News just in: Melbourne’s major attractions – “Shopping!””Sport!””Sunshine!”. Art, shmart.

8 11 2010

“Shopping”?…”Talking to our great sporting identities”??… “Enjoying the beautiful Victorian weather”??? That’s it, Prime Minister? Is that really the best you can do when asked to name some of the activities Secretary of State Hilary Clinton might wish to enjoy on her visit to Melbourne (link to video moment here, at 1.13, via The Age and Channel 10 news)? Well, she’s a lady and all that, so SURELY she loves to shop, right? What woman doesn’t? Please. So, she’ll squeeze  a little ‘shopping’ in between the “top level talks about defence and trade”? Somewhere in there, we’ll work in a few be-medalled sports stars and a healthy level of exposure to our wonderful spring sunshine, and there you have it – the picture-perfect Melbourne experience.

Would it have been too big an ask to pop a little mention of Melbourne’s art and culture into that screen grab? “Oh, we’ll be zipping over to Fed Square to take a peek at the Indigenous Collection at the NGV”, or “We’re taking a tour of some of the City of Melbourne’s world-renowned street and public art zones”. But no. Shopping, sport and sunshine. Don’t get me wrong – I love many of our great sporting traditions. And Melbourne in spring? Sublime. But, really – what happened to celebrating our diverse and exciting culture?

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Oi, Oi, Oi. Cue: heavy sigh.

(image via The Sydney Morning Herald


Here comes the sun… doo doo doo doo…

11 06 2010

Fed Square PhotoFor those of you who have asked how to channel your inner sun-god/dess, the iPhone/iPod/iSanitaryPad application you need to download to drive Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Solar Equation, now showing at Fed Square, is up and running. Detailed instructions for finding the free app can be found here. Have yourself a blast of a time conjuring up a solar flare or a scatter of sun spots. Right. That’s enough of that.


Sun spots before my eyes: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer at Fed Square

4 06 2010

OK. Just back from the launch of aforementioned Rafael Lozano-Hemmer installation, Solar Equation for Fed Square’s Light in Winter Festival. Hot off the presses, an extremely poor-quality photo from my little digital camera that only communicates a tiny sense of how extraordinary the experience is.

The projection on the three-dimensional sphere pulses and swirls – as impossible as it sounds, its scale and luminosity is such that it actually seems to warm you. I had dinner at an outdoor table at one of the restaurants in the Square, and kept doing a double-take at the looming orb above us. It really has to be seen to be believed. And, as amazing as it looks from the Flinders Street Station approach, it’s even more stunning when ‘happened’ upon – at one point, I wandered off behind the building now housing ABBA World (!?), and rounded a corner to find the sun peeking out at me from behind the edge of the building.

Best of all, I had a go at an iPad control that allowed me to interact with the display, changing colours and solar ‘seasons’. Apparently it will be possible to download a free app for iPhone or iPad so that we can all channel our inner supreme being, and control the sun at will when we’re within WiFi range of the display (there’s a delay on the application for a couple of days, but if you search for ‘Solar Equation’ in the Apps store early next week, I’m told you should be able to find it. In the meantime, if you go to the fine Fed Square restaurant, Il Pomodoro, and hand over your credit card for security, there are ten iPhones uploaded with the app, and you can have a play for free).

My only regret? That my first live encounter with Solar Equation didn’t occur late at night after a few too many liquid refreshments. Because that would be truly mind-blowing.

Up there! In the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s… what, exactly?

2 06 2010

Let me set the scene. Early morning. Patently crisp, fragrant, autumnal Melbourne air. Jostling, shoulder-to-shoulder with my fellow commuters, I emerge, blinking mole-like from the bowels of Flinders Street station, momentarily blinded by the morning glare. Look east, towards the expanse of the Fed Square forecourt, convinced my retina has finally thrown in the towel and detached itself from whatever it is that it’s supposed to be attached to. BUT WAIT! That’s not a piece of optical tissue floating around inside my eyeball. It’s SOMETHING HOVERING OVER FED SQUARE. A very big, round something. Apparently tethered to the buildings around the plaza with giant dog leads.

Now, I’m hazarding a guess here, but could this be the first element in what promises to be a pretty astounding installation by Mexican-Canadian electronic artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer? Solar Equation is set to be launched with much fanfare at 6pm this Friday 4 June as part of Fed Square’s Light in Winter festival. As we look down the barrel of another Antipodean winter, this festival, which runs for a month and is directed by cultural denizen, Robyn Archer, really warms the cockles. It’s free, it’s cozy, and it’s spectacular. The installation has been commissioned specially for the Festival, and given Lozano-Hemmer’s past efforts, whatever it is that’s being erected above the pavement in Fed Square is sure to be worth seeing once it’s completed. In the dark. Because the whole ‘illuminated’ thing loses a bit of its punch when viewed in daylight. Obviously.