Friday, November 07, 2008

Swimming Between The Flags

"Sprawled across the backseat of a taxi stalled in traffic on the Rainbow Bridge, I peer out through the front windshield at clusters of grey, neon-edged towers spilling away from the harbour's low-lying shores, their upper floors just an eerie glow within ragged scarves of low grey cloud. On days like this, Tokyo feels like a futuristic battlefield imagined by sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison and rendered by an otaku game engineer.
"The city is too conducive to the manic mis-wiring of my psyche. It’s too easy to be swept up in its unrelenting momentum, the raw energy of 30 million intense, tightly wrapped souls teeming through its arteries, the hyper-electric jolt of its too bright neon and plasma, office lights always burning, the visceral rumble of its streets – deeper, louder even than New York – and the heightened sensitivity to data swarming like tsetse flies in the ether around you, stirred up by millions of tiny CDMA phones.
"There are also times when I’m oppressed by the stifled emotions, the compressed sense of space and the contrary social protocols that combine to amplify the ever-present neurotic jitter that infects every minute of life here."
Often, when I'm travelling in Japan and south-east Asia, I think about abandoning my home and studio overlooking the ocean in the beachside suburb north of Sydney and immersing myself in a major city such as Tokyo or London, where there's a sense that culture matters to the place and its people.
Not much matters in Australia. The living is easy, the culture is white-bread bland and homogenous, inspired by prime-time TV consumerism and uncommitted to anything more than careless surf-urban comfort. It's no place to be an artist.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yep. If it ain't swimming, a ball sport or a reduction in the mortgage rate, it's hard to get us Australians excited about it. As for originals, we don't like originality much. It feels too much like pressure – that and some bastard getting above himself.

Ebriel said...

Ack - you've written what I've become apprehensive of in recent months, as I prepare to move to Sydney.

But here's to hoping there's more interesting art in there than here in Hong Kong (raises glass of a local favorite, Blue Girl beer).

Jay said...

Some of your work is super cool. And your prose is always direct.
Thanks for ur blog :-)

TorkianMan said...

wow, based on your description your Australian suburbs are almost identical to ours here in the US. Creativity doesn't exactly flourish there.

artcanyell said...

at bookgroup this week myself and a lady in her 60s was looking at a postcard invitation to a show by Nick Morris depicting his pop culture collages. He was and maybe still is boyfriend of one of Helen Garner's daughters I was told. We were discussing one of her books and thus her daughter's bf/s art came up. Anyway, there was in one of the collages the comic book style image of a woman holding her hands to her consterned face with bubble "I forgot how to be a wife". The bookgroup buddy said "like in those comic books". I said Lichtenstein used them too, it could be a reference although there were no litte dot things. She said "who?". She had never heard of Roy Lichtenstein and I was shocked but tried not to show it. There is a ton of ignorance here about art and culture past and present but whose fault is it? I am the same about sport I have to admit. When people are mentioning names of cricketers or footballers I have to say "who? never heard of him" most of the time. Of course I know of Ben Cousins, Shane Warne, Imran Khan Gary Ablett, Kevin Sheedy otherwise I am ignorant of it all. Even so I only know of their crimes not their achievements. I am a very shallow media sponge on sport. The media loves do-badders more than do-gooders and not only here in Australia, everywhere scandal makes front page & sells well. Otherwise there is a lot going on here in Australia, tons of great art, theatre, science - its all happening but most people don't know about it and don't seek it out. It needs more promotion?

Anonymous said...

I hear Chicago is not too bad,
if you don't mind a bit of snow
in the winter.

Señorita Cariño said...

provincial is provincial. you can find creative 'pockets' in Oz, and from experience it's the same elsewhere. here in barcelona, there are arty people, but also loads of boring beer swilling footy heads (also more than the average number of protestors and people who go to riots just for the excitement of it). however, if 'making it' overseas is what you want to do, you'll have to go ahead and do it, to get it out of your system.