Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Thursday April 30 2015

Another day another Dezeen posting, about some modernistical architecture, surrounded by The Wires:

image

But this time around, guess what.  Do I believe my eyes.  I must.  For what they are telling me is that, in among this posting’s accommpanying verbiage, is to be found … this:

The gridded monochrome glass facade that wraps around the upper levels was conceived as a contrast to the “chaotic” urban area and criss-crossing electrical wires that surround the site, and features one raised corner covered in dark-tinted glass.

Yes, those “criss-crossing electrical wires” are acknowledged to exist.  Amazing.

The Wires are mentioned, because the architects themselves mention them:

“The area where the building is set is highly chaotic in terms of architectural typologies, textures and colours, so it was therefore chosen to generate a building that would constitute itself as the order within the neighbourhood’s chaos,” explained the architects.

This is architect speak for:

We are going to build the exact same modernistical erection that we would have built had The Wires not been there.  Screw The Wires!  Yes, The Wires are there.  But we will build as if The Wires were not there.  The Wires have no power over us!  The Wires, we spit on you with our modernism!

That’s the spirit.  Unless it isn’t, and they actually only noticed The Wires after they had built the thing.

The point is, whether they see The Wires or they ignore The Wires, The Wires make no difference!

Wednesday April 29 2015

Yesterday morning from first thing to about midday, I had a nosebleed, caused by my lurgy, a lurgy which is lasting for ever.  During this lurgy, I have had several nosebleeds (having never had a nosebleed in my life before), yesterday’s being by far the worst, and it cannot be coincidence.

Since then, I have been recovering my wits, such as they are, and am accordingly now in quota photo mode.  And here are today’s quota photos, all of them of the Big Olympic Thing, designed by the man who also did the Chicago Bean, Anish Kapoor:

imageimage

The photo on the left was taken in March 2012, from the Victoria Docks area, looking north, and the one of the right was taken looking south from Walthamstow.  The one on the right (with all its excellent roof clutter in the foreground) being an example of a common thing at this blog, namely a good photograph, taken badly.  (The one on the left, though I say it myself, is a really quite good photograph, taken really quite well.)

Trouble is, whenever I do one of these postings about some Thing, which I have a nice photo of to show you, I then go trawling through the archives looking for more photos of the same Thing.  Here are two more pictures of this Big Olympic Thing, this time with foliage in the foreground:

imageimage

The one on the left of those two, behind the trees was taken from Stave Hill, looking east (guess).  And the one on the right was taken from the big road just this side of the Victoria Docks.  These two photos were (left) taken in August of last year, and (right) in 2012 (about week after the sunset photo above).

The most recent of these four photos, the only one taken with my latest and undoubtedly my best camera, is by far the worst, technically.  This is because, for that photo to work, the light had to be very good, but it was not.  A less good camera with perfect light trumps a better camera with poor light, for me, usually, given the sort of outdoorsy, long-distancy photos that I generally like to take.  I’m hoping my lurgy goes away soon enough for me to take advantage of this summer, and all its light.

As you can surely tell, I consider the Big Olympic Thing to be a fine contribution to London.  It is not beautiful, exactly, but it is extremely recognisable.  Every time I happen to see it in the distance, I immediately know what it is, and it lifts my spirits.

Monday April 27 2015

One of my favourite buildings that I’ve never seen is the recently completed (quite recently completed - 2008) Oslo Opera House, which looks like this:

image

Sooner or later, some big public building was bound to be built like this, with a roof that doubles up as a big public open space, where you can walk to the highest spot on the building’s roof, without once having to go indoors.

Oslo Opera has become a new landmark for the city and proved an instant success with both locals and tourists.

And of course, that roof doesn’t have to be the bland and featureless desert that this one is, in this picture.  Sooner or later, it will acquire roof clutter!  Perhaps it already has.

As entire cities compete with one another for tourists, buildings like this, with walkabout roofs, will surely become ever more common, as ever more tourists search, as I search, for places up in the sky from which to take tourist snaps.  It is no accident that I found the above picture and quote at a site called Visit Norway.  (Although sadly, this Visit Norway site fucks with the links and causes them not to work, and these fucked links also fuck with subsequent links which are none of Visit Norway’s damn business. This caused me major problems, until I just stripped out all Visit Norway linkage, at which point sanity was restored.  So if you care, you’ll have to find the damn place for yourself.  I think Visit Norway was trying to help. It failed.  Norway, sort this out.)

Even as I praise this building, I make no judgement about what goes on inside it.  The point of these “iconic” buildings - horizontal Big Things - you might say, is that they are fun to visit, regardless of their mere indoor contents.  See also: Tate Modern.  After all, one of the advantages of a roof like this is that the roof can be enjoyed even as the inside of the building can be entirely ignored.

What got me writing about this Oslo building was a recent posting at Dezeen, featuring another proposed building by the same architects, Snohetta (which has a forward slash through the “o") which uses the same trick, of people being able to walk up to the top in a big zig zag.  This time it is a museum in Budapest:

image

And oh look, I went to the Sn o-with-forward-slash hetta website, and here is another Snohetta proposal, using the same trick, for another opera house, this time in Busan, South Korea:

image

With the design of the Busan Opera, the opera is no longer a passive playground for the elite but becomes interactive, democratic space, responding to the public’s ambitions and interests.

This is architect speak for:

People can walk about on the roof and take photos without having to sit through some stupid damn opera.

And oh look, again.  Snohetta have also proposed that a new media centre in Vienna should look like this:

image

Look again, and you encounter the Barack Obama Presidential Center:

image

These last two are not so zig zag, but the principle is the same.

London awaits you, Snohettans.

I find writing about music very difficult, because … why bother?  I like what I like and you like what you like.  Either this is a music blog, in which case we can all agree about how right I am to like the music which I like (which you like also), or it is not.  And, it is not.

Nevertheless, here is a blog posting which is sort of about music, except that really it is about how the mind works, which this blog is often about.

On Saturday morning, I was woken by my alarm clock to make sure that I started the recorder on my radio to record CD Review, which I duly did, very dozily.  I then, dozily, heard the announcer telling me that I was about to listen to Beethoven’s First Symphony, first movement, and I duly listened.

Beethoven’s First Symphony has a very particular start which is, if you know the piece, instantly recognisable.  However, I have not known it, in the sense of hearing it and knowing with certainty that this was Beethoven’s First Symphony, until last Saturday morning.  I could recognise the tune and hum and conduct along with it, but I was unable to tell you which piece it was with complete confidence, the way I could and can with all Beethoven symphonies from Third to Ninth.  I might well have guessed it right, but it would still have been a guess.  But this time, I am pretty sure that hearing that very recognisable opening of Beethoven’s First together with being told immediately before it began that this was what it was may actually have stuck in my head, as a twinned pair of facts.

This was because I was half awake, but not fully awake, I think.  I was, I surmise, in a highly “suggestible” state.  I think that’s the word the psychologists use.

The reason that all of this matters to me is that, as I get older, I find that getting to “know” a piece of music, as in: going from knowing it as a piece of music to knowing it as a piece of music and also being able to identify it, going from knowing it to knowing what it is, is becoming a rather rare experience.  There is lots of music that I know in the sense of being able to hum along with it and of knowing approximately what is about to happen next, but as the decades roll by, I still can’t identify these pieces.  The pieces I got to know well when I was young are like a fixed catalogue of pieces I know and can identify, rather than something that is expanding steadily.  The catalogue is only expanding very slowly.

You may say: But merely knowing or not knowing the mere label of something is rather a superficial matter.  Well yes, that may be.  But I don’t think knowing the label of a piece of music prevents me from getting to know it more in all the deeper and more meaningful senses.  Rather the reverse.  Knowing what the music “is” frees my mind to concentrate on all of the more interesting things about what the music “is”, as opposed to the superficiality of what its mere label is.

Sunday April 26 2015

Three exclamation marks in the title there, because this is the third time I’ve had cause to mention this strange habit, of writing about newly designed houses (in this case a newly adapted house) where there are lots of Wires in all the outside pictures, but The Wires never get a mention.

Here:

image

But at least, what with this house being yellow instead of white, we see an architect thinking in colour.  Soon, soon I tell you, the floodgates of architectural colour will open.

Saturday April 25 2015

Brians plural?  Yes, it looks like both the driver and his mate are Brians.

Incoming from Goddaughter 2:

image

Reproduced here with the permission of Goddaughter 2’s glamorous friend.

I like the extra three front headlights.

I don’t like all the creepy stuffed animals in the window.

Friday April 24 2015

I’d been meaning to check out that big Shiny Thing outside in the courtyard of the Royal Academy in Piccadilly, ever since Mick Hartley gave it a mention at his blog, with a photo, way back on April 8th.  Earlier this week I finally got around to doing this, and I took lots of the usual photographs that you would expect me to have taken, of which these are two:

imageimage

Click on the left, and that shows what this Shiny Thing is like, in its present context.  I loved the Shiny Thing itself, as my picture on the right illustrates.  In there I see things like Darth Vader.  And, rather smaller, I think I also see a naked woman there.  Also, there is something vaguely feline about this shape, with its pointing ear-like attachments.  Endless photographic fun, especially with the evening light warming up the colours of the surrounding courtyard buildings.

But, I found the rest of this agglomeration rather less interesting.  If the idea was to create some interesting reflections, then blander shapes next to the Shiny Thing would have worked better.  As it is, the wooden pointy thing, in itself nice enough, is by comparison rather mundane and the black frame that the wooden pointy thing and the Shiny Thing are held up by is ungainly, obtrusive and, to me, when I actually saw it, downright ugly.  I mean, did the creator of the equally shiny Chicago Bean feel the need to stick a lot of other crap right next to it to be reflected in it, given that there was already a city there?  No he did not.

But I guess if you are Frank Stella Hon RA, one of the most important living American artists, you feel the need to do something arbitrary.  Mere Platonic symmetry doesn’t do it.  A merely beautiful Shiny Thing won’t serve your purpose.  It would dilute your brand.  Anyone could have done that.  There had to be something there which would get people saying: Why did he do that?  Come to that, who the hell is he?  So that they can be told that it was done by Frank Stella Hon RA, one of the most important living American artists, and so that Frank Stella Hon RA, one of the most important living American artists, can supply an answer about what he thought he was doing when he, Frank Stella Hon RA, one of the most important living American artists, did what he did, like this:

The contrasting materials employed in the sculpture, the natural wood against the highly finished metal, the differing treatments of space in the line-drawn star and the round curves of the solid star, create a tension and sense of the works being both repelled and attracted to each other at a fixed distance by an invisible force field.

Maybe if I go back and take some more snaps of this Shiny Thing, I will decide that I find the other crap next to it not so crappy after all.  The other crap certainly looks better in the shots at the other end of the link above than it did to me, on the spot. And, if it was necessary for Frank Stella Hon RA to ponder the contrasts between a wooden thing and a shiny thing and black metal stuff to get Frank Stella Hon RA, one of the most important living American artists, to have made a very entertaining Shiny Thing, then fine. Whatever it took.

Thursday April 23 2015

I am reading In Defence of History by Richard J. Evans.  The attackers are the post-modernists.  In Chapter 3 ("Historians and their facts"), Evans writes about how evidence considered insignificant in one era can become highly significant in a later era:

The traces left by the past, as Dominick LaCapra has observed, do not provide an even coverage of it.  Archives are the product of the chance survival of some documents and the corresponding chance loss or deliberate destruction of others.  They are also the products of the professional activities of archivists, which therefore shape the record of the past and with it the interpretations of historians.  Archivists have often weeded out records they consider unimportant, while retaining those they consider of lasting value.  This might mean for example destroying vast and therefore bulky personnel files on low-ranking state employees such as ordinary soldiers and seamen, manual workers and so on, while keeping room on the crowded shelves for personnel files on high state officials.  Yet such a policy would reflect a view that many historians would now find outmoded, a view which considered ‘history’ only as the history of the elites.  Documents which seem worthless to one age, and hence ripe for the shredder, can seem extremely valuable to another.

Let me give an example from my personal experience.  During research in the Hamburg state archives in the I98os, I became aware that the police had been sending plain-clothes agents into the city’s pubs and bars during the two decades or so before the First World War to gather and later write down secret reports of what was being said in them bysocialist workers.  The reports I saw were part of larger files on the various organizations to which these workers belonged.  Thinking it might be interesting to look at a wider sample, I went through a typewritten list of the police files with the archivist, and among the headings we came across was one which read: ‘Worthless Reports’. Going down into the muniment room, we found under the relevant call-number a mass of over 20,000 reports which had been judged of insufficient interest by the police authorities of the day to be taken up into the thematic files where I had first encountered this material. It was only by a lucky chance that they had not already been destroyed. They turned out to contain graphic and illuminating accounts of what rank-and-file socialist workers thought about almost every conceivable issue of the day, from the Dreyfus affair in France to the state of the traffic on Hamburg’s busy streets. Nobody had ever looked at them before. Historians of the labour movement had only been interested in organization and ideology.  But by the time I came to inspect them, interest had shifted to the history of everyday life, and workers’ views on the family, crime and the law, food, drink and leisure pursuits, had become significant objects of historical research.  It seemed worth transcribing and publishing a selection, therefore, which I did after a couple of years’ work on them.  The resulting collection showed how rank-and-file Social Democrats and labour activists often had views that cut right across the Marxist ideology in which previous historians thought the party had indoctrinated them, because previous historians had lacked the sources to go down beyond the level of official pronouncements in the way the Hamburg police reports made it possible to do. Thus from ‘worthless reports’ there emerged a useful corrective to earlier historical interpretations. This wonderful material, which had survived by chance, had to wait for discovery and exploitation until the historiographical climate had changed. 

Wednesday April 22 2015

Another of those pictures from the archives that gets better with age.  Can you see why?

image

Well, let me tell you.  In the foreground (perhaps that should be “forewater") is the Thames Barrier, looking as it always did, and looking as it does now.  But right in the middle, in the distance there, between the two nearer buildings, is the Shard.  But not the Shard as we know it.  The Shard when it was big enough to be hugely impressive, but when it was still under construction.

Taken in January 2011.

Tuesday April 21 2015

Yesterday, while walking along the sharp right kink at the top end of Horseferry Road, which I do a lot, I looked up into the bright blue sky and beheld things of colourful beauty.  What do you suppose it is?:

image

Does this make it any clearer?:

image

Clear for those to whom it is now clear, but still not very clear for most, is my guess.

Try this:

image

Yes, it’s a Big 4.  And if you still don’t know what it is, apart from it being a Big 4, it is the Big 4 outside the fantastically over-the-top front door of Channel 4 TV HQ.

This Big 4 has changed a lot over the years.  (You can see a few of those changes in among all this google-search-imagery.) Different artists and designers have taken it in turns to adorn its metal skeleton in a succession of different colours and costumes.  The above is merely the latest iteration of this process.  And definitely one of the better ones, I think.

I like how the colours all vanish once you get straight in front of the 4, and all you get is a relatively bland white 4.  The effect is calculated to resemble the fleeting glimpse of the 4 that you get in the various intros you see just before Channel 4 shows on the telly.  Note also how the sun at that particular later afternoon time of day picked out the white bits of the Big 4, while leaving the stuff behind it in relative darkness.  I still don’t really understand how this happened, but I definitely like it.

The bad news, however, is that to get that particular Big 4 picture from the exact right place, you need to be standing in the middle of the road that turns south off Horseferry Road, past the left hand side of C4HQ, as we look at it, and at exactly the spot where the pavement would have been, right next to Horseferry Road itself.

So, finally, what we now see is the exact moment when a car came up right behind me and honked loudly, anxious to get past me and out of Horseferry Road instead of being stuck right in it, and honked at in its turn by angry cars behind it. 

image

I immediately jumped out of the car’s way, and it politely waved thankyou as soon as it had made its slightly relieved way past me.

A lot of cars deliver and collect a lot of people to and from that exact spot, and they must get this a lot.

Monday April 20 2015

It is more important to me that I get to bed at a sensible hour than it is that I do some sensible blogging before getting to bed.  So, another sign:

image

But this time, instead of them doing something a bit strange, it’s me doing something very silly.

Photographed by me in Walthamstow, yesterday.

Good night, and I’ll try to do better tomorrow.

Sunday April 19 2015

I took this snap of a sign, in Chinatown (London manifestation of), just off Charing Cross Road:

image

What I like about it is how they had to add the English language explanation of what hair “magic” actually involves.  Presumably the oriental characters make it clear to orientals what’s on sale here.  But at first, the English weren’t buying.  I mean, “magic”?  Could be anything or nothing.  Hypnosis?  Pills?  Herbalism?  Magic mud of some sort?  Clearly the English needed further elaboration, however much it spoiled the original splendour of the original sign.

But alas, the nature of the service on offer, once explained, descended in one word from the transcendental to the commonplace.

Saturday April 18 2015

At the point where the east end of Oxford Street connects to the south end of Tottenham Court Road, marked by Centre Point, there is now much building activity.  Centre Point itself is being turned from offices into swanky apartments.  And at the bottom of Centre Point there is to be a new Crossrail station which is being attached at vast expense to what is already a complicated tube junction stroke station.

Urban building activity is often described as being like a wound.  But for me, such a temporary space is a photo-opportunity.  It opens up unfamiliar views of clutter clusters, of entertaining comings together of and alignments of the temporary and the permanent, the ancient and the modern, the mechanical or the eletrical and the architectural.

Here are a few shots I recently took just to the south of Centre Point:

image image imageimage image image

Mostly quite (to me) anonymous stuff, but with a couple of bits of favourite modern architecture in there, the BT Tower and that colourful Piano clump.

Soon, most if not all of these views will be gone.

Friday April 17 2015

Here, having had pride (which I think you will agree is appropriate for a big cat) of place in David Thompson’s latest collection of ephemera:

image

Originally, I think, here.  I also found more here

The catification of the internet continues.

This big cat head isn’t now for sale, apparently.  But I bet that it, or something a lot like it, soon will be.

Abusive internet comments are usually very tedious.  But, having never heard this gag before, I liked this one.

Following the alleged threat by US politician John McCain to kick the s*** out of another US politician, Harry Reid, a commenter commented (April 16 12:43am):

(Harry Reid) – s*** = 0

Here in the UK, our politicians seldom issue such threats to one another.  They are, alas, almost all of them on the same side.

Thursday April 16 2015

Around ten days ago, I took lots of rest (the medical term for sleeping) during the day, and then couldn’t sleep properly at night. Since then the lurgy has persisted and I haven’t really got back to sane hours.

In the meantime, what did not help - did not help at all - was the latest from Madame Harry Potter, who now, some of the time, goes by the name of Robert Galbraith.  I read the first Cormoran Strike tale when it came out, and a few days back I was awake all night reading number two.  It was daylight when I finished it.

One of the many things I like about Cormoran Strike is that he operates in London.  His lair is a flat on top of one of the shops in Denmark Street, which is London’s pop musical instrument street.

Here is a clutch of Denmark Street photos I took recently:

image image imageimage image image

Lots of amateurish reflections there, in among the occasional deliberate ones, but what the hell?  I am an amateur.  (Spot the selfie.)

That grey-blue front door (on the right of the picture bottom middle) is how I imagine/presume Strike’s front door to look.

Having kept up with all the Rebus books, I found it much more fun actually knowing a lot of the places haunted by The Detective.  And with this in mind, I have now started on this first crime novel by Tony Parsons.  All this searching has just told me that it is the first of three.  This is (these are) also set in London.  This morning I was reading about The Detective visiting something called Westminster Public Mortuary in Horseferry Road, which is a five minute walk away from where I live.  (The Tony Parsons detective is called DC “Max Wolfe”.  Why can’t fictional detectives ever be called something like Colin Snail or Brian Sludge or John Watson?)

“Robert Galbraith“‘s Cormoran Strike is a freelance, but Max Wolfe is regular police, so he often visits New Scotland Yard, which is not much further away from me than that Mortuary, another five minutes walk in the same direction.  Here is a photo I took of New Scotland Yard from the roof of my block, in 2006:

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London possesses roof clutter arrays that are denser and more voluminous, but none that I know of is more elegant.

Wednesday April 15 2015

In an earlier posting I mentioned that I had ordered Marc Morris’s book about The Norman Conquest, and I have now started reading this.  (Although for some reason the version of it that I have seems to be the American one.)

Morris takes the Bayeux Tapestry as his starting point (as already discussed here in this and (because of its elongated shape) in this).

The events depicted in the Tapestry are of course highly dramatic, but as Morris relates, so too was the subsequent history of the Tapestry:

By any law of averages, the Tapestry ought not to exist.  We know that such elaborate wall-hangings, while hardly commonplace in the eleventh century, were popular enough with the elite that could afford them, because we have descriptions in contemporary documents.  What we don’t have are other surviving examples: all that comes down to us in other cases are a few sorry-looking scraps.  That the Tapestry is still with us almost I ,000 years after it was sewn is astonishing, especially when one considers its later history. It first appears in the written record four centuries after its creation, in 1476, when it is described in an inventory of the treasury at Bayeux Cathedral, from which we learn that the clergy were in the habit of hanging it around the nave every year during the first week of July (an annual airing that would have aided its conservation).  Its survival through those four medieval centuries, escaping the major hazards of war, fire and flood, as well as the more mundane menaces of rodents, insects and damp, is wondrous enough; that it successfully avoided destruction during the modern era is nothing short of miraculous.  When the cathedral’s treasury was looted during the French Revolution, the Tapestry came within a hair’s breadth of being cut up and used to cover military wagons.  Carted to Paris for exhibition by Napoleon, it was eventually returned to Bayeux, where for several years during the early nineteenth century it was indifferently stored in the town hall on a giant spindle, so that curious visitors could unroll it (and occasionally cut bits off). During the Second World War it had yet more adventures: taken again to Paris by the Nazis, it narrowly escaped being sent to Berlin, and somehow managed to emerge unscathed from the flames and the bombs.  The Tapestry’s post-medieval history is a book in itself - one which, happily, has already been written.

What next for it, I wonder?

Tuesday April 14 2015

Fantastic weather anyway.  I’m still not feeling a hundred per cent.  (Perhaps I never again will.  (This is one of the facts about getting old.  When bodily functions malfunction, they may never well-function again.  (And it feels like that even more often.))) But I went out anyway to do some shopping, and then went out again with fewer clothes on, to enjoy the first real warmth and sunshine of this year instead of getting too hot in it.

Here are some snaps I took that show what a good day it’s been.

On the top left, the top of the tower right opposite me, seen from Vincent Square, through the leafless trees.  Top middle, the Wheel (through more leafless trees) and that four-pointed Parliament Tower thingy that nobody knows the name of, with the Vincent Square cricket pavilion in the foreground.  Top right, the new and rather crass (but I’ll probably end up liking it (perhaps after some clutter has arrived on the roof)) apartment building going up next to Vauxhall Bridge.

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The bottom three snaps show what the sun, when it’s out and when evening approaches, does to the buildings on the other side of the river from me.

As you can see, from the all cranes, there is lots of new building activity in my vicinity.

Monday April 13 2015

So, I googled aircraft coming in to land over closed civilian roads, and to my surprise I came across another use for a drone:

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This one looks like it might be spraying stuff on the crop below.  Obvious, I know, but I am collecting these things.  The drone is yet another gadget that the banning classes would love to ban, but it’s just too useful.

But you can see how this will mean a whole new sort of newsworthy accident.  Or, even better, of newsworthy malevolence.

Sunday April 12 2015

Here is a piece I did here about how Modernism got associated with whiteness.  And for most would-be Modernists, Modernism still is white.  But, here is another piece I did about coloured Modernism, in the form of Renzo Piano’s very colourful buildings near Centre Point.  (Renzo Piano also designed the Shard.)

Here is another photo I took of these, I think, delightful edifices:

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And here is a faked-up picture I came across not long ago, which suggests that Piano’s colourfulness may have struck a chord with other architects:

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That picture adorns a report about the footbridge that you can see on the right of the picture, the very same one that I saw being installed last August.  But I think you will agree that the towers on the Island there are a definite echo of that Pianistic colour.

The great thing about coloured architecture is that you can build the most severely functional lumps, and only worry about brightening them up afterwards.  Form can colour function, and then colour can cover up the form and make it fun.

But it need not stop at just having one plain colour.  Soon the artists will join in, and there will be giant murals.

If I had to place a bet about how different London will look from now in thirty year’s time, this would be the change I would bet on.  Both new buildings and dull old ones will be much more brightly coloured.

I’m guessing that outdoor paint is a technology that has had a lot of work done on it in recent years, and that such work continues.

I will be interested to see if those Piano office blocks become faded, or if the colour stays bright for a decent time.

Interestingly Le Corbusier was a great one for colour being slapped on Modern buildings, but the notion never really caught on.  Or rather, it is only now catching on.

As is illustrated in this posting at Material Girls.  Where the point is also made that another huge influence on the monochrome association with Modernism was early and black-and-white photography.  Even colourfully painted buildings didn’t look coloured in the photos.  (One might add that newspapers and magazines only burst into colour after WW2, in the case of newspapers only in the 1960s.  Until then, all newspaper and magazine photos were printed in black and white.  So even if Modernism was done in colour, its influence spread in black and white.)

Now, colourful buildings tend to look colourful, both for real, and in the photos.

Saturday April 11 2015

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (hence the second exclamation mark in the title), now.

Yes it’s another Immaculately Modernistical Japanese House Posting at Dezeen, where the pictures are full of The Wires …:

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… but where the text never mentions The Wires.

They don’t see the anarchy.  They see only the Order.

Friday April 10 2015

After photoing the old London Model, which was the original reason (excuse?) I had visited the Building Centre, I took a look around the place to see what else was on view.

Look what I found:

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Yes, it’s a CATableHere (at Deezen) are some prettier pictures of it, less chaotically lit.

Nut I took another picture of the Building Centre CATable which included a rather cool looking chair.  All I was thinking about when I took it was including the chair.  I liked the chair.  (I also liked how it was lit.) But this snap, quite fortuitously, turned out to make the CATable look particularly like a cat:

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It looks like it’s got eyes, because of the accidental aignment of two of the holes, and because of the way that there is light behind.  We humans are programmed to find faces where we can, and if they can’t be human faces, maybe they can be cat faces.

The way that the CATable’s legs are done already shows that the cat resemblance is deliberate.

The CATable is not a one-off creation.  They are now being mass produced and you can buy one, if you want to.  A snip at $4,799.

Further evidence of highbrow types climbing aboard the catwagon in this Colossal report on Intimate Portraits of 50 Artists and Their Cats Compiled by Alison Nastasi.  Artists eh?  They’ll do anything to get noticed.

Wednesday April 08 2015

Indeed:

Police in India have a new weapon for controlling unruly protesters in the world’s largest democracy: pepper-spraying drones.

Yashasvi Yadav, police chief of the northern city of Lucknow, said on Tuesday that his officers have successfully test-flown the newly purchased drones with a view to better crowd control.

So, when will BrianMicklethwaitDotCom be linking to a story about how the protesters have their own drones, to attack the police drones with?  Drones are not just the automation of aerial warfare.  They are the potential degovernmentalisation of aerial warfare.  I mean, how the hell will they stop this?  Drones are ridiculously cheap compared to regular airplanes.  It’s only a matter of time before no major political demonstratiion will be complete without a struggle for command of the air.

I wonder if people like Police Chief Yadav realise what they may be starting.

And I don’t mean Twiggy.

I love it when a bald bloke photos a London Big Thing.  So I loved it when this fashionably bare-headed gentleman photoed lots of little London Big Things:

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He’s photoing the big old London model, at the Building Centre in Store Street, off Tottenham Court Road, last month. (It was the same day I took this White Van photo and this BT Tower photo.)

This big old London model is in the process of being refurbished.  If all goes as advertised, a big new London model will be ready to view at the end of this month.

People often say “I can’t wait”, when things like this are in the offing.  What do they mean?  That by the time it arrives, too much time will have elapsed and they will no longer be interested?

I know, it’s just what they say.  They don’t really mean it.

I can wait, and I will wait.

Tuesday April 07 2015

Ages ago now, before I was ill, I checked out that Suicide Bridge in North London, as reported in this posting.  This was a fine destination to have picked for an photo-odyssey, both because the destination itself did not disappoint, and because it was in an unfamiliar part of town, and thus was only the first of many wondrous discoveries I would make that day.

As the years go by, I accumulate more and more photo-collections of such days, and get further and further behind in mentioning them here.  Which is fine, because there will soon come a time when I won’t want to be going out at all, just sitting here reminiscing.  Then I can catch up.  Then I can die.

So, March 8th of this year.  I hoover up snaps of the view from Suicide Bridge and then walk away from the top of it in a westerly direction, along Hornsey Lane.  I am in Highgate.  Then I go north (actually more like west north west) along the B519, past the Ghana High Commission, until I get to a turning that looks like fun again, turning west, again (actually more like south west).  I am climbing, still, getting higher and higher above central London.  And I take another turn, south, and come upon a miniature version of the Alexandra Palace Tower (that being a bit further out of London, to the north east), beside a lane called Swains Lane.

Here is a web entry that says what this tower is.

And here are some of the photos I took of it and of various decorative effects that it had on its surroundings, on a day that, although getting very dark in parts, is still topped off with a bright blue blue sky, worthy of Hartley himself:

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And here is another web entry, which explains what an excellent war this contraption had:

The British immediately realised that the powerful Alexandra Palace TV transmitter was capable of transmitting on the transponder frequencies and instigated ‘Operation Domino’. Using the receiving station at Swains Lane, Highgate, the return signal from the aircraft’s transponder was retransmitted back to the aircraft on its receiving frequency by the Alexandra Palace TV transmitter and hence back to the aircraft’s home station. This extra loop producing a false distance reading.

The Swains Lane receiver station was connected by Post Office landline to the Alexandra Palace transmitter. By using a low-voltage motor, this line controlled any drifting in the lock-on carrier beam, thus eliminating any give-away heterodyning beat-notes.

Which you obviously wouldn’t want, would you?

I love the way things like this look.  Totally functional, but … sculptors eat your hearts out.  It beats most of what you guys do without even giving it a thought.

Actually, slight correction provoked by actually reading some of what I linked to above. The current structure at Swains Lane is the metal successor structure to its wooden predecessor structure, and it was the wooden predecessor structure which had a good war, but was then blown down by a gale in October 1945.

Had it not been for this extreme weather story, pride of place there would have gone to the report about Quisling getting shot.

I love the internet.

Monday April 06 2015

Last night, I ventured out to dinner at Chateau Samizdata, hoping that my seeming recovery from flu would not be thrown into reverse.  I felt okay all last night, and I still do.  Not fully recovered, but okay.  But, my sense of taste was and is a mess, in fact now I think about it, it has been for several days.  I have always thought that I have good taste.  Don’t we all?  But just now, I don’t.  Things taste somewhat nasty and metallic.

A little sickness-googling got me to this website, which tells me what would seem to have been happening.  This is quite common, it would seem.

Dinner was great, really superb.  Thank you Adriana.  Even with my taste-buds misfiring, I could still tell that this was fabulously tasty food.  But I couldn’t really appreciate it properly.  It was rather like listening to great orchestral music, but in the Royal Festival Hall.

At least I was able to photo the food being photoed:

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Nowadays, this being the twenty first century and all, I think this is the test of whether your cooking at least looks like it will be good.  Do your guests get out their smartphones and take snaps?  If so, success.  If no, fail.

Sunday April 05 2015

Indeed:

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One of these.  Brought to my attention by this posting.  Which begins with a puzzle:

Towards the end of last year, Vodacom upgraded the internet service in Suiderstrand from EDGE to HSDPA. That was great, although quite why they didn’t go all the way and make put an LTE connection in, I don’t know.

Me neither.  Can’t help you there mate.  If you think you know the answer put it there please, rather than here.

As for 6k’s Ships on a Roof picture, I bet he saw my horizontalisation of it coming, even as he was taking the shot.

Saturday April 04 2015

Still ill.  As in: still not sure I’m well.  The Head Thing has now arrived at the back of my throat, and tomorrow?  Well, it could be back in the top left of my head, and consequently causing me to have as bad a day as yesterday.

Meanwhile, another quota photo, and one of my favourite recent efforts:

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That was taken a day after I took this one, from pretty much the exact same place, and I think I like this later one even more.

Also, I am proud to tell you that the picture came out of the camera just as you see it.  No rotating or cropping at all.  Not bad.

Friday April 03 2015

My illness has taken the form of a “thing” that moves around my head.  At its worst, it impinged on my brain and nose and made me feel very bad, headache and bunged up nose.  Then it moved around in a circle, from above left eye to above right eye, to below right of head.  That gave me a malfunctioning throat, but stopped being a headache.  Today, it arrived back above the left eye, and moved over to above the right eye.  Again.  Result: headache and bunged up nose, all day.  Again.  Like it was last Sunday.  I had hoped it would make just the one visit to wherever it chose to go, and then stop.  No such luck.

So, not even a quota photo today.

Thursday April 02 2015

I recently decided to keep an eye open for newspaper front pages.  Yesterday, I snapped, among others, this one:

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It was the airplane nearly crashing, or seeming to, that got my attention.

I tried to chase up the story, and eventually found it, not in the Times, behind its paywall, but at the Manchester Evening News, and I found a slightly better version of the picture at the Daily Mirror, in a piece about the generally windy weather we’ve been having lately:

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The Manchester Evening News quoted a spokesman for Monarch, the airline whose plane was featured in this picture.  He had some interesting things to say about how the camera had, on this particular occasion, told somewhat of a lie:

A spokesman said: “Over the last few days the country has experienced extremely high crosswinds.

“The image depicts a completely normal landing given the weather conditions on the day.

“The image was taken at long range and therefore is deceptive.

“The foreground in this picture is higher than the touchdown zone on the runway - proven in this case by the lower wheel appearing to be in the ground, which was not the case.

“As seen in this image, it is common practice for pilots to perform a crosswind landing in these conditions.”

After I had had a closer look at this photo myself, I was going to say half of this myself.  The foreground is higher, and makes the plane look lower.  What I had not realised was that the plane was actually in the air.

I notice, however, that the subheading of the Manchester Evening News report quotes the bit about how this was a “completely normal landing”, above the photo that, as explained, makes it look anything but, thus deliberately suggesting Monarchical complacency.  But the spokesman didn’t just say it was normal.  He explained why it looked abnormal, without actually being abnormal.

Wednesday April 01 2015

Today’s quota photo was taken on October 11th 2014.  At first I thought that it was an example of a genre I have become increasingly fond of over the years, “Photographer (Crouching Down Right Next To Me)’s Head Photoed From Directly Above”.  Actually, as I can tell from all the other shots I took of this lady, what is happening is that she has turned her head sidewise, pointing her hair towards me, and I just stood quite a way away from her and took the shot:

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But, since just for the moment I am feeling somewhat better than I have been, here are some more photoer photos photoed that day, just after the one above.  As you can seen, I once again make a point of showing very little in the way of recognisable faces:

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What is on the Superman phone that he is holding up and that she is photoing?  She is definitely photoing it.  I am baffled by that one.  But I do know the building on the screen, top left.  That’s the terrible new office block they’ve built for the MPs, across the road from Parliament and Big Ben.

In these photos we once again see the inexorable rise of the mobile phone as a camera.  Most of the cameras on show are mobiles.  There are several big DSLR, Real Photographer cameras.  And just the one old school little dedicated but cheap digital camera, the red one, top left.

Not long after taking those, I took the photos of the ice cream guys.

I imagine everyone else who gives this blog the time of day is bored with all my pictures of photographers, but I am not. Because “More photographers” had already been used here, I changed the title of this from “More photographers” to “Yet more photographers”.