False Lamas.

It's another 'False Lama', the sound of a van pulling into the neighbours driveway. I'm expecting a package in the post so I'm listening for the mail van.

False Lamas are frustrating. They laugh in your face. Fooled you again we did!

My package will be here soon, I'm sure. I continue to wait.

What was that? A vehicle? Was that in our driveway? I hurry to look. Anticipation... but no. Just another false lama. The other neighbour's car.

False lama's playing tricks on me.

The Houses on the Hill.

Some day I'm going to be one of those people who live on the hill. You've seen their houses, crammed together high on the hill side, two stories high, positioned to maximize the view across the valley to the horizon beyond.

My home town of Gawler has many of these houses. The town is located in a valley and part way up several hills. It's clear that the people on the hill have money because their two story houses are like mini mansions but without the wide open grounds. They're packed together like tourists on a lookout, all fighting for the best view.

Enjoying one of my semi regular walks around the town, it struck me that most of the houses on the hill add very little to the view you see from the valley below. Whilst they may have spectacular views from their balcony, the exteriors of the hill houses look plain and uninspired. Architectural Blah.

Before those houses were built there used be trees, wildlife, scrub land and more. The view used to be so much better than the box like structures that exist there now.

Perhaps being a person who lives in a house on the hill wouldn't be so great after all. Who really wants to spoil the view from the valley?

Questioning Online Surveys?

The concept of being paid to do online surveys has been around for a while now but lately I've been bombarded by a relative who is trying to convince me that these things are a great way to earn extra cash. About an hour a day is all it takes with some sites paying anywhere between $5-$10 per survey.

I have never met anyone that enjoys filling in a form of any kind so completing surveys is not exactly something you do for the pure joy of putting ticks in little boxes. It's more of a 'if I take a bit of time to do something tedious I'll be rewarded' kind of thing. Which is not to say all surveys are dull and boring ...but the majority of online ones are (at least in my experience).

Some surveys will pay more based on whether you qualify...i.e. whether you're in the demographic. The results of these are some what questionable when you consider I know people who give false answers in order to qualify and earn the bigger dollars. Not that I care.

You see, the question that I ask myself is this; "Is filling in these surveys really a productive use of my time?"

Now answering a few questions for around an hour a day may not seem like such a big sacrifice - and it isn't - but when you add those hours up over a week, that's five hours (or seven if you include weekends). In that time I could've completed one artwork ready for selling at a price that would need about 4 weeks of surveys to come close to.

Perhaps you're thinking, 'well why don't you create art and do surveys then?' It's a fair point. One that I don't have a good answer to other than to say 'if banging your head against a brick wall would earn you dollars would you do it?'

Working mindlessly to earn money is just not my thing. I enjoy the challenge of making money from the things I create. My writing, my art, my videos... you get the idea. Whilst the money I make from these is not always direct (I earn money indirectly through advertising too) I do get a real sense of achievement knowing that it is my creativity that is earning my income.

For me it isn't just about the money. It's what you do to earn it that matters too. Whilst I don't earn a whole lot from my creativity I can at least be proud of the dollars that I do earn.

Start her up and see how that sounds...

I've been observing the goings on surrounding my partner's teenage son's acquisition of a new (well second hand new) car. At the moment the car is unregistered so it stays parked in the driveway, with the occasional move from one of our driveways to the other.

Of course, when a teenage man gets a new car then all his friends must come around for a look. Specifically they come around to sit in the car, look at the engine and watch the engine rev, just to see how it sounds.

Second hand cars are nearly always 'fixer uppers' and this one is no exception. Remembering back to when I was about 17 years old, in any one group of young men that age, there is usually, maybe one, who knows something about cars (he's the one who actually wants to be a mechanic).

The rest know bits and pieces here and there but have no real clue about how to make a car work. They've just watched someone else fix their cars (perhaps) and maybe paid some attention to what the mechanic did. However they will still speak with authority like they know far more than they do.

I imagine the committee discussion that I observed (held looking into the engine) to go something like this...

"Check the oil and water."

"okay."

"Brake fluid?"

"Yep."

"Okay start her up and see how that sounds...rev it a bit too."

"Right, turn it off."

"I'll just remove all the spark plug leads and check for dust."

"Okay start her up and see how that sounds...rev it a bit too."

"Right, turn it off."

"Fan belt looks a bit worn..."

"Okay start her up and see how that sounds...rev it a bit too."

"Right, turn it off."

"What other things have you tried?"

"Well I've cleaned the interior, changed the gear stick knob, upgraded the stereo and washed the exterior."

"You changed the gear stick knob?"

"Yeah."

"...and that didn't help. Interesting?"

"Okay start her up and see how that sounds...rev it a bit too."

"Right, turn it off."

Maybe I'm being at bit harsh but observing five young men looking under the hood of a car, starting it up several times, never really touching the engine with any kind of tool at all? I suspect none of them know much about cars. To be fair one of them actually got on the ground and looked underneath it. He even swore so that probably helped...

"Okay start her up and see how that sounds...rev it a bit too."

I don't know a whole lot about cars either but then I was never really into the whole 'showing off my car to friends thing'. It's a car (I can hear all you car lovers reeling with horror). I know more about lawnmowers and how they work... well at least I know more about our lawnmower.

The fuss about this particular car will wear down as the novelty fades but for now it has the cleanest windows in all of Gawler. Apparently cleaning the windscreen at least once a day for three days helps it run better.

"Okay start her up and see how that sounds...rev it a bit too."

Fantastic View for a wasted opportunity.

Maybe it is just me but if I traveled half way around the world to create a sculpture for a public park - I'd want to make something breath taking. Something that would perhaps inspire. Or at least something that would be as equally impressive as the view.

Barossa Sculpture Park was created as part of a Barossa International Sculpture Symposium which was held in 1988. Nine sculptors from Japan, the USA, France and Australia took part, over six weeks, to each create sculptures that "reflect the environment they stand in and draw attention to the different aspects of the hills, its landforms, the valley and its people below." (to quote the plaque).

As you may have guessed the park is located on a hill, Mengler Hill near Tanunda in the Barossa, South Australia, to be precise. It sits just below the Mengler lookout area which features spectacular views of the valley below. One can't help but feel that the artists took one look at the fantastic view and decided that there was no hope of competing with it.

Most of the sculptures are unremarkable monoliths to modern art and minimalism. Constructed from granite and marble. Of the few that are interesting it is a struggle to understand their meaning or how they relate to the surrounding environment.

This is not a park that I would make a special trip to in order to show my friends an impressive display of art from around the world. However there is a superbly located picnic table that has the best view for which I would return just to share an intimate lunch for two (with my partner of course). Plus if you visit the dirt road turn off a bit higher up the road you can meet some local cows and take photos of them with some of that fantastic view in the background.

Iridescent Art News features TET.

It's always nice to rate a mention in another blog but it's even better to be the headline act. Well headline of a post that is.

John Firestone of the Iridescent Art News at Pennlive.com has featured me and my video on minimalist art in an article that also discusses the artwork of Robert Ryman (my regular readers will know the connection between Robert and I).

It's an interesting article. John really appreciates Robert's art and can give you some insight as to why minimalist art isn't actually the art world playing a joke on the masses. [ Read John's Article ]

What Super Power would George Bush have?


George Bush, in his earlier years, may have once been asked the question, 'What Super Power would you have?'

It's entirely debatable as to whether he has the wit or the intelligence to make the connections needed to respond with my speculative answer. However, he is the leader of one of the worlds great Super Powers so perhaps an adviser will take him aside and explain my joke!

The Not Quite History of Art: The Beginning


In this occasional series I explore the history of art from a slightly tongue in cheek point of view.

This first episode looks at the very beginnings of art from the starting point of most art history books on the subject. The earliest known examples of 'art' can be found in cave paintings located in France and Spain. Images thought to have been created by hunters exercising some kind of 'power' over their prey by committing their likeness to images drawn onto cave walls.

It's debatable as to whether these images can really be called art because no one really knows the intent by which they were created. Were they drawn simply for decoration or did they have a more 'functional' purpose?

Whatever the reason, 'The Not Quite History of Art' puts forward a new theory that links the very beginnings of art with modern day graffiti.

Telling the Time at Dali's House


Surrealist Artist, Salvador Dali, is famous for his dream inspired paintings of melted clocks. In particular, his artwork "The Persistence of Memory" painted in 1931. The question is, did Dali just dream these clocks or did they seep into his subconscious from his every day experience?

Leonardo's Photo


Digital technology has made taking the perfect picture that much easier yet our advanced photographic equipment still cannot avoid the mindless individual, intent on getting their face in the photo.

With this in mind, imagine how much more difficult it must have been for master painters like Leonardo DaVinci. Hours of meticulous painting ruined by unthinking individuals determined to leave their mark.

Guitar Practice.

In my time I've lived next to my fair share of aspiring musicians, from drummers to guitar players and even singers. As I write this my neighbour is practicing his guitar.

What all these wanna be rock stars have in common is that they all set their volume to a level that is suitable for performing, when you actually have an audience, but totally unsuitable for practice in the back streets of the suburbs. Volumes so loud that the neighbours (namely me) have nowhere within our own home we can retreat to in order to not listen to their music.

Why would I want to retreat from these free concerts playing right over my fence? It's not because I don't like the sound of the music - indeed my neighbour does quite a good version of David Bowie's 'Ziggy Stardust'. What really is annoying is that the other thing all these musicians/singers have in common is that they never practice full versions of songs.

How can you even like their sound when all they do is play a riff here, a beat there and perhaps sing a verse if you're lucky? It's the equivalent of someone channel flipping the TV to see what's on - all the time - without ever really stopping on any one program long enough to see what it's about.

So here's my message to all you backyard musicians - practicing in your sheds. Either have the decency to play/sing full songs or turn the f**king volume down!

Not Another Journal. Not Another Community.

Seems like every web site is about user generated content...unleashing the creativity within.

In the olden days (if two to three years ago can be called 'the olden days') web site owners were responsible for creating content. Remember. A successful site was 'content rich'. Good content would keep people coming back.

Now a good web site needs a friendly, interactive interface that facilitates community building...what the? It needs to provide the tools for the visitor to create and share their own content with other like minded people. Are we all egocentric maniacs or are we doing what we've always done, which is, talk about ourselves to whoever will listen?

How many internet journals does one person really need? How many online communities can one person belong to before they run out of 'me' references? Can we really talk about ourselves forever?

Look at me. Look at me. I create art. I write articles. I design web sites. I make videos. I can do anything I set my mind to because I'm me.

Friendship becomes a series of emails, journal entries, sound bites, video grabs and tagged information until finally the need for real human interaction pushes you to reach out. Which community will experience the 'real' you? The one that doesn't share nearly as much information in person as you would online?

I think perhaps I'm all journaled out? Do I really need another few hundred friends who sit silent on a list in my profile? Why do these people add me to their friends list and then never interact with me?

Have I not left enough stones unturned? Are they getting too much of me whether they want to or not?

Do they know so much about me that there is nothing left to ask?

Do I even matter to them?
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