FROM THE EDGE OF THE FOREST

SO THIS IS KUCHING?

In which the confusion of a conferred quango role becomes less confusing to an Australian fictional character as he discovers his constituency . The Author re-discovers the state capital of Sarawak. AFW continues to be mistaken for Jeremy Irons. The full import of ‘Who’s on First’ surpasses parody. AFW rides in Arthur’s teksi . Eats durian with Christine. An artist Draws a lot more. An aesthete buys uncatalogueable indigenous artifacts at a gallery called Bong. A solitary traveller befriends a lawyer/landlord and an interior designer/restauranteur. Buys bananas and a steam iron at the Weekend Market. Lives happily – alone with Miss Slutty on Christine’s Island – a long way from Antarctica.


RE : The 2012 Kuching Shindig – As you’d expect, a long way from Head Office, all sorts of things that shouldn’t be thought are, and most of what should be said is – but not really understood – but all in all things seem to be working out, if a bit slowly relative to the amount of time necessary to get things done here – if you know what I mean? Nonetheless – Thank you Russell. Thank you David. We must all be very glad that there are so many more knowledgable, efficient people on the ground than this fool, who actually do know what they’re doing. More than glad – grateful. Thank you Vice Chancellor. Thank you William . Thank you Michael. Thank you Chew.

So what am I doing you ask. In the six weeks I’ve been here, apart from watching and listening a lot there’s many things to keep me busy. Eating well as my new GP insisted upon after my previous one failed to convincingly forecast my imminent cause of death – and fired me . Consistently better and affordably more interesting to the eye and palate than I ever could find in other far off postings. London. Paris. Rome. Even Bangkok. The lamb/goat curries. The million and one things to do with pig. Ditto noodles. Ditto leaf vegetables. Ditto tofu. Ditto etcetera.

And there is always my own Kuching …

Meanwhile back at the Hospital. Ahh…teaching! Whatever you might think – you never really reach the end of learning do you? I think I’m getting the hang of it now but it was touch and go for a while. The last five years in fact. Inconveniently for this pensioner at least, who thought he was leaving Modern Times behind, new programs are being written – compressing old programs (that aren’t that old) into really all new, more efficient (perhaps less than ideal? for design) formats. The goal – better utilization of resources. The inevitability – a dead frog? But there are so many frogs left…aren’t there? The church of ‘if its possible to do it with Office Works then its possible to do it with people’ missionaries have done their work well. I already know well what it means to be digitized. Thanks be to Bill.

(Higher)Education here is however (momentarily) to this observer still a respected higher calling with deeper learning its super profit and only just emerging as a sharp pointy business discipline with Growth it’s own subversion of the Prime Directive. That miserably familiar, rhythmic tug of war between ideals and pragmatism, local and global, that has resulted in all the bright new Babels around the known world is teeter-tottering academic equilibrium at this moment in this pedagogic Eden – before the foundations are truly set.

Talking with my most regular teksi driver -Thank you Arthur – is a biurnal delight. He likes to drive. I don’t at all –  and here really must recommend local teksi’s as a way to get about this tiny but dispersed place . Vouchers for the delegates? At least a shared list of direct to driver mobile numbers. To the Beach! To the Mountain! To Work!

Home please Arthur!

I have an inherited mobile phone now (Thank you Christine) because every one does – and because communicating by drums is socially awkward however culturally sensitive it might appear to me – and the maintenance of at least – a virtual aural space is prerequisite for cultural health whatever it cost in brain cells. E-mail via a quite reliable internet is (unfortunately) the preferred space for being authoritative – in the cause of maintaining cultural networks. What would be our world without IT – with or without its finial (S)!

But what am I doing otherwise ? The projects I talked of undertaking to the inestimable Dr Kevin Murray before leaving (and so many others) Thank you Kevin – I am doing. Seeking interest and hoping for support still but also doing them. Having decided thatikat whilst an available pathway was too steep a learning curve in the time left to me – I’ve chosen to develop narratives for woven(bamboo)mats and supersize digitaloutput banners and undertake my first workshop with the weavers this week. The digital outputs are to provide an installation for INDIGO2012 – hopefully at the Hospital. To wrap (and entomb?) the multi story car park is my modest aspiration – but the necessary approval is yet to be to be sought. Enshrouding a post-industrial mausoleum –

This is not a carpark – n’es-ce pas?

News of the recent tsunami in Japan did reach our frontier outpost finally. It found me contemplating the suitableness of a text taken from a Tate presentation by Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi and confirmed (for me at least) this trope is for our time – and place?. Possibly a conference theme? Perhaps dear Bifo could be persuaded to come to Kuching as a keynote speaker? As philosophers go he is so eminently understandable and such a good performer! So good with metaphors! Depending on how you and others may look at this cultural/design knowledge thing he would be very suitable – I think – his thoughts on autonomy and an end to wage labour – just for starters – offers another way to look at the politics and border wars of the neo colonialism known as globalism. They’re not unlike those we all know are being waged where  frontiers of design and business blur.

Enough paraphrasing the Art of War – Thank you Sun Tzu.

I’m dragging my interns with me to mat class to record and annotate the activities. To culminate in a narrative and objective outcome(s) of their own for  2012. Watch this space as it unfolds – a forgivable pun I hope. Other activities will be woven in as they occur – two puns in two lines! I’ll stop. The learners will be in their final – year 3 of Design studies next year,  and supporting the consensus that the INDIGOPowWow will be largely populated by local and regional students – I will be grooming them for a major role in it. Just as their times are forcefully grooming them for a wider world so rapidly changing with or without their compliance or possibly not in the best interests of their inalienable autonomy and local relevance.

My other two intertwining personal projects – preserving, protecting and nurturing vulnerable local knowledge – together with capturing the dynamic of the design vernacular on this small island – I am happy to say – work is progressing.

And then there is Christine’s Island…

It’s raining outside – always it would seem. Never wet  – though to this writer – just more green. And if this Australian knows anything – there can never be enough Green.

Send Her Down Hughie!



03/04 2011


P.S. All bold texts above are or will be individual links to evidence, hopefully support, context, sub text and points of discussion into the future.

3 Responses to “FROM THE EDGE OF THE FOREST”

  1. wade Says:

    joy.

  2. anthonyfward Says:

    Oopsi! I thought I’d switched to Private – what the hell!

  3. impo$t! Says:

    wow…! i am envious of you afw.!
    hows the coffe?
    {lurvellie usage of garamond italic,
    yes sir!}

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