Security was stringent today.
Super annoying. Maybe there are some newbies from Foreign Affairs visiting. Bai was super grumpy. We were inside the studio until almost 11 last night trying to finalise the last couple of images and layouts for the 34 pages where the stamps… well, used to go. No pizza. Security won’t allow it. Had to raid the charity chocolates tray. How do they get in and out to restock all the time? Who knows.
Bai is the best studio manager though. Okay, we’ve been working together since forever. It’s not like they let anyone leave. Longest freelance gig ever. Apparently, as long as we’re not counted as permanent staff, they can bury us within general design studio costs and it looks like we’re less expensive… or something. Government departments are always paranoid about being seen to spend money. The hourly rate for overtime is pretty good although we’ll probably die here, chained to our desktops.
You know how long this project has been going for. Like years, huh. So, maybe I didn’t notice because of the gabillion changes, meetings and meetings about changes we’ve had, but something has come up. I hadn’t noticed until now. Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this. So… there are no indigenous people on any of the pages anymore. None. Lots of post-colonial figures. No first peoples. Weird… but also not so weird, huh.
Some previous designs were pretty abstract. The old M Series passport I had, had two half-size images of shells that were mirrored and alternated between pages in golden, sandy hues… and that was it. Now focussed has shifted from embedding security details into the printing to embedding them into invisible chips suddenly they want more images. Weird. I mean good for me, job wise but…
Anyway, this new series we’ve been working on is chock full of images. I know—I had to re-photoshop most of them. There’s the illustrated branches of different types of flora (that’s my personal favourite group of images), then theres the portraits of endangered fauna (at least they will be preserved here) and then the photographs of our fellow ‘country people’—the girls surfing, the tourists on camelback (like colonial ‘explorers’), the farmstead with water tank (I guess the farmer is inside the house escaping the sun), the horse racing in the dessert, the jackaroo, the cricketers (yawn), the non-gender specific scuba divers (no doubt scraping bits off whatever is left of the reef after most of it has been bleached), the sunbathers, the grey nomads (this one was tricky to illustrate, we ended up with a generic sort of caravan on the back of a jeep), the surf life-savers in their swimsuits, more surfers (heroic male on his own this time), the victorian era pub… er public house, the trucker plowing across the desert, the young female netballers, the yacht… um, ‘owners’… yachting and finally another drover being all heroic and stoic inspecting a fence (from a distance… this amend made no sense to me but help the layout so…). No sign that Australia has an indigenous history. There is only this sort of… colonial overlay.
I don’t know, As the designer, am I complacent in this erasing of our pre-colonial past. Jeez. Am I over thinking this? It’s really bothering me. Maybe I told you too much. I reckon they might start checking our phones remotely somehow. Perhaps it’s best I’m in a secure facility. I could get arrested otherwise. Wait… that doesn’t make sense. Anyhow, sorry to be a downer. What did you want to do on the weekend. I think I’m going to need to sleep in big time. ●
🄯 Michael Bojkowski, 2019
Illustration of a previously uncredited indigeous Lardil man as he appeared on the ‘back’ on the first polymer bank note to be circulated within Australia in 1988. / Credit: Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), with The University of Melbourne. / Source: Welcome to Country [welcometocountry.org]
An example of a Guilloché design, inspired by early mechanical engravings, previously popular as security devices. / Credit: Sebastien Vanblaere. / Source: Skill Share.
Example of a Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRP) data page that conforms to the recommended practice layout. / Credit / Source: International Civil Aviation Organisation.