Art & Technology Now: Gestural Robotics Workshop

With Vaughan Wozniak O’Connor in collaboration with ThinkSpace presents: Art & Technology Now: Gestural Robotics Workshop.

Vaughan Wozniak O’Connor, Fitbit Studies (detail). Laser etched site materials. 2020

How can robots draw? Could this change the way we think about the handmade? Join artist Vaughan Wozniak O’Connor, in a workshop that discusses art, technology and the blurry line between digital and physical. In this one hour lunchtime workshop, Wozniak O’Connor will discuss his use of biometric and geospatial tracking technologies to produce artworks.

Held across the University of Sydney’s Think Space and USU’s Verge Gallery this workshop will provide background to Wozniak O’Connor’s research and entail a demonstration of emerging approaches to drawing, across robotics and digital fabrication.

Vaughan Wozniak-O’Connor’s exhibition Geospatial Atlas will be on display at Verge Gallery from 13 February-20 March 2020

Join the Art & Technology Now: Gestural Robotics Workshop Wednesday 11 March, 1-2pm at ThinkSpace.

Places are limited, register online to secure a place.

Rare Bites: Free lunchtime talks uncovering Library’s hidden treasures

Rare Bites is a series of 30 minute lunchtime talks held monthly during semester. Each talk features an expert speaker spotlighting specific Rare Books and Special Collections resources that are part of their field of study.

The series gives the opportunity for staff & students to learn about some of the treasures and lesser-known gems within Rare Books & Special Collections.

Semester one talks include:

Mary Brunton’s Discipline – bad girls and moral tales 

In Discipline (1814), the Scottish novelist Mary Brunton created one of the first intentionally flawed heroines in anglophone fiction. Ellen Percy’s fictional autobiography tracks her development from spoiled, selfish schoolgirl to respectable wife and mother, as through suffering and dedicated effort her character is transformed. Arguably the inspiration for Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse, Ellen’s fictional journey is as moral as it is physical, combining traditions of spiritual autobiography with the tropes of sentimental literature.    

Discipline’s literary impact is only now being recognised, but we can see the influence of the unlikeable Ellen Percy in Austen’s ‘heroine whom no one but myself will much like’. In this talk I discuss the process of restoring Brunton’s novel for the Chawton House Novels series and explain how this remarkable novel went overlooked for so long. 

Dr Olivia Murphy works on British literature and culture of the long eighteenth century, with a particular interest in women’s writing, novels, and the relationship between literature and science. She is the author of Jane Austen the Reader: The Artist as Critic (2013), the editor of Mary Brunton’s 1814 novel Discipline (2018) and the co-editor of Anna Letitia Barbauld: New Perspectives (2013) and Romantic Climates: Literature and Science in an Age of Catastrophe (2019). She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the English Department at the University of Sydney.  

When: Wednesday 11 March, 2020 1:00 – 1:30pm

Location: Fisher Seminar Room (218), level 2

Places are limited, register to secure a place.

Lurid: Crime Paperbacks and Pulp Fiction Exhibition

There has long been a thirst for cheap, mass produced depictions of violence and crime narratives in popular culture from eighteenth century crime ‘broadsides’ sold at public executions and nineteenth century ‘penny dreadfuls’. Rare Books and Special Collections holds an extensive collection of Detective Fiction encompassing twentieth century crime novels as well as pulp fiction series.

A selection of detective fiction on display at the Lurid: Crime Paperbacks and Pulp Fiction Exhibition


Lurid: Crime Paperbacks and Pulp Fiction showcases these books and their cover designs. For instance, the mid-century, green-saturated period of Penguin crime literature paperbacks demonstrates the ‘Marber Grid’, with two-thirds of the layout allowing for striking modernist illustration and bold graphic design. There is power in the simplicity of these designs with their limited colour palette, elements of photomontage, collage, drawing and geometric pattern, and use of sans serif font.

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A selection of detective fiction on display at the Lurid: Crime Paperbacks and Pulp Fiction Exhibition

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At the other extreme of the literary spectrum, there are the garish, titillating and often misogynistic designs that adorn pulp fiction covers. The racy titles and compositional elements of femme fatales and wanton dames, gangsters and gumshoes, and occasional homoerotic imagery, were designed to catch the eyes of disposable sleaze readers (and latter day criminologists).

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A selection of detective fiction on display at the Lurid: Crime Paperbacks and Pulp Fiction Exhibition

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Lurid: Crime Paperbacks and Pulp Fiction reveals and revels in a sense of each genre’s distinctive design, whether highbrow or lowbrow, and the visual impact of these compact, accessible and affordable publications.

This exhibition has been curated by Dr Carolyn McKay. Dr Carolyn McKay is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney Law School where she teaches Criminal Law, Civil & Criminal Procedure and Digital Criminology. She is co-Deputy Director of the Sydney Institute of Criminology. Carolyn is recognised for her research into technologies in justice, specifically her empirical research into prisoners’ experiences of accessing justice from a custodial situation by audio visual links. Her qualitative study based on one-to-one interviews with prisoners provided evidence for her PhD thesis as well as her recently published research monograph,The Pixelated Prisoner: Prison video links, court ‘appearance’ and the justice matrix (2018) Routledge. Carolyn has published and presented in relation to other technologies and served on the 2019 NSW Law Society Legal Technologies Committee. She has been appointed to the 2019-2020 NSW Bar Association Innovation & Technology Committee. Carolyn has been a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford 2019 and for 3 months at the Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law, Spain 2013-14. Carolyn has previously consulted on anti-dumping trade disputes and indirect taxation, working in both Sydney and Tokyo, and she also has a digital media/visual arts practice.

Visit Lurid: Crime Paperbacks and Pulp Fiction from 24th February- 20 June 2020 , level 3 Fisher Library & SciTech Library

Calling all hand-craft printers and printmakers!

For the third year running, we are excited to announce applications for the 2020 Printer in Residence Program are now open!

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2019 Printer in Residence Barbara Campbell at work creating a print.

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The Library is calling for applications from letterpress printers and artists in printing or book arts, for a residency of 8 weeks, to take place during Semester 2, 2020. The residency is acquisitive and supported by payment of $7,000.

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Now in its third year, the 2020 Printer in Residence program returns to increase awareness of the Piscator Press and to encourage an ongoing enthusiasm for material book arts within the University. We also aim to foster; a creative dialogue between print and digital processes, experimentation, and active engagement with library users.
Letterpress printmakers and book artists are invited to propose a project for a print publication or creative work to be made in the workshop and completed during an 8-week residency.

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2018 Printer in Residence Wendy Murray giving a workshop on printing during her residency.

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Applications close Sunday 1st March, 2020 at 11.59pm. Further information and application details can be found on the Library’s website.

Did you know the Library houses an extremely rare copy of Principia with hand written notes by Newton?

Safely resting in the archives of our Library lives a copy of the text that rewrote the rule book on Earth and space Principia (Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica), recently featured on ABC’s 7.30 report.

Title page of The Principia, 1687. 

First published in 1687, the text is one of the most important books on natural philosophy in which Newton establishes the modern science of dynamics and outlines his three laws of motion.

The University of Sydney copy is one of only four known copies that were sent by Newton and his assistant Roger Cotes to other mathematicians in order to eliminate any errors in a second edition. The other copies are all located in the Northern Hemisphere – two in the University of Cambridge Library and one in the Library of Trinity College.

The report uncovers how the Library came to have this important copy and the significance of the rare text.

Re-watch the story online, read the University’s media release or explore Principia online via our Digital Collections.

Australia Post’s Christmas Stamp Collection Features Rare Books and Special Collections

Each year, Australia Post releases Christmas stamps that celebrate the Christmas holiday, featuring both traditional and secular themes.

This year’s traditional Christmas stamps feature images from a magnificent French illuminated manuscript from the 15th century Book of hours : Horae B.V.M. ad usum Parisiensem, one of the treasures from the Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections. The two scenes from the Christmas story include the Adoration of the Magi and the Flight into Egypt.


  Domestic Christmas-card-rate -rate traditional Christmas stamp, 2019 ‘Flight into Egypt’ from Book of hours : Horae B.V.M. ad usum Parisiensem, folio 84
 International-rate traditional Christmas stamp, 2019 ‘Adoration of the Magi’ from Book of hours : Horae B.V.M. ad usum Parisiensem, folio 76 verso

The traditional Christmas stamps were designed by Simone Sakinofsky with photography by Sarah Lorien.

Read more about the Australia Post 2019 Christmas collection, on the Australia Post Website.