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Blog – Artist-in-Residence blog post 3: Interlude

Posted on Oct. 2, 2013 by Benjamin Forster in Artist and curator Interviews.
Scribble from the notebook of Tristan, the MCA's Creative Media Fellow

(Scribble from the notebook of Tristan, the MCA’s Creative Media Fellow)

An Interlude
(two weeks of fragments)

Three months, half way through my residency, I took a two week trip to visit my partner in Europe and consider drawing more broadly outside the context of organisations. Ultimately I want this research into drawing to be larger than the MCA.


International flights – 14 hours watching the crudely rendered image of a plane trace a path across the globe. Children silenced by 'free’ colouring-in books.

Trains – Trajectories defined by steel lines cutting the landscape. Graffiti, inside and outside constantly shifting.

Graffiti could be the ideal Esperanto –
Two circles and a line. Cock.
Two parabolas, and dots at their loci. Tits.
Tu Pac and anarchy
Teenage political convention.


Jewish museum – Power of Libeskind’s architecture contrasted with the flaccid vernacular of 'visitor engagement’. Bright colours and interactive displays.

Berlin Zoo – effects of taxonomy and/or containment. An elephant walking a line repeatedly; manifesting behaviour perhaps listed in the imaginary Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Elephant Mental Disorders.

Facades of building so laden with scrawls that you could be forgiven for thinking that they were entirely drawn.

Scars of history. Obviously Berlin wall, burnt out buildings, modern ruins, communist architecture.
Contrast of old monuments and new. Günter Grass once wrote a poem about purchasing an Eraser.


History – the perfect architecture of dreams – labyrinthine with liquid foundations. Stone worn by both feet and water. Windows and doors that once were, remain visible through subtle material variation – the colour of bricks or cement. Generations of form pressed together, defying the logic of sedimentation – visible without the violence of a core sample.

A struggle to preserve – Cruise ships eclipse the postcard images. Thinking about post-cards – hand written sentiment travelling across the seas. I do not send post cards – but email leaves traces too. Thinking about the venice captured in books – catalogued and dispersed throughout libraries. Ernest Hemingway and Peggy Guggenheim. Do marks make a space, or does a space make marks?

The Biennale – The Encyclopedic Palace, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, was a surprise. I found it refreshingly alligned with my current research interests, as it centred around the futility of taxonomies and the collection and classification of human knowledge. The exhibition felt like a giant collection of collections, ultimately resulting in fatigue. The abundance of works/thoughts ultimately devalued the power of specifics through repetition. Whist in the Giardini I was struck by an 'aesthetic of thought’, this was reinforced by notes and drawings by anthropologists, teachers (Steiner), and psychologists (Jung).

Is the image of thought simply the aesthetic of note-taking?
Can a drawing appear as containing thought yet be empty?

Maribor, Slovenia

I wish I could trace the lineage of stories travelling from person to person. It would be an accurate image of my knowledge.

Echoes of Berlin. Collapse of the textile industry that supplied the Yugoslavian military resulted in a broken economy. 25% unemployment. Abandoned factories and empty space reserved for culture. Maribor was cultural capital last year. This milestone has passed – pasteups and signs remain scattered, highly visible, throughout the city. Fading markers of recent past and slipped investment.

Cities endure longer than nations – national lines are continually drafted through conflict.

Continued Reflections:

Now, back at the MCA, I have been looking at the interface between the digital/virtual and the material/actual.

A crude image:

A crude image

Feedback Systems:
There are multiple instances of feedback between note-taking/drawing and the digital within the MCA. For example, floor plans for exhibitions are drawn and then translated to google sketchup, printed out, annotated and sketch up modified, printed out, annotated, etc. This is of course a gross simplification. These processes are necessarily collaborative across the departments.

The digital compresses time and space, as programs/resources are being delivered via the internet to peoples’ homes, classrooms, regional Australia, internationally, etc. However location and physicality remain core to the functioning of the Museum, for example physical layout of desk space and the visibility of the MCA Collection.


>> Statement
>> Structure
>> Organisation
>> Digital
>> Public
>> Knowledge

Still to read:

> Ann Blair, “Note taking as an art of transmission”, Critical Inquiry 31(2004), pp. 85-107.

> Lorraine Daston, „Taking Note(s)“, Isis 95 (2004), pp. 443-448

> N. Hathaway, ‘Compilatio: From Plagiarism to Composition’, Viator, 20, 1989, pp. 19-44

> Anke te Heesen, The notebook: a paper-technology, in Latour, Bruno Weibel, Peter (eds.), Making things public: atmospheres of democracy (Cambridge, Mass. u.a 2005), pp. 582-589

> Friedrich Kittler, Grammophon / Film / Typewriter. (Berlin: Brinkmann & Bose, 1986)

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Benjamin Forster

Benjamin Forster’s practice may be positioned within contemporary drawing, bringing together digital and biological technologies, installation and print to trace the boundaries of logic, economy and the role of the artist in art making. He received a Bachelor of Visual Arts with
 First Class Honours from the Australian National University in 2009.
His Drawing Machine project was exhibited in Hatched 09: The National Graduate Exhibition at PICA, as well as the International Symposium on Computational Aesthetics 09 in Victoria, Canada. In 2012, Forster’s work was included in PRIMAVERA at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney in 2012 and NEW13 at ACCA in 2013.

Benjamin undertook a 6 month residency at the MCA during 2013, after which he was commissioned to create a work for the MCA.

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