It’s Sad About Aro Video, but Please Don’t Blame “Piracy”

Just in case it doesn’t get approved as a comment, here’s my response to this DomPost article on Aro Street Video facing closure:

While it would be a massive shame to see Aro Video go (I’ve been a customer for years) it’s short-sighted to blame this on piracy. The market has shifted, that’s true, but this avoids the reality that most video/tv content still isn’t made legally available online in NZ.

Just as the industry shifted from renting videotapes to DVDs in the 90s, the format is now shifting to downloadable digital content but the industry has failed to keep up with consumer demand. While illegal downloading is wrong, the enormous success of sites like iTunes and NetFlix (only available in the US) has shown that when people are given a legal alternative to accessing content they will use it. It would be fabulous to see a store like Aro, with it’s reputation for quality content, allowed to make their stock legally available for sale or rent online. The gatekeepers of the industry, however, have made it very difficult for local businesses like these to adapt to meet the needs of their customers and therein lies the tragedy.

As mentioned, overall the film industry is doing remarkably well despite its crocodile tears over enormous losses due to piracy (and we’re yet to see concrete statistics backing up these claims). A recent study in to entertainment spending (called “The Sky is Rising” – google it) found that the film industry was indeed booming: with global film/tv spending increasing US$100 Billion in the past 10 years. Language like “piracy” and “cannabalises” is no more than industry propaganda that avoids the issue of an industry failing to adapt. That said, I don’t think this is Aro Video’s fault at all, but that of the suppliers they depend on. Blame them, not the customers.

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It Will Be Awesome if They Don’t Screw it Up

It will be awesome if they don't screw it up book cover

I’ve just come across this white paper by Michael Weinberg of Public Knowledge titled “It Will Be Awesome if They Don’t Screw it Up: 3D Printing, Intellectual Property, and the Fight Over the Next Great Disruptive Technology“. Although it was written just over a year ago, it’s a fantastic read and still highly relevant as 3D printing technology continues to evolve towards the domestic market. He’s released it under a Creative Commons BY-SA license so you can read & share it from here.

It’s an interesting look at how this new technology might be seen as a threat by those that hold Intellectual Property rights over 3-dimensional items (copyright, trademarks, patents…). As 3D printers enter the domestic market it will become very difficult to enforce these kinds of rights as people start imitating and modifying objects in the privacy of their own homes. As we’ve seen in the recent copyright battles over the internet (spurred by music and film downloading) some rights holding organisations are resistant to adapting to new technologies, rather using the law as a way of clamping down on the freedoms this new technology provides to individuals.

Following suit, it is highly likely that 3D printing will spur a similar battle between public versus private rights. As Weinberg emphasises, the challenge lies in being prepared to advocate for laws that protect creativity and innovation before these vital ingredients for progress are eroded from beneath our feet.

So how close are these things to the domestic market? You can put a RepRap together for between US$500-1200 (as estimated over here and available over here). If you prefer an out-of-the-box model the biggest yet, dual-colour Makerbot: the Replicator has just been released for US$1,749.00 and these things are just going to get cheaper.

And to end on a shameless self-endorsement, to see what 3D prints can look like check out this art project (printed with an earlier version of the RepRap): Ghosts in the form of gifts.

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Behold: The Hail Griffin!

Hail Griffin

Hail Griffin

Found on my conservatory roof, naturally sculpted by hail in a mysterious magical fashion.
Wellington, 13 September 2011.

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Pioneer City at Room 11

Room 11 Pioneer City

A teacher at Lyall Bay Primary School recently emailed me to say her class of 8-10 year olds had been studying Pioneer City over the course of two months. I met with Room 11 this week to tell them more about the project and to hear about and see their work: including their own Pioneer Cities in shoe boxes, poems, and an exercise thinking about who would be eligible to go to Mars. Here’s what I saw:

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The Ghosts in Hastings

Ghosts in the form of gifts: Game On installation

Ghosts in the form of gifts: Game On installation

Ghosts in the form of gifts is hanging out with Colin McCahon and Judy Millar at Hastings City Art Gallery from 9 July – 2 October 2011 as part of the exhibition “Game On”.

As the HCAG website puts it:

“Game on” is being staged within the spectacle of a major international sporting event and we aim to present a selection of New Zealand’s finest contemporary art to both visitors and local New Zealanders…As always, art reflects life and the selectors Scott and Walsh have surveyed the latest New Zealand players to present a winning team that collectively visually articulates our nation…this exciting exhibition showcases some great New Zealand art leaders or coaches to emerging run away stars, offering a long look at our New Zealand identity while presenting future possibilities for national and international exchange.”

Read more at the HCAG website.

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Space Tourism

On the outside, the Shuttle Launch Simulation Facility building was made to resemble the Shuttle Vehicle Assembly Building. CLUI photo

On the outside, the Shuttle Launch Simulation Facility building was made to resemble the Shuttle Vehicle Assembly Building. CLUI photo

Titled A Complex Complex of Complexes, this article from the Center for Land Use Interpretation on the tourism aspect to Cape Canaveral is an interesting read:

The Cape’s importance to the world’s history of space flight is rivaled only by the Baikonur  Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan.* More than 500 launches into orbit, or beyond, have been launched from the pads at Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center, including all of the US’s manned space program flights, and 3,000 or more suborbital launches have taken place from its shores. The forty or so launch complexes at the Cape (called SLCs or “slicks” or even more simply LCs) line the shore of central Florida like an eighteen-mile long hemispheric coastal battery aimed at the sky. Of these, most are relics; a few have been converted to other uses; and seven or so are currently actively used in orbital launches.

* It should be noted that the Russians have had more than twice as many successful orbital launches as the US, with over a thousand launches each at Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, and from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, 500 miles north of Moscow.

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Placemakers exhibition at The Engine Room

Placemakers Colonial Real Estate installation

Placemakers is an exhibition of future visions by Australian artist Ash Keating and designers and artists from the Massey University Sustainability Research Network (SuRe). Curated by network members Jenny Gillam, Anne Noble and Amanda Yates, the exhibition includes work by Catherine Bagnall, Wayne Barrar, Jenny Gillam in collaboration with Steve Trewick, Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Ask Keating, Wendy Neale and Amanda Yates.

17 March – 9 April 2011

Opening: 6.30pm, Wednesday 16 March
The Engine Room GalleryEast end Block 1, Entrance C
Massey University School of Fine Arts
Wallace Street
Mt Cook, Wellington


“how can site-specific art interventions in public and urban space transform viewers’  understandings of local and global environmental issues?”

Preceeding the exhibition opening, Mexican curator Gonzalo Ortega will talk about the public intervention projects executed by Residual ( Gonzalo Ortega is director of the Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Arte (MUCA Roma) of Mexico City and is in New Zealand courtesy of the Massey University International Visiting Researcher fund and the School of Fine Arts Aotearoa Baroque Project. He will discuss his most recently completed project, “Residual / Artistic Interventions in theCity” in which a number of artists addressed the problem of garbage. The project aimed to raise awareness among the residents and municipal agencies of Mexico City about the shared responsibility associated with rubbish generation and management.

Massey University Lecture Theatre
10A02, Old Museum Building
(signs from the main entrance)
5.30 – 6.30 pm, Wednesday 16 March 2011

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Ghosts Wins!!!

nzosa logo

Ghosts in the form of gifts is the winner of the inaugural award for Open Source in the Arts.

The Open Source Awards recognise New Zealanders’ contributions to open source projects, use of open source products, and promotion of the free and open philosophy.

Read an article about the work & award by Courtney Johnston  on Best of 3:

Bronwyn Holloway-Smith will speak about the work at the Girl Geek Christmas Dinner on 15 December.

A second print of the work is scheduled to be exhibited in early 2011 – stay tuned!

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Reading at Enjoy

Casco Issues: Past Imperfect

Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, will be giving a reading at 12.30pm tomorrow, 3 November 2010 at Enjoy Public Art Gallery, L1/147 Cuba St, Wellington. The reading is from the Casco Issues: Past Imperfect, as part of the current exhibition Charming the Snake of Reason, curated by Marnie Slater. The piece is a witty investigation of Bill Gates and his hypocrisy in relation to open content, Microsoft, and Gates’ subsequent corporation - Corbis – a large digital rights-holding company.

Past Imperfect (ongoing) is a publication designed by Wil Holder, and is the result of research by Bik van der Pol with Lisette Smits and Wil Holder. It explores the relations between the radical output of the conceptual art of the ‘60s and ’70s and everyday life, gradually moving on to include how radical ideas from the past are linked to those of today. In all corners of life – politics, literature, intelligence, science – radical actions, even if they seem to have disappeared in oblivion, influence and shape the public arena.

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Ghosts nominated for Open Source Award


Ghosts in the form of gifts has been nominated for an Open Source Award.

Ghosts in the Form of Gifts – the use of open source technologies and design to recreate some of the lost treasures of the Te Papa collection from photographs and drawings.

Winners will be announced on 9 November.

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