Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wetland Ingress

These photos represent a journey taken through the dark hinterland of southwestern Sydney by Will Treffry, Jasper Rice and a mysterious individual under the alias "Otter". The aim of the journey was to seek out a figure named the oracle who resided in a tract of wetlands outside of Liverpool. The journey was long and arduous. At one point the trio were enslaved in an industrial complex, and suffered indentured labour making copper wiring. They visited the midnight Analog Synthesiser black market in an abandoned bus depot, and were able to acertain the oracle's whereabouts from a bearded man. They wandered through gazebos overgrown with vines, eventually rafting through the wetlands until they came across the oracle's dwellings. He was a pretty cool guy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Thin, Brittle Wall of Mother Of Pearl

People always say that they would love to write but can never "just sit down and do it"-like its something they have to force out.
For heaven's sake- you're writing, not taking a shit.
The process is entirely different. Rather than squeezing creativity out of yourself, writing is more an exercise in listening to yourself. The creativity is all there: the challenge is actualising it. How do you do that? its easy. The first step is to carry a notebook with you all the time. Whenever you leave the house, make it part of your checklist. Wallet. Keys. Phone. Notebook.
A great idea will always take you by surprise so make sure you have close at hands some means of bringing to life. Another thing-never ever let a good idea get away. Don't think you can write it down later: you'll just forget it.
For me inspiration is always in a state of flux. My thoughts are like a turbulent river, with memories, worries and fantasies writhing against each other. An Idea is a minute gleam in the midst of chaotic coginition. That gleam is the signal for you to spring into action. I always liken the process to smashing through a thin brittle wall of mother of pearl. That's just me.
When you get to the other side, the world suddenly explodes into brilliant colours of inspiration. This is what constitutes an Idea. Break down that wall and you'll have written six pages before you know what's happened.
The other concern that people have is that they won't produce anything "good" when they write. A fundamental flaw in the fabric of our society is how undervalued creativity is. We appreciate the finished products of musicians and artists, but are quick to stereotype the lives they lead as lazy and wasteful, and the people themselves as unbalanced and melodramatic. The dichotomy however between "work" and "creativity" is entirely false.
Exercising ones's creative potential is perhaps one of the most mentally healthy activities one can do. Everyday life (in most cases) does not require any kind of rapport with the more abstract realms of the mind. By being creative you are able to deeply scrutinise your immediate reality and see the surreal lurking behind the shallow facade of the real.
Creative people aren't an elite caste of painters and writers. They are everybody. Unfortunately we are products of a society where the opportunity to be creative is afforded to a few. Furthermore one is confronted with the aforementioned ultimatum of being creative and earning money. You should endeavour to dispel any angst relating to the quality of your work. Write because you want to, write for the joy of being borne away by a passionate idea.
So cancel your appointments, lock your office door and write.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Movement in Your Brain

Just some stuff I was playing around with

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Motel By The Highway

I lay in bed, completely unable to sleep. I am kept awake by two things, the first being an over abundance of light. My motel room overlooks a busy highway, and the headlights of cars spill into the room. The kitch Australiana on the wallpaper is briefly illuminated and then vanishes, eucalypt motifs and rural scenes dissappearing into the void from whence they came. I'm a light sleeper, so the constant oscillation between states is more than enough to keep me in the realm of consciousness.
But there is also a second factor. Over the noise from the highway, I can hear her sobbing. She cries every night, and has for the last year. It happened one night when she came home from work, and is yet to cease. We've discussed it, and even fought over it to no avail. It was as if some unknown stimuli opened a vast emotional floodgate, and perhaps the turbulent waters will never subside. What provoked it will remain eternally unknown, but it seems to be an expression of past failures and present discontent-both merging into a grey, themeless emotional performance.
She didn't seem to yearn for comfort either-quite the opposite. She was tense in my embrace, and certainly didn't want sex. I often wondered whether she wanted a partner at all. It seemed that I was fulfilling a role that any man could-a desire for human presence. To her, I was merely another of the routines and practices that people blanket themselves in to distract themselves from the emotional burdens of life. I was like the blue glow of a TV screen in a darkened loungeroom, or the inane chatter of FM radio in peak hour traffic.
At first it made me deeply depressed, and for a time I even resented her for it. But now I seem to exist in limbo between emotional categories. I still hear her crying-it fills every neuron of my waking thought, but it completely fails to rouse any sort of emotional response. I am a passive conduit for her anguish.
She stops and comes to lie down on the bed; near me but not beside me. I take several deep breaths and turn to face her, words of comfort on the tip of my tongue-but she is already asleep. Her face, even though blotchy and swollen from crying, is still beautiful. It fades in and out of vision, illuminated by the light from the highway.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cultural Sleeper Agent

There are main roads all over the city, and they follow the same basic formula: houses, service station and an occasional Indian or Chinese takeaway.
But on this particular stretch of road, something was different. Perhaps that it was that the bricks of its mock-federation homes were of a hue more drab than usual. Or perhaps it was that the layer of grime on the service station window was slightly thicker than its innercity cousins. Whatever it was, as he sat on the bus he got the impression that this was the original suburban main road; a blueprint from which others were built. It was an arterial road, but this was not the only anatomical metaphor that applied to it. It was a vast pathway that made up the neural network of the suburban mind; a code on which the middle class desire for stability and predictability were writ large. The end product was an exercise in offensive blandness.
The main road was also a sort of waste chute in which undesirable innercity types were whisked quickly and efficiently away, leaving their sanctuaries of parks and wooded avenues undisturbed.
That said, suburbanites would have little to fear from his fellow commuters-docile suits en route to the glass boxes of corporate estates. If he had shown his usual attitude to dress he would have drawn stares, but today he had assumed their guise. He did not see dressing fashionably as conforming in his case. Rather, he saw it as a concession he made in order to infiltrate and create havoc in mainstram society. His suit and tie amplified his capacity as a subversive force rather than inhibited it.
The bus sped on through the overcast morning, cultural sleeper agent inside.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dappled Sunlight Reunion

The bus finally finished its drawn out meander of northern Sydney backstreets and came to a stop outside the Humanities faculty building. Its windows were already lit by office lights of early-rising professors. They were like eyes, their contemptuous fluorescent gaze boring through my manila folder-seeing the mediocre research essay I was about to submit.
I dropped it into the Philosophy 255 pidgeonhole. Two thousand words of poorly contstructed arguments, and quotes crudely ripped from Foucalt at 3 AM fall into the blackness, rustling as they hit the bottom. No longer would it plague my consciousness-for two weeks at least, when it would return to me in a tutorial with a large red “P” on it.
I checked my phone. 9:30. My history lecture was hours away. I went to the small park beside the library, a favourite relaxing spot of mine between classes. I lay down in the dappled canopy formed by two london plane trees, surrendering myself to a weariness borne of two successive all-nighters.
I drifted in and out for twenty minutes, opening my eyes at intervals to the warm september sun shining down through bright green leaves. My dozing is interrupted by a presence immediately beside me, and the sound of breathing. I opened my eyes and was startled by my discovery. Caitlin is lying beside me in the park, just like we used to. She was staring at me, with that quizzical pouty smile of hers.
I take the time to compose myself “Caitlin. What brings you here?”
“Linguistics essay. I was walking back from the Psychology department and saw you in your usual spot. It'd be rude of me not to say hi.”
“Okay. Thanks” I said neutrally.
She slid closer to me, putting her head under my chin. Her hair was warm and glossy from the sun, and I could feel her small breasts pressing against my arm. Almost automatically I drew my arms around her.
“That's odd, you never used to do that before. You would get really tense when I did this” she murmered into the hollow of my neck.
“I was worried that Simon would see us”
“Why? We were never seeing each other, it was just casual.”
I chuckled“All those bitter fights you had weren't exactly the hallmark of Friends With Benefits. Where is Simon these days, anyway”
“He's in Townsville. I don't know why. He never picks up his phone.” She sighed “I've done a lot of thinking lately. I hurt you, and I'm sorry. I liked you the whole know that. I just have a fucked up way of expressing my feelings.”
I say nothing
“Nick, I really think you've been the one thing missing from my life. We both had feelings for each other...maybe we should start exploring them more”
“How will it be different this time?”
“I'm a different person. I'll work really hard to change for you. I promise”
I had been happy in the three months that separated out last meeting in which we had a huge row over the phone. I hung up on her mid sentence, and yet afterward I felt positively liberated. But my psychological resolve was already crumbling, and old feelings were pushing through. I wanted to kiss her. I wanted her body. But most of all, I wanted to believe everything she just said.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Follow In Our Dreams

Housing Comission 2024 (Part I)

The crumbling building above our heads used to be a motel, and the cave I share with five families used to be its basement. Time, and multiple housing crises have made fools of us all. My two sons shriek excitedly as they dart among rows of mattresses on the dusty floor, playing a game they made up. My wife sits on the big mattress that forms the center of the cluster of all our stuff. We're over in one corner of the cave, near a pile of old tables. My wife is knitting, her long auburn plait of hair trailing on the ground beneath her. She looks like a princess-but I doubt princesses were that fat, or had bristles on their chin.
My daughter sits away from the others, near the crumbling space where a window was. The moonlight falls upon her white blonde hair and skinny frame- a fairy waif lost in her own world. I walk over to her, and see that she is using a low bench as a desk, and is drawing a picture. It shows five stick figures outside a huge, Grey building.
“What're you doing, Soph?” I ask
“I'm just drawing a picture of us”
“What's the big building meant to be”
“The government housing office” she says, with a blank expression on her face.
I kiss her on the top of her head and walk back to the mattress.
Suddenly, the children become more excited than usual, and sure enough I can see a blue glow descending the staircase: the Angel has arrived. I can never get over how weird those things look, and quite frankly I have no idea what the welfare office was thinking. Is it so much to ask to just send one of the office ladies over with food?
It levitates into the center of the room, bathing the grubby stucco walls in pale light. It resembles a legless female mannequin, and is a soft pastel green in colour. Its eyes are huge and blue, like the Japanese cartoons I used to watch when I was a kid. It has no mouth, and its hair looks like glowing blue fiber-optic cables.
“Stand back, children” the Angel intones in its tinny, train-station-announcement voice. The children oblige, and it showers them with a multicoloured rain of candy. As the children scrabble for them in the dust, the Angel deposits its care packages in the center of the room. I pick mine up and open the lid, and the usual contents stare back at me: instant noodles, eggs, and cans of tuna.

Later I lie on the mattress, unable to sleep. Sharon senses my discomfort and puts a plump hand on my shoulder.
“What's wrong babe?”
“I'm thinking about going to the housing office tomorrow”
“What's the big deal? We just fill in some forms and they put us up in another motel for a week”
“What if they knock us back, Shar? Have you ever thought about that?”
“There's no sense in being paranoid about this kind of thing, its not constructive"
I sigh. “Maybe I am. I just keep thinking about how they put Tom out on his arse”
“For Christ's sake Tony, he got caught cooking meth in the bathtub. Not even housos will stand for that. You're miles away from being that bad.”
“Thanks” I say and roll over, but its still another hour before I can sleep.

The buggy makes a choking sound and fails to start. I swear under my breath and pop the hood. Dad taught me a few things about engines, but I was only willing to pay so much attention. Sure enough, my clumsy carburettor adjustments prove futile, and the buggy splutters again and falls silent. The years haven't been kind to my waistline, so hoisting myself into the engine cage is something that involves a lot of grunting and more swearing.
“Dad, why do we have to take all our stuff with us?”
My son's voice startles me, and I bang my head on the iron bar above me.
“Fuck!..Joe, just put your bags in the back. I'm a little bit busy right now”
Sharon is waiting for with the kids in the motel driveway, her head in her hands. I wanted to get there early, so we wouldn't have to wait in line with bored kids behind angry junkies. So much for that.
“What's the matter, Tony?” I recognise Johnny's voice and look up to see him walking down the driveway. Tony Ferrera: longtime fellow houso and (when we could scrape together enough for a bottle of bundy) drinking mate. He was a skinny Filipino guy, with a ratty mustache and plaited rat-tail. I'm pretty sure he used to be in the Triads. Sometimes his family of eight would be with him, and other times they seemed to simply vanish.
“The fucking engine keeps flooding. I tried adjusting the carburettors, but its just not working”
“Lemme see, bro” I hand him the wrench, and in five minutes he's done. I try the engine again and it roars triumphantly into life, belching black smoke. I get out of the buggy and vigorously shake Johnny's hand.
“Mate, I cannot tell you how grateful I am”
“No problem bro”
I notice his luggage beside him “You off to housing as well?”
“Nah man, finally got my own place”
“That's great. We'll miss you though”
“Come round sometime, ey”
“Sure thing, mate. Take care”
And with that he climbed into his rusty Nissan Skyline and drove off.

“HOW THE FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO FEED MY FUCKING KIDS? YOUSE ARE A BUNCH OF FUCKING TIGHTARSES” This is literally the first thing I hear as I walk through the amber tinted revolving doors. A stick thin woman with multiple piercings, track pants and ugg boots screams this in a ragged, nasal voice at the prim Vietnamese woman behind the counter. Her calm attempts at explaining the complexities of Family Assistance forms are swept away in another torrent of abuse. I hate the FamilyCare building, and I've been here since I was a kid-way back when it was called Centerlink. The place is like an oven in the summer heat, and the carpet smells weird. The ambient lighting needs fixing, and flickers irritatingly. Holographs about disclosing changes of details scroll along the walls, the looped announcements talking over the anxious mutterings of families huddled by coffee tables piled with ancient magazines.
The wait is mercifully short “Hello sir, how may I help you today?” the prim Vietnamese woman asks with a plastic smile.
“Uh, good. I'm here for a housing re-application”
“Okay. Could I just get you and your wife's subcutaneous scan please?”
We place our wrists against the glass pane until a chime sounds.
“Tony Habib and Sharon O'Dwyer?”
“That's us”
“Go right in. Do you know where Mr Mohammed's office is?”
I do.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Warehouse Navigation

A few weeks ago I spent some quality time with my camera, wandering around a weird marshy area in a southeastern area of Sydney

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pact With the Canal Folk

Dusk was beginning to encroach.
The train doors rumbled shut behind me, trapping some of my nagging anxiety in the empty compartment. As I walked along the platform the residual paranoia attempted to claw its way out of my aesophagus and leak its way out of the pores on my clammy hands. I stepped out of the station concourse and was struck by the absence of late afternoon traffic. The streets were deserted, and there was not a pub in sight. My country's infamous drinking culture had failed me in my hour of need-a vodka tonic would really calm my nerves right now. The only place open was a dingy milk bar next to a car-less parking lot. I crossed the road toward the fluorescent light spilling from the doorway. In the absence of alcohol, a cup of strong coffee would just have to do.
A small Chinese man greeted me as I walked in. His shop was outfitted with standard fast-food décor: the sacred trinity of deep-frier, grill and glass display counter. The counter was fogged up from the heat of the Chinese man's deep fried efforts. They glistened against the aluminium foil trays like failed genetic experiments, ramming home the fact that I really wasn't hungry. Fading posters, decades old, adorned the off white walls. One particuarly large one hung over the counter, depicting a young man with dated sunglasses and a garish fluoro-green singlet holding a coke bottle out to the viewer. He had a completely deadpan expression on his face. The mid 90s were a weird time for advertising firms I guess.
I ordered my coffee and the Chinese man valiantly tried to engage me in converstaion. My responses were so delayed and awkward that he eventually gave up. While he was frothing my milk , I picked up a copy of the Daily Telegraph lying on a table in an attempt to take my mind off what I was about to do. It proved futile though, and despite the tabloid headlines screaming at me about the extramarital affairs of the Health Minister, I skimmed through barely reading a word. Finally my coffee was done and I left the nice Chinese man to his greasetrap.
I walked further down the street, sipping my coffee from its cardboard cup. It was awful-an unhappy marriage of burnt milk and the oily bitterness characteristic of bottom-shelf grind. It did its job though, replacing my anxiety with caffeine's restless compulsion to action.
The shopping strip ended, and I was walking along the edge of a cricket field. My destination, the rail bridge, loomed in the distance. An afternoon game was in its last innings and I could hear the crack of the ball hitting the bat, and distant white-clad figures frantically scrabbling to catch it.
I pressed on, the green Woolworths bag heavy on my shoulder.
I reached the rail bridge as the last rays of afternoon sun were fading from the purple-orange sky. Retracing my steps, I slipped through the hole in the fence and stepped into the weird space beneath the bridge. The underside of the railbridge towered above me, its iron and wood scaffolding like the vaults of a cathedral. The ground beneath had been covered with grey gravel, but that was when RailCorp maintainence workers actually visited the place. Since then, wild grasses and even small trees had taken root in the ground, making the place resemble some sort of surreal garden. A canal ran alongside: dark, deep and empty save for a slow trickle.
I followed a path cleared through the undergrowth, coming to the clearing directly under the bridge.There was an omnipresent tension in the air, as if a thunderstorm could erupt above my head at any moment. I took the jar of dirty water out of the Woolworths bag, but my hands were shaking so badly I could barely open it. It finally yielded with a pop, and I sat cross legged in the middle of the clearing with the jar beside me. Taking a deep breath, I plunged my hand into the jar.
There was an immediate darkening around the edges of my vision, and an odd coppery taste in my mouth. The dimensions of the jar seemed to have altered themselves somehow; it was impossibly deep, like I was thrusting my hand into a subterranean lake, and yet it had an inexplainable warmth to it. I probed further, until it felt like my entire arm was submerged. When I touched the slimy sediment on the bottom, a hush descended over the clearing. A tingling sensation spread from my fingertips to my elbow until a sharp pain shot up my arm, making me gasp. A harsh buzzing sound began to grow in volume until I thought my ears would rupture, but ceased suddenly when a bright light flashed before my eyes in what must have been a milisecond.
It was then that I saw the figures in the canal.
At first, they came by in isolated groups of two or three, but then an eerie procession of shadowy beings began to emerge. They were vaguely human in shape, but had an unreal physiology of long, ropey limbs. They looked like they were made of condensed smoke, and a grainy quality to them, as if they were being viewed on a bad TV channel. Most unnerving was the way they moved-for the most part they had a slow, exaggerated gait but at intervals they would break into a manic, flailing speed as if some hidden observer was repeatedly pushing a fast-forward button.
One of them stopped abruptly and turned to face me with an eyeless, faceless gaze. There was another flash before my eyes, and suddenly the figure was in the clearing before, looming tall against the rail bridge scaffolding.
What do you want?
The voice rang deep and clear, like a gong being beat in my subconscious. My pulse raced, and I fought to keep a tremor from my voice
“Are you a ghost or a spirit?”
I am neither of these things
“I-I need your help”
The figure squatted in front of me, and extended both its arms past my head
What do you want?
“Tell them to leave my brother alone.”
The figure leaned its large head within centimetres of my face
I will do this for you. But know this, man-thing..I will see you again
I was awoken suddenly by a the clattering roar of a train going over the bridge. The gravel was damp against my back, and my clothes were soaking wet. It had been raining. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and checked the time. 5 AM. The jar was lying beside me, completely empty. Inside was a thin slip of cardboard that looked like a train ticket. On it was printed in red ink:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nanny Goat Hill

One fine day I set out with a good friend to revisit Nanny Goat Hill. It is essentially a small strip of bushland that runs beside a murky river, and is bisected several times by rail lines. It has a strange atmosphere to it-stepping onto the track feels like crossing a threshold. The entire time you walk the winding path through the forests and mangroves, you can't help but feel like you're being watched. If you wander off the path a bit, you come to the carcass of a long abandoned car. My friends have been witness to all sorts of bizarre happenings there-everything from being propositioned by old gay guys to seeing at least twenty soft toys impaled on the branches of trees there.
Its an interesting place, to say the least

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sudden Financial Concern Aboard the 9:45 Express to Kyobashi

A moment of panic gripped him, and he checked his wallet. The 10, 000 yen note was still there, fresh from the 711's ATM. The panic subsided, and he returned to the tangential speculation of his daydream. Suppose he had left the money behind-what would happen?
There would have to be a procedure-in this country bureauocracy and procedure were massive, almost omnipotent forces.
He envisioned vast tomes of regulation:
section a) subsection g) paragraph 4 clause 8: if a patron should misplace legal tender, said tender shall thereby be allocated to residents of impoverished nations across the globe.
Hah. More likely the shop assistant would simply pocket it-human greed smashing through his thin veneer of constant politeness and professionalism.