Friday, October 26, 2007

safe little [sensory and art] world

recently when i lost my .com address by being scammed by my america-based web host, i resorted to so i guess you could say that the big bad cyber world was far too dangerous for my safelittleworld. but having the instead has ended up feeling like it fits the concept better. and i've begun to realise how much being in new zealand informs that idea.

people create safe worlds for themselves everywhere, but in new zealand it is part of our national psyche. it's a safe haven down in the corner of the world, so near the edge of the map that maybe bad things won't notice us. and our national anthem asks that God will defend us.

i'm also aware that the safe little world concept originally came to mind because i live in tauranga - a safer subset of our already safe nz world. it's a very bourgeois suburban place to live. a very nice place to live - a place that people move to for the lifestyle.

recently, police and anti-terrorist squads raided a number of locations around nz after a year-long investigation into activities that seem to have been aimed against the government and stability of the nation. the full details are yet to emerge. but there is talk of assassination plots, molotov cocktails, arms caches, and guerilla training camps in remote and formidable bush locations. one of these training camps happens to have been set in our province - the bay of plenty.

this is of course troubling news for nzers. but it also demonstrates the paradox of the safe little world concept. the camp in the bush demonstrates both the unsettling nature of social tension in nz and also serves as a metaphor for the fact that in nz the land itself can be a frightening force. the camp was situated in the urewera ranges (pictured) - one of the most remote and untamed parts of nz. i've discussed the threat of the land and nature in nz in an earlier post.

[picture from here]


in other safe little world news: i was excited to see that the auckland art gallery have an exhibition opening up called 'making worlds'. from the gallery website:

"Making Worlds looks at the way artists invent worlds of imagination, speculation, wonder and enquiry. Like scientists they research, question and experiment. They imagine things and places. Explaining the world that we know, or that which is beyond, they use models, signs and miniature systems. They describe worlds that make us feel secure and happy, and others, which give us a feeling of dread."

i wish my concept was a bit further along in terms of artistic output, and i wish i was known enough to have been included in that exhibition! it just sounds so spot on - i'm amazed. maybe it demonstrates how universal the concept actually is - and that i've hit upon describing something that is truly archetypal to human existence. gosh, does that make me clever or what?

of course from auckland art gallery's point of view it is a chance to create an exhibition for all the family and encourage kids to interact with art. they are asking people to send in pictures of huts and dens that they've created (with sheets and chairs and things). maybe the opportunity is too good for me to miss... the kid part is all good, because i'm really interested in the make-believe aspect of the safe little world, toys etc. maybe we never stop making-believe.

[picture is of Here and There by morgan jones, from here]


today i was listening to the latest edition of 'this american life'. it was all about mapping and how we use maps to try and make sense of our world. excitingly this fits in with something i've started doing in my graphic art - incorporating map-like grids as a motif to show interconnection (see one on the temporary splash page of my website).

anyway, on this edition of the podcast they talk to a topographer named denis wood who has been creating all kinds of maps of his neighbourhood for about 25 years. he maps things like the pools of light created by street lights. you can see some of his maps here. great stuff.

In short, he's creating maps that are more like novels, trying to describe everyday life." read more here.

[picture is
a map of phone, cable, and power lines by denis wood, from here]


that's about the sum of it. i haven't made any more progress on my website relaunch. i've been busy - recently taking on a job in which i work as a photojournalist describing safe little worlds for tourists to visit.

on the headphones: 'take me to the riot' by stars, from the album 'in our bedroom after the war'.