Friday, June 26

sandy looking at things

Curiosity is one of the best traits a person can have but sometimes it creates trouble and other times it creates massive detours. Great Barrier Island is incredibly quiet during the winter, which gives Mum the perfect opportunity to take a closer look into gardens, homes...odd (phallic?) alien plants.


Friday, June 19

interview: finlay wall (dj, vinyl collector)

Although Finlay Wall studies Law and Politics during the week in his spare time he is often mulling over and carefully listening through music - especially electronic music. About three or four years ago Fin began to collect vinyls and DJ for friends and venues around Dunedin (I once remember being that terrible person to consistently tell him to play Kanye West all evening - he very politely ignored me). Fin and his sister Hannah also have paired up with the bar and venue, Re:Fuel, to run Back on Track, which aims to make "off kilter house" and "punishing techno" music a part of the Dunedin music scene.

Fin's room is filled with crates of his collected vinyl, which I often admire simply for their beautiful sleeve artworks. But after a few conversations about his records, I realised how much I valued his appreciation for collecting and the research and passion he puts into his choices. We sat down to talk about vinyl and listen to two songs (below) that Fin has given a lot of deck time.


What made you become interested in DJing?

I often watched videos on YouTube of live DJs but I didn't have a clue what they were doing, so I bought a mini DJ controller in my first year of uni - you can plug an iPod into it and play two songs at once. It was really crappy but I was only learning to DJ. I bought these two turntables half a year later. Once I had those, I started collecting records.

Are there a lot of misconceptions that DJs just play songs one after the other?

Well, that's what it is.

Then why do you need all the gear?

There are more convenient ways of DJing, I have just used my laptop. But even though it is a bit more convenient to just use a laptop, you lose the stuff that makes it interesting. DJing is just playing songs but it is the collecting of music, which makes it special when you actually play. The more time you have spent collecting music and listening to it, the more unique an experience you can make it for people when you play.

Say you have a show coming up next week and you have all this music that you've carefully collected and know really well - you're probably going to make a much better experience for the people listening compared to someone who has spent half an hour looking up songs beforehand. It is all about the collecting - and the whole point of collecting vinyl is that it changes how you think about the music.  It takes up a lot more time and space but you remember what you have bought compared to just downloading masses of music. When I started out I used to download gigabytes of music from blogs and other websites - it was possible to get a hundred thousand songs in one sitting - but you're just never going to properly listen through that.

But you must have to work pretty hard to get your records - aren't they expensive?

There is a full range. The limitation makes it better as well. If you only have about $50 to spend and are only able to purchase three records, then you will be spending a lot more time choosing to make sure that when you finally pick something, it will be special.

Do you want to continue DJing in the future?

It's definitely a hobby and I'll definitely keep collecting records regardless of what ends up happening.

Can you describe the two records that you are sharing with me today?

I am playing you "Yala" by Rezzett now, which is a record I bought from Japan. This is probably one of my favourite songs of late. It's sort of a dance record - there's a beat behind it - but its atmosphere and textures aren't like typical electronic music. It sounds like there is an electric guitar playing the whole way through, which is different to a lot of house and techno that sounds really electronic and like it's really only made by digital instruments. Rezzett have a fresh approach in both sounds and song structures, which sets them apart from other house artists.

My Vito Ricci record is a full album. The music on the album was recorded in the early 80s, during a time when electronic music had hardly been explored. He's a composer from New York, this is an album of music he hadn't previously released.

Why is this album literally heavier than the Rezzett one?

There are different weights for vinyls and the thicker they are, the deeper the grooves can be, which means the record can reach louder volumes. So the Rezzett vinyl has one song on one side, which gives that song more room and means it can be louder. But the Ricci vinyl has five songs (you can count the rings) on one side, so it will be a bit quieter.

I like how they have listed all the instruments used in the Ricci record.

Yeah, it's pretty honest. It reminds of Aphex Twin's Syro record, which has a printed list that breaks down every pound earned from selling the album - like a journalist's travel expenses from France to London, or venue hire for LA listening party, or postage costs for UK radio promotion mail out


Fin and I plan to continue discussing his record collection over a series of conversations during the second half of the year. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 2

play it as it lays

Astro Children (Isaac Hickey and Millie Lovelock) have released the single "Play it as it Lays," which has ignited a fervent excitement for their album to come! You can support the single here and keep a look out for the album's release.


Saturday, May 30

interview: pippi nola (artist, shitty friend)

Pippi Nola is in her second year at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland. Although she is a few years younger than me, we have spent many summers chillin' and chattin' on Great Barrier Island. After following Pippi on Instagram , I was stoked to watch just how much she was bossin' it with her art. Now, this young talent has taken it up a notch by starting up her own business, so everyone can wear her work!

What is "Shitty Friend"? Are you one?

Shitty Friend came about strangely. The name came from a couple of places - I was drawing a picture last year and it kinda looked like a fluoro pink poo, I thought of it as my shitty friend because it had eyes and a mouth, but it looked like a shit so it was kind of literally a shitty friend (HA). Also, I was drawing my first proper design this year for a t-shirt and I'd written 'Shitty Friends Make Shitty Lovers' around the image. It wasn't meant to be taken too literally, but I suppose it's something that I've been thinking about more recently, after making transitions from high school friends to art school ones.

It seems like your style is a mixture of pastel colours, bold outlines and kinda naughty/humorous subjects. What influences your art and fashion style? 

Hmm, I've definitely always been influenced by street art and 'street style' - whatever that is. I always wanted to do graffiti art but I can't handle a spray can yet, so that dream hasn't been fulfilled. New York in the 1980s and its art scene is super cool - Keith Haring, Basquiat, Gary Panter and their group are all artists who I refer to constantly. I like colour and brightness and what I suppose is seen as 'low art' like cartoon drawings and graffiti.

Being part Japanese has influenced me a lot too. Japan is crazy and definitely embraces a kind of childish sense of humour. The Japanese love their animation and cartoons but at the same time there's this bizarre sexual undertone through a lot of it, and that kind of fascinates me. I think I like to draw the way that I do because in that form you're allowed to be more playful with your expression of ideas, which is how I kind of am in real life (also I can't draw a realistic anything to save my life)!

I've never been a minimalist or 'mysterious' and aloof (as much as I wish I were) and I think that just comes out in everything I do from how I dress to what I make.

How have your parents influenced or inspired you?

I'm realising more and more how influential they've been. I mean looking at my dad's stuff from when he was at art school is bizarre because I can just see where everything I make - and how I see the world - has stemmed from. We share a similar, kind of strange and immature sense of humour, which is great but annoys Mum endlessly. We have very similar aesthetics to say the least.

Mum is probably the wisest person I know and the most intelligent!  She is so encouraging, and has ingrained in me that I can do anything I put my mind to, and go anywhere I want to go, as well as constantly reminding me that I'm intelligent and to never let anyone put me in a box...

Both my parents basically forced me to apply to do fine arts (I never saw myself as an art maker before conversations with them in my last year of high school) and basically I am forever indebted to them haha.

Why make a "feminist" t-shirt? Is your art a rebellion in some way?

I don't see feminism as a rebellion at all, it's a subject matter that I've always felt hugely passionate about and I feel like it's a cool statement to be putting out there. Wearing it has created so many conversations - some amazing and some pretty problematic- it was one of my first ever prints. I saw (through social media) that Petra Collins was posting about this brand 'It's Me and You' that her friends Mayan Toledano and Julia Baylis started, basically doing a similar thing and printing 'Feminist' on tees and undies. I kind of just thought that rather than spending the money for shipping etc I could just print something like it myself! Then people started getting interested so I made more to give/sell to other people and I guess that's how all this began haha!

What do you want your art to achieve?

Ooh umm, I guess with my t-shirts I just enjoy seeing people wearing the things that I've made. My drawings are kind of an extension of my sense of humour and I suppose the way I see the world. And so to see a person wearing, and supporting it makes me happy! I like to just think of the most bizarre scenario and then see it come to life as something that I've made. I guess at this stage maybe my art is just about making myself excited.

What do cool people like you do in the weekend in Auckland?

Well I mostly enjoy going to gigs just around town, hanging with friends etc. I've stopped drinking so much, which has been good for me. Last Friday I got a tattoo, which was nice. At the moment though I've mainly been either in the studio or drawing and watching Scandal in bed!

What's your favourite street art/cool random artistic detail in Auckland city?

There's this spot on Symonds St that I've kept kind of revisiting since 2011 that has great graffiti, although I'm familiar with a few different people's tags now so it kind of takes away something from them now the anonymity isn't there. I just love a good spot that has layers and layers of tags and art to create this beautiful background of colour for newer layers. Also this abandoned building next Elam has amazing views when you climb up to the roof and is such a beautiful spot to visit when you need a break I hope they never pull it down!!

Friday, May 29

hip, [so] hip hooray - i-d celebrates its 35th anniversary

Photography Alasdair McLellan. Styling Olivier Rizzo. Natalie Westling wears apron and shirt Dior.
Photography Alasdair McLellan. Styling Marie Chaix. Karly Loyce wears coat, rollneck and earrings CĂ©line.
Being introduced to publications like i-D as a pre-teen opened my eyes to a different level of coolness. It was terrifying and fascinating to confront a beautiful perspective of the world (that came wildly close to ugly) as seen by i-D.

In light of its 35th birthday, I am reminded of another huge inspiration - my friend Oriana Reich. Among her incredible life adventures is an internship at i-D during its early days. Oriana talks about this and other stories in a lovely interview here.


Wednesday, May 27

swfer no swfering

Blue Oyster Art Project Space has been simultaneously stripped back and expanded for Luke Munn’s swfer. One wall in the front room simply has the link “” placed in cursive lettering onto its surface. In the same room, different — seemingly meaningless — letters flashing up on a webpage are projected onto the wall. In the gallery’s second, smaller room is a CD drive presented on a single white stand. A mechanical, shutter-like sound also fills the room. But further engagement and exploration reveals multiple dimensions that come confrontingly close to some of the central anxieties of my generation.

The link written on the front room’s wall, typed into a device connected to the internet, takes the viewer to a chatroom. The chatroom background consists of sugary, abstract patterns — most likely the presumed aesthetic choice of a young girl customising her blog or chat forum background. However, the proceeding (automatic) conversation that the viewer witnesses in this chat space has a much darker element than the bright background colours and sickly cursive font suggest, providing, perhaps, some reasoning as to why the university internet prevented me from revisiting the chatroom because the content was labelled “pornography”.

The chatroom plays through an actual conversation from 2005/2006 between a male paedophile and a decoy posing as a 13/14-year-old girl. These decoys were set up by an organisation that monitors paedophiles online and thus, as Munn describes, involves emulating an identity to seduce someone else. This practice traverses a controversial line between entrapment and protection. The uneasiness of this conversation is only amplified by the witnessing of it on a personal device, cleverly creating awareness of misuse of the internet and a situation of curiosity-turned-fear experienced in the viewer’s private engagement with their screen.

This seediness is echoed in the gallery’s second room. Examining the materials used in the show, I initially missed  “semen”. But it was there — in the drive, apparently. And it makes sense. The male orgasm is a common physical product of seedy online use. The semen is in the CD drive and gets wiped on the CD as it spins around. The sound work filling the room is two channel, a field microphone and a contact microphone, and features an intensified CD drive sound (appropriately named “seedee”). In this room, multiple, interesting interactions are taking place — between the physical product of men consuming online content (like porn) and the sterile machines that exist to enable this. The ceaseless sound humorously connects the mechanical nature of the drive to the male human drive to reproduce. Despite its humour, the critical nature of the works reduces and exposes the viewer as they become integrated into this interaction.

Another element to the show, which I missed, was a performance by Nada Crofskey-Rayner. Crofskey-Rayner walked through the space, listening to profound statements from Tumblr that were run through an algorithm to try to (mostly unsuccessfully) make them into natural language. Crofskey-Rayner had the ability to choose who she interacted with but was restricted to repeating the last phrase she heard when she talked. Munn described this element of the show as a further exploration of the difference between a bot and a body or, in other words, what it looks like to use an algorithm with human agency.

Although the initial “emptiness” of the gallery may make some may feel vulnerable — undecided whether to feel duped or to delve in the space’s emptiness — one should take the time to appreciate how relevant the show is. swfer exposes a plethora of anxieties created by our online engagement by using the human body, online tools and the physical components that allow the online world to run (we still need servers and CD drives to maintain it all). Much like those who create art that solely exists online, Munn relies on the viewer to complete his art. This gives the viewer the power to misinterpret or reinterpret the purposes or concepts behind the work — and reflect on how we use the internet to fulfill our own seedee drives.

This article first appeared in Critic on the 25/05/2015