Skip navigation

Michael Glasheen

Author 
compiled by Stephen Jones

Mick Glasheen

Glasheen was born in Sydney, 1942. He began studying Architecture at UNSW in 1959. During the period he was at uni he saw a lot of new cinema, animation and experimental film, including the Ubu productions. His earliest great influences were Marshall McLuhan and by about 1965 Buckminster Fuller. He was also interested in kinetic art and familiar with Gyorgy Kepes’ books on technology in design and art.1

He began experimenting with audio-visuals and film in 1962, and became one of the artists producing Oz magazine in 1963. The next year, with university friends Johnny Allen and Peter Kingston, he produced his first film, Who + Lives = Home, which was

“based on ideas of this Dutch architect, Aldo van Eyck - the home is a large city and the city is a small home. So we were making a film on that theme, looking at parts of the city which looked like a small home and parts of the home that looked like a city.”2

His studies continued until, over 1966, he became immersed in a series of significant extra-curricular activities. Bucky Fuller had visited in 1964, and this inspired Glasheen to make The Evolution of 1966 which merged McLuhan’s ideas with Fuller’s and presented, as Glasheen describes:

“the history of the world up until that year. It begins with the number countdown and it goes through man's evolution of numbers and then it goes through the evolution of different technologies, based on Marshall McLuhan's idea about how technologies are extensions of our sense organs and our hands: a cup is an extension of the cupped hand. [It included] a bit of geometry”3

Buckminster Fuller also visited Australia in 1966 to speak at an Architecture Students conference where he launched his World Design Science Decade project here and Glasheen decided that he could

“work on the communications side of what needs to be done, and I thought I could make a film called World which was about the relation between man, energy and culture.”4

In the May 1966 issue of Oz (no.27), Glasheen produced a pop art centre-spread he called the “Oz Pop Shop Catalogue”, which was a collage of advertising signs and package labels. As he said:

“Everyone is aware of American pop art but somehow, the Australian public has remained blind to the indigenous pop movement which has flourished here for so long beneath its nose.”5

From this came Glasheen’s first exhibition with Johnny Allen, Perter Kingston, Martin Sharp and Jack Meyer, the Oz Super Art Mart, at Clune Galleries in Macleay St, Kings Cross, (which later became the Yellow House) and organised as a group collection of all sorts of extracts from the popular culture. It was a classic Pop Art event, somewhat Warhol-esque, with street signs, painted newspaper pages, advertising logos and oversized supermarket packaging.6

He was also appointed editor for the 1966 UNSW Foundation Day Tharunka, which he laid out in a style that he felt was consistent with the ideas propounded by McLuhan. He called the issue “BE ASTOUNDED” saying of his intentions in the design:

“Our aim was to show the effect of the medium of print on society - not the “content” of what is printed, but the impact of the communicating medium; how this medium has changed our perception of the world. We are indebted to the writings of Marshall McLuhan, whose books “The Gutenberg Galaxy” and “Understanding Media”, were the direct inspiration for this hot iconic newspaper cool myth mosaic comic communication engineering information theory general system ad.”7

All this extra-curricular activity led to him being asked to leave the Architecture course but that allowed him to immerse himself in Fuller’s writings and those of other contemporary thinkers. This resulted in his first, and so far his last, written work "To Whom It Concerns - Communication as Conscious Experience of Energy”, which he sent to the 1967 World Design Science Decade Think-in, London, 1967. This period also allowed him to finish World, which was a three screen presentation correlating the three themes of energy, man and technology. It was completed and shown at an Architecture Students conference in Sydney (1967). The three screens of the film were subsequently printed onto a single film strip using Glasheen's hand-made optical printer (built by Fat Jack) with a soundtrack by the BeeGee's then current release "World". 

Fuller came again to the 1970 Architecture Students Association conference to give a series of lectures at University of Sydney and also at UNSW. Glasheen received a grant from the Experimental Film Fund of the Australian Council for the Arts and got permission from Fuller to film his lectures at the conference. After Glasheen began filming he realised that it would be better to videotape them and talked the university AV unit into it and they arranged cameras from the Sydney University Television Service (who had an OB van). This proved to be a very unwieldy exercise so Glasheen arranged to record a more intimately produced series of talks in the AV Studio at UNSW onto 2” low-band video tape. Later he talked the Video Tape Corporation (VTC), a local television production facility, into 24 hours of ‘down-time’ to edit it, which resulted in Teleologic Telecast from Spaceship Earth: On board with Buckminster Fuller.8

Glasheen was now an experienced film and video-maker. In 1971 he was involved with the Yellow House and worked on the TVX(Australia) project at The Odyssey rock festival at Wallacia. He and Juno Gemes then travelled out to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) in central Australia intending to gather time-lapse film of the landscape and its daily changes there. He also spent some time with an elder of the local traditional owners (the Pitjantjatjara) who told him the stories of the rock. It was during this first trip to Uluru that Glasheen realised that the video portapak would be the best medium in which to gather these stories. He and his friend “Fat Jack” Jacobsen subsequently returned to Uluru at the end of 1972 with a 1/2” portapak and a wheel-barrow full of batteries that Fat Jack had assembled. There they joined up again with the elder and they walked around the rock recording him telling the stories. Glasheen had been wanting to produce a film about the traditional knowledge of the indigenous people from that country and eventually, in 1978, he finished the video Uluru.

It was at a large traditional ceremony (or inma) in the Musgrave Ranges, run by the Pitjanjatjara during this period, that Glasheen met Joseph el Khouri and Melinda Brown, and this indirectly led to the establishment of Bush Video.

References:

1Kepes published Language of Vision, in 1944, and The New Landscape in Art and Science in 1956. Beginning in 1965, while at MIT, he began his compilations of writings by important artists, designers and scientists called the Vision + Value series. These have been important works for many artists and may well have been the ones that Glasheen was reading. This would fit well with the year of private research that he did in 1967.

2Mick Glasheen, conversation with the author, recorded 14/5/05.

3ibid

4ibid

5Glasheen, Michael (1966a) “Oz Pop Shop Catalogue”, Oz, no.27, May 1966, pp.9-12.

6McGregor, Craig (1966) “Super Art Mart”, Pop Scene, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 September 1966.

7Glasheen, Michael (1966b) “Be Astounded” Foundation Day Tharunka, vol.12, No.10, July 5, 1966, Journal of the University of New South Wales Students’ Union.

8“Bucky Fuller on Video” in Cantrill, editor, “The Video Revolution, Cantrill’s Filmnotes #4, July 1971,p.(6)

Date 
b. 1942
Birth place
Sydney
Period of activity 
from 1963
Selected works
Selected events
still from
still from "Teleologic Telecast from Planet Earth: on board with Buckminster Fuller". (c) Mick Gasheen, 1970. – from Teleologic Telecast from Spaceship Earth: On Board With Buckminster Fuller 
Illustration from page 6 of the Bush Video Tharunka heading up the Mick Glasheen's article. (Illustration: Jo Collard and Mick Glasheen)
Illustration from page 6 of the Bush Video Tharunka heading up the Mick Glasheen's article. (Illustration: Jo Collard and Mick Glasheen) – from Communication as Sharing of Conscious Experience of Energy 
Klein bottle and space juggle (1973). Another example of Glasheen's draughting.
Klein bottle and space juggle (1973). Another example of Glasheen's draughting. 
A page from the
A page from the "Be Astounded" Tharunka edited and laid out by Mick Glasheen to illustrate the effects of McLuhan's ideas on the print medium (1966) 
Mick Glasheen on the steps outside the Bush Video floor of the Fuetron Building, c.1973. [Photograph: Jodie Adams]
Mick Glasheen on the steps outside the Bush Video floor of the Fuetron Building, c.1973. [Photograph: Jodie Adams] 
Mysterium Cosmographicum (1973). Glasheen is an extraordinary draughtsman.
Mysterium Cosmographicum (1973). Glasheen is an extraordinary draughtsman.