Tuesday 31 December 2013

31 Days of Summer

Everyday for the month of January, I'm going to post a favourite track from 2013. On January 31 I'll culminate with a playlist of all the songs.

As these tracks were collected throughout the year using SoundCloud, there's an emphasis on various forms of pop (Scandi, dream and glitter noir) and R&B (new wave and electro). Hip hop I mostly listened to through EP downloads and on Spotify - Freddie Gibbs, Danny Brown, Killer Mike and Run the Jewels, the continuing goodness of Kendrick Lamar and Angel Haze, the eventual warming to Drake, and my breakout album of 2013, Chance the Rapper's Acid Rap mixtape.

To meet in the middle though, I'm going to kick off this 31 Days of Summer with my favourite remix of the year - Ryan Hemsworth's magical mash-up of A$AP Mob and Britney Spears.

If you feel like really digging into the year that was in purple prose and music clips, try this Storify thread, where throughout the year I collected tweeted snippets of linguistically-astounding music blog posts and the tracks they were referencing.

Friday 27 December 2013

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I, like every other sentient being on the planet, have been thrashing Beyonce's new album for the last two weeks.

Rather than sharing my own opinions, I suggest you check out the inimitable Nico Muhly.

Okay: one opinion. Both Drake and Frank Ocean are wasted on this album. Ocean's best release this year was the ridiculously short snippet 'Wildfire'; Drake's best feature in recent years was on The Weeknd's 'The Zone'. Over and out.


Friday 20 December 2013

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After nearly a full year of listening, my single favourite album has to be Chance the Rapper's Acid Rap.  My recommended tracks: the first, the last, and Cocoa Butter Kisses. And the best thing is that, like The Weeknd's breakout mix tapes, it's free to download.

Wednesday 18 December 2013


When I look back on the last five years of my career, there's a cluster of influential people who have shaped the way I think dramatically. I've been lucky enough to spend time with Michael Edson, Seb Chan, Shelley Bernstein and Nina Simon through my involvement with the National Digital Forum (in itself one of the best reasons to first build up your confidence and become a speaker, and then pull finger and become an organiser). 

This year in particular, as I fit myself into and around The Dowse, I've been following Nina's observations about evolving participatory exhibition design into programming explicitly focused on social bridging at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. Her piece from earlier this year on social work and museums provided a crucial piece in my mental jigsaw puzzle, and was a corner-piece of my talk this year at NDF (I'll post those notes in the new year).

A new interview with Nina on The Incluseum extends these thoughts and I found the following extract particularly powerful:

When we talk about working with communities that don’t have a historical relationship with a museum, often, the best thing to do is be present as a partner in their space first. These art activities are in their community center–a place where they feel safe and welcome. Should we be trying to invite them to the museum to connect with people who are unlike them? Or can we connect with other groups in a third place entirely? How should we think about this complex issue? 
Another example is our teen program, Subjects to Change, in which teenagers work together to change our community through art. When we started it, we knew we didn’t just want the “A” students who are looking to puff up their resume. We wanted to include kids who come from different walks of life in our community. We started talking to people who run different youth development programs in town. There are some programs that focus on youth who are really struggling–with drug addiction, or coming in and out of juvenile hall. In talking with people who run these programs, we realized that we are not able to serve those teens because they require a level of staff involvement and expertise that we just don’t have. We had to get comfortable with the fact that we are not going to bridge kids in juvenile hall and kids in prep school. Instead, what we do is focus on geographic distribution, different high schools, and focus on kids with wide-ranging ideas about educational attainment and involvement. We have a very diverse group of teens, but we know there are limits to what we are able to do in terms of social bridging based on our capacity. That is something we continually have to confront and be realistic about.

Colin McCahon painted about necessary protection, and Stephen Bambury took that and made necessary corrections. Those are two phrases I think about a lot at the moment. 

Monday 16 December 2013

Three punchy words: A much more detailed explication

From ArtNews, a surprisingly informative and insightful article on how exhibition titles are chosen (no, not necessarily with this).

At The Dowse, titles are usually generated in one of three ways:

  • By the artist
  • By the curator (often by looking at quotes from the artist on their work or their life)
  • Around the table in our programming meeting, bashing ideas against each other until something sticks.

Like most textual problems in life, my best advice: make sure it's easy to say out loud.

Friday 13 December 2013

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This week, EMA came back and that made me very happy

In a more alt-Americana way, I discovered Samantha Crain

And because no week is complete without a breathily mournful sounding man

Wednesday 11 December 2013

On the radio

Today on the radio I'll be doing a recap of art events and stories from 2013, including moves around the public galleries, the Venice Biennale, and reading for Christmas.

Tuesday 10 December 2013


If I had more time and was funnier (there's some New Year's resolutions right there) I would port this Reddit user's list of ways to recognise works by famous painters for our New Zealand context.

Sunday 8 December 2013


It's been a while since I blogged about perfume, but this year my adventures have continued apace: I added Robert Piguet's Fracas, Keiko Mecheri's Cuir Cordoba and Oliban, Chanel's Coromandel, and Musc Ravageur and Vetiver Extraordinaire from Frederic Malle to my shelves, along with Jean Claude Ellena's Perfume (but not the insufferable The perfume lover).

Just in time for Christmas, another book has been released - blogger Barbara Herman's Scent and Subversion: Decoding a century of provocative perfume. To test if it's for you, check out this extract on Jezebel.


There is something about design blogs that, like most visualisations, I find somewhat disheartening. Or ... disenheartened. Un-gripping. Page after page of smooth-skinned furniture and unblemished book design. But when I fell over these furniture designs, the literal reproductions of rough pencil sketches, for once I was struck enough to go back not once, but twice ... and hence blog them.

Furniture designs by Daigo Fukawa for his 2013 senior thesis exhibition at Tokyo University of the Arts, via Spoon and Tamago.

Friday 6 December 2013

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A grab-bag of tracks from my November trial list:

The new-classic electro-tinged R&B - Ella Eyre, 'Deeper'

The belt-it-out-with-the-car-window-down anthem - Ages and Ages, 'Divisionary (Do the right thing)'

The so-many-things-I-like-in-one-place mashup: Tink, Kitty, Sasha Go Hard, produced by Ryan Hemsworth and little cloud, 'Spotless'

The sad-movie-closing-credits crooner (this song reminds me deeply of another, I wish I could pinpoint it) Solander, 'All Opportunities'.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

More insight

Following on from this first visualisation of the Tate's collection metadata, another piece of work by Jim Davenport analysing the heights and widths of works in the collection.

Read his (short, very digestible) post on the oddity he found, and see why I am reminded of Joachim Bandau.

Monday 2 December 2013

A to B

What once was known as 'signage' is nowadays known as 'wayfinding', and New York's New School is, with the help of Ruedi Baur, taking an approach that says 'welcome to a building where the people go on the stairs, not always on the elevator'.