The good news is that the Australia Council for the Arts has announced plans to build a new Australian pavilion in Venice, the bad news is that it plans to choose a design based on an invited competition. This is an invitation to mediocrity, which is coming out of our ears at the moment. A new biennale pavilion would seem to be the ideal excuse for a big public competition, which in my opinion should be open to artists as well as architects. As a brief, a biennale pavilion is not exactly the Large Hadron Collider. Australia was lucky to score one of the last sites left in the Giardini, and what gets built there ought to be be surprising, delightful and provocative. Australians love their sheds, and an open competition would be an opportunity to build the Ur-Shed, the mother shed, as it were. If you agree, then please sign the petition set up by OpenHAUS.
The photographed world is topsy turvy, perhaps never more so than when the background falls out of focus, leaving you or just your eyes the only delineated point in a world become theatre. If the history of cinema is a history of characters in their surroundings, then it is necessarily also a history of depth of field. Always subject to changing fashions and technological innovations, the digital era now threatens to suck the art right out of the question. Who are all those winsome people lurking against blurry urban landscapes? Why does the world defer to them? Could they cope in a deep-focus world?
My immediate reaction to Michael Miller’s commentary on the Karajan centenary [Oh no! He’s not back again, is he? – May 2, 2008] was rather choleric, but I’ve settled down a bit since then and can write this from a relatively balanced perspective.