Thursday, April 30, 2009

Future social and ecological systems

Hamish Morgan, who works with various community groups in Western Australia, and I are writing a paper on future socio-ecological systems. Here is the first draft abstract:
The Internet and globalisation have created a virtual compression of time-space; networks of interrelation have spread across any possible boundary creating diverse points of connection. The net is expanding from one site of intensity to another, creating webs of interrelation upon which economic, environmental and social survival depends. The extension we want to make in this paper is that this modern digital experience is one that shares its model, at least at a ‘systems’ or epistemological level, with both traditional and contemporary cultural practices from the Central and Western Deserts in Australia.

Far from being ‘primitive’ or ‘no longer possible’ the Aboriginal model is the future. It is a map or blueprint for future social, economic and ecological relations that are taking place now, as they have for thousands of years. The modernisation of Australia can be seen as beginning from the desert out.

European modernisation in Australia is predominantly ecologically disembodied, and in recent times we have experienced further ramifications of this dominant cultural intervention, especially in terms of social and environmental disquietude. In Australia’s urban centres increases in self-harm, mood disorders, chronic illness, violence and obesity proliferate among young people, while their social network systems have never been more advanced. The concentration of populations in cities, and the reliance upon the importation of resources, has placed an unprecedented strain upon the landbase. The generation of heavily processed and synthetic food, derived from a developing culture of “super-farms”, coincide with a digital ecology model for social health and diversity; where the former (industrial agricultures) negates the latter (digital ecologies).

In this paper we will develop these theses and show which models already exist for a future beyond a disembodied aggregate-growth society. We will discuss Aboriginal social networking modalities in light of online community making; discuss Aboriginal rotational agricultural practices and compare them to modern permacultural practices; and discuss how the disembodied urban experience can be re-embedded into socio-ecological systems.

Monday, April 27, 2009

6 fine-art steps for building a raised bed

Step 1. Construct a timber coffin-like structure to what ever size you require in what ever manner you like. Remember the timber will flavour your food so don't use timber that has been treated with chemicals. Level off and fix to the ground using stakes or star pickets.

Step 2. Break up and weed existing soil at the base of the bed. If your soil is clay add some river sand and lime, if your soil is sandy add some clay and manure.

Step 3. Using newspaper, cardboard or some twentieth century art, cover the soil in a thin blanket. This barrier will act as a weed mat and help lock in moisture, which also encourages worms. Wet down this layer with water to start the decomposition process and help keep it from blowing away.

Step 4. Add a layer of straw, fallen oak leaves or sugar cane mulch. This organic matter will slowly break down, fixing carbon in the soil. A good soil requires a balance of nutrients, carbon, nitrogen and diverse microbial life, which will mitigate pests. Never use synthetic fertilisers or pesticides, you want your soil to hum loosely, not fear life.

Step 5. Finish the layers with composted soil. I have used part mushroom compost here with my own home-brewed one. Lightly compress or flatten the soil with a board and sow your seeds.

Step 6. Protect your seeds from your free-ranging hens. Now it's time for a well deserved glass of Astrid's dark chocolate stout.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lucky dip and scratch (or, carbon fixed/carbon smoked)

I've been up a ladder, building walls to pay bills, and I've spent much of the past month finishing essays, films and funding for WorkmanJones' 2010 US tour. We've been invited and funded to make new work and show it at a non-profit gallery in Richmond, Virginia so we'll be looking to do a number of things while we are there.

In the meantime the garden has been neglected and the frost season has begun, which makes looking at the garden a tad depressing. Every day I have been scheming and planning new raised beds, future composts, fruit and nut tree plantings, canopies over raised bed structures in order to mitigate birds and frost damage, mulch and humus for further water and carbon conservation and more indigenous plantings to encourage greater biodiversity.

Surprisingly we've found that these heirloom toms (Riesentraube) are extremely frost hardy, for tomatoes at least. Because we live in a cold climate (though increasingly less so) toms generally come into abundance just as the first frosts start rolling in. Therefore these hardy toms are ideal in this climate. We've had 2 frosts already and the plants keep producing and ripening fruit.

In my absence the chooks have been guarding the compost. Over the Summer and until the first frost the European wasps had colonised the heap, now the chooks have reclaimed it as their very own lucky dip and scratch zone.

Working to pay bills and planning to fly to the US are obvious hypocrisies in light of what we're aiming to achieve in the garden over the next five years: 90% water self-sufficiency, 70% energy self-sufficiency, 70% food self-sufficiency. I suppose by agreeing to go to the US I participate in what I represent: a privileged late-capitalist citizen who still partakes in the short-term fantasy world of oil-based technologies.

As WorkmanJones' practice involves both disembodiment and re-embodiment, displacement and re-placement these ethical dilemmas are just part and parcel of a cold and rainy 2009 Sunday afternoon milieu.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Roaming Graffiti Wall

It has taken a number of years but I finally edited Ivor's great footage of our temporary autonomous zone. Thanks again to all the supporters* of this project. At the time The Age ran this article.

It's March 2006 and it's the height of two disparate cultures in Australia – Howardism and stencilism. The City of Melbourne is hosting the Commonwealth Games and the authorities of the city have taken it upon themselves to enforce a zero-tolerance policy towards graffiti. This was our response.

Roaming Graffiti Wall from Patrick Jones on Vimeo.

A WorkmanJones action, 2006. Film and music by Patrick Jones (Peej), 2009. Roaming camera by Ivor Bowen. Wall roamers and supporters*: Jeff Stewart, Cath Davies, Pete O'Mara, Tim O'Sullivan, Jasmine Salomon, Patrick Jones, Laura (the RMIT student we roped in off the street), Tara Gilbee, Jason Workman, Cath Ryan, Ruark Lewis, Petra Beuskans, Peter Tyndall, Adrian Kosky and Nikki Blanch.


Ecological brewer and brewhouse based on steady-state economics.

A fine brewer of natural beer is required to set-up and brew beer in the Daylesford-Hepburn region of Victoria, Australia. The region is home to a transitional-relocalisation culture. The prospective brewer must be a lover of punk-country music, farting around with chooks and of course natural brewing techniques. Only recycled bottles can be used and those who return bottles will recieve credit towards beer and veg.

Applications can be made (in the comments box) below.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pushkick (or, the artist is dancing with himself)

An after-work, pre-shower, summer dance to punk rapper Saul Williams' "Act III Scene 2 (Shakespeare)" is slowed and over dubbed with Olivia Newton-John's "Xanadu", 2006.

As posted on Olivia Newton-John's official website.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Melbourne cultural carbon factories (Art Precincts)

After walking out of ACCA once again befuddled by the director's taste in all things emissions and waste, Meg and I walked back into the city past the "Arts Precinct".

When will the art world pull its weight when it comes to carbon emissions and toxic waste?

Does this picture need any more explanation?

STUFF! We're overcrowded with TOO MUCH stuff, and apparently we need more. And, that's my segue in to an exhibition that opens tomorrow at MUMA called Too Much of Me: 7 Paths Through the Absurd (with Detour). Jason and I have two of our films in it as WorkmanJones. The "detour" is a collaborative film by Buster Keaton and Samuel Beckett. Working with another certainly begins a de-centering process. The self has to consider the other and become something else, something less controlling.

The self, as artist, as consumer, or as religious identity is disembodied in modern capitalist culture. The other (nature) is veiled and abstracted as if the material parameters that govern the universe will immaterialise via technological rationalism or religious fervor. Both manifest as monological illogic. There is too much of everything because the self is all consuming. Art is implicit in this picture, a bourgeois obsession. I'm not sure if WorkmanJones is an anti-art anymore. I often call our practice transitional in the way we attempt to ground our carbon in a practice that is of the body, but perhaps it's more aptly post-art.

Regardless, farming food bio-dynamically and living by permacultural methods is the priority now. Art has to re-embed itself in nature, it has to work on its own humus composition.

Incidentally the below pic is from the patron's honour board at ACCA. A cry out to all the Anonymous dudes online. You're legends!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I think therefore I comment, I comment therefore I think

I regularly get stupid comments on my blog. I thought for a while I'd filter them, but went back to my original state of no border guard. The most stupid comments generally come from Anonymous, which I've discovered is a collective noun synonymous with gutless.

This morning I did some chance blog surfing and discovered this little line from a blog called Putting God First:
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
I thought about this for all of two minutes and left a comment (which of course can be tracked back to this site):
Delight yourself in the soil and it will give you unrelenting honesty about your Christian-capitalist carbon footprint.
But why is a C-c carbon footprint necessarily larger than my own? I'd like to get it measured to be sure, so I'm taking an educated guess that those who invest in desire, hope, fantasy and heaven aren't really thinking about microbial life, and therefore about carbon fixing. If only cops would breathalise us for greenhouse gas and humus depletion and leave drink driving to real chance encounters. 

Regardless of where we each stand on the god front (or booze for that matter), sincerity comes from direct engagement, not cowardly, anonymous and indirect commenteering. Here's a comment, albeit analogue, that I posted several years ago in Melbourne on a real-live Christian site - a public footpath.
Click for bigger.

It says (in a slow text):
Christ is the only Christian, become your own Ian.
I have a friend called Ian whom I love to call Ianian, and he is the greatest Ianian of them all.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The text is in free-drag

Free-dragging, slow text and permapoesis: towards a biophysical poetry (an excerpt)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

April sketch (with Zeph)

Jason Workman is returing to Melbourne next month, so I'm looking forward to more WorkmanJones collaborations in the not-too-distant. In the meantime I have spent a few days trying out some things in the forest, a short walk from home. I'm currently developing a practice of biophysical poetry, while at the same time thinking about the physical comedy of Jaques Tati and Buster Keaton. Zephyr came with me one afternoon after school and I started to see the potential for more advanced father and son play too. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Father and son free-dragging

At the local Neighbourhood House there are many great courses you can enroll in, including courses on self-sufficiency, crochet, blogging (taken by my great girlfriend) and Laugh Club. So last night after walking home with cuts and bruises from free-dragging with Zeph I devised a possible course I could run at Neighbourhood House. The ad in the brochure would go something like this:
Laugh Club not working for you? Then wreck yourself in a crash course in Free-dragging. The course tutor is one of the co-originators of this mutant form of Parkour (sometimes carried out in drag). Learn the poetry of hopelessness and the art of physical graffiti from a master free-dragger. Come with your own liability insurance and self-liberty assurance. Guaranteed to make you sore.

Film still from forthcoming video.