High voltage!

Research news
20 June 2011
Dr Lucas Ihlein wins Alfred Deakin Medal.

High voltage! Dr Lucas Ihlein wins Alfred Deakin Medal

Artist-research-blogger Dr Lucas Ihlein has won the inaugural Alfred Deakin Medal for Best Doctoral Thesis in the humanities and social sciences.

Dr Ihlein’s award winning thesis titled Framing Everyday Experience: Blogging as Art was highly praised by his examiners, and his doctorate was awarded without any amendments.

It consisted of an exegesis, two case-study blog projects and an exhibition at the George Paton Gallery in Melbourne.

“It was an honour to receive the award, and I am disappointed I was unable to attend the graduation ceremony to receive it in person because of other commitments”, said Dr Ihlein, who lives in Sydney.

“So I would like to take this opportunity to thank the University for this wonderful award – and in particular my supervisor, Associate Professor Estelle Barrett, who was a formidible ally in my difficult task of trying to wrangle my unruly aesthetic experiments into a convincing academic format.”

The innovative research work in the thesis continues to be widely recognised and published.

One of Ihlein's thesis chapters was published as “Bilateral Blogging” in The International Journal of the Arts in Society; research emerging from the PhD was also published in a recent Australian book on socially-engaged public art called Harmonic Tremors: Aesthetic Interventions in the Public Sphere, edited by Sarah Rainbird; and a co-authored chapter (with Adelaide theorist/artist Dr Teri Hoskin) critically and poetically appraising Ihlein’s first blogging-as-art project will be included in a forthcoming book edited by Maria Miranda and Brandon Labelle.

Ihlein's reflections on blogging as an attention-quickening artform have also been published in the international online journal 127 Prince, co-edited by influential Chicago art theorist Randall Szott. As an international authority on blogging-as-art and relational art processes, Dr Ihlein has been invited to present a number of guest lectures on this subject, including at:

  • Concordia University, Montreal;
  • Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax (Canada);
  • Next Wave Festival, Melbourne;
  • National Art School, Sydney;
  • Curtin University, Perth;
  • College of Fine Arts, UNSW;
  • University of South Australia;
  • Victoria University, Melbourne;
  • University of Technology, Sydney;
  • Melbourne University;
  • The Institute of Postcolonial Studies, Melbourne.

In 2010, Dr Ihlein began lecturing in Media Arts at Wollongong University, where he is re-editing the PhD into a book.

“Perhaps the most important outcome of the PhD is that it has served as a base from which I can further develop my method of blogging-as-art,” Dr Ihlein said.

“This potential for extension beyond the two original case studies is one of the thesis’ key knowledge contributions. The method has proved useful in surprisingly diverse circumstances.

“For example, in my project Bon Scott Blog, this method was used to generate new insights into the music fan culture surrounding the iconic Australian AC/DC singer Bon Scott.

“The project involved thousands of interactions with AC/DC enthusiasts around the globe in a blogging project which ran for six months.

“In another project, in collaboration with Sydney artists Nick Keys and Astrid L'Orange, blogging-as-art was used to annotate, for the first time ever, the hundreds of small events which constitute the re-enacted experience of Push and Pull, a seminal 1963 Happening by Allan Kaprow.”

Last year Dr Ihlein was invited by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, to further adapt his blogging method, in an artist-led Environmental Audit of the museum itself.

This project demonstrated the power of blogging to positively intervene in the daily life and decision making processes of a large scale organisation as it strives to reduce its environmental footprint.

Currently, in collaboration with artist Diego Bonetto, an adapted version of blogging-as-art is being used to drive and document the development of an experimental organic vegetable garden at Sydney College of the Arts, at Sydney University.

Entitled TENDING, the project has been funded as creative research by the University.

This year Dr Ihlein will collaborate with veteran conceptual artist Ian Milliss on Yeomans Project, a hybrid blog and exhibition investigating the cultural phenomenon of pioneering Australian agricultural inventor Percy Yeomans.

This project has received $23,144 in funding from the Inter-Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts, and will be on show at ACCA in Melbourne during October 2011.

Dr Ihlein has also been included as a key artist/researcher/blogger on the collaborative project Atelier Edens – “a series of field laboratories developing cross-disciplinary methodologies for sustainably creating networked cross-artform projects in remote natural environments”led by Melbourne artist Willoh S. Wieland, and funded $75,000 as an Inter-Arts Board Art Lab project.

“All of these projects adapt and extend the method of blogging-as-art originated and explicated throughout my PhD thesis,” he said

“They simultaneously generate new knowledge outcomes within the particular situated environment or cultural field in which they are positioned; and they all represent substantial contributions to innovation in international experimental art practice.”

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Bon Scott (left) and Dr Lucas Ihlein Bon Scott (left) and Dr Lucas Ihlein

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