TWO UP by Emrys Quinn
How best to encapsulate something so familiar and yet irregular as Two-Up? Have you ever tried building a lunar module whilst watching a Eureka Stockade documentary? Have you ever prepared sautéed Haggis during a deep sea diving tutorial? Have you attended a fresh, informal dual lecture series where two charismatic young speakers present on divergent but enthralling topics? Well the third of these scenarios comes closest to summarising Two-Up (though don’t discount the formers as apt analogies), anachronism and duality seem to be a lot of what this Lecture event series is all about. The event embraces incongruity, curating one lecture on ‘Trash Cinema’ (delivered by PhD student Josh Wheatley) and another on ‘Southern US cooking’ (delivered by chef Andrew Levins) the latter immediately following the former.
It is, upon entering the charming Redfern space ‘work shop’, the energy and vitality of the event which first draws attention. The entirety of the crew involved are under 30, including both speakers (not that being over 30 insinuates a lack of vitality), all volunteering their time, enthusiastic about creating a forum space for the spreading of ostensibly esoteric knowledge. Without question, the event was jovial throughout, each speaker clearly relishing the chance to share the irregularities of their fascinations with a group of attentive and supportive people.
Wheatley began his presentation summising the oddity which is ‘trash cinema’ – put bluntly it is cinema so bad it’s good, the movies we love to hate to love to hate. It is the ‘Sharknado’, ‘The Room’ and grindhouse in all their glory. Showing his amused audience snippits and trailers of his various references, Wheatley then explained the smut-addled origins of Trash Cinema, an unexpectedly apt connection being made between the earliest forms of movie pictures, courtesy of the Lumiere brothers, and the sensationalist depictions of Trash Cinema. Smutt sold, sleaze was worshipped, and Wheatley argued convincingly the importance of the body’s role in Trash cinema, much akin to the early lumiere depictions of erotically undressing women. Wheatley’s appreciation of the genre is not based on any misinterpretation, Trash is sleaze, and Trash, in his words ‘liberates audiences from the constraints of having to watch a good film’.
Levins’ presentation made up for what it lacked in trailers with heart, Levins is a former icon of the Sydney restaurant and expert in the burger culture. Southern US cooking, encompassing every variety of enormous meat-dish one could fathom, mostly of the smoked variety. He told engaging tales of how enormous shacks were turned into makeshift smokehouses, and how many smokehouse restaurants on his ‘Southern Food’ tour of the US would open at 11am and be sold out at 11:30am, with lines stretching around the block. His own experiences of attempting to recreate the flavours fell short, he humbly admitted, and lamented the fact all the true vunderkind southern smoke-chefs were too patriotic to come set up shop here, or anywhere else for that matter.
The night was unquestionably a success, with the onslaught of new information ranging from the ideological connotations of poor cinema taste, to the best way to prepare ribs. It’s a wonderful evening coordinated by Nerida Ross, who accurately addresses the theme of the night when she states “Whether you’re mechanics or surfing or photography it’s great, it’s exciting. So I really wanted to pull the stick out of the arse of education. When did it stop being fun? When did we stop asking questions?!” It was all the best parts of education, without the education system getting in the way. Those parts were then boiled in thick smoke-laden Tennessee stock pot.
I can’t wait for the next one.