‘Big Anxiety Festival’

It was interesting going to UNSW Art and Design for part of the ‘Big Anxiety Festival’ and seeing Vic McEwan and Clive Parkinson’s talk on their collaborative work “Intensive Care”. The whole idea of the health and medical focus from UNSW Art and Design seems quite strange in an art context but this piece seemed to show where this focus can go. Artists can still push boundaries but in different settings. It is a bold move and seems to have had a positive set of outcomes in this collaborative piece.

To be honest the whole project seemed quite strange but it netted results. Would all artists be as successful in this type of setting? It definitely isn’t meant to be for everyone and is an area of specialised research. The artist primarily studied noise pollution in the hospital and made some collaborative projection work before setting out with a recording of a young patients heart beat to a disused oil tanker in Scotland to record the longest reverberation of a single heartbeat that lasted two minutes.

All of this from a research project into noise pollution in the hospital. It was well rounded in that there were around six results from the research. Interestingly one was an app that explained the different noises in hospitals such as the meaning of specific beeps on machinery to help people come to terms with their hospital stay and understand the language that doctors used in their monitoring of these machines.

I was impressed and enjoyed the talk. It was good to see there were many practical results as well as artistic exploration. They tread a fine line but managed to help people with their grief. The whole thing is difficult but it seemed to open up a lot of possibilities that maybe never would have happened if this push into medical spaces hadn’t of happened. It will be interesting to see where this kind of research goes in the future.

Lack of contact

The hand doesn’t touch the wall, there is no contact. The particles are forced through releasing pressure. Maybe that is why it doesn’t have the same depth. Things just fall into place. They aren’t pushed or manipulated. There is a distance and it goes further into the world. Printing though has power. My nonsense only goes so far. But it lacks something also. It lacks contact. Printing though can take more preparation and time. The other missing element is time. The less time the better. The less contemplation. The less contact. What gets lost is the power. That always has to go somewhere else.

Lighter side of meticulous isolation

It is difficult to really get that serious about aesthetics especially when I am just making observations about stuff that I may not like. The only reason to bring it up is to highlight how clinical ideals can be. People already have experienced this en mass in the twentieth century. It is a trap we can easily fall into at any time. Now though it is personal. The beauty is we can pick and choose. This is also the trap. The trappings of agreement and camaraderie to the point of seeing nothing else.

The flip side for some dark humour is to consider North Korean propaganda posters. Then look at a styled home in cool whites with a meticulously placed native flower arrangement. You have to laugh, which one is more terrifying? My point is both because they cancel each other out with ideals and propaganda of sorts. They come from different cultures and even though the flower arrangement seems quite innocent, this is the funny bit, it is as sharp as the surgeons scalpel. As over thought as the phallic overload of the North Korean rocket porn.

The real difference is the thought process and where it leads. An interior stylist even if a pedantic anxious perfectionist isn’t a rocket scientist though they probably have a bigger budget than North Korean propaganda painters. It could even be possible they are carrying more cash than the North Korean nuclear program. It is funny but has a serious edge. How do you deal with difficult cultures and difficult people. They will always be there. Is isolation the only way to deal with them? Isolation though is the key point because for people certain aesthetics can be isolating. Some are designed to be that way.

They deliver the ideal. It isn’t free though. For North Korea’s tirades there is cash that stops in its tracks. They know they can’t buy their way out. For them as they currently stand they are simply isolated. This is a very complex web. For you to enjoy the clinical white environment you have to change just like North Korea needs to. If you don’t play ball you will be isolated. As much of a social construct it is so much of aesthetics. The ideal. Basically the ideal itself is isolated from reality. It is what we should be striving for. The people who are really striving are probably the North Koreans. Striving to keep their madness ticking over on the smell of an oil rag.

Though due to a war Korea was carved in two and one was contained. The strategy of isolation hasn’t really worked. Nobody thought they would ever get it together. It probably is the same with capitalism in that it divides and conquers. What you need to ask yourself is how far will you go for ideals. Will you close every competing idea or odd view? Or will you try and find a way to understand the complex and rich tapestry of life even if it wears a John Cleese sweater? Or maybe loves playing with rockets?