It was an eerie time in Sydney, when my creative impulses first took hold of me. I woke up early in the morning to be confronted by what could only be described as a forecast into the Apocalypse. Was this nature’s way of telling me to turn away and not look ahead?
For what seemed like an eternity, my soul had lay dormant under an ethos of normality. But where would that lead me now? No, it was time to push ahead, ignore any doomed delusions of Armageddon. The Four Horsemen would have to wait their turn. This was my time. My time to seek out forms of passion and creativity. I’d already set my sights on this road trip. I was heading to Brisbane and I was going to the BFF, hell be damned.
My drive north would prove more destructive to the mind, as the winds howled around the car like a beast on heat. At one stage, the serpent himself was lashing across the driver window, in a desperate attempt to lure me away from temptation. It clung to the car with a vicious need to slow down my progress, but my mission was clear. My drug of choice had already begun to take siege months ago, when I planned my crusade. My patience was wearing thin, to the point of distraction, so I had to haul my car into a servo in Taree, just to lash the snake-like creature to the hood, where I could watch it sizzle in the Australian heat. I pushed ahead to my destination.
The roads were angry and filled with countless creatures bound for there own insatiable delights. At one stage, I was nearly careered into the medium strip by a venoumous woman in a yellow car, who in a singular manoeuvre had cut me off and flicked me the bird. I had no time for games though. I was determined to reach Brisbane and have a weekend devoted to the senses.
Everyone has there own idols or figures that they look up to and or inspire from. I had spent most of my early life devoted to the medium of drama. This later manifested into the appreciation of theatre and film. My earlier impressions were guided and moulded into shape until the leash was let loose and I was able to plunder for myself into this mysterious and yet captivating terrain.
One such idol that I encountered came in the form of film director, Peter Greenaway.
A man, who in my opinion, has the knack to transform the moving image before your eyes, allowing the viewer to feel as though they are watching a painting unfold before them. This unique ability to capture beauty on the screen in it’s purest form had captivated me from an early age.
Upon hearing that Greenaway was touring his Tulse Luper Suitcases movie across various cities across the world, a keen interest sparked from deep within. I hoped and prayed that Australia would be among one of his stops, and thus Brisbane became his anchor to our land. This was too good to miss, and the more I read about this particular event in question, the more intrigued I became.
Greenaway had embarked on a project that would present his movie as a ‘Live Cinema Experience’. He had already become an advocate for moving away from the traditional viewing experience, claiming Cinema as a dead art form. His answer was to present the movie as a VJ Performance, mixed with music and audio taken from the film and edited live before the audience.
And so, with my tickets booked, I decided that this event would be my first plunge back into the creative scene for over 5 years of being absent. Would the ordeal that my journey provided, be worth the wait? Only time would tell.
This trip would be the first of many things for me, not only did it mark my re-birth into the artistic slipstream, but it would also be the first time that I would cross State boundaries. Since I first arrived in Australia, I had never crossed the New South Wales border, so there was a tinge of excitement that crept over me, as I passed through Tweed Heads and into Queensland. A feeling that I allowed to absorb over me. This was the start of new things to come, I could sense it in my bones. It was energetic and electric. I felt that my nerves were being re-awakened with a bolt from the sky. I was being rekindled.
It was this energy, this feeling, that still hung with me when the event, finally came. Upon the night in question, I waited eagerly outside the Queensland Art Gallery, GOMA. An almost surreal moment occurred as a staged wedding photo exhibition took place where I sat. The bridal party were escorted around the complex by their intrepid photographer, who leapt across fountains and rolled across the lawn with guerrilla style precision in order to capture that one photo that sealed the day. I pondered for a moment at the symbolism of this great occasion for the happy couple. Here they were embarking on their life together as a married couple. Would this moment now for me, symbolise the beginning of a new venture? Was I about to step into a new direction and embark on a bright future? Would Greenaway be the gateway to my glorious horizon?
When the time eventually came, we were hustled into the performance space. A giant corridor, with a vast canvas down both sides and towards one end. People began to merge together in a sea of unexpected curiosity. Time stood still momentarily, as there would still be a while before the curator would step forth and present his opus. How to fill the void? As with such things, food would be the answer.
I plummeted downstairs, where upon I heard that there was a bar. I had a craving for seafood and saw prawns on the menu. They had to be fresh, I was searching for an enlightened experience and was pleasantly rewarded as the salad was delivered. I sat down and mulled on the surroundings whilst sipping a glass of Shiraz. I wanted to allow the peppery fumes to dance around the nostrils and scintillate the senses further. I wasn’t sure what awaited me from above, but I had the feeling that I at least wanted to be loose and carefree when I finally would throw myself into the midst. A storm had pitched up outside. Once more the Gods were venting their fury and once more I turned a blind eye to their rage.
The time had come. Time to immerse myself into the dominion that lay above and allow Greenaway to weave his will.
I ventured back to the performance space, where everyone had congregated. Some people were still carrying their form of liquid intoxication and I felt a tinge of regret that I didn’t order more from the bar. This was soon vanquished however, by an alternate drug that had been desperate to take a hold of me since this venture began. I scanned the room to see who else had chosen to join me in this atrium. There were a lot of dignified folk, standing around with champagne flutes in hand. Interesting that we were seeking the same drug but would be consuming it in an entirely different form. I noticed 2 thespians from a performance in town from the night before crouched down low at the back of the auditorium as if waiting to pounce on the performance space with their own brand of creativity. I was intrigued to know if they were seeking the same experience as I? Were they aware of the magnitude that was about to be presented before them?
The slurred discussions were suddenly disrupted as Greenaway entered the vicinity and mounted the VJ platform. He presented a magnamous speech, using his experience as a lecturer and projected to the crowd with clear and concise diction. Once more, he claimed that Cinema was dead and that we were to witness a new form of visual expression.
With that the lights faded and we were thrust into the world of Tulse Luper.
The space was taken over by projections from the movie displayed across the huge walls decking the art gallery. Each image was cut in it’s own distinct pattern, so that no matter where you placed yourself around the auditorium, you would take away a different perspective. In that sense the audience space was well and truly alive and vibrant. People were actively encouraged to talk and mingle and in some circumstances dance along to the music as it played out.
I was enamoured, I felt that all my senses were alive at once and I began to welcome this new cinematic experience. As the story unfolded, I found myself slipping into a trance as both the score and the visual images carried me along. This, for me was an exciting and intriguing way to invigorate life into an arguably stagnant art form. I for one was willing to drift along to its magic.
At one stage, I looked around and became somewhat disheartened though. The sense of lull had set into some of our audience participants and the thought of standing throughout had been outweighed by the notion of sitting. This for me, gave the sense that people were far more willing to slip into old routines and become passive observers, creatures of habit. Surely this was supposed to invigorate the soul. Our hearts should be pumping and our feet stomping along to the rhythmic beats that were being laid out before us, like a magic carpet, that would lead us away with a vision to create and invigorate.
Whether it was pride or plain stupidity, I stood tall throughout the performance like a lone pine in a felled forest. I was riding the wave of elation and was willing to allow this experiment carry me through to its final completion.
When the final beats laced over one another and came to it’s inevitable conclusion, a round of applause ensued. I wanted to bow down to the master of this creation. I felt proud and privileged to be apart of the spectacle. Part of me wanted to seek out the Great Greenaway and be shrouded in his mastery, but he was shepherded away without a moments pause. Onto his next city to conquer with his cinematic delights.
As the people poured back out onto the Brisbane streets, with the rain streaming down, I allowed them to pass me by and I observed their behaviour. A lot of them milled away in silence. Had the whole experience been too much? Or had it passed them by without touching their soul at all? Some were buzzing with conversation, discussing the meaning of it all and it’s effect. There were laughs and giggles and a mass of chatter.
I stood there a moment longer and thought deeply about the emotions that were now surrounding me. My energy levels were set to max. I felt like a grenade with the pin pulled, set to explode at any moment, but I knew that I had to contain this energy and bottle it. Observe and take note of the feelings that were stirring beneath the surface and take flight.
I must go forth and explore this world further and seek out other alternate experiences to shake the soul and set it on fire. Somewhere out there were more samples of this new found drug.
I could sense that the addiction was beginning to take hold.