Alexandra Crosby is a design researcher who focuses on south-east Asia, particularly Indonesia.
In her current research she is looking at emerging design practices in Indonesia, where there is potential to address 'wicked' global problems while improving Australia-Indonesia relations. In 2013 she completed her PhD investigating site-based creative community events in Indonesia.
Alexandra’s background is in visual communications and the ethnographic methods of International Studies. She combines interdisciplinary research methods, such as hybrid forms of mapping and experimental futuring, with more traditional field work, such as participant observation, to understand the complexity of current environmental crises and to communicate possible futures. She has mapped urban food production in Australia and knowledge share networks as they appear in Indonesian cities.
Alexandra works with Dr Ilaria Vanni in the transdisciplinary research studio Mapping Edges.
Alexandra lectures in Design Studies and leads global studios to Indonesia.
Alexandra is a Board member of Frontyard.
Can supervise: YES
- Everyday Sustainability: Home Gardens of Haberfield
- Design in Indonesia: see https://www.uts.edu.au/about/faculty-design-architecture-and-building/what-we-do/research/research-projects/building
- Community libraries and independent archives in Indonesia
Many design practices in Indonesia combine a sense of urgency around environmental crises with very local forms of community organizing and alternative economies. Located in the village of Kandangan in an agricultural area of Central Java are two organizations called Magno and Spedagi, as well as a cluster of other design activist projects. This paper aims to bring some of these practices and projects into broader discussions about design activism and sustainability, while resisting the urge to define design activism as a global movement.
Crosby, A, Pham, K, Peterson, JF & Lee, T 2019, 'Digital Work Practices: Affordances in Design Education', International Journal of Art & Design Education.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
As urban renewal agendas are fortified in cities globally, 'creativity' – as contained within discourses of the creative industries, the Creative City and the creative economy – is circulated as the currency of secure post-industrial urban futures. Using the nexus between creativity and the urban as a starting point, the authors investigate how local enterprises visually communicate the urban in a neighbourhood that is characterized by the interface between manufacturing and creative industries. This research takes a fine-grained approach to the notion of creativity through an audit and qualitative analysis of the visual presentation, material attributes and semiotic meaning of street numbers. The authors do this by collecting data on and analysing how street numbers have been made, selected, used, replaced and layered in a contested industrial precinct in Australia's largest city, Sydney. They contend that street numbers, as a ubiquitous technology within the city that is both operational and creative, are metonyms for what they understand to be urban. In arguing for vernacular readings of the city, they make use of a top-down, governmental mode of reading the city – the operational legibility of street numbering – as an intervention in current discourses of the urban and of creativity in the city.
This essay considers three design projects as microprotests. Reflecting on the ways design practice can generate spaces, sites and methods of protest, we use the concept of microprotest to consider how we, as designers ourselves, can protest by scaling down, focussing, slowing down and paying attention to the edges of our practice. Design microprotest is a form of design activism that is always collaborative, takes place within a community, and involves careful translation of a political conversation. While microprotest can manifest in any design discipline, in this essay we focus on visual communication design. In particular we consider the deep, reflexive practice of listening as the foundation of microprotests in visual communication design.
While small in scale and fleeting in duration, these projects express rich and deep political engagements through conversations that create and maintain safe spaces. While many design theorists (Julier; Fuad-Luke; Clarke; Irwin et al.) have done important work to contextualise activist design as a broad movement with overlapping branches (social design, community design, eco-design, participatory design, critical design, and transition design etc.), the scope of our study takes 'micro' as a starting point. We focus on the kind of activism that takes shape in moments of careful design; these are moments when designers move politically, rather than necessarily within political movements. These microprotests respond to community needs through design more than they articulate a broad activist design movement. As such, the impacts of these microprotests often go unnoticed outside of the communities within which they take place. We propose, and test in this essay, a mode of analysis for design microprotests that takes design activism as a starting point but pays more attention to community and translation than designers and their global reach.
In his analysis of design activism, Julier proposes 'four possible conceptual tactic...
Lyons, C, Crosby, AL & Morgan-Harris, H 2018, 'Going on a Field Trip: Critical Geographical Walking Tours and Tactical Media as Urban Praxis in Sydney, Australia', M/C Journal, vol. 21, no. 4.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The walking tour is an enduring feature of cities. Fuelled by a desire to learn more about the hidden and unknown spaces of the city, the walking tour has moved beyond its historical role as tourist attraction to play a key role in the transformation of urban space through gentrification. Conversely, the walking tour has a counter-history as part of a critical urban praxis.
This article reflects on historical examples, as well as our own experience of conducting Field Trip, a critical geographical walking tour through an industrial precinct in Marrickville, a suburb of Sydney that is set to undergo rapid change as a result of high-rise residential apartment construction (Gibson et al.). This precinct, known as Carrington Road, is located on the unceded land of the Cadigal and Wangal people of the Eora nation who call the area Bulanaming.
Drawing on a long history of philosophical walking, many contemporary writers (Solnit; Gros; Bendiner-Viani) have described walking as a practice that can open different ways of thinking, observing and being in the world. Some have focused on the value of walking to the study of place (Hall; Philips; Heddon), and have underscored its relationship to established research methods, such as sensory ethnography (Springgay and Truman). The work of Michel de Certeau pays particular attention to the relationship between walking and the city. In particular, the concepts of tactics and strategy have been applied in a variety of ways across cultural studies, cultural geography, and urban studies (Morris). In line with de Certeau's thinking, we view walking as an example of a tactic – a routine and often unconscious practice that can become a form of creative resistance.
In this sense, walking can be a way to engage in and design the city by opposing its structures, or strategies. For example, walking in a city such as Sydney that is designed for cars requires choosing alternative paths, redirecting flows of people and traffic, and creat...
Design is a wide reaching and unruly idea, often associated with seamless global mobility, ubiquitous consumerism, elite urban tastes, and fast paced economic growth. But design is also increasingly understood to be operating at edges, as a necessary response to the ethical and political challenges of advanced global capitalism. Design is both the problem and the solution, and effects everything. As Tony Fry writes 'Design–the designer and designed objects, images, systems and things–shapes the form, operation, appearance and perceptions of the material world we occupy' (2009: 3).
This curated issue takes as its departure point Fry's notion that design broadly shapes the world we occupy. To ask what happens when the world we occupy is not conceived simply in terms of local issues and solutions, but rather as a set of shared concerns that are localised and play out through global flows. To do so this issue presents ten contributions from Indonesia.
Crosby, AL & McKenzie, J 2016, 'Listening to student voices through scenario design: Aligning learning.futures', Sensoria: A Journal of Mind, Brain, and Culture, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 5-11.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This paper explores the preferred learning futures of students at the University of Technology Sydney and the alignments of students' preferred futures with policy changes. The aim of the paper is to describe a different approach to listening to students' voices and illuminate some possible ways in which the student voice can influence the implementation of higher education learning policies, with the aim of ultimately improving student learning experiences into the future. Students' preferred futures were explored through a methodology of rapidly formulated collaborative scenario design, then coded thematically using open coding. Broad themes related to the changing context, learning environments, and independent learning, with students seeing ideal learning in higher education being a combination of personal, social and connected experiences. In order to offer a student perspective that is of use to policymakers, we discuss these preferred futures in relation to the University of Technology Sydney's 'learning.futures' approach, which focuses on changing the way that learning happens in the university.
Crosby, AL & Notley, T 2014, 'Using video and online subtitling to communicate across languages from West Papua', The Australian Journal of Anthropology, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 138-154.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
In this paper we examine mediated practices and experiences of online translation and subtitling. Our paper is based on a collaboration with EngageMedia a not-for-profit organisation based in Australia and Indonesia and is specifically focused on its work in West Papua. We argue that the video-hosting and online subtitling that is enabled through EngageMedias websites, while mobilising West Papuan stories in a logical, relatively fast and organised manner, is embedded in a more messy socially-mediated translation process that occurs across shifting scales (local, national, regional, and global), and a range of cultures (online, offline, local, global, networked). By examining this socially-mediated process we identify the many ways in which 'friction' emerges and we conclude that for video to support multi-lingual, translational communication and activism, social and technological infrastructures need to be further developed to avoid `restrictive frictions and create 'productive' ones.
This paper reconsiders the story of permaculture, developed in Australia in the mid-1970s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. This paper considers permaculture as an example of counterculture in Australia. In keeping with permaculture design ecological principles, we argue that today permaculture is best understood as part of an assemblage of design objects, bacteria, economies, humans, plants, technologies, actions, theories, mushrooms, policies, affects, desires, animals, business, material and immaterial labour and politics and that it can be read as contrapuntal rather than as oppositional practice. Contrapuntal insofar as it is not directly oppositional preferring to reframe and reorientate everyday practices. The paper is structured in three parts: in the first one we frame our argument by providing a background to our understanding of counterculture and assemblage; in the second we introduce the beginning of permaculture in its historical context, and in third we propose to consider permaculture as an assemblage.
This article explores the environment movement that formed in Central Java after the New Order. It discusses how activists situate their movement at global, national and local scales, and compares this work of situating to the cultural process both Lessig and Knobel and Lankshear refer to as `remix. The national network of student nature lovers clubs (Mahasiswa Pecinta Alam or Mapala), local genealogies of resistance to colonialism, the politics and styles of global punk, and the popular images of `green circulated by advertising and transnational environmental bodies, all contribute to the way environmental activists construct and perform multi-scaled identities. At first glance, these multiple scales may seem confusing and conflicted, but by framing their intersection as a process of remix, this article argues that they may be understood as tactical, and a feature of the new possibilities for activism offered by emerging media technologies.
Notley, T, Salazer, JF & Crosby, AL 2013, 'Online video translation and subtitling: examining emerging practices and their implications for media activism in South East Asia', Global Media Journal Australian Edition, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 1-15.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This article examines the ways in which one organisation and a number of citizens have begun to make use of new video translation and subtitling/captioning technologies to address local and regional social and environmental justice issues in the South East Asia region. We conceptualise these emerging practices as instances of 'citizen translation' by connecting them with earlier work carried out around citizens' media. In order to examine and analyse the practices of, motivations for, and (potential) impact of citizen translation, we carried out an online survey and a number of interviews with people who are doing or supporting citizen translation. We found that citizen translators see their practices as enacting their own political sensibilities and addressing a number of barriers to social and political participation; we also found that citizen translators have important contributions to make regarding how citizen translation might further develop
Crosby, A & Thajib, F 2010, 'Can open mean terbuka? Negotiating licenses for indonesian video activism', Platform, vol. 2, no. SpecialIssue, pp. 94-105.
Since the fall of Suharto's New Order regime in Indonesia, space has been opened up for the emergence and development of new practices of media production and distribution, such as the use of video for social change. As access to the technology for producing, distributing and watching video becomes increasingly democratised in Indonesia over this period, a spectrum of approaches to licensing are developing in response to ideology as well as economic impetus. These include the full adherence to the global norms of intellectual property rights, market-driven piracy, politically based rejection of any restrictions, and a burgeoning interest in Creative Commons. While Indonesia hosts one of the most enthusiastic cultures of digital sharing, this article argues that there is not yet a solution for the issues of copyright management that fits the Indonesian context. We examine the work of several groups who are currently active in producing social and environmental video in the archipelago. These include VideoBattle, Forum Lenteng, and the EngageMedia network.
Crosby, AL & Thajib, F 2010, 'Can Open Mean Terbuka? Negotiating Licenses for Indonesian Video Activism', PLATFORM: Journal of Media and Communication, vol. 2010, no. December, pp. 94-105.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Since the fall of Suhartos New Order regime in Indonesia, space has been opened up for the emergence and development of new practices of media production and distribution, such as the use of video for social change. As access to the technology for producing, distributing and watching video becomes increasingly democratised in Indonesia over this period, a spectrum of approaches to licensing are developing in response to ideology as well as economic impetus. These include the full adherence to the global norms of intellectual property rights, market-driven piracy, politically based rejection of any restrictions, and a burgeoning interest in Creative Commons.While Indonesia hosts one of the most enthusiastic cultures of digital sharing, this article argues that there is not yet a solution for the issues of copyright management that fits the Indonesian context. We examine the work of several groups who are currently active in producing social and environmental video in the archipelago. These include VideoBattle, Forum Lenteng, and the EngageMedia network.
Fam, D, Mellick Lopes, A, Ross, K & Crosby, A 2019, 'The Transdisciplinary Living Lab Model (TDLL)' in Universities as Living Labs for Sustainable Development Supporting the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, Springer.
This book fills an important gap in the literature, and presents contributions from scientists and researchers working in the field of sustainable development who have engaged in dynamic approaches to implementing sustainability in higher ...
Crosby, A, Fam, DM & Mellick Lopes, A 2018, 'Trandisciplinarity and the 'Living Lab model': Food waste management as a site for collaborative learning' in Fam, DM, Neuhauser, L & Gibbs, P (eds), Transdisciplinary Theory, Practice and Education: The Art of Collaborative Research and Collective Learning, Springer, Switzerland, pp. 117-131.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This chapter introduces the concept of a 'Transdisciplinary Living Lab (TDLL)' based on an initiative at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to involve design students in the transdisciplinary research context of food waste management on campus. In the higher education context, on-campus Living Labs are one way an environment can be created to support transdisciplinary (TD) education. The UTS TDLL involved the collaborative participation of design academics, campus facilities management, industry and government experts with students from disciplines of Fashion and Textile Design, Product Design, and Visual Communication who, through team-based learning, contributed to generating propositions for managing food waste on-campus.
In integrating a transdisciplinary approach with the living lab model, we had a number of educational goals, including enabling and encouraging students to integrate their own knowledge and experience as actors in the system into the final design proposition, and to critically reflect on broader impacts of their work on the environment and society beyond the confines of the campus. The resulting student projects moved beyond traditional technological and artefact-based design solutions to socially and culturally sensitive responses to a complex problem with input from a broad range of participating stakeholders. The project also proposes a model for transdisciplinary education onsite at the university, offering a way to bring those actors most impacted by a system into the design of that system.
Crosby, AL & Morgan, A 2016, 'Levering Critical Collaboration: The First Year Interdisciplinary Design Experience' in Abbasi, N, Kashuk, S, Ostwald, M & Williams, A (eds), Collaboration and Student Engagement in Design Education, IGI Global, Hershey PA, USA, pp. 169-187.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This chapter presents an intervention in Design Thinking, a first year interdisciplinary design subject at the University of Technology Sydney. Over two iterations of this subject, researchers reframed the 'group work' component as critical collaboration, drawing from the momentum in the design professions for more participatory and collaborative processes and the increasing acknowledgement of design as being critical to sustainable human futures. The online self and peer assessment tool SPARKPlus was used to change the way students approached collaboration and then reflected on it following their experiences. In this model, self and peer assessment is used as a leaver to encourage critical thinking about collaboration, rather than as a hammer to enforce participation.
Crosby, AL 2016, ''Its Not Just About the Films': Activist Film Festivals in Post New Order Indonesia' in Tascon, S & Wils, T (eds), Activist Film Festivals: Towards a Political Subject, Intellect Books, Bristol, UK, pp. 181-196.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This essay makes new examinations of the cultural changes that have occurred in Indonesia since the end of the New Order (1998) by exploring the role of activist film festivals in imagining and enacting social change. Indonesia has seen a more open political-social environment in the last fifteen years from which local filmmaking, and the informal networks that catalyse it, have flourished.
Davies, A & Crosby, AL 2016, 'Compressorhead: The Robot Band and its TransmediaStoryworld' in Koh, M. (ed), Cultural Robotics, Springer, Switzerland, pp. 175-189.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Robot-human relationships are being developed and redefined due to the emerging cultural phenomenon of popular robot bands such as Compressorhead and Z-Machine. Our primary research interest in this paper is the ways in which robots relate to, interact with, and are perceived by humans - or in short, human-robot relationships. To this aim we have conducted a small-scale (multi-'species') ethnography in which we were participant observers in the ongoing production of both the 'onstage' and 'offstage' transmedia storyworld of the all robot band, Compressorhead. We use Henry Jenkins's (2004, 2006, 2008) concept of 'transmedia storytelling' as a way of understanding how a storyworld that includes extensive human-robot interaction is simultaneously created by both humans and robots across multiple communication media platforms. In so doing, we argue that robots can indeed be seen as musicians, performers, and even celebrities, and therefore can be taken seriously as producers of culture.
Crosby, AL 2015, 'Relocating Kampung, Rethinking Community: Salatiga's 'Festival Mata Air'' in Hatley, B & Hough, B (eds), Performing Contemporary Indonesia: Celebrating Identity, Constructing Community, BRILL, Leiden and Boston, pp. 67-82.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
As part of the collective effort of this volume to understand the cultural spaces in Indonesia after the end of the New Order, this chapter argues that small-scale arts festivals are key sites generating changing notions of place and community in contemporary Java. I take as my subject an annual activist festival that began in 2007, 'Festival Mata Air' (FMA, festival of Water) and its interactions with three Salatiga kampung neighbourhoods. Along with other festivals that emerged around the same time, such as the Forest Art Festival in Randublatung, FMA generates a fresh culture of protest, opens up the kampung as a space of public engagement and provides artists and performers with a viable alternative to curator-driven exhibitions and events. My analysis shows the potential that exists for dynamic local identities to interact meaningfully with the global, expanding the social imaginer of the kampung. During a festival, activists deconstruct the very idea of the kampung, by working with the community within the kampung as an official entity, and by creating an 'affinity space', which can also be thought of as an activist kampung.
Notley, T & Crosby, AL 2014, 'Transmedia Activism: Exploring the Possibilities in West Papua' in Polson, D, Cook, A, Velikovsky, JT & Brackin, A (eds), Transmedia Practice: A Collective Approach, Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford, United Kingdom, pp. 77-88.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Almost all of the academic and practice-based literature on transmedia storytelling
is focused on fiction-based narratives. In this context, transmedia projects are seen
to provide an opportunity for fictional narratives to be dispersed across multiple
mediums and platforms, ideally with each medium and platform making its own
contribution to the story in ways that entice and reward broad and deep levels of
audience participation. This chapter considers the value of creating activist
transmedia projects that seek to tell stories to, speak with and mobilise audiences
across countries, cultures and languages. By engaging with some of the emerging
definitions of Transmedia Activism, and examining two transmedia activist
projects that address social justice issues in West Papua, we raise new possibilities
for what may constitute Transmedia Activism and question the need for transmedia
stories to necessarily be fiction-based.
Crosby, AL 2011, 'A Chronicle of Video Activism and Online Distribution in Post-New Order Indonesia' in Lovink, G & Miles, RS (eds), Video Vortex Reader II: moving images beyond YouTube, Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam, pp. 178-193.
Fam, DM, Lopes Mellick, A, Ross, K & Crosby, A 2018, 'The Transdisciplinary Living Lab Model (TDLL): Creating 'citizen scholars' for life-long learning', World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities, Universities as Living Labs for Sustainable Development: Supporting the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, University Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, Malaysia.
Crosby, AL & Cahaya, R 2016, 'The lure of the city, the possibilities of the village: crowdsourcing graphic designers in Indonesia', Cumulus Working Papers 33/16: Cumulus Hong Kong 2016 – Open Design for E-very-thing, Cumulus Open Design for E-very-thing, Hong Kong Design Institute and Cumulus International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media, Hong Kong, pp. 255-259.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Indonesia provides an enormous number of world's design-
ers, many of them as subscribers to world's major design-task marketplaces, 99designs.com. Somewhat surprisingly, many of these designers are not located in cities and many have no formal training in design. They are linked to the global design profession, through crowdsourcing platforms. These kinds of platforms offer advantages both to clients and designers, saving energy resourc- es and costs. In addition, they potentially lessen the pressures
of urbanisation, an increasingly 'wicked' problem as Indonesia's economy develops, population increases and natural resources are depleted. But this kind of employment is also provoking strong reactions from professional designers and design organisations in Indonesia. This paper traces those reactions and argues for more sensitivity in global design discourse to how the profession plays out in local contexts.
In this paper we present research into emerging design practices in Indonesia and their links to crowdsourcing platforms. In doing so, we open up the process of innovation to a diversity of actors who encounter and engage design processes in a variety of ways. We look at open modes of design production that do not privilege the big city and that provide new platforms for public participation in the challenges of our time.
Crosby, A, Fam, DM & Abby Mellick Lopes 2016, 'Wealth from Waste: a transdisciplinary approach to design education', Open Design for E-very-thing – exploring new design purposes, Open Design for E-very-thing – exploring new design purposes, Hong Kong Design Institute, Hong Kong.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Kinniburgh, JR, Crosby, A & Hromek, M 2016, 'No Design Without Indigenous Design: Extending First Year Design and Architecture Students' Understanding of Indigenous Australia', STARS (Students Transition Achievement Retention and Success), STARS (Students Transition Achievement Retention and Success), STARS, Perth, Western Australia.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The design professions have undergone immense shifts over recent decades including an overdue, new receptivity to Indigenous skills and knowledge. Universities in Australia are currently examining approaches to engaging Indigenous knowledge in their degrees. This paper examines a project at at the University of Technology (UTS), supported by the institution-wide Centre for Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges and implemented across the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building. Specifically, the research asks how first year design and architecture students can learn about Indigenous perspectives on design, space, place and Country. We draw from literature on transition pedagogy as well as Indigenous education and analyse the student response to this project as it was implemented in 2015.
Crosby, A, Hromek, M & Kinniburgh, J 2015, 'Making space: working together for Indigenous design and architecture curricula', Indigenous Content in Education, University of South Australia, University of South Australia, Adelaide.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The professions of design and architecture have undergone immense shifts over recent decades with a new receptivity to Indigenous skills and knowledge. As such universities are examining approaches to engaging Indigenous knowledges in these degrees. This paper explores how tertiary students of design and architecture can learn about Indigenous Australians, with a focus on spatial literacy. Firstly, we explore best practices in higher education curriculums, drawing from the work of scholars such as Watson (2013). Secondly, we discuss these practices in relation to the professions, referring to examples such as architect Kevin O'Brien (http://koarchitects.com.au/) who draws on Indigenous concepts of space, and the service innovation approach to land rights by design firm 2nd Road (http://www.secondroad.com.au/). Lastly, we reflect on our own efforts to embed Indigenous ways of knowing within our teaching. We draw from experience collaborating over a twelve month period to change curriculum within undergraduate programs to better prepare students to be inter-culturally competent in their professional and community lives. Initiatives include bringing an Indigenous perspective to the mapping component of the interdisciplinary design program. In explaining this work, we argue that design and architecture are important disciplines for working with and improving the lives of Indigenous Australians.
Crosby, AL 2015, 'Collaborative Scenarios: Preferred Learning Futures for Design Education', http://www.ateneonline.it/cumulusmilan/home.asp, The Virtuous Circle Design Culture and Experimentation, ateneonline, Milan.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Emerging technologies are redefining higher education institutions across the world. Meanwhile, the role of the designer is becoming increasingly complex and extensive as both the socio-economic context and tools of design practice change. Students, key stakeholders in higher education, are learning to be designers in an uncertain future. This paper discuss-es the preferred learning futures of design students at the University of Technology, Sydney. These futures have been articulated through rapidly formulated collaborative scenarios that tell the story of possible university campuses, learning technologies, and educators. The via-bility of particular learning futures has been explored through follow up reflections with students. By presenting an experimental method of collaborative scenario design, and some of the preliminary results it generated, this paper claims that student voices are of great value in exploring alternative futures for Higher Education.
Crosby, AL, Lorber-Kasunic, J & Vanni Accarigi, I 2014, 'Mapping Hybrid Design Participation in Sydney', Reflections on Creativity: Public engagement and the making of place, Reflections on creativity: Public engagement and the making of place, Arte Polis, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia, pp. 123-131.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
As in the city of Bandung, the making of place in Sydney (Australia) is now considered by policymakers to be inseparable from creative industries such as design and architecture. This paper focuses on one particular category of creative practitioners: designers, in particular those designers who don't accept and contribute to the same broad vision of the city's creative future. Sydney is a competitive city with one of the highest costs of living in the world (Williams, 2013). This, coupled with precarity as dominant form of work typology in the creative industries, has driven many designers in Sydney to work collaboratively to contest their role in urban development and, more broadly, the creative economy. This paper presents work from a project called 'Citizen Design, Open Design, Adversarial Design: Emerging Forms of Engaged Design Practice in Australia.' The paper examines a component of our methodology. Namely we conducted a 'mapping lab' involving Sydney designers engaged in activism. We mapped the relationships that designers recognised between groups, practices, and projects (past and present) in Sydney that could be considered emerging forms of engaged design. While we as researchers began with a framework for 'Citizen Design' as a form of 'citizen media' (Rodriguez, 2010), 'Open Design' (Van Abel, Evers, Klaasen and Troxler, 2011), and 'Adversarial Design' (Di Salvo, 2012), the participants developed their own set of categories which reflected their working conditions, the nature of their interventions, and political sensibilities of the world.
Crosby, AL 2008, 'Collaborative cultural practices of activist networks in contemporary Indonesia', Proceedings of the 17th Biennial Conference of the ASAA, Melbourne, Australia: Is this the Asian century?, 17th Biennial Conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia, Asian Studies Association of Australia, Melbourne, pp. 1-11.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This paper focuses on the production of visual culture in the collaborative settings of contemporary Indonesian activism. It looks at networked cultural events as they build momentum as models of Indonesian activism, providing a viable alternative to formalised channels of presenting politicised artwork. These site-specific festivals have emerged as part of a rise of struggles for the environmental and social health of the local kampung, or neighbourhood. As activist communities conceive, plan, and produce specific responses to crises, their cultural practices, including their visual languages, develop new relationships to local, national and global politics. This research explores these innovative forms of activism, the tactics, organisation, style and relational biographies of communities, as sites of friction where meaning is produced. Rather than art projects designed to engage with a community on prescribed levels, these initiatives are process-based cultural projects, given a specific place in the local history of a neighbourhood, or kampung and assuming deliberate roles in the organisation of networks. By comparing three of these events - Festival Mata Air (Salatiga, 2006), Forest Art Festival (Randublatung, 2005) and OK Video Festival (Jakarta, 2007) - this paper addresses some of the cultural and environmental specificities of such work, including their collective and networked nature.
As artists conceive, plan, and produce specific responses to
environmental crises, their cultural practices including their visual languages develop new relationships to local, national and global politics. This research explores these innovative forms of cultural activism as a site of friction where meaning is produced and exchanged. I use the word 'friction' as intended by Anna Tsing, as a metaphor for the diverse and conflicting social interactions that make up our contemporary world.
This paper focuses on the production of culture in the collaborative setting of an environmental art festival in Salatiga called Festival Mata Air,
which simultaneously adopts and rejects existing cultural models. Rather than gallery-based artworks designed to engage with a community on prescribed levels, initiatives such as this event and its resulting outcomes are process based cultural projects, given a specific place in the local history of a neighbourhood, and opening spaces for meaningful cultural exchange.
Frontyard 2018, 'Conversation Piece', Frontyard Projects, Sydney, pp. 1-184.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Crosby, AL, Zettel, T & Hamilton, J 2013, 'Map #5, Green Square', Baadlands: an Atlas of Experimental Cartography, Tin Sheds Gallery, Sydney, pp. 81-81.
This illustration is an experimental map of Green Square through the lens of the Yurt Empire. Yurt Empire treats cartography as a space of occupation, as a device for looking, for positioning and for remaking. The map is an attempt to represent the project both as a whole and as a set of relations, as seen from this relatively early stage in the collaborative process. To begin with, the illustration is a hybrid of three extant documents: an early map of Waterloo (1880), a computer-generated design from a recent local government report on Green Square (2008), and a panoramic sketch from the summit of St. Valentines Peak (1827). Using the circular panorama as a vehicle from which to figuratively and literally survey the entire empire, we marked out our own conceptual summit at the centre: the dog-shaped zone designated `Green Square Town Centre. The dog is the geographical core of our project and the point from which we begin to build, traverse and imagine Yurt Empire. This map and other strategic artefacts from the Yurt Empire were part of the exhibition at Tin Sheds Gallery in August, 6pm.
Crosby, AL 2011, 'Growing Global Cultural Networks', Taring Padi: Seni Membongkar Tirani, Lumbung Press, Yogyakarta, pp. 317-331.
This book is a the retrospective publication of the work of a distinguished Indonesian artist collective, the Institute of People Orientated Culture of Taring Padi, which was founded in 1998. I am a member of this artist collective and was invited to write about the ways the collective operates as part of international networks. In the writing I use the idea of collaborative friction to question the 'international artist in residence' model of collaboration and to point out the importance of informal collaborative settings to inter-cultural creative practice. The research done for this piece of writing was a significant part of my PhD project.
Crosby, AL 2009, 'Boy', Trunk, Volume 1: Hair, Boccalatte Pty Ltd, Surry Hills, pp. 189-190.
'Boy' is a short story about fashion and bodies written during my PhD field work in Indonesia. This research is in the field of Asian cultural studies. It considers the alternative economies that are the foundation of informal cultural spaces in Indonesia, such as Taman Budaya Cultural Centre in Yogyakarta, where the story is set. The piece is autoethnographic, in the sense defined by Carolyn Ellis (2004) as 'research, writing, story, and method that connect the autobiographical and personal to the cultural, social, and political', and used extensively in creative writing and performance studies. It places the reflection in the global context by linking the material and sensory transactions taking place to globally circulating texts, ideas, and styles. While this work is informed by previous research it specifically uses the conventions of short fiction to convey the ideas around the 'grip' of local situations on globally circulating culture (Tsing 2005). This story was published as part of an anthology edited by UTS Cultural Studies scholar Merideth Jones that explores aspects of the body through writing. This issue focused on hair.
Gang re:Publik is a collection of original creative writings and images focusing on exchange and collaboration between Indonesia and Australia. The research for this book was undertaken during the Gang Festival, an artist-led initiative celebrating the deep links between Indonesian and Australian community arts. I edited and art directed the book, wrote an essay on the Jakarta artist group ruangrupa, conducted a series of interviews and contributed photographs. Gang Festival took as its theme the Indonesian word for alleyway. It straddled a dual reference to small roads and particular social groupings; referring to the space between more permanent and conventional roads and roles. In Indonesian communities, `gang, forms a critical artery in Kampung (neighbourhood) culture, where local trade and communities thrive in close proximity to one another. Gangs also evoke images of crevices, margins, and a rich density of peripheral culture. Gang Festival formed part of my PhD field work on cross-cultural collaboration between artists and designers who situate their work on the margins of commercial creative practice in Australia and Indonesia. http://asianozstudiesnews.blogspot.com.au/2009/01/new-anthology-gang-re…
Crosby, AL, 'Bush Pencils: yarra nhiki', Interpretive Wonderings, Mapping Culpra Station, Mildura Arts Centre..
Aboriginal people have always used sticks in everyday life: for fire, weapons, and building materials. Aboriginal children used yarra (sticks) to play, for flicking mud as far as they could across the river. During Interpretive Wonderings, we often had sticks in our hands as we talked together, made things and looked after our children.
These bush pencils formed from those conversations as we spent time together and our children played. They are made of charcoal (nhiki) from our fire, grasses collected for weaving from the river banks, fabric left over from community arts and crafts workshops, emu feathers and sticks collected by our children.
While mapping technologies can be beautifully complex, a simple assemblage of objects such as one of our Bush Pencils can also be a tool for mapping.
It can provide a pace, space and mode of interaction that is mindful of
complexities erased by the digital and the immediate. For instance, making such tools can help us learn about the material qualities of country made invisible by a printed or digital map through the strength of the grass and the hue of the charcoal. This process of making also reminds us of the necessity to share skills and knowledge.
The University of Technology Sydney (UTS)
has an ongoing project with communities and
organisations Magno Design (Temangung) and
Sapu Upcycle Collective (Salatiga) in Indonesia.
This exhibition is curated by Alexandra Crosby
(UTS). The project brings together Indonesian and
Australian designers, design writers, design teachers
and design thinkers to work on sustainable futures.
The exhibition features designs that upcycle and
reuse and also celebrate Indonesian culture and
creativity. Also included are banners created by
artists and designers for Festival Mata Air 2016
(Indonesia) with a focus on saving important
During 2016, the Peacock Gallery has had a
focus on 'gardens' and this exhibition recalls the
remediation of the area along the Duck River
that had become an industrial wasteland and a
rubbish tip by the 1960s, and that became the
Auburn Botanic Gardens in the 1970s. The public
program at the gallery also includes activities in
collaboration with Council's Sustainability team
during National Recycling Week (7-13 November).
Crosby, AL, 'Permacultural Principles and Collaborative Design Interventions', Permacultural Principles and Collaborative Design Interventions, Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, DAB Lab.
Alexandra Crosby's new exhibition examines 'citizen' design for social change. Permacultural Principles and Collaborative Design Interventions focuses on the work of The Yurt Empire, a collaborative design group that explores the possibilities for activist design interventions in urban development.
Gibson, C, Grodach, C, Lyons, C, Crosby, A & Brennan -Horley, C University of Wollongong 2017, Made in Marrickville: Enterprise and cluster dynamics at the creative industries -manufacturing interface, Carrington Road precinct, no. DP170104255 -2017/02, University of Wollongong.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Frontyard City of Sydney 2016, In-Kind: Creating a Non-Cash Arts Assets Platform, pp. 1-30, Sydney.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
People in the arts community are overstretched. The core idea behind this platform is to making connecting and creating easier. We are not suggesting that artists work harder, or make/present/perform more. The measure of this platform's success is not whether more 'work' is made by the artists, but whether we feel connected, enjoy closer, long-standing connections to our community and peers through sharing skills and collectively consuming less.
When asking artists the limited pool of participants 'what are your non-cash obstacles to living and creating in Sydney?' we are looking to connect people to people. We want the platform to assist with overcoming daily and weekly obstacles to reaching out to their community through the sharing of non-cash assets. With this in mind,
perhaps another measure of success here is that artists will have more time to experiment with creating with a different, more expanded and supported sense of time, outside of the standard outcome-driven funding models.
Buzwell, S, Bates, G, McKenzie, J, Alexander, S, Williams, J, Farrugia, M & Crosby, AL Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching 2016, Valuing student voices when exploring, creating and planning for the future of Australian higher education, Australia.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Crosby, AL APC and Hivos 2011, Documenting Torture: The Responsibility of Activists, pp. 140-143, South Africa.
Crosby, AL 2015, 'Mark Gerada: Chop You Down', Mils Gallery, Sydney, pp. 1-2.
Crosby, AL, 'Propaganda'.