Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

Archive for March 2012

COOPER+SPOWART: ‘Contact Zone’ exhibition

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Featuring the photo-based artist’s books and photobooks of Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart

March 21 ~ April 5

 Cooper and Spowart are influenced by the context and the consequences of living within a constantly changing relationship with the landscape. Contact Zone connects the viewer/reader with “place” relationships through the photobook, both physically and metaphorically.

Contact Zone installation - Cooper+Spowart @ Futures Gallery, Toowoomba

Part of the 2012 QCP Queensland Festival of Photography

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March 31, 2012 at 10:40 am

TIM MOSELY: An Eskimo climbing to a plateau

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Make like an Eskimo - Invite

Tim Mosely is a PhD candidate at the Queensland College of Art. He is working through the research processes that students engage in to position their academic imprimatur on some aspect of human knowledge. Mosely over the years has developed a significant international practice in artists’ books, handmade paper and the book experience as one in which the tactile senses are evoked.

Tim Mosely - Make Like An Eskimo. POP Gallery Brisbane

Make like An Eskimo, at first appears as a mixed exhibition originating from many individual artists as each body of work teases out an idea, a gesture, a memory – blurred, or a theme. These are experiments, the research level is PhD so we do expect something that presents a challenge, or expresses a cathartic moment or even a line of questioning that leads … nowhere. This work does not leave this viewer wanting. The stones have been turned over and what has emerged are things that show Mosely’s Inuit traverse of the smooth white space where he has drawn on his intimate knowledge of printmaking medium, of his personal semiotics and his dreams.

Tim Mosely - 'imagining mt giluwe' a multi-sheet linocut

One monumental piece explodes from the wall – imagining mt giluwe. It’s a multi-sheet linocut – dark and brooding with markings made by Mosely’s tools that resemble some kind of tribal scarification. The wild landscape overpowers the smooth white gallery wall and entices the viewer to move in close. There is a hidden map implied by the transecting vertical and horizontal lines of the individual printed sheets. Is it a map of the physical, the metaphysical or is it just mere tactile experience – for touching with the eyes? There is a movement through the monochrome surface and a red rectangle of paper overlays a part of the image – is this order implied over chaos? Colonial blood over Nature? Or could it hide a didactic code with its intention to perplex the viewer – or maybe it is there to just hide the fact that no code exists?

Tim Mosely - Make Like An Eskimo books

Another work, a series of books attempts to contain the big lino imagining mt giluwe. It is in fact, books made from pages of the large work. Once again there is a calling to explore and this time it is easier as the dividing and sectioning of the work into book form creates a path through the act of page turning. Some pages have been slashed and red paper shows through the jagged shapes implying similar questions as the red rectangle in the larger work. I am comfortable with this work, and perhaps Mosely is as well, as it is derivative of the language that he has employed in the past.

As I reflect on the experience of the POP Gallery I can confirm that Mosely is interrogating his practice, his experience of life and what it means to be an artist. What stands out is his haptic encounter in the making of his artworks and the profound need that he has for that vital energy to be infused into the art. And in that I think he is not alone – the materials seem to respond to his interaction. Here I am reminded of a discussion that Barbara Bolt has about a mode of thinking informed by Martin Heidegger’s techne and Paul Carter’s ‘material thinking’, where she states,

‘In the place of an instrumentalist understanding of our tools and material, this mode of thinking suggests that in the artistic process, objects have agency and it is through the establishing conjunctions with other contributing elements in the art that humans are co-responsible for letting art emerge.’  (Bolt 2007:1)

Time Mosely in the exhibition Make Like An Eskimo

Mosely’s work and the materials in his work do emerge to present the viewer with communiqués that are enriched not only by what is embedded in them but also what they invoke in the mind of those who encounter them. We wish him well in the ascent to his academic plateau.

Doug Spowart

Written by Cooper+Spowart

March 31, 2012 at 10:30 am

GIRRAWEEN National Park: A sunny weekend

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Shadow fun @ Bald Rock Creek crossing

A few days away at Girraween celebrated a moment of clear sunny weather between weeks of inclement rainy and particularly miserable weekends. With water everywhere it was hard not to be compelled to image its flow and pattern. We shared this weekend with Felicity and relaxed in Nature’s place with fine foods punctuated by bouts of photography and drawing.

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March 31, 2012 at 10:12 am


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Late morning on March 1st an email arrived from the Post Graduate School from James Cook University advising the examiners had responded to my PhD exegesis (thesis). I was told that only a few minor corrections, mainly typos were required. I found it hard to concentrate on work – 7 years of part-time study came down to a moment of quiet reflection out of the window beyond the computer screen.

I had an extended lunch in the park with Vicky and I lay back …

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March 31, 2012 at 9:56 am

SOCIAL MEDIA: A photographer’s new anxiety

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A long-long time ago all a photographer needed to successfully market their business was develop an excellent reputation that could be carried by word of mouth, they needed to have a studio in a prominent location and a big listing Yellow Pages. It all changed with the Internet and websites – the stylish splash page, web image galleries and even music became the norm. A website, the best ones done by professional webmasters, could be out there for years and become, for the photographer, something to ‘tick-off’ on their marketing plan. You could feel comfortable that when people searched, or ‘Googled’ you, up would pop your site. You could direct enquiries to view your work through their home – or perhaps more often, the work computer and those that did stumble upon your site could give you a call to follow through with an enquiry. The website became an extension of convention marketing, essentially to people who knew of you. It was not necessarily about finding new business.

The emergence of social media tools like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr has changed that comfortable marketing strategy. The general public was transformed or, perhaps even they themselves transformed, the norms of marketing. They now seek information about anything by using online search technologies to filter info sources or service providers and then make decisions about what they want to know or purchase.

Most critical to this seek-find-and-buy online paradigm is what search engines give in their result lists. Crucially, in recent times, there has been the move by the big Google corporation to seek results from content that has currency. The static website is relegated to the back result pages – whereas web presences that are, by the currency of their content, about today, now will rate higher. Photographers who Google themselves or their industry area only to find they rate on the results back pages now suffer the anxiety of how to get to #1.

Katie+Matt's Website, June 2011

In mid 2011 I encountered a sign that indicated a view of the static website’s future in the website of Toowoomba photographers Katie Finn and Matt Ebenezer. The splash page bore the message ‘websites are so old school … Check out our blogsite’. The blog was interactive and wedding photography albums were replete with comments and posts by the subjects pictured as well as by visitors to the blog – these were instant testimonials. What is more important is that this interactive component constitutes a constantly being ‘added to’ web presence and that is the stuff that Google likes.

To help bolster rankings SEO (search engine optimisation) has become the buzzword and every conference, seminar and workshop has the speaker on the topic. And what a topic it is – there is an underworld, a kind of labyrinth to navigate to achieve what you think you need. Two recent events I have attended, Matt Adams at the Queensland AIPP Hair of the Dog Conference and a Skillpath Social Media Marketing Conference have certainly inspired my interest and fascination for this emerging and pervasive technology. Somewhere along the line I’ve picked up a saying that goes something like, ‘there are two types of people in social media – those that are embracing it and those who will be left behind.’

Mel Campbell @ Skillspath Social Media Marketing Conference - A great presenter!

I’m in the former cohort. In January 2011, on an invitation from AIPP and Ballarat International Foto Biennale guru Jeff Moorfoot, I signed up to Linkedin. I dutifully populated my profile, linked with acquaintances, friends and people I’ve done business with and I integrated Linkedin/blogs/folio sites into my teaching practice. In February 2011 Victoria and I started this WordPress blog, our website was updated around the same time. We’ve added-in YouTube, Behance Creative Portfolios and Twitter to our suite of Internet presence strategies. Over 12 months the comparative analytics has overwhelmingly indicated the blog outdoes the website 20:1 and a search engine test places Linkedin, the blog and its many posts much higher than the static website. Our online presence has been viewed by thousands of people and our images, videos and posts clicked on all over the world.

Has social media made a difference for us? In some ways it is hard to tell – our presence is not about selling anything, it is more about the expression of ideas, commentary about activities, events and experiences that do not get published elsewhere. And just by the way search terms pick up those unusual postings, images and videos someone out there is looking and connecting.

Maybe the website is dead. Now, and what is ‘now’ is all that counts in our society so all that you need to do is jump-in and be active in social media – otherwise you will be left behind!


PS I could go on for hours about this topic – there will be future posts.


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 We then entered the Kusama exhibition space. Words alone cannot convey the experience encountered—images and videos may help. And that’s they key to the immersive gallery visitor’s strategy, you are allowed to photograph!  In fact everyone is blazing away with cameras imaging their encounter with the art and artist’s wacky view of the world. Somehow Kusama just doesn’t seem weird – she just seems in tune with knowing what the viewer wants!

A self-portrait in the first room of the Kusama show

Kusama video mirror space + other visitors

Kusama sculpture flower

Vicky in the Kusama Obliteration room

Kusama Obliteration room photographer

Kusama Obliteration room table and chair





Written by Cooper+Spowart

March 7, 2012 at 11:00 am


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For some time I’ve been uncomfortable with the way that the concept of ART GALLERY has transformed from a place for the quiet experience of art and of seeking personal enlightenment, into one where visiting crowds seem hell-bent on seeking entertainment.  Ultimately I gave in and developed an expectation that a gallery visit could be about an experience cram packed with gratuitous fun, and … a few personal epiphanic moments.

GOMA Director Tony Ellwood states that he would like audiences to the Yoyoi Kusama Look Now, See Forever exhibition to “immerse themselves in the artist’s unique and compelling world view”. To test Ellwood’s immersive suggestion Vicky and I recently visited the Kusama show and the more traditional historical survey show – Matisse: Drawing Life which is touted as being ‘the most comprehensive exhibition of Henri Matisse’s prints and drawings ever mounted.’

We took in the Drawing Life show first. Matisse drew everyday and one would, from the pervasive theme of the show, think he drew the female nude obsessively—or is it that he just obsessively drew. The transition to immersive experience happens on leaving the show as viewers are enticed to try their own hand at drawing. To stir the budding artists to action, they are supplied not just with pencil and paper, but also a Matisse-esque tableau of drawing fodder—fruit baskets for still life, mirrors for self-portraits and art-school plaster ‘nude’ sculptures to practice on the human form.

Matisse Drawing space - Doug+Vicky cheat - 'drawing' a self-portrait with a CAMERA

For the techno-inclined tablets were available loaded with a drawing program that enabled a drawing to be made with finger or stylus. Not necessarily following the subtlety of lead on textured paper but none-the-less an ‘experience’. We drew the Brisbane city skyline opposite GOMA. The experience was value-added by the opportunity for the ‘drawing’ to be emailed to friends. (We were to later discover that when viewed, the drawing grew on the screen accompanied by music.)

Vicky sends off her 'digi-drawing' as an email

Vicky's 'digi-drawing' of Brisbane River --- Doug's 'digi-drawing' Brisbane city

With the Matisse ‘experience’ behind us we entered the Kusama show …..    SEE THE NEXT POST

Written by Cooper+Spowart

March 7, 2012 at 10:29 am

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