Berlin

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Berlin is taken from Undefinable Places In-between—a series of short essays I have written, and continue to write, under that title.

Berlin

How can a place have—in the same moment—something and nothing in-between the things that define its edges? Be loaded and empty at the same time?

In a city, a volume of air can be enclosed by walls, or a fence, a gate, a painted line, or a neatly ordered adjacent patch that provides delineating contrast to the rubble and weeds next door—essentially appearing to be a patch of nothing—and still, it feels infused with something powerful, unfathomable.

It’s even harder to define exactly what it is that resides within a psychological space; Berlin seems full of them: the liminal places, unspeaking places, and those in-between places and charged zones of emptiness; gaps between ‘there’ and ‘not there’.

It’s hard to define what it is, but I would like to know, because then I would better understand Berlin, and probably learn something about all cities.

 

Notes:
Mauer Park, Berlin.
Photograph, GS.

Pecha Kucha Night at UNSW Art & Design

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Above: Vanessa Low

My two friends and work buddies, Heidi Dokulil and Beatrice Chew, are the producers for Pecha Kucha Night in Sydney. Pecha Kucha is the 20 seconds-per-image talk series that was born in Tokyo at SuperDeluxe—the Roppongi bar and venue that is ‘open most nights for thinking and drinking’.

The wall at one end of UNSW’s courtyard was a particularly good surface for the pictures. The theme for Pecha Kucha Night 25 was Collecting.

Only some of the speakers are represented here in images; next time I will take a decent camera!

SPP_PKN_0506Above: Vanessa Low

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Above: Grace Turtle & Melissa Fuller, Three Farm

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Above: Nick Rudenno & Miguel Sicari, Nowhere Famous

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Above: Clinton Bradley

Speakers

Grace Turtle & Melissa Fuller, Three Farm
Describing herself as a Social Design Strategist, Grace believes that the role of designer has shifted to facilitator, therefore to be an effective designer you need to teach and provide the community with tools to learn. Grace is a graduate of COFA and the co-founder of Three Farm, a social design enterprise specialising in new manufacturing technology and processes that enhance social learning, design and sustainable practice. Melissa describes herself as the “maker of makers” and is a passionate advocate of social equality.

Nick Rudenno & Miguel Sicari, Nowhere Famous
Nowhere Famous tells stories through design, art direction, typography, illustration,vcreative direction & web with collective collaboration at the core of everything they do.

Vanessa Low
Vanessa Low is a UNSW Art & Design alumna, having finished her bachelor of Art Theory here last year. She is now a freelance arts writer, photographer and blogger who has contributed to Elle, Popsugar and Art & Australia. Her penchant for collecting is derived from her fear of forgetting and love of asking questions, documented on her blog The Monday Issue over the past 6 years.

Sacha Pantschenko
Sacha Pantschenko is a product designer living in Sydney. Working across many disciplines in the industry over the last 10 years, he is always looking to new and engaging ways to innovate and rethink how things work. Sacha has recently headed up one of the largest product design crowdfunding campaigns in Australia. He is easily distracted good burgers and craft beers.

Judith Torzillo and Victoria Cleland, Young Collectors
The Young Collectors are Judith Torzillo and Victoria Cleland. Emerging contemporary jewellers and collectors, Judith’s jewellery is focused on viewer engagement and exploring the physicalities of wearing and seeing. Victoria’s jewellery practice investigates notions of value, image and wealth. Together they host events that connect artists and collectors.

Clinton Bradley
Clinton Bradley likes art and dumplings. He collects art by a small group of artists that often feature animals [often in the most opaque of ways] and eats dumplings wherever he can find them. Clinton has collected from as far back as he can remember and counts house plants, crystals, Japanese scrubbing brushes, finger-nail clippings and taxidermy among the many things that have caught his attention over the years.

Text on speakers by Heidi Dokulil, Good Habitat

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The wall.

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Subterranean garden

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Under a hill in Mittagong (the rim of an ancient volcano) there is a 600 metre long mushroom farm; a dark, subterranean garden in an old, single line railway tunnel, full of strange shapes and beautiful textures. It reminded me of Susan Sontag’s brilliant essay on grottoes: A Place for Fantasy.

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Li Sun Exotic Mushrooms, Mittagong, New South Wales, Australia.
Susan Sontag, A Place for Fantasy; Where the Stress Falls, 2001.

Grasslands revisited

SPP_Maffra_3859Maffra, New South Wales, 6:30am

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Grasslands

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Maffra, New South Wales

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Stairs

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Gehry in Sydney is the title of a book I have been working on with Managing Editor and writer, Liisa Naar, at the University of Technology, Sydney. The Gehry Partners designed Dr Chau Chak Wing Building (UTS Business School) in Ultimo, Sydney, has this beautiful staircase that is worth seeing when the building opens soon. Unfortunately my point-and-click level of photography is not up to capturing this. The professional photography in the new book will be.

Gehry in Sydney
The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, UTS
Edited by Liisa Naar and Stewart Clegg

Aesthetics of reading

SPP_L1040372This charming 1957 cover may have once ‘dressed the set’ on public transport — en route to home or work. When people read off paper in trains and buses, seeing Inspector Maigret’s puffing silhouette in someone’s hand would have made my graphic designer day.

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One more case for less is more

SPP_MilkBeach_0325Australia Day 2015 in Sydney. Low cloud and an all-day drizzle softened the colours and also toned down the red-white-and-blue flag-wagging nationalism that usually happens on the harbour at this time. As the clouds rolled over the houses on the opposite shore and the city buildings and the fibreglass hulls and the bridge and opera house you could almost imagine another January day on Milk Beach in similar weather, a few hundred years ago.

Some cards

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Photography, Julia Charles. Design, GS. Plating up, Heidi Dokulil/GS. Offset printing, Seed. Type, Trade Gothic Bold Condensed 20. Paper, Stephen Smart White 330gsm.

Bench

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Is there a name for this type of design thinking? It was such a modest intervention I almost didn’t notice this public bench outside a Maroubra (Sydney) cafe. Or rather, I saw a public bench with two places to rest a cup and plate, but didn’t immediately see the elemental charm of the thought that made someone see a piece of city street furniture differently.
Other ways of seeing cities —both simple and complex—will be one of the topics covered in our new, soon-to-be-launched site: Good Habitat.

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