stephen clark
August 14th, 2003
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I went down to the beach the other day, to buy a blank video-tape so as to tape that movie Election off the TV. While I was down there, I saw some ducks. Then I had this idea for a story – wouldn't it be cool if a person could somehow gain the power to move through some sort of fourth-dimensional space, thus releasing them from the force of gravity and enabling them to move through walls, and also disappear at will – this would make them an extremely powerful person because they could not only sneak into bank-vaults and steal lots of money, they could also steal guns and be an invisible assassin if the need arose.
all the girls
So, in my story idea, this fourth-dimensional person visits a third-dimensional person and says to them, "I will be your guardian – I will protect you and let no harm come to you." So, as the story continues, the normal person is protected from various evil people who were persecuting him, and his enemies get their just desserts. Then the guardian starts stealing money from the banks and giving it to the normal person as a gift, and the normal person thinks, "Hmmmmm – that's illegal – but no one will find out, and now I'll be rich." Then the guardian becomes a little overzealous in their protection – certain people turn up dead and the guardian says to the normal person: "I killed them. They were your enemies. I don't have to obey human rules of morality – I'm too powerful for that – we are above the law." And the normal person says "That's enough – I don't want your protection anymore." But the guardian doesn't listen.
what next
Then, the police begin to regard the normal person as a suspect in all these murder cases, so they arrest him. While he's in prison, little notes begin to turn up all over the place, saying stuff like "Release this person from prison" – "You will all die if this person is not released." Then, one night, all the prison guards are killed one by one as the guardian appears beside them with a gun to their heads, and the prisoner is liberated. The media reports it and everyone starts saying, "This person is too powerful – we can't fight him – he will be our new god." But then some intelligent detective sets a trap for the guardian and gets her to appear in a certain place at a certain time where he destroys her. So that's the story. I'll probably never write it out in full, but there it is.
inkerman oasis
Thinking about this, I wandered along and went into this new modern housing development in Blanche Street, St Kilda. I'm not usually interested in new housing developments, but this one had an odd feature – there were little words embedded in certain brick walls which formed part of the landscaping. They seemed to be placed quite randomly, and they didn't make sense – words like "the", "cry", "rime", "hoax", "land", "bit", "bird", "radiant" – you'd think the landscape designer took a passage of writing, mixed the words up randomly, and distributed them among the bricks. But I couldn't figure out if it was possible to determine what order the words were supposed to go in. I'll bet there's an interesting story behind that.
shopping center mirrors
click to enlarge

This modern artistic landscaping feature is just one of many cool outdoor artworks that I saw this week. I have a list of new art installations in public spaces like alleyways in the central business district, and I went around looking at all of them on Wednesday afternoon. I saw this big wall which was covered in coloured spherical beads, each bead was about the size of a fist and together on the wall they form a picture of an old-fashioned public transport ticket, just like the tickets that I used to use when I was going home from school on the train many years ago. This artwork was cool because it was so big – I mean, it was really really big so it was awe-inspiring.
over logo
I went into another alley looking for an artwork called "Up Periscope" – I didn't really know what it was, something about drain-pipes, so at first when I walked down the alley I missed it. There were a lot of drain-pipes at the back of buildings, but none of them looked particularly artistic. So I retraced my steps and looked more closely for anything that resembled a periscope, and then I saw these L-shaped pipes near the ground and when I looked really close I saw that they had little lenses at the end. So I looked through the lenses and saw some pictures of city-scapes. There were people passing me in the alley – they would have been thinking, "What's that guy doing? Looking into drain-pipes – that's weird."
up periscope
I went to another alley and saw a giant safe suspended between two buildings, the title of the artwork was "safe between us". I went to another alley and saw a big sculpture high up, it looked like a special kind of machine which might make music if the wind had been blowing.
safe between us
Then I went to the Lumiere cinema to see a movie called The Russian Ark. It's a movie about this guy who wanders around inside a museum, and while he's in there, time goes backwards and forwards. So in some parts of the movie the people are wearing eighteenth-century costumes, and in other parts they're wearing normal modern clothes, and there's no distinct dividing line – it's not like there's some flashy special effect to indicate the time-travel, like in The Terminator – it just happens seamlessly.
russian ark
In fact, "seamlessly" is probably the best adverb to describe this movie, because it's all in one long camera shot – there are no cuts between scenes. This would be a very hard movie to make. There would be no editing afterwards, so that would be easy, but what if something goes wrong during shooting? Like if someone forgets their lines or bursts out laughing? They'd have to start again from the beginning. I remember an episode of Mad About You which used the same technique, in one episode. But this was much longer and more complex.
painting, seventh session
it's like comparing humans with tigers, really

In the beginning of the movie I was a little confused – I was thinking, "What are all these eighteenth century characters doing? Is this an important part of the plot? Do I have to be familiar with Russian history to understand this?" But then it became very enjoyable – the lighting and the sets and the graceful sweep of the camera were pleasant to look at. Near the middle it was just this long scene where a guy walks around slowly looking at the paintings on the walls, saying stuff like "This is a nice painting – I like this one." Then, at the end of the movie is my favourite bit, the bit where all the wealthy well-dressed Russians get together in a ballroom and have a dance. I don't know what an eighteenth century dance is supposed to look like, but it seemed very realistic. It was like watching an episode of Big Brother Up Late – you feel like you're watching real people doing real things at their own pace. After I stepped out of the cinema I felt like my own life was a movie being shot in one take, and that everything that happened around me was part of a script.
movie poster

It was all dark outside. I remembered that there was a certain art installation which can only be seen in the dark, so I went to see it, in Croft Alley. It was a video-film being projected onto a white wall at the end of the alley, and the film was all about alleys. It had scenes of people running down an alley, people hanging around doorways that lead out onto alleys – the best bits had time-lapse photography of the shards of sunlight as they creep down the walls and across the alley during the course of a day. I stood there and watched it, but I didn't watch the whole thing because it started to rain. So I took shelter inside this weird place nearby called The Croft Institute – it was kind of like a science laboratory where they have a lot of chemistry equipment, but instead of doing experiments they serve drinks and play music. I asked the bartender for a glass of orange-juice, and he gave a glass some sort of fluid that looked just like blood. He said "This is good – once you drink one of these, you'll be totally addicted to it." It just tasted like orange-juice to me.
croft institute
After that, I had a bit of time to kill before my weekly karaoke session, so I opened a copy of the current "Inpress" magazine and read it. I noticed it contained an ad for my band The Boris Pink (which I had helped to design), and an interview with the leader of the band, along with a photo of all five members including me. My band is going to play a gig tomorrow so we're getting psyched up for it. I play keyboard in the band. I'm not going to get paid for it, because the leader of the band spent the whole budget on advertising and CD manufacturing, but that's the way it has to go. At our practice tonight, he was stressing a little about the quality of my backing vocals – he was saying that maybe he should come over to my place tomorrow before the gig to have a vocal practice with me as a warm up. But I said, "No – I don't have time. I'll be working on my web-site."
inpress article
click to enlarge

And he said, "But Stephen, it's really important."
    I knew that any practice with him would just make me sing worse, because he always puts me in a bad mood when he's giving me vocal tuition. So I said, "I don't think it's that important. It won't make much difference to how I sing at the gig."
    He disagreed, saying it would make a difference. But I said I could do some vocal exercises at home by myself to warm up, and he said okay.
    So tomorrow is our big gig, the first gig with the three new members. How will it go? It will be fine. We'll play perfectly because we've practised so much, the musical lines are embedded in our heads and we don't even have to think about it. We'll just get on stage, have fun playing music, and the audience will love us.

Flash animation – roll your mouse all over it to make the
girl move, then figure out how to 'flip' her over.
What is it that makes a good gig? It's different for each member of the audience – some of them may love the band and have a good time, others may be thinking "Bleeeahhh." I think the best gig I ever went to was Ruby Fruit Jungle, a few years ago – it was a gig where I felt good dancing, and the more I danced the better I felt, until I was in a state of total bliss. And after the music was finished, the gig kept getting better because of various interactive social things that happened afterwards. I recently received an email from some guy in Queensland who was desperately searching for a Ruby Fruit Jungle CD that I own – it was listed on my CD collection page on the web-site. He couldn't find it in the shops. Anyway, it turned out that he has another Ruby Fruit Jungle CD that I don't have. So he agreed to send me a CD-R copy of that CD, and in return I sent him a copy of the other one. It was a mail exchange. So now we are both happy listening to our new Ruby Fruit Jungle CDs. Actually I don't like them so much now – they don't sound as good on CD as they do on stage.
This Wednesday night (after a long afternoon of art-appreciation), I went to the karaoke and sang a song called "Breathe In Now" by george. I'd actually learnt a long time learning this song so that I could sing it – it's very complicated. It's a brilliant song, but it's extremely difficult to sing the song correctly, especially for a guy, and the way I did it was far from perfect. Anyway tonight was a low-key night with not many people at the karaoke – about sixty percent of the singers were from this one party of ten people who were very enthusiastic about supporting eachother. I didn't stay very late.
Historical photo of the week:
Stephen Clark Age 21
Stephen Clark, 21 years old.
The Jerry Springer Show is a talk show where people discuss their feelings about their relationships. Frequently there is fighting between the guests and it gets so violent that the security guards have to break it up. I don't usually watch this show, because it's stupid, but I caught it by chance the other day. This would be an interesting programme if I were seeing it for the first time, or if I hadn't seen all the satirical comedy that has been based around it. But now it's just a bunch of clichιs and you can always predict what's going to happen. People who criticize this show often say, "It's the lowest form of entertainment", and I would have to agree with them.
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