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Words by Ella Shi
Illustrations by Tegan Iversen

Amid the readings and PowerPoint print-outs of university, highlighters are vital. But with frequent use, they can become as boring as the words they bring to life. It’s time to step out of your highlighter zone.

Pilot FriXion Erasable Highlighters. You know when you highlight something important, and the next sentence turns out to be pretty important too? And the one after that? And you keep highlighting until EVERYTHING HAS BEEN HIGHLIGHTED? Well, this erasable highlighter is your salvation. However, once the eraser gets dirty, it can leave indecipherable smudges instead, though maybe that emphasises the highlighted parts more…

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Faber Castell Textliner Pastel.  A pastel highlighter seems like a contradiction but it works. These are indeed discernibly fluorescent while being slightly more muted than their standard counterparts. This kind of highlighter politely taps your shoulder instead of SCREAMING IN YOUR FACE. More decorative than useful, but ever so pretty.

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The Sharpie Gel Highlighter is unnecessary innovation at its finest. With a crayon-like texture and a twist barrel, it transports you back to your childhood days as you colour in your lecture notes. However, if you’re obsessively neat, this product is not for you. The gel wears down with use, so say goodbye to that crisp uniform edge you so desperately desire.

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Those highlighters with Hello Kitty/assorted cartoons on them.  Probably fruit scented. You know what I’m talking about. Nauseatingly cute to look at and even better to smell. The catch is that at some point you will accidentally draw on your face as you bring it close to inhale the mouth-watering scent of chemical strawberry ink. Useful if you find yourself sitting next to someone who had too much onion in their lunch.

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Post-it Flag Highlighters. As categorically elusive as the platypus, this highlighter-sticky-note hybrid is Post-it’s attempt to redefine the boundaries of stationery. They’re basically highlighters with note flags attached. The combination does seem like overkill, but it comes in handy when you have stacks of notes and need to mark which page of 99 has been highlighted.

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Words by Ella Shi

Technopia Tours curator Kim Donaldson and VCA student Caitlin Patane meet me wearing bright orange jumpsuits. The colour, they tell me, is an ode to the urban. Their particular shade—International Orange—represents the colour of the city, and it demands attention and respect. “I see it on the uniforms of construction workers, Metro employees, traffic cones, and street signs,” the enthusiastic Patane tells me. It’s a colour that is diverse in its context, but shares in the role of keeping people safe and steering them in the right direction.

The destination, in this case, is George Paton Gallery. Within this space, Donaldson says her team are literally “art workers making art works.”

Technopia Tours is a collaborative project featuring the work of five VCA students—Raymond Carter, Aya Hamamoto, Dot Kett, En-En See, and Patane—who each signed up without any knowledge of what was in store. “A little bit like a blind date,” Donaldson laughs. Donaldson is curating this exhibition for her PhD and taking on an experimental approach. “I’m working with each artist individually, so the end result is still unknown. In a way, I’m exploring the roles of curator and artist and how they’re different but still similar.”

Though the full scope of the exhibition is only to be realised at the last minute, it promises to include a diverse range of art forms, including performance, sculpture, paintings, prints, and installations. It’s decidedly broad, but Donaldson hopes the exhibition has something to satisfy everyone. “It’s about breaking down boundaries of what is or isn’t art, and bringing the everyday urban landscape into a gallery setting,” Donaldson says. “Like saying language is only English, art is a visual language and has many forms,” Patane adds.

As the name suggests, the exhibition runs like a tour and parallels the experience of a tourist faced with the unknown. “Art galleries can often seem intimidating,” Patane explains. “The aim of Technopia Tours is to create a welcome art experience for people that might not feel welcome in other art spaces.” This is perhaps particularly relevant to Parkville student unacquainted with the art world. Like a good tour guide, the exhibition doesn’t wave flags at people or tell visitors how to find the good stuff. Instead it nudges patrons in the right direction so that they may discover the art for themselves.

The exhibition has previously travelled throughout Venice, London, and Singapore, and most recently transformed Melbourne’s own Edinburgh Gardens.

Technopia Tours runs from the 8 – 17 April at the George Paton Gallery, Second floor Union House.

Words by Allee Richards
Illustration by Ella Shi

Sometimes I stare at strangers on public transport, and I start to date them in my head.

On the tram today you are clean and intact, like a newly completed puzzle. Your backpack is a cube and your clothes are all straight lines and unobnoxious bright colours. The only circles are your expensive-looking headphones. They play music that is overly produced, and that you’ll say I’ve never heard of. Your face is like a wall in an exhibition: a clean surface with two thick black frames each mounting opaque brown spheres. I untuck my shirt and reveal the stain I hid behind my waistband in the morning.

I always wanted one of those relationships that starts with hate, like Katherine Heigl has. We won’t hate each other, but I will hate the things you like and you will hate the things I like. We will disagree on every book and film, because even though you study maths or engineering or something, you’re more opinionated than anybody with an Arts degree.

We will be disagreeing about a pair of jeans and I will threaten to spill my wine on them. Your firm, pale arm will snatch my glass and I will giggle and glare at you and say, ‘Spill it on me, this top was two dollars.’ We will kiss fast and the first time we have sex you will be on top and you will push angrily. We will revel in our differences with the wonderment of babies. When people ask about us I will shrug, ‘Oh well, you know what they say: opposites attract.’ We will share knowing smiles, because I enjoy being purposefully daggy and you enjoy telling me that it’s all an act. We will leave parties knowing our friends are talking about us and we will have arrogant sex; over and over we will say, ‘Not like that, like this.’ But we will spoon afterward, always. Our only likeness will be the way we lie in bed, hunched back and bent knees, a pair of question marks.

Because we’re working, I’ll become more like me and you will become more like you and we’ll be caricatures of ourselves. When the adrenaline of disagreement wears off I will find it harder to laugh at your teasing and harder to laugh while I tease you.

On the last day of our relationship I will be in your shower staring at the different sized bottles lined up like a gang of bullies. When I leave your house we will both know we’re broken up, even though we don’t discuss it and will never discuss it. I’ll tell people that I dumped you because you use more expensive cleanser than I do (‘he was just too materialistic’). I will feel impotent and odd like a naked stem after a child stole the petals—you love me, you love me not.

You’re ready with a tailored cigarette and a silver lighter as you step off the tram at Swanston and Bourke. You walk away with subtle and choreographed swagger, oblivious to what you’ve done to me. I call you a pretentious fuck, but I guess I’m one too.

Words by Ella Shi
Illustrations by Tegan Iversen

Finding your perfect pen is essential. While not guaranteed to improve your grades, it can definitely make academic mediocrity more enjoyable. So before stationery shopping, make this handy guide your PENultimate stop.

The Papermate Kilometrico is the most affordable. Though scientists have yet to prove whether this pen can actually write for a kilometre, experience indicates that these things never run out of ink. However, the slim barrel makes it the culprit of crippling hand cramps. You’d think that buying a packet of 20 would mean you never run out, but this is far from reality. The large packet means it’s hard to keep track of the pens, making them the perfect target for pen thieves. Will be lost faster than used.

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Many have used the classic BIC 4-Colour ballpoint, but is it really as great as its variety of hues lead you to believe? While colour versatility at the click of a pen may be a novelty to you, it will probably drive the people around you mad, and may result in a violent stabbing with writing implements. Furthermore, its longevity is surprisingly limited, as you find yourself tossing it out once your most used colour has run out.  Would not recommend unless you’re a proponent for colour equality.

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The Typo Needle Me is basically your average fineliner, unabashedly branded with the Typo logo. Regardless, the five for $5 deal has lured in many. Despite its price tag, the pen writes smoothly and the somewhat rubbery veneer makes it pleasurable to grip. But be warned: the tip—though fabulously pointy—is easily blunted by a heavy hand.

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I picked up a packet of Nondescript K-mart pens under the impression that stationery shopping would equate to academic success. While my agenda was flawed, the pens were not. Though cheap and rather ugly looking, they were actually of satisfactory quality and have persisted despite ample use. The occasional faulty specimen has the tendency to leak, but the risk factor adds a thrill to note taking.

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Words by Ella Shi
Photos by Kevin Hawkins

Melburnians tend to jump at the idea of any kind of cultural celebration, especially if it’s in honour of their glorious namesake. However, given its vague title, the Melbourne Now exhibition doesn’t seem to spark the same level of interest a prominent international exhibition does. Melburnians, particularly city dwellers, would most likely feel they already know what Melbourne is all about. But this exhibit encompasses far more than graffiti-covered laneways, quirky cafes and iconic landmarks such as Flinders St station. Spanning across two locations and featuring over a hundred artists, Melbourne Now provides an opportunity to feel a bit like a tourist in your own city. And the best part is it’s free!

The exhibition tells us that Melbourne is a city eager for the future. It’s a city that is more concerned with the abstract than the concrete, with a particular emphasis on social issues. Artworks address everything from culture, gender, and Aboriginal identity, to individual and community concerns. A visual project entitled ‘ZOOM’, curated by Ewan McEoin, is an example of this, giving an empirical analysis of Melbourne’s social landscape, alongside personal thoughts and values augmented from visitor surveys.

Though Melbourne Now accurately reflects a city where there are voices calling for change, the quirkiness of some displays can detract from their underlying message. However, the high level of interactivity can  be seen as an attempt to encourage individual action. Its varied composition allows the visitor to take away from it what they would like to (quite literally in some cases) and those hunting for fun can definitely find it. Alternatively, if one chooses to focus on heavier social issues there are equally as many artworks to draw upon. Like the aspiration of its city, the exhibition relies on people engaging with it.

Those who consider it a bit tame and walk away slightly disappointed would do best to remember that it can only present what Melburnians have to offer. Melbourne Now does not attempt to orientate where we are heading but challenges what the future should hold. We should not only be involved but be inspired by it.

MelbourneNow is running until 23 March at the NGV International and Ian Potter Centre.