All posts filed under: Features

Across the USA

New York City “Wanted: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9-1-1 if seen.” At 8:57am, the first morning in New York, my phone buzzed with a gentle siren-like sound, but it wasn’t my alarm, so curious I turned to my side and rubbed my eyes to focus on the short text that was on the screen. This wasn’t exactly the welcome I was expecting, nevertheless, I groaned and forced myself to get up. Me and two friends that I’ve known since school were in the United States for a holiday. I’ve always had a keen eye on New York mainly because of Seinfeld, so I had some pretty big expectations, from the accents to the attitudes. It delivered straight alway as our taxi driver frantically wove through dense New York City traffic, beeping and yelling out the window the entire 40 minute ride to Harlem from JFK. It was everything that I had hoped for: rushed and angry, lively and cultural, and, well, funny. It was dark and wet, and very muggy, my hair was so matted, …

Slum Village on Legacy and the Future | fluoro

Detroit 1997. Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1 the debut record by Slum Village was released. Recorded in the late J Dilla’s basement in 1996/1997, the album immediately rose to critical acclaim, making its journey to the hands of A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip and on to the ears of the 90s hip hop elite. A few years later Slum Village landed their first record deal and released their first official album Fantastic, Vol. 2 in 2000. Slum Village is almost ever evolving. The group has seen six members come and go due to illness and mismatched perspectives, but still their sound and need to continue the Slum Village and Dilla legacy drives their future and continues the creation of original hip hop. Today they are touring Europe to promote last year’s release Yes! their eighth studio album posthumously produced by Dilla, Young RJ and Black Milk, after Miss Yancey, Dilla’s mother found cutoffs and forgotten recordings from Dilla’s studio. One half of Slum Village’s current lineup, Young RJ, who was Dilla’s protégé, said that Miss Yancey, found Dilla’s storage van in 2014, eight years after her son’s …

Michael Kiwanuka: Love & Hate | fluoro

At home on a London summer’s day, Michael Kiwanuka spoke to us ahead of the release of his highly-anticipated second album, Love & Hate. We wanted Kiwanuka to tell us who he was, setting the tone for what was to come as we dove further into the expressive universe of Kiwanuka. “I’m Michael Kiwanuka, from London,” he says. “I’m a singer, songwriter and musician and I guess I create music, and it’s soul music, just music for the heart.” But when Kiwanuka was exploring his musical identity, he didn’t think anyone was calling him anything. “They didn’t know who I was. When I was around doing stuff, I was playing open mics, little acoustic nights, so I guess people didn’t know about me. In the early days I was an acoustic singer/songwriter. I think now it’s the same, but with this new album it’s changed to soul singer…a troubadour singer/songwriter.” Of Ugandan descent, Kiwanuka was born and raised on North London’s Muswell Hill. While the former has possibly subconsciously impacted his work, the latter is the main source of his inspiration and …

A Million Smiles: From war torn wreckage to bustling metropolises, Mike Worsman searches for a smile

The Mills Longitudinal Study at UC Berkeley was a 50 year investigation of the wellbeing and social development of a group of women since graduating from the college. The initial study examined the smiles from photos of 20-something year old women in their college yearbook in order to measure any favourable outcomes in their lives many years later. Only the Duchenne Smile was considered as it sees the corners of the mouth and cheeks raised, and crow’s feet formed at our brow. Essentially the Duchenne Smile is our physiological expression of true happiness. What the study posited was that emotional tendencies are believed to shape personality and the life course of their influence on cognitive, behavioral and social processes. 30 years later, the study found that positive emotional expression in their college yearbook photos related to stable aspects of personality change in certain traits over time, observers’ judgement of the women’s personalities and their responses to those women, and life outcomes measured up to 30 years later. In fact, over time, those who expressed more …

The Non-Existent Problem of Ageing

When Associate Professor Hans Meij would go to Africa, he would shave his head. Years later when he visited Africa again for a short visit, he le his hair untouched. A local woman who had seen him before expressed her curiosity. “Dr Hans,” she asked, “do you have grey hair?” He replied yes. “You are so stupid! Why do you shave off your hair?” Dr Meij explained that cropping the hair on his head ensured that the scorching African sun wouldn’t a ect him as adversely as it could. “Now you lose respect since grey hair signifies ageing, and to be aged is respect,” she said. Like any researcher, he stopped to ponder the concept and realised that the moral of the story was two-fold: age is esteem and deserves respect, but in some cultures age is a sign of the outdated. “That’s when I learned to look at ageing in a completely different way – ageing is merit, as something earned, and something to be proud of,” he said. Dr Hans Meij is the …

Notes From a Diplomat | In Conversation with Haris Dafaranos, ex Greek Ambassador to Australia

“A diplomat is by de nition a generalist. He or she has to know a lot about many dimensions of life,” says His Excellency Mr Haris Dafaranos, Ambassador of Greece to Australia. “I would say that Law, Economics, History, Diplomatic History, International Relations, Literature and Philosophy are subjects one should master, together with foreign languages. A good critical mind is also necessary, with the ability of synthesis and analysis as well,” he adds. Good judgement, he explains, is also part of this equation, but it comes with time and experience. Add to this being a good listener and multiply it by being an everyday avid reader and you have some of the essential qualities of a quali ed diplomat. Born in Athens, Greece, Ambassador Dafaranos had a certain penchant for languages, studying French, English and Italian in high school. He continued his interest in languages, studying English Literature and Law at university, where he realised that he wanted to follow a professional career which would give him experiences from a global perspective. So in 1980 …

Interview with Eero Aarnio | fluoro

There are few things that can define an era. Then there are fewer things not only that define an era but also seep into those succeeding it, and retain valuable cultural currency. A concept released in 1962 caused a stir and remains relevant to this day. It was the Ball Chair. A hollow sphere sliced on one side, giving the feeling to whoever is inside that they are, as the name suggests, sitting in a bubble. The design quickly gained momentum for its unusual style and it became a staple for many homes. The 60s embraced it, and it became a design phenomenon. The designer behind it all was Eero Aarnio. After studying architecture in Helsinki, Finland, Aarnio worked as a product designer for the largest furniture factory in Finland: Asko. He also worked for famed Finnish designers Ilmari Tapiovaara, who designed furniture for the Finnish army, and Antti Nurmesniemi known for his horse-shoe stool and his coffee pots. The two designers influenced Aarnio and taught him how to remain focused in design. “While working …

Hearts and Minds: Friendship and Beautiful Books for Child Detainees

On the Befriend a Child in Detention community project “When the child detainees realised there were letters inside the books, there were tears all round. They said that they were not forgotten and that Australians don’t all hate us,” says Dr June Factor, convenor and founder of the Befriend a Child in Detention project. “In July we sent four boxes of beautiful new children’s books to the children in the detention centre on Nauru, and every book included a letter – a greeting and encouragement of friendship. There were also stamped addressed envelopes, in the hope that some asylum seeker children might write back. Some of the letters and envelopes were from adults and many were from children. We know that a number of people – including 17 children from one school – have received letters from the children detained on Nauru.” Since then, says Dr Factor, more books and letters have gone to Nauru, and to every asylum seeker detention centre on the Australian mainland. Befriend a Child in Detention is a community project which aims …

Interview with Jay Shogo | fluoro

On a building wall in Tokyo’s Shibuya district is a mural, spanning more than three floors. It was created for the weeklong art event POW! WOW! Japan, and was painted by eight different street artists including Japan based street artist, designer and illustrator Jay Shogo. Jay Shogo is making his mark in the street art world, for his bold pieces and he is renowned for his exclusive use of the Sharpie marker. The marker’s practical focus: “it’s sold everywhere, readily available, and all you need to do is take the cap off” is one of the reasons why this is a material of choice for Shogo. “I used a marker “Mckee” in Japan, but now use Sharpie”, said Shogo, but now also uses a range of other materials. There is a certain entrepreneurial spirit that Shogo embodies, perhaps like most creators, which has seen Shogo charter additional artistic territories, including apparel, of which he is certainly not a stranger to the world of fashion. Shogo once worked in a select shop in Tokyo as a shop …

Professor Profiles: Professor Ghil’ad Zuckermann

From the age of four and throughout his youth, Professor Ghil’ad Zuckermann was considered a mathematical prodigy, but always felt that it did not have the soul, social interaction and emotional intelligence that languages have. “I might be wrong but I was certain,” said Professor Zuckermann from his Adelaide University office. He has always been interested in languages, both Language (with a capital L) and languages, and has always been ludic and playful with words. He used to write palindromic stories and bilingual homophonous poems, which are now widely found on the Internet. “Children’s writer Russell Hoban described language as an ‘archaeological vehicle’, full of the remnants of dead and living pasts, lost and buried civilisations and technologies. The language we speak is a whole palimpsest of human effort and history,” quoted Professor Zuckermann by heart. He shifted in his chair, gesticulating gently, and explained that palimpsest is a beautiful metaphor for language.Coming from Greek,it means ‘scraped again’, ‘re-scratched,’ referring to a text written on top of another text. “A language is multi-layered, it encodes …