Being a devoted Gold Coaster it is the bane of my overly dramatic existence when people lament that the city lacks culture. I’m the first to defend my city and its cultural landscape, with Bernard Salt’s Beyond the Horizon report calling for a MONA affect: A catalyst to transform our beautiful city through art and culture, taking us from glittering tourist strip to a melting pot of art, science and culture, whilst retaining some of that famous glitz and glamour. 2970° The Boiling Point aims to catalyse that transformation as a space where arts, science, technology, architecture and sport combine in the melting pot of gold through performance, conversations and presentations. This is a place of innovation, creative thinking, collaboration and future thinking. So what happened when 2970 came to town? Catherine Coburn and Andrew Scott give us the low down…
DAY ONE: Art + Science
The 2970° journey starts at the awe-inspiring Abedian School of Architecture at Bond University where the weekend is opened with speeches by Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate and 2970°’s “alchemist” curator David Pledger, director of pioneering interdisciplinary arts company, Not Yet It’s Difficult (NYID). Both share their vision for an improved cultural landscape on the Gold Coast, bringing together futurists, and people with a creative mind, a collision of disciplines, pioneering ideas and projects, stepping into the unknown in our unique city.
Renowned artist Stellarc is the ideal person to start off the weekend of thought, discovery and action. Best known for his technology-influenced performance art he discusses the evolutionary architecture of the body and our increased intimacy with technology in his presentation Alternate Anatomies: Zombies, Cyborgs and Chimeras, which was occasionally peppered by his amazing and infectious mad professor laughter. Taking the captive audience through his many art performances that focus on extending the limits of the human body and its capabilities with technology, there are more than a few winces when a video is shown of a bionic ear being implanted into his forearm. His robotic arm piece is the centre of his presentation and raises questions about biomimicry and cyborgs. It’s the collision of art and technology and indeed opened my mind to the possibility of technology driven body hacks that may become as common place as a tattoo in the future.
The rest of the evening is devoted to exploring the various technology based art and innovations dotted around the venue as part of TechTonicArt. Some favourites are The Future is Almost Here by Cake Industries, an often hilarious look at what the future was prophesised to look like by previous generations, and how this has impacted on Cake Industries own work. Incredible Machine by film maker Mick Souiza was a thought provoking assault on the eyes and ears in a darkened room that examined machines and their impact. Finally the super cute Nao Robot operated by Steve Guttormsen presented an opportunity for us to issue a robot commands for our own amusement, and learn how this small machine has been assisting children with autism who have speech impediments and the wider possibilities such a machine can offer to children and adults.
DAY TWO: A Blankman Perspective
The basic feeling I got from Friday night’s event is that it was adult leaders of the community collaborating on the best way forward for the Gold Coast community. Like the adults of a family making a financial, social, occupational and educational plan for their family over the next 5-10 years. Though mature and clinical in some respects, it’s creative and personal too.
My personal favourite presentation of the weekend was Alex Kelly’s Radically re-imagining the world as our climate changes. The first visual during Alex’s performance to really capture my attention was a slide which read “We are the leaders we have been waiting for” a quote by Grace Lee Boggs. The people congregated seemed eager to be on the front line of change as our GC community moves forward. Then of course was the message for hope. A slide which read “Big change looks impossible when you start. It looks inevitable when you finish” Bob Hunter.
I was fortunate enough to be handed the microphone as part of the Q&A at the conclusion of Alex’s presentation. I asked: “Which environmental organisations are focussed on busting the myth that change, at an individual level or community level, is only hard and traumatic?”
The response was too long for me to record as I was busy listening. I do however remember the message that Artists of a community are most capable of breaking old ideals and values which prevent progression.
This triggered a humble recognition. In representing BlankGC at this event and sharing the experience of 2970° with GC readers I am able to contribute creatively for a cushioning of the troubles associated with change. To celebrate moving into the future as a healthy and hopeful GC resident.
DAY THREE: Art, Geography and the Future
Today was the day I was most looking forward to as Liam Young was presenting City Everywhere: Kim Kardashian and the Dark Side of the Screen, an ethereal wander through the fictional future town of City Everywhere with Kim Kardashian as our guide through a land that our obsession with technology gadgets and selfies has put in motion.
A trained architect, Liam Young is the founder of think tank Tomorrows Thoughts Today and the nomadic design studio Unknown Fields Division. His thought provoking presentation combined film, animation, photography and future sounds. The audience was captivated by the shiny possibilities this future offered, with a worrisome side of darkness that this bright future cannot be without some cost. Behind the selfies and sapphires there is technology waste created by our pursuit of the latest technology, the negative human impact of our love for material goods and the eerily quiet of the once singing canaries in an environment where CO2 levels reach greater more dangerous heights as our consumerism spirals out of control. Magnificent! In our mentored group conversation after the deeply felt presentation we discussed the pros and cons of such a future and the costs to ourselves and others were we to continue along the path predicted in City Everywhere.
After regrouping at lunch with a clever performance by The Farm, it was now time for pro-surfer turned visual artist Alex Monteith to join us via Skype for her presentation Accelerated Bodies; Bikes, boards, choppers and planes, which was followed by a moderated conversation with Tim Baker. I was surprised by how thought provoking I found each of Alex’s works and became deeply engaged in her presentation that focussed on sport and art colliding with her surfing related works having a raw beauty to them that I found left me wanting more. Being a surfer herself Alex has run surfing related projects in alliance with museums that have a focus on the local geographical needs.
The weekend was concluded with an open forum run by the formidable Robyn Archer AO, Australian performance and arts legend and public advocate of the arts both here and abroad. Archer coined an acronym that best summed up the seminar PRANCE: Pain, Risk, Adaption, Narrative, Change, Experiment and implored us all that the time for conversation had ended and that the time for doing was now upon us. So let’s do it!