Scratchings (about me)

This is the networked home of Susan Ballard. I’m a writer about art and media, and co-Director of the Centre for Critical Creative Research at the University of Wollongong, Australia. If you ask, I will say I am from Aotearoa New Zealand.

By its very nature, an online home is a continual work of re-developement. Emerging out of the collective mire of time-starvation and desires for documentation this house sparrow is no different to any other. At one level it is  an archive for the interesting and the familiar, for what I have done and what I might do, it is also a mneumonic, a reminder that I must get back to that. So here it is: a simultaneous clearing house, potential repository and emergent archive.

As evidenced here, my research sits somewhere in the expanded fields of visual cultures and environmental humanities. Some people call what I do: GeoAesthetics. My writing covers divergent clusters of thought that include the role of creative practice and media in thinking about earth systems, animals, rocks, trees, nature, ecology and the constellations of the art gallery. I focus much of this around a discussion of the artwork as machine: a sympathetic non-human object born from Deleuze’s machinic assemblage and Guattari’s ecosophy.  As a curator and art writer I find myself thinking about art’s contribution to and critique of utopia, the ongoing construction of the antipodes as an elsewhere space, catastrophe and disaster, futures, speculation and the experience of the encounter with art. Everything I do is tainted with the sober reality of living amidst the human-induced climate change we now label the Anthropocene.

I’m the co-convenor of the Centre for Critical Creative Practice (C3P) –  that grew out of the lovely MECO – (the Material Ecologies Research Network) a research network for critical and creative practices at UOW.

I’m also an editor of the rather wonderful Fibreculture Journal part of Open Humanities Press.

This is a formal bio:

Dr. Susan Ballard is the Co-Director of the Centre for Critical Creative Research, and Head of Postgraduate Studies in the School of the Arts, English and Media, at the University of Wollongong, Australia. Working at the intersection of visual culture and environmental humanities, her research is concerned with the ways in which art and writing address big ideas about the environment, technology, and the politics of culture. Through collaborative partnerships and communication projects she facilitates discussions of the role of art, design and media in the age of the Anthropocene. Her recent publications have focused on artistic and other cultural engagements with species extinctions, loss of biodiversity, sound, robots, natural disasters, affect, earthquakes, New Zealand birds, and sympathy, including recent essays in the Art Journal of Australia and New Zealand, Reading Room, Convergence, Environmental Humanities, and Art and Australia. She co-edited The Aotearoa Digital Arts Reader with Stella Brennan in 2008, and has a particular expertise in alternative, open access, and collaborative publication formats. From 2014-2016 Su led MECO: the Material Ecologies Research Network at the University of Wollongong. She was a founding trustee of The Aotearoa Digital Arts Network (ADA), New Zealand’s national research network for digital and media arts, and served as deputy chair of the board of The Physics Room contemporary art space in Christchurch, NZ. She is the co-editor of The Fibreculture Journal for Networked Culture. In 2013 she curated the major exhibition Among the Machines for the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, New Zealand. With seven others she co-authored A Transitional Imaginary: Space, Network and Memory in Christchurch (Harvest Press: Christchurch, 2015). Su is leading the forthcoming (co-authored) creative non-fiction book 100 Atmospheres: Studies in Scale and Wonder (Open Humanities Press, 2018).

contact me here:
sballard ( at )


An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1768
An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1768


PS: Anyone looking for the old house sparrow, please be patient. After a nasty encounter with virtual death she is undergoing a lengthy period of revival.

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