My method :: Experiment one :: Experiment two ::

The first day of the course was inspiring and fun - and got me thinking about experimentalism as part of practice-based research - and that's why I'm here, to cultivate more play and experimentalism as a core part of my practice. The brief is to conceive of a device, mechanism, system that is repeatable, but will generate different outcomes each time. And then to test the system, and collect evidence at the other end across multiple media. Cool.

We discussed notions of 'random' (can it ever be? at what point do you stop analysing what factors might impact on a random event?); 'synchronicity' (a fave notion, drawing in ideas of hidden, unconscious or larger-than-us flows at play), serendipity (yummy - provenance: Persian and having an air of a hyper consciousness that is alert to what offers - or affordances - are being made), chance, compulsion. This last one a very interesting noise in the machine - compulsions to fiddle, to overwrite, to want to know - being at the beck and call of drives that mess up the process. I'm going to add in mabarosi (jp) epiphany and augenblike (gr) - a moment of embodied awareness and consciousness.

My mechanism

It was fun thinking about elements of the 'device' - dice came up, and chatterboxes too. I found an interesting article on chatterboxes as a tool for developing hyper-space architectures (not as high falloutin' as it sounds).Chatterboxs and hyperspace

Origami dice and chatterbox

I am interested in a combination of alphanumerics - words and numbers, and some space for interpretation too - a textured device that variously advances AND extends the process of experimentalism, sometimes driving the action forwards, at other times allowing for stasis and contemplation. The chatterbox is interesting - you could put 'calls to action' in there, and the engagement aesthetic is recognisable to most people.

Here are the elements I am going to use for my first experiments:
Tarot cards, map, dice

These are all resonant objects in themselves. The dice gives us numerical data; the tarot cards give numerical, interpretive, and other data such as 'elements' and 'suits'; the old survey map of Sydney is gridded and also has some mysterious hand drawn annotations. How can I combine the native 'actions' of these three systems to get me to a physical location?

My method

1. roll dice
2. --> number of seconds to shuffle the tarot cards
3. roll dice
4. --> number of times to cut tarot card
5. Reveal card
6. Use card to find location on the map

The High Priestess - major arcana card - number 2 in the 21/22 sequence; ruled by the Moon

Metadata for the card - choosing the simplest data

IMG_2574 copy.jpg
This great old ordnance map of sydney is very detailed, hand drawn and produced on linen. There are minimal co-ordinates...

Pomegranates : Issues with my methodology

There is too much metadata in each tarot card to match the map co-ordinates. The usual issue with datamapping: what is the minimum amount of data needed to makes sense, effect change?

I think about exploring the content of the card....

IMG_2569 copy.jpg

Tea caddy.jpg

Pomegranates inevitably remind me of Istanbul.....

The sickle moon : combining numbers and symbols

I decide to trace the sickle moon, and run my eye along the map co-ordinate "2" until I find a land form onto which the moon fits...

Tracing the sickle moon that is part of the symbology of this card

headland + overlay.jpg
The sickle moon fits perfectly over Dobroyd Point

Replication : is this method repeatable?

Not really, I try and replicate it but the problem of map co-ordinates is fatal - never mind, I'm off to collect my evidence at the chosen destination: Dobroyd Point in middle harbour! I take a bag with drawing book, phone camera, charcoal and pencil case.

I like the reflection of me in the magnet....this is a part of sydney I don't really know except I do know that there are depression-era shacks on Dobroyd Point, and that reminds me of similar depression-era shacks in southern sydney - burning palms, bolgo and that place near bundeena bonnie something - that doesn't even appear on maps.

map + red button.jpg

Condamine : a river in western Queensland

I have often been to Balgowlah as I used to consult a professional here. Condamine street always makes me want to add Diamantina to the paradigm - the two great rivers of western Queensland...

Condamine St Balgowlah Below: Diamantina River crossing Qld and SA border

On site : Dobroyd Point



map copy.jpg
On site, I spend time and collect evidence in 4 locations.

The Locations

1. The Look Out

I only spend a few minutes here and talk to 3 travellers, one from Italy and 2 from Brazil - they are curious about the shacks at the base of the cliff and also about a little native mammal that is wondering around. I think its a bandicoot but whilst I am keen to tell them its not a rat or mouse, I am secretly anxious that it might be sick to be out during the day - yucky memories of the sick quokkas on rottnest island. I hope its not a victim of 1080 fox poison. Should I have stayed home? Na - discomfort is part of the process.

I wish I had interviewed these travellers, and later I engage with 3 other people - but I am shy about 'utilising' them for my project. I am also very aware that it is easy for me to be sidetracked by helping others - we are all wondering how to get to the base of the cliff but I know that if I invite them to explore with me, I won't attain the singular focus I want this afternoon.


camouflaged shack.jpg
You can see the roof of one of the squats camouflaged amongst the heathland

view to shoreline from lookout.jpg
I would love to make it down to the shoreline this afternoon...

view to the south from lookout.jpg
Looking south I realise I can see a landmark that I can also see from home - the water tower on Cpt Pipers rd - I can triangulate my position now

2. The Rock LedgeI strike out along the path to Manly and soon see numerous ingress points to the scrub - I find myself on a rock ledge to the east and below the look out. Here I do some drawing, shoot some video, take photos and record sound. Its exposed here and I'm looking directly at the Heads. My little bag of charcoal blows off down the hill. The High Priestess card which got me here, is unsurprisingly incongruous in the ancient heathland context. This headland directly faces the Heads.




Me and the bay portrait.jpg




card + rock.jpg

Winter sea.jpg

Colonisation takes many forms...


3. The Other Look outI get back on the path and continue to wander down following the contour of the headland north east towards Manly. I keep an eye out for any tracks that might take me to the water but to no avail. The second lookout is more sheltered and faces directly onto Quarantine. I remember fishing there as a child in the sheltered bay. A french tourist asks me to take his photo; a local woman tells me that I have seen the James Craig entering the heads - c 1870s, bridging the era between steam and sail.

Quarantine station.jpg

4. The other rock ledge
Heading back up the hill, suddenly I do see a well worn path heading off to the left. I dive in - and moving quickly down it I find myself on another rock ledge, much closer to the water but still well above the shacks.

Now its about taking 'what you couldn't leave behind in a fire' and running with that.

I have spent a bit of time collating my evidence in this wiki - and to be honest I have not found it that flexible an environment - mostly because many photos were taken upside down etc and need tweaking in photoshop and I find the wiki environment sort of 'flighty' and a tad unforgiving.

So I have decided to quickly capture some trajectories here, whilst I still keep collating the site evidence.

Triangulation:I like the idea that there are isomorphs between ridges in the harbour's topography - my place; the water tower; the top of dobroyd head; and the lower rock ledges I explored. I will work this relationship and am interested in it being more formal than content based - points of view; reverse perspectives; isomorphs of heights and sight lines; aligning with the Heads. I'd like to experiment with making these spaces/trajectories in some hyperbolic form, infinitely expandable and unfolding...

Phenology:the science of plant and seasonal cycles; I shot and collected some flower heads (yes I know its illegal in the national park) - lots of spring blooms out. The tiny, varied local wildflowers - very fine grained, very colourful but easy to miss in the camouflage of the heathland. When I got home and opened my notebook the flowers spilled out with their spicy, warm, heathland notes - I felt very tender towards them, dying for hours, yet still wrapped with the heathland scent. I had intended to scan them using a technique I learned ages ago, but my scanner died!! Took photos of them against white paper. This morning they were more bedraggled - fit to break my heart. I won't commit them to the ignoble end of the rubbish bin. The flannel flowers were not yet out - like a doctor I gently prised open a flower head on site, the baby soft leaves still curled and shy. The wild flowers vulnerability, their transience, their joyful colours are top notes in the pungent spring heath.

Colonisation:Hard to visit a national park on sydney harbour and notimagine it before invasion. the ancient topography is so ready to shake off the trappings of 21stC extreme capitalism, the cheerful harbour-by-day -
at least on the surface. rock grooves from sharpening stone; perspectives that hundreds or thousands of eyes have framed; micro climates that people could ken from the tiniest change. I don't go at look at Arabanoo's look out - it feels too 'close' this afternoon. The ghosts of ancestors gain power in the gathering dusk. It was spooky sitting on the first rock platform, with its 180 degree view and suddenly seeing the James Craig round north head...