Friday, 7 December 2012

Review: The Wire December 2012 - Club Sound Witches

Heres the text from the review in the Wire..

Recording as Club Sound Witches, the duo of Earle and Nicola Morton do just that, moving towards something that – like an extended Pink Floyd “interstellar Overdrive” circa 1967 – feels both connected to a real-time physical jam and, at the same time, psychedelically unhitched from earthly reality. Here, low synth burble and female vocal murmurs pick up a juddering energy, mophing into insistent, throbbing heartbeats like an internal bodily Techno. It’s a heck of a long way from “Loui Louie.” – Daniel Spicer

There is also a review up on Crawlspace

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Ecstatic Breath Workshop for exist@QCA

Im a co-director at exist, an artist-run initiative that desperately needs more volunteer helpers. Anyway, this is part of a performance for the residency of amazing UK artists Zierle and Carter

I have been having a tuff time lately and been working on my ecstatic breath, unfortunately my crying breath has been winning out lately, but if people encourage me on the ecstacy hopefully ill get better.

Nicola Morton Ecstatic Breathing Workshop (26.09.2012) Performance 10min, Costume (contact microphones, cabling), Sound (body, contact microphones, newspaper, effects) at POP Gallery, Brisbane.
This performance presents Nicola’s latest research into shamanic trance, using a quick breath pranayama with the Butterfly pose. Her body is miked up and surrounded in newspaper. Effects are manipulated live to produce a trancelike rhythm and altered listening while the audience watch the durational repetitive movement.

exist@QCA Nicola Morton 'ecstatic breathing workshop' from nicola morton on Vimeo.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Essay: Psychedelia Now

excerpts from
--> Moody, Sebastian “Psychedelia Now” (2012) Art & Australia Vol 49/4 pp616-623

Researching this exhibition I was struck by American cultural critic Dave Hickey’s curious observation that psychedelia is more feminine than masculine, one of the reasons he believes that the original psychedelia was never sanctified as a significant ‘ism’ in the history of western art.
--> Hickey elaborates that other transgressive movements such as surrealism and abstract expressionism are ‘easily fovgiven because they celebrate masculine interiority...
However for the purposes of this essay, rather than taking Hickey’s general claim as a starting point, I have mapped significant parts of this aesthetic through examining the practices of four contemporary Australian women Artists: Noël Skzrypczak, Natalya Hughes, Nicola Morton and Belle Bassin. Each of these artists comes at the legacy of psychedelia from a different angle and by placing them together they start to illustrade the wider contemporary trend.
Nicola Morton’s performances also weave idiosyncratic pop sensibilities in a way that alludes to mystical truths with a kind of faux naivety. During 2011 the Brisbane-based artist travelled to Indonesia where she collaborated with female Amercan artist Simbi Dare on a number of performances including Dreamtime Aksi Revolusi, How I survived a Kuntilanak Attack (Transforming Women on Women Rage) and  The Shamanic Death of Capitalism. These performances present a seemingly endless range of non-western mysticisms, including native North American medicine card-playing and Indonesian ghost storytelling in combination with tarot crad readings, karaoke, Deleuze and Guattari recitals, video mash-ups, cheap disco lights, smoke machines and audience interaction as a kind of self-help workshop in a nightclub. Despite their mania such works function as ritual as each performance has a specific goal and an intended target that Morton and Dare seek to challenge.

--> Nicola Morton & Simbi Dare, How I Survived a Kuntilanak Attack, (24/10/2011) 60min Performance. Photo by Gatot Susilo. Indonesian Contemporary Art Network,Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Creative Commons: Attribution. (L-R) Unknown, Me, Unknknown, Simbi Dare, Antariksa Id (director of ICAN)  

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

I am Wild, Free and Beautiful VHS release

The most sought after woman about town, Miss Sarah Byrne is undertaking to do a fantastic VHS library, VIDEOEASY open Aug-Sept. I've submitted 3 videos..

 I thought about the videos I would like to convert to VHS to highlight the offset the VHS Library aims to make between contemporary video making and nostalgic video obsession.

“I am Wild, Free and Beautiful” (2010) Hunter St Mall, Newcastle. This special ‘Directors Cut’ references how contemporary DIY handycam art practice (cf Olaf Breuning) parallels the nostalgic cheesy ‘VHS family home movie,’ where Dad’s/Mom’s voice behind the camera makes directive or oblique comments. This impromptu video survey/portrait of passersby in Newcastles’ Hunter St Mall features Nicola behind the camera as an unseen voice, coaxing members of the general public to be filmed for her wacky project, all they had to do was say the words, “I am Wild, Free and Beautiful” 3 times. Upon viewing, one is impressed by the power of these magical words upon the face of the strangers but also the challenging, repetitive nature of the communication artefacts generated in the instructional collaboration between (the in-presence) artist and (on-camera) stranger. Made as part of the Renew Newcastle Residency. .

In the Library you will also find "Proof of Time Travel and Alternative Intelligence" (2010) Helsinki, Brisbane. 
Nostalgia is a broken down ute on the highway of time travel, video art is an intersection of and reproduction of time travel simultaneously. The recording of moving time, and time itself being moved was the medium for our time travel. We channel the creative force of Om to cleanse and charge us. Artificial-Alternative intelligence can be created from the sparks that imitate neuron activity when human bodies are networked sensorily and cognitively. We use the cognitive process of mindmapping 'Spiders' and fast group word/touch/smell/musical association to generate synaptic activity across all bodies in the room, this activity/energy will create an ulterior form of intelligence. I wanted to rewrite my past, not just in my mind but also in other peoples (and their preconceptions) plus somehow affect the technology that recorded it. Time is not homogenous. Time is not linear. Time travel subsists of our phenomenal perception/s of other times/dimensions. Released for youtube..

plus the shit i have to pass everyday

“Equalizer 24K 10 Year Resurrection” (2012) Stefan’s Sky Needle, Brisbane.
This year I have been on a nostalgia trip, most noticeably since it’s been 10 years since I first started making noise music. After an explosive first year of noise, I stopped due to crazy relationship stuff that after a couple of years in a coma (a very dark place) in Brisbane was still not fixed, but an eventual move to Berlin did fix. As part of finally embracing a return to Brisbane, on Good Friday 2012, I transformed the bad memories and good tunes of Equalizer 24K. As most data/music from 10 years ago had been erased, I could effectively use my new improvised noise style to mess up those memories and perform to new and old crowds.
Made for Interventions#5

Monday, 4 June 2012

Unicorns and Slow Revolution (I am Wild Free and Beautiful Pt2)

“Unicorns and Slow Revolution (I am Wild, Free and Beautiful Part 2)” (7/06/2012-10/06/2012) Video Installation 5mx2mx1.5m (Recycled cardboard, plastic bags, dog hair, rice, mirror, tree bark, 15 min subtitled AV projection, instructions, crayons) Psycho Subtropics 2: Available States at Serial Space, Sydney
Connecting the collective imagination of unicorns to transitions. Blindfolded collaborative drawing confuses the intelligible and unintelligible, it confuses the cis-norm. Intimate interviews are projected within a psychic ritual space – an alchemy for unicorns to emerge. It is the artist’s hope by connecting to the collective unconscious/fantasy/imagination a slow revolution will occur towards natural unintelligible disorder, existence in a simultaneous epoch of all ‘available states.’

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A Walk Walk With The Moon

Slow footsteps chasing ephemeral ecstacy,
Cautious conscious repetition for chance outcomes,
Planetary cycles, rubbish bins, shoes that no longer run
Musical connection in the void where words don’t mean a thing
these steps are my void reality wings
so i walk nowhere.

Free Improvised Music. Free Improvised Walking in search of provoking stimuli. The void connects concentric circles of chance. Architectural voids in undustrial wastelands, the heart void, the head void, the home void, all collapsing into one moment.

 "on the streets - be seen - as artists - as the fabric of culture - a fabric of change - a fabric of life- art walk walking art - walking - art” - Michael Mayhew

Released on vimeo click there: 6th June for Psycho Subtropics at Serial Space, Sydney

or with an alternative soundtrack

Club Sound Witches "Uprok"

Music Video for my new techno jam band, Club Sound Witch.  Filmed in Jalan Lembang, Jakarta, Indonesia

you can buy us from
heres the review:
New primitive ‘techno’ outfit from Matt Earle (Breakdance/Craft Bandits/xNoBBQx et al) and Nicola Morton (Wardenburger): minimalist throbbing electro-threat in the tradition of Vanity Records, Two Daughters, John Fothergill’s United Dairies of-shoot etc with automatic/modulated female vocals over druggy keyboard feedback and waves of lapping electricity: “our synth and drum machines were under water for three days in the Brisbane floods, they were given to us to prevent us from self harming. It gave them a unique sound. Wet, dirty and about to set the building on fire.” – Matt Earle. Another singular Breakdance release.

watch you youtube version here:

Plus we r released now on CD and cassette on Breakdance The Dawn.. for reading this you can get a preview minus track one

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

My Friends (Albie Thoms)

Albie Thoms is an Australian film genius, to pay respect to his wonderful films and video portraiture, one day i might make my own marinetti.. but right now here is a playlist from my youtube videos of my wonderful friends. Chat history- Me:"The only people who will let me film them are my friends and crazy people" Kristi: "Stick to it"
 1) One Week in Sao Paulo - The hip video artist crowd sings Karaoke: Federico Lamas, supported by Dan Halter, Orit Ben Shitrit, Marcio Harum, S Shaun Gladwell, Tim Webster, Angelica Mesiti, Jose Romero. People always clap and whistle after I finish a Karaoke tune.. maybe Federico is my soulmate?
2) Bonnie Party Jam - Brisbane is tearing a hellsmouth to the "eternal psych party," this is an awesome jam featuring Bonnie, Mel and Adam Sussman. Improvised Music Forever!
3) A Love Spell: An Indonesian Wedding - Rebecca, Francesca, Marisa and I cast our love spells after watching footage I shot from Kristi's Wedding in Jogja.
4) Nicola Morton Interviews: Rachel Neden - This is part of the "Charlatans and My Magic Face" DVD. Interviews with beauty therapists and blindfolded punters at galleries about the esoteric secrets of facial beauty, where my face becomes the relational object (Lygia Clark)
5) 2010: The End of Capitalism - the bursting of the Berlin bubble, a satire of monumentality, the Tristan and Isolde chord (most recently used monumentally in Lars Von Trier's "Melancholia" Part 1 features Yoko, Robyn, Erin and Elisabeth
6) + 7) Remote Viewing Experiment: Rin and Holly from the "Remote Viewing Experiment #1" DVD. The work is an artistic reading of a military experiment conducted to test relations established on a psychic level. The artist invites friends and strangers to exchange objects from a range of different settings. Each participant must then attempt to describe the place the object came from. As the film examines private spaces and the meanings of their constituent parts, it pursues a subtle contemplation of the existence of intercommunicating psychic frequencies.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Static Ice Melt at 'Cage in Us'

Nicola Morton Static Ice Melt 12/04/2012 Performance 1hr10min; Video 15min; Installation 2.2mx2.2mx0.5m ice, recycled wood, newspaper, diary entries, polyeurethane film; Photographic Installation/Costume 2mx1.5m 32 modified 4x6prints on recycled plastic; for “The Cage In Us” Judith Wright Center of Contemporary Art, Brisbane. Filmed by Marisa Allen

The performance/installation happens simultaneously with Cage’s Theater Pieces (1960) as part of the “Cage In Us” festival celebrating John Cage’s 100th birthday. The performance experiments with ideas of psychological static and melting vs stasis and shedding at the autumn equinox.
The performance is an audio-visual experiment and durational. Nicola lies on a bed of ice for 1hr and 10 minutes. Sounds from VLF receivers and static are produced, accompanied by a projection of a performance for video of an autumn equinox ritual, Nicola screaming at the edges of a gigantic waterfall. The bed of ice is installed surrounded and littered by photographs, newspapers and diary entries spanning the last year and a half. Nicola wears a camoflauge hooded costume made out of transparent cellophane and photos. The photos reflect stasis, and consist mostly of lone psychedelic experiences with strangers and the built environment.
The audience response was also an experiment (and on reflection, frustratingly ironic). Mostly the viewers sit down and read the diary entries to the freezing Nicola, a weird time warp happens as they read her own diary entries to her, trying to keep her mind engaged while she slowly becomes frozen from the ice. An unexpected sense of community was experienced.
Psychedelic and shamanic forces vacillate between static (permanent) and (stasis) temporary. Sharing a shedding ritual is problematic. In an attempt to psychologically free herself from her diary entries and photographic memories of stasis nothing is actually shed at all. The community rescues the entries and upholds the static till her death. Media triumphs forever as static. Shedding is truly temporary. Ice melts.

Nicola&Noise: 10 Year Retrospective

Celebrating 10 years of myself in live noise music.

Equalizer 24K: 2012

Live at Intervention #5, Stefan's Skyneedle, South Brisbane. 2012

Photos by Marisa Allen

 Equalizer 24K: 2000-2003

 Sticker. Photo by Natalie.

Photo by Michelle Brown

 abbaabba: 2006-2009

Live at Wasted Festival, Transmediale, Berlin  2007
Photo by
Photo by Jason Forrest

Photo by Jason Forrest

Live at Aktoer and Vanner Theater, Gothenberg, Sweden. 2009.

Photo by Eric Westward
Photo by Eric Westward

Live at 1000fyrd, Aalborg, Denmark. 2009
Photo by Nuno Alexandre
Photo by Nuno Alexandre

Nicola composes Life is a Rubiks Cube: 2010

Live at Tidy Kid Space, Wooloongabba 2010

Nicola and Simbi: 2011 

Live at Bali Seamen's Club, Sanur, Indonesia 2011
Videostill by Irinka

Warden Burger: 2012

Live at Substation, Paddington, Brisbane 2012.
 Photo by Marisa Allen
 Photo by Marisa Allen
 Photo by Marisa Allen
Photo by Marisa Allen

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Only Good Woman is A Dead Woman - Recoding Death of Fantasy and Beauty

On Friday 13th Jan, 2012 Nicola will perform two rituals for the empowerment of women - recoding death of fantasy and beauty. Features - projections, performance, install of red, yellow, blue hand and face sensor stickers, dangdut, hair whipping.
(text continues after video...)

“The Only Good Woman Is A Dead Woman” is a quote from Slavoj Zizek’s A Pervert’s Guide to Cinema he stipulates in cinema (a medium that now guides our fantasies) the death of the female (fantasy) keeps the male libidinal economy going onward and upward. I want to steal the power of death of fantasy from men and give it back to women. There are hands and face sillhouettes around the room where audience can place their hands or face, I ask them to confide in me, just by placing their thoughts into the ground or the glass – thoughts of a life or death of a fantasy. I do this by using projections and music. I will transform cinema into a sexy musical dominion where male and female fantasies live forever. Look at the footage, live the dangdut. In one of the shopfront windows I write all my ‘shut down’ lines on to dry rice paper over the projection. I project the aesthetic themes of Life, Death, Fantasy > Light, Dark, Fire and then take the dry rice paper circles, wet them stick them over my body. All of this aurally supported by a mix of Kylie Minogue's "Confide in Me" with Dangdut and Tecno Brega music. Re: Kylie, she took us the right way from hollywood (well Neighbours to being a sexy dancer, no fucker is gonna kill her now or make her move to Brisbane so Scott and the rest of the Neighbours can continue their shit!!!)

Then towards beauty and the water, that transformed the rice paper circles I add glitter, dip my hair in it and invite the audience to do the same as we  "Whip my hair back and forth." Men can’t kill a woman’s fantasies, they live on and are transferred.

I present the sexual fantasy of dangdut, a provocative dance slightly incongruous to the region's Islamic values, but one which is trance like, so never dies.. we get in a hair whipping trance..
According to The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille, (Western culture’s) cultural code for beauty is ‘men’s salvation’ – do we really work hard to impress each other with our beauty to prove our ability to save men? There is all this woman on woman anger, that extends to racial ie. white women v asian women – white women think men want asian women more and asian women think men want white women more. BUT LADY GAGA IS BEAUTIFUL AND DOESN’T SAVE MEN. In the pursuit of alien beauty, we find an alternative, feasting from the glitter I laid out earlier on in the night, everyone has glitter on our hands and faces and projected are the phrases “I only wear free trade and recycled clothing,”  “My make up is not tested on animals,” and "Aliens can overthrow the state" – we transform to beautiful caring aliens.

Window and Floor Install Plans:

Below are some video stills from projection and performance. Performance stills by KT Spit:

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Artist Review: Constraints on Art Making "12 Ways to Masturbate with a Melodica"

I was interviewed by Cristina Sk for this article in Hong Kong Arts Magazine, Pipeline (2012) "Other Wicked Catalysts" Jan/Feb 2012, p36.

An online issue is available here --- Read the editorial then skip to p36 to read what I have to say.

From Editorial, Cristina Sanchez Kozyreva "Asthma and Other Wicked Catalysts"
"Australian performance artist, Nicola Morton (p.36) writes about her performance "12 Ways to Masturbate with a Melodica" where she sublimates the culturally variable perceptions and questionings she receives about her origins and her womanhood; a performative experience that at the same time holds universal ideological value, and is individualistically liberating."

Here is my text...

I am half Chinese-Malay, half Australian and doing a residency in Indonesia. But in Indonesia, I am white. I am a buleh, a western woman. One of my biggest impressions in Indonesia is how they view Western women. We are seen to be so sexually free (with positive and negative attributions). When I was asked to do a performance in the Pendopo Mangkubumen, Universitas Widya Mataram, Yogyakarta. I of course said yes, because it is a beautiful old pavillion and was part of the Kraton dynasty in Yogyakarta. I thought that a 'veiled' ie. non-literal, non-translated performance about sexual identity within an Islamic Institution would be symbolic of how my sexual identity is judged here. I also wanted to focus on the transformative element of taking an autonomous-self-ego ritual and presenting/exposing its broader symbols in the collective unconscious, for in the end, I want to break down the borders and create mutual understanding among us all. In a Western society because of my Asian heritage I am sexualised as 'smart' and 'indie' - the symbol I chose for this is the Melodica (Pianica) and thus Simbi and I chose to expose 12 concepts of masturbation along the 12 notes of the western musical scale - fantasy, paint, thumbs, flowers, chains, asphyxiation, stars, humping, scissoring, water, pressure, knife. The 12 melodicas were hand decorated to each of these themes, and given away to the crowd at the end of the performance.

I am not an overt sexual performer, ie i have never performed naked, other works of mine have cynically commented on sexuality as a lure/desire. this maybe explains my sudden and dramatic disdain at suddenly being seen as a 'slut.' I was not concerned about being seen as a slut during the performance as i consider performance to be transformative. I wanted to open thoughts. The reaction to performance was good and respectful, mostly because we gave away the 12 melodicas. But my biggest impression was on children, we had children come up during the performance and play with the paper stars and throw flowers at us. Plus they were the ones who got melodicas. There‘s hope for change. The children playing along supports the idea of collective veiled sexuality where there are no judgements made and they weren't shouting, “hello buleh“

The main aim of the piece was to expose we all have the same fantasies rooted in our collective unconscious. And even though I am white, I can put masturbation under this conceptual art ‘veil‘ and make it playful. Plus it illustrates that sexual fantasy is not just a western prerogative/consumer product but something more rooted in the earth and in the spaces between our consciousnesses and of course the human‘s playful nature.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

A Love Spell: Australian and Indonesian Videos Talk to Each Other

This re-write is dedicated to the 'getting better' -ness of a friend.

I am obsessed with this footage of Kristi and Jimbo's wedding because it is a modern fairytale. Its not an extravaganza, its Kristi's 2nd marriage and she is pregnant, its not a big deal but love wins out in the end. Indonesia and Australia are plagued with interracial prejudice, that Kristi and I (orang gado2) are very much a part of (ie. the colonialism of Indonesia (until 1945), the concurrent economic exploitation of the West and migrant spouses on both sides of the border). So for me this is a dream come true.. everything works out. I can fall in love with someone who has been tortured by the constructs of my ancestor's imperialist/racist past and they can love me. I found this guilt to be an insurmountable hurdle in romance and am really glad it worked out for Kristi.

So back in Australia, Rebecca told me the story of her wedding, not an extravaganza, but also special because the wedding dress cost $10 but both of them were virgins and then I have another orang gado-gado (half SE Asian- half Australian) friend who is pregnant and I filmed her while we were talking, but the penultimate performance comes next and provides the soundtrack for the "Answer" part of the video. We draw a lipstick heart over Marisa's crushed vertebrae and she plays the planetary tuning forks, sometimes I change the order. And then as an addendum is my performance in the Qantas Lounge bathroom, I am flying back to Indonesia, and I make my wish, and write the Bahasa Indonesia wedding vow on my thigh. Added are quotes from the Qu'ran which is a text that is often used to support a nation's path to overthrow an imperial power but unfortunately can also incur racial prejudice. Love wins out in the end.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Human Rights: The Wedding Story

Indonesia speaking out about political prisoners, women's rights and globalisation in 1898, 1965 and now.

Created for Amnesty International's Individuals at Risk Campaign. Shown at Artillery Festival, Brisbane, 9th December, 2011 at Jugglers. Re-edited and uploaded for Ben City because Amnesty did not publish my info sheet and muted my Video.

Exposing past political struggles and acknowledging human rights violations is important, even in contemporary art. Speak out in your own way.

Based on observations and research during my 5 month stay in Indonesia with Pramoedya Ananta Toer's books 'Buru Quartet' and Ahmad Tohari's 'The Dancer.' The atrocities of colonialism, the anti-communist purge and the stature of women are seldom mentioned in Indonesia. This work honors the act of speaking out, whilst critically and contemporarily engaging with the opinions of the public.

My video reflects on the ability to remember the history of a nation through the ritual of a wedding in current times. From 1898 and 1965 in Indonesia, political prisoners were kept as symptoms of 1) colonial suppression of race, 2) post-colonial suppression of artists and a 3) derogatory status of women. In our 2011 multi- racial wedding of artists, we see no suppression of race, no suppression of artists and a somewhat evolving status for women.