All posts by danielf

Not another apocalypse…

The Edge has been in the apocalypse business before. Back in 2011 (it doesn’t seem that long ago) as a part of the Festival of Ideas we delivered the Climate Zombie Apocalypse; a live-action zombie adventure game that took over the entire Edge building, turning the space into a wasteland of community volunteers in full zombie makeup, with desperate players trying to survive buckets of chocolate topping. 

 

To date, we’ve run three apocalypse events – all of them created for, with, and by our community – each bigger than the last, and squarely focused on learning in art, science, technology and event management. Back then, we called these events ‘apocalypses’, which was actually not entirely correct. Cue the (Wikipedia) definition:

An apocalypse (Ancient Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis, from ἀπό and καλύπτω, literally meaning “an uncovering”) is a disclosure of knowledge or revelation. In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden, “a vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities”. 

Post events, and six years on, The Edge is older, (maybe) wiser, and we can’t help but wonder… “what if we ventured into the apocalypse business again?”. But, this time around, reflecting on the root meaning of the word – an uncovering, a disclosure of knowledge or revelation.

 


We want to hear from you…

Join the conversation on Facebook, post a comment below, or email us at what.the(AT)edgeqld.org.au and tell us what the word ‘apocalypse’ means to you.

 


 

Thumbnail image credit // On The Edge II,  2015, Collage, Rachael Bartram


The Planting, Lock Making and Lessons Learned

You might have seen a few newsletter’s ago, we spent a Friday building the prototype of a DIY lock making/breaking workshop. Since then it’s evolved, improved and become something a little bit awesome thanks to Phil’s tireless (maybe slightly panicked) efforts in the couple of months since.


The Edge at The Planting Festival

The Edge Lock Making/Breaking workshops at The Planting Festival

 

But, what we didn’t say back then was the reason for this madness, and now is as good a time as any to explain ourselves.

They Edge was invited to Woodfordia to deliver workshops at The Planting Festival – the Woodford Folk Festival’s mid-year gathering. We took our lock kits and sheets of kombucha into the mud and sun, under a tent roof to deliver Edge style learning to a group of super enthused festival folk.

There, they built locks and fashioned kombucha accessories. Those locks were picked – we didn’t provide a key – and we learned that the kit wasn’t perfect; which is what delivering these kinds of projects are all about. It’s really easy to assume that something works after you’ve been staring at the thing day-in-day-out, living and breathing it. You fill in the gaps with logic and professional assumption, making intuitive jumps and fixing problems without realizing that there is a problem in the first place.

Then, you put your invention into the hands of community and watch as your best-laid plans go a little awry. The adage that no plan survives contact with the general public is as true today as the first time it was said. That doesn’t mean people don’t have a good time – everyone in those tents had a ball and it was the best kind of learning – the kind that goes both ways.

There was also mud and camping and awesome food and other amazing things to see and engage with. That’s the Woodfordia way of things; awesome times.

Would you like to see what we got up to at The Planting Festival? Check out all our photos in the Facebook Album.

 


Friday Workshop with the Edge Crew

By Daniel Flood, The Edge Creative Manager

Making something new, it’s a big chunk of what we do. Whether it is an old idea in new skin or something genuinely new.

When you come to the realisation that this is the job, you’re being paid to create, there is a very real and visceral sensation. The freedom to sit and stare and think and make and break and cuss and iterate and innovate in we’re incredibly lucky or skilled or imaginative or a concoction of all three. It’s a freedom that can’t be taken for granted.

It’s a freedom we exercised in a Friday not so long ago. We sat/stood/leaned around the table for an entire day and stared at an old idea, thinking hard about making it new for an upcoming event we’re involved in (that we can’t speak about yet but will become clear in a newsletter or two).

Workshop materials

 

Workshop materials

Usually it is just one of us in a darkened room staring at a table where we have collected the bits of the trade. Pens (to break for parts), cardboard, blade knives, drill presses and all manner of other shenanigans. Laptops and butchers paper sprawled across benches, strewn amidst markers and pencils and a kilogram of jelly beans (the ones from the pharmacy because they’re the good ones, full of ideas for planting.

Workshop prep

 

Workshop sketches

Everything is better when you do it with others. Ideas are easier when there are people to share them with; bad ones uncovered before they leave a smell and good ones recovered before they hit the round filing cabinet of despair (aka the trash). We spent five hours staring at the problem, talking it over, cutting stuff out and putting it together in the wrong/right/wrong order as required.

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At the end of those five hours it wasn’t resolved but that didn’t matter. There was an object sitting in front of us that was ugly, a little broken but its existence proved the idea was sound.

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At the end of five hours we had the beginning of something old in the process of becoming something new and from there the possibilities, and are still, endless.


Woodford Wrap Up

Woodford Folk Festival and The Edge are two places that, when said out loud in the same sentence, don’t instantly scream synergy. They probably should, and in practice they do – like butter and jam on good sourdough bread on a Sunday morning – but from the outset you have to think, it is a folk festival!

Woodfordia

Music and cabaret, lantern making and knot tying for kids, dust and mud and sunburn for everyone; time to disconnect and not engage with technology. Which would be true if The Edge was just about technology or science or art or enterprise except it isn’t. It’s about working with/building communities creatively, empowering all of Queensland to engage with the mandate.

The best way to do that is go where the people are, and Woodford… Woodford Folk Festival has people on mass.

Over three nights, and to more than a hundred people, there were workshops – so many workshops. Making pinwheels that glowed in the night from tin cans laced with LEDS and hydroelectric generators from magnets, motors and used water bottle. In a tent! It’s been a while since we’ve delivered in a tent and it served as a solid reminder that when you’re in a tent and not a properly kitted out workshop, that things go a little differently – sometimes sideways.

It would be easy to get caught up in the difficulty, but much easier and so much more satisfying to see the smiles on the communities’ faces. The hundreds of hands turned to twisting wire, gluing tin and generating electricity in a thing they fashioned with their own hands. Watching those people that bought the ticket to ride empowered to creatively experiment in art, science and technology. Which is the whole point.

Woodford Folk Festival and The Edge might not be the most obvious partners, but they just are.

 

Image Credit: Jan Smith


2015 Wrap-up

By Daniel Flood, Creative Manager

2015 is coming to a close, and I’m sitting in the back of the room watching The Edge team Christmas party. They could have gone to dinner, grabbed drinks or done whatever it is ‘normal’ offices do to celebrate the close of a successful, full-on year – that would have made sense. But, that wouldn’t be about empowering creative experimentation across art, science technology and enterprise; which is what The Edge does. From venue hire to programming and communications, The Edge filters through that context, up to and including this year’s Christmas party, as it’s spent learning how to laser cut, solder and road test a workshop that no one has ever done before.

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Spending the afternoon creating and making is how The Edge celebrates a successful year, and here’s what some of that success looks like:

  • Community and exhibition partnerships with diverse communities like Autism Queensland, University of Queensland, Microsoft, Apple, 4ZZZ and the School of Hard Knocks
  • The installation of a giant Space Invader at the Brisbane Powerhouse. I’m pretty sure it’s still there. (Here’s the prototype)
  • Upgrades to already fantastic facilities that provide community, government and industry with the opportunity to make awesome things happen (plus, more here)
  • 100,000+ visitors through the doors and thousands of community members engaging in workshops, exhibitions, and creative experimentations
  • The beginning of a long process, to give away IP to libraries and communities that want to make programming like The Edge
  • Bespoke cubby houses designed and fabricated by families, for their families, and installed in backyards across South-East Queensland

None of this would be feasible, or possible if it weren’t for the team that is right now making hipster Christmas trees as their end of year festivities. An amazing, talented and dedicated gaggle of professionals that pour more than their fair share of energies into turning a concrete bunker into something vibrant, and at times frightening, but always exciting and alive.

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I watch this party – the fifth (!) Edge Christmas – and smile in the knowledge that this year’s been a success, and 2016 will be something else entirely. Collectively I can say on behalf of the whole team; we cannot wait to see what it brings.


IRL Festival Wrap-up

It started as a conversation late last year with Kris and Marnie at the Brisbane Powerhouse, how it would be awesome for our two buildings to play together. And so, over the past ten days The Edge was a part of the IRL Digital Festival.

You might have seen it? Giant Space Invaders, giant sliding puzzles (giant was a recurrent theme) stain glass windows, an audio journey of Player 1/Player 2 throughout gaming history and things to play. Thousands of people – from what I saw and I was there a lot – explored what was on offer and got their game on. It was The Edge out in the wild, it was glorious and it would be awesome if we – by which I mean me – could claim all the credit. That’s what you’re meant to do… right?

As much as I would like to, I can’t. This has been the work of a lot of people; staff, uber-producers, coders and the community members who gave generously of their time. The rollcall of these people can be found below.

These people were designers, coders, hovercraft makers and all manner of creatives. This is our – The Edge’s – opportunity to say thank you to these people for gouts of enthusiasm, shenanigans in exchange for an experience, gratitude and pizza. There were late nights, long weekends, more than a little freaking out – that would be me freaking out a little – and a race to the very live deadline of a public exhibition. For many of these community members it was their first time creating works for an exhibition, and to reiterate the outcomes were amazing.

On a personal note, there is something about working with community to create that is awe inspiring. Seeing people create, not know how difficult what they’re seeking to achieve truly is, but reaching for it is a big part of what keeps me doing what I do. We hadn’t done this in a while at The Edge and the IRL Digital Festival reminded me that it is what we should be doing and what we will be doing.

Because, unlike me stealing undue credit this is what The Edge does.

Without further preamble, the people involved were…

  • The watchful, organisational eye of the Edge’s A/Creative Manager Mick Byrne
  • The uber-producers Marianna Shek and Sarah Winter (Player One/Player Two)
  • Coder Extraordinaire and fabricator Nathen Street (Enter the Mashup)
  • The writing team of Tara Brown, Angela Hibbard, RJ Miso & Victoria Posner (Player One/Player Two)
  • The visual design team of Richard Lee, Caitlin McGowan, Leila Watson, Brian Dinh, Craig Bentick, Stacy Field, Gregory Davis, Tara
  • May Flynn, Bob Dobson and Jessica Fay (Player One/Player Two)
  • The film making facilitation of Angus Macleod (Enter the Mashup)
  • The film making skills of Tatjana Hamilton, Sonal Patel, Joan Mok, Joe Fernando, Arwin Sahar, Bethany Watt & Bertrand Dungan (Enter the Mashup)
  • The patience, professionalism and support of the Brisbane Powerhouse

IRL FestivalCall out for creatives

IRL Festival

IRL Festival

This May, the Brisbane Powerhouse will be hosting the IRL Festival, a program exploring the convergence between live arts, and digital and gaming culture. The Edge has been asked to be involved and really, when you think about it how could The Edge not be involved?

As is the way with a lot of things The Edge does, we would love for you to be involved in the ideation, creation and collaboration of our involvement. To that end, let me introduce you to one of the two projects currently waiting for your cleverness.

PLAYER 1/PLAYER 2

In the beginning there was Player 1 and Player 2.  Defenders of humanity, anthromopghic representations, bricks playing tennis, hardened murder hobos and whimsical fey creatures.

Suppose these two characters were persistent, the same persona shunted from game to game, doomed to live a thousand lives in a thousand skins at our whim. What might their story be? Player 1/Player 2 is an interactive installation work exploring that story.

We’re looking for:

  • Visual designers to help us design the physical installation
  • Writers to collaborate on writing the scripted elements of the work, and
  • Generally clever individuals to help make the project happen

This is an awesome opportunity to create new work that will be exhibited in public as part of a major festival, and meet new people interested in the same things you are.

How to get involved:

For visual designers and generally clever people we will be having a session on Saturday 28th February here at The Edge from 2pm to 3:30pm. Concepts will be discussed,  labour volunteered and a fun time had by all. Bookings to this event can be made here.

For writers, we will be having a session on Saturday 28th February here at The Edge from 3:45 till 5pm. Concept will be discussed, as well as process and such. This will be largely an online process after this first meeting. Bookings to this event can be made here.

There will be other opportunities to get involved in this project; this is your opportunity to get in on the ground floor. If you have any questions, contact The Edge Creative Manager, Daniel Flood below.


I was 13…

I love horror movies. I remember Channel 10 used to show one every Saturday night at midnight. I would wait til my parents went to bed, then sneak down to the lounge room and watch them with the volume way down (so no one would hear). My face was so close to the screen I could have been the video cover of Poltergeist. I am sure they knew what I was doing.

I was only 13. Don’t try this at home.

Halloween (John Carpenter, the 1970s)
Little Michael Myers killed his big sister when he was six with a kitchen knife. Fifteen years later he’s escaped the psychiatric ward and wants to come home for his little sister. He doesn’t want a hug.

Friday the 13th (Sean Cunningham, the 1980s)
Camp councillors have sex, take drugs and drink at Camp Crystal lake where a little boy drowned years earlier due to camp councillor negligence. Hilarity ensues.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, the 1980s)
Towns folk burn a pedophile to death and then believe their nightmare is over. They’re mistaken.

The Exorcist (William Friedkin, the 1970s)
The Devil possesses a little girl and brave priests seek to save her soul. It does not end well.

The Omen (Richard Donner, the 1970s)
A nice family adopts a orphan boy who might be the AntiChrist. As you do.

Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, the 1960s)
Mum fears her unborn baby is the spawn of the devil. She’s probably right.

Night of the Living Dead (George R Romero, the 1960s)
Hell is full and there is no more room for the dead, so they rise and eat people. Suck it Walking Dead.

Hellraiser (Clive Barker, the 1980s)
There’s a box, a man with a head full of nails and a deeply sado-masochistic flair. It’s all so terribly English.

Alien (Ridley Scott, the 1970s)
I don’t want to go to space because of this movie.

Happy Halloween!


SXSW – Opening Comments

SXSW Interactive

The Edge (or more specifically, me) went to South by South West (SXSW) Interactive this year. Held annually in Austin, Texas, it is the premier innovation in digital culture gig and a chance for tens of thousands to talk about their practises.

If TED is the beauty pageant of ideas (not my words, they’re someone else’s), then SXSW Interactive is the pub that locals flock to on a Friday night to hear the bands play; if the bands were Dr Neil Degrasse Tyson, the developers from Half Brick and Adam Savage from Mythbusters. In short, it is awesome, and that is where the gloating ends and the conversation begins, because SXSW is just that – at least it was for me – a conversation.

You’re in a city that knows how to make people feel welcome, a city full of people from all round the world there for the same reason you are and wanting, desperately, to talk about it. Between talks people talk, exchange business cards and steal each others’ ideas. Steal, that is, in the nicest possible way, acknowledging where the stealing occurred when anyone asks and back linking to the source material. You could call it sharing I guess, but that is nowhere near as romantic a construct as stealing; a bit like Robin Hood circa Kevin Costner in Prince of Thieves and not Russell Crowe in that other one directed by Ridley Scott, which I liked but it was not romantic at all…

I digress.

SXSW was all about conversation and interrogating, exploring ideas and challenging the preconceptions I brought with me. For every joyous moment of validation – Adam Savage exploring art and science as the corner stone of culture conversation – there were moments of deep concern – Joi Ito’s statement about mankind’s capacity to generate extinction level events – and frightening potentiality – 23andMe‘s extensive bank of sequenced human DNA. Gathered together they left my head wanting to explode and a lingering aftertaste in my mouth.

I’ll get to that taste in one more paragraph.

I listened to librarians from Stamford talk about providing entrepreneurs a place to gather, teachers from across the world wanting makerspaces in their communities and some of science’s greatest minds urging the world to find a way to make learning accessible, relevant. It is hard sometimes in Australia to appreciate that what you are doing is innovative, at times groundbreaking and at the very least, mostly fascinating. It is very easy to look at the internet and see how shiny the rest of the world looks through the lens of their beautifully resolved communications strategies.

It is easy to forget that this is their showreel, their lives without the ums and ahs breaking up the conversation. Talking with colleagues in the same sector from round the world, you come to the realisation that we’re doing just as good a job as everyone else is. That lingering taste in my mouth was the taste of potential success.

It tastes like sherbet.

More to come about SXSW to come.