The proposition of Public Art on the Albion Yland is sketchy at best; sketchy insofar as the area is generally experienced from a car window. So I’ve returned to the idea of Public Art in this vicinity as a result of a passing experience this week and a mental construct that ensued, providing access to what I think is a construction of art peculiar to the road and driving: one retained from a temporary field and brought into a play of discursive association.
I was slowing down at the lights to the ICB on Abbottsford Road and was taken by a couple of signs that had collided in space and time on a single wall. This wall is part of a longstanding but recently closed factory, the Mayne Spring Works, an automotive associated industry of specialist steel manufacture, its logo of a striped tiger walking a curved line was underscored by the legend, “The Well-Tempered Spring”. The area once known as Mayne was swallowed into a neighbouring designate several decades ago, preserved here in name only. The bill posted below it is one readily associated with the current immigration debate. I took the photograph rolling into the lights, the two texts in contrasting graphics appealed in a purely visual way.
A block or two down the road and repeating these two phrases I began to find the pun hidden between. However a significance worthy of an actual construct didn’t appear till yesterday’s news of the Border Force bungle and the ensuing Melbourne protests .
G20 has been and gone. Leaving its remnants in law enforcers weaving traffic, swooping cars and screening pedestrians in obscure back streets near the Yland. For a week this sector took an erratic pulse: one of its main arterial roads became a secured and restricted zone with intermittent road closures causing deeply banked traffic in a high activity transport route.
This is not the panoramic landscape vista or glancing social space of a shopping mall, It’s an urban phenomenon so ubiquitous as to be a category of visual environment all its own. A screen world, seated, air-conditioned, a kind of short before the program or after as a credit roll conversation.
This area we’re calling the Yland is experienced by most people as a matter of minutes. That is, it’s more a matter of when you’re in it than where you are in it; before the plot begins in a movie or afterwards as it’s soaking in. The Yland is a grey area in need of a story, but what kind of a story? Within the sheer physical reality of traffic, it’s force and directional violence, we are seated and have the time frame, just looking for a good plot.
The Yland is a quick rabbit run of traffic, any attempt to bring slow and thoughtful public art into this space would be futile, the headspace inside each car swept through here is divided into departments dealing prodigiously with traffic, radio and phone signals, desires, chores and digestion issues. The nature of this flow is that everything metaphorical and visceral is thrown into the mix.
From our dining table to the main Yland thruways is a matter of 50 metres. The current billboard advertising Frankfurter sausages on the Creek crossing dwarfs the TAB building behind, despite an architectural command from its hillside perch. It was the pillaging tartar himself, Russ Hinze, Minister for racing and everything else in the saddle when this building went up. The notion of Frankfurter tartar, floodwater log jams and dinner plans flicker through this space.