Text by Jack Jeweller
Freedom is hot as shit
Pense Katter was a good person, he wasn’t the kind of guy that diddisreputable things , well he didn’t not do them , he wasn’t an angel, it’s just he became aware of ill nature in other people before he got himself too deeply involved with them to be culpable for what might follow. He was good looking, but not too good looking that it got him into trouble, he didn’t invite vitriol from any of the local lads or homies, or whatever you call them; he kept a safe distance from them. He wasn’t the kind of rebel rouser who would steal their girls or anything trivial like that. Pense was too inwardly sharp to get mixed up with those bathetic affairs.
Pense’s pleasure was at home in his imagination, and while he avoided that bathos inflicted upon him by others, the mundane affairs of the temporal world would inevitably snuff out the fire in his mind. Constantly tinkering around with objects, natural and artificial alike, his tooling inevitably had to cease for class. His father’s steel cap boots that he’d stripped bare to reveal the bare metal would lay half rent open, soles exposed, with caps and no shoe to put your foot in. Without function. Unperturbed by the now useless shoes or his father’s retribution, he’d obligingly shuttle off to school and return home without any news of trouble or bad report cards to report. Sadly his imagination and its contents grew scarcer and farther apart in regularity with the monotony of high school quickly turning into the business of university life and other worldly demands. Soon he needed a job to pay for the pleasures and freedoms that came with university life and higher education. On his meandering path to university one day Pense saw an advertisement on a telegraph pole as he was studying the myriad of staples that looked like fossil deposits from a plague of flies that had flown into the pole thousands of years back. On the sheet of a4 paper was a cartoon of a carpenter, underneath it it read:
“Earn great money , and lose weight !”
Pense wasn’t overweight, his weight was perfectly proportionate to his height for a young man of his age: 180 cm in height, to his 75 kg in weight. But the copywriting for this add was so odd, and the image so discordant that he felt compelled to inquire. The “National Hire” company headquarters was on the next block conveniently. It was in the business of hiring tools and equipment. Filled with intrigue he sauntered over to the offices to inquire. The office headquarters were based in an old government building, it’s brutalist design and utilitarian appearance weren’t a good match for the company image, which he presumed wanted to project a competitive and strong corporate image that could play ball with the major competitors - like Kennard’s and other big tool hire businesses. Pense thought it looked too socialist and spartan, and that it projected a kind of universality of experience that took place within such structures. But when he entered and was directed to the head of employment he was confronted by the polar opposite. He was faced with an overweight man sporting a comb-over who was by no means familiarised with the concept of frugal, and quickly barfed a loud greeting and command,
“ hi, g’day, so you want a job mayte, well you can have mine! Ha!
Just kidding, but seriously, do you want it... I’m boooored already! What
time is it? Not even 10!"
“ Bah” the bald man laughed to himself in a depressing and pathetic way, as if to invoke pity, whilst fully aware of the performance he was giving.
“Can’t complain though, could be worse.”
He wasn’t as much talking to Pense as he was having his own private pantomime.
“ ... I get this way a bit, but when I do all I have to do is cast my mind back on a program I heard on the radio a few years back about a man employed as a thermometer tester. The bloke on the program confessed that he had to personally test each thermometer by sticking them up his anus!” Can’t get much worse than that huh!"
He barely paused before shouting,
“Anyway, you got the job! The suit will fit you perfectly. Come out back and well fit you into it and you can start with the lunch shift today.”
Pense was confused but he was not the type of man to complain, or say no, he thought that saying yes, within reason, was something that would only work in your favour and that you could always change your mind later. He followed the balding man without a name out the back of the building to a storage facility, with dozens of suits that resembled the cartoon on the advertisement.
The balding man grabbed one of them blindly, already having sized Pense up, and threw it over his outstretched forearms that Pense quickly flung out at right angles like a waiter, but with two arms, not one, protruding.
“ Might not be a thermometer up yer ass , but it’s hot as shit in one of these.”
With that the balding man told Pense that he’s now the company mascot: “ Nat the National Hire Man”. He gave him a sign to hold up that read: “Blame your tools”, and told him to work the corner at the traffic lights before this block for a 3 hrs and he’d receive $120 bucks in return for his services.
After 5 minutes at the high noon on the corner Pense started sweating. He could smell the sweat smell of other humans who had felt this heat, it smelt like fruit that had been left in a car boot on a hot day. Nat the national hire man’s outfit was indeed hot as shit. His body was strapped with a vest full of ice - bricks to keep him cool but they only burned his skin, while the temperature in the suit continued to rise. From inside his suit he had no peripheral vision and saw the world through ‘Nat the National Hire Man’s’ set of foam teeth. Lucky for Pense the free play of his imagination took him out of his current bodily dilemma, his mind was running hot. He was reflecting on a design he’d recently got an international patent for. This patent was issued to protect the rotating bird repellent object he had designed. This design was his baby. He had been busy building a prototype for it for the last two years while he was at university. He mused over its elegant geometric truths that formed its shape. He could see its unemotional lines that cut the object’s form, all the while he was hallucinating badly from the heat.
Visualizing its pyramid shape, he recalled the smaller pyramid spliced on top of the larger pyramid in the middle , atop an even larger pyramid on the base. The recessive structure gave it a deformed kind of distended shape that made it appear wonky. In actual fact this shape increased the sunlight refracted off the mirrored surfaces at the greatest volume proportionate to the surface areas. This was what deterred the birds - thelight. Pense was so excited to put to work the old modernist dictum that went out of favour in the late sixties with the rise of something he didn’t understand called post-modernism. He thought himself blessed that his invention was exempt from falling victim to the modernist trappings of Utopianism that led to the rise of post-modernism. He felt free. He didn’t have to consider the human scale, it wasn’t art, or architecture, it was for frightening birds. He didn’t have to account for the changing contours of culture or society and it’s discontents. His body temperature dropped as he reached an enlightened state and revelled in his sublime creation. He meditated on the fact that his bird repellent could actually reach the shifting shores of Utopia, using a sleek, modern style with the geometric truths of beauty to solve the universal problem of birds eating farmer’s crops. For Pense function would follow form.
The sweat droplets beaded on his cheeks as a car that drove by hurled an egg at Nat the National Hire Guys face soiling it with yolk. Pense didn’t mind; his bird repellent design would eventually give him a bird like freedom. This thought made him glad he never became an artist.
- Jack Jeweller
Written in conjunction with the exhibition and publication series, 'Not Only But Also', invests in the creation of innovative works by 24 young and emerging Australian artists and writers, forming an integral part of Bus Projects’ inaugural
artistic program in its new galleries on Rokeby Street in Collingwood.