Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Rebirot on Heroes?
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Brian Micklethwait on Ashes to ashes
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Natalie Solent on Victor!
Peter Briffa on Ashes black out
Most recent entries
- Ballerina with crane
- Taking photos with Big Flat Things
- Long Title (with italics)
- Confirmation that map use has seriously declined
- Comrade Blimp
- Ashes to ashes
- La Porte des Indes
- Friend on telly
- Sculpture at St James’s Tube
- Digital photographers holding maps
- More photos of things past
- Father Christmas Aerodrome
- How big should these squares be?
- Daniel Hannan’s latest book(s?)
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Category archive: Sculpture
Photoed by me today:
The golden dancing lady is the one on top of the Victoria Palace Theatre.
Quota photos, I’m afraid, but I like them:
Taken by me at St James’s Park Tube, yesterday. Not really sculpture, of course. But I like the colours that my camera has automatically selected for these images. And I like how the one on the left has the dirt highlighting the shapes, rather like make-up.
Anyone interested in new public sculpture should try googling for news about: Falkirk, Kelpies, sculpture, and such things. And be sure to include images in your searchings.
My favourite photos of these newly completed Kelpies are, I think, these ones, which were taken while they were still being constructed, and in particular, I like this one:
Horses heads, and also cranes.
I also like the one with the road sign in the foreground.
STV (Scottish TV presumably) news report today:
The Kelpies, by sculptor Andy Scott, are a monument to Central Scotland’s horse-powered heritage.
Each stands at a towering 30m and weighs over 300 tonnes. At a cost of £5m, the project is intended to be a symbol of regeneration in the Forth Valley.
They are part of the £43m Helix redevelopment of around 350 hectares of land between Falkirk and Grangemouth, including new parkland and pathways. It is hoped the site will attract thousands more tourists to the region and boost the local economy.
The statues were inspired by the supernatural water horses of Celtic mythology as well as the powerful heavy horses that were used in the early days of the industrial revolution.
Mr Scott, who also created the Heavy Horse sculpture on the M8 near Glasgow, said: “During the conceptual stages, I visualised the Kelpies as monuments to the horse and a paean to the lost industries of the Falkirk area and of Scotland.
I just caught the fag end of a TV news report on this, and google did the rest.
A few days ago I did a posting, featuring one of those faked up photos, about how they are talking of moving a bridge in Porto from down by the river to uptown. Unfortunately, I muddled up two different bridges. Michael Jennings informed me by phone of this muddle and then he added to the posting this further clarificatory comment:
The Dom Luis Bridge is in the centre of town, and is the principal pedestrian route from one side of the river the the other, the vehicle route for local traffic from close to the river one one side to close to the river on the other, and also (on the top deck) carries Porto’s light metro. The Maria Pia Bridge is the rail bridge a kilometre upstream that is no longer in use.
The Maria Pia Bridge was designed by Gustave Eiffel, although his employee Téophile Seyrig did much of the work. At the time it was the longest arch bridge in the world. Seyrig then (no longer working for Eiffel) built the Dom Luis Bridge, which then broke the record that had been held by the Maria Pia bridge. The two structures are similar, although the Maria Pia bridge lacks the bottom deck that the Dom Lewis bridge has. The two bridges are often confused. Also, perhaps rather sweetly, Dom Luis and Maria Pia were married to one other.
The plan to move the bridge away from the river seems a flight of fancy to me, although the basic problem that the bridge is very beautiful, very historically significant, and not presently used for anything does remain.
Michael spelt it Dom Lewis, but I’ve changed it to Dom Luis, because that does seem to be the proper spelling. Or maybe it is Don. Maybe it’s either Don Luis or Dom Lewis, and you can’t mix them. Whatever.
Michael, who happened to be just about to visit Porto when I said all this, was urged to send back photos of these two bridges. He did, for which much thanks.
Here is the bridge that is still very much in use, the Dom Luis Bridge, with a railway at the top and a road for cars and pedestrians at the bottom:
Taken with his iPad camera. Michael apologised for that, but I think it’s rather dramatic.
Later Michael sent two more pictures, presumably taken with a rather fancier camera.
First we have, again, the Dom Luis Bridge:
And here is the one they are talking about moving, the Maria Pia Bridge:
You can see why Portoans like their bridges, and why it seems like a nice idea to turn the disused one into a big piece of public sculpture.
Meanwhile, I repeat my earlier questions. Will people be allowed on top of the bridge to take photos from it? And: If Porto doesn’t want this bridge any more, can London please have it?
This is remarkable:
This is what it is:
The crows that live in Tokyo use clothes hangers to make nests. In such a large city, there are few trees, so the natural materials that crows need to make their nests are scarce. As a result, the crows occasionally take hangers from the people who live in apartments nearby, and carefully assemble them into nests. The completed nests almost look like works of art based on the theme of recycling.
Or, alternatively, like a Thing made with coat hangers.
But what I particularly like about the Crows Nest of Coat Hangers (I prefer “coat hangers” to “coathangers” because that could be read as “coa thangers") is that I have never before seen anything made like that by a bird. Made like that yes, by a human. By a bird, no. All the other photos are very nice, but I have already seen similar things, stunningly photographed. Technically, the crows nest photo is not actually that great. It’s the Thing itself that is great.
Photoed by me yesterday. On the left, the setting. On the right, the owl. It’s not a real owl. It doesn’t look like Art, i.e. something put there Officially. It’s too much like an actual owl to be Art. More like something really expensive you buy in a shop, like the one with these animals that I photoed a while back, in Croydon. The owl looks like it was put there by one of the station staff.
A little googling tells me that the owl is there to scare away pigeons.
So, they are Official, but they aren’t Art.
So yes, this time last week Goddaughter One and I went on a photowalk in the Hackney Wick area.
She sent me this photo that she took, of me photoing:
If you want to make an old man look bad, have him bend down.
This, with much rotating and cropping to avoid total embarrassment, is the photo I was taking:
I think we can agree that her photo is uglier, but more interesting and amusing.
Here is a photo I took of her:
If you want to make a young woman look good, have her bend down.
As for the photo that Goddaughter One was taking, well, I don’t have that. In general, though, she does this kind of thing quite often, e.g. when she spots a plastic bag floating in the canal. Commonplace, even ugly, objects can become very beautiful when photographed with a lot of skill, such as Goddaughter One possesses. (She is a professional, having recently had one of her photos on the front cover of the RIBA Journal.)
So, in the absence of the exact photo that Goddaughter One was taking when I took that photo of her last Sunday, here is a canal effect that I photoed, and would have photoed more had I realised, as I only did when I got home, how amusing the effect was and is. I refer to the way that a certain sort of water weed growing on the surface of still water (actually water that the water weed itself makes still) can make that surface look like dry land.
This effect is greatly enhanced when there are ugly things that are very light floating on that surface, with the water weed somehow seeming to push those objects upwards to the point where they appear simply to resting on the top of the surface, just as if it really was dry land:
Were I a bit cleverer with my camera, and were my camera also a bit cleverer, that could be an award-winning photo of the sort they print out and put in art galleries. Well, that’s what I think.
Today Goddaughter One and I had a wander around London’s Olympicland, or as much of it as we could get at, eventually ending up at the bit of the park that is already open, at the northern end of things. We started at Hackney Wick overground station, and finished there.
I took over seven hundred snaps, but am far too knackered to do a long posting now. The shot below is typical of the kind of shots I was taking. I did lots of the big, spikey topped Olympic Stadium. I did lots of shots of the Big Red Twisty Thing. And there was lots of clutter, vegetable and mineral, in the foreground.
I also did distant shots of other Big Things, also with much foreground clutter.
And so to bed.
Or maybe alligators. Who is to say? (You perhaps?)
Shop windows are full of strange and photographable things, I find. Sadly, the window aspect of window displays often causes an eruption of reflections that get in the way. Happily not this time, though.
Quota photo because I am now trying to put stuff up here at least every two days.
As regulars here will know, I am constantly fascinated by what goes on at the top of London’s buildings. I love the Big Tops that are built to impress, like the Shard, the Strata, the Gherkin. I love all the decorative stuff done in earlier centuries. I love chimney pots, which used to come in all shapes and sizes. And I love all the anarchic clutter that electronic communication of various sorts has placed at the top of otherwise utterly bland and forgettable blocks.
So here are some recent snaps, celebrating all that:
Those are shown in chronological order of me taking them.
1.1, 1.2 and 3.2 are are all quite near to me, taken in the vicinity of Warwick Way.
1.3 is the kind of thing you see when a big building site gets into gear, and then of course stop seeing when the work is done.
2.1 was taken in Lower Marsh, I think.
2.2 is Strata, also taken in Lower Marsh ish, peeping over a roof with a decorative knob on it.
2.3 is a bit indistinct, being roof clutter reflected off a big glass fronted building, but the clutter is there if you look.
3.1 is a bit of a cheat, because it is the umbrella that makes the picture, not the decorative roof (Parliament) behind it. But again, the roof is there.
3.2 includes the top of the big tower on the other side of the river from me, i.e. on the south side.
3.3 is a big lump in Park Lane, as viewed from just inside Hyde Park, near Hyde Park Corner. I went with a friend to Hyde Park yesterday, hoping to view a statue of Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, emerging from the Serpentine. No luck. Gone. Or maybe just not where we looked.
Photographed by me this afternoon, outside the Savoy Hotel, Strand, London, where there are two of these, on either side of the entrance road:
I couldn’t tell, no matter how carefully I looked, whether this is made of real vegetation or just plastic fakery. I asked how long the cats had been there, but got no satisfactory answer. All I learned was that these cats are there for “good luck”.
When home, I googled, and learned of Kaspar.
I shall definitely be having a go on this, which will be up and ready for climbing in the Autumn:
The boundaries between Art, Advertising and Fun get ever blurrier.
This particular bit of artistically fun advertising being to advertise a new way to use “tulipwood”.
Blog and learn.
So anyway, back to that wedding. (Here are (1) and (2).) I’ve started so I’ll finish. All the pictures for all these postings are chosen, arranged, uploaded, ready to go. All that remains is for me to add a bit of waffle.
I should perhaps here explain that I was the first guest to arrive at the wedding, by more than an hour. Hence the number of photos here – the previous posting in this series, this one, and the next one - of things without people. It’s not that I suppose weddings to be better without people, or that I dislike people. Not at all. It is merely that near the start of my day, I suddenly had a lot of time to fill. So, one of the things I did to amuse myself was take photos like these:
Spot the odd one out, the unsentimental, here-and-now, nostalgia-free technology.
Is that what future generations will mostly see of the way we now live?
LATER: That was quick.
Here is another for the Digital Photography Imitates Art collection. I encountered this scene in the Tachbrook Street Market earlier this week, off Warwick Way, just as they were tidying up at the end of their afternoon.
I am sure the guy in the van clocked me as more than somewhat of a perv, but in my opinion photographic talent has a large dose of not caring what others think of you while you’re taking the picture, and another big dose of caring only about the picture.
So here it is:
It was only when I got home that I realised that I had one of those now-you-see-it-this-way-now-you-see-it-that-way pictures. One moment, I am seeing this as the back of a headless, legless, nude mannequin, which is what it was. Next thing I know, I am seeing it as the front of a headless, legless, nude mannequin, but very weirdly lit (from below) and very badly photoshopped into the picture, with strange white lines around it where a much less obvious join ought to be, which is what it was not, but still I see that. Do you agree? Course you do.
Here are two more snaps, just to show more unambiguously what was going on:
I think it’s the superior road surface that makes all this look like art. If it had merely been somewhat crumbly tarmac, it just would have been a few coat rails and a mannequin. Not art at all.
Recently I recycled, at Samizdata, some thoughts about Art from favourite blogger of mine Mick Hartley.
On the subject of “as found” art, the sort when it’s Art entirely because the Artist says so, without having done anything else himself besides stick the thing in an Art gallery, Hartley said this:
The logical conclusion to this line of thinking would be that if anything can be art if its maker wishes it to be art, then anything or everything can be art – and we don’t need artists any more. Curiously this is an argument that artists themselves seem reluctant to make.
I just know that there is a connection between what Hartley says there, and Hartley’s (and my) habit of taking photos (and showing the photos of others) of industrial clutter, outdoor gadgetry (such as the communications kit you see on roofs), decaying infrastructure, etc., that resembles abstract art.
The point of such pictures is that you do not only perceive the objects you are photo-ing as things doing a job of some kind, that is, the way their original creators mostly, presumably, perceived them. You see them almost as disembodied effects, quite distinct from what the kit was originally built for, and often no longer even seeing what the objects once were or still are. You see them the way you see abstract art.
(Related to all this is that I like cranes, but what I really like is how they look (like very superior sculpture), rather than: how they work, which is best, which sort does what, etc. (Here is a Hartley crane snap I just found.))
I say you see all this stuff “almost” as disembodied effects. But I think a lot of the fun is that you can also see what they are originally, even as you observe their aesthetic pleasingness or oddity, or resemblance to some particular work of art or type of art. The pleasure you get is a bit like with those pictures which could be two different things, like an old ugly woman or a beautiful young woman, depending on whether you see that bit as an arm or a nose, or whatever. Is it what it merely “is”? Or is it Art?
Hartley is particularly fond of bright colour effects. As are many more recent sculptors.
In connection with all this, here are four snaps taken by me on Tuesday Feb 19th, when I went on a trip to check out Blythe Hill Fields:
Top left was taken on the way, through a train window. Bottom right was taken on the way home, at Whitechapel tube. The other two were taken in the Blythe Hill Fields vicinity.
Those Artists surely do still have a role in all this, because we photographers of abstract-art-like stuff are responding to their challenges. We are saying: We don’t need you. We can see our own Art, thank you. Mondrian rectangles? I’ll give you rectangles. Big crazy sculptures made of industrial waste? Why not photo … industrial waste? And so on. We are both acknowledging the power of and (some of us – like me and Hartley) seeking to diminish the power of the Artists.
The artists have been telling the rest of us to see and enjoy the real world in new and interesting ways, and we are doing that. They started this.
The question is not so much: Are the Artists necessary? They have been, to the process I have described. But: Can they stay ahead? Can they keep on setting new challenges, or do I and Mick Hartley and all the other As Found Art photoers end up being our own artists?
I am groping my way into this subject. The above may be a muddle. But there is something interesting in among all this, I think.
A final Hartley photographic link that also seems relevant.
I recommend trawling back through his blog, as I just did.
LATER: And, as if he’s determined to illustrate all of the above further, there is now this.