I wrote the following piece while staying in Surfers Paradise, in late April 2009. It is illustrated by photos taken to document the city and the time. (More photos are available in the album — Surfers Paradise 2009).
The ocean. The horizon. Open vistas. The ocean is big, rough, unknown, dangerous. It holds the same attraction as does space, but here you can't see the stars.
But the city here doesn't feel right. It feels tacked on, next to the sea, which every day takes a little piece of the city's foundations away.
As though aware that it's only here temporarily, the city itself is stuck in a time warp, or in some collective dream of what a Paradise by the sea might look like. But it's just stuck as a dream, hasn't quite become real.
Part of that dream is hedonism, certainly, but you end up with an old casino full of old people, with a couple of streets that feel like a watered-down, tackier (imagine!) version of Kings Cross.
You get sections of the city ripping off Melbourne's laneways, and though they're nice enough places, they feel forced. You get old hotels that relied overmuch on a particular motif, or that are old and brown and visibly decaying.
That's not to say it's all old and dying — the city's in a constant state of redevelopment. There are shiny new buildings just built and models and renderings of more to come.
But when you look at the map and see the thin little sand-bar that the city is built upon, and you look out to the east and see the waves crashing in and the rip carrying the sand away to the north, the city feels ephemeral, liable to be swept away at a moment's notice.
Ordinarily, a city (or any other shared, social space) becomes a place by virtue of its shared lives and experiences. With this transformation, a Spirit moves into the place (I haven't yet determined if this spirit is generated from the place or comes from elsewhere and elsewhen). But being a city built on sand, this City hasn't been able to put down its roots, hasn't been able to develop the sense of place necessary for a Spirit to call the City its home. Without this key transformation, it feels empty, and- well- like a mirage on the sands.
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- Four Cities (26Dec2013)
In which I photograph Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Sydney Harbour
- Dream City (30Apr2009)
In which I find a city that isn’t a City, and only really exists in a dream of itself
- Wangaratta 2009 (07Jan2009)
In which I snap family, and play with light
- WYD 2008 (23Jul2008)
In which I photograph a crowd, but can’t bring myself to join it
- Getting Lost in Victoria (14Apr2008)
In which I explore Torquay and Melbourne, and attempt to capture some of Victoria with light and glass
- Chinese New Year 2008 (24Mar2008)
- Sydney, NYE 2008 (03Jan2008)
In which the pretty colours make the fireworks worthwhile, and in which I shoot in near darkness
- Soominch Fashion Shoot (30Dec2007)
In which I am a fashion photographer
- Cat Blogging (22Sep2007)
In which I photograph much smaller subjects
- The City In Lockdown (08Sep2007)
In which I walk the long way around protesters, police lines, and labyrinthine wire fences, snapping images as I go
- A Day in the Life of the City (27Aug2007)
In which I break in the new dSLR