

This time he has a victim.

Monday, April 2, 2007

The carnival is over

The mad month of cultural stuff in Adelaide has sadly come to a close.

It all started in the beginning of March when WOMAD set up shop, bringing lovely and talented folk from all over the world to entertain and enthrall. The highlight for me was Yasmin Levy, an Israeli singer of Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish form that dates from the 15th cenury. It sounds much like flamenco - very emotive and beautiful. Other tasty aural morsels were provided by: The Gotan Project, Mahotella Queens, Lila Downs, Augie March and the Fado singer, Mariza.

Yasmin Levy

Huun-Huur tu - throat singers from Tuva, Russia, near Mongolia

Lila Downs jamming with legendary jazz drummer Bill Cobham

The only bad thing was the Hades-like heat on the Saturday. It was 40 degrees plus in the shade -and the shade was rapidly claimed and guarded by the quicker hippies. This, combined with a 2 year old drought, northerly winds and the stampeding feet of 80,000 people, whipped up a dusty tempest leaving thousands coughing and reaching for their tissues. Next year I’m going to set up a stall to sell face masks and anti-histamines.

At the same time, the first annual Adelaide Fringe began. Annoying timing really – there aren’t enough Adelaideans to go around to keep two big festivals ticking along at the same time. However, as the dust settled on WOMAD, the Fringe picked up and, according to the organizers, became a big success. The highlight for me were those high-kicking, ceiling-dangling, contorting Burlesque girls from La La Parlour with a reprise of their ever-popular Tarnished show.

However, Adelaide will now revert to a city of tumble-weeds and serial killers until the Cabaret Festival reaches our shores in June.