The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Event Review: Wellington Lux Festival — June 30, 2013

Event Review: Wellington Lux Festival

As part of the Wellington Lux Festival Symposium spanning 22/23 June, Katherine Field and Pepper Curry attended both days and reported back to The Fetch on all the terrific art they interacted with.

Photo credit: Katherine Field
Photo credit: Katherine Field

Last weekend marked the second instalment of the WGTN Lux Festival, celebrating creativity at the interaction of light, space and technology. The festival was plagued by the recent storm in Wellington but fought the odds, with almost all of the artists managing to install these outdoor pieces.

A Symposium occupied the central two days of the four-day event and was a fascinating insight into the creative, scientific and mad minds of the artists – most of whom had pieces dotted around the city for the festival. Twelve artists and a panel discussion entertained an intimate, engaged audience in the Wellington City Gallery over the two days.

Ruairi Glynn from the UK, was a heavyweight addition to the Symposium. His interactive kinetic installations have been exhibited in such esteemed institutions as Centre Pompidou and The Tate Modern. His artwork unfortunately didn’t feature in the festival here, but he was a passionate and engaging speaker. Glynn shared his unending enthusiasm for his projects that create organic and playful human experiences using artificial intelligence and robotics.

A highlight from the first day of the Symposium was also the poetic and humorous tale of experimentation and failure delivered by local lighting designer/artist, Marcus McShane. He spoke about his journey from building solar racecars and land yachts from a young age, to his current frustrating project. The hurricane-force weather of last week plagued (and postponed) the installation of McShane’s permanent artwork in Opera House Lane which was to debut during the Festival.

Day Two of the Symposium featured five more engaging speakers. There seemed to be a recurring theme of playful and complex digital projects inspired by the natural world. Design the Future’s Social Firefly, Antony Nevin’s BELUGA and Pierre Proske’s Blink were three beautiful pieces in the festival that worked with animal interaction in interesting ways.

Lux Lit Tree 2013 Kimchi and Chips
Photo credit: Katherine Field

Elliot Woods from Seoul-based art and design studio, Kimchi and Chips was a standout in his presentation. In 45 minutes he took us through the relatively complex processes that have informed their work, which left some of the less technologically minded audience members barely keeping up. To over-simplify, the duo have explored such concepts as the aesthetics of error, 2D vs. 3D sight, and have a system which creates the emulsion of digital light in physical space. Their enchanting installation in Frank Kitts Park, Lit Tree 2013 goes beyond ‘traditional’ projection-mapping, and illuminates a tree with light that is volumetric and also able to be manipulated.

As a final session, all the participating artists formed a panel. The discussion ventured though topics on the subtleties of true interactive art, negotiating audience expectation, analogue vs. digital experience, and driving creativity by constraints. Rachael Rakena, (co-creator of the beautiful Aniwaniwa from 2007 Venice Biennale) then became the main focus of the discussion, with many of the questions directed at how she copes with the often negative reaction to her provocative artworks such as Haka Peep Show from the Rugby World Cup.

Photo credit: Katherine Field
Photo credit: Katherine Field

The Symposium was an insightful journey into the processes and inspirations of the talented exhibiting artists. Thankfully, the weather cleared for the final two evenings of the festival, to allow a number of Wellingtonians like us to explore the actual installations under the light of a super-moon – most armed with cameras, tripods and many woollen layers!

About our Ambassadors // Katherine Field is one helluva busy lady. In between holding down the fort as the Community Manager at the BizDojo, she is also back at university and helping to coordinate Startup Weekend Wellington. Find her on twitter as @kathfromwelly

Pepper Curry is an illustrator, zine publisher (Press Zine), and audio-visual performer with Subterranean Mountaintop Seaside. She lives in Brooklyn, Wellington, and can be found helping to facilitate greatness at the BizDojo, Monday thru Friday. 

Event Review: Participation is the new consumption — June 10, 2013

Event Review: Participation is the new consumption

As part of the Vivid Ideas festival, community ambassador Mark Woodrow went along to the Participatory Revolution, an event inspired by Michelle Williams, connector, collaborator and  founder of Ideaction.

Panel discusses big Vivid Ideas
Panel discusses big Vivid Ideas on participation

“There is the same power in our phones as what took humans to the moon.” Michelle Williams inspires passion in us all to join the revolution in opening the half day conference at the MCA in Sydney, 27 May.

“This is the era of creativity. Participation the new consumption.”

It’s not what we consume, it’s how we participate

Greenpeace CEO David Ritter defined their early vision with blunt clarity in quoting David McTaggart  “We have to get our world into 21st C in one piece. Fuck everything else.” Greenpeace works by active participation. The latest campaign targets the horrendous damage by plastics on bird life. Two thirds of Australian sea birds are choking on a stomach full of plastic. You can participate by not purchasing from a multinational like Coca-Cola, which shows no interest in recycling. And watch the compelling ad that was censored by mainstream Australian media.

“Greenpeace’s mission hasn’t changed  but now there are many more options for activism.The action items on the menu for social change have expanded in the rich opportunities contained in digital age.”

Participatory democracy and citizen centricity

‘Social media is just a part of a broader cultural change’ according to self proclaimed geek and open data advocate Pia Waugh.  Gov 2.0 means 3 key things:

1. open data, 2. participatory democracy, 3. citizen centricity.

It is good to have Pia representing the thoughtful application of technology in government and promoting that as citizens we should all be central participants. “For two years, we’ve had more people engaging with government online than through any other medium”, says Pia.

Learning to be a citizen scholar

James Arvanitakis is the lecturer you wish you had at University, winning a Prime Minister’s award for being the most popular Australian lecturer in 2012. He advocates participatory education where we trade knowledge to attract students – we need more citizen scholars, as “Students aren’t empty vessels”.

Like newspapers, James believes the model for traditional university education is outdated. Studies show that attention in lectures goes downhill from 12 minutes. James overcomes this by interacting before, during & after lectures with downloads, and interacting on Facebook.

“Knowledge is like a big picnic. If we all bring something & contribute it will be awesome. We need to get students ready for jobs that don’t exist”

Dan Ilic (Very funny MC), Michelle Williams (Amazing Curator), Mark Woodrow (Fetching)
Dan Ilic (Very funny MC), Michelle Williams (Amazing Curator), Mark Woodrow (Fetching)

Know your sense of purpose

People are interested in doing the right thing and changing the conversation, according to Paul Bennett, Creative Director at renowned design firm IDEO. But to truly participate we need little less conversation, a little more action. Paul recommends we:

1. Have a higher purpose. ‘Know your sense of purpose’, but it needs to be integral, “Purpose is not a layer that you just add on top”.

2. Make stuff. ‘Less talking more doing’ is what leads to human centered design.

3. Be transparent about success & failure. Leap forward into growth rather than step back into safety.

4. Play well with others – collaborate. Assume the good.  “If you care about solving problems, you can’t try and own the solution”

The rule at IDEO is that everybody is in it for everybody. Incredibly IDEO puts everything online. You can see it all, download it. frameworks , designs etc. According to Paul:

“Burning eyes are the business eyes of the future”

The Maker Movement

Yammers Steve Hopkins is all about eliminating silos.  “How you make things is as important as what you make”. Makers are true participants and they are on a different schedule. For a further insight read Paul Graham’s Maker’s Schedule versus Manager’s Schedule

For projects to work, Steve’s suggest’s the Yammer formula:

“Two to ten people in a team for between 2 to 10 weeks. Never longer”

For Ian Lyons, the ‘maker movement’ is increasingly creating value. Ian makes drones (pilot-less flying machines) and suggests you investigate over funded projects on crowd funding platforms,  such as KickStarter. These are a great source of market research. Collaboration is the key – find a community that will help you build what you want. There are great Australians ‘Maker Spaces’ including  Robots & Dinosaurs, Ozberry Pi, Ninja Blocks and Dorkbot. These vibrant, creative communities that provides access to tools, software, space, ideas and support. As do #coworking spaces. You just need to search them out to participate.

The time is now. Reward collaboration over competition. Join the participatory revolution. Vive la révolution!

About our Ambassador // Mark Woodrow. Prefers the more informal self-appointed title of No1 Fetch Fan.  Runs a design and communication consultancy, The Galaxy. Resides at Hub Sydney. On the NSW Board of International Assoc of Business Communicators. You can connect with Mark on Twitter @markwoodrow

 

Event Review: Startup Weekend Auckland — May 19, 2013

Event Review: Startup Weekend Auckland

On Wednesday the 16 of May Deirdre Dawson from The Fetch Community Ambassador Team in Auckland went along to the Startup Weekend Auckland event. 

Photo Credit: Janine Barr
Photo Credit: Janine Barr

Hipsters, Hackers and Hustlers Unite

Auckland recently hosted its third annual Startup Weekend at the Emirates Building in Wynyard Quarter. Startup Weekends began in Seattle in 2010 with a vision of ‘inspiring change in entrepreneurs’. It seems to have worked with over 110 countries having adopted the frenetic event and this being Auckland’s third such event.

2013 saw close to 80 attendees who classed themselves either as hackers, hipsters or hustlers otherwise know as programmers, designers or those skilled in other areas of ‘non-technical’ business.

All participants are encouraged to pitch a new idea – the guise being to create something from scratch. An excited, nervous energy lingered around the room as people lined up to wow the audience with a 60-second pitch. From here, it was an organic selection process whereby those with the strongest ideas and most persuasive leaders shone.  Within 90 minutes of the pitching session, all teams were formed and the game was on.

Photo Credit: Janine Barr
Photo Credit: Janine Barr

The next two days were then spent conceptualizing, formulating, planning, validating, designing and in some cases, launching a new business. Mentors volunteered their time to assist with the curly questions, playing a massive role in the development of ideas. The fact that these experts in their field willingly give up their time and energy is a fantastic indicator of the thriving Startup scene here in Aotearoa.

Final pitches were on Sunday night in front of a panel of four judges all of whom are well respected in the business community. Teams had five minutes to share their workings from the weekend and convince the panel why their business would succeed. A high caliber of ideas were taken from conception and into the real world over the weekend, with an average of a third of them expected to still be operating in three months.

Startup Weekends are an excellent event for entrepreneurs of all flavours. Often misunderstood by their boundless optimism and never-ending torrent of ideas, events like this create a nurturing environment where everyone is welcomed to the start-up family. Those interested should get it quick for the next event scheduled in November.

For more information about the event, winners, judges and general hype, check out www.startupweekend.co.nz

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Deirdre Dawson. While she is currently working on the startup, Rentaholic, her background includes steering Disruptv gallery as the business manager of the multi faceted creative company  which specialised in large scale murals, graphic design, event management and graffiti workshops. 

Event Review: Pecha Kucha in Auckland — May 5, 2013

Event Review: Pecha Kucha in Auckland

On Wednesday the 23 of April Deirdre Dawson from The Fetch Community Ambassador Team in Auckland went along to the Pecha Kucha event that was held in the Iron Bank building on K’Road. 

pecha3
Jules Turner I Performance and Photography I Monster Beauty touches a sensibility

Pecha Kucha Auckland #35

The delightfully named Pecha Kucha, has been fascinating creative folk in Aotearoa for the last six years. Pecha Kucha is a semi-regular event designed to bring together creatives across a number of disciplines to speak about their practice. The format is fantastic, fresh and energetic, with anywhere from eight to fourteen speakers, presenting 20 slides and speaking on each for only 20 seconds.

Originating in Tokyo the first Pecha Kucha was held in 2003 but now adds to the creative architecture of 643 cities around the world. Luka Hinse is the curator of the events here in Auckland and first came across Pecha Kucha when he was working as a designer in Tokyo.

Tuesday’s event held at the Biz Dojo on K Road introduced the audience to eleven speakers; ranging from performance artists, a body builder, designers, architects, digital strategists, writers, and even an historian. Check www.pechakucha.co.nz for details of all the speakers from the night.

Sonia Pivac was one of my highlights. The founder of Deaf Radio she gave us a crash course in NZ Sign Language. Sonia may be deaf but I would definitely rate her as one of the strongest speakers there. It was a wonderful touch to have all speakers syncro-translated for the hearing impaired.

Edward Bennett, the K Rd historian also captivated all with his speech titled ‘Unbuilt Auckland’. Who knew at one stage Auckland was proposed to have two Town Halls or a giant statue of Christ on Bastion Point? You can learn more about the history of K Road on his free Heritage Walks. K Road also kindly sponsors the event when in its locale.

I would highly recommend this event in the future. At a cost of $10 it’s a small price to pay for the inspiration guaranteed to flow hearing such a variety of passionate speakers.

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Deirdre Dawson. While she is currently working on the startup, Rentaholic, her background includes steering Disruptv gallery as the business manager of the multi faceted creative company  which specialised in large scale murals, graphic design, event management and graffiti workshops. 

Interview: Sydney Local, Gretel Killeen — April 25, 2013

Interview: Sydney Local, Gretel Killeen

This week our community ambassador Jacqueline Shields interviews Australian journalist and author- Gretel Killeen. Follow Gretel on Twitter via @gretelkilleen.

Gretel Killeen’s career has run the gamut in the field of communication. She has written more than twenty books, hosted radio and television programs, worked as a journalist, a stand-up comic, and a voice artist. In addition, she has written and directed for film, TV and stage. She produced a documentary following the plight of AIDS orphans in Zambia, as well as profiles to raise awareness about unexploded ordinance in Laos, poverty in Bangladesh, the defense force on Australia Day in Taren Kaut, Afghanistan and rabies eradication in India. Gretel is a renowned MC, key note speaker and debater. She is currently channeling all of her experience into instructing individuals and corporations in the art of communication. Most of all, Gretel is keeping it real.

Gretel, you’ve recently moved into the corporate world to help executives and corporations improve their communication skills and find their authentic voice. How do the three areas of writing, performing and business interconnect?

To be truly successful in each of these three fields, you must stand out by expressing uniqueness. Unfortunately the pressures of society and the workplace until now have discouraged this and instead encouraged us to conform and suppress our individuality.

The Tall Poppy Syndrome in Australia has contributed to this. Women need look no further than our plethora of magazines to see how strong the message to fit in is. The ads tell us the importance of ‘being you’. However, upon opening the publication we see that page after page tells us what to wear, what to eat and how to be. It’s befuddling hypocrisy. Those who don’t conform are ridiculed and harshly judged.

Pulling people down who do stand out is accepted as the way our society operates. In the long term such inhibitors can lead to ordinariness in our personal and professional communications with a lack of integrity and profundity. I’m keenly aware of that when I gently encourage people to be themselves. It requires firm support and guts, but the rewards are enormous not only professionally but personally as well.

My team and I work to allow the unique voice to emerge with strength, confidence, and profundity… and dare I say it… enjoyment.

How do you differentiate an authentic voice from an inauthentic voice?

An inauthentic voice is dull and its speeches are riddled with clichés and predictability.

An authentic voice speaks from the heart and the mind; it surprises and engenders trust with its honesty. Those who speak with an authentic voice are those whom we subconsciously believe in and follow.

If we look at the corporate environment, those with an authentic voice are those who don’t use jargon. They acknowledge their faults and vulnerabilities, and in doing so come across as honest. There is in fact a move in corporate leadership towards embracing and acknowledging mistakes. This is increasingly becoming a requirement with the evolution of social media and the transparency this brings.

As a leader, you cannot afford to be deemed shallow, two dimensional or artificial. The day of the archetypal ‘suit’ has gone. The audience wants authenticity, and we teach people how to access and deliver that.

Who do you feel exemplifies an authentic voice?

Off the top of my head? Richard Branson, Mother Theresa and President Barack Obama. Obama is a classic example of an authentic voice. He conveys an overriding aura of ‘realness’. His delivery is to the point, said with feeling and often with humour.

In our country most politicians come across as perfectly rehearsed automatons. At the other end of the spectrum, stand-up comics are a group who exemplify having an authentic voice. They are the most successful communicators in Australia. They deal with the toughest crowds, are out on a limb expressing obscure new thoughts, and if they fail the audience is unforgiving. Their vulnerability is their selling point.

The exchange of information allowed by technology has led all communicators, whether comics or TED speakers, to raise the bar for the corporate world. The audience now knows what is possible. They do not and should not expect to be bored or unstimulated by a presentation. If the speaker does not touch his audience, move them or teach them… then perhaps he deserves to boo’d off or at the very least heckled.

What inspired you to share your skills with the corporates world?

I am obsessed with the expression of the individual and enabling each person’s unique self to show. I believe that we can do this at work and still effectively represent the corporation.

When we continually stifle the self, it results in deeper social issues such as depression. The pressure to hide yourself from society and to conform is incredibly strong. Of course no one fits into this mould and the result is that many feel an underlying sense of inadequacy… of not being good enough to present our real self. So we present a fictitious persona that is safe and dull; that could say what anyone else could be saying instead of standing out, being who we are and making it a fulfilling and stimulating experience for everyone.

I think the tide is slowly turning. No longer do we need to hide our personalities and all the things that make us real people. Before, especially in the 1990s, showing your true self was seen as self-indulgent. More and more you can talk about your life or share an insight into your passions, inject a sense of irony or humour, and use metaphors that resonate with you that others can relate to in your corporate persona.

With the rise of technology people are increasingly yearning for a real off-line connection. People want to be touched. Metaphorically, if not literally. But because we have been so focused on the fonts we use, the links to articles we share, the photos we show and hiding behind our online personas, we are losing confidence in face-to-face communication.

According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Does that seem right? That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy”. -Jerry SeinfeldYou teach being ‘comfortable, fearless and powerful’ when presenting. Has this always been the case when you are in front of an audience? 

There have been times when I have been absolutely terrified. I remember when I first performed, I prayed for the ceiling of the building to collapse. Admittedly I was dressed as a drunk housewife in a black negligee. That said, it took me some time to realize that I was the only person who’d come to the event not planning to have a good time. In my career I’ve been criticised, vilified, praised, defamed and honoured. I’ve had to learn to swallow my nerves and believe in myself.

How do you do that? What is your approach when addressing an audience?

My approach is to have a logical structure to my presentation or performance because the skeleton of a presentation is vital. I remind myself that I am there to enrich, entertain, educate and enjoy. I focus on how this experience will benefit others and how it will also benefit me.

When I’m coaching in the corporate environment, I emphasis these three areas:

Remove the expectation of perfection. People don’t relate to perfection. They relate to flaws. So work out what you are comparing yourself to that is making you so insecure. Acknowledge that you are perfectly imperfect.

Have confidence in the value of your contribution and if you don’t feel you are saying something important… rewrite and prepare until you do.

Know what it is that you are trying to achieve i.e. when you go into battle you need to know what you are fighting for. You need to work out what you want your audience to feel and how you want to feel during and after the presentation.

What is the greatest problem most people have with public speaking? 

Fear that they will not be good enough and as a consequence they won’t be liked. However we forget that imperfection is what we relate to. Perfection is alienating.

It’s all really a question of self esteem. (Ironically however some people are appalling communicators because they have an excessive degree of confidence and inability to acknowledge the chasm between themselves and their audience.)

To overcome your fear you need to think through the goal of your material, familiarize yourself with it, and make it interesting to you and to your audience.

Your presentation is not something to be endured. If that is your approach then your audience will definitely feel it. You need to find your own uniqueness and strength and hone in on it. That might be your compassion, your statistics or your ability to self deprecate. You need to turn your uniqueness into your strength.

We also need to redefine the word ‘nervous’. Often we are actually ‘excited’ and not ‘nervous’. But if we are ‘nervous’ we need to ask what we are nervous about and break it down and solve each aspect of the anxiety. We need to treat it as a real foe and assess how we are going to defeat it. Saying to someone ‘ don’t be nervous’ is ineffective. What we need to do is apply the appropriate tools to conquer it so that we are focused and forceful.

One of these tools is having a structure to what you are saying. If there is logic to your presentation it takes a lot of the nerves out as it makes sense and flows. A speech, like any form of writing, needs a story arc. The story arc is very effectively applied in the film and TV industries to keep the audience captivated. This is knowing when to have the drama, the highlights, the intensity amongst your beginning, middle and end for the greatest impact for your audience.

Do you feel social media helps or hinders communication?

Both. Social media is fantastic in that it gives everyone a voice. But unfortunately it doesn’t give everyone something worth saying.  A lot of people use social media to communicate other people’s thoughts. This happens for a number of reasons. Perhaps they are too busy or too lazy to think for themselves, or perhaps they think it’s a positive to be aligned to someone else’s profile. And many people too simply bombard the world with constant messaging, whether they be their own thoughts or others’.

But the greatest use of social media is not quantity… it’s quality. Using social media to express individuality and uniqueness to bring information, enjoyment and enrichment to the lives of others.

About our Ambassador // Jacqueline Shields. Luckily Jacqueline is not a cat. She’d be on her ninth life. Her inquisitive nature sees her say yes to pretty much anything – a  Tough Mudder, an African Safari, sailing down the Nile in a felucca and even a HTML workshop. And each and everything she tries, she takes great joy in writing about. You can connect with Jacqueline on Twitter @hillrepeats.

 

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