Beauty & Baffled Brains

3 August 2021 – Important distinction about that post heading! I am merely observing the former, but I fully posses the latter.

I’m halfway-ish in a walk around my end of False Creek. Over on the north side of the Creek, I’ve seen all the usual shifting combinations of participants. On the water: ferries, boats, dragon boats, sculls, kayaks, paddleboards, ducks, geese & cormorants, plus one hugely fluffed heron on a pillar, his neck reeled in to negligible. On land: volleyball & basketball in the parkette and out in the pathways individual cyclists, joggers, runners, walkers, dawdlers, dogs, children & bum-on-benchers, plus one stringy old guy in a T-shirt proclaiming “Old Lives Matter.” (I laugh out loud, he thumbs-up’s me as he goes by.)

It’s truly a wonder nobody smacks into anybody else, on land or sea, but somehow good luck — and brains, and courtesy — prevail.

All that was over there. Now I’m over here, under the south end of the Cambie Bridge. Nothing particularly beautiful or remotely baffling about my immediate surroundings.

No, let’s be more generous than that. These please-chalk-on-the-walls pillars and sturdy, plain, entirely functional table-tennis and picnic tables are beautiful, in a civic beauty sort of way. They are kind. They provide space for public rest and enjoyment.

But the major beauty (and bafflement) lie just to the south. Straight on down this long underpass space beneath the bridge.

The Vancouver Biennale Voxel Bridge installation is coming to life. I love this art, and I think it beautiful. There is more signage, as well as more art, so I move in to learn what’s happening.

I am baffled. I get the concept of AR, I’ve even clicked on it a bit, but I have yet to make even the slightest sense of blockchain. A decades-younger woman is reading as well, Aussie by the sound of her as we exchange ???s, and despite youth she is also baffled. We circle the pillar, read more on the other side.

Still ???, in both Canadian & Aussie accents. This is neither complaint nor confession, just a statement of fact. I don’t get it.

So I give up on all that, and settle down to just enjoy what I see. Like this …

and this …

and this …

and finally, drop-to-my-knees ground-level this. (Which causes a passing young man, noting my white hair, to ask if I’m all right. I reassure him, and thank him for his concern. It’s another example of “civic beauty”!)

And that’s enough of all that, so I stand up, dust my smudged knees and carry on east along the south side of False Creek.

My route takes me along 1st Avenue. As I approach Hinge Park I again enjoy the juxtaposition of Sole Food‘s garden beds on the left (netted now against hungry birds) with that defiant old relic of the Creek’s industrial days, still proclaiming it’s the Ist Ave. Plant of something long departed.

And yes, in my eyes that heap of rusty metal is beauty.

On & on some more, into Olympic Village Plaza, and look at this!

I have to go literally look at this, because although I can read the name, I don’t know who she is. My guess is that it’s all to do with the Olympics.

And I’m right.

North Vancouver’s Alannah Yip, engineer & sport climber, is also Gold Medallist in the 2020 Pan Am Games, and about to compete (August 4) for Canada in two women’s sport climbing events: speed, and bouldering. I think all this is pretty darn beautiful.

And this sign’s level of technology does not baffle my brain!

“Strange Adventures”

13 May 2021 – I’m not looking for adventure, I’m just walking Point A to Point B — and I get highjacked by this little sign. Who could have predicted it? Who’d expect anything even mildly interesting, on the little grass island smack beneath the traffic ramps at the south end of the Cambie Street bridge?

But here it is: well beyond interesting, all the way to Strange Adventures.

I step past the sign, through the gap in the scruffy hedge … and there’s the first Adventure.

An unexplained, and definitely unofficial, wooden chair, with a tree stump foot-rest.

So I sit down, of course I do. The overhead ramps don’t offer anything adventurous … but, wait, there’s that shocking-pink poster on the pillar …

Surely the promise of Strange Adventures to come?

Yes, it is.

Voxel Bridge, explains this Vancouver Biennale signage, will bring us an “immersive installation” here beneath the bridge, courtesy of this Colombian artist and her planned combination of adhesive vinyl and Augmented Reality.

Hop a few days, and I’m about to enter an immersive installation (perhaps a Strange Adventure) already on offer: the Imagine Van Gogh exhibit in the Convention Centre down on Burrard Inlet. Waiting my turn, I look back through the lobby windows to Douglas Coupland’s wonderful Digital Orca, a pixellated happy-dance for the city, the harbour, and the Coast Range mountains beyond.

After the barrage of high-tech inside, it’s a pleasure to go back outside and see what adventures are on offer just from walking around.

A shot of horizontal yellow: from buttercups and dandelions, to those float-plane logos, to the sulphur piles of North Van over there on the north shore.

A shot of vertical light: storey on storey, the mirrored panels of one building reflect the balconies of the building next door, given extra sparkle by the fountains in Harbour Green Park.

Another day, more adventures.

A real, live crow guards a bus stop …

and a stone lion guards a parking lot.

It’s just one adventure after another, isn’t it? He is in a parking lot. He has blue eyes. And he is hanging out with a gnome. (Oh please! Gnomes.)

Later, I look up the Recovery Gnome Project, and change my attitude. It’s a grass-roots project, started here in Canada by people who have loved ones in recovery. The idea? Get people to celebrate the positive impact of addiction recovery, by creating and placing a gnome in their own community — anywhere in the world. (It’s already spread to the USA and England.)

Now, that‘s an adventure.

  • WALKING… & SEEING

    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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