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2.1 Fellowship ActivitiesWorking in the digital networked medium of the World Wide Web means communicating with people all over the world. It is an on-going process where the work becomes a kind of camp fire around which people gather to tell stories or contribute. The effectiveness of a web work is proportional to ones ability to respond.
My primary activity during this fellowship will be to build a new work around the camp fire of Land and to continue to promote participation in this extraordinary new way of telling our stories.
Unfortunately, there is little understanding of this medium and of the different paradigms that attend it. Those of us who work in/with it are forced to spend a great deal of time training up the people above us so that they have some grasp of the power and delights of a medium that can give ordinary people a voice. I have no doubt that during the fellowship period this 'training up' will continue.
The understanding and passion that I bring to the fellowship is that:
Clearly these are not paradigms that fit comfortably with the Australia Council's view of artistic endeavour or into question 2.1. This lack of understanding of digital media has led to misguided projects such as 'Australia on CD'. As a secondary activity I will continue to be outspoken on these matters and make myself available to speak/perform/teach (as I have been doing - see CV) when ever invited. (See also 2.2)
- This medium allows anyone to tell their story. Being open to participation, the work is not closed, it evolves like a living breathing proliferating organism.
- Activities in an on-line work are not directed towards completion (as in film). The work does not have an 'end' - it may die, deteriorate or disappear but it does not 'finish'.
- It is absurd to try to contain an on-line work in a closed medium such as CD-ROM or video.
- In conventional forms of artistic expression the artist completes a work and moves to the next. The ability of this medium to mutate into another work means that it is possible to have one work only.
- The primacy of the individual as artist/author/creator/director/designer does not apply in this medium because there is no longer a clear distinction between reader/writer/audience/participant/creator.
2.2 Objectives of my FellowshipMy prime objective during the period of this fellowship is to build and maintain a new digital work on the World Wide Web. It will be called Land . It will involve the use of datascapes pioneered in The Flight of Ducks and extend the use of this medium to tell stories about place and memory of place. In this way I want to continue to build an appreciation for the effective use of this new medium.(see 2.1)
I will be completing a PhD (November 97) based on several issues of access and digital preservation which grew out of The Flight of Ducks . The fellowship would come at a crucial time because it would allow me to avoid searching for consultancy and teaching work and enable me to concentrate on inventing and developing the poetic form most suited to the screen space of Land - the image based quatrain.
This form is derived from the textual quatrain but uses a rhythmical form of image - images which pulse like the metre of verse. Sometimes they acting as cross rhythms or anticipations of the rhythms of text or sound. Sometimes they are provided by other people.
The core/hypermedia spine of the site will draw on my experiences (20 years ago) during a 4 year period I spent in the Warrumbungle Mountains - (without human contact) building a series of landscape sculptures (including a tower) which aligned a mountain spur with a west running range. They are still aligned today
Like The Flight of Ducks the new work Land will show what it is telling, do what it says, display its own making, reflect its own action. It will also lead me into unexpected places and through the participation of others (which the web accommodates) a datascape will emerge. A new place. With new meaning.
The model and method of work that I have evolved over the last 3 years will allow me to move into Land as a natural evolution of the The Flight of Ducks .
2.3 Documentation - PromotionIt should not be necessary to point out that these fluid digital works cannot be printed on paper and do not lend themselves to being captured on closed media such as CD-ROM or video.
The documentation/preservation of on-line works is extremely challenging not only because the aspect ratio and the resolution of the screen space to not lend themselves to transfer but also because they are not closed works and change all the time. The issues are more complex than this space will allow. I am fortunate that one of my PhD papers: Killing the Duck to Keep the Quack is published by Stanford University as a core text on digital preservation.
By way of addressing this problem, the National Library of Australia consider my current work, The Flight of Ducks to be one of 6 works of national significance and worthy of preservation. According to Margaret Phillips, Manager, Australian Electronic Unit (email: May 30th 1997).
In addition, we are pleased to be preserving Flight of Ducks because of its innovative approach, because you are setting high standards for online publication, including metadata, and you are willing to discuss these issues with us and to cooperate with us. This will help us to develop our own understanding of online publishing and assist us to develop a national model for preserving it.In order to put theory into practice, I am currently building a kind of digital gallery at Cinemedia in which Australian digital artists can show works such as these (see CV).
Just as the ATOM awards boosted the access numbers (now running at over 1500 per week) to The Flight of Ducks , so the award of an Australia Council Fellowship would promote access to Land and help build on the success of this project. My work on digital preservation is currently pushing the boundaries of metadata implementation. This will continue to provide a model for how works such as these can have discovery aids built in to them.
2.4 Achievements as an ArtistI would not claim to be an 'artist'. This to be an a honour bestowed by others. I prefer to let my work speak for itself. An application like this is a problem for me because I have made very little work public and most of my work is difficult to display. Yet I have been working in the same manner for over 30 years - in various media.
I have always work in fragments - always building up - very slowly and incrementally, piece by piece in little bits - constantly refining. This applies to theatrical productions, poetry, puppet shows, towers, furniture, drawing and to the digital medium of the web, where I have found my voice.
The progress of my life has not been along a conventional path. I have rarely been able to make a distinction between work and passion. I have lived (in the true sense of the word) through an on-going series of huge and challenging projects. Many of these (such as the tower in the Warrumbungles) were achieved through tenacity, in harsh conditions and without any intention of gain or public acclaim.
My current work, The Flight of Ducks , is my most significant public achievement. It is a huge ongoing work of nearly 1000 screens and has, for over 6 years, occupied almost all of my time. It is part history, part data-base, part novel, part diary, part news-group, part museum, part landscape, part poem, part shed. It has received generous and kind praise, from all over the world, as well as criticism.
It has been the subject of lectures and of studies. It has also attracted several more formal honours:
It is the current winner of the ATOM award for Best Australian On-Line Production as well as The Premier's Gold Award (shared with Dame was Loaded) for Best Australian Multimedia Production .
It also is considered by the National Library of Australia to be of national significance (See 2.3).
(CC) reserved S.Pockley Feb 1995 Flight of Ducks 782 send