Monday, September 30, 2013


Here's a shot of a fun little work that has been on my mind for a while and recently made it into reality.  It is something of a multi-layered one liner  and it is also one of those artworks that makes a whole lot more sense to someone who has studied art than someone who hasn’t.  It has occurred to me on a couple of recent occasions that it deserves a little unpacking for those people engaging in this project who are more interested in bikes than art.  Whilst it may seem to be an obscure kind of wacky object, it arguably references the most significant artwork made by any artist of the last century.

One hundred years ago a French bloke by the name of Marcel Duchamp revolutionized the idea of making art.  Up until that point the dominant way of thinking about art making was that an artist should find a nice landscape or still life to paint or find a model who would take off their clothes so that they could create a statue in that person’s form.  Duchamp and his mates had different ideas.  Mass manufacturing, an outcome of the Industrial Revolution, was only a relatively recent reality and it occurred to Duchamp that perhaps the products of this process could be considered as art.   As a bit of a smarty pants scallywag, Marcel wanted viewers to question relationships between labour and art, techniques and concepts and the general space in which art operated.

He made (or didn’t make) a number of these works over time.  The most known of these include Bicycle Wheel, a urinal, renamed Fountain and a simple Bottle Rack.  To name these artworks and this way of approaching art making, Duchamp coined the phrase ‘Readymade’.  His ‘work’ was rejected and derided by institutions and establishments of the time but has turned out to influence the whole of the art world of the Twentieth century in proposing that the idea behind an art work is as important or even more so than the object that we are presented with.

Some of you might know of another significant artist of the last fifty years called Andy Warhol.  Most famous for his screen prints of Campbell’s soup cans, and considered challenging during his time, Warhol could not have conceived of this work without the prior work of Marcel Duchamp.  It is a little known fact that whilst Andy could make great art and be a superstar he couldn’t ride a bicycle.  Here is a picture of Andy being pushed along, grinning like a small child, pretending to ride his friend’s bike.

If you are still curious about the idea of a Readymade, check out my mate Hennessey Youngman delivering streetwise knowledge on ‘How to make an Art’ (below).  Hennessey also fits neatly into the broader scope of this project in terms of examining portraiture and identity as constructed and portrayed in a social media context.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


A little spread on people who experience Adelaide form places high up - such as tree fellas.. er, fellers, high rise window cleaners and freaky cyclists.  In this October's Adelaide* magazine.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


‘Bike packing’ is a term used in place of ‘cycle touring’. It has a set of connotations much more closely related to the idea of backpacking, trekking, rugged-ness, leaving the beaten path and pursuing adventure. Whilst cycle touring, as terminology, does not preclude these things it is certainly more indicative of the European traditions of behemoth pannier bags, socks and sandals and a legionnaire hat type attachment flapping around at the back of the riders helmet.

In the instance of this particular post, however, it refers to that art of packing a bicycle into a box for the purpose of its own travel. Of course with conventional machines there a set of conventional approaches to this, most commonly a simple, disposable cardboard box. Travellers who are often taking their bikes with them might invest in such things as ‘hard cases’ that resemble a massive, firm suitcase in which their beloved steed will fit. Or there are lighter-weight, less protective versions of these, referred to as a ‘soft case’. 

In my case I have create more of a monolithic cabinet which, whilst still comfortably lifted by two adults is preferably hoisted onto the back of a vehicle by way of a tailgate lifter. This is definitely not going to make it through domestic airline excess baggage check in, although I assure you this machine is designed to dismantle and fit into a conventional cardboard travel box as supplied by your friendly international carrier. In defense of it’s excessive nature, I note that the crate will serve another function in due time. More updates are pending regarding the destination of my machine and the application of its ridiculous travel case. 

Monday, September 9, 2013


Many of the investigations presented as part of this project are simply that. This is an opportunity to test ideas without them necessarily becoming totally resolved. This little video fits into this category. The idea has been on my mind for a while but it needs some more time for it to become tight. Regardless of that, I would still like to share it in it's current form, to be considered as something like a sketch. 

Jimmy's Tall Bike Adventures - Sunset Motion from James Dodd on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


One of the things that interests me in undertaking this project is to explore the idea that people can improve their potential or extend their ability to engage with the world via machines.  More particularly, I am interested in the ways in which people undertake this process in a DIY manner by building things in sheds or yards and testing them on themselves.  This, to me, indicates the true nature of innovation and of invention.

Take, for example, the idea of human flight.  This has been around for a while, beginning with our old mate Leonardo da Vinci through to the early successes of the Wright brothers.  Who, by the way, were bicycle manufacturers in their day jobs.   Human powered flight is another thing, though, perhaps better examined as unpowered flight that has reached particular resolution in forms of hang gliding and radical new wing suits.  There are still those people out there who insist that they can build something in their very own garden sheds that will defy, or at least suspend, gravity for extended periods of time.  This type of individual is referred to as a ‘birdman’.

They get together and jump off of things, over water, for the purpose of entertaining one another and masses of heaving, excitable crowds.  These events are referred to as Birdman Rallies, one of the most famous Australian ones being that which accompanies Melbourne’s annual Moomba festival.   There are also high profile global equivalents such as the UK’s Worthing Rally and the Japan International.

What does all this have to do with art making, portraits and bicycles you ask?  Well, I believe there are a number of Australian artists who espouse the ideals of the birdman in elements of their practice. They take perfectly working objects and modify them in a way that further enables the objects real world and creative potential.  They cobble things together in fantastic ways that give us glimpses at new outcomes and insights.  This group is by no means exhaustive, but it does offer a sense of what is on my mind.

Firstly I would like to introduce Michael Meneghetti, a performance artist who creates various body extensions and personas with which to test ideas.  A 2012 collaboration with Joel Gailer, presented at Fremantle Art Centre, titled Performprint yielded the particularly impressive ‘Harley Printmatrixson’ costume, pictured below.  Check out more detailed documentation and a swag of other great things that Michael has done here -

Henry Jock Walker makes the list with his modified surfboards that become sculptures and also sites from which to make paintings (whilst surfing).  There is a little vid below of some of Jock’s water borne creativity.  He is currently touring around Australia using his van as a mobile studio.  Whilst this may not sound that unique, Jock’s painting technique often involves the vehicle being in motion at the time.  Check out more here -

HMS: Making boardart and Surfing Paintings from Henry Jock Walker on Vimeo.

Simon Pericich is another young man who takes everyday machines or tools and repurposes them for strange human extension.  Often referred to as art that is dark, disturbed or dystopic, his works collate everyday objects into groupings and investigations that are not quite comfortable.  Sometimes makeshift weapons emerge in fusions of tired cricket bats, Astro Boy’s head and some hastily fixed and very sharp looking screws.