Clear
Clear Iso Diaries Volume 49 Header

Welcome to the September volume of the Isolation Diaries, our bi-monthly round-up of things that keep us creatively motivated.

Clear Iso Diaries Volume 49 ISO

We have all possibly heard of the Nobel Peace Prize, but few of us have spent the time to discover the Nobel Awards... until now. Ig® Nobel Prize was announced last week for achievements that first make people LAUGH, then makes them THINK. Awarded in diverse areas of study, highlights include ECONOMICS: Obesity of Politicians and Corruption in Post‐Soviet Countries. PEACE; For testing the hypothesis that humans evolved beards to protect themselves from punches to the face. And ENTOMOLOGY; A New Method of Cockroach Control on Submarines. The full list can be found here. Also, check out the podcast series.

Released in 2019, White Riot tells the story of a vital UK-based protest movement—Temporary Billboard and the Rock Against Racism concerts. The documentary traces the assemblage of artists united to take on the National Front. It is the original fanzine with a cause. Watch it for the ideas, energy, design, soundtrack, raw passion, and relevance to today.

With the days of Iso-doughnuts well behind us, we turn our tastebuds to Italian Savoury Doughnuts. Indulge yourself in truffle, prosciutto, more truffle, Parmigiano and deep-fried doughy goodness. Designed as an appetiser, and we have plans to make it a lifestyle choice.

Finally, Primal Scream has announced to play ‘Screamadelica’ in full for new live shows next July. Initially released in September 1991, ‘Screamadelica’ changed everything. Iconic samples from Peter Fonda in The Wild Angels, 303s and 808s, hand claps, trumpets, and samba beats well before Biebs, Drake and Timberland.

Don’t fight it, Feel it.

Clear Iso Diaries Volume 49 Interview

We first collaborated with Jon in 2005 on his book Impossible Nature : The Art of Jon McCormack. More recently, Clear worked with him on the branding of SensiLab, Monash University. With lockdowns all around us, we called on Jon to share his personal experiences.

Clear Iso Diaries Volume 499

The pandemic has stalled the travel industry. If you could freely travel the world, where would you go?

I’d very much like to be going to the Ars Electronica Festival, which starts next week. This is a major art and technology festival that’s held each year in the city of Linz, Austria. In pre-pandemic times the week-long festival attracted many thousands of people looking for their annual fix of art, technology, and culture by the Danube. The Ars Electronica organisation has a permanent museum with a research division—the FutureLab—where I was an artist-in-residence in 2012. FutureLab turns 25 this year (the festival has been running for 40 years) and they’ve just published a book looking at 25 years of creating the future, so a milestone year for them.


Which artist or designer inspires you the most?

I’m very much going back to basics at the moment, working with line drawings, plotting machines, and drawing robots. So, I would say the work of pioneering computer and generative artists, such as Vera Molnár and Manfred Mohr who was inspired by Max Bense’s philosophical theories of generative aesthetics. I also have a soft spot for Richard LongA Line Made By Walking is a great entry point into his work.

Clear Iso Diaries Volume 495
Clear Iso Diaries Volume 494

Which musical artist is on high rotation at the moment?

I’m actually making my own music at the moment! I have a couple of long-lost short film projects that I’m creating the soundtracks for.

I’m all for streaming, so here are a few of the interesting things I’m listening to at the moment:

Sonic Sketchbooks Podcast. This is a podcast about listening and sound art, hosted by my good friend, collaborator, and artist, Gary Warner.

Oliver Patrice Weder, The Pool Project. Minimalist piano music and a sample library recorded in a pool. Nice if you like artists like Nils Frahm.

Loscil—Clara. Scott Morgan is the master of dreamy ambient. This is his 13th album, made from a resampled ‘distressed’ vinyl of an orchestral recording. And the videos are great too.

Christina Vantzou—Multi Natural. Mysterious, nostalgic, beautiful. Her videos are always inspirational.

What are you reading and watching at the moment?

Here’s the current selection on my bedside table:

Don DeLillo—The Silence. I am a BIG DeLillo fan (ZeroK, Point Omega). This relatively short story is his latest, set in 2022 on the night of the Super Bowl in the USA. A plane crash lands and all the technology on Earth stops working.

Tove Jansson—The Summer Book. This is the ‘comfort food’ of books. Perfect lockdown reading.

Robert Macfarlane—Underland: A Deep Time Journey. This is the sequel to ‘The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot’. Macfarlane can write about landscape, place, and culture with such a unique poetic voice. You will feel uplifted and inspired after reading. (I also recommend ‘Holloway’ about the ancient sunken pathways and their cultural connections).

Byung-Chui Han—The Disappearance of Rituals: A Topology of the Present. Han is a Korean philosopher who lives in Germany. He writes about the ravages of contemporary culture, in particular, the impact of technology on us creating meaning. This book is about making time habitable, in the way we make space habitable in a home.

What do you see to be the emerging trend of 2021?

I think during the pandemic a lot of people have turned inwards to the screen and the virtual. It's become a bit of a renaissance for digital art, and the challenging concept of ownership with Crypto offshoots like NFTs.

But I think in the longer term, we’ll pine for a return to the real. The biggest challenge of this decade for humanity is reconciling meaning.

What project has you up late at night?

Non Fungible Tokens. Trying to get my digital artwork into the 21st century. You can read my (now outdated) thought’s here.

Has the pandemic changed the way you structure your working day? The 9—5 working model has changed due to remote learning. How has this affected you?

We’ve been locked out of SensiLab (our research lab at Monash University’s Caulfield Campus) for the best part of 18 months. So, it's been pretty difficult. Last year, I tried to bring half the lab home with me, which meant we couldn’t eat dinner at the dining room table due to it being full of equipment. I’ve now opted for a slightly more minimal approach this time around. Zoom fatigue is certainly real. I think the biggest challenge is that the daily routine has become so routine, and that’s all there is, but creativity blooms in the most challenging and unusual moments.

Clear Iso Diaries Volume 497

What is the view from your desk?
Please excuse the chaos.

Related Project — Isolation Diaries, Volume 48