Group Presentation: Wilba Simson, Alex McAlpine, Patrick Patey, Tara Kenny, Amanda Valmorbida. Communication Strand – Mass Communication The common stream that runs throughout all of our artifacts is ‘Communication.’ We focused on what our five artifacts communicate about the demographics in Melbourne. Each artefact focuses on and attracts a particular socio- demographic group in society, as the city is fractured into many different social groups that transfer a sense of identity and belonging to Melbournians. Different subcultures gravitate towards particular geographic areas or icons, which they adopt as relevant to their own demographic. After much discussion and collaboration, we re-molded our initial descriptions and expanded upon our initial analysis.’ The description of Artefact One, ‘Ha Ha’ the Melbourne Street Artist evolved throughout our discussions and was eventually changed dramatically. We introduced the concept of collaboration in Melbourne Street Art, which transfers a strong sense of community and ownership of the geography amongst graffiti artists. A new focus of the piece was the connection of street art with physical geography, as graffiti often forms a backdrop for bars, cafes and restaurants in Melbourne’s laneways, even vertical laneways such as ‘Curtin House.’ The description was also slanted towards a discussion of the power struggle in the graffiti world, between the corporate power of the Government and the social power of the streets, furthering the common thread that runs throughout our descriptions of the transference of power to the people so they can feel secure in their environment, rejecting the notion that power can be wielded only by the powerful. The ‘group mentality’ of Graffiti artists was another textural layer that was added to the piece. The fact that a group mentality between artwork and artists dominantly exists in Melbourne is significant we decided, as artworks are stylistically bound together so that a sense of community is achieved between the works. This also ensures the viewers of the artwork are also become entrenched in the collaborative environment and identity and ultimately feel apart of this cultural sphere. After re-evaluation and discussion within the group, the description of ‘Curtin House’ leaned towards providing a greater insight into the history behind Curtin House and its evolving identity and purpose in Melbourne. This was significant, as the history of its development and diverse usage for the people further demonstrates the way social groups can grasp a structure and transfer it into their own. Another addition was the inclusion of discussing and describing the social demographic that Curtin House attracts, which echoes the common theme of what a physical geographical landscape can communicate about the people, and what it transfers to the people. This spurred analysis into the imaginative landscape that this physical structure ignites in its distinct and exclusive crowd of clientele. The concept of power and ownership of a space by a subculture was also included, as the vertical laneway also transfers a sense of power and ownership over the city to those that embrace and inhabit it, which can be seen through the signatures of graffiti that lines its interior. The group encouraged the inclusion of Curtin House’s Website, an online space that attracts this same subculture, surpassing a geographic location as it has become a canvas for the people to express themselves and get involved.
The only artefact that was not an actual geographic, physical location was the concept of black in Melbourne fashion. After analyzing this artefact we felt that as it is so widely adopted by varying subcultures, such as business people, Goths, ‘Indies’ and emos, it was not specific to just one demographic but acted to unify Melbourne into a cohesive visual whole. We felt that the black monotone fashion of Melbournian’s reflected a general desire to be affiliated with European culture and style, which communicates the artistic, intellectual culture of Melbourne. From group discussion we determined that the atmosphere of a location or suburb can very much reflect it’s occupants, there is no pretension to the Arthouse. Its appearance is not some carefully contrived décor like so many inner city pubs. Layers of stickers, scrapes holes and stickiness on the floor, flaking paint on the walls, the masses of murals reflecting the place, the graffitied bathrooms very much reflect it’s use by 19 years worth of generations of weekly punk shows. The atmosphere very much honestly reflects the culture and atmosphere of the occupants. It is raw like the music that is focus of the place. St Kilda is an evolving suburb. The junkie bohemian artist element is still present. The bars, formerly seedy no go zones, honest raw pubs that very much reflected their occupants, have been turned into carefully planned themed bars. Whilst St.Kilda was once regarded as the ‘red light district’ of Melbourne, with a primary demographic of junkies and prostitutes, it has recently undergone a heavy gentrification, with young business people and richer bohemians attracted to the beachfront location and still slight edginess that remains. Thus there is no longer one single demographic drawn to St.Kilda as it now forms a unique mix of the rich and poor, new comers and old residents, backpackers and tourists. St.Kilda is perhaps slowly losing its charm and edginess as high-end restaurants and cafes open up and streams of tourists flock to the beaches, yet the current unusual mix of demographics of the area forms its unique image. Ultimately, each of the artefacts communicates how a particular demographic attracts to a particular geographic landscape and environment. St Kilda (Patrick Patey) St Kilda, An upcoming suburb that in recent years has gone trough an extreme change that re-invites the upper class to build amazing houses along the beach. St. Kilda was in the 18’hundreds home to the richest settlers, however the great depression hit the suburb hard and the remaining rich-folks fled as crime, poverty and homelessness rose. St Kilda’s recent past is mostly known as Melbourne’s red-light district, flourishing with drugs & prostitutes; the open sale of drugs and prostitution was totally abolished in 1994. The 1970’s was St Kilda’s bohemian period, people with alternative lifestyles as poets, artist, painters etc. lived together in harmony and created the hippie atmosphere still recognizable today, the relaxed atmosphere also made St. Kilda Melbourne’s capital for gays and lesbians. This is probably the result of a suburb known as the centre of entertainment both for adults (brothels etc.) and families (Luna Park etc.). Wealthier people has moved in since the 1990’s making St. Kilda into one of the most interesting mixture of people greatly inhabited by backpackers. Although St. Kilda is built around a beach, the beach is far from the main feature. Except from a few tourists the water is pretty much empty, it is still very much the entertainment aspect of St. Kilda that still attracts the large crowds.
Theaters, cafes, nightclubs and bars, the fact that there is both rich and poor people living in the suburb makes it so there is a large range of options for you if you are hungry/thirsty. You can eat a luxury dinner affordable only for the best, or walk across the street and grab a $7 pizza. This again creates a large diversity in the young crowds coming to St. Kilda. The large diversity in people is also represented in clothing. Not only are there the two extremes, homeless people wearing old rags and businessmen wearing expensive suits, but within the middle-class you will find people looking like gangsters and people dressed like metro sexuals, the Melbourne look, which is all black, walking next to people in all colours of the rainbow. Luna Park is obviously a place to bring children, and during the day teenagers, and families come to enjoy the beach and have fun inside Luna Park. Many parents might have good memories from St. Kilda, as the sunset is simply beautiful if you walk a kilometer away from the beach. Large rocks provide a romantic place to sit as the sun disappears behind the horizon. It is not really possible to describe St. Kilda with only one word, but if I were to, the word melting pot would be the closest I could get to a good description. St. Kilda is not a just a mix of people, it is a mix of culture, wealth, backgrounds and personality. The fact that all these people manage to live together in harmony really makes St. Kilda remarkable. The Arthouse Hotel. (Alex McAlpine) My Assignment One version of this description of my chosen artefact, the Arthouse hotel in North Melbourne, looked at comparisons to my other chosen artefact, The MCG. The Arthouse Hotel is a Melbourne punk rock institution. There are plenty of other venues around town that host punk rock gigs. The Tote in Collingwood and The Espy in St Kilda immediately come to mind. But in both cases their musical focus is slightly different again to that of The Arthouse. But like the stadium, none of the other venues have quite the same level of immediate identification with Melbourne’s punk community that “The Arty” does. No other scene in Australia currently has the level of depth, diversity, support, and national (and even international) renown that the Melbourne scene does. This has been historically true since the late 70’s and early 80’s. Nick Cave and any number of other musicians got their start here before going on to bigger and better things. In terms of the underground scene it has certainly been the case in the nineteen continuous years The Arthouse has been in operation. The Arthouse has its “home teams”. It’s house bands. These are bands that of course play elsewhere, but are intrinsically linked with good shows and good nights out at The Arty. Mid Youth Crisis and Mindsnare are the most well known and longest running examples of this. More recently A Death in the Family and the entire roster of bands centred about the Fitzroy based ‘Poison City’ record label and shop have made the pub their spiritual home. For a venue to exist consistently for 19 years is a rare asset to any alternative scene. It has provided a firmly established base that has allowed the Melbourne scene to grow to become Australia’s most vibrant and renowned. It has provided opportunities for people to find a space to grow and connect with each other and offer their talents.
It has provided a space for people to remain involved beyond the House, Warehouse, and non-traditional spaces Punk and Hardcore traditionally inhabit. Venues that are fine once you’re a teenager, but grow tiresome as you grow and move through life. Most importantly, venues like the Arthouse provide a means to keep in touch and stay connected. Which is important for the growth and longevity of any scene. It provides a vital point of communication for the underground music community. Lasting friendships have been formed within its walls. Music has been traded and stories have been swapped. Not only have many good bands found an audience there, many of those audience members were inspired to go out and formed their own bands. Thus ensuring continuity for both the venue and the community it supports. Like all good things, it must eventually come to end. The Arthouse’s lease ends early next year. It’s well known they are not renewing it. The effect it has on the local heavy music scene and the development of young bands will be interesting. Street Artist ‘HaHa’. (Wilba Simson) Melbourne’s street art scene is recognized around the world for being unique and progressive. Iconic Melbourne street artist, Ha Ha personifies the urban art movement from the nineties using painting in a traditional sense in an urban context. The whole city is engaged by the presence of street art, which is why Ha Ha has become so important to the social connection Melbournians have with the physicality’s of the city. It is the abstract expressionistic visual style that illustrates the unique diverse nature of Melbourne’s urban art scene. On the other hand, Melbournians protect the integrity of its street art, as demonstrated by the destruction of Bansky’s stencil, because their perceived nature of the art form had been lost when Banksy’s work was protected and heritage listed. The social connection to the sociology of the street art is portrayed through bars and social settings being positioned amongst the height of Melbourne’s street art scene, celebrating the beloved culture. The government has a two faced perspective on street art, where they are against the form until a dollar value is evident. Campaigns like ‘Ban The Can’ are various methods to eliminate offenders, however appropriations done by Melbournians of government adverts are used cleverly to strengthen their counter argument. A Visual is borrowed that commercially appropriates recognizable existing adverts, and via altering the conceptual content this strengthens the idea beyond the existing government ad. Melbournians mimicked the aesthetical style of the ad and stenciled it everywhere. Although protest political art is seen all throughout the world, the unique aspect of Melbourne’s street art is that many artists collaborate with each other. For instance Ghost patrol has collaborated with Ha ha, which just emphasizes the shared mentality running through the urban landscape. Collaborating in art provides a sense of community and that nature of the art would be reflected through their work aesthetically. There for Melbournian’s would sense community in Ha ha’s work, which makes that person feel part of the street art culture. The sense of community is personified by the appropriations rebelling against existing government campaigns tattooed across the city, mainly in stencil form but posters as well. Ha ha is an ambassador for Melbourne’s street art scene where he acts as a roll model for the development progressive graffiti in the urban community.
Black in Melbourne Fashion (Tara Kenny) Dubbed the ‘Melbourne uniform’, Melbourne’s city centre as a sea of black is often considered a ‘true stereotype’ with varying cultural sub-tribes embracing and interpreting the trend. The corporate ‘suits’, Goths, emos, indies and their fellow commuters converge into a monotone sea of sameness during peak hour as they override the cityscape with the ‘tribe’ to which they belong often invisible to the untrained eye. If colours are taken to be reflective of the mood of a place, the prevalence of black, which traditionally represents death and mourning, in Melbourne could be taken as an indication of depression, fear and insecurity in the city, not unlikely due to the recently negative economic and political environment. The black fashion code of the city compliments and enhances its geographical landscape: dark streets, towering European buildings and laneways. As Melbournians love to align the culture of their city with that of cosmopolitan, sophisticated European cities such as Paris and Rome they may perceive donning classic black as an example of their toned down, timeless style. The subdued black dress code of Melburnians is starkly different to much of beach-lined Australia and highlights an aversion to the perma-tanned, scantily clad stereotype of a Sydneysider, indicating a slightly lower key, introspective city commuter.The typecast of Melburnians as quirky, offbeat intellectuals who sport asymmetric hairstyles, ‘interesting shoes’ and a monotone wardrobe reflects the subdued, artistic bent of the city’s culture. Black is perhaps the most flexible of the colour spectrum due to its ability to be applied to so many varying social groups who take the uniform as their own. For example, the famous ‘goths’ and ‘emos’ who inhabit the steps of Flinders Street station are largely clad in varying shades of black, which they adopt to communicate their cultural and social beliefs to others. Contrastingly, the business men and women of Melbourne who generally stick to a subdued black colour palette in their daily working lives take black to communicate their professionalism and business appropriateness, allowing them to be taken seriously in a work environment. While it may appear that the donning of black by Melburnians shows a lack of creativity and difference in the cities inhabitants, the varying influences, versions and styles in which black is worn intricately highlights the subtle tribes that exist within the city. Perhaps by limiting their colour pallete Melburnians are forced to create difference in their clothing by mixing up textures, proportion and fabrics, showing an intellectual approach to fashion which reflects the cities artistic heartbeat. Thus black communicates both the subtle divisions of the tribes of Melbourne while also unifying the city as a cultural whole. Curtin House (Amanda Valmorbida) ‘Curtin House’ is a ‘vertical laneway’ that has become the sub-cultural heartbeat of Melbourne, a hidden urban world that combines retail, hospitality, cinema and advertising. Whilst only accessible by foot, it deviates from large corporate structures and inhabits its own spiritual space. The hidden world within this building transfers a strong sense of ownership and possession to those who stumble across it. A city of secrets, although our city lacks the spectacular views and leisurely beach culture of its sister and eternal rival, Sydney, Melburnians topography with its hundreds of tiny laneways has produced a culture where the search for the most interesting new bar or
gallery has become an expression of local patriotism. Curtin House draws its language from the raw and industrial elements of the rear of the building. What would Melbourne be without a decent meal, a beer, and a chat? The restaurant ‘Cookie’ was mushroomed into the hidden vertical oasis years ago and has now become a cult destination that is embraced by a young, urban demographic. The stairway that winds up the heart of the building stops at a different aspects of urban life on each level. This textural layering is a distinct feature in itself, as the stairwell has also been inhabited by metropolital signatures; laced with graffiti, paste ups, stickers and tags; all stamps of social power and ownership over the city. This subtractive mentality or philosophy extends into the ‘peeled back’ interior of restaurant Cookie, as the wall paper crumbles and is even missing in areas, echoing an incomplete and industrially minimalist style that has become aesthetically appealing and identified with Melbourne. Cookie was primarily a beer hall, and has the longest bar in Melbourne, with ten tap beers and more than eighty-five imported beersintegral aspect of Melburnians life. One embarks upon a journey whilst visiting Cookie, as once you stumble through the dimly lit door; you enter a metaphysical imaginative world, an imagined geography that lies within its literal structure. The restaurant’s rickety and dingy offsetting of light filling its lofty space, high ceilings, period features, quaint Juliet balconies, secret doors, hidden and layered areas capture the cosmopolital part of town it is perched above. The rooftop cinema and rooftop bar overlooks a three hundred and sixty panoramic view of Melbourne as one can watch an old fashioned film and take in the exotic smells travelling from China Town and hear the bustling car and taxi’s whirl below. The open-air venue screens cult films to a crowd of artists, designers, entrepreneurs and the like, further emphasizing the sub cultural demographic it attracts. This makes it possible to read the city as a vast and static panoramic text, which stretches out before the viewer. The rooftop bar and cinema situated at the top floor is open to the public and represents a dynamic reading, this view from above unifies disparate elements of urban form, reducing human participants in its spectacle to a role equivalent to the figures in an architectural model. The historical significance of Curtin House transfers a great deal to it identity, when one walks the stairs of the building they possess a strong sense that important men and women have imprinted the steps with their feet over time and dwelled in its many spaces. The building was renamed after John Curtin, the Labor Prime Minister who saw the nation through the second half of World War II. Built in 1922, Curtin House was originally the Tattersall’s Building and housed a gentleman’s club on the first floor for the first eight years of its life. Later it became the headquarters of the Communist Party. The very staircase of Curtin House was the scene of a battle between 150 off-duty servicemen and a small but determined bunch of communists defending their turf in February 1940. Several months later, only minutes after federal cabinet's decision to outlaw the Communist Party, the building was raided by police, who seized two truckloads of books. After decades of neglect, in the 1980s Curtin House became home to an artistic intelligentsia including opera wunderkind Barrie Kosky and Chunky Move Dance Company’s artistic director Gideon Obarzanek. The following decade, however, saw it slide into virtual dereliction, housing the Barrel Cinema of adult entertainment on the ground floor. Curtin House's entertainment bent means it has become the place those people go to socialize. The social demographic it attracts is upwardly mobile and hip, a subsection of society that gravitates towards such cultural oasis.’ Curtin House even extends its
hand towards the online stage, as the website â€˜Three-Thousandâ€™ provides a weekly snapshot of Melbourne's subculture, fired by email into the loving arms of people who realize that the best things in Melbourne life are often hard to find. Issues relating to the public sphere, transferring further power to the people of Melbourne so that they can feel safe and secure within the grips of Curtin House. Curtin House rejects the notion that power can be wielded only by the powerful, as the public has embraced and occupied the space of Curtin House and made it their own. The patchiness of the service and arrogance of the waiters of Cookie and Toft Bar is yet another thread within this tapestry, becoming part of the experience. Amanda Valmorbida, s3241754.
Published on May 31, 2010
Published on May 31, 2010
Comm2411 Assessment Task #3 Tutor Chris Hewson Alex McAlpine Wilba Simson Patrick Patey Tara Kenny Amanda Valmorbida