I Believe in Monsters!


Where I recall A Pair of Red Mittens with White Cross-stitch Patterning and a Train Full of Monsters.

For some reason, for as long as I can remember, I have had a memory that has constantly played on my mind. I wonder, is it because I have replayed it over and over so many times that it is so vivid, or has it always been so? This memory is somewhat problematic, for, as you will see… it leads me to believe in monsters.

I do believe in monsters! I have to, otherwise I can’t trust my own memory, and without a memory that I can believe in, there isn’t much point in anything.

Once, when I was very young, my father took me to see a steam-train that was going to pass by on the lines at the top of our street. We were quite close to the railway lines, but far enough back to be at a safe distance. I was sitting on my father’s shoulders so that I could get a good view. A couple of other people from the street had gathered and the children amongst them all seemed as excited as I was. The sun was behind clouds that day, there was quite a strong wind blowing, and I was wearing red mittens with white cross-stitch patterning. Somebody yelled out “It’s coming!” We all looked down the tracks to where a man was pointing. I could see smoke, lots of smoke. A whistle blew, it kept blowing. I was scared. I started to scream. I grabbed onto my father’s head and screamed louder. I could see the great, ever increasing pall of smoke getting closer. I drove my fingers into my father’s scalp; I could not take my eyes off this terrible, loud, dark thing that was approaching. Then as the smoke enveloped us, and I could see the train itself, I SAW MONSTERS!

That steam-train full of monsters is one of my most vivid memories from childhood. Not just one or two monsters, but hundreds of them, all hanging from the side of the train, crawling on its roof, and hanging out of its windows. Each one of them different, each one of them nasty and vicious and ready to jump off the train at any moment and eat me or my father.

There were monsters on that train.

I choose to believe this memory, and therefore I choose to believe in monsters. If I were to distrust this memory, then what of the next, and the next, and the one after that. I have come to the conclusion that all memory is true, and if it is not, then no memory is true.

I DO believe in monsters…At least I try very hard to.

permalink: https://andrewburrell.net/blog/i-believe-in-monsters

Barrawao @UTS Library


Barrawoa launches at the Nandiri’ba’nya: Language and Country exhibition at the University of Technology Sydney library.

Barrawao, a new virtual reality experience exploring the deep connection between Language and Country in the Sydney area. It is currently on Display as part of the Nandiri’ba’nya: Language and Country exhibition at the University of Technology Sydney library.

Barrawao is co-designed in a collaboration between Andrew Burrell (Lecturer, Visual Communications, UTS), Shannon Foster (D’harawal Sydney Saltwater Knowledge Keeper), Rachel Hendery (Linguist, Western Sydney University), Danièle Hromek (Budawang/ Yuin, Designer and Researcher), and Louisa King (Lecturer, School of Architecture, UTS).

For more information on the project see http://barrawao.net
For further information on the exhibition see https://en.iyil2019.org/events/nandiribanya-language-and-country/

Nandiri’ba’nya can be translated as “we all come together to experience” and Barrawao can be translated as “to fly or to make haste”, from the D’harawal Sydney Language and provided by Shannon Foster.

permalink: https://andrewburrell.net/blog/barrawao-uts-library

Create NSW 360 VISION


Funding to continue a research collaboration from Create NSW.

A collaborative partnership between myself and Agatha Gothe-Snape has recently received $20,000 funding from the New South Wales government as part of their 360 VISION: Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Development Initiative.

This will enable us to continue to develop ‘Every Act of Reading Performs a Work’ via a research and development program looking into the affordances of user experience and interaction design in virtual reality and virtual environments.

This will follow on from our pilot investigations that have resulted in a trailer for the project exhibited as part of “The National” and a research paper that Ali Chalmers-Braithwaite and I will present at the Body of Knowledge: Art and Embodied Cognition conference in June of this year at Deakin University.

Congratulations also go out to the other grant recipients, April Phillips, Eugenie Lee, Andrew Christie, John A. Douglas and the Theatre Kantanka.

Image: Agatha Gothe-Snape interviews Brian Fuata from within Virtual Reality.

permalink: https://andrewburrell.net/blog/create-nsw-360-vision

The Bounty Bear is Searching!


A favourite speculative interface.

The Bounty Bear from Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World is a perfect example of a speculative vision for an interface design that is both playful and critical of emerging technology. The Bounty Bear interface provides access to a virtual environment of data and initially is obfuscating of the underlying facial recognition technology, but ultimately leaves us in no doubt that this belongs to a dystopian future, a future that at the time (1991) felt distant.

Until the End of the World was set in 1999, and by 2019, 20 years later we have found ourselves in a future where the invasive underlying technologies are commonplace – yet we have seen a homogenisation of interfaces and have not inherited the potential for playfulness or visual metaphor that the Bounty Bear represents as an intermediary between the physical and virtual environments.

permalink: https://andrewburrell.net/blog/the-bounty-bear-is-searching

Nandiri’ba’nya – Launch Event


Photos from the launch event of the Nandiri’ba’nya: Language and Country exhibition at the University of Technology Sydney library.

Nandiri’ba’nya can be translated as “we all come together to experience” from the D’harawal Sydney Language and provided by Shannon Foster. More details on the event as it was, can be found here: en.iyil2019.org/events/nandiribanya-language-and-country


permalink: https://andrewburrell.net/blog/nandiri-ba-nya-launch-event

Body of Knowledge Abstract


Ali Chalmers Braithwaite and I presented our paper, “Embodied and Disembodied Presentness in the Immersive Explorations of Agatha Gothe-Snape” at the Body of Knowledge: Art and Embodied Cognition Conference at Deakin University in July 2019.

Embodied and Disembodied Presentness in the Immersive Explorations of Agatha Gothe-Snape.

“Yves, where are we when we draw?” John Berger, Berger on Drawing[1]

This paper centres around the ongoing creative and conceptual collaboration between the visual artist Agatha Gothe-Snape and the authors.

EVERY ACT OF READING PERFORMS A WORK (EARPAW) is a monolithic virtual reality sculpture that is the repository of accumulated inquiries (body of knowledge) into the 3-part exhibition The National[2]. It shifts Gothe-Snape’s performative and relational drawing practice[3] into live virtual reality drawing, manifesting a text-based spatial mnemonic system. This system contains the records of interviews, articles, reviews and conversations around The National that accumulate over time and space, and perhaps more importantly, it contains the space of, and for, the body — the body of both the artist and the viewer.

The spatial affordances of VR have enabled Gothe-Snape to build her own memory theatre of the Australian contemporary art field, scaled perfectly to the proportions of the human body – her body. It is reminiscent of Giulio Camillo’s 16th century “wooden [memory] theatre, crowded with images” which was said to be “a work…into which whoever is admitted…will be able to discourse on any subject…”[4] Except in this case, Gothe-Snape has created a personal theatre mediated via her own phenomenological understanding and experience of the time and space of The National and its cultural context. A such, she is dealing in what Johanna Drucker refers to as capta[5] as opposed to objective data. In this way, she is using the virtual environment, and her body’s relationship with it, to off-load the cognitive work of making sense of the vast amount of information she is working with and her subjective position within it.[6]

EARPAW is very much a work of performative process, and a drive to discover new practice and procedures. From this process has emerged a conflict between the disappearance of the artist’s body into an emerging self in the network of capta — only for this body to reappear, almost with a newfound sense of itself as embodied deeply within, and as a vital key to understanding, the resulting virtual environment. It is this sense of embodied and disembodied presentness in Gothe-Snape’s process and resultant work that this paper will go on to explore.

1 Berger, John. Berger on Drawing. Cork: Occasional press, 2005 p.123
2 A major exhibition partnership between three of Sydney’s premier cultural institutions (MCA, Art Gallery of New South Wales & Carriageworks), The National: New Australian Art is a six-year initiative presenting the latest ideas and forms in contemporary Australian art over three editions in 2017, 2019 and 2021. https://thenational.com.au/
3 This practice is based, in part, on formal training in multiple performance traditions, including butoh and postmodern performance art.
4 Yates, Frances Amelia. The Art of Memory. Pimlico ed. London: Pimlico, 1992 p.135
5 Drucker, Johanna. “Graphesis: Visual Knowledge Production and Representation,” 2011. p. 128
6 This terminology of off-loading was suggested to us by Wilson, Margaret. “Six Views of Embodied Cognition.” Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 9, no. 4 (December 2002): 625–36.

permalink: https://andrewburrell.net/blog/abstract-for-body-of-knowledge-presentation