Friday, 22 December 2006


Before I went on holiday, I made another one of my belated discoveries - Snap's Preview Anywhere technology.

I found SPA when I was looking around on the we-make-money-not-art blog. I noticed that when I hovered over the link text, instead of flashing up a wee text box, I got a small window with a preview of the site that the link would take me to, if I decided to click through.

I really liked this, and we're considering using something similar on the website I'm involved with at work, to allow people to look at definitions of unfamiliar words or jargon without having to move between pages. However, I'm wary as all get out about downloading code, especially when it comes with riders like this:

"6. Data Collection and Privacy. The Software may collect, store, and periodically send information back to Licensor or third party servers, including URLs accessed by the Software and search queries entered into the Software. In addition, the Software may automatically collect certain information during the installation process and/or indicate to our servers that you have successfully installed the Software. Use of certain feedback features in the Software may require you to submit certain personal information such as your name and email address. Licensor may retain and use for its own purposes all information you provide and all information generated from the operation of the Software (URLs, search queries, etc.). You agree that Licensor may use all such information internally for any purpose and may additionally transfer and disclose to third parties information (including your name, email address, Site domain, URL, and related content) for the purpose of approving and enabling your use or continued use of the Software, including to third parties that reside in jurisdictions with less restrictive data laws than your own."

So best you go to we-make-money-not-art to play round with this.

oh christmas tree

My only holiday-themed post. The Guardian have asked a range of artists - including Martin Creed and Gavin Turk - to create their ideal Christmas tree. Hover over the images to get a drop-down box with the artist's description of the tree (really nice functionality, by the way).

And I really like Creed's note:

"I made the decorations by taking pieces of good quality A4 paper and turning them into balls, using a process known as crumpling. It's like a little cosmos - or lots of snowflakes. And it's cheap, of course."

Christmas trees - Guardian website

Seven rules for corporate blogging

As I noted a few posts ago, my organisation has been thinking a lot this year about going all Web 2.0 and starting blogging.

Over on Rough Type, Nicholas Carr has reposted (as part of his own Christmas top 10 most-read posts) his 'Seven rules for corporate blogging'. Full of sensible advice (or dampening advice, if you're a less cautious person than me) and definitely worth revisiting:

Nicholas Carr - Seven rules of corporate blogging

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Bunny hop

At overthenet, Jim Barr and Mary Barr have posted one of Patrick Reynold's shots of Mike Parekowhai's Cosmo, taken to accompany William McAloon's article on the Barr's art collection for Art & Australia.

William McAloon's article - Art & Australia website

Dunedin Public Art Gallery has recently closed Reboot, the second exhibition showcasing the Barr's loan collection at the DPAG, curated by Justin Paton. It's a real shame that the exhibition isn't touring. The first exhibition, Good Work, was one of the best survey exhibitions I've seen in New Zealand. And the catalogue - full colour, decent length texts and only ten or twelve dollars- was one of the best bang-for-bucks NZ art publications I've seen.

Image: Michael Parekowhai's Cosmo, at the Melbourne Art Fair, 2006.

I'd really like to ...

go to this conference. And that's not something I say often.

The conference in question is O'Reilly Media's TOC (Tools of Change for Publishing) Conference.
From the Conference website:

"Technology is fundamentally transforming publishing. From generating ideas to packaging information to delivering products and beyond, technology and change are themes in every aspect of publishing. For publishers, these shifts are taking place so rapidly that it's challenging to keep current--let alone create new, profitable opportunities.

The first O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference is being launched to raise the level of technology knowledge and discourse in the publishing industry and to provide a meeting ground for those leading the charge into the future of publishing."

I have often talked with friends and colleagues about how fantastic it would be to have full-text-searchable versions of New Zealand publications like Landfall, Midwest, Ascent and the Journal of NZ Art History (formerly the Bulletin of NZ Art History - BONZAH) available. Dreams are free, but digitisation's not. The thing that interests me about this conference is that it's not just about inspiration, aspiration nd technology - it's also about business models, and that's not something I think we talk about much here.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Zeitgeist take 2

Nicholas Carr, on Rough Type, has posted the top 10 2006 searches for Google, Yahoo and AOL. His conclusion?

"There's only a single overlap: "American Idol" appears on both Yahoo and AOL. That's it. I would have thought that, given the sheer number of searches done through each engine, there'd be a lot more similarity in the results. I guess it means that very different types of people use each of the three engines.

Looking back over the results, I think I can suggest the following market segmentation: Google users are dweebs. Yahoo users are horndogs. And AOL users are geezers."

Dweebs and horndogs - Nicholas Carr

The end of Web 2.0?

A story from the Guardian earlier this week reports on the cancellation of 'Upload 2007' - a conference being sold as an opportunity to the media industry to meet and debate the challenges and opportunities posed by online networking sites like MySpace and Bebo.

Richard Wray's story in the Guardian

Described by conference organiser Terrapinn as a 'two-day CEO-level conference focusing on the development, aggregation and delivery of personalised content', the event has been called off due to lack of interest.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Museum blog survey

Ideum are currently running a survey to collect info about museum-related blogs, for presentation at the Museums and Web Conference in San Francisco in April 2007. The session that Jim Spadaccini (Ideum) and Sebastian Chan (Powerhouse Museum, Sydney) are presenting their findings in is called 'Radical Trust: the state of the museum blogosphere'.

Ideum's museum blog survey

More about Jim and Seb's conference session

FYI: "radical trust" here is defined as 'taking the big step to trust (radically) the community online'. what I'd like to see is "radical trust" being defined as 'taking the big step to trust (radically) the community to look at art works in museums and galleries without the need for big ugly barriers'. Maybe I should survey people on that.

The Year in Review

Google have released their 2006 end of year Zeitgeist report - the 10 most common searches in a range of categories.

To reassure yourself of the quality of Time's POTY bestowal on the creators of online content, consider Google's top 10 searches:

  1. bebo
  2. myspace
  3. world cup
  4. metacafe
  5. radioblog
  6. wikipedia
  7. video
  8. rebelde
  9. mininova
  10. wiki
And then shake your head in wonder at the top ten Google News searches:

  1. paris hilton
  2. orlando bloom
  3. cancer
  4. podcasting
  5. hurricane katrina
  6. bankruptcy
  7. martina hingis
  8. autism
  9. 2006 nfl draft
  10. celebrity big brother 2006
More Google Zeitgeist results

Monday, 18 December 2006

I've found my Dewey Dec

Posted today on a librarians' list-serv discussion about shelving biographies: 920.71/ .72 (men & women of no particular vocation).

Image: the cover of Sadka Dewey's Dewey Colour System: Embrace Hue You Are.

Thank you Arts Journal

Recently, ArtsJournal - my favourite art news aggregate site - reskinned their website, after implementing a new CMS that gave them more design freedom.

I love ArtsJournal. I hated the new skin:

New-fangled ArtsJournal

So I was really glad to see that the ArtsJournal team has listened to its users and introduced 'ArtsJournal Classic'. Thanks guys.

Good old ArtsJournal

It's all about you, baby

Time Magazine's Person of the Year - me and you and everyone we know who gives up their valuable work and leisure time to fill the digital realm with content:

" ... for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you."

Read the editorial and much much more at the Time website:

Person of the Year - Time Magazine website

Friday, 15 December 2006


After three presentations at the Venice Biennale (Peter Robinson + Jacqueline Fraser (2001), Michael Stevenson (2003), et al (2005) - CNZ, why did you not keep all the project sites live?) this year New Zealand is being represented by a small contingent of curators, artists, art dealers and a CNZ staffer, who are going to invade Venice surreptitiously and subversively with ... a book.

The 31-ish artists represented in the book (Ronnie Van Hout is a not-confirmed) were selected by a panel of eight curators and visual-arters. Over at Overthenet, you can speculate on which curator nominated which artist (apparently they all got one nomination the others couldn't veto) and then be astounded by the utterly ridiculous timeline that these artists have been given to prepare their artist pages - not to mention the finicky specs provided by the publication designer, Warren Olds.

I like artists. Some of my friends are artists. But if you give 31 artists 10 days to produce 6 pages of images, as 300dpi TIFF files, and think it will happen, either you're on something, or hurt yourself by holding your breath too long as a child.

Imprinting the littlies

Education programmes in cultural institutions are motivated by a number of factors; the Ministry of Education LEOTC (Learning Experiences Outside The Classroom) initiative, institutions' belief in their role to educate and enlighten the public, and (to put it crudely) a get 'em while they're young philosophy.

This post from 19 October this year by Auckland-based marketing consultancy G2 looks at the Auckland Art Gallery's recent expansion of their education programme for primary school student through the lens of 'live event marketing experiences'. G2 cites a 2005 survey by Jack Morton Worldwide which found that experiences where 'consumers interact with products, brands or “brand ambassadors” face-to-face are among the most effective ways to influence coveted consumer audiences.'

And here, the AAG's original media release about their new art education experience.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Museum blogs

My workplace is currently debating the idea of staff blogging - either on the official website, or having links from the official website off to blogs like this one, which have some (tenuous) connection to our working life.

Ideum - a company based on New Mexico who consult on interactive media, web development and exhibition design for cultural, educational and not-for-profit institutions and 'socially responsible' companies - did a survey in March this year of museum blogs and community sites. Using blog searches like Technorati, Ideum found a grand total of 26 blogs that are either produced by museums for the public, or are about museums.

Ideum's research report

As Ideum point out: using Technorati's stats that it searches 29.6 million blogs, museum blogs are rarer than one in a million.

The museum blog that generates the most heat in these discussions is that of the Walker Art Center. There are five staff blogging at the Walker: a new media designer, an ex-new media designer who's now freelancing, a web guy, another web guy and the New Media Director (the only woman). Interestingly, when you hit the 'Curators' blogs' link, you get a big, fat, zero. I would have thought that at least the public programmes team would be blogging. However, it is titled New Media Initiatives Blog, so fair's fair.

CORRECTION. Thanks to the Walker for getting in touch and sending me the link to their full set of blogs. Mea culpa - I got a bit lost inside the NMI blog and assumed that the right-hand nav covered all the blogs available. Check out their full offering - including curators, outside bloggers (plein air bloggers?) and artists at their main blog aggregator.

New Zealand attempts to run online forums or blogs are, sadly, a bit lame. Case in point 1: City Gallery Wellington's Prospect 2004 online forum - way too prescriptive.. Case in point 2: the Scape Biennial blog - mostly institutional messaging, has been spammed (and not cleaned up) and got bagged on Art Bash.

A few reasons why we might be even further behind than normal: our art galleries don't have tech-savvy employees or new media departments; our scene is still small enough for people to communicate in analogue ways; our art scene isn't that interested in the public; everyone is avidly reading this stuff, but too shy to post ....

Kiwi madeleines

Photographer Peter Peryer is posting at the moment about the influence that the School Journal publications exerted on him as a child, and matching up some of his work with E. Mervyn Taylor's woodcuts, which appeared regularly in the Journal.

Peter Peryer's blog

My main memory of the School Journal is the cringing embarrassment of having to perform the plays during assembly.

There will be general opportunities for reminiscing about the Journal next year; it's the publication's centenary, and Greg O'Brien and Jenny Bornholdt will be organising an exhibition to mark this at the National Library Gallery, Wellington.

National Library of New Zealand

Image: E. Mervyn Taylor, Keruru 1947. Woodcut.

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

The big easy

I've always liked the simplicity of this idea. The Dunedin Public Art Gallery has a big wall - 161 metres of it. So it has the Big Wall series - every few months a new artist is let loose on the wall. Above is the current work - Pae White's Going Up. Black cherry juice is apparently a home-made treatment for depression.

Past Big Wall artists include Kay Rosen, Douglas Kelaher, Judy Darragh, Pip Culbert and Richard Killeen. For me, the Big Wall exemplifies the DPAG's low-fuss approach to curating: a simple idea, well executed.

Dunedin Public Art Gallery website

Monday, 11 December 2006

Bear with me

I know social tagging is hardly a revelation, but over the past year I've heard a lot about it in various presentations and conversations with colleagues. I'm particularly interested in the way that arts institutions are looking to tagging as a way to enhance the search functionality of their online collections. Examples of New Zealand institutions who have put their collections (or slices of them) up online include:

Auckland Art Gallery
Te Papa
Christchurch Art Gallery
Alexander Turnbull Library
Matapihi (a site that gives users access to the online collections of about 12 partner institutions).

Tagging (for people who aren't far behind me) allows users to contribute keywords to internet resources (like web pages, videos, images and blog posts) that are not controlled by a central vocabulary. Sites like Flickr, and YouTube are exponents of social tagging. The benefits of tagging include enhanced personal organisation of digital resources, spam detection, social networking and improved search functionality.

It's these last two aspects that arts institutions have jumped on. On the one hand, they're all excited about the sexy Web 2.o idea of users actively engaging with an contributing to their collections and sites. On the other hand, there's the way that tagging might / will be able to make online collections easier and more rewarding to search.

The 'problem' (not everyone's convinced that this is a problem) that tagging could fix is that the language used by curators, registrars and collection managers when cataloguing items is not necessarily the language used by the public.

For example - and not to pick on Te Papa, although god only knows why they're using rough images, not clearcut ones, on their site - when you search on the Te Papa Collections Online database using 'otago landscape' as your simple search keyword, you get this: Haru Sameshima's St Bathans, and Colin McCahon's Otago landscape no 2.

Among the artworks you don't get: Rita Angus's Central Otago and McCahon's Otago Peninsula.

The idea is that social tagging could help users to find items using keywords that aren't being used to describe the objects by the institutions. There are debates, of course, about the usefulness of user-contributed tags. People start throwing around terms like 'faceted tags'. The US Steve Museum project has just received funding to research questions like this.

Steve Museum

Sydney's Powerhouse Museum has produced a 2.0 version of their online catalogue that includes not just tagging, but Google-type features such as the 'people who searched for A also looked at X, Y and Z', all aimed to encourage 'serendipitous discovery'.

Powerhouse online collection database

Image: from

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Not to be missed

Maybe the best thing I've seen in Wellington this year: Ronnie van Hout's utterly repellent, totally cool mash-ups of Christmas statuettes. At Hamish McKay Gallery, Willis Street, until 23 December.

Hamish McKay Gallery

National tour

Curator and writer Clare Doherty, Senior Research Fellow in Fine Art at Bristol University of West England, is currently in New Zealand as the Massey University School of Fine Arts inaugural Curatorial Fellow. Clare is here as part of the School's Litmus project - which, to be honest, is pretty hard to explain, so please just refer to 'About Us' on their website:

Litmus website

Clare's residency/project has two phases; her current national tour of art spaces and artists' studios and series of public talks, and a yet-to-be-defined 'major programme of events' in 2008.

Clare is blogging her time in New Zealand. So far, so innocuous, but you never know ...

Clare Doherty's blog

A reliably good read

Peter Peryer is both one of my favourite photogrpahers, and one of my favourite bloggers. I think he uses his blog as a way of mastering the tyranny of distance - he's based in New Plymouth, one of New Zealand's bigger smaller towns, and home to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Peter's blog is one the links to the right also, but here it is again:

Peter Peryer's blog

I'm really interested in the way the blog operates as both a marketing tool and a biography.

Peter has a show opening this week at the McNamara Gallery in Wanganui, one of New Zealand's other bigger smaller towns, although thanks to the tender ministrations of the Wanganui City Council, the local gallery - the Sarjeant - is in not nearly as good a shape as the GBAG.

Peter's show - McNamara Gallery
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
Sarjeant Gallery

Image: Peter Peryer, Claw, 2006. Silver gelatin print.

Dead Starlets Assoc.

It's in the links section on the right sidebar, but I want to pimp Yvonne Todd's website anyway. One of my top five NZ artists, Yvonne is / has recently been at the IMA in Brisbane, working on an artist's book, Dead Starlets Assoc.

ervon - Yvonne Todd's website

Article about Dead Starlets Assoc - IMA website

Anna Miles review 2002- Artforum via Findarticles

Anthony Byrt review 2004 - NZ Listener

William McAloon review 2004 - NZ Listener

Yvonne is represented by Ivan Anthony Gallery, Auckland, and Peter McLeavey Gallery, Wellington. Peter doesn't have a website.

Ivan Anthony Gallery

Image: Yvonne Todd, Amanda, 2006. Diptych, 2 x lightjet prints, each 133 x 106 cm.

Geometric abstraction wins the Turner Prize

The first interview with Turner Prize winner Tomma Abts, from yesterday's Guardian.

Interview with Abts - Guardian website

In the Times, previous Turner winner Grayson Perry describes Abts' win as 'blissfully low-key' and a sign that the Prize is maturing.

Grayson Perry's column - Times Online website

And casting back a few months - Lynn Barber's startlingly blunt column about her experiences as a Turner Prize judge.

Lynn Barber column - Guardian website

Of course, the New Zealand equivalent of the Turner is the Walters Prize, administered by the Auckland Art Gallery. Sadly, no-one's gone public with shock-horror stories about the selection of the winner here. This year's winner was Francis Upritchard, selected from the line up of Peter Robinson, Phil Dadson, Stella Brennan and Upritchard by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev.

Walters Prize - Auckland Art Gallery website

As a sidelong observation: a Google NZ search for 'walters prize' doesn't generate any Google ads.

'Walters Prize' search - Google

Image: Tomma Abts, Ebe, 2005. Acrylic & oil on canvas. 48cm x 38cm. From Abts' profile on the Tate website. Abt profile - Tate website