Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Jimmy's Tall Bike Adventures - Three Tall Bikes One Long Weekend from James Dodd on Vimeo.

This is a tale of three young gents on three unusual machines, bike packing through the picturesque Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula.  It is a slightly longer compilation than my usual output so make yourself comfy, sit back and enjoy the ride. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


A more obvious variation of the theme of this project, followed below by a bit of an expansion of conversations I find myself having whilst straddling various camps.


It has occurred to me, in my attempt to fill a gap between art worlds and bike worlds that there is a lot of specialist language that is employed between the two.  Certainly, this is not a revelation and this kind of thing occurs in all subcultures.  These nuances of language are developed both for a need to be able to have highly specific and resolved communication and also become present in more informal contexts.  These less formal applications include things like the use of slang which has built in cultural implications that indicate complex understandings and can be applied in ways that can leave outsiders feeling excluded.

Let me give you some examples that are fitting to this project.  If I was talking to a trained art head I would talk about things like how I am interested in notions of hacking, hijacking and punk.  More specifically, I would make reference to movements such as Arte Povera, Grunge and maybe even take a stab at the idea of freak bikes being related the notion of the abject and it’s reanimation of things otherwise dead or discarded.

There are those people I know who are left leaning, politically, who I would talk to about the idea of freak bike culture purposefully rejecting existing systems of order, opposing primary elements of commodity based culture and encouraging DIY in the post apocalyptic sense rather than the Jamie Durie sense.  I might even try to strike up a conversation about true radical creativity.

To my bike buddies I talk about things such as bike-packing, how the relative head angle of a tall bike effects the trail of the fork, overall weight position and the machine’s tendency to perform uncontrollable mad wheelies and my futile attempts at joining delicate 4130 tubing with the decidedly undelicate process of arc welding.  Most of these conversations are relevant to an understanding of all things two-wheeled and pedallable and are shared with the majority of my long term bike friends who tend to have a passion for anything that vaguely resembles a bicycle.  They, in-turn, have arrived at their specific points via original interests in specific cycling subcultures such as BMX, MTB, fixed or road, all of which have a specifc set of language and understandings. Indeed, most of these specific subcultures act as a bit of a gateway drug to get riders hooked into a lifetime of bicycle use.

So, after all of that nonsense, I would expect that you are scratching your head in confusion, regarding one angle or another.  At this point, I must also make clear, that there is no quick way to resolve these gaps, only that it is up to those people who use specialist language not to use it in anger and to help out those who are still coming up to speed.  Similarly, don’t be intimidated by big words, just consider them another step forward in your own ongoing language adventure.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


As an extension of my ongoing creative projects and a shared love of bikes and adventure, three of us set off on a three-day tall bike camping excursion over the recent long weekend. We travelled from Adelaide, through the Mt Lofty Ranges and down the Fleurieu Peninsula, stopping overnight at Meadows and McLaren Vale.

Part extreme expedition, part performance art on wheels, this journey was a lot of fun.  It was an exploration of our own potential, the potential of strange machines and an ongoing service to community via free public entertainment in the form of a tricky to label, kind of mobile street art freak out. 

It was a very successful trip and we eagerly anticipate more to come. I have made a short video to share our experience.  This is the taster - full report coming soon.

Jimmy's Tall Bike Adventures - Three Tall Bikes One Long Weekend - Taster from James Dodd on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


The French term en plein air translates simply as in the open air.  It is commonly applied in the art world to describe paintings created outdoors.  Artists find themselves drawn to the outdoors, favoring the cool breeze in their hair and the distinct natural light to the often musty confines of their studios.  Armed with portable easels and materials, artists set off into the landscape to create studies and finished works of the world around them.

Australia has a fantastic history of plein air painting stretching from early colonial artists such as Eugene Von Guerard and George French Angas, through wonderful Impressionists such as Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin and Charles Conder, to artists working today.  One of the many nuances of plein air painting is that the artist is more immediately experiencing the place that they are representing.  The process is often discussed in romantic, heroic terms, with the artist consistently referred to as ‘capturing’ a sense of place or time.  Amongst our contemporary Australian artists are figures such as John Wolseley, famous for his extended treks which move beyond simple painting via the incorporation of processes such as the use of branches and leaves for mark making, adding soil to his surface and even the burial of canvases for later excavation.  In all cases, these artists are considered in terms of their adventuring expeditions and the observations and artworks resulting from them.  So, it only makes sense that I should develop an easel attachment for my tall bike.  

Pictured here in its prototype stage, the attachment allows the rider use the bike as a support for painting, enabling the artist the freedom to ride to any desired location and pursue their making, plein air.   The process of traversing the landscape on bicycle imbues the rider with a tangible experience of that place, which becomes transferred to that persons understanding and the work that they produce.  The easel attachment also lends itself nicely as a metaphor for this project as a whole, where the bicycle is the primary site for creativity.

This variation is collapsible, breaking down into it’s various components for easy stowage and carrying.  Those of you who are more bike oriented might recognise some of the commonly available bits that have been repurposed  here.