Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Michael Jennings on My week in Brittany 2: A crane holding a bridge at Canning Town!
BT on Confirming my String prejudices
Tatyana on Man 3D-prints Thing in his back garden
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Friday Night Smoke on 5G Boris
Friday Night Smoke on A Sunday ramble
Julie near Chicago on Cat news
Rob Fisher on Round headlights equals an old car
Most recent entries
- A swimming pool in a skyscraper
- God is dead
- PID at the Times
- My week in Brittany 2: A crane holding a bridge at Canning Town!
- ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
- Back from France (plus cat photos)
- Big Things through a gasometer
- The view from Stave Hill
- Confirming my String prejudices
- Cat photo and cat news
- Man 3D-prints Thing in his back garden
- Oxo Tower with bus advertising The Expendables III
- Something at Samizdata
- 5G Boris
- Out from under the weather
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
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Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Coffee & Complexity
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Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
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Ferraris for all
Freedom and Whisky
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Sculpture
Yes, I’ve been in France, and now I’m back. Have been for several days actually, but I spent my recent blogging time doing this, which is a photo-decorated ramble on various things I saw in France, or thought I did, for Samizdata.
I really want to get back into the swim of things over there, after a recent dry spell, and was accordingly determined to finish that ramble before I resumed rambling here.
Since this is Friday, here are some French cats.
Cat number one stands outside Vannes town hall:
Cat number two is impressively perched on an impressively high ledge, somewhere or other. Cat number three, the cat of the friends I was staying with, is shown here, not being very impressed with cat number two:
This photo was taken by Tony, to whom thanks, and to whom thanks also for emailing it to me.
Here, on the other hand are two further photos that I did take of cat number three:
No, I don’t know why his right ear is green on the inside. I only noticed this when I got home.
His name is Caesar (sp?), and he actually does answer to that name. It’s not tone of voice, it’s the name, because when I said this to him for the first time, he immediately looked up to see what I had in mind.
There is another cat, Basil, who drops by at the home of Tony et famille from time to time, but he is more shy. He was otherwise engaged, on my last day there which was when I finally decided I wanted to photo the two cats. Caesar showed up, but not Basil. Another time, maybe.
Caesar is now very old, and I may never meet with him again. We got on well.
The are two photos which I took last Monday. The one with the bright blue sky, me looking up, was taken in Wigmore Street. The one looking down, was taken from the ME Hotel Radio Rooftop Bar.
They are photos not so much of roof clutter, as of roofs, roof in all their elaborately designed glory. But, you can spot the late twentieth century incursions:
The aesthetic impact of radio and television aerials does not seem to be much discussed in the architectural world. It could be that it has, and I merely haven’t noticed, but I don’t think that’s it.
Here is what I think is going on inside the heads of architectural aestheticians, on this subject. The deal we will make with you mindless philistines is: you can have your damn aerials, because we know that if you are not allowed, by us, to have your damn aerials, you will hut us down and burn us at the stake. But, we refuse to talk about them. We will not incorporate them into our aesthetic theories of how things look, and should look. We will not see them.
Which is how we got from the above scenario, where everything on the roof is elaborately designed, but the first few aerials have crept into the pictures, but have not been seen by the architects and their aesethetic guides, to this:
Yet still, they don’t see it and they don’t talk about.
Really, really weird.
I’ve been pondering roof clutter for a while now, but the more I ponder it, the more weird the phenomenon is.
What this reminds me of is a distinction that my sociology teachers at Essex University all those years ago made much of, that between the sacred and the profane. The sacred stuff here is the regular “architecture”, the walls, the windows, the roofs, the interiors, and so on. All of that is sacred, and is accordingly obsessed over, every tiny square inch of it, every subtle colour change, just as priests obsess about every word in a prayer.
But those aerials are profane. They don’t register. They aren’t architecture, any more than a tracksuit worn by a impoverished member of the congregation in a church is a sacred vestment, the details of which must be argued about by bishops and theologians, or the sales pitch being done over the phone on Monday morning (by someone who had been devoutly praying on Sunday) is itself a prayer. That sales pitch is profane. Forget about it. Don’t even think about it.
Those aerials, in among the sacredness of all those designed chimneys and roofs and little towers, are profane. And hence invisible. Aerials are designed, by aerial designers, to make sense of radio waves. But they are not designed to be looked at. They are a pure case of form following function. Architects ought to love them, if they believed their prayers. But they don’t because what is there for architects to add? Nothing. The job has all been done, by profane aerial designers.
Well, I don’t know. I’m thinking as I go along here, but writing it anyway. Which is all part of why I have this blog. At this blog, I am allowed to be wrong. This is a thinking allowed zone, you might say, a place where the thinking does not have to be done before the blogging begins. This is, you might say, a profane blog.
Just now, there is some particularly choice stuff at Colossal:
An Abandoned Bangkok Shopping Mall Hides a Fishy Secret
This is fish being farmed in an abandoned basement.
Click and enjoy.
I love to look at modern buildings, before they are finished and covered up. All sorts of strange things are to be seen, that may or may not soon disappear from view.
What, for example, is this peculiar structure, which I photographed this afternoon, on the south side of Oxford Street?
Here is the original shot I took, before I cropped, rotated, and so forth:
I include that because there may be clues as to what the Thing is from its context.
But what will this Thing end up looking like? Will it be covered up? Will ladders be involved? I don’t know, but I’ll keep you posted.
I’ll also do something obvious that I failed to even attempt this afternoon, which is I’ll try to photo whatever signs on the site I could find, that might enable me to chase down a website with maybe a mock-up of what the final Thing will look like. I keep telling myself to do this kind of thing, and telling other digital photographers that they should do this kind of thing. But today, I was not concentrating on photography, I was concentrating on shopping. Trying to buy a new jacket. And I forgot to search out signs. Mistake.
But correctable. I can go back. London is what I love to photograph and if I get it wrong, I can try again. If the weather is bad I can wait until it’s nicer. It’s not like this Thing is in a foreign city I was in last month, and I’m stuck here never being able to photo those signs. I can go back there, find those signs, if they are there, and chase down that website, if it exists.
When I say “back”, what I mean is, looking up its arse, at its bollocks:
Here is the same beast from its better side, together with some history, such as why it’s called the Coade Lion.
It’s one of my favourite London statues, especially when it lines itself up with the Wheel.
And here is something else feline, spotted in the place where all vehicles of interest to me seem to be spotted these days, Lower Marsh:
It’s the Bobcat E50, as you can see in my photo if you look carefully enough.
So, what is a “bobcat”? I saw a TV documentary recently about honey badgers, and they are nothing to do with regular badgers. So, is a bobcat a regular cat nearly, or a regular cat not at all? Does it merely look or behave somewhat like a cat, to some rather unobservant people? It turns out bobcats are cats. Wikipedia has a picture of what it describes as “bobcat kittens” (which ought surely to be: bobkittens). They look exactly like regular cat kittens.
Wikipedia is reasonably reliable on non-politically-controversial topics, but I was rather expecting the bobcat wikipedia entry to have a clutch of propaganda in it about how bobcats are an endangered species and how this is all the fault of people, capitalism, etc.. But actually the bobcat news here, according to Wikipedia, is quite good:
Although bobcats have been hunted extensively by humans, both for sport and fur, their population has proven resilient though declining in some areas.
See also, this strange guy. I like the Police Academy movies, in which he appears, despite him rather than to any degree because of him. The only thing I do like about him is that he omits the terminal e from his surname, thereby making it that tiny bit easier for me to make people spell my surname right.
This kind of thing is why I keep going to dezeen:
Engineering firm Arup has produced prototype 3D-printed steel construction joints that could be used to create more efficient structures.
Arup says it has produced a new design method for creating “critical structural steel elements” for tensile structures – a development it believes signals “a whole new direction for the use of additive manufacturing in the field of construction and engineering”.
A glimpse of much architecture to come, I think.
First impression: don’t much like it. Gormley is very hit or miss, and this looks to me like a miss. But, it’s only a tube ride away, so what’s for me to lose if I go and check it out? I might like it more in, so to speak, the flesh. Not that it looks very fleshy.
What strikes me, when I look at these two pictures, is how much more sculpturally interesting the purely functional artifact is, compared to the “sculpture”.
Wikipedia on it, here.
More pictures here. Plus, this:
To celebrate the 38th anniversary of the liberation of Da Nang, the government of Vietnam has constructed the world’s largest dragon-shaped bridge over the Han River. Not only is it the steel bridge the largest of its type in the world, but it is covered in over 2,500 LED lights - and it breathes fire!
Inauguration report, and another great picture here:
I think that’s terrific. I just went looking for new bridges, not having done this for a while, and this one jumped out at me.
I am very fond of the ballerina statue at the top of the Victoria Palace Theatre. I recently photoed it with a red crane behind it, that being one of my favourite recent snaps.
This afternoon, I photoed it again, again with craneness:
From 1911, the year after its rebuilding to its present design by Frank Matcham, the Victoria Palace had a gilded statue of prima ballerina Anna Pavlova poised above it. This was owner Alfred Butt’s homage to the dancer he had spectacularly introduced to London.
The tribute was not appreciated by the superstitious ballerina, who would never look at her image as she passed the theatre, drawing the blinds in her car. The original statue was taken down for safety reasons in 1939 before the blitz and has completely disappeared. It is not known whether it is in someone’s garden or was turned to wartime military use, such as bullets.
The Victoria Palace moved into the new millennium with an adventurous building programme; enlarging the Foyer, WC facilities and increasing the dressing room space, whilst maintaining all the feel and character of a historic building.
In 2006, a replica of the original statue of Pavlova was reinstated to its original place above the cupola of the Victoria Palace and her gold-leafed figure once again gleams above us.
Blog and learn.
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
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
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
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
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
Little Lady Liberty - still in France
Bomber Command Memorial pictures
Latest C4 logo sculpture
76 operas and a monument in the wrong place for Hermann the German
Quota hedgehog sculpture
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
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!
London is about to be Kapoored with a big new Olympic Games Thing
We’ll always have Chelsea
Eros under an umbrella
Giant Bean covered in mirror
The Min-Kyu Choi folding three point plug
As found roof sculpture
Johanna Kaschke versus the Deluded Leftwinger
The Labour Party finally agrees on a new Prime Minister to replace Gordon Brown
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
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
Rokeby Billion Monkey!
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
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
And then I went home happy