Tag Archives: Melbourne

I chase small miracles

10 Feb

As Easter approaches, well at least in our supermarket chocolate aisles, it’s nice to reflect on the delightful little chocolate crumbs of meaning that our subversive sign writing friends leave for us.

As the movement of rampaging atheists is also growing, at least on my news feed on facebook, I thought it fitting to reflect on what is perceived as the miraculous.

As a writer and song-writer, the fact that ideas spark and tumble into my stream of consciousness is something I find amazing and inexplicable. As is the fact that human beings can fill me with frustration and loathing one moment and then overwhelming joy and love the next. Some would no doubt rationalise these to chemical activity in the brain &c, but I will place my self in the devil’s camp and agree with Blake who said there is no separation between Body and Soul, but rather that the senses are merely the chief inlets of Soul in this age.

To close ourselves off to mystery is to lose connection with what makes life brilliant and bearable. Those mysteries do not need to be earth-shattering or sky-splitting. They can, and usually are, as this beautiful stencil states, small miracles.

It may pay to drop the judge at the boozer the next time you go for a walk, and see the world through the eye’s of the little child that still lives inside. This is how we learn to hear the voice of the divine, and see and appreciate those small miracles.

I chase small miracles

AFTERWORD by the Author and Printer Will.m Blake. 1793

“The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could percieve.
And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental deity;
Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of & enslav’d the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects: thus began Priesthood;
Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.
And at length they pronounc’d that the Gods had order’d such things.
Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.”

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World of Pure Illustration

1 Sep

“Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” So sang Willie Wonka leading the children into the Chocolate Room in the original adaptation of Roald Dahl’s immortal  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

And like Charlie let loose in the Wonka factory is how I felt coming across this series of quips and commentary spray painted on the bike track along the Merri Creek in Thornbury. It seemed unfair to break them up into separate posts, so as the man sang, “If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.”

I want something real

At the mouth of the bike track, across the road is this angsty existentialist statement.

The Real is a complex philosophical issue, one of those Big questions that greater minds than mine or our artists have found unsatisfactorily answered.

Think of Plato’s cave, its deceptive parade of shadows and it’s chained denizen turned social outcast when he finally see’s the sun. Leibniz and his monads (don’t ask me to explain that one). Descartes and his Meditations on the deception of the senses and the machinations of the mind, or Locke and his flaming of inductive reasoning. Phew and that’s only a taste of first year philosophy.

May I argue from my book of pop lyrics that, “Baby, life’s what you make it.” You want the Real? You got it, tiger.

Fat?

When one walks up the path, or enters into the Chocolate Room, one is asked this simple question. Fat? It seems quite pertinent. The entrance is a short, steep hill. The kind of  hill that makes you grit your teeth, look down and start climbing. I can see this question giving (mental) pause to all who walk or ride this way, and the images that follow it, may turn the frown or smile that answers, deeper or wider.

Graffitied Bike track sign with figure and thought bubble, "TV?"

It’s not the first thing that springs to mind while riding up a hill, but it may be what our late afternoon commuter may be thinking. I think of those people who jog to music, or those kids in the back of high priced SUVs watching The Wiggles on their lil’ monitors mounted in the back of their parent’s leather bucket seat headrests.

If only one could cycle and YouTube. There are glasses for that, but I’m not sure how they’d help you negotiate the tricky turns with that deep voiced kid singing Chocolate Rain in your head phones and assaulting your vision… but someone’s bound to sort that little problem out soon.

Grafittied pedestrian with speech bubble "Who am I?"

Now it’s the pedestrian’s turn to ponder. If you missed the rant above re Reality, I’d ask you to please reread as I shan’t repeat myself here, but the same argument applies.

Regardless of the philosophical ramifications, the profundity of this alteration is miles ahead of the guy who, a click or so down the track, turned the direction arrow into a phallus. But hey, that’s just me.

Graffiti on path "Walk the Line"

Here’s one for the Johnny Cash fans. Our artist is on fire, by this stage (presuming it is the same artist).

Pink graffiti on track, "No Drama"

Another voice enters as we walk a few steps forward. Let’s call her Pink. (See how I was kinda sexist and non-sexist in that statement) Perhaps pink is a Mary J. Blige fan? I know, I love that tune too with the Young and the Restless piano sample, but is it worth advertising that fact to the illustrated masses?

Still these words offer us a nice consoling sentiment, and later on we’ll see Pink has a question for us that an ambivalent third character has a very clever answer to. But I digress. Let’s move on with the tour.

White graffiti "Industrial Nature"

Our first scribbler continues to make a few more thought provoking statements here. Is “Industrial” his or our collective nature? Or is it nature which is industrious, as the leaves, bark, bugs and seeds strewn across the path and on the verge testify. The arrow is pointing back the way we came. Perhaps our artist is commenting on the other work that we skipped over along the path (some of which didn’t rank as worthy for yours truly to document, but still could be applauded, if merely for the fact that some youngster, or oldster, bothered to get off their backside in favour of scrawling on the bike path some sunny day past.)

Moving right along.

Graffiti on path "I want credit for all I've done"

About here, our first scribe is feeling the loneliness of the creative act. What is creativity without the applause? It makes me wonder that if the creationists are right, then perhaps life’s shimmering spectrum of suffering and ecstasy may just be the applause that the Creator is after.

Really, this is a question of product versus process. Either you create to enjoy the creative act, or you do it for the drugs, sex and bank roll you imagine an artist’s job lot and description necessarily entails.

Of course this choice is not in fact an either/or decision. One must create to live, and live to create. As with all things a healthy balance of both is required. If not consult your family doctor.

Grafitti on path "I'm sure my heart is more broken than yours"

Here our artist may just be getting a little maudlin. But call me crazy, I still love this statement.

Depressives take note though, as appealing as it sounds, it ain’t necessarily so. As I like saying to those that mope around me (as well as to my own sorry thoughts) “Life is not a pissing contest of pain.” Please quote me.

Graffiti on path "I'm tough cos you've fucked me over"

Okay, we’re getting to the heart of the matter right here. Our artist suffers, hey don’t they/we all. Still s/he’s turned it into a positive, which means the scar is healing, just fine. It reminds of the title of a play that was in the Melbourne festival a few years ago. I don’t remember the exact title but it was something like, the more our heart is broken, the more difficult we are to love. I didn’t need to see the performance, the title was enough for me.

But I digress. Back to our tour. Notice here is where Yellow enters the picture. Yellow is obviously a censor, and doesn’t like swearing. What is our artist saying. Hey it ain’t that hard. I thought yellow a bit of a prick for doing this when I saw first saw this handy work. But then I walked a few paces and the truth of human nature emerged… you can’t really pin anyone down, because any label you apply one moment will be exploded the next.

Here we say goodbye to our first artist, Let’s move on.

Pink grafitti "what is more important than love or peace"

Yellow may be a censor, but s/he is also a master. This truly is genius in an ampersand.

There is a long tradition of replying to existing graffiti. Just think of those conversations on toilet walls, sometimes with more arrows pointing hither and yon than a wacky Wired flowchart. But whereas Yellow defaced our original artist’s work, here, on Pinks very important question, “What is more important than love or peace?” (sorry about the cut off question mark), what we get is both a reply and an elevation of the statement. What is amazing is this could not have been executed as succinctly and economically in any other way. This language has gone 3 dimensional. We see the first statement juxtaposed with a second – the same statement corrected and rewritten, and all it took was a can of fluoro-yellow and one lil’ ampersand. What is more important than Love or Peace… why Love and Peace. Not as snappy is it?

To end our tour I will ask Mr Willie Wonka, as personified so beautifully by the amazing Gene Wilder, to sing us one of the most poetically philosophical tunes I know.

Landlord

18 Aug

Here’s one for the tenants, renters, lessees, and other purveyors of usurious accommodation services in the great brown land of Oz.

I could only chuckle when I found this damning marker work on a telephone junction box at the railway crossing at Smith Street, Thornbury. Not that all landlords deserve this defamatory treatment. I myself have been blessed with a few stellar ones in my rental career. Perhaps landlords cop a lot of the blame from the fallout of the machinations of rabid rental property managers. Or is that merely the “I was only following market forces” excuse. Whatever the case, this one’s a sinister looking bastard.

Landlord – Smith Street railway crossing, Thornbury

Is that a bleeding heart? Perhaps he is redeemable afterall.

Landlord (detail)

Landlord (detail)

Dead Set Mate

9 Aug

This masterful piece of uncommissioned public sculpture tunes my dial for a number of reasons. Anyone who is friends with me on facebook will probably have mused about my profile pic, a reflection of the beige cowboy in a dead TV set snapped one sunny day while walking missy. I used to take photos of abandoned TVs, for no other reason than it sparked my creative curiosity. To see this abandonment of old technology, like so many jilted lovers left to mope and decay on the nature strip, was a moment in history worthy of documenting in all its sad glory. It brought up mixed feelings in me – the nostalgia of seeing clones of the old box from my childhood; the ugly spectacle of the sheer waste and its thoughtless abandonment; the creative itch that spoke of the potential for some meaningful statement that could be made if these abandoned beauties could be harvested and turned into art.

I came across a disemboweled circuit board crucified on a power pole a few months ago and thought, this person is onto something – got to love that sympatico.

Power Pole Circuit Board Hack

Power pole circuit board hack – Cnr St Georges Rd and Miller St Thornbury

Power pole circuit board hack

Power pole circuit board hack (detail) – Cnr St Georges Rd and Miller St Thornbury

But then I came across the pièce de résistance near the Thornbury Railway Station and had to stop to take off my hat and wipe a metaphorical tear from my eye. This piece is not only bright and provocative, it has subtext in spades. Retouched abandoned monitors stacked as building blocks spell out a term, in the vernacular, that means in total seriousness, and of course the pun that here are a bunch of terminal boob-tubes. When I first saw this piece it had been vandalised and someone had thrown the tube with ‘Dead’ stenciled on it onto the railway tracks. I went back to take these photos a few days later and the artist had set up another monitor to complete the message. Your intrepid correspondent fished the old tube off the rocks and placed it back with its red case for the pic at the bottom.

Dead Set Mate

Uncommissioned sculpture near Thornbury Railway Station. I like the unintentional extra touch of the vomit of wires from the vandalised red 'Dead' set, bottom right.

Dead Set Mate

Here modelled by missy, with red set back in one piece.

As a footnote: I rode past this on my way picking missy up from day care yesterday and I noticed that it’s become a bit of a shrine for other abandoned televisions. Who knows what other great things are in the offing for these abandoned electronic lovers. I shall endeavor to keep you posted.

The book of love?

14 Feb

Ambiguity is built into language, doubly so with the artifacts left behind by the pictographically frustrated. My first thought upon seeing this bold aphoristic pictogram was a couple of gravestones times love equals?  Well the answer is the eternal question of the bereaved – never really understood but as a painful fading memory that may never disappear. But then, why did the author paint two grave stones – isn’t that a book? Perhaps a religious allusion – a challenge to the new atheists that love is the key to understanding the meaning of the word of God? (deep hey?) – or a new form of graffiti marketing for the sellers of romance novels? Or just the inspiration for this Valentine’s day post for yours truely? Will we ever know? Not until ambiguity disappears from communication between us all, and that’ll never happen.

Book of Love

Books or grave stones – is it just my twisted mind?

Building Bullshit

28 Jan

You’ve got to love the desecration of political propaganda. Snapped on Australia Day 2011, I thought it appropriate to commemorate the waffle of national pride with this cream topping (in a can) of a culture-jam (a couple days late I know but… whatever). Perhaps fair comment is a more appropriate label for this work of poster vandalism. I like the A sign strategically placed next to the blacked out Labor Party Logo, transforming it into anarcho-syndicalist colours… who said old leftist dreams are dead. Shamefully un-Australian of me (and this spray can warrior) I know, but that’s free-speech for you – lap it up.

Building Bullshit

Political bullshit in its myriad forms

 

We turn homes into “assets”

24 Jan

You know you are living in sad times when you show something as guttingly insightful as this supplementary real estate slogan to someone and they simply shrug their agreement. That’s the case with property acquisition in this fair city of mine – ownership of a home, in the area of your choice, has become a privilege (don’t get me started on the leech like machinations of rental agents). That is why I was particularly chuffed when I came across this aptly and ably altered agent’s sign on my way home from the park with missy.

We turn homes into "assets"

Indeed we do.