Logo

My Travels / 31.10.2007

On the first of November I returned from a three-week trip to China, which provided one highlight after another – scenery, flora and fauna, some memorable human encounters and one or two outstanding meals. Read about the highlights.

THREE WEEKS IN CHINA

 

I traveled with a friend from the Mountain. My main purpose in visiting China was to see Tiger Leaping Gorge. My friend’s main purpose was to see the terracotta warriors in Xian.

Though only about 30km long, the gorge, at 3700m, is reputedly the deepest chasm on the planet. We joined a small group of 15 people for a seven-day tour of Yunnan, flying into its capital Kunming, considered a bit on the small side with a population of 3,000,000, at an altitude of 1800m and predictably beset by pollution.

Our first day schedule did not allow us to breakfast at our hotel. We had to take an early flight to Dali, roughly the same altitude as Kunming. The cloud cover descended to 3,000 or so metres, concealing the mountaintops. At Dali we first glimpsed a quintessential… Read Complete Text

Logo

Other / 27.09.2007

I intend to add to the Archive with a series of hour-long DVD supplements. I have spent most of September shot-listing the nine 64 minute HD tapes filmed so far, and I have been doing shot selection on the first eight.

While engaged on this work I have done a small amount of filming – mainly of moths – as the beginning of Spring has resulted in warmer weather and a reinvigorated insect life.

I have also updated filming of an immensely spreading fig tree, which loses its leaves for all of two weeks. I only get to pass the tree one day a week on my way to the coast. My film diary shows a 15 day gap between filming the tree without leaves and then with new leaves.

Logo

Other / 06.09.2007

After the Recovering Rainforest Forum, I emailed the two professors at Griffith University (see entry for 25-27 June) and set out my ideas about video archiving biodiversity projects in the field. I subsequently followed this up by letter but have not received replies. I find the professors’ silence disappointing, but would still welcome the opportunity to engage with scientists to see if video archiving research projects is viable. With this in mind I have been in contact with the director of business development at Earthwatch in Melbourne. He had earlier sent me an email praising this website and we spoke on the phone. Maybe the idea can be pursued after all.

 

Logo

Other / 21.08.2007

Brisbane Extra is a Monday to Friday TV magazine programme which preceeds Channel 9’s main evening news. I was the subject of a segment which included footage from the Archive. As with Totally Wild earlier in the year, it was gratifying to see my material shown on TV.

 

Logo

Not The Brisbane Line / 11.07.2007

I received an email from Sandrine Meats, the Sorbonne student who interviewed me last year about my nefarious past. This was for her dissertation on performance art in the UK in the 60s and 70s. It was a roaring success and she has been awarded a scholarship to undertake a PhD.  Also she been asked by the leading contemporary art magazine in France to write a lengthy article about WHSHT (the loose grouping of artists to which I belonged and whose multi-media and street theatre events I produced).

Now is a good time to respond to Clive’s request for a blog piece about my early career!

WHSHT –  THE WORLD HEALTH, SANITY AND HYGIENE TRUST

It seems surreal to contemplate that while I was having a ball in the avant-garde art scene of late swinging 60s London, the Neocons were starting to put together an agenda that would capture American politics more than thirty years later.

The ball started for me a few years earlier during my time as a student at Hornsey College of Art in north London. I was part of the Light/Sound Workshop which created light… Read Complete Text

Logo

Other / 27.06.2007

The forum was held at Griffith University in Brisbane from June 25 – 27. I was particularly interested in presentations about biodiversity projects in South East Queensland by two professors from the university.

I had been in contact with one and the other was known to me by name and reputation. I was able to briefly meet both of them.

There were many interesting talks about rainforest in North Queensland as well as in the local area. A talk about fungal conservation in a remnant gallery rainforest was right up my street, given my love of filming fungi.

Hearing the scientists and naturalists talk at the forum, and some of them touch on wanting to find ways to inform the public about their work, confirmed a feeling which I had started to formulate about the potential value of video archiving biodiversity research projects. I mentioned this to both the professors. One found the presence of a documentary crew filming his project (involving scientists from many parts of the world) intrusive. I said it need not be intrusive. I suggested to the other that he should consider video archiving his project using a… Read Complete Text

Logo

Other / 28.05.2007

It became clear after attending the Wildscreen Festival in Bristol last October that in order to add to my archive I needed to buy an HD (High Definition) camera. I chose a Sony HVRV1P. It is a lot lighter than my trusty Canon XL1.

Editing my previous footage took three years. Remastering from digital tape to DVD and getting the website up and running took a further year. So I was delighted to resume filming at last, on 1st April.

My first subject was three Asian water buffaloes gracing a field next to a main road – rather exotic and picturesque. I made the mistake of immediately viewing the footage on an HD TV. The upshot was that having just forked out a tidy sum for the camera, I found myself forking out a whole lot more on an HD TV. Of course it would have been crazy to film in HD without being able to view the footage on an HD monitor.

The camera tapes run for 64 minutes. I have just started my fifth tape. I plan to add to the Archive one 60 minute DVD at a… Read Complete Text

Logo

Not The Brisbane Line / 17.05.2007

In 1976, while still living in the UK, I devised an art event based on what I termed a universal political slogan Left is Right. It took the form of an A3  poster bearing the slogan, being sent anonymously to every Member of Parliament, every member of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress and to the Director General and chairmen of the committees of the Confederation of British Industries, all told to 702 of the most politically active men and women in the country.
 
The idea of a universal political slogan expressed my disillusionment with politics. At the time I felt that the difference between Labour and Conservative government in practice was barely perceptible in everyday terms. I no longer subscribe to the view that left and right are virtually indistinguishable. However small it may be, the difference between them is crucial, particularly at the time of an election. 

The fundamental distinction between left and right politics is as true today as it ever was. Left politics tends to favour the have little over the have lots and right politics tends to favour the have lots over the have little. 

In the 2000 US presidential… Read Complete Text

Logo

Not The Brisbane Line / 11.05.2007

I was never convinced by the almost universally voiced conviction at the time, that the events of 9/11 changed the world. I could not see them in the same light as the end of the Soviet Union symbolised by the fall of the Berlin Wall, or the end of apartheid in South Africa symbolised by Nelson Mandela walking out of prison. Nor do I now.  For both these events ended decades of oppression affecting  hundreds of millions of people.  What 9/11 did was to unleash the war-monger in GW Bush, with terrible consequences for the world, but I am optimistic that the damage he has caused will begin to be made good at the 2008 US presidential election, particularly if a Democrat wins.

The simultaneous 9/11 attacks were the most devastating terrorist strikes ever and the first instance of the US being hit by an enemy on continental home soil since the 1812 war with Britain.

Hysteria seems to be part of the American psyche. It can be seen in the whooping and hollering of chat-show audiences and in the behaviour associated with the conduct of celebrity trials. Those of OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson and Paris Hilton come… Read Complete Text

Logo

Other / 08.05.2007

I had a half-hour live Queensland-wide interview on ABC Radio with Steve Austin, my favourite presenter, which apparently went very well. I enjoyed doing it – though, as ever, there were things I should have mentioned that I didn’t.

Since we launched the archive and website I have done a number of live radio interviews, either over the phone or in the studio. I only do them live, you know. Seriously, I have so far found them a lot of fun. I particularly recall an interview last year with another excellent presenter, Trevor Jackson on ABC Coast FM.