After a ten hour slog at work I needed some mental reprieve so I went to go and check out my friends Hidden Village (Seb Tomczak and Lauren Sutter), who were playing the Wheatsheaf Hotel as part of COMA's Hipnote concert series. Being regular performers at the Tyndall Assembly concerts this year, I was already familiar with the aesthetic of their work and kept abreast of new piece via Seb's Little-Scale blog. A range of technologies are employed - Gameboys, Atari consoles, lasers, water, effects pedals, solar panels, desklamps and Xmas lights (fittingly.) Five works were performed, To Stare At The Sun (for Gameboy), Untitled (for Gameboy), Toriton Plus (water and lasers), Duet for Desklamps (lamps and solar panels) and Untitled (for xmas lights and Atari). There were a couple of technical problems during a couple of the pieces, but this is easily forgiven considering there's so much equipment involved. These minor glitches were irrespective of their overall performance though, as I've always admired the way Seb and Lauren can pull it off without visibly freaking out. The night also featured a slot by Impulse, an improvisation group of musicians and dancers, including Hillary from the Zepher Quartet and one-man-band Adam Page. It was a lot of fun, though it maybe went on a bit too long. Then again, I can be a picky bastard when I'm tired.
December 19, 2006
I just came back last week from a short adventure in Melbourne (my first visit in over three years) - a city of heat, humidity, sudden drops in temperature and smoke.
From a spit roast to a paddock...
Edie and I flew out last Friday afternoon, escaping the heat of Adelaide on a slow roast of 38 degrees. We landed in the cow paddock more affectionately known as Avalon Airport, the Melbourne based home of the dodgy budget airline Jestar - but more that later. We were greeted by my mum, her partner Frank and my bro Sean, then driven 60km on the freeway into Northcote where we would stay for the next four days in my brother's sharehouse.
The city centre blanketed in smoke, viewed from an overpass in Northcote.
There is a very clear difference between the sharehouses I am accustomed to living in and 'proper' sharehouses. My sharehouses have always been pure flukes of cheap rent and clean living, which also seems like a contradiction of terms. Proper sharehouses comprise of a week old pile of dishes, numerous ashtrays, fourteen boxes outside full of stubbies and disturbed animals (human and dog variety.)
Northcote and bushfires
Northcote is a beaten up little hamlet about 15km out of the city centre, most of the original buildings still line the main road along with webs of ancient power lines and the persistent rumble of trams. Bushfires burning in the east of Victoria had sent masses of smoke all over the place before our arrival and the thick haze still lingered giving the place a very eiree and ominous feel.
Guitar, banjo-mando and saw
We settled in nicely upstairs in the loft of the house, had some dinner and played a bit of music with Sean and Kat (his girlfriend) into the night. I was playing Kat's old Epiphone acoustic guitar which has a beautiful dark tone to it, Kat played a turn-of-the-century banjo mandolin, and Sean played his saws - an incredible sound when played properly.
Kat on banjo-mando and bro Sean on saw
Anticipated heat, smoke haze and interaction
It seems that the previous days weather in Adelaide had caught up with us by the morning as E and I set out for a possible route into the city centre. After getting lost a couple of times we eventually found a reliable looking tramline to take us in. Along the way I noticed how people speak to each other on Melbourne's public transport, in that they actually talk to each other unlike the growing trend in Adelaide to don fuck-off sunglasses and panic whenever anybody asks how you are.
Haze, confusion and consumer hell
Shelter and reprieve from the heat came in the form of air-conditioned department stores, where the omnipresent racket of Xmas muzak kept us from lingering too long and turning into those horrible people who come to Melbourne for the sole purpose of shopping - like a wandering tribe of blinged up fascists hoarding a village 24-7. We actually did check out a nice little teapot shop sans bling and fascism and bought a couple of inexpensive items for brewing purposes.
Markets and laughter
We used the air-conditioned vessel of department stores to make our way up to the Queens street markets, where we had a light lunch. Strangers caught onto the fact we were dazed tourists affected by heat; pointing and laughing at our incapability to buy a kilo of grapes and take their light humour with a straight face.
One of the reasons I was so excited to be in Melbourne is because of my interest in graffiti culture - specifically stencil graffiti, which has had a resurgence in populartity in recent years. I remember coming across the trend the last time I was in Lismore mid-last year. Stencil graffiti is an interesting medium - capable of communicating various agendas; specifically political and the absurd, and the creative process of preparing a stencil before going guerilla in public spaces is intriguing to me.
Yarra and Hicks
We then went down to Federation Square and rested in the shade for a while by the Yarra river. We overheard a demonstration commemorating the fifth anniversary of the detention of David Hicks. The Shadow Attorney General was there and gave a good speech, nice to see that the 'opposition' is trying at least to be some form of opposition.
Fitzroy and lost in a wandering car with no muffler
Later that night, we went out to a birthday party in Fitzroy with Sean and Kat. Perhaps Kat anticipated this would not be our kind of party and gave me her car keys if E and I wanted to leave early. We were out of there in under half an hour. Maybe I'm just getting too old and socially conservative, but a party which has disaffected youth dressed like bad punks, smoking filthy bongs and playing dig naked in a wading pool doesn't seem to appeal to me anymore. We hopped in Kat's car as I tried to remember the way back to the house, and within thirty seconds we were on the Eastern Freeway panicking. We left the road 3km later to find ourselves in a conservation park somewhere running perilously low on fuel. We decided to turn around and find some streetlights, going on Edie's advice finding a buried street directory and navigating our way back. A spooky scenic route at 1am in an hour and a half trip. Finally bed...
A sensible morning
E and I decided to get ourselves lost again taking the long way to the main street which runs through Northcote. Again, the heat was punishing as we hung out desperately for the promised cool change to come through. We had an indulgent breakfast in a lovely cafe called Alphabet City - the kind of homely cafe that just simply doesn't bother to exist in Adelaide. Afterwards, we decided to check out the stores which lined the street, with friendly vendors specialising in the areas of antiques, groovy rags and scented soaps.
My ever-present obsession with all things Eno continues and one of the second hand shops on High St.
Bad hip hop and a moody Tpot
Later in the afternoon we headed into the city for a gathering commemorating Human Rights Day behind the Flinders Street Train Station. The sentiment of the overall event was pleasing, but bad agressive hip hop just soured the whole atmosphere for me and we decided to bail an hour in.
An post-orgasmic Tpot next to a series of upturned bells along the Yarra.
Dinner, chai and the American Astronaut
Around 6pm we rushed to grab some organic veggies for a lamb roast that my brother was preparing for dinner. We came to a fruit and veg place that had just closed and pleaded like hyperactive mimes with the owner to let us buy some potatoes and carrots. She greeted us with a cretinous glare and made several throat slashing gestures at us. All lighthearted gallows humour, amusing me but scaring the shit out of Edie. Later that night my brother put on a prized bootleg of a film called 'The American Astronaut' - a superb absurdist space/western/musical, like a cross between Ed Wood and Andy Warhol. My favorite moment was towards the end of the film where they land on Venus (the home of women) and we hear a recitation of the highly original torch song, 'The Girl With The Vagina Made of Glass.'
More grafitti, Belgian waffles and The French Revolution
A late start as the cool change that came through the previous afternoon which allowed E and I sleep less fitfully. We took the train in and (on the advice of Kat) found Degraves street off Flinders Street Station and found veritable amphx of colourful and tasteful graffiti sponsored and commisioned by the city council(!!!). By the way I apologise to some of you who may have a problem with the term 'uber c**t'. A late breakfast beckoned, and we found ourselves guided to a rouge hole in the wall by the seductive aroma of waffles. Here we met a friendly accommodating mad Belgian who declared his love for U2 and produced an original book from the 19th Century on the French Revolution, wherein he pointed out his supposed 'dad' in several of the illustrations. We had explained we were visiting from Adelaide and he asked if we had permit visas and the right currency to pay for our meal (he was obviously joking.) We parted company after about half and hour where our gracious host complimented that I have a lovely sister. It's hopefully the last time that Edie and I encounter such incest intrigue, though over the course of our relationship we have begun to look a little more like each other. I have smaller breasts though.
Graffiti off Degraves Avenue in the city centre, and a series of banknotes in the mad Belgian's waffle eatery.
ACMI, Illusions, postcards
It was then onto ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) to drop off some support materials for the Shoot Collective's Sounds From Level Four, a work I collaborated with them on as a sound designer for the Adelaide Fringe this year. E and I checked out the Eyes Lies and Illusions - an exhibition full of tricks for the eye and the mind. The exhibits, some up to 400 years old, explored idea pertaining to perception, spatiality and motion. These included beautiful Byzantine lithographs illuminated by backlights, optical illusions, light installation and computer interface works. My friend Michael Yuen's work, Swarm was also on display, a collaboration with visual artist Craig Walsh. After some lunch, we then checked out the ACMI bookstore, refraining from buying expensive books I bought some postcards instead.
Attracted to bright and shiny things hanging from the ceiling.
MGV and departure
The afternoon was spent checking out a small section of the MGV (due to time constraints), then dinner back at my brother's place before heading back to the cow paddock to catch our flight back to Adelaide.
Edie and myself in a lopsided wave.
The Jetstar flight was running late due to the weather and we weren't told what was going on. By the time we knew we had missed the Adelaide Airport curfew we had to put up in a hotel in Geelong for the night. After checking into our room at about 2am, Edie and I only got about two hours sleep before we had to catch our early morning flight. Fueled on a heady mix of caffeine, fatigue and contempt for budget airlines, we got back to the house, managing to get a couple of hours sleep before having to go the work. Oh well.
Despite this inconvenience though, a pleasant trip.
December 18, 2006
The regular frequency rate of blog posts has slowed down of late as I've just finished moving to Glenelg and lacked a monitor for my computer (I chucked the old one out before the move - smart one...I've only just bought a new flat screen.) Oh, and no internet connection at present, so I'm naughtily blogging after hours at work. Anyway, I'll post a blog on my recent trip to Melbourne in the next couple of days.