Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Esteban on David Pierce on what it's like using an electric scooter
Brian Micklethwait on Zooming in on the workers
Rob Fisher on Zooming in on the workers
Brian Micklethwait on David Pierce on what it's like using an electric scooter
Rob Fisher on Zooming in on the workers
Rob Fisher on Big Things on Boris Bikes
Rob Fisher on David Pierce on what it's like using an electric scooter
Prudy on Skyscraper covered in Gothic sculpture proposed for Manhattan
Brian Micklethwait on Big Things on Boris Bikes
Javier on Big Things on Boris Bikes
Most recent entries
- A still life and a cat cushion in Kentish Town
- A Japanese torpedo bomber that could use some zoom
- A good time of the year
- 148 to Burgess Park
- A Big Thing and a Much Bigger Thing – on a not-black cab
- Another way to photo my meetings
- Quota Pavlova
- The first Brian’s Friday of the year tomorrow evening
- Walkie Talkie looking not that huge
- David Pierce on what it’s like using an electric scooter
- Shard behind the Tower of London (reprise)
- Big Things on Boris Bikes
- Two bits for Samizdata and a weird bridge in Poole
- Big Things having orgasms
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Category archive: Sculpture
Also, on her right, some of the new buildings at the top end of Victoria Street.
It’s already deep into tomorrow morning, after my meeting. It went well, but (or and) I am now very tired.
For the purposes of this posting, bike fishing means fishing for bikes. Not: fishing while on a bike.
Favourite line in the report:
Bike fishing has become one of Amsterdam’s unique tourist attraction.
My immediate reaction was: So, anyone can do it? Do you need a license? But what they really mean, presumably, is just standing there and watching while somebody else does the bike fishing.
A bike fishing competition might be really something. And it still might be if it was fishing while on a bike.
Other recent favourite Amusing Planet posting: The Lady of the North.
I spent a lot of today doing an elaborate Samizdata posting with twelve photos in it, and now I am doing the same here. Most of these ones are just of the I Just Like It sort.
Whether I have the time and energy left after posting the photos to say something about them remains to be seen. Anyway, here they are, one for each month, in chronological order:
Okay, let’s see if I can rattle through what they are, insofar as it isn’t obvious.
1.1 was taken outside Quimper (which is in Brittany) Cathedral, where they were selling that sugary stuff on a stick called I can’t remember what. I stalked the guy for ever, until he finally obliged by sticking his sugary stuff on a stick in front of his face. Never clocked me, I swear. Although, when others stalk me when I’m photoing, I never notice them.
1.2 is the amazing coffee making equipment owned by the friend also featured in these earlier pictures.
1.3 is the men’s toilet in the Lord Palmerston pub, near Suicide Bridge, photoed soon after I took those.
2.1 explains itself. 2.2 is Anna Pavlova, reflected in the House of Fraser building in Victoria. 2.3 was taken on the Millenium Footbridge.
3.1 is 240 Blackfriars. What I like about it is that in some photos, such as this one, it looks like a 2D collage stuck onto the sky, instead of a 3D building in front of the sky.
3.2 is the new entrance to Tottenham Court Road tube/crossrail station, outside Centre Point, seen from further up Tottenham Court Road.
3.3 is the Big Olympic Thing, seen from Canning Town railway and tube station. A tiny bit of it, anyway. To me, unmistakable. To you, maybe an explanation needed.
4.1 shows me photoing shop trivia, in this case a spread of magazines dominated by the scarily intense face of one of British TV’s great Tragedy Queens, the actress Nicola Walker. I first clocked her when she was in Spooks. Now she’s in everything.
4.2 and 4.3 are both film crew snaps. 4.2 features a London Underground Big Cheese, who is a bit put out to find himself being photoed by the wrong person instead of by his own tame film crew. He was drawing a lot of attention to himself, so I reckon him fair blogging game. 4.3 is another film crew, in Victoria Street, just loving the attention, who will be ecstatic when they here about how they have hit the big time. I like how there’s a movie advert on a bus right behind them.
There, that wasn’t so bad. Although there are probably several mistakes that I am, as of the smallest hours of 2016, too tired to be fixing.
Happy New Year to all who get to read this.
In the summer of 2012, there was lots of sculpture made with plastic milk bottles in and around the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Part of it looked like this:
I remember greatly enjoying this at the time, when I chanced upon it on June 9th 2012 (which happens to be the same day I took these photos of Cannon Street station and St Paul’s and its surroundings, and this photo of a lady wearing sunglasses and holding two cameras). It helped me enjoy this sculpture that I did not know what I know now (through following the link above), which is that this was in aid of the Olympics.
I came upon this while searching for Wicked Camper vans. More about that later. Maybe. I promise nothing.
About a week before Christmas I paid my brother Peter a visit, to see him, but also to check out his new home.
But before talking to him at length, and before taking much of a look at the place he now lives in, I got a pleasant surprise, in the form of these:
These being geometrical objects made of cocktails sticks. This stick object habit was one that I first acquired as an architecture student at Cambridge. Then, when I switched to doing “social studies” at Essex, I had the time to indulge in stick object construction on a grand scale. It is amazing how many such things you can fit into a small student room, if you are careful about things like swinging your arms or getting out of bed. The volume over the bed was filled with these things, as I recall.
Peter must have gone to a lot of trouble to contrive for these few surviving objects to be transported, from the family home that he has been guarding for the last year or two to his new abode. I am flattered that he thought this worth doing.
The above photo, believe it or not, is one of the better photos of any of these things I have ever taken, in the sense of showing the world what they look like.
When a person looks at these things, he jiggles his head around a tiny bit and thereby gets the 3D picture. But cameras don’t work if they jiggle. They don’t “build up a picture” inside their heads. They don’t have heads, and all they do to a picture is “take” it, in 2D. Again and again, I have photoed my ever-dwindling collection of these (to me) fascinating 3D objects, and every time, all I got was indecypherable 2D shapes and patterns. Sometimes the shapes and patterns were quite pretty, but that is all they were. Their origin was absolutely not clarified, only obscured, more or less completely.
Also, as a result of trying to light them better, I would get lots of shadows. The above photo is exceptional in not featuring lots of shadows. I didn’t plan this. It was a fluke. A Real Photographer would know how to photo these things. But I am not one of these personages.
Somewhere, I possess a collection of black and white slides I took of these things at the time I made them. I should take a look at those again, if there is anything left to look at.
Here are two more snaps of another of these objects:
As you may note, behind this thing, on the right, is a person. That would be my brother, and that picture was an early attempt to get a portrait of him, with blurry bits of stick object in the foreground.
That is included here with Pete’s permission. So now, people will accost him in the street, with cries of: “Hey, you’re BrianMicklethwaitDotCom’s brother, Pete!”
I find some people very hard to photo. But whenever I photo Pete, I seem to get something good. A lot of my pictures of these stick objects often look like that picture, but without a person in them. I don’t know what the white blob on the right is.
I was intending to include something in this about Pete’s home. Nothing personal, you understand, just general stuff about what new homes seem to be like these days. (Basically, very good.) But I’ll leave that for another time.
Happy Christmas, as and when you get around to reading this.
The weather this Christmas has been terrible. Warm, yes, but relentlessly cloudy and rainy. It seems like it’s been raining in London ever since I said here early last month that in London rain is quite rare. Wednesday was a brief respite, which the weather forecasters duly noted beforehand, but yesterday and today it’s back to mostly cloudy and rainy. So here is some Christmas photo-cheer from just before Christmas last year, when the weather was mostly what it should be around this time, suitably cold and frequently bright and sunny.
I mentioned earlier my intention to focus of a Friday on non-deline as well as feline members of the animal kingdom. This fine beast was to be seen last Christmas outside the old Covent Garden Market, where they used to sell fruit and veg - all that having moved to this place - and where they now sell stuff.
And here are two more photos, of the beast’s head, with a dose of that proper Christmas weather behind it, and of the sign at the beast’s feet, about how you mustn’t molest it in any way:
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom would not be BrianMicklethwaitDotCom if I hadn’t photoed photoers and stuck some of the resulting photos up here, so here are some of the many other photoers who photoed this reindeer. The first two have the reindeer on their screens:
And my favourite one didn’t have anything on her screen that I could see, but did have reindeers on her excellent woolly top.
Relevant website. Like I said, stuff.
Many more here, as Hartley adds, at Calvin Seibert’s My “Sand Castles” Flickr site.
Here, I think we can say with confidence, is another impact of digital photography. Seibert doesn’t say in his short introductory spiel (click on “show more") how important digital photography is in preserving something of these castles before the incoming tide or human destructiveness or accident claims them. But it obviously is. Would he have developed this way of sculpting, if he had had no convenient way of recording it?
And my other thought is that the website where Hartley learned about these castles, which is called Amusing Planet and which I had not previously heard of, will be well worth making regular visits to. It says in this post that Amusing Planet has now been in action for nearly eight years. I must have been there before. But, I didn’t pay any attention to the surroundings of whatever posting I was looking at. I should have.
I am happy for all those who enjoy such postings, but recently I have found myself visiting Colossal rather less than I used to. The Art featured there typically now strikes me as excessive in its laboriousness-to-effect ratio. I only went there today because guided to this by David Thompson.
The highly positive laboriousness-to-effect ratio is one of the things I especially like about photography. Click, and it’s done. Often with an effect that echoes on for decades. Wow! Look at that! And the Wow! in question took almost no time at all to produce. Okay, there may have been lots of creeping about, and many hours spent learning exactly where and how to creep about and exactly when to go click and what to click at, but you surely get my point. There’s a basic efficiency about photography that is often lacking in Art. With Art, it can take ages to contrive the effect, and then you look at it, and, well, yeah, okay, quite nice. And that’s it.
I agree that digital photography and the internet have between them greatly increased the effect side of the equation. Without those influences a lot of Colossal Art simply could not and would not have been done. But the effect still feels to me fleeting, given the amount of time and effort appears to have been expended.
What distinguishes much Colossal Art from the more usual sort of Art that currently hegemonises is that it is not typically done to outrage, but rather to amuse, intrigue and entertain. The bourgeoisie are not being epatered. Rather are we being indulged. A lot of it is the sort of stuff you buy in “gift shops”, just a little bigger and somewhat more complicated and expensive.
And as with the stuff in gift shops, I often like to photo it, or, for a while, take a look at it on the internet. But I don’t buy it.
So, how about the photography department at Colossal? Alas (for me), here also we encounter elaborately contrived fakery. Here too are, mostly, not wondrous moments snatched from the jaws of reality itself, but not-that-wondrous moments faked-up with great effort. Pass again.
But, and to finally get to the point which got me started on this posting, I did like these photos, for here Mother Nature has done all the work:
Friday is my day for matters feline. But recently I gave a Friday mention to some other non-human creatures, and I think I will carry on doing that. There may even, although I promise nothing, be other non-human, non-cat postings today.
Indeed. Hardly slept last night, but had to get up at a sane hour this morning as have things to do during the next few days. Can’t afford for the internal clock to be totally deranged.
So, quota photo time. From the trusty I just like them! directory, taken five years ago but some things don’t change:
Most of the usual Wheel views have been photoed to death, but that effect is a bit out of the ordinary, I think. I hope.
That’s the Shell Building registering the shadow, by the way. (Er, no. It’s not. See comment.) I never normally like it (i.e. the Shell Building - which that isn’t - no wonder I like this picture but not the Shell Building - it all makes sense.) It (the Shell Building) is about to be joined by more lumps. Which may - we can hope - not be so lumpish as the Shell Building.
ALSO (and also later, like the above corrections)… I like this picture of the Wheel, which I took way back in 2007:
If that’s not the Wheel hiding in there, then I give up.
Yes, number 1.2 here is not taking, he’s making, and I photoed his screen instead of him. (This would seem to explain the (to me) decidedly off-putting not to say offensive slogan on the back of his costume.)
Although quite late in the day, which was in April of this year, the light is still fairly bright, so no pictures on electrical screens. Just faces from behind (IYGMM (if you get my meaning)) and faces front on, but with cameras in the way:
I am well aware that my obsession with photoing strangers photoing is somewhat creepy, this being why nobody ever seems to comment on these postings. Even to comment is to get too close to the obsession and to risk being thought to share it, or just to reckon it not creepy. But I happen to believe that willingness to be a bit creepy is a major slice of photoing talent, and I regularly risk this. Although I do definitely care what people think of me, I care even more about getting good photos.
And I reckon that, what with me having now done so much of this kind of photoing, the best of these photos that I take now are indeed getting to be pretty good. Of those shown above, I particularly like 1.3, with its intriguing contrast between the manliness of his pock-marked yet handsome face and the girlified phone he is using to take his photo, of his pock-marked yet handsome face, with the four-pointed Parliament tower (actually it is probably Big Ben in his photo) in the background.
The skeleton being photoed by the guy in 2.1, in case you were wondering, is an attack on capitalism, as the Guardian explains. But if this has to be explained, and it does, then it’s not much of an attack, is it?
I can’t make out what type of camera the guy photoing the skeleton is using. But of the seven other cameras, four appear to be mobile phones, and the other three to be quite big and quite expensive hobbyist cameras like mine. Mobile phones would appear to be gobbling up the small, cheap-and-cheerful digital camera market. All phones are now cameras. How soon before all cameras are phones? (See the graphs in this earlier posting here.)
It is probably, by now, a little known fact that during January 2007 (and presumably also over Christmas 2006) there were lots of coloured plastic bottles with lightbulbs inside them outside the front of the Royal Festival Hall in London.
All part of the funning down (or is that up?) of the South Bank.
Because of the uncannily precise weather forecasts with which modern civilisation is blessed, I know that today will be a great day to be going out, which I have not done for a while. And I intend to check out this, which is a gas holder that has been tarted up into a big old public sculpture stroke small park inside:
There are mirrors. I like mirrors. Mirrors make for fun photos.
Also, notice how, in this other picture, …:
... it would appear that they (Bell Philips) will be inserting a block of flats into another nearby gas holder. Cute.
I’ll let you all know how it is all looking, at the moment. Assuming I manage to find it and it’s not still a building site behind barriers. With these kinds of things, the internet can only tell you so much. By which I mean that it could tell you enough so that you wouldn’t have to go there to check it out, but it generally can’t be bothered. So, since it’s only a short Victoria Line journey, I will go there. To check out not only the Thing itself, but to see what other Things I can see from inside it, framed by it.
Not to say the sexist-est. Those Victorians often used to let their hair down in public. It’s all around us, if only you are willing to look at it and see it. It’s only a matter of time before the feminists start defacing such things, because they are already in a state of fluttering Victorian spinsterish hysteria about the sort of feelings expressed in this statue.
This statue is in honour of Sir Arthur Sullivan. A while back, I and Alex Singleton did a recorded conversation about him, and about Gilbert of course.
So yes, In among yesterday’s picture archive rootling, I came across this amazing picture:
That picture, like yesterday’s effort, was taken in 2010, by which time I was in the habit of photoing the bit on statues where it tells you what it is. So I had no trouble learning more about this statue today. The great thing about the internet is how you no longer have to do “research” when you write about something like this. All that is required is a link, and all is explained, by somebody else.
And the somebody else at the other end of this link, “Metro Girl”, has this to say about this amazing statue:
Situated in the slimmer part of the gardens nearer to the north-eastern exit, it is located looking towards The Savoy Hotel. Sullivan and his frequent collaborator, dramatist WS Gilbert were closely linked to The Savoy Theatre, which was built by their producer Richard D’Oyly Carte in 1881 using profits from their shows. Gilbert and Sullivan’s last eight comic operas premiered at The Savoy Theatre, so it is only fitting that the Sullivan memorial is so nearby.
And, more to my particular point, this:
The monument features a weeping Muse of Music, who is so distraught her clothes are falling off as she leans against the pedestal. This topless Muse has led some art critics to describe the memorial as the sexiest statue in the capital.
Not knowing every sexy statue in the capital, I can’t be sure that this is indeed the sexiest. But I’ve not seen anything to top it.
Vanity Fair piece about Frank Gehry. Key paragraph:
Things progressed slowly from there, as the architect continued to work more audacious swooping and compound curves into his designs. Eventually he found himself hitting the outer limits of what was buildable. This frustration led Gehry on a search for a way to fulfill his most far-reaching creative desires. “I asked the guys in the office if there was any way they knew of to get where I wanted to go through computers, which I am still illiterate in the use of,” he explains. Gehry’s partner, Jim Glymph - “the office hippie,” in Gehry’s words - led the way, adapting for architecture a program used to design fighter planes. As Gehry began to harness technology, his work started to take on riotous, almost gravity-defying boldness. He dared to take the liberties with form he had always dreamed of, fashioning models out of sensuously pleated cardboard and crushed paper-towel tubes. He always works with models, using scraps of “whatever is lying around” - on one occasion a Perrier bottle. “I move a piece of paper and agonize over it for a week, but in the end it was a matter of getting the stuff built,” he tells me. “The computer is a tool that lets the architect parent the project to the end, because it allows you to make accurate, descriptive, and detailed drawings of complicated forms.”
“Frank still doesn’t know how to use a computer except to throw it at somebody,” ...
I smell a classic two-man team there. Gehry dreams it. And this guy called “Glymph” (ever heard of him? - me neither - I got very little about him by googling) works out how to actually get the damn thing built. To quote myself:
Even when a single creative genius seems to stand in isolated splendour, more often than not it turns out that there was or is a backroom toiler seeing to the money, minding the shop, cleaning up the mess, lining up the required resources, publishing and/or editing what the Great Man has merely written, quietly eliminating the blunders of, or, not infrequently, actually doing the work only fantasised and announced by, the Great Man.
Glymph now seems to be on his own, although you can’t tell from the merely institutional appearances.
In general, the role of the Other Sort of Architect, the one who turns whatever some Genius Gehry figure wants into something buildable, and which will not be a mechanical disaster, seems to be growing and growing.
I found that picture of Gehry’s epoch-making Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao here. The VF piece identifies this as the most “important” building of our time. Architects love it. The public does not hate it.
Maybe one day I will get tired of seeing The Wires! In photos of new Japanese buildings, at Dezeen. But I am not tired of it yet:
Other Dezeenery I have recently liked: colourful buildings for an ugly square in Eindhoven; a big sculpture that looks like a giant tooth, made (by a robot) entirely of pebbles and string (which means the pebbles can be used again and again); packing more people in an Airbus; scepticism about the creative class theory of urbanisation.
Also: a cardboard car. Lexus. Drivable. But not with a cardboard engine, surely. No, they cheated there. It has an electric motor, housed in an aluminium frame. This is not an exercise in engineering. It is advertising. Caused by the fact that in car adverts you are less and less allowed to say anything sensible, with mere words. Car adverts now remind me of cigarette adverts in my youth. They were like that for the same reason.