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Category archive: Sculpture

Thursday November 20 2014

By way of proof that these people were not the only ones perhaps failing to behave in a way that would be considered by some to be entirely appropriate for the solemnity of the place, here are some photos that I took of Bald Blokes Photoing The Poppies:

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I too was being inappropriately frivolous.

Click to get the bigger pictures.

Those snaps are picked because the focus, such as it is, is on the bald heads, rather than on the cameras or what the cameras are pointed at.  Bald heads are, I am learning (more than I ever did before), infinitely bizarre sites, like maps of strange deserts from the air, full of mysterious marks and indentations, with subtle changes in the vegetation.

But, inevitably, after picking out those snaps, I came upon other pictures of Bald Blokes Photoing The Poppies that I considered also to be deserving of notice.

This one, for instance, is one of the burst of about half a dozen that I took of Bald Bloke Number 3 above.  This one focuses on the picture he is taking rather than on his baldness, and I particularly like how it came out:

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Or how about this one, which is a first, in my quest for Bald Blokes Taking Photos.  Two Bald Blokes taking photos!:

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Does the Bald Bloke nearest to me also like to take photos of Bald Blokes Taking Photos?

Finally, a bloke photoing The Poppies who is only pretending to be bald:

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Note that he hasn’t shaved his head for a few days, but a few days ago, he did, entirely.

This is the snap that proves, as all who care already know well, that this totally bald look is a fashion statement, rather than just bald blokes pretending to make a fashion statement, to disguise their partial baldness.  Because here is a guy who is not bald at all doing it.  He has nothing ignoble to disguise, yet he adopts this look anyway.

Tuesday November 18 2014

I was in Paris in the freezing February of 2012, and while there, on the coldest day of the lot, I visited an amazing exhibition of Relief Maps.  Thank googleness for the internet, because instead of having to explain this, I can just give you the link, and let you learn as much or as little about this event as you want to.

Here is the photo:

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I can’t remember how exactly all the things that you see there came to look the way they do in that photo, but I’m pretty sure that a big mirror was involved, and also the glass of the big case that this map was in.  I can say with absolute certainty that no Photoshop(clone)ing is involved.

The big near-white thing in the middle is a map, on the floor, of France.

Go to the very middle of the picture, and then across a bit to the left and then down a bit, and you will see: me.  Wearing a scarf indoors, as was everyone else.

Wednesday November 12 2014

One of the problems of big arrays of Poppies is that, like at funerals, you feel a certain pressure to adopt the proper tone of solemnity, like you being solemn is going to stop the First World War having happened, or something.  No, really, I do get it.  It’s very sad, what with all those soldiers having died, and what with lots of the people present perhaps remembering particular departed loved ones.  You probably shouldn’t be enjoying yourself too obviously.

And in particular, you probably shouldn’t be doing this.  But, you do it anyway:

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But maybe that is just me, being a bit grumpy, and using my grumpiness as an excuse to violate the privacy of strangers who really weren’t doing anything very wrong.  Nobody else seemed to have any problem with these selfie takers.  The feeling seemed to be: This Thing means, to you, whatever you decide it means to you.  If what it means to you is a chance for you to take a smiling selfie with lots of bright red in the background, well, okay.  And I think I agree.

I certainly had fun photoing these people.

Tuesday November 11 2014

Doing photography makes me happy, both as something for me to do and as something for me to photo others doing.  Before digital photography, I had the usual dislike felt by people of my nationality and with my approximate level of upbringing and education for crowds of tourists, barging their way around my city, bumping into me and making me feel insignificant, like they owned the place which of course they sort of did and sort of do.  The Masses were bad enough as a mere idea, but actually seeing them, Massed, made it even worse.

Tourism, I used to tell myself, unthinkingly, is not “real”.  But tourism is every bit as real as an Amazonian rainforest, just as affluent suburbs are as real as inner city sink estates.  And ever since I discovered the joy of photoing these crowds of tourists, tourists taking photos, photos of my city and of each other, and of themselves, I have deliberately mingled with these crowds, which basically means that I have become a tourist myself, in London, the city where I live.  A state of silly and unthinking grumpiness has been replaced by a far more thoughtful and philosophically elevated state of happiness and smugness.  Happiness and smugness are also just as real as misery, and my happiness and smugness is all the happier and smugger because provoked by the exact same things as I had formerly been making myself miserable about.

Crowds like those pictured below, in other words, are just as real as the events that all those red Poppies that everyone has come to see hark back to.  One of the many remarkable things about these Poppies is the huge - truly enormous – scale not just of the Poppies themselves, but of the crowds of people who have journeyed to the Tower of London to look at them.  Here are a couple of my better Poppies crowd shots:

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My single most unforgettable Poppies Crowds Moment did not happen to me when I was actually there being a part of one of these crowds, but in a tube station in some other nearby part of central London, the weekend before last.  I was on an escalator, and an intercom voice started saying that if I intended visiting the Tower of London to see The Poppies (I didn’t – not that day), then I should definitely consider using another tube station besides Tower tube station, because Tower tube station was jam packed or words to that effect.  I should go instead, said the voice, to another nearby tube station (the voice offered several suggested alternatives) and walk from there, from only a little bit further away.  That’s how big the crowds have been.  And instead of snarling with silly rage at that announcement, I instead said to myself: I must remember to put that on my blog.  Which has been another source of great happiness to me, and would have been even if I had not got stuck into photography.

Sunday November 09 2014

Those Tower of London Poppies are causing quite a stir, with politicians of all parties, and people too, saying they ought to stay there longer, beyond Remembrance Sunday (today), beyond 11am on Tuesday, and maybe as long as Nov 11th 2018, so as many people as want to can get to see them.

I’ve checked them out twice myself, and took many photos of the sort that are presumably now tsunaming all over cyberspace.  I already mentioned these Poppy trips in passing, in this and in this and in this, but this is the first Poppy Posting here that is specificallly about The Poppies, hence the number in the title.

Here are a few of my “what it looks like” snaps (click to get them larger):

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What these snaps of mine don’t show (although 2.1 and 2.3 hint at it) is the panoramic hugeness of it all.  For that I turn to Goddaughter 2, who accompanied me on my first Poppies visit.

She had her mobile phone with her, which has an app for taking extremely wide photos.  By combining these two snaps …:

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… she arrived at this:

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That is about two thirds of it.  You can see all of it only in pictures like this one

I can entirely see why thousands upon thousands of people have wanted to come and gaze at these Poppies, because the effect is very striking, and the vast scale seems entirely appropriate.  There is one poppy for each British soldier who died, the Britishness of the poppies being the excuse for the Guardian to have a go at it all, in such postings as this one and this one.  But if I was French or German or Turkish and I saw this huge spread of poppies in London, I don’t think I’d feel that my dead ancestors were being dissed in any way.  And actually, I think I did hear quite a few foreign languages being spoken when I visited.  I mean, why wouldn’t a nation mourn its own dead?  I didn’t feel any resentment, when I recently visited a French graveyard with lots of war dead in it, that the ancestors of me and my fellow countrymen were being omitted from the story, any more than I do when I chance upon a war memorial in England with only local local names on it.  Why would I? 

The odd thing is, my two personal sets of ancestors had no WW1 deaths in them, or not one that anyone in my particular little family ever talked about.  This was not because of any general reluctance to talk about such things.  In WW2, we lost my mum’s older and only brother, Uncle John, and that was talked about every now and then, as were the two uncles who fought in WW2 and survived.  But stories about my ancestors in WW1?  Nothing.  I’m guessing this is a bit unusual.

Friday November 07 2014

The way to photo “iconic” buildings is to muck around with them.  You can’t just stick up your basic passport photos of them, so to speak, because everyone’s seen that, even the foreigners.

You have to put your iconic building next to something else, perhaps iconic in a different way ...:

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… or, you bounce your IB off a non-iconic building covered in slightly bendy glass.

Or you photo it through a Riverside Thing …:

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… or behind an Iconic Bridge (the one that wobbled (see the posting immediately below)).

Or you put something else in front of it, like a photographer, and have the IB itself behind and way out of focus.

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That works fine because the whole point of an IB is that you can recognise it even if it is ridiculously blurry, the way you never could a regular building.

Or, you photo it on the screen of another photographer, perhaps even a bald bloke photographer.  I am now collecting bald bloke photographers, and believe me, the species is now very abundant.  And by the way, if you click and look at bit carefully, you can see that the bald bloke had the same idea as me about photoing the reflected version of the Shard, rather than just the Thing itself:

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As the autumn light fades, the screens of other photographers shine ever more brightly.  (LATER: And, on the right there, I see cranes.)

I picked those four snaps of snappers entirely because I liked them.  But, they are all pictures of snappers using their mobile phones.  Mobile phone cameras are getting better and better.  But of course.  I mean, would they be getting worse?

But having said all that, I do like this:

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No frills, no complications, just the top of the IB itself, with a bit of orange light from somewhere.

All of the above photos were taken on my way to and from the Tower of London, about tendays ago, to see all those poppies.

LATER: How in the world could I possibly have failed to include, in this, this?

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Shard on camera screen, and poppies.  But, this time, a clunky old camera camera rather than a mobile phone camera.

Friday October 31 2014

First, what’s going on in this picture?  What’s weird about it?  How did I contrive the weirdness?:

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Hint: One of the categories for this posting is “Computer graphics”.  Another hint: I like reflections.

Second, what’s the Feline Friday connection in this photo, taken earlier this week outside the Tower of London?

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Hint: There is also a clue to this one in the categories list.

If nobody else supplies the answers, I will!  Only by refusing to read these answers will you be able to escape them.

Monday October 27 2014

Next Friday, October 31st, Christian Michel is giving a talk at my home entitled, somewhat provocatively: “Soviet and Nazi Art as Illustrations of Ayn Rand’s Aesthetics”.  He is certainly not the first to have pointed out the overlap, so to speak.

Here’s what Christian says about his talk (which I “LATER” (Tuesday) realised I need to insert into this posting, near the beginning):

Art does not feature high on the libertarian agenda. One exception is Ayn Rand, who declared that of all human products art is perhaps the most important. She went on to develop her own theory of aesthetics, and even attempted (as did Jean-Paul Sartre at the same time) to deliver her entire philosophy through the sole medium of literature (both failed).

In my talk this Friday I will sum up Rand’s aesthetics, her contribution to the field, and will show that it was nowhere better illustrated in the twentieth century than in the arts of National-Socialist Germany and Soviet Russia. The point is not to denigrate Rand’s philosophy by that association, but to say that genuine artists find a way to convey their deepest values and sense of life, to express the highest human aspirations and struggles, whatever their circumstances, and that’s exactly what Rand celebrated.

And here is something of what I think about these kinds of things.

Just after World War 2, many an artist said things along the lines of: after Auschwitz, we cannot any longer do purely representational art.  (Similar things were said by classical composers: after Auschwitz, we can’t any longer do pretty tunes.) But the artists had been abandoning pictorial representation (and tunefulness) long before Auschwitz happened, so “Auschwitz” has the air of being a rationalisation rather than the real reason for these artistic trends.

The crimes of Soviet Communism never had quite the same effect on most of the artists, even as an excuse for abstraction, although there were honourable exceptions (Mondrian for instance).  Too many artists admired the Soviet Union, especially during and just after World War 2, during its struggle and after victory over Nazi Germany.

Realistic art had also been seriously deranged by photography.  Photography destroyed the economic foundations of your average painter of realistic portraits and realistic paintings of such things as landscapes, and turned art painting into a sort of cultural bombsite, in which (to quote the words of an early twentieth century popular song) “anything goes”, anything, that is, except realistic pictures of people and of things.  Realism, for the average artist, just made him look like a bad photographer.  Even the claim that “art” now had to be an attack on the delusional bourgeois habit of trying to make visual and conceptual sense of the world has the feel, for me, of a rationalisation.

But there is much more to “realism” than mere realism.  What looks at first glance merely realistic is often aspirational, and to abandon the field of representational art to the mid twentieth century totalitarians was surely a propaganda error, to put it no more strongly.  For the likes of Ayn Rand, this was a surrender by the civilised world that should never have happened.

To point out that Rand favoured images that resembled Nazi and Soviet art is not to accuse her of being a Nazi or a Communist.  It is to realise that she did not want the still immensely potent artistic weapon that is representational painting and sculpture to be monopolised by the totalitarians.

All of which is something of how I see (and hear) the kinds of things that Christian Michel will be talking about on Friday.  As to what Christian himself will say, well, we shall see, and hear.

Meanwhile, here is an abundance of visual clues as to the sort of aesthetic territory that Christian will be traversing in his talk.  It will be an illustrated talk.  Here, without identification or further comment, from me or from him, are the illustrations he has sent me, in the order (I assume) in which he will be referring to them.

A few of these images are small enough to fit within the 500 pixel horizontal limit that prevails at this blog, a couple being very small indeed.  But most can be enlarged (a little or quite a lot) with a click:

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The illustrations for Christian Michel’s talk this Friday (plus some thoughts from me)
Halloween buckets
Big cat advertises guide dogs
Photographers in Tate Ancient
The ballerina and her support act
Ballerina with cranes again - this time with added spy cameras
Quota ballerina with cranes photo
Out and about in the sunshine
Back from France (plus cat photos)
Sacred architecture and profane roof clutter - a speculation
Colossal fun
What is this Thing?
A Bobcat digger and the Coade Lion from the back
3D printed structural joints and another Gormley man
The Dragon Bridge of Da Nang
Pavlova with cranes
Leaf Cycle
Big Blue Cock photos
Noah – Cosi at the Imax – Big Blue Cock
James II dressed as a Roman
VC DSO DSO DSO DSO
Lego bridge in Germany
Star car
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?
Photographers in the spring
3D printed baby in the womb
Blue wind
Don’t judge a new technology by its first stumbling steps
A quota post (with a quota link to a post about a post about a quota photo) and another quota photo
Camel
Faberge - Brutalism
Temporary art made of brightly dressed people
6k quota photo of sea
Sandcastles that will live for ever
Ice sculptures in Docklands – Big Things from Docklands
3D printer sighted!
Dog wearing funny spectacles plus electrical clutter
Ballerina with crane
Sculpture at St James’s Tube
The Kelpies of Falkirk
Michael Jennings photos the bridges of Porto
Crows nest made of coat hangers
Owl at Canning Town railway station
Photoing each other - and photoing stuff in the canal
A day in and around Olympicland with Goddaughter One
Quota photo of a bucket of plastic crocodiles in an otherwise deserted shop window in Oxford Street
Rooftops
Savoy cat
Stairs Thing outside St Paul’s
Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
A mannequin in Tachbrook Street sheds light on the nature of perception
Art without Artists
Cheap hippos are hard to find
Skull made of skulls in gift shop street
New crane up
Croydon cats
Little Lady Liberty - still in France
Photographing Kreod
Bomber Command Memorial pictures
Latest C4 logo sculpture
Quota frogs
76 operas and a monument in the wrong place for Hermann the German
Quota hedgehog sculpture
Another pub
Another Assembly of Men
Gormley’s South Bank Men
Blue Men on a boring building in Borough High Street
Giant bull held up by scaffolding
Cool sculpture
Giant Jesuses
Tiny Cardboard Box People Appear All Over Singapore
A picture I want to remember
Cats with human faces
As strong and sweet as the free market itself
One man’s intellectual theft is another man’s marketing
Everybody draw Mohammed every day!
Quota swan
London is about to be Kapoored with a big new Olympic Games Thing
We’ll always have Chelsea
Scaffolding ball
Eros under an umbrella
Giant Bean covered in mirror
The Min-Kyu Choi folding three point plug
Decorated hippo
As found roof sculpture
Johanna Kaschke versus the Deluded Leftwinger
The Labour Party finally agrees on a new Prime Minister to replace Gordon Brown
Dripping table
Slumponomics
Structural decoration
Cat blogging and Gormley blogging
What The State looks like
The Wheel through some Art
The towers of London from the Copper Horse
Another strange Staines statue
Roll out the Lino
Not Billion Monkeys!
An abstract view of Kings Place
More sticking up stuff
Big head and big something else
Resizing Slim with Expression Engine
3D!
Pictures with words
A sculptural suggestion
Classic car thinness
The return of Friday cat-blogging
Twickenham shop attacked by the Dark Side of The Force
Exciting posting about shelves
Celebrating a victory
Not a hot day in January for the Billion Monkeys!
Billion Monkey scrunched up in a ball!
Reflections in a Belgravia shop window
Three proper photos … and three Billion Monkeys!!!
Spherical trouser sculpture
More St Pancras snaps
Manhole cover cats and Angel of the North shelves?
Yes this is cat blogging
American war memorial by the sea at St Nazaire
Berlin Billion Monkeys photo rat and cheese sand sculpture!
A squinting cat and a master ephemerist
Further pictorial shallowness
Engadgetry
Rokeby Billion Monkey!
Cat sculptures
More Magic Andy sand sculpture
Magic Andy makes magic dragon
The Mainstream Media finally get around to noticing Andy and his sand sculptures
Random London snaps from last year
Pylons
Kiev cat
No more photos for a bit after these ones
Alice in Fortnum and Mason
Everyone likes Magic Andy
Should blogs - this one in particular - specialise?
Bartók outside South Kensington tube
The Ben Pimlott lump
Old media
And then I went home happy
Puke