Thursday, March 10, 2005

Scratch paper

I organise my work life with random bits of scrap paper strewn across my desk and Post-it notes plastered across my monitor. Despite working in new media and being interested in gagdets, I still prefer the tactility of paper over software when brainstorming a project or writing my to-do lists. I find my random bits of paper reassuringly lo-tech and non-linear (Post-its are highly associative, encouraging organic grouping and regrouping of ideas). The Post-it note has a spare utility that is refreshingly simple and efficient.

So I was curious to see how my favourite office utility would be transformed by artists exhibiting in Adam Carr's Post Notes exhibition at the ICA tonight. Carr asked artists from around the world to produce work on a simple Post-it note. They were allowed free reign over what they produced, so long as the basic qualities of the note were retained. Works ranged from the sublime to the plain silly: laser cut flowers, flick book animations, and notes with burnt out holes in them.

It's interesting that the Post-it note was created at the same time as the Apple computer. I've forgotten what a recent invention it is, and it's clearly become more ubiquitous than an Apple product. Apparently, the idea for the sticky note came to its creator, Art Fry, while singing in the church choir and becoming increasingly frustrated by attempts to bookmark his hymnal with loose bits of paper.

His colleague at 3M, Spencer Silver, had already developed an adhesive whose molecular structure consisted of minuscule spheres instead of an even coating. The spaces between the spheres meant that complete contact between tape and surface was impossible.

Despite the plethora of Post-it variations now available -- over 30 different colours, shapes and sizes, including software versions -- my favourite still remains the original canary yellow.

It was nice being in the ICA tonight. I haven't visited for a while and though they always have digital installations, I rarely see them. So I also made time to see their new media exhibition, Islandhopping, which their notes described as aiming "to question existing hegemonic structures of cultural, social, historical and political landscapes through the construction of platforms for discourse and spaces of tension via the recontextualisation of the geopolitical premise of the 'island'" -- a pretentiously long-winded way of describing what ultimately amounted to a great set of 60 pieces of videoart best seen after several drinks.

Then it was on to Soho's wonderfully homespun Waikiki bar -- surrounded by faded posters of Thai boxers -- to drink Moscow Mules, whiskey sours and Waikiki (passionfruit) vodkas. Now I'm absolutely zonked and ready for my bed. Good night!

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