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Article categories: Issue 69[PP] Portable Platforms
June 4th, 2009

A project like Portable Worlds reaches people in different ways. Our intention when publishing a ‘call for work’ is to inspire the creation of a new work, or bring a new audience to existing work. The workshops aim to give school children a new experience, an empowerment against homogeneous mobile ‘personalisation’, and provide a new direction for teachers or more mature practitioners. Taking both workshop outputs and the curated program into a gallery context stretches the positioning of digital content within the traditional arts world.

These are our intentions, but we wondered what responses our actions generate.

Workshop Participants & Hosts

The workshop was the best professional learning I’ve had in ages. I really appreciated the quality of the presenters – they were fantastic, and clearly knew their stuff.  It was also really beneficial to me as an IT teacher to get an arts perspective on things as well, that will help me to provide a more rounded education to my students”. Margaret, Tasmania.

The Portable Worlds workshops at Gippsland Centre for Art and Design were excellent. The demonstrators were gifted teachers who related well to young students and gave excellent personal attention to each participant. The examples of work that I saw from students looked like they were having fun and learning a lot. The return rate for the second day was high indicating participants were engaged with what they were getting”. Rodney Forbes, Acting Head of Centre for Latrobe Regional Gallery.

Workshop Leaders

I started mucking around with WAP and flash content for phones and Palm V handsets. I love the new technologies – I reverse love the people dishing them out. The rates and contracts are offensive“. Hugh Davies.

I was interested in creative use of ubiquitous and accessible technologies and mobile provided the perfect solution (there is one in every pocket)…I love the mobile platform as it is the most direct and intimate of screens. Mobile screen is a one person viewing experience; a direct conversation between viewer and maker. As an artist and filmmaker, mobile presents an exciting and challenging and the opportunity to talk very directly and quietly to your audience”. Sasha Grbich.


The exciting thing about mobile devices and the emergence of mobile content as a source of entertainment and expression is the egalitarian nature of it all… Gone are the days when a network programmer or studio boss pretty much decided not only what content was available, but how and when that content was distributed. These days any artist with access to increasingly affordable technology can come up with an idea, develop it, produce it and get it out there for people to see, hear, play or interact with“. Shane Ingram.

Given the growth in possible applications for the technology it was hard not to be excited about the possibilities – there’s still a very long way to go, so the excitement is yet to peak for sure”. “I have to admit in my own work I find the idea of ‘pure’ technology being the crux of the artwork a touch dangerous. I believe strongly in using the technology, not letting the technology use you“. Lawrence English.

This location oriented potential means that you can build stories and experiences around specific objects, spaces or communities. I don’t think it is necessarily about a particular technology or platform, but more about buying into the concept of distributed / located digitally enhanced experiences“. Ian Gwilt.

Portable technologies enable mixed realities to be constructed in which all of the codes, language and lifeforms that have evolved in the digital realm can be integrated into the familiar world we live in everyday… This was the motivation behind the SWM05 project – to take a set of digital characters (who have their origins in the early 90s electronic music scene) and find ways to embed them in local situations and places familiar to those playing with the work. Any perceived distinction or point of difference between digital/virtual entities and material/physical entities becomes flattened by the ubiquity of mobile screens“. Troy Innocent.

I became interested in creating content for mobile devices the day I got my hands on a phone that could shoot and playback video and photographs…I had fallen in love with the small frame I would like to see mobile content broadcast stations of some kind, where works could be pushed out onto nearby handsets. People could receive art straight to their phone during their lunch hour“. Chris Fulham.

Having worked with the Internet in past art projects, I wanted to increase the potential for participation through using mobile devices which have a significantly larger user base. I am also interested in extending the reach of performances that occur over large geographical distances (eg, walking performances) by using devices that can distribute content during the event. My emphasis is on generating content with the mobile phone rather than using it to display content”. Greg Giannis.


The exhibition not only aroused interest, but also controversy amongst out academic environment with the consideration of the use of new technology as an art form. For many students and staff the exhibition Portable Worlds was a fantastic first time exposure to the use of telecommunications as an art form“. The University of Tasmania Academy Gallery Director, Malcom Bywaters.

The work included [in the exhibition] didn’t seem to me particularly engaging and was difficult to access in some cases“. Rodney Forbes, Acting Head of Centre for Latrobe Regional Gallery.

Handset audiences

They seem to be more motivated to seek out content for their devices, and are prepared to go through the relative hassle to do this. I think this makes them an interesting audience. I regularly show works at mobile festivals, which always leaves me wondering how the work is seen and distributed. I have also performed guerilla style bluetooth transmissions to unknown recipients. I enjoy the idea of mobile users receiving art on the run, particularly when it is unexpected“. Christopher Fulham.

I think the fact that mobile devices bring creative content into a public domain makes it different from looking at Net art on a home computer. There is often a performative element with mixed-reality works, where the user needs to hold up and manoeuvre the mobile device to capture an image / sound or signal… content providers need to look carefully at the socio-cultural particulars of these peripatetic communication tools, think about where and whey are used and try to develop content that draws on these qualities“. Ian Gwilt.

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‘Post-It Kino’ from Emile Zile on Vimeo.

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