Friday High Five: Art Stars, Cool Doppelgängers, Procrastination and a Send-Off for Sendak
Eyes on the Prix
Winners of this year’s Prix Ars Electronica were announced this week. Celebrating artists and projects at the forefront of media experimentation and digital innovation, the awards are considered amongst the most prestigious and coveted in the field. Six Australians were acknowledged in the honours list.
In the Interactive Art category, It’s a jungle in here by Melbournians Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine (with programmer Matthew Gingold) was given an Award of Distinction. The piece – ‘a confronting tour of the fragile rules that organise our public lives’ – reflects the regular collaborators' preoccupations with creepy, unsettling scenes and playful representation.
Controlled by facial recognition, voice and pressure sensors, attackers morph into grizzly bears or crows; their victims can retreat into a turtle shell, or be subjected to the unwanted advances of snakes.
In the Hybrid Art category, Peta Clancy and Helen Pynor received Honorary Mentions for their piece The Body is a Big Place. Prue Lang scored the same for her system Un Reseau Translucide, which harvests dancers' kinetic energy.
Life as an artist can be a slog, and many practising artists choose to refocus their energy on the daily grind: a more regular job, perhaps, or a family, wondering what may have been.
Writing for GQ, Eric Puchner was wondering the same thing when he met his doppelgänger, a singer-songwriter named Kyle Field. ‘As a writer, I’d always been fascinated by the trope of the doppelgänger and its long literary life, from Dostoyevsky to Nabokov to Spider-Man,’ he offers. ‘I’d started wondering if there was someone out there who embodies not your worst self, but your freest one – a person who encapsulates everything you’ve ever dreamed of becoming.’
Making Ideas Happen
The 99% Conference recently wrapped up in New York – its name not Occupy-related, but rather gleaned from Edison’s adage that ‘genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration’. With a broad focus and a diverse roster of speakers, the event generated a slew of suggestions for snaring the muse. They’ve posted a list of ‘key takeaways’ on their website, quoting figures such as Atlantic Senior Editor Alexis Madrigal, Radiolab co-host/creator Jad Abumrad and Harvard Business School Professor Teresa Amabile.
A Picture of Procrastination
One of the 99% Conference’s guests was Australian designer/illustrator Rilla Alexander of art and design collective Rinzen. Alexander was showcasing Her Idea, an adult-friendly picture book about the tension between ideas, focus and realisation.
On the subject of picture books, we couldn’t let this week go without a nod to the genre’s hero Maurice Sendak, who passed away on Tuesday aged 83.
Tributes to the iconic author and illustrator have been made far and wide, but perhaps the most unusual comes via Best Made Co. –a customised, coloured and spotted axe dubbed Max’s Axe.
Looking further back, a 2006 New Yorker profile entitled ‘Not Nice’ reveals Sendak’s early loneliness, raw wit and close ties to the mystique of childhood.
Questions of life and death did not elude Sendak. In interviews such as the one below, he spoke about living and dying, asking: ‘Why bother to get born?’
‘I have adult thoughts in my head, experiences – but I’m never going to talk about them,’ he says. ‘I’m never going to write about them. Why is my needle stuck in childhood? I don’t know, I don’t know. I guess that’s where my heart is.’