Photography

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I’ve con­trib­uted many of my pho­tos to the Wiki­me­dia Com­mons, and I’m pleased to see that some of them have spread bey­ond the Wiki­me­dia world.

But the fact that someone turned some­thing mundane like this:

into some­thing like this:

blows me away. It reminds me why I con­trib­ute: to add to the global com­mons, the global cul­tural melt­ing pot where oth­ers can express them­selves, by using and re-​​using, free from con­cerns about intel­lec­tual prop­erty rights.

Ori­ginal work | Deriv­at­ive work (search for Enoch Lau about halfway down)

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If you’ve ever been to the old law school build­ing in the city at St James, you’ll prob­ably agree that while it may have had great loc­a­tion, loc­a­tion, loc­a­tion, it was most def­in­itely a renovator’s choice find. Cock­roaches, tem­per­at­ure vari­ations never thought pos­sible on planet Earth and utterly-​​frustrating swivel chairs will thank­fully be a thing of the past (mostly any­way — some classes will still be taught at St James). So rejoice, and explore the new law build­ing with me.

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Red­fern. The name prob­ably evokes memory of the 2004 Red­fern riots and the Abori­ginal enclave in the Block. As with other uni stu­dents who use Red­fern sta­tion, I’m fairly famil­iar with the part to the west of the sta­tion. But what lies to the east? With a cam­era, I set out to investigate.

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The ABC — provid­ing you with qual­ity news everyday.

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Ah yes, The Mind Gap.

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The Dar­ling­ton side of main cam­pus of the Uni­ver­sity of Sydney was a renovator’s dream. Its end­less array of con­crete slabs might lay claim to coher­ence in some kind of bru­tal­ist archi­tec­ture, but I sus­pect the uni­ver­sity pretty much built the Engin­eer­ing and Archi­tec­ture fac­ulties out of whatever spare cash they could find at the time.

The USyd Cent­ral build­ing adja­cent to the Union’s Wentworth build­ing is part of the Cam­pus 2010 plan to reverse the years of neg­lect that have rendered other uni­ver­sit­ies with sub­stan­tially more attract­ive (and mar­ket­able) cam­puses. The first part of the USyd Cent­ral to open, the SciTech Lib­rary, has now been delivered, and it sure was a deliv­ery from heaven.

When you first walk into SciTech, the thing that strikes you is how dif­fer­ent it is from any other lib­rary that you’ve been to. With your first steps past the styl­ishly glassy entrance, you are presen­ted with a large, wel­com­ing atrium that envel­ops you and draws you in; the splend­our and the inter­est­ing topo­logy of the lib­rary makes you feel like you are view­ing spec­tac­u­lar scenery from the top of a moun­tain. To the right is a lounge-​​like area, with play­ful, lime-​​green chairs that wouldn’t look out of place in an Ikea store. To the left are the book stands, and in front is a sunken val­ley of study cubicles. At night, the entrance area is taste­fully lit up with small spot­lights that cast small pools of light on the soft car­pet, and dur­ing the day, there is ample nat­ural sun­light from the wall of glass.

SciTech Library

As I intim­ated above, the fur­niture is one thing that sets SciTech apart from any other lib­rary I’ve seen. Col­our­ful, dis­tinct­ive, mod­ern and def­in­itely play­ful — as I write, some people are stack­ing up the lime-​​green chairs in vari­ous con­fig­ur­a­tions, pos­sible as the chairs are made up of three con­joined cyl­in­ders — the fur­niture is fit­ting for a sci­ence and tech­no­logy lib­rary. From the jelly-​​coloured red and orange stools to the Ikea-​​like chairs, they are all invit­ing and very comfortable.

SciTech Library

The lib­rary, from the ground up, has been designed to be more than just a repos­it­ory of books. It appears to have been designed for stu­dents to learn, to study and to col­lab­or­ate. The “study val­ley” that I alluded to before encases you as a cocoon encases a cater­pil­lar, draw­ing you away from the hustle and bustle of the out­side world into a study world of your own. The hours melt away as you study in one of the the plush, mul­ti­col­oured pods, or the seats that line the green river-​​like divider that sep­ar­ates the study val­ley from one of the com­puter access areas. As you meander between the mellow-​​coloured book­shelves, you come across islands of tran­quil­lity, where you can sit down and enjoy a book or two. If you prefer elec­tronic learn­ing, power points are abund­ant, and there are mul­tiple com­puter rooms, with desktop com­puters and laptops — now that is some­thing I haven’t seen before any­where in the uni­ver­sity. The only minor com­plaint is that the wire­less con­nec­tion here isn’t as stable as it could be.

Ulti­mately, a lib­rary isn’t much of a lib­rary unless it stores books. Although I find it dis­ap­point­ing that in the move to the new lib­rary, a large por­tion of the Engin­eer­ing col­lec­tion was moved into archival stor­age, because there just isn’t room at SciTech, there is some­thing that they have done that is quite inter­est­ing; some shelves hold the book so that the front is dis­played, much like spe­cial book dis­plays at book stores.

SciTech Library

If the rest of the Cam­pus 2010 improve­ments are of the qual­ity and thought­ful­ness of the SciTech Lib­rary, the uni­ver­sity is onto a win­ner. The design of the SciTech lib­rary shows a thought­ful­ness to the needs of stu­dents and staff at the uni­ver­sity. I look for­ward to the new law lib­rary with much anti­cip­a­tion — and to spend­ing many days and nights at SciTech.

SciTech LibrarySciTech LibrarySciTech Library

More pho­tos here.

The SciTech Lib­rary: Level 1, Jane Foss Rus­sell Build­ing, on City Road

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Protesters at Railway Square

Pro­test­ers protest­ing about some­thing at Rail­way Square: passers-​​by (like me) seemed to treat them as a curi­ous spec­tacle with all our cam­era phones instead of pon­der­ing whatever mes­sage they were try­ing to get through. (I tried to work out what they were try­ing to say, but I couldn’t work it out. Prob­ably “Bush Sucks” or some para­phras­ing thereof.)

An insane num­ber of police — every­one was well behaved though. I saw an officer record­ing the entire thing on tape — prob­ably not for fun­ni­est home videos. I was going to take a photo of him but I remembered the lady from Red­fern Legal Centre at the SULS APEC talk — “there’s only one crime, and that’s piss­ing off a police officer.”

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I’m blog­ging this as I sit just inside the glass wall of the East­ern Avenue com­plex, watch­ing the con­stant stream of people walk­ing past, both inside the build­ing, and out­side in the wintry con­di­tions, hands in pock­ets, clutch­ing a folder tightly, heads together, intensely gos­sip­ing. I’m like a fly in the corner, observing the move­ments of people as they go about their busi­ness at the uni­ver­sity. If only they’d just look up slightly…

I sus­pect that the loc­a­tion of the SUITS Com­puter Art­work Exhib­i­tion 2007, as part of the Uni­ver­sity of Sydney Union’s Verge Arts Fest­ival, while not dis­astrous, could be bet­ter. We had ori­gin­ally inten­ded for them to be hung up with fish­ing wire from the air con­di­tion­ing grate in the ceil­ing, but the build­ing man­ager told the fest­ival con­veners that that wasn’t allowed (des­pite their earlier assur­ances). We settled for sticky-​​taping it to the glass wall instead, which also meant that we had to have them higher up to deter van­dals and thieves.

View of exhibition from outside

So far, I’d say about 1 per­son in every 50 who walks past takes a glance upwards, pauses in moment­ary reflec­tion, and then con­tin­ues on their way. Part of the prob­lem is that because of the glare from the glass, if you’re walk­ing from the dir­ec­tion of Fisher, you won’t actu­ally notice that there’s any­thing com­ing up. But of course, as the exhib­i­tion coordin­ator, I am liable to over-​​estimate the beauty of the thing that I have created.

Finally, I’d like to pub­licly thank Edmund for his assist­ance in the pre­par­a­tion of the art­works, and Bal­int for his con­tri­bu­tion of his stun­ning particle sim­u­la­tion works.

Here are the PDF ver­sions of the files, if you’re too lazy to head over to see it for your­self :) (warn­ing: some of these files are BIG)

  1. Inside: title, Out­side: auto­mata
  2. Inside: balint-​​2, Out­side: dielec­tric
  3. Inside: inter­net, Out­side: balint-​​3
  4. Inside: apophysis-​​2, Out­side: apophysis-​​1
  5. Inside: balint-​​1, Out­side: lorenz

The Microsoft Pub­lisher files can also be found here.

Update: I’ve uploaded them to my gal­lery as well.

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I’ve been mean­ing to blog more reg­u­larly, but I’ve just been too busy to write stuff up for your enjoy­ment. Sorry, I lie. I’ve just been too lazy, and there’s just so much going on in my head recently, it’s hard to con­cen­trate on writ­ing a coher­ent piece of prose.

Aiya, UNSW Law Revue 2007 (entitled Poll Fic­tion) was a load of shit. A com­plete waste of a Thursday, the leaden act­ing, lame jokes that lacked even the concept of a punch-​​line and the bright spot­lights that seemed intent on burn­ing my ret­inas out made the night a mem­or­able event for all the wrong reas­ons. I won’t be going back any time soon la~ Fine, there were some enjoy­able skits, but the drive home (thanks Tommy!) was a more inter­est­ing exper­i­ence than the revue itself. Yeah, what he said. Daniel and I were youtube-​​ing before head­ing off, and we noticed a video (now deleted? can’t find it now) from someone at Usyd blast­ing the UNSW revue for mak­ing fun of our quad and hav­ing the UNSW Galactica joke — well, there wasn’t a Usyd quad in sight, but the Galactica got a men­tion. With the Galactica joke, I think it’s more likely that there’s a mole on the UNSW team that allowed Usyd to score a hit against UNSW before their revue even started.

Over the week­end, I went to Malay­sia Fest 2007 (pho­tos) and got myself a dose of Malay­sian cul­ture. I can see why it’s true that Malay­si­ans are said to live to eat… the food, hav­ing Malay, Chinese and Indian influ­ences, was quite inter­est­ing and tasty =) Of course, it helped that I had a guide who lives to eat, so Ru Jih, if you actu­ally read this, many thanks for a great day out, wouldn’t have been the same without you :P … hope it didn’t make you too homesick~

The other thing that’s happened recently is, of course, the lunar eclipse. Con­clu­sion: I need a tri­pod. These black rect­angles are awful — you really can’t do a shut­ter speed longer than 1/​60s if you’re hold­ing the cam­era with your hand, and when the moon’s that dim, you’d need at least a few seconds of expos­ure. Still, it was a very beau­ti­ful thing to watch, and lit­er­ally out of this world.

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I was going with Ru Jih to Darling Har­bour last week (she hasn’t been there before!) when we ran into the Earth from Above exhib­i­tion, a series of breath­tak­ing aer­ial pho­to­graphs dis­played along­side the path­way from Hay­mar­ket to Darling Har­bour (adja­cent to the so-​​called “Urban Stream”). Pho­to­graphed by Yann Arthus-​​Bertrand, the idea behind the exhib­i­tion is to focus atten­tion on sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, and short fact­oids about the impact of human devel­op­ment accom­pan­ied the photographs.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen any­thing like that at Darling Har­bour, or for that mat­ter, in Sydney — I was nicely sur­prised to come by it. Given my recent com­ments on how Sydney feels like a dough­nut, hol­low in the centre, com­pared with Mel­bourne, I’d have to say this is a pos­it­ive step for­ward, in bring­ing some sense of “cul­ture” back into the city. Dani­elle didn’t seem to think so; on hear­ing about it, he com­men­ted, “this would be high cul­ture… what about the cul­ture that devel­ops nat­ur­ally. the vibe of a city”.

I guess you can’t please every­one. I just wished that I had known about it before — but it’s there till 26 Decem­ber if you’re inter­ested in see­ing it.

In any case, Darling Har­bour will have to wait another day; we used up all our time look­ing at the pictures.

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