Would you believe me if I told you I love this city?
I am walking towards my first marker in a sneak-peek of the pedestrian-based live art experience that is En Route.I put my trust in technology.Headphones and IPod and my own mobile phone.I am plugged in and nervous as I follow the sunlight on the Tamar and the instructions given to me by the En Route crew member.Look for the steps. Is this the way? It's tempting to mistrust my memory, my own senses, to wonder if something is expected of me, something that I might fail.But there's that sunlight and that water, that ambient music and poetic verse soothing me through wire and its lyrical direction.
Take your time…
What if I did?
What if I let myself be lead?
Soon, I forget how silly I look wearing these headphones, how silly I must look wearing this crazy grin for a private performance that is so publicly experienced.I find my first marker.Ta da!I wait for instructions, but it seems to take too long.Have I missed something?A man stops and asks me if I'm the parking meter lady.I wonder if this is part of the performance, if I'm meant to respond in a certain way, if he's going to give me instructions.I answer, "No," and he's obviously relieved.He moves on but I must wait for my relief to be delivered through the ether.
The text arrives and I slip down the lane.I am behind the scenes, in a private world, a shadow cast on the wall of this city's sunny day.The background score is mellifluous and I am lulled into following by its cradlesong. Find a wall to lean on…This is a personal world that immerses me; these are fresh eyes, new senses that take in what was familiar city.Now, I ponder its streets via the melodic, the existential narrative and philosophical musings that underscore the concrete and overlay the real with the surreal.
I take my instructions and weave between buildings, taking in the extraverted and introverted schisms of the city. Laneways I would otherwise not discover reveal tapestries in spray paint, niches carved in brick, underworlds with offerings to private gods. I dip in and out of shadow, of shops, of laneways, of dappled sky.These are no longer places of routine; to shop, to park, to transit between.They have been transmuted through the suspension of disbelief.Now, there is the anticipation of another story: discovery.People slip past me as if in a film; but I am leaving and arriving at my own pace, directed by a different hand.I am the ghost of an audience at the premier of my own making.I am the shadow, the dappled sky; the city slips past me now.I am in place but out of time.Dislocated, but arriving.
Just as I gain confidence in following the text-driven instruction, I am guided by another hand.There is no complacency here; I am lead, but it is still by my own experience. Surely this can't be the way?I squeeze past some parked cars into a bricked-in alley with chalkffiti inscribed across the walls.I wonder whether I am here to witness this, whether it is an unexpected gem in the CBD or something staged, when my phone rings and asks something of me. What do I have to give?I am a few metres from bustling city life and more lost than before.I find something small, my own offering to leave; after all, it is a message only to me, but it glitters like diamond dust in the concreted cracks.It is an unexpectedly moving moment.
En Route exhilarates, confuses, reveals, and may even move you to tears.It is not without risk: you risk losing your place, yourself, your familiar sense of the city.You have to trust En Route.Mostly, you have to trust yourself.This is Launceston, after all.Just not as you have ever known it.
At the end of ninety minutes, I feel as if I have been granted a golden key to the city to travel between the scenes unhindered.Things taken for granted take on new meaning; people, signs, shops, everything feels symbolic. Reinvented.Renewed.I see a man carrying a huge sign that reads Fallen.I am fallen.The city is no longer made of cement, brick and mortar, dust and noise: it is wonder, time, scent.It breathes.It has a heartbeat.
This is a new place I am moved to: moved by words and music, moved En Route to a new city, to a new place in me.I am not ready to leave.