I had been hearing about a mysterious ‘Projector Bike‘ that pedals the streets of Melbourne, turning blank spaces into theatre screens, for quite some time. Last weekend The Plus Ones told me how much fun they had at this uber-cool experience. So, when my talented friend Gerard said he was going down to Testing Grounds to check it out, I knew I had to be his crony for the night.
Finding Testing Grounds was not the easiest experience, it is hidden at #1 City Rd, nestled in an abandoned corner lot behind the Arts Centre and the Southgate precinct. Considering City Rd is notorious for being horrible, the vibe was unexpectedly chilled – almost exactly like hanging out in the backyard of your best friend’s share house – although the pallet furniture, beer and garden beds here are considerably nicer. The Projector Bike doesn’t kick off until 8 so we found ourselves a pallet and enjoyed IPA from the bar and Tacos from the food truck.
Just before the show started Gerard hurried off to the space in front of the blank concrete wall where three bikes were hooked up to dynamos. “Gotta jump on a bike and pedal to start the show” he said. With three people pumping away on bikes that weren’t moving the rest of us found ourselves a seat. The program was largely bike-related; the short film from the Velocipede Improbulator, about his many bizarre bike-like creations, was undoubtedly my favourite. There were stop-motion animations, a man brushing his teeth and frying an egg mid-ride, and the absurdity that is CGI-Brows. I am not sure, but I imagine the program changes from week-to-week.
All the while the riders on the stationary bikes were pedalling away, changing at irregular intervals if someone got tired, or another was keen on having a go.
After the program at Testing Grounds was concluded Lee, the Projector Bike’s rider and projectionist for the evening, announced that he would be going on a short ride to another location to play some more films. So we formed a convoy and headed off down the street.
We had only gone a kilometre or so down the road to Malt House Theatre when we stopped to watch some of the latest year’s TropFest films. On the road the Projector Bike runs off battery and it was halfway through the third film when the sound got glitchy and it was clear the bike was running out of juice. Lee tells us that it takes four bikes to fully power the projector and sound system, so with only three powering it for the first half of the evening it was hardly surprising that we drained it so quickly.
Despite our night out with the Projector Bike being cut short the evening was great. It’s like watching YouTube videos on your phone, but you get to do it with all your friends while having a beer and riding some bikes. Movies, bikes, friends and beer – pretty much my four favourite things!
I highly recommend you get yourself down to Testing Grounds on a Friday night to check out Projector Bike, especially while the Autumn weather is so idyllic. Here are some more of my photos from the evening – the urban landscape, lovely lighting and friendly folk were a feast for my eyes!