Tag Archives: merri creek

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.

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