Gertrude Street Projection Festival

I rarely have cause to go to Gertrude Street, so I’m always a little surprised by the range of shops and buildings there.

This was a mostly pleasant evening to walk up and back, although there was a slight drizzle and I wasn’t wearing warm shoes. That was not enough to diminish the enjoyment of the projections and illuminations, of which there was also a great range, from small static pieces in windows through video animations up to the projections onto the east face of the housing commission towers.

There were really two sorts of work: the ones that are animated, video, stuff happens; and the ones that are fields of coloured light, sometimes with movement, but much less like video art than the others. The best of this second sort took advantage of the architecture of the building they were projected on to. They were fantastic, partly because of the sheer scale of them.

The video art pieces were on the whole very good. I am a bit skeptical about the medium and some did fall into the trap of being random animation, but most are well beyond that and use the movement/time lapse aspects of the medium effectively. There were a couple that I could have watched for ages.

It is well worth going out to look at them. And it’s fun to work out where they are being projected from as well.

Performative Prints of the Torres Strait

This was an exhibition at the Arts Centre of lino prints, sculpture and video works from Torres Strait Islander artists working across Australia.

I had seen one of Alick Tipoti’s monumental lino prints before, at the Sydney Biennale. The one at the Arts Centre was about eight metres long. While the scale of the work is impressive, the detail of the work is even more arresting. Tipoti draws on traditional Islander carving designs and he is very good at it. The black stands out as though they are the work of the artist’s hand.

I wrote a whole essay on the works in this exhibition, so I have a lot of thoughts. My first impression was that it was wonderful to spend so time with works that had so much detail. Brian Robinson’s works combine Western and Torres Strait history, and pop culture, so you get the detailed abstract background revealing Batman and WALL•E.

Ricardo Idagi’s work is more explicitly about the place of Torres Strait Islanders in the Western museum. The pieces—traditional masks and headdresses, and pottery works in Western traditions—are beautiful, and also fantastically thinky and pointed.

Keep an eye out for contemporary print works and contemporary works by Indigenous artists!


Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed
I loved this. It is interesting to read a second world fantasy stories whose religion/magic is so familiar from real world contexts. It is set in a secondary world fantasy version of the middle east/north Africa, although more culturally that geographically analogous. There is one God and magic is invocations of God. It is also set in a city and takes place almost entirely in the city. The city is a character.

Book two exists, but is not yet titled. No word on actual release date.

The Killing Moon, NK Jemisin
This is also a city book. Egypt based setting, which makes for a great familiar/unfamiliar setting. One of the point of view characters is an outsider, which helps to explain how some things works, but Jemisin is really good as explaining what the characters take for granted without making it strange. Most of the book is mystery so it’s a little like moving through a too dark place, not comfortable. I felt it kind of slow going because I felt a little out of my depth with it. I didn’t quite understand what the problems were. Then it got suddenly epic and fraught and wow!

The Shadowed Sun, NK Jemisin
This is book two of the duology. This was easier to devour because I understood the threat better and was completely freaked out by it. It was fantastic, too, because it built on everything that you learn from the first book about how the world and its magic works. I am less sure how I feel about the ending. I think that that is just because it went where I had expected but then talked myself out of expecting. I think I would have liked to end with Nijiri rather than Hanani, but I also that that is 1) my preference and 2) not actually fair to Hanani who had to do almost everything that got done.


Iron Man
Okay, so you can see how long I’ve been waiting to write this. I saw IM3 twice and it was worth it. It is a good film and a great action film. I don’t think it makes terribly much sense in the specifics, but the broad plot is sensible enough to carry all the action, which is what one needs. Robert Downey Jr is such fun to watch and Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow get to do great stuff.

It’s weird on disability and injury and patriotic duty. I don’t know how to break down those issues though, certainly not however long later I am writing this.


The Sending, Isobelle Carmody

I enjoyed it, I was relieved by much of what happened. It was brilliant to read a new book with these characters. It included some back story for a recently introduced character. And much more information about the Land’s history. It ends very excitingly and I am hanging out for the next one. OMG cliffhanger!


The Stone Key, Isobelle Carmody

This is book five of the Obernewtyn Chronicles and the last of the series that I have already read. There are two more books. I am currently reading book six: The Sending. We are waiting for book seven to be released.

I’ve got more to say about the series as a whole (having reread all the books in the lead up to reading The Sending), especially coming back to the series post Race!Fail and having read more adult fantasy and more global politics. It is worth remembering the first Obernewtyn books was conceived of by a school girl in Australia before the end of the Cold War.

Like books two, three and four, all that I really remembered about The Stone Key was the bits that happened in the last couple of chapters. Everything was kind of new. It’s at least four years since I read it.

Quantum of Solace

My second time watching this, having seen it in the cinema. I watched it preparation for Skyfall, which was not totally necessary. But having seen it again I understand it better. Also, it was nice to recognise Stana Katic.


I had a lot of fun watching this. I have no real critical engagement with spy or action films and am willing to accept some pretty ridiculous things in going along with the plot. (Not Robert Carlyle’s villain in The World is not Enough and not Pierce Brosnon’s Bond hiding behind an invisible car, but all the rest of Die Another Day was fine. The backstory of Salt was fine.) siria has a post from the point of view of the film being problematic. It is worth thinking about these things. At the time I was distressed by everyone laughing so hard at the first confrontation between Silva and Bond and I was creeped out by Bond approaching Sévérine in the shower. The plot of running til you have a place to stand is one I like. And I love the booby traps and following/hiding spy stuff.

I was completely thrilled the Kincaid thought M’s name was Emma. And even more thrilled with, “James. James Bond.”

Bourne Identity

I watched this at W&M’s when they invited me round for pizza and movie on a stupidly hot evening (before a day that got to 41ºC.). It is one of W’s favourite films and a film I had never seen before. It is great. It is more interesting than Skyfall. It is about trying to find stuff out rather than trying to destroy something/someone, so the character is more interesting. It is also much more low key in terms of the fighting and the spy stuff. It seems to be set in the present, whereas Bond seems to be set in the immediate future. Certainly, watching Bourne now – it was released in 2002 – is an interesting contrast in terms of technology and the way it looks. It would have been filmed ON FILM, whereas Bond was digital with digital effects. Skyfall had a budget of $200M, compared to Bourne Identity $60M. It buys you much more in special effects, now, too. I liked the basic-ness of Bourne. Like I prefer earlier Spooks to later Spooks.

The Fugitive

Going back in time with chase/spy/mystery films. We didn’t actually watch this, precisely. W likes it, and it was on, so we had it on mute for a while and turned the sound for the end, because we couldn’t quite remember it, although we could watch about 2/3 without the sound. (Up until the scene in the emergency room.) It lacks the grand emotional payoff and triumphant declaration of innocence that one might expect from films. I remember when m was younger, like young teens if not younger, we watched The 39 Steps and he did not understand that it had ended and did not understand the implication that they got together. The film seemed to stop to him, which would be true to one used to romantic films having an epilogue like Notting Hill does. I like it even more than Bourne for the scraping together just enough to get out of a situation/get information, and the set up makes the being chased/getting information plot stronger. But I do find the amnesia of Bourne compelling (I love amnesia as a plot device) and I also really love the spy skill/background too it.

The Hobbit

I would not necessarily have seen this now, nor seen it alone, but it was 41ºC, our air conditioning is not super effective (and I feel bad about the resources it takes to run it), and I had a movie pass from work. So, the Hobbit.

For the first 40-50 minutes I was thinking that if one were in the mood enjoy it, one probably would but I was not. I had, in fact, been monumentally annoyed by the opening. Backstory info dump with voice over! gah! I suppose to was to link people who have seen the LoTR films but who are not familiar with the books. I still don’t see why we have to have PREQUEL so heftily hammered home. Then there was more backstory info dump/introduction with voice over in telling Thorin’s story. This is not out of character with the book, but telling someone else’s story while they are listening to you tell it is a trope a dislike in fiction. The telling of the story should reveal current dynamic and character.

I was eventually sucked in to the grand epic quest and music of it all. (Although still finding a lot of the music tell-y, actually. This is a problem I had with LoTR, too.) It also took me too long to recognise Richard Armitage. I picked James Nesbitt quite quickly, and his presence did endear the film to me.

So, I uncritically like spy films. I am quietly looking forward to the next Hobbit film. There is not as much Elrond/Gandalf fic as I expected.

Smallpox Theatre’s A Grim Era

At the Abandoned Quilt Factory in Brunswick, which was a little less straightforward to get to than I expected. Also, a little cooler.

But pretty awesome space, and particularly suited to the mood of this piece. Whimsy, melancholy, grief, that peculiar relief that comes from knowing where you are, knowing that this is what things are.

The performers are Splatt and Lark. They are both good. Solid with the mime and the puppets. The show plays with the separation between the puppet and the puppeteers, which I particularly loved. Also, between the conceit of the staging and the realism of the relationship.

It also has a fantastic soundtrack. And some vivid imagery.

Larissa McGowan’s Fanatic

There’s a YouTube video bit about this piece. I got to see it in Syndey when I was there to see the Biennale.

I was stunned. It was brilliant. I’d forgotten that dance could do that. Or, well, not really, but. Because the music is not all, well, music, the dance responds to the soundscape more so than the music supporting the dance.

It’s a piece about “what happens when Alien and Predator movie fans vent via YouTube.” That’s the description from the Opera House website: here. I don’t know whether the YouTube reviewers are aware that they are now part of this.

I think that this piece could be full length, just because there is a depth of possible analysis of the movie franchise and the fanbase, but it works excellently as it is. The ending is sharp, and a joke that I got because I’m involved in media fandom online. (In fact, almost all I know about Alien and Predator comes from general fandom absorbed knowledge – character in fanfic making references and people discussing Prometheus.) At one point, during a series of quotes from the films, a man in the third road stood up and got the lines about being on his way to work and “can someone tell me what the fuck is going on?”. It was a perfect way the break the work. Some people had already started laughing, including me, with the delight of it all, and the bemused affection with which we encounter other people’s fannishness.