Wednesday, July 12, 2006


The Great Victoria Desert is great.

Art Director's two travelling companions drive him through arid, empty landscapes, morning into sunset. Past languid desert oaks. The only other vehicle they see is an old International Harvester ute, long abandoned and bleached to a powder blue. Its side is riddled with bulletholes. Photography seems the only option. Shoot, then back on the road.

Meanwhile, on TV, a young girl is being cut in half by a chainsaw.

Later in the day they stop briefly and the girls get out. Art Director photographs more spinifex. He is documenting the spinifex paper-making process for the WA Museum. Erin teaches spinifex paper making at Papulankutja, or Blackstone. Meanwhile, on TV, a naked woman screams and a giant bear-shaped monster smacks her head off. Her head flies out the window. (I am writing this biographic journal of Art Director as I catch up on watching TV. I haven't seen TV for two weeks. I am once again horrified.)

The girls get back in. Erin holds up a bag of sand. I got the sand from a camel's footprint, she beams. The whole footprint!

Was that the turnoff, she says further down the track. She turns the Scoobydoo around. Another track runs off in a more northerly direction; otherwise it looks identical to the one they are on. No signposts, of course. I thought there should be a particular tree stump here, says Erin. But I'm pretty sure this is it. They turn off. Their dust follows them into the Northern Territory.

They camp overnight near the Aboriginal settlement of Docker River. There are taps with fresh drinking water courtesy of the Great Artesian Basin underneath their feet. The fire is lit, and swags are used as pouffes until ready to roll out for the night. They create haikus, taking it in turns to come up with a line each.

Dingo pads softly
Moonlight on desert oak
Shadows envelop.

And so on into the night. Art Director's thoughts turn to the film project. The submission is due by 25 July. It's a collaborative project with Mayhem for the Town of Vincent. Who Vincent is is anyone's guess. Unfortunately the deadline falls between his court appearances, so he needs to get onto it soon. He thinks perhaps a documentary on the 85 year old Italian mechanic in North Perth who is finally chucking in his ring spanners. He specialised in pre 1980 Fords.

Or a horror movie, The Curse of the Leopard Woman, about the transmigration of souls. Mayhem trapped in the body of a leopard. He knows Princess the Leopard can be hired from the Museum for only $10 a fortnight. What a bargain, he thinks. An echo effect on Mayhem's voice, over a close-up of the leopard's permanently stunned expression. Something like, O no, I am trapped in the body of a leopard. It's gold, thinks Art Director.

Art Director was introduced to Princess during a shoot for the Blue Room Theatre, and she has become a favourite of his. He wants to make Princess a star. Art Director thinks if he mounts Princess on a trolley with eccentric wheels at the front, she will look more like she is running when dragged across the set on a rope. She would trundle along in a see-saw motion, like a slow motion leopard in a David Attenborough nature documentary.

The body of Mayhem is, of course, taken over by the soul of the leopard, and wreaks havoc on butcher shops around the Town of Vincent.

Morning he sits in meditation. This is becoming a habit. He gets an inkling into what it must be like to belong to this country, for the country to be a part of him, a benign, benificient world. To walk around, live with it; live off it. Art Director thinks he may be going native.

Goodbyes are always hard. Art Director says goodbye to Dimity, see you later to Erin, and so long to the road. For now.

Art Director sits in a plane, high above the world. Planet Earth is blue, and there's nothing I can do, he thinks.

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