reallybigroadtrip is an experiment in living & breathing creative digital culture. The plan is to get a bus and drive it around Australia, making and sharing geek arts with everyone that I meet. It’s an artwork and research project, plus a home / studio / workshop / exhibition / screening and collaboration space, all wrapped up in one big bus.
I’m Fee; a geek artist, technoevangelist & nomadic digital consultant from the UK. I became a permanent resident in Australia on a Distinguished Talent visa last year. My passion for geekery started in 1996 when my theatrical creative practice met the internet… and my head exploded.
‘This space’ is hard to define, but that’s one of the things that makes it so appealing for me. Here I’m defining it as ‘creative digital culture’ because I’m essentially interested in how creative people (‘makers’) use technology to connect themselves & their ideas to other people.
I was a maker long before Facebook & Twitter existed; I’ve had some interesting learning curves. I can create meaningful noise & engagement without much money. I’ve built & maintained online communities so attentively that one still exists thirteen years after I helped to establish it. I co-founded a company that created a new genre of literature inspired by mobile phone technical limitations & I established a Geek in Residence model that has been adopted in other countries.
reallybigroadtrip celebrates everything I love about creative digital culture. It’s playfully up for any challenge; based on generous exchanges between passionate inventive minds; connects people across vast geographic spaces; can be personalised on demand to the needs of the current participants; & explores ideas we often don’t yet understand. The people behind it are gorgeous too!
Digital arts is a misunderstood and largely unrecognised practice. It is suffering increasingly under budget cuts from conservative governments around the world, and despite having been around a while is still considered ‘niche and emerging’. My aim is to dispel the myth that it is a niche practice by showing how much of it there is in your own local community.
I’m a big fan of collaboration, crowdsourcing my life & exploring digital culture by using digital culture. Through my blog, facebook page and twitter account I will capture not just ‘what’ I do, but ‘where’, ‘why’, ‘how’ & ‘who’ I’m doing it with. With the assistance of my truly awesome geek possee, and your crowdsourced suggestions I will seek out opportunities to exchange artwork, stories, knowledge & networks.
This is a mobile digital arts space that will travel to you, wherever you are, and will take other makers along for the ride. My national & international ‘Nomads in Residence’ will tell me where they want to go, who they want to meet & what they want to achieve while they’re with me. I will help to facilitate those relationships & of course share everything that subsequently takes place.
Since this space is still considered niche & emerging, this process needs some quantitative analysis. As I travel I will be asking people to complete one of three surveys for makers, audiences or policy developers, mapping how Australia is engaged with creative digital culture. I will also argue why the National Broadband Network is not just a conduit for more sport & porn from overseas. Done well, the NBN has the opportunity to change how Australians make & share (not just receive) anything, anywhere. I want to help make that possibility a reality.
I ran a three-month crowdfunding campaign for this project in 2012, raising over $27,000 from 343 people in Australia and beyond. It went viral thanks to some very exciting tweets by Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman and Hugh Jackman. Contributions went towards purchasing a bus and doing some basic modifications so that it can make a decent living/working space, designed by Geoff Cobham. The campaign page is now a Pozible shopfront, accepting ongoing project support in exchange for ‘rewards’.
I’m not a documentary filmmaker, anthropologist, or academic researcher, but I will be learning – & failing – at becoming all those & more on the fly. This is a personal journey with outcomes for others. It personifies my passion for creative play, technology, adventure & Australia. Where I go, what I do, & how this journey ends will be determined entirely by the people who want to join me.
So, do you want to play?
What I need:
Finance – aka funding/sponsorship/in-kind partnerships, etc, towards the bus; conversion; equipment; insurance & legal security; flights, per diems & some expenses for nomadic residents; internet access (ideally enough to become a touring hotspot); promotion; special events; general running of the trip. I’ll top up with income from my professional services too.
Your knowledge – of places to go & people/communities to meet/collaborate with; funding sources I should explore; things I may already know but am always happy to be told twice.
Your questions – what do you want to know about Australia’s creative digital culture?
Vegetable oil – in an increasing age of bio-diesel plants it can be hard to get hold of this stuff these days. Help me gather it from your homes, schools & restaurants & in return I’ll show your community how you modify engines & filter the oil so it can be used effectively.
Free parks – I’m going to be on the road for a long time. While caravan parks are great resources they are really not the full picture I’m trying to capture. I need to know about places I can park for free, land you can permit me to stay on for any duration, communities who can provide a safe & legal spot for me to pitch up & offer my wares.
What I can offer in return:
Research data – I’m going to be gathering a lot of qualitative (photo/video/audio, anecdotes, reflections from discussions) & quantitative (statistical, survey analysis) material that you might find useful in your own work.
Information, advice, education & support – for your creative digital problems. That might be workshops, one-to-one advice sessions, digital strategy audits (where I look through all your online spaces & give you feedback about what works/doesn’t & what you could do to improve things). I’m a creative, technical problem solver with sixteen years of experience in this ‘niche & emerging’ experimental area & a penchant for policy. Try me.
My network – I have been fortunate enough to travel extensively & have met some awe-inspiring people in my sixteen+ years of geek. If you need something (advice, a collaborator, a visiting artist, a keynote speaker, a curated program of work…) I can help you find the right person & negotiate a relationship with them.
A residency location – are you a creative digital practitioner who wants to know more about a part of Australia, or a particular community that you always wanted to see but never quite knew how to get there? Tell me what you do, what you need & what you want out of the experience & I might be able to slot you in as one of my nomadic residents.
a blog full of photos, video, audio & text interviews, digital art works & documentation, sample data snippets & reportage reflecting on findings as I journey (aka ‘qualitative data’);
analysed data from the quantitative survey;
an actively engaged online community all sharing info about creative digital culture & (hopefully) helping me to find amazing people/work to add to the collection;
a database of creative digital practitioners including artists, organisations, funders, venues, audience/participants, games developers, programmers, hackers, policy developers, etc (I’m currently organising approx 10,000 contacts from my sixteen years of networking);
a massive database of rich media material that could be turned into an interactive documentary film, eBook, PhD resources, advocacy material… who knows;
a series of conference presentations/papers/teacher’s notes/discussion topics;
all the collaborative artworks, in whatever shapes or forms they might evolve & represent themselves.
Hi Fee – your trip sounds really exciting. Just found it via internal message at The Hub. Can you see potential connections with Journeys for Climate Justice? We’ve been thinking about supporting journeys in Australia – maybe there are ways we can make things happen together! (note – we’re non-profit, totally volunteer based, and very little funds – but good-size mailing list)
Hi Jim, Your work sounds fascinating! I’ll email you and we can chat through some options – thanks for getting in touch!
I came here through the CuriousWork Posterous. I worked with them in 2008 after crowdfunding my way to Australia to do video/new media production in the Australian outback (Newman, Western Australia).
Your project looks FANTASTIC. I covered spaces in San Diego, New York, Boston and of course Newman (of all places!)
I too am a nomadic technology practitioner, love travel, new places, experiences etc. I ‘geek out’ on WordPress hosting/configuration, site usability, teaching kids new media for fun, and DJing:)
I’d certainly recommend talking more with the CuriousWorks crew (if you haven’t already) and for a *really* big adventure, driving to the quiet expanses of the Pilbara – and hopefully meeting up with Dave Wells in Newman at Martu Media. Dave ROCKS. There are quite some interesting teachers and people out there…
Hey Morgan, thanks heaps for your comment (which i just unearthed from spam filter hence delayed reply – i think they filter enthusiasm, which is an unfortunate trait!). i know CW quite well since in a previous life (well, ok, just last year) I was working for the australia council for the arts running a thing i made called ‘geek in residence’ which put media artists/technologists into arts orgs to help geek them up. CW are one of those teams; they’re very good people.
i’ll certainly be heading to pilbarra, not least to catch up with these guys who i’ve just been intro’d to: http://www.yijalayala.bighart.org/.
also love that you crowdfunded your way here. we clearly have a lot in common… keep in touch x