Saturday, 19 November 2016

Through One Lens

© Melissa Gaggiano

© Melissa Gaggiano

© Melissa Gaggiano
I was alone with my camera. Well, not really alone. I am never alone with my thoughts.
This week personal anxiety was taking a massive toll in my heartland. Fears about the future. Fear of people. Fear of taking a leap.
I stepped out on a Wednesday. Neither hot, neither cold. Neither grey, neither blue. Somewhere in between.
A bee is flying amongst the flowers. He, she, it, makes a solitary figure, but if I pull back the lens I see that is not so. There are many hovering bees all around. I’ve heard about the bees disappearing. It makes me glad that I have flowers in the garden. I should plant more flowering plants then. For the bees. Do bees enjoy the flowers the way humans do? Or is it just another day at the office for a bee?
I leave my street and head toward the shops. I see a ‘no u-turn’ sign. I am near the school. Why do people ignore that sign? Do they think the law is merely a guideline? Or do they think that rules only apply to others? There is symbolism in that sign – you can never go back. That’s sad, but it can also be a good thing. Got to keep moving forward.
Cross the street and nearing the tracks. A woman walks slowly in my direction, hunched forward on a walking frame. You know those frames that double as a seat. Those seats must be nice for resting. But I notice how hunched the people are that use the frames. 
The woman is stooped with white silvery hair that makes me think of angels and baby lambs. Her skin is feathery and delicate. She has elegant white leather gloves on. Gloves are disappearing, along with the bees. I compliment the woman on her gloves. But what I really wanted to ask was ‘can I take your photo?’. But I am too scared to ask. An opportunity lost. Too many of those. It hurts my heart.
Past the tracks and another sign is before me. I stop to read it:

Because when you
stop 
& look around,
this life
is pretty amazing.

How very Ferris Buellerian.
I was on my way to visit the vinyl shop. I change my mind.
There is a dog. He is sitting patiently waiting for his person. Only he is not a he. I later discover he is a she, after reading the collar – Trish. Trish the gorgeous. Trish the tender hearted. Trish of the honey brown amber.
I kneel to take a photo. Trish stands and walks toward me expectantly, with the heartbreakingly beautiful trust of a dog to a human. She is only held back by her tied leash. If that leash wasn’t on her there would be nothing that she couldn’t achieve.
I enter the op-shop, not far from Trish.
A woman hovers near the children’s literature near the front door. She asks me if these are the children’s books, then explains that she’s never worked here before. I say ‘yes’. Never be rude, even if the answer appears obvious. It hurts when people make me feel stupid, and refuse to give an answer. I don’t want to do that to others.
In the op-shop I find a wonderful book on three dimensional graphics. Perfecto! I was recently making something with paper. The whole family has, really. I start something wonderful, and the girls follow my lead. My interests become their’s. They become me, and I become them.
One of the women working in the shop speaks to another, commending the work of another, “That young one did a good job organising this area.” The other responds, “Did she?” Tone polite, but questioning. Perhaps she can’t see it, or doesn’t really have any further to say.

I wait to be served at the counter. I stare at a wall of plates and bowls. I want to take a photo. I want to ask permission. Fear kicks in, and the only photo I have is the one in my mind.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Finding the Words

There are things I wanted to say in the past few days but have truly struggled to find the words to express such things. Another thing blocking my ability to write was not having something to say that could either solve or sooth a situation that is dividing a massive nation. I am in deed referring to the 2016 US election. What could one person say, really?

Politics should never be treated as a joke, because getting the job of protecting all your people and finding social and economic solutions for those people is a seriously important job. So, how did it happen that a self serving, mediocre business man [I use this titles ‘business’ and  ‘man’ rather loosely], with the attention span of a… Wait! What was I saying? Yes, well… how does someone like Donald Trump alienate so many Americans and still get a majority vote? There are a hundred bullet point answers to this question, which I’m not going into because people that are ten times more qualified than me have already covered it.

What I can say is this, for any country, and not just America, this is a wake up call to what happens when the people are so disillusioned by past and current governing bodies that they would grasp at any person offering an alternative lie.

Like any country trying to support itself, America needs help, but I don’t think it can come from a man who promises destruction to those who simply said no to him. People can improve themselves, sure, if that is a personal motivation for them, but I do not see Donald Trump as a person willing to put aside his insecurities and contempt to be the leader that America needs. Winning votes is one thing. But telling angry, frustrated tax payers what they want to hear is nothing compared to the truth – that there is seriously hard work to come for the President Elect – a man who seems to be trying on different roles like he’s working through a bucket list.


It was a painful week for American’s who had hoped for another outcome, and a disappointment to friends of those Americans. Many people discovered that while democracy is fair, it doesn’t always feel right. And yet what we can learn from history is that time doesn’t stand still. What is fact now can change tomorrow. Donald Trump isn’t president yet, so until then anything can happen. He may still take the oath, but with his history of wrongdoing it is only a matter of time before he messes up his own place setting in the white house. The people have voted, but they can vote again, and again. And they will.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Refresh

This scene from Gossip Girl was pretty much sums up my day yesterday…



[Ugh]

Three Things

Trump is president elect.
The cat hissed.
I am eating chocolate.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Swiss Army Man

    I must admit being drawn to things a little left of centre. I am a fan of such shows and movies as Doctor WhoBlack Books, Party Down, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and almost anything that came from the imagination of Wes Anderson and that just says all you need to know about that.

    So it comes as no strange thing that I should be so very enthusiastic about this treat of a film - Swiss Army Man. It looks disturbing [in a most excellent way], magical and beautiful, and I can hardly wait to see it at the cinema. We need more films like this, yes.

Friday, 24 June 2016

What Would Jane Do?

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    I am on something of a Jane Austen binge at the moment. So much so that when I finish rereading all her books in my collection, and watched all the classically loved film and television interpretations, I fear that I may resort to watching the zombie hybrid of Pride and Prejudice. Oh dear god!

    I will not bore you with my reasoning for liking Jane Austen. But I will comment on my thought process of late. When I am stuck and not sure how to proceed, I have been asking myself 'What would Jane do?' As far as I can tell she seemed to have a logical way of thinking, as well an amusing way of seeing, and if her fictional works are anything to go by it is safe to say she was not prone to irrational acts that might betray a less even temper. Well played Jane, I say.

    I decided to conduct a Google search of 'What would Jane do?', hoping to find some hilarious meme on the title. And guess what I found. A book of that very title filled with little quotes from the literary queen of rom-coms herself. If you're looking for this book, it is not to be confused with What Would Jane Austen Do? [written by Laurie Brown] which appears to be a get your kit off type story in the vein of Mills and Boon. Not that I'd actually know about that. 
What Would Jane Do? Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen
Publisher: Penguin Random House

    While I'm on the topic of Jane Austen I decided to find a few more low brow references in her name. Let's take a look, shall we?


SaveSave

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Friday, 6 May 2016

Like You, Like Me



    Today this video popped up on recommended viewing, so I gave it a whirl. I was intrigued by this one woman's [Caitlin Stasey] perspective on being 'the pretty girl' in Hollywood. This video was just one of many interviews; part of a video project produced by Style Like U. The project What's Underneath examines the personal experiences of women. 

    As the women tell their story, layer by layer a piece of clothing disappears. But this ain't no strip poker. Think of it as removing layers of an onion. Each layer of clothing removed is a weight of the women's shoulders.

    What I'm loving about these videos is the human connection that comes with it. You could just as easily read about these interviews in a magazine, or as a transcript. And yet the video format for this type of storytelling allows the listener to feel the words. Hence we have a much stronger connection.

Friday, 29 April 2016

A Not So Hairy Story

© Melissa Gaggiano

    I recently shaved my hair off for the World’s Greatest Shave, a fundraiser for the Leukaemia Foundation. It was an exhilarating experience, meaning I was both excited and completely terrified by what I planned on doing. But I went ahead [‘ahead’ get it? Oh never mind] and lopped the hair right off – a number one shave to be exact.

    It always seemed like a brave thing to have a short haircut. Mostly this was because a fully grown man-child once giggled at the sight of my newly chopped hairdo and told me I looked like Leonardo Dicaprio. I was actually going for the Halle Berry look, circa 2002. Clearly I had not the face to pull off the look.

    Since then, whenever I go for a short cut my one and only question is not ‘does this make my head look fat?’ but ‘does this make me look like Vin Diesel?’ Despite being a part time tomboy, I definitely do not want to be confused with being one. Of course I seriously hope that my hips and boobies are a huge give away to my gender even if my hair, or therefore lack of is not.

    Some surprisingly nice revelations have resulted from shaving my head. I have discovered that I actually do have a nice head for baldness – no lumps, no bumps! And with the exception of one person in the community commenting that I look intimidating, most have had uplifting things to say about it. Nice head shape. I look like Sinead O’Connor [thank you 50% Irish genes].

    One of the fun things about shaving my head for a fundraiser was that it gave me the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone. In high school I admired a girl for completely shaving off her long curly locks. She looked amazing but I never once in my wildest imaginings ever saw myself doing what she had done. Had I known then what I know now.

    The hairdresser, who kindly donated her time for the World’s Greatest Shave, took off my hair starting with the sides, resulting in my sporting a ten second mohawk. Very rock star! I looked like Bono [again I thank my Irish genes]. I realised later that my hairdresser was allowing me the freedom of panicking and hitting the gigantic red stop button if I couldn’t handle the full lop. After all what woman in her right mind is going to stop the process when they’ve been given a reverse mohawk?

© Melissa Gaggiano


    So, that haircut took place a month ago and my hair has since grown out to a healthy 2 cm helmet. I feel like a half finished illustration of Astroboy, minus the sharp points on the head. I do want long hair again, but as my hair has a ways to go I realise that shaving my head has opened the doors to further potential experimentation. I could peroxide it [I’m thinking Edie Sedgwick or Debbie Harry]. Finally do that pink colour that I’ve wanted to try for so long [Jem and the Holograms anyone?]. I could even have a pink 1920s do. I’m having fun just thinking about the possibilities. From a bald head big things grow.

Love is… Many

© Melissa Gaggiano

Love is gran'ma feeding
Babes not her own.
Love is a boat ride,
Over freezing waters of hell.
Love is hope holding on,
Love is then letting go.

Love is blindness,
That knows no colour,
Love is a stranger’s kindness,
A smile, a hand up, help, hello
Love is a long distance driver,
That knows no limit.

Your love is big, in
The small things you do.
Your love is an educator,
Reprograms my view.

Love is diving,
Love is sinking,
When it is gone,
We drown in the hole.
Love is destruction
Pushing one on,
To yet another drink.

Love is the storm, destroyer,
The centre, the whole.
Love is many, splendid
And terrible things.

Love is…

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

5 Minutes with Joshua David McKenney

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Joshua David McKenney
with Pidgin

    Joshua David McKenney is an inimitable, and celebrated lifestyle and fashion illustrator. Some of his clients include Harper Collins, Penguin Group, Saatchi Group, Scholastic Books, Elle Girl, Seventeen Magazine, Girl’s Life, Innovative Kids, Mattel, MAC cosmetics, and Nylon Magazine
    Beginning in 2009, Joshua's iconic fashion silhouettes took a three dimensional transformation with the creation and development of Pidgin, the fashion doll with a fan art following.
    And now Joshua takes 5 minutes:

Best breakfast ever…
is being spent a little hungover with friends and a bottle of champagne.

5 books I keep close by are...
Miss Piggy’s Guide To Life­ Miss Piggy (as told by Henry Beard) 
The Biba Experience by Alwyn W Turner
Your Beauty Mark​ by Dita Von Teese

Mel Odom ­ First Eyes by Hiroko Tanaka
The Lonely Doll​ by Dare Wright 

Looking out the window I see...
Other windows.
JD McKenney: self portrait

I haven’t done this yet, but I would really like to...
Go to Barcelona and Berlin.

To get the creative juices flowing I usually...
just start working. It takes a bit of time but I find the best way to be creative is to start making things your hands and see what comes out.

My all time favourite Pidgin design is...
usually whichever doll I’m currently working on.

If Pidgin were a song she would be...
Georgy Girl by the Seekers.


Thank you Joshua, for your mentor-like generosity. You are pure awesome sauce.

For more information about Joshua and the elusive Pidgin:
www.pidgindoll.com
www.facebook.com/PidginDoll

www.instagram.com/jdavidmckenney/
www.artrepnyc.com/artists/joshuadavid/




Sunday, 24 April 2016

1997 Interview - Bruce Mansfield

    In 1997 I interviewed Bruce Mansfield on his live radio segment. The topic was radio land history within Australia.
    Inspired by the comedy film "Radio Land Murders" I decided to base a high school project on actual local radio history. I wrote to Bruce asking a swag of questions about his experiences working in radio. Bruce went one further, and invited me to ask the questions live on air.
    At the time of recording I was 18 and a nervous wreck [I could barely speak, let alone think]. It was an amazing experience, and I feel lucky to have that opportunity.





Bruce Mansfield 1944-2016

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Writing Turmoil

© Melissa Gaggiano

Abstract Thoughts: Part 2

    This is writing as art. What I’m writing doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t have to make sense. It simply has to be me. Filling in the spaces, out of a void of whiteness.

    Void. What is that? When we think of the universe before big bang/creation the world was in darkness. At the end of the universe will it be the opposite. Will everything be whiteness?

    Spaces. Spaces in the way. Filling up the corners of my soul. Here comes a little something lighting up my life. There she goes merrily, stomping on pink gumboots.
This is the picture. This is the way. Finding the abstract. Letting the ‘all’ have it’s say. Don’t try to find. No easy way to say. These are the sharp pieces splintering the mind.

    This is how the mind goes. This is how time flows. Memories are made. Memories blend and blur from one thought to another. This is my writing. No. This is my typing.

    When did writing become typing. Why say writing when we are no longer writing. Say what it is. Type how it is. It is typing, not writing. Do people still get calluses on their thumbs? Uni students moan about aching hands in exams. Writers with callused hands raise their eyebrows. Are you kidding me? No!

    The world is awake. People are asleep. We walk through our waking lives in an eternal slumber. Coming to life only in our dreams.


    Driver, ride on. Clear the path. Take me to a place where the words are clear. Words of fire. Words on the wall. Words are here. Words I know, not at all.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Conversation with a 5 Year Old


5YO:         What is this?
Me:           It’s a mould.
5YO:         No.
Me:           Well then, what is it?
5YO:         I don’t know.

Abstract Thoughts: Part 1

This is writing as art. What Im writing doesnt make any sense. It doesnt have to make sense. It simply has to be me. Filling in the spaces, out of a void of whiteness.
Void. What is that? When we think of the universe before big bang/creation the world was in darkness. At the end of the universe will it be the opposite. Will everything be whiteness?
Spaces. Spaces in the way. Filling up the corners of my soul. Here comes a little something lighting up my life. There she goes merrily, stomping on pink gumboots.
This is the picture. This is the way. Finding the abstract. Letting the all have its say. Dont try to find. No easy way to say. These are the sharp pieces splintering the mind.
This is how the mind goes. This is how time flows. Memories are made. Memories blend and blur from one thought to another. This is my writing. No. This is my typing.
When did writing become typing. Why say writing when we are no longer writing. Say what it is. Type how it is. It is typing, not writing. Do people still get calluses on their thumbs? Uni students moan about aching hands in exams. Writers with callused hands raise their eyebrows. Are you kidding me? No!
The world is awake. People are asleep. We walk through our waking lives in an eternal slumber. Coming to life only in our dreams.

Driver, ride on. Clear the path. Take me to a place where the words are clear. Words of fire. Words on the wall. Words are here. Words I know, not at all.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Sigourney's Synaesthesia

    Recently, I made the acquaintance of the talented Sigourney Young, a woman who shares with many of us the same view of the world, all except for one big, little detail. Sigourney is a synesthete, meaning that when she listens to music she sees colours. I kid you not! And no she is not tripping! So this week you can add this word to your vocabulary – synaesthesia.
    In some instances synaesthesia is described as a condition, or even a neural phenomenon. I prefer to think of it as an amazing phenomena as there is nothing debilitating about synaesthesia. If anything a synesthete has an enhanced ability to appreciate the world around them.
    Once Sigourney realised that she was a synesthete she decided to share her view of music by painting it, so she went into production and opened her own store – Not Your Sigourney. This is how I came to know about Sigourney. To quote Jerry Maguire she had me at synaesthesia. Until this point I was not aware that such a view existed. But let's face it most people with synaesthesia don't even realise they have it, because they naturally presume that what they see is common amongst all of us. But enough from me. Let's get Sigourney's take on all this.

© Sigourney Young
listening to the music

As someone who experiences the neural phenomenon of synaesthesia, can you describe to the rest of us what this looks and feels like?
    I have a form of synaesthesia call associated chromesthesia. That means I associate the sounds I hear with colours.  I like to describe my synaesthesia like this:
Say you walk the same way to work everyday and there’s a blue house there. You know the house is blue but you don’t notice it, it’s just there and you don’t really pay much attention, it just is.
    If someone was asking you about it, or you were feeling particularly interested one day, and you really looked you could explain that it was blue. That it’s a little lighter on one wall, or that it’s a darker blue under the roof. It’s always there, and those colours are always like that, but you were filtering it out.
    That’s how I feel about the sounds around me, including music. Everything has an inherent colour, it just is. When I’m not concentrating, or when I’m thinking about something else, I don’t see anything because I’m not processing it, the same way I don’t ‘see’ the colour of every house I pass. It doesn’t mean it’s not there, just that I’m filtering it out.
    So on a day to day basis it’s not something I think about often, is just is. This means though that sometime I don’t realize that I’m processing more of it than I think I am. I get really on edge if a song is playing out of bad speakers and is missing some of the colours, or I get this vague feeling of messiness in my head when I’m in loud busy places. 


When did you first realize that not everyone quite sees the world as you do?
    I actually didn’t realise until 2014 when I was 25! Until them I thought that everyone experienced music this way and I just wasn’t describing it right. I would try and talk to friends about really loving the red in a song, or joke about how all the top hits had magenta trumpets and the same green bits as last season, and they’d all look at me like I was mad! I thought I was just using the wrong descriptions and if I could find the right words they’d understand. Turns out it was just me and that finding the right paints was the best way to get the message across!  

© Sigourney Young
responding to the music


When you listen to a piece of music more than once, does the colour representation of that song change each time?
    Everyone who experiences synaesthesia has an internally consistent experience. What that means is that the same sounds are always the same colours for me. But that my colours are different to those of other people with synesthaesia. Within my own experience, things are consistent.
    When I listen to a song of paint it more than once the colours stay the same however my interpretation on that day may change the way the painting looks. For example I may concentrate more on the blue melody than on the orange guitar and this would change the look of the piece, but not by much. Whenever I paint I try to focus on the sounds that are truly characteristic of that song and these always come through.


Do ordinary sounds stimulate the colours you see?
    Ordinary sounds do stimulate colours but not as clearly. Music is perfect for my synaesthesia because it gives me time to process the sound and pick the colour. Every sound has a colour but a lot of ordinary sounds are short and sharp, not prolonged and so it’s hard to hear enough it it to understand the colour properly. That being said - car horns are usually purple, scraping gravel is grey, and the birds outside my window are bright greens, yellows and magentas.

© Sigourney Young
let it dry


Can your emotions effect how you see the music? 
    Yes, I also have an emotion-colour synaesthesia which means I associate emotions and memories with colours. These experience how I picture the song in my head but don’t impact the colours I hear. For example I once painted a piece that reminded me of my late grandfather. I always associate the song with him and before I painted I thought it would be more sorrowful dark blues and purples. When I listened properly and painted the notes through it was bright yellows and blues so while my emotions impact my memory of music, it doesn’t impact the relationship between the sounds and colours.


Does your view of colours work in the opposite direction? IE Do you look at colours and get reminded of songs that you’ve heard before?
    This very rarely happens to me. I sometimes see colours and this of specific genres, for example when I walk past golden tall grasses I’m reminded strongly of certain indie/folksie/guitar heavy pieces. I can look at my own pieces and reconstruct elements of a song based on the colours I’ve put there but that’s also because I know what sound I must have heard to end up painting yellow, green etc.

© Sigourney Young
authentification


What prompted you to start painting the music?
    I started painting music a week of so after I discovered I had synaesthesia. That first month I thought of almost nothing but categorising the sounds I encountered. I remember doing laps at the pool and being so focused on the sound of the bubbles. I painted over 100 pieces in the first few months and was inspired mostly by a drive to share my experience with others but to also better understand my own experience.


As a topic dreams provide endless fascination for me. For instance I can tell you that there’s almost always a train in my dreams, and that my dreams are the only place I escape my tinnitus. When you dream do those music colours overlap your visual landscape?
    Dreams are wonderful topics but surprisingly I don’t experience any synaesthesia when I dream. Now that I think of it there’s never music in my dreams, perhaps my brain’s taking a break!


Whose music are you currently enjoying at the moment?
    I’m really enjoying Halsey at the moment. I love that her music is surprising. So many of her songs have this wonderful dark under layer like a hollow black while others have the bright interesting beats and highlights in the music. Each one is just wonderfully textured!




Where to find the talented Sigourney:
Etsy Shop - www.etsy.com/shop/notyoursigourney

    A big thank you goes to Sigourney Young for agreeing to the interview, and sharing her fascinating perspective.