A Friends with Drinks Refresher

Friends with Drinks, my chief project as DWIR, has been running since the 18th of July and the site is filling up with an amazing, diverse range of images and texts from all over the world. Here are just a few of the submissions I’ve been receiving and posting as editor:

Jaqueline Barmentloo
DJ Huppatz
friends (?) with drinks
Kami McInnes

my name is kami
and i’m an alcoholic
i like to pretend that i’m not
that i have things under control
and sometimes i almost do
sometimes i can just have one
or two
okay maybe three
and stop
some days i can order a soft drink
at the bar and not feel
like a soft cock
and there are nights when my teeth
don’t grind for want
of a drink
and i tell myself i’m alright
i’m no drunk
even though i’m mentally counting
the change in my pocket
to see if i have enough
for just one beer
maybe two
because i like the taste
you understand
it’s the flavour i miss
not the alcohol
those days
i pretend i have control
but on those days and nights
when my thirst burns a hole
in my wallet
when i wake up not knowing
who she is
or where we are
those days where panadol and powerade
make for a balanced breakfast
when the bruises on my arms and legs
can’t be explained
the days where my wife won’t talk to me
when my daughter is afraid of me
those days i can’t pretend
so i don’t
instead i just lie to myself
tell myself it’s all good
it’s okay to let loose
to have a little fun
you deserve it
you’re doing nothing wrong
nothing bad
just letting off some steam
drinking with yr new friends
a man needs to let go occasionally
just a night on the town
or a day out
a weekend lost
Easter missed
a birthday forgotten
but it’s okay
i got you a nice bottle of wine
we can drink it with dinner
i mean hell it was just a few drinks
just a few laughs
what’s yr damn problem with that
its not like i get violent or anything
ok, there are the holes in the walls
but would you rather i had hit you
i mean come on
it was just a few drinks
it ain’t a crime
and i’m not the only one
who’s ever lost his license
it was just bad luck
it was just a few drinks
that’s all
just one
or two

my name is kami
and i am an alcoholic
but don’t worry
i have it all under control



Long Black, Flat White
Thom Sullivan

evenings we piece together : over coffee :
the end-of-evening café : late : before closing : close
to closing : as we spill out onto a street :
where the chairs are stacked : the streetside tables
packed away : a loose critique : a film
we enjoyed : or didn’t : the silt of a long black :
& flat white : crumbs : & rasping teaspoons :
significances between words : that elude definition :
or neatness : things we speak of : that need
to be opened : from time to time :
to change their dressings : to bring them out
into the air & light : knowing they have changed :
subsided : like a lung collapsing : or a heart :
or a filament of thought : that needs unwinding :
our habitual locales : this café, say :
at the end of an evening : of how many evenings :
as we spill out onto the street : still talking :
the suburbs in abeyance : late walkers : passing taxis :
& the whole entanglement : a world
of light & shadow :

Annette Willis
Gab Hummel

the port
Alan Peter Kelly

the smell of sea
and frangipani
my unique river
has a night life
few would believe

a blanket down
with breeze
that tussles hair
like hands
across a scalp

a rod and bait
a cheapish Cabernet
my boom box tuned
to triple j

as nearby
dolphin pod herd
school of fish
for feed and
where water dapples
to reflection
of moon
and universe

Rahul Gudipudi
Andrew Noble

Haven’t sent anything in yet? You are very welcome: submissions to Friends with Drinks will be open until the end of my residency on the 27th August (and who knows? Perhaps beyond). If you’re not sure what the project’s all about, read on…

Merging the everyday rituals of making friends and taking drinks with the digital zeitgeist, Friends with Drinks is a creative collaborative project that aims to share different experiences of drinking and place worldwide.

By way of online communion, Friends with Drinks signifies particular spaces through full and fragmentary texts, images and sounds that together create a map of what we drink, with whom and where—whether it’s morning coffee in Milan, midday chai in Lucknow, an afternoon beer in Prague, an evening martini in New York or a cup of hot milk before bedtime in Accra.

The possibilities for joining minds, locations, words, inspirations, snapshots, actions, sketches, music, clips and destinies are as infinite as the networks that draw us together. Consider what drinking represents about the spaces (analogue and digital) you inhabit and the culture/s you (may/may not) belong to, then submit your photos, artwork, writing, audio or video files to the Friends with Drinks Tumblr or Facebook page.

If you have any suggestions for or comments about Friends with Drinks, I’d love to hear from you!



#techaffect: on the Curating Affective Technologies Un-conference

At one of those temporary junctions where the lines of life start to intersect, the first week I started as DWIR was also the week I attended the Curating Affective Technologies un-conference at the Flinders in the City campus in Adelaide. Organised by Julia Erhart, Sonja Vivienne, Tully Barnett, Alice Gorman and Julian Meyrick with the Flinders Institute for Research in the Humanities, the un-conference forms part of a year-long investigation of the theme ‘Technologies of Memory and Affect’.

What is an un-conference? I had no idea. How do you curate affective technologies? Also no idea, but I wanted to know more. It turns out that an un-conference is a collaborative, open structure, in which participants are encouraged to suggest and guide content, making for a warm and interactive forum. At our un-conference, participants were not passive, but asked to nominate key themes drawn from the ideas presented and discuss, in groups, the possibilities for collaborative articles.

After a day of intriguing ten-minute presentations, I am still working on a description of what ‘affective technologies’ are and how you curate them. I saw it happening; I contributed to it, but the topics spoken of and disciplines represented were so varied and the ideas connecting technology, affect and memory so many that for now I’ll slot in an explanation supplied by the Technologies of Memory and Affect blog:

Memory and affect are notoriously subjective and transitory concepts. Technology, from the printing press to the camera to the internet, affords opportunity to make these notions discernible and sometimes even material, in objects, words, images and a digital trace. However, while communication in the digital domain is searchable, persistent, replicable and scaleable, memory and affect remain ephemeral and contested.

Intersections between technology, memory and affect can be–and were–emphasised through diverse topics; pulled in multiple directions. Larissa Hjorth, RMIT Distinguished Professor and digital artist/ethnographer, guided the un-conference with her talk on ‘Visualising the Mundane: Technology/Memory/Affect’, discussing ways in which technology forms and deforms structures, reaches audiences and can, in the case of mobile phones in particular, tell stories of intimacy across cultures, become tools for mobilisation and create networks of witnessing. Alicia Carter, describing the technology of the Kodak Super 8 as a tool for familial forms of remembering; Martin Potter, pointing out that familiarity with media enhances rather than enslaves, and Ruth Vasey, declaring the Trove database a means of building multiple narratives within history, also drew on this idea of technology as witness and collator. For Carolyn Lake and Petra Mosmann, talking respectively about cultural memory as represented by the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives and the feminist movement through (the symbol of) Faith Bandler’s gloves, public records became issues of affect; for Susan Bruce, who showed several of her short films, technology preserves the personal, tactile and textural. Listening to Deb Matthews speak about curating memory within the remix community CCMixter; Catherine Adamek on the performance of dance; Gillian Dooley giving renditions of gender ambiguous songs from Jane Austen’s manuscripts, and Daniela Kaleva discussing cabaret and the transmission of cultural memory, performance was also explored as a way of evoking and creating memories.

To capture moments of the un-conference as it unfolded, tablets, laptops and mobile phones were used to upload fragments to Twitter and Instagram. The event of the symposium–or the rarer occasion of an un-conference–was amplified through digital media recordings of discussion as ritual; through a simultaneous exploration and performance of curation to create, distribute and enhance memories, contributing to present and future perspectives on the fascinating and expanding field of technology and affect.

The Origins of Drinks

When I applied for this digital residency, I had to propose a project that aimed to be creative, innovative, community-minded and fulfil the brief of the people reading: I came up with Friends with Drinks. You can read an actual excerpt of my application here, or you might have read the snappy version on the Friends with Drinks tumblr before you sent your submission (haven’t done this yet? Please do here!):

Merging the everyday rituals of making friends and taking drinks with the digital zeitgeist, Friends with Drinks is a creative collaborative project that aims to share different experiences of drinking and place worldwide.

By way of online communion, Friends with Drinks signifies particular spaces through full and fragmentary texts, images and sounds that together create a map of what we drink, with whom and where—whether it’s morning coffee in Milan, midday chai in Lucknow, an afternoon beer in Prague, an evening martini in New York or a cup of hot milk before bedtime in Accra.

The possibilities for joining minds, locations, words, inspirations, snapshots, actions, sketches, music, clips and destinies are as infinite as the networks that draw us together. Please submit, share—and salud!

Although I had jotted down a vague outline of Friends with Drinks in my notebook to float at the earliest opportune moment, it wasn’t until last week, in the course of writing content and setting up websites and Facebook pages—tasks that seemed far removed from the pencil-scratched origins of the idea—that I remembered what had prompted Friends with Drinks in the first place; what had given the concept enough personal meaning in order for me to pitch it with a degree of sincerity.

This time last year, I was living through a sultry July in Bangalore, India, while working on a project; in the same month, I met a handful of mixed-media German artists who had come to Bangalore to complete residencies. Among them was Stepan, a tall drink of draughtsmanship who became, in the way of Melissa Bank, an ‘insta-friend’. A month later, Stepan left Bangalore with a bang and departed from my analogue life in a way you have to grow accustomed to when you travel, or else perish from the stranglehold of sentimentality. (One of the definite advantages of the digital age is having the opportunity to keep our friends in the frame of our lives, even at a strange, unquantifiable distance.)

One night I was muddling through some sentences, longing for distraction, when I heard a ping! It was Stepan, via Messenger. This is what he wrote:

S: I am already accosting the Old Monk [famous Indian dark rum] on this hot Berlin afternoon. It’s good!

K: Classic flavours travel well…and the bottle made it in one piece! Excellent. What are you mixing it with? Oh yeah, I’m glad you made it in once piece too.

S: Pure, already drunk. Feels good in the white Berlin heat.


K: Lovely. Surrounded by white light, consuming golden redness…

S: Feeling a bit blue. I met so many lovely people, and still wearing your Ganesha band with pride—Ganesha himself has vanished already though.

K: I understand how you feel. Homecoming isn’t easy, especially after India. The people who found you lovely here miss you already! Ah, that Ganesha, always giving people the slip. I have a drop of Old Monk here in my flat too. Let’s drink together.

S: Haha, cheerio dear girl! to your health and welfaring! And to meeting again somewhere!

K: Old Monk on my work desk. Cheers to you, bhaiya! Speedy recovery from jet lag and remember: Bengaluru waits for you.


S: I put all my Indian novels on the shelf and go to bed with Gaiman’s American Gods for now!

K: And I shall listen to Lana del Rey and write about Nepal. Sweet dreams.

S: And I will listen to Lana del Rey as well.

K: Ah, it’s just like we’re in the same room.

I wrote in my first post that digital media are machines for contortion—they certainly are, but perhaps they are also a means of intimacy, of a type that we don’t normally expose, which is perhaps an excellent reason why we should. Last week I met an artist/academic, Larissa Hjorth, who makes a study of digital intimacy, but more on that later. For now, I request that you go forth and engage in the ritual of drinking (anything, with anyone) without forgetting to record (and possibly submit) these moments—across neighbourhoods and cultures and countries. However you come together as friends with drinks, via digital methods or analogue, there is enough meaning in every communion to make each worth remembering.

Special thanks to Stepan for giving his OK for me to share our dialogue.

Sunset – Operation Electric Forever – Part 9

[E̠̙̩̩X̙̹̹͇̤̥̳T̸̫͖̥̦͕̱?̫͓͔̗̳̜̳ ̣̬̺͡ͅI͖̣̗̦N͍͍͉T̶͙̖̜̺̬?̶͔̩̰ ̨̮͎̼̰-̛̫͇̜ ̻̞S͘O̰̬̦M̫̠Ȩ̰͉̝Ẉ̻̖Ḩ̱̟̻̤̘̙͔Ẹ̙̠̮̯̬R̤̪̣̟̘͘E̝̹]̗̯

See the boy in centre stage, illuminated and ghastly, pale back arching up towards the sky. Count the knobs and curls of the spine. Count the fine hairs on his arms and legs.

[ENTER FROM STAGE REAR – T̩̬H̩̪̙E̢͍ ̛̮̥͈̞̫D̮̫̦̙́E̜̜̙̻̭̣Ṣ̟̀E̟̭̩ͅR̖̱̫͔͕T]

See a man draped in black, dripping in midnight satin, emerge. See his broad brimmed hat, his gloved hands, his hidden face. The Desert opens his mouth and lets out a stream of bright television static. It’s unintelligible, but also completely understandable.

“Who are you now? After all of this, who are you?”

See the boy. He thought, after all of it, he’d be a different person. He thought that by falling apart he would emerge as something better. He thought that by running away he could control life, that by building his ego he could conquer fear.

A rusting red car, with two tyres missing and an engine full of death, sits in one corner of the stage. In another, a group of people, friendly faces with names like “Max”, “Shelby” and “Floor”, stand watching. They whisper to each other.

On the front of the stage, his sister kneels, phone in hand, trying to find that precious lifeline that will connect them again. She is close, but oh so far.

The boy sits hunched over his own knees, a mottled, papery and fragile human lump. With each careful brush of fingertip against skin, more came off until he sits amongst small mountains of forgotten skin, the fallout from his brush with the sun.

The skin underneath is not new and clean like he had wanted at the beginning of his short adventure, but pink and violent. An eruption of pain and dryness. He went through a wasteland seeking to find himself, but has ended up as part of it.

He falls forward, letting legs come out from underneath him. Laying with chest against the cool grey floor, he admits “there are no fresh starts… I couldn’t find one out there… I want to go home.”

“Nonsense,” The Desert says, “This is your home now.”

[EXIT STAGE REAR – ͓͇̮͖̩͇Ț͙̦͎̱̟H̙͉̮̝̯̩̹E̲̩ ̙̺DESER̗̺̣̜͕T͚̥̰͎]

Continue reading “Sunset – Operation Electric Forever – Part 9”

Dust – Operation Electric Forever – Part 8


See the boy. He struggles with the car’s air conditioning. For the past two hours it has been spitting out nothing but dusty heat. The car groans and shivers as if in the critical stages of sunstroke.

See the boy, his right arm burnt red raw by the sun, his face a mess of sweat, salt and redness. His beard is thin and scratchy, yet visible. Across from him, sits a tall figure in black, hunched over and spread across the passenger seat like some wet, eldritch thing. Behind the boy, the tall figure in black also sits, sprawled out across the back seat, amongst boxes, bottles and sleeping bags. Around him, the desert sprawls outwards. Somewhere out there, The Desert stands, tall and brooding, drenched in electric midnight, watching.

Continue reading “Dust – Operation Electric Forever – Part 8”

Tracks – Operation Electric Forever – Part 7


“She’s all good to go, mate.” Mr. Pfeiffer slapped the bonnet of the rumbling 4WD. He threw the keys to Mr. Bracken.

Mr. Pfeiffer was the type of straight-talking Aussie bloke that Mr. Bracken loved. He had arms the size of tree trunks, a chest covered in thick black hair and fingers stained by the honest art of auto-maintenance. He burped and swore, loved his footy and carried his ancestors’ European surname with just the right balance of pride and self-deprecation.

Mr. Pfeiffer was the type of loud-mouthed Aussie bloke that Perrie Bracken hated. He had arms that swung too wildly, a chest that should be hidden under a proper shirt and hands that looked like sausages that had been left out in the sun for too long. He burped and swore, loved his stupid macho ball game and didn’t really play to well with anyone who wasn’t also a European descendant.

“Couple’a cans’a gas in the back, ‘case ya need ‘em. Maps in the GPS and under the seat. Just gotta bring some water and stuff with ya.”

“Thanks, mate. I can’t thank you enough for this.” Mr. Bracken said.

“It’s no problem at all. She wasn’t getting much use with me. Better to go to a good cause. I just hope you find the lad soon.”

“We all do.” Continue reading “Tracks – Operation Electric Forever – Part 7”

Photographic Evidence – Operation Electric Forever – Part 6


See the boy in centre stage. That is, in the centre of the entire world. As his vehicle rips and tears through the rugged landscape, the planet moves around him like an endlessly repeating pantomime panorama.

A town passed by about an hour ago. The audience (that’s you) surely would have seen the boy leave his car on the side of a wide road in the middle of that town, walk into a quaint convenience store and pick up a veggie pasty and an iced coffee. What the audience would never have been able to guess without narration is that the boy would have loved a curry pie, stuffed full of beef and oil… but his character is a vegetarian at this stage of the story.

“Wise choice.” said the shimmering black mass that was sitting patiently in the passenger seat. “Appearing to care is one of the most important things in this life.”


“I do care. I don’t want to hurt anything that has feelings.”

[Mockingly] “Then why drive a car? Why wear a leather belt?” The Desert asks the boy. The creature speaks in a rough hum, like the background radiation of the Big Bang, but even still, the question sounds cruel.

[Defensively yet apathetic] “Shut up” says the boy.

Continue reading “Photographic Evidence – Operation Electric Forever – Part 6”