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From Melbourne by Shaun Gladwell

mai 1, 2018

London-based Australian artist and co-founder of content collective BADFAITH. On a recent visit to Melbourne he walked around Southbank several with his virtual reality camera, in the style of 1929 Soviet documentary Man With A Camera

I was recording my path through Southbank with a kind of optimistic need to archive this part of the city in the light of change in its near future.My trail through Southbank is essentially that of a tourist. When I ‘do’ Southbank, I try to do it all in one catenated hit. Starting with ACCA and snooping around VCA and now the new Buxton Contemporary, then onto the NGV. For family and personal reasons, I invariably stop at Shrine of Remembrance. I then end up skateboarding and bleeding in the Riverside Skate Park.

My first problem with any redevelopment of Southbank is the fact that the Melbourne Art Precinct blueprint deals with just that – arts-related institutions and landmarks. I’m seeing a separation between a sports facilities and other cultural sites, from Gardens to Museums and all due to old vertical value systems.That other Southbank arts precinct I ‘use’ in London celebrates skateboarding and other urban activity in its brutalist undercroft and very does well to integrate urban life into a more institutional experience of the Hayward gallery and British Film Insitute.

If I were to think in terms of extending DCM’s original work to Southbank with their promenades, then there would be a need for more extreme uninterrupted pedestrian ventricles and arteries and between all institutions – and yes, including the skate park.

Build wider and totally uninterrupted concourses, and if the roads remain active, sink them into their own subterranean system or commit to pedestrian under and overpasses everywhere. Either strategy would be an incredible asset for skateboarder citizens as much as other contemporary flâneurs. This would all spell more life.More street food (not just for festivals and events) would act as a a culinary connective tissue throughout Southbank and this would motivate a generation that will soon access all cultural material virtually. Smelling and tasting will become more important against optical power in an age of deep simulation.Wider boulevards will need to lead to program-shaking moments like institutional swapping and other incubators of creative confusion that will shift Southbank out of the ‘pleasant’, conservative, evenly paced and spaced precinct it sees itself as.Parts of the precinct must not be programmed or curated or landscaped at all – spaces should be purposefully left over in planning. I consider the now world-famous aesthetic of laneways running off Flinders Lane as a contemporary street art.ACDC Lane et al act as as creative stoae within the modernist grid of the city, whereas Southbank is the open and energy diluting agora that needs a new, robust circulatory system to deliver more lifeblood to its cultural organs – without having to play ‘frogger’ with road traffic.

If the city’s burghers could never agree on something as radical as no broken pedestrian access throughout and generous amounts of non-programmed space, then I’m going to think like the Futurists did with Venice: lets just level it and start again.

But before the bulldozers enter the scene, I’ll use current scanning photogrammetry, VR and AR to totally archive Southbank before transforming it back it to new simulation – pre-settlement, pre John Batman. The old/current Southbank could then be a digital spectre you may or may not wish to switch on when moving through this part of the city.

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