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 .
The tides are dynamic in the waterway of Breakfast Creek drawing and receding with the moon’s orbit. The swelling tide flows onto footpaths, lifting boats with their reflections to the level of road traffic bringing vibrant bodily sensations with it.
The tides at this time of year are large. From roadside, boats bob up and drop away from view on a rhythm in half time to the peaks and troughs of traffic flow. Ropes tie boats to their berths; on the edge of the tide mooring lines are tense, the vertical passage eases the lines to form static traceries against the ripples.
The hanging rope under gravity forms what is known as a catenary, or chain curve. Once thought to be the line of a planet’s orbit, it describes the rotation of the turning focus of a parabola, a path with an expansive lift giving visual expression to the mute sensation of immense liquid volumes shepherded by the tide.
The lightly traced curve is visible in the rope and its reflection; a drawing of a bridge. The bridge of the Santa Trinita in Florence destroyed in a flood and rebuilt in 1567 with a series of arches is shaped by an unusual freehand line similar to the catenary curve, and deduced to be the line of Michaelangelo’s medici tombs.
Approximately twice every year road signs throughout this vicinity are unlocked warning motorists of flooded roads. We try to put a shine on the insecurity of rising water and our temporary tenancy, making analogies with Venice, Florence and the Arno river
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.