Semi-Permanent Sydney: Day One, Sydney Exhibition Centre, May 11
Design conferences normally mean industry leaders speaking about their work, colourful auditorium seats and slick show-reels. You do not, however, anticipate that two hours into the first day, you’ll be caught in the middle of a slightly awkward yet highly engaging discussion between Roman Coppola, his mother, the conference presenters and Jason Schwartzman, Schwartzman giving life advice and Roman feeding milk to a rare Chinese cheetah. Yes, a cheetah.
Such is the light speed evolution of video conferencing, and Google+ Hangout being able to bring together guests from all over the world - thoroughly entertaining alternative to the standard ‘pundit at lectern’ model, and a great showcase of how video conferencing is no longer a tiny desktop window.
Opening the first day of presentation was Benja Harney, with a fascinating talk that highlighted his paper engineering craft (think ‘paper sculpting’). Initiated as a personal artistic outlet, Harney described the eventual commercial pick-up of his style, and the trials of working with a non-standard medium to tight deadlines.
Up next was abstract thinker Kelli Anderson. Her view that “reality is infinitely inspiring’” permeates through her body of work, and at every chance she questions, adapts and flips conventional thinking on its head. Her big push to the audience to “do something more meaningful than what currently exists” was very well received.
Later on, photographer couple Bec Parsons and Bar Celestino spoke in tandem about their separate backgrounds, their foundations and how they practice together. Captivating photographs appeared on screen, as they confidently motivated fashion photography hopefuls. They made the point that a female photographer’s role in fashion is seeing a revival, their use of a camera sought as a contrast to a male’s traditional approach when planning, say, a lingerie shoot.
While Melbourne-based Meggs was initially nervous and slightly shy, he gave possibly the most comprehensive view of the conference. Detailed archival photos chronicling his street art origins and studio graffiti were shown with candid stories and articulate thinking that he has accumulated over the last 10 years. Meggs’ tales of international exhibitions falling through, visa troubles and early struggles to be recognised were drowned out by his positive message that “the journey is the reward”.
Next was a smooth talk from Derek Henderson, a New Zealand-born, Sydney-based photographer. Also working in fashion for many years, his funny accounts of jobs, dealing with clients and brands brought a few laughs. It was easy to forget when listening to Henderson that he’s a revered photographer not just here, but in New York, LA and right across Europe. His themed shoots, which take on the visual vernacular of influential films, were confronting, inspiring, while not in the least bit clichéd.
Day one was rounded out by Meirion Pritchard from Wallpaper magazine. Wallpaper, though based primarily in print, have made the greatest effort I’ve seen to ensure their content is delivered digitally in a meaningful way. It’s clear Pritchard ‘s direction ‘steps it up’ and embraces digital media to stay in business. Wrap that great content up with custom covers and rich iPad content and they make a strong case for a traditional subscription.
Find all the details of Semi-Permanent Sydney day two here.
WORDS: Ricky Synnot