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

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Category archive: Art

Friday January 20 2017

Today will be the forth consecutive day of clear skies over southern England.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, the first two of these four days, I journeyed to East London, and today I plan to do the same.  (Yesterday, I just couldn’t make myself do this.  Instead I got a haircut.)

Living and working on my own, to my own schedule, creates problems as well as solving or abolishing them.  Being old, I basically have to get up as soon as I wake up, in order to squirt urine where it needs to go rather than where it doesn’t.  And, having woken up, getting to sleep again can then be difficult and time consuming.  Either I do this, eventually, which takes a big bite out of the beginning of my day.  Or, I stay awake, which means that by the early evening I will be asleep in my chair.  I am staying awake today, to make maximum use of all that sunlight which even now I can see outside.  But, if I leave my self-imposed blogging duties for today to the evening, I will find this very difficult.  This evening I will be both sleep-deprived and exhausted from my wanderings.  Also, I want to be at an event this evening.  So, I am blogging now, before journeying to East London.

It is for times like these that I collect photos that I just like into special directories, of photos that I just like.  Since today is Friday, my day for cats and other creatures, here is an other creature:

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A rather blurry photo, so no clicking for anything bigger there.  That’s it.  But click on this, of the sign under the elephant, if you want to read more about it:

image

Having to get up every few hours when trying to sleep is a penalty of old age, but a better thing about being old right now is that the indiscriminate inquisitiveness of oldies like me is now more easily answered, without me having to pester any actual humans.  Getting old used to mean remaining permanently confused by more and more random stuff, but less so now I can just ask the www.  Time was when a photo like the one of this elephant in my archives would have remained for ever mysterious.  Now, I can learn all I want about to about it.

Here is a better elephant sculpture photo, which I found here

image

But why is the union jack elephant a different shape to all the others?  I could find this out, probably.  But can I be bothered?  Do I care?  No.

Monday January 09 2017

Well, that FinTech meeting was disappointing.  I did learn a few things, and some general background.  But there was certainly no mention of denationalising anything, merely of running the nationalised industry that is money somewhat differently, and of a few computerised money-lenders getting in on it all.

However, rather more interestingly, mosaics are getting made in the same building where the meeting took place.  And there were a lot of mosaics on show, scattered about in the rooms and corridors under St John’s Church, in Waterloo Road.

I attempted photography.  The light was what you would expect in a basement, but this one, with a bit of help from my Photoshop clone, came out okay:

image

I don’t know if that is a particular soldier or just a generic soldier, but either way it is skilfully done, I think.

It may be that someone will see this posting and object to this picture, in which case down it will come.  But I doubt it.

Tuesday January 03 2017

Christian Michel hosts talks he calls 6/20 talks, because they happen on the 6th and the 20th of the month.  And this coming Friday, Jan 6th, I am giving a talk, about politics and aesthetics, and how they interact.

This is the email I sent to talk host Christian Michel, about what I will be saying, or more precisely, what I will be asking:

My talk will be about what we each think is the truth about politics, and about how that relates to what we each think is beautiful.

What are your political opinions?  What are your ideas of beauty?  How do these things relate to each other?

Are your political loyalties and beliefs the result of your already existing ideas about what is beautiful?  Did you arrive at your political views because you think that the political world you desire would be beautiful, as you already understood that?

Or, is it more the other way around?  Do your present ideas of what is beautiful result from what you have already decided is the political truth of things?  Would your politics lead to a world that looks a particular way, and do you therefore consider that world to be beautiful?

Or, for you, do the causal links go in both directions?  That certainly applies to me.

Or, do the above questions rather baffle you?  Because for you, what is politically true and what is beautiful are two entirely separate issues?  For many who, like me, call themselves libertarians, I should guess that this might be the answer, even though this is definitely not my answer.

I put my subject matter in the form of questions, because I hope that potential attenders will receive advance notice of these question, and that some attenders at least will arrive with their own answers.

I will supply introspected answers about my own political and aesthetic preferences and how they are related, a lot of them involving architecture.  But I hope I will speak briefly enough to leave plenty of time for others to offer their answers to my questions.  Or, of course, to say that the questions are silly, or whatever else they want to say about what I have said.

My current plan is to read out the above, and then illustrate it with some personal examples, and with some other examples that seem to be quite common, and commonly talked about.

My personal examples involve things like the extraordinary aesthetic appeal of American stuff, like their cars and their fighter jets, which got me thinking about why America actually worked better than the USSR, whose stuff seemed to be grey and dull and unglamorous by comparison.  That got me started towards being a libertarian, I think, way back in the 1950s.

In a related way, I then began to observe that British public sector architecture, which set the tone of the entire architectural scene in the sixties and seventies, had that same Soviet style drabness about it.  Modern architecture only became flash and glamorous, in the eighties.

All that, among other things, turned me into a libertarian.  And since then, I have tended to like the look of physical assemblages of objects that strike me as embodying liberty.  Skyscraper clusters and roof clutter being good examples.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be so fond of roof clutter in particular if I had more bossy tastes in politics, if you get my drift.

That’s a pretty simplified summary of some of my aesthetic-political thoughts-feelings.  But it suffices to illustrate the kind of thing I’ll be talking about.

As for similar stories told by others, I am struck by how an architectural style is often regarded as ugly, while it is advancing and hence seen as threatening, but later regarded with affection, once it has been defeated and is in retreat.  This happened with the New Brutalism, widely hated during its years of ascendancy, now only in the news because some now want its surviving edifices to be legally preserved.

On a huge, historic scale, this is what has happened with Norman castles.  Feared and hated when built, and for centuries after.  Now quaint and picturesque tourist traps.  Same kind of thing with big steam locomotives, at first feared and hated, now worshipped.

Many feel threatened by the very contemporary architecture that I personally like, and that’s because they see it, as do I, as embodying the very free market (-ish) ideas that I like, and that they dislike.  It’s more complicated than that.  But again, you get the idea.

My intention is to rattle through what I have to say quickly, to leave plenty of time for attenders to offer similar aesthetic-political memoirs of their own.

I’m putting this here so I can link to it in emails to potential attenders.  Emails work better when they are short, but when they can be lengthened, so to speak, by those reading.

If you want to know how to attend this talk, or other talks in the same series, email me (see here top left) or leave a comment and I’ll put you in touch with Christian Michel.

Tuesday December 13 2016

Last Thursday I managed to insert myself into a gathering of GodDaughter 1 and her close family, in honour of her birthday.  So it was GD1’s Mum and Dad and Elder Sister, and me.  We met up on the South Bank, and wandered along it, to see an art exhibition, and also a jewellery show, hosted by this enterprise, at the bottom of the Oxo Tower, which GD1’s Sister had helped to set up.  GD1’s Sister has herself become a jewellery maker, and apparently a rather promising one.

None of GD1’s Sister’s products were on show, alas.  But I was as interested to see what the general atmosphere and attitude was, of this quite large number of jewellery makers, each with a small clutch of Little Things for us to examine.  I know nothing of this world.  What sort of world is it?

The main thing to say is that the value of what all these makers are making is not based on the price of the materials they are using.  This is not precious metal jewellery, the real purpose of which is to navigate through financial crises.  The value of these Little Things lies in the inventive way that often quite modest materials are put together.

I was curious to see if there’d be any 3D printing involved.  Sure enough, one of these jewellers (Lynne Maclachlan (I love how my photos remembered her name for me, with no need for any other sort of note-taking)) is doing this:

imageimageimage

On the left, the little collection of Lynne Maclachlan’s wares that was on show.  On the right, GD1 handles one of Ms Maclachlan’s products.

Does my picture, and the way GD1’s fingers look, make that bracelet look very light?  I hope so, because it is very light.  Which is an important consideration with jewellery, if you want to make it other than tiny.  You don’t want your ears, fingers, wrists, or neck, weighed down with things that feel more like you’ve been enslaved rather than decorated.  And 3D printing can accomplish this, by making a structure that is still structurally solid, but both less bulky and more fun to look at than a solid lump.

I have long wondered about 3D printed jewellery, but there is only so much you can learn from googling.  Seeing these Little Things in their proper habitat, in their appropriate commercial context, tells you a lot more.  That Lynne Maclachlan has been welcomed into the sisterhood (it is mostly sisters) of jewellery makers rather than seen as any sort of threat, is, I think, very telling.

Tuesday November 08 2016

Incoming from 6k telling me about a scheme to light up London’s bridges.  (I often hear about London things from him.) This Guardian piece doesn’t, or not so I noticed, say explicitly whether this is intended to be a permanent arrangement or temporary, but it seems like it will be permanent.

Plans to light up London’s bridges in what would be one of the biggest public art projects the UK has ever seen have taken a step forward with six schemes shortlisted.

I agree with the Guardian that this picture, which is of this entry, is very enticing:

image

There’s a ton of verbiage attached to each of the six entries, but artistic verbiage is one of the things in the world that I respect the least, right down there with a few other things that I don’t respect at all.  Which doesn’t mean that the winning scheme will be bad.  It could be terrific.

The proof of the pudding will be when we all start photoing it.

No public money involved at all.  So they say.

Monday November 07 2016

Today I am rather ill, and so is my computer, or to be exact, my internet connection.  My internet connection does still work, but only some of the time.  There are regular interruptions, an earlier manifestation of which I suspect of having helped to cause those database problems.

My illness was cause by me swallowing a toothbrush bristle, which damaged my throat.  That’s the second time this has happened recently.  Am I going to have to start buying ridiculously expensive toothbrushes, and to throw them away more often?

So, to celebrate all this woe, here is a picture of nothing:

image

To be exact, that’s the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, with nothing on it.

I preferred that arrangement, photoed in September, to what is there now, which is a elongated thumb.  It’s supposed to be all about being positiv.  Whenever artists say things like that you suspect ironic distance.  But whatever the wording for this thing, I just don’t like how it looks.  I preferred Nothing.

The good news is that nothing on the Fourth Plinth is now permanent.  By which I mean not that it always has nothing there, like in September, but that no thing ever stays there permanently.  If you like whatever it is, you can photo it and remember it fondly.  If not, you can forget about it.

Sunday October 30 2016

Photoed by me in Leake Street (where this cat was later to be seen), in July:

image

And what a very appropriate word it is, for the point I am about to make.  Which is that although this new Graffiti Style of painting has now upstaged the old My Kid Could Do That Modernism of an earlier era, the two styles both have in common that they are, among other things, trying to baffle you rather than inform you, unless you are part of an inside clique which gets it.

In his book, The Painted Word, Tom Wolfe wrote about this earlier sort of bafflement, the sort where you had to know what the theory was that was embodied in whatever random daub you were looking at in an Art gallery.  The new Graffiti style actually gives you words, literally.  But, you only know what they mean if you know what they mean.

But at least there is some real skill on show, in the form of how the words are presented.  They at least look pretty.  Your kid probably couldn’t do it, unless he’s one of the ones who does.

Friday October 28 2016

Indeed:

image

Leake Street, October 19th.  Probably still there, as of right now, but quite possibly already painted over.

I do not know why the cat is saying: “4”.  Some sort of golfing reference?

Graffiti cat
The art of taxi advertising
An enlarged Dinky Toy in Belgravia
When the people are the Art
1666 remembered - with another fire
David Hockney comes to Pimlico
Keeping their distance
A pig and two dogs
The right moment and the right alignment
The new Tate Modern extension from inside Blackfriars Station
The Union Jack’s near death experience(s?)
The Sugar Land selfie statue
Art comment
Horizontal French signs
Looking in at the Zaha Hadid Design Gallery in Goswell Road
Van Art
John Cage does Sudoku
Dirty art on White Vans
Barcelona owl
Bach’s development of the most intense musical vision from a straitened environment
Asking about the Southbank Mosaics Gallery and asking about London’s Big Things
A still life and a cat cushion in Kentish Town
Two mice and a cat on a Wicked Van
The laboriousness-to-effect ratio at Colossal
Anonymous guys taking (and making) pictures in Trafalgar Square
Coloured lights in bottles outside the RFH
Phil Tufnell paints cats!!!
A rather argumentative van
Cats and cricket – cats and drones
Two strangers photoed by Mick Hartley and shown there (and here) without their permission
Old London by the Buck Brothers
Seaside muralist
Snohetta does zig zag roofs for competitive cities
A Shiny Thing by Frank Stella Hon RA
Big 4
Marc Morris on how the Bayeux Tapestry ought not to exist
CATable at the Building Centre
From a cat cushion to Bill Murray and a nude to a demon horse sculpture that killed its creator
Anish Kapoor photoed next to his big shiny balls
Hand done photos
Golden Gate being built – Severn Road Bridge ditto – C20 photography – Hitler’s paintings
Hirst’s Hymn outside the Tate Gallery
Non-faceless architecture in Rome
How the internet is cheering up Art
As found not-art
The Poppies (2): The crowds
The Poppies (1): What they look like
Shard shots
Why I am a point-and-shoot photographer rather than a Real Photographer
The illustrations for Christian Michel’s talk this Friday (plus some thoughts from me)
Photographers in Tate Ancient
Tate cat
Out and about in the sunshine
Cats … on scaffolding … with shadows …
Umbrellas!
Colossal fun
I see cats
Homer Simpson on Thames
Lego bridge in Germany
Finally working out what I liked about those Gormley Men
Art has its uses – but where did it have its uses this time – and what is it?
Temporary art made of brightly dressed people
Good question
Popography
Sandcastles that will live for ever
Digital photography as telepathy
David Byrne on the constraints of artistic form
Smaller is more legible – big is more fun
Owl at Canning Town railway station
Edwin is a bad person
Stairs Thing outside St Paul’s
Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
Rothko Toast
So painters also used to “take” pictures
Hong Kong housing that looks like abstract art
A mannequin in Tachbrook Street sheds light on the nature of perception
Lunch at Gessler at Daquise
Wandering about afterwards
Art without Artists
Cheap hippos are hard to find
An afternoon in Croydon
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom internet headline of the day
Flat cat
Photographers at Eros and Art in the tube
A happy British Summer Time to all my readers
Hockey Stick art
A pill that turns sweat into perfume
Release Ai Weiwei
Gormley’s South Bank Men
Blue Men on a boring building in Borough High Street
Quota photo by someone else
Tiny Cardboard Box People Appear All Over Singapore
Everyone?
Spray can girl in Leake Street
A good bit about the future of art galleries and how to rescue good bits
Biker shadow
Scaffolding ball
Large areas the same colour on the first first day of spring
The right to photograph
Abstract satellite expressionism
The Min-Kyu Choi folding three point plug
Structural decoration
Cat blogging and Gormley blogging
The Wheel through some Art
“Dying is a fulltime business. You haven’t time to do a lap of honour.”
More random links
A little drunk blogging
“… the idea is to remain ignorant of how dumb you look …”
Is the contemporary art bubble bursting?
Cat Car
P. J. O’Rourke confuses the average with the significant
If it’s not Art it can be rather fun
An abstract view of Kings Place
Lump art and dinner in sky
It only takes One Rich Lunatic
John Carey on Shakespeare and the high-art/ popular-art distinction
Keith Windschuttle on history - truth - Robert Hughes
Official bias
Two adverts in the tube
French cats
3D!
Photos are better
Art is always a value judgement
Classic car thinness
Sounding like a different country
Girls these days flashing their cleavages it’s disgusting don’t know what the world’s coming to …
There’s a crack in the cracks at Tate Modern
Three proper photos … and three Billion Monkeys!!!
Photography is not dead
Underground art
Flashdrawing
Deceiving the eyes of Paris
It only takes two idiots
Man may not sit on Art bed and be photoed by Billion Monkey lady friend!
Venus undistorted
Venus by the river
Tate Modern Extension
Genius
Wichita line (and colour) man
Skill and Post-Skill
The Million Dollar Homepage
Date art