Image - Ryoji Ikeda - Test Pattern [No 5]

ISEA – Saturday 9th – Dominic


So, in my currently jet lagged state I am going to try and avoid a long steam of consciousness and share the highlights of my first day at Isea. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I will come back to this post and flesh it out with more context and personal interpretation. But I think it is valuable to share this as it is happening (or as close as I can get to the events).


Fee Plumley Chaired a discussion on Mapping Culture which included Kate Chapman, Brenda L Croft and Cheryl L’Hirondelle:

First to speak was Kate chapman from open street map. She spoke about mapping cultures. To Paraphrase:

Maps are abstracts of realities (to state the obvious) and in that abstraction you can choose what to add and importantly also what not to add. When creating a map we chose the symbology for the world. Which leads to interesting questions about how you make a map that has community ownership.

She was followed by Chery L’Hirondelle who spoke about other types of map. Maps that could not be used to disenfranchise people. Cheryl spoke about about how she reflected upon her Cree heritage in relation to her working methods.

She discussed a project she had developed One particularly striking thing she did as part of this project was to pay homeless people to listen to her sing.

Back to what not to add to a map. The song lines project constructs a map that does not identify the locations of the people who participated, go to the site, have a go. Chery discussed the risks associated with identifying the location of vulnerable people, particularly those considered undesirable by the state. She discussed songliness as a poetic response to mapping.

The third speaker was Brenda L. Croft who spoke of her heritage and walking along tradition routes had empowered people. (sorry to be so brief on this one, I had to head out early for another event and was still getting my bearings in a new city i.e. I was looking at a map!)


I then made tracks across the city to Sydney university for a presentation by Dr Sarah Kenderdine titled “The Migration of Aura: Inhabiting The Caves“.

The first slide was titled Facsimile & Fecundity. Which, is a great opening title for any talk. What she was actually talking about is the fact that digitisation can produce weak copies, asking how an objects aura can be migrated.

This was followed by a number of great examples, the primary one being The installations Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang and Pure Land: Augmented Reality Edition allow visitors to interact with an augmented digital facsimile of Cave 220 at one-to-one scale.

I am conscious that I’m being too brief in this post to do any of this day any justice. But the subject of aura is something that I keep coming back to in my own research. I have worked in museums in the past and maintain an interest in heritage, particularly looking at how we mediate aura and place value upon its shared experience. However, this interest is not limited to heritage, it is something that concerns me in a curatorial capacity. I will come back to this later..

One other thing worth sharing is the iShoU system for gathering audience data. Kenderdine described it as being part of the future of evaluation, a system for gathering quantitative data on qualitative experience. Very interesting.


Following this I hightailed it over to the opening for Running the city which I need to go see again whilst in a more lucid state (by this point in the day the conflicting combination of jet lag and expresso was at play), the work was shown in a few spaces around the courtyard at the College Of Fine Arts.


I ended my day at Carriageworks for the opening night, catching Ryoji Ikeda’s Test Pattern [No 5] installation in the process. On a purely subjective note, test pattern [no 5] brought back some memories. I often joke that I am one of the worlds first genuine ‘digital natives’ having grown up in the back room of a computer games shop in the 80’s. This was an early moment in micro computing when data was loaded into the computer’s RAM via cassette. In the really early days there were no effective compression algorithms. So, even the simplest of programs could take over 30 minutes to load. Then as we became a bit more sophisticated and the industry grew in complexity we began to compress our code, at this point in time I swear, it began to sound different (when you pressed play on tape). Ikeda’s exquisite use of data was a reminder of this, the squeal of code and the first mass data visualisation, the loading lines. .