Analogue Digital

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I have almost certainly got better things to do. I mean, the next issue of Peril is hotting up and now that I have admin status good to go on the website, I want to go and finish that editorial, dammit, because the world has spirits that have to get loose. Loose with some beautiful poetry.

But right now, my eyes are burning tired from writing too late last night, recording at 2am, and then driving down to Robina (the world’s largest carpark, it would appear) early in the morning to attend the Analogue Digital Conference. The very best thing that I could do for myself (and probably for you) is go to sleep.

But I can’t. Because I want to tell you about this conference.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a review. Reviewers claim some sense of neutrality that might allow the writer some legitimacy of ideas. Reviewers need to pretend they read the book, and I’d have to waste a great deal of whiskey o’clock telling you about the team that put it together, being fair to the other speakers, casting nods at the enormous Imax size screen, appreciating the luncheon, making nice comments about the role of manufacturers, consumers, and producers of art/design/fashion/life, and being encouraging to the students and I just don’t have the time for that right now.

I also think in part that the illusion of neutrality and impersonal critique is a great deal of what is silly about the world. We are all somehow exercising some kind of connection, drawing on our past and our prejudices, pretending we’re less implicated than we really are. As the experiment is being observed, it’s waving its cheeky fingers back at the guy in the white labcoat. If there’s anything I’ve learned from collaborating with Doubting Thomas is that everything I have ever borne witness to, I have also somehow participated in.

So I am going to tell you about this conference. In the way that I saw it.

Because I am burning with the personal and the particular, the specific review that comes from being in a position of utter parochial affection and support. For Ms Sonia Rentsch. Or just Rentsch as the enormous screen reported. She knows of the little flaws in her presentation, because we are each our own harshest critic; but the internet is not for reporting more negativity. As I try to think, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it. It doesn’t deserve the time.

But I like Sonia. So she deserves the time.

However, I’m not really her target audience. I’m not a designer, I won’t be a 3D illustrator, and I certainly don’t understand the ins and outs of the commercial elements of working as a freelance creative in her industry. But I am interested in that which is transferable about beauty, about what we see, about how to see, about how to create and how to find the bond between those who do and those who observe – the way to let others know that you’re waving not drowning.

Sonia’s presentation covered her background, training, early career, a couple of low points, some interesting hard points, and a gradual and emergent sense of excitement and purpose as a multi-background creative practitioner who just sees the world a little bit slant.

The recording below is not how Sonia’s 30 min presentation went, it’s just how I heard it. With a light kind of beat underneath, a warm familiar voice, with a gilded note of steel, because one of things that Sonia didn’t really mention about herself is how the fuck hard she works. She makes hard work look light, she attacks big, she dreams hard, she is well and truly intense and – to be frank – I don’t remember the last time I left a conversation with her and I wasn’t thinking. Sonia is the rose and the thorns.

I have six poems about her upcoming series of photographs that are just swirling hard in my head. They kept me up to 1am last night. That’s exhilarating, innocent and powerful at the same time.

You can check out her website. You can look at her blog.

On the days when I can keep up, she lets me be her friend.

I’m glad that I got to see her at this conference, with its interesting speakers, big screen, sponsors and students. I’m sorry I had to leave early, but it wasn’t because the conference wasn’t good, but because I had topped up the space in my brain with a long list of things “to look up when I got home” and I was just about to get completely pop-tastic head-sploded. And my lunchtime champagne really kicked in around 3pm.

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Oh, and after all my bitching and moaning about that Charlie Chaplin thing. I really think that you’ll need headphones for this most awesome iPhone mash up of Sonia’s speech with Efterklang’s Dreams Today*. Because, iPhone hiss four rows up in a mad massive cinema and my garage band skills? They be ghetto dreaming, baby. But waiting until you make something perfect will sometimes only prevent you from really making anything. Perfect can come later, this is the power of begin.

Thank you Sonia Rentsch for always challenging the way that I see beauty. You’re a fox.

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* Do check out their new album, the story behind it is as interesting as the music. Might even play some on 4ZZZ tomorrow with Domenico Natoli the lovely, At the Local, 1-2pm. Talking Bike Film Festival Brisbane. (How’s that for a subtle plug?)

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.

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