Parallel Fascinations draws upon ideas of private obsessions and the space where seemingly disparate ideas collide.  Reminiscent of the salon culture of the parisian coffee houses, we are seeding an interdisciplinary group that crosses academic and industry sectors to engage with topics raised through this theme.

The space is a place to unpack intimate research/practice fascinations. We hope that through exposing the liminal, less formalised materials and sources of fascination we can build thresholds toward new relations and congruities in our work.

Participants’ backgrounds include, but are not limited to, digital sociology and anthropology, design, the creative arts, community engagement, architecture and the sociality of space, media and communication, computer science, interaction design and beyond.

Our salons are hosted by the the Channel, at the Arts Centre Melbourne

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windhover

“I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing.” – Stanza 1 from ‘The Windhover’ by Gerard Manly Hopkins (1844-1889)

We met up recently to discuss Parallel Fascinations and how we see it taking shape this year. Part of our conversation was undertaken while walking along a sea cliff; during this walk we were privileged to witness a kestrel hovering then diving on its prey. Our hearts did indeed stir at this beautiful sight; we then reflected on the nature of our conversation: hovering, riding on the steady air of intellect and imagination, relishing the free clear atmosphere and open horizons of a trusting collaborative discussion.

We look forward to facilitating more salons this year, and to sharing our observations about them on this blog.

see Guardian article

Image sourced from The Guardian. You can check out the article it accompanied – ‘Poem of the Week: The Windhover by Gerard Manly Hopkins’ here.

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In her recent blog – Amplification and Resonance: the cultural laboratory, small networks and bubbles of learning – one of our co-curators Alexia Maddox had this reflection to share:

“In a great recent blog find putting into plain language how social change happens (from a social sciences perspective, I was inspired to think about the creative and innovative environment as a honeycomb fabric of small networks that are cultural laboratories through which learning bubbles up and influence coalesces through windows of alignment.  This notion resonates strongly with the guiding vision of the interdisciplinary salon I co-convene with Meredith Lewis and Romaine Logere,Parallel Fascinations and suggests that we are ON TRACK.

The last year (2015) for Parallel Fascinations saw four salons, all held at the amazing venue space at the Channel, Melbourne Arts Centre. To say that we are inspired to be conducting out salons in this premier cultural precinct is an understatement, as we match the tone with both the creativity and next level shit that we pull and put into these salons.

Our final salon of the year was a quiet introspective affair where we reflected on what Parallel Fascinations meant for our select participants.The future dreaming and associations that flowed during this salon where intoxicating, sensuous and totally out there, I am happy to report.  As convenors, we are still processing what this means for our future directions and what we need to do to keep this precious and untamed space alive.

I finally got around to doing the transcript of the associations that I took from this salon and I’ll give you a bit of a jumbled conglomeration of them here so you can see what the tethers are that we will be setting down as we nurture this collective cultural laboratory focused on creativity and innovation.

Convention crossing, inappropriateness, no fear, moments of the veil dropping, to be aware and alive, “If you reach the finite, you can achieve it”, the hanging gardens of Babylon, a transformative state, enlightenment through thresholds, manifesting a new reality through glitches, to enter a timeless space, moving like liquid

and my final favourite flourish that I will sign out on today, a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche

                            …when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you…

Have chew on that all you souls out there… and stay tuned for we are in a time of abundance. Now is the time to navigate, amplify and resonate until innovation bubbles up through the cultural laboratories of our hearts and minds.”

16 Oct 2015

6-9pm

BIG BANG Studio

1/177 Beavers Rd

Northcote. VIC

Cover of Alexia's book

We are proud to announce that one of Parallel Fascinations’ co-curators and facilitators, Dr. Alexia Maddox, will be having a launch for her new book ‘Research Methods and Global Online Communities: a case study’. You are warmly invited to attend.

Published by Ashgate, the book is a “conceptual discussion realigning our understandings of the construction of community and binding the polarised environments of online activities with offline and in person relationships”. Using online communities of “Herpers” (or people interested in collecting reptiles and amphibians) as a case study, Alexia has explored how “the internet is positioned as both the backbone and central nervous system of community”.

The book launch will feature clips, pics and field notes from Alexia’s field work; typically, for a Parallel Fascinations event, it will also leave time for lots of chatting and wine drinking.

You can find more out about Alexia’s book and the launch here.

To buy copies of the book, please go to Ashgate’s website.

Meredith Lewis

Richly illustrated with ethnographic research, together with extensive survey and interview material drawn from around the world, Research Methods and Global Online Communities explores the changing nature of communities that form around common interests and are embedded in a digital architecture rather than place. In doing so, this book transcends the digital dualism of online/offline models of community and engages with debates on the social impacts of the internet and the adaptive nature of community.

Source: Research Methods and Global Online Communities by Alexia Maddox

Our latest Parallel Fascinations salon saw a night of lively conversation generated by a thought provoking presentation by curator Amelia Winata.

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Amelia is an emerging curator and writer. She holds an Honours degree in Art History from the University of Melbourne. Her current projects include a curated exhibition of video art to be presented as part of Channels Festival 2015, and a writing mentorship with Gertrude Contemporary. She is currently Gallery Operations Coordinator at RMIT Gallery.

For her presentation, Amelia used the examples of her current projects to consider the practical constraints of arts-based practices. She considered the inevitable tension between creative and administrative work that exists within the arts industry, ultimately questioning the limitations of arts curation and writing. We are grateful to Amelia for her articulate and considered approach to this issue, and for responding to the conversation branching out in unexpected directions so flexibly and gracefully and with an open mind.

In part, conversation during this presentation considered possible ideas for, and obstructions encountered in, navigating this conflict between creative practice and arts management. In response to an exhibition Amelia is currently curating another interesting strand of conversation emerged around the use of the internet.

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Below you will find two blogs written by two of Parallel Fascination’s curators and written as a reflection on this latest salon.

Amelia’s latest exhibition – In the Epoch of the Near and Far – will be in Channels Festival 2015 between 18-27 September so you should definitely get along to that to check it out. To quote from the website “Six contemporary artists engage with the concept of post-representational identity and the ways we operate in the physical world as a result of our engagement with the digital.” If you are a facebookian, you can also find out about the exhibition here.

During the salon it emerged that one of the conversationalists, Composer Vincent Giles, has a sound installation – Bits & Pieces – playing at the Auction Rooms in North Melbourne as part of Melbourne Fringe. Apparently this also involves drinking coffee so that sounds pretty enticing too.

We are definitely planning excursions to both these events; if you want to come along then leave a comment below.

Part of the conversation during Parallel Fascinations 4 was taken up with musings about the internet. Digital sociologist Alexia Maddox dedicated part of her blog to this; an extract is included below:

“This leads me to our recent Parallel Fascinations salon at the Channel, Arts Centre Melbourne.  Salon 4 just happened, with an incredibly, giving, creative and eclectic group attending.  Our conversationalist, Amelia Winata, ‘brought it’ as the saying goes.

Amelia is an emerging curator and writer and spoke on Arts-based practices and practical constraints: navigating the conflicts. For her presentation, Amelia drew on examples of her current projects to consider the practical constraints of arts-based practices with a focus on the inevitable tension between creative and administrative work that exists within the arts industry. Ring a bell?  The organisational (wo)man performing to institutional practices, whilst the creative drive morphs through the vortexes of ‘anonymous’ into a million bits and bytes to reconfigure as a phoenix. Tension?  It occurred to me as I compared these two tropes discussed earlier that they present a metaphorical ‘cognitive dissonance’ where performing to one criteria and compartmentalising or sequestering behaviours seeking the other criteria would create a split or tension leading to dysfunctionality.

So this is where we find ourselves.

Amelia put forward an insightful discussion that resonated strongly for those attending from the arts sector and, actually, strongly for all of us. As seems to inevitably happen, at some point we got side tracked into discussing the internet. Beginning with some observations of Gen X use of the internet we moved collectively to considering who we are and how we act/perform across the digital physical and whether our identities really find synergy and traction across these environments. Slowly we spread our tentacles forward  to the discussion of whether this evolving and augmented social and economic environment can offer us an abundant space through which to continue and sustain our creative practice? Through combined head nodding and light bulb moments, we wondered what the conditions of this new domain were, what will it demand from us, how can we adapt to it and how can we utilise its affordances to help us make our way in this world? You know, the big questions.

Well this is where my thinking cap is firmly situated right now, give or take a few random brainfarts that attending Parallel Fascinations tends to put into the mix. One of them being, how the Feynman diagram might fit into all of this as a visual or conceptual thought tool. I think it may help me to trace through the way submerged networks and digital traces of social action across time give rise to and amplify pre-figurative moves that we make to manifest the world of our making. Bit quantum there but, watching the bitcoin and cryptomarket communities imagine and collaborate themselves collectively into constantly evolving socio-technical frontiers has been a bit of a ‘bar raiser’ when it comes to thinking on what is possible.”

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The rest of Alexia’s blog deals with the other fascinating projects she is involved with right now. You can read it here.

Meredith Lewis wrote a personal reflection following Amelia Winata’s presentation at Parallel Fascinations 4. Read what she has to say about the tension beneath arts practice and arts administration below:

Dangerous Meredith

Alongside digital sociologist Alexia Maddox and researcher, artist and event designer Romaine Logere, I am currently co-curating and co-facilitating Parallel Fascinations at The Channel, Arts Centre Melbourne, a series of salon type events dedicated to supporting the development of new ideas and research and interdisciplinary conversation.

For our fourth salon, we were lucky to have curator and writer Amelia Winata* talking about the tension between creative practice and arts administration. You can read more about the event on our Parallel Fascinations blog.

Art making versus arts administration

For me, as with others in the room, Amelia’s chosen topic of conversation had a great deal of resonance. I have worked as an arts practitioner myself – in my case I was a performing artist and choreographer. But I have also worked in arts administration and arts management – project management, production management, event management, grant writing and fundraising…

View original post 767 more words

Parallel Fascinations is proud to announce that one of our co-curation and facilitation team, Dr. Alexia Maddox, will soon have her new book on sale.

Research Methods and Global Online Communities “explores the changing nature of communities that form around common interests and are embedded in a digital architecture rather than place.”

The book is due out on 15 October 2015 (and you can bet that we will have a special Parallel Fascinations get-together to celebrate). To whet your appetite you can download and read a chapter via ashgate.com .

Cover of Alexia's book

To further quote from the publisher Ashgate’s website:

“This book brings into focus the technologically augmented nature of global online communities, advancing research methods that reveal the imprint of emergent social forms and characterise digital frontiers of social engagement. Drawing on insights from across the social sciences, it presents a case study of people with passions for reptiles and amphibians to illustrate for next generation researchers how to conduct community research in the real world.

Richly illustrated with ethnographic research, together with extensive survey and interview material drawn from around the world, Research Methods and Global Online Communities explores the changing nature of communities that form around common interests and are embedded in a digital architecture rather than place. In doing so, this book transcends the digital dualism of online/offline models of community and engages with debates on the social impacts of the internet and the adaptive nature of community.

As such, it will appeal to social scientists interested in innovative approaches to characterising digital communities through mixed-methods research practice.

About the Author: Alexia Maddox is Research Officer for Deakin University Library and Sessional Lecturer in Research Methods in the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University, Australia. She also conducts research into the social impacts of cryptomarkets in her role as Research Officer at the National Drug Research Institute, in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University, where she is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Substance Misuse Prevention and Service Improvement Grants Fund.

Reviews: ‘In this book, Alexia Maddox presents a compelling and engaging account of how online communities operate. Not only does she include a thorough overview of previous research, the book also discusses new findings from her own study that extends her insights in exciting ways. It will be of interest both to scholars new to this field and those looking for the latest developments in networked sociability studies.’
Deborah Lupton, University of Canberra, Australia

‘This is what a community study looks like in the information age. It is a really rich attempt to ground contemporary debates in research methods appropriate for the digital era in an engaging substantive study of a global community of – what one comes to know as – “herpers”. Although the specifics of the study are of interest, the real strength of the text is the manner in which lessons about researching global online communities in general are drawn.’
Roger Burrows, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK”

We are seeking a conversationalist for our next salon (PF #4), with availability to present on a Friday night in August at the Arts Centre.

Following on from our themes of serendipity (salon 1), narrative and organisational culture (salon 2) and the power of metaphor (salon 3), we are hoping to build on this fine ‘tradition’ of having our speaker unravel the dots in their current creative process and engage our wonderful participants through the work-in-progress pooling of these ideas. Our venue has plenty of formats that we can work with for a salon, including sound, visual technologies or round-table engagement.

We invite you to submit a brief proposal by the 17th of July and indicate your availability for presenting at Salon #4 on one of the following Friday nights: August 7, 14, 21, 28. We also have an opportunity in the first half of next year for Salon 7 if August is not looking good for you, but you’d love to present at a Salon.

As a featured ‘conversationalist’ we would support you by helping to curate a suitable audience for your presentation, guided by your needs and suggestions. We will also be helping to promote your Salon via our blog and email. We have discussed promotions and documenting and have come up with some protocols that we believe offers protection of IP and privacy for attendees as well.

Proposals must be submitted by 17 July. All you need to do is email us your idea. Our email address is parallelfascinations@outlook.com.

Any questions? Just leave us a comment below.

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One of our number, Alexia Maddox, posted a lovely piece – Nurturing the space for creativity – on her blog Social Forecast. In the extract below she reflects on our recent Parallel Fascination No. 3 (featuring a beautiful presentation by Romaine Logere) and, more generally, our journey so far. ~ Meredith

“The narratives of scarcity versus abundance are rife and it seems impossible to pick which times we are actually in.  I’ve decided that I live in times of abundance and that it is up to me to generate the creativity through which to source and nurture this reality.

Alongside this realisation, has been the collective realisation of two of my prime ladies-in-arms, who also see that we have the capacity to create a better future through nurturing the creativity and voice of our peers in the present. And we are doing this through the shared vision of Parallel Fascinations, an interdisciplinary salon that we run out of the Channel at the @artscentremelb.

One of the reasons I’ve been napping in a sunbeam like a true nanna this weekend is as a recovery from all the excitement of Friday night. We held our third salon, with Romaine Logere presenting on metaphor as a mechanism for the liminal.  Romaine is one of the co-convenors for the salon, alongside Meredith Lewis, who presented at the salon prior to this on using Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as a narrative through which to explore organisational disfunction. Needless to say, these sessions have been absolute rippers.

What happens during the salons is unpredictable, rich and reliant on our carefully curated group of attendees who thrive in the intimate moment, both giving to and gaining from each speaker. Within the ebb and flow of repartee ideas are sparked and exchanged.  The light bulbs go on as we each realise how the passion and private obsessions of the speaker open up a way of thinking and seeing that resonates beyond the rational.

Romaine kicked us off by exploring metaphor, mirroring and the body dysmorphic through exploring the social phenomenon of amputee devotees. Yes, you read that right.  And why not? When you want to explore the liminal and black space of ‘that which cannot be put’, we learnt, this was the perfect launching pad into unchartered territory. Romaine, used a segment from this episode of QI to get us all on the same page.

She asked what role metaphor might play in finding ways of knowing and articulating the unthinkable, the complex, the intuitive, the indistinct, the messy and the diffuse. In doing so, Romaine took us on a fascinating and intimate journey from deep within the bowls of the human psyche, across the mirror spaces of film genres to horror and landing in metaphor as a vehicle to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration.

When such unbounded and thought provoking ideas flowed over the group, we rose, almost as one, into a creative and inspirational domain that is as unchartered as it was unanticipated. In this way, our parallel fascinations were on a collision course to fusion, eruption and recreation.  I have yet to walk away from these salons the same person, and I may speak for more than myself when I say this.

So, I think I’ll turn back to my mundane list of ‘to do’s now that I’ve got that off my chest.  There is a space of abundance and creativity in our social landscape.  It’s a slipstream that runs like a current through the city I live in.  To find it, you need the right vehicle (perhaps a metaphor) and the right people. Once you’ve found it, nurture it, for these times are precious and our future grows from what we do together.

Keep an eye out for our #parallelfascinations posts on twitter.  This is my attempt to collectively engineer a future that I desire to be a part of.”