A colleague at work chose Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake today for one of his turns on Spotify, a classic (apparently) album by the Small Faces. I’ve never been a fan of sixties British music and have never heard this record before (other than the Lazy Sunday Afternoon track obviously)
So imagine my surprise when I heard the voice of Stanley Unwin chatting away throughout the Happiness Stan “concept” piece on side 2.
Stanley Unwin spoke what he called ”Basic Engly Twentyfido” and everyone else called Uniwnese. Hearing it again completely out of the blue, brought back many happy memories. My dad was a big fan, and I can clearly remember whenever Mr. Unwin appeared on telly, me and him crying with laughter together and wondering how he did it all with such a straight face and without verbally tripping himself up.
Some Unwinese phrases can be found here on Wikipeadia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Unwin_(comedian)
I’m not sure if it was genius or madness, but listening to some of the audio links on his site below still brings a huge smile to my face. Try Unwins Guide to the Infernal Combustion engine…..
Deep Joy indeed…….
This made me very cross on the way home tonight, so much so, that I’ve had to add a new “Things I don’t like” category especially. Hopefully there won’t be many of these…
Seen as a full page advert in the Evening Standard, the image below had the slogan “A BENCHMARK FOR MODERN HOMES” written across it.
Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this an image from a Horse and Hound magazine circa 1935? So what is it that’s Modern about it? The chimneys, the arched entrances, the gable ends possibly.. and there’s lots more of this tosh on the web site….
Have we sunk so low, and are that scared of modern architecture, that the best way to sell new homes to the commuter belt wannabees is to resort to images that should be in Metroland Magazine .
And it gets worse.. once you wade through all the (admittedly quite seductive and halcyon) imagery you find that these abominations look nothing like the pictures and exactly like you would expect… cheap, value engineered and debased copies of the Metroland properties they aspire to.. no “period” details to raise them from the mundane, thick plastic windows which aren’t recessed, doric columns and stick on stone window sorrounds… Ugly, Ugly, Ugly…
And don’t start me on the “aspirational” vehicles… the bus above was last seen in service about 70 years ago and the Rolls Royce is so old its probably worth more than the houses…..
Incidentally, prices start from a tantalising £1.95 million, so if you fancy living in another gated developement that’s destined to be full of footballers and models, then sign up now… Who said that wealthy people had no taste.
I need to sit down now…
The first major retrospective in over 50 years hits London this week and it seems the world can’t get tickets fast enough. When I did my art history back in the day, my memory is that we mostly skipped Gauguin. As I remember, our tutor dismissed him as an untrained amature and suggested that his work (prior to heading off to Tahiti) was mostly derivative and unoriginal, that he was a troubled soul and not able to stay in one place for any length of time. A man who liked under age girls (something he shared with Schiele), and winding up the far more talented Van Gough to such an extent, that he cut his ear off…..
This view has always formed (clouded?) my opinion of him and consequently I’ve never given him much thought, so I am surprised and intrigued to see that the art critics are now suggesting that he is one of the founding fathers of modernism, citing his use of colour and reductive form as key apsects of their proof.
And so, having looked into it a bit more over the last few days, it seems that I may have done him a disservice, dismissing him out of hand. Whilst I still find the portraits of the Tahiti girls that he did at the end of his life (and for which he is most famous) trite, and naive, there are other aspects which I had never previously considered.
Gauguin died in 1903 and posthumous retrospective exhibitions held in Paris in both 1903 and a larger one in 1906 were a huge influence on Picasso. It seems obvious now, but I had never connected the large, simplified figures of Gauguin with what I was always taught as the first modernist painting, that being Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon from 1906/07. I had always accepted that Picasso took his primary cues from the startling genius of fellow Spaniard El Greco, the abstract landscapes of Cezanne, and the influx of Primitive sculpture that found its way to Paris around the turn of the 20th century, transforming them via the abandonment of perspective into a new direction.
The other thing that amused me regarding the coverage was the total acceptance by the media (especially BBC’s 10 O’clock News) of the nudity of the underage girls that Gauguin liked to paint. It’s not often that you see Fiona Bruce sitting in front of pictures of semi naked children.
It reminds me of John Bergers’s excellent book from the 1970′s “Ways of Seeing” in which, through a series of written and pictorial essays, he discusses issues pertaining to differences (both real and perceived) between photos of naked women from “glossy magazines” and paintings of naked women in galleries.
We went to Tent London yesterday afternoon over in Brick Lane. Overall a pretty good show, but for me there were a few too many strangely shaped and twisted objects which had so obviously been manipulated in digital space until visually satisfying, and then banged out via a 3D printer or laser cutter…. all Ok but a bit shallow with not much in the way of (human) Craft……
A notable exception were the beautiful wooden animals and robots by David Weeks. I especially liked Ursa the Bear.
Anyway we stopped for a drink with some friends and I noticed (not for the first time) the huge tiled Space Invader opposite the main open space at Turmans Brewery. It reminded us of the Rubiks Cube works that Mr. Invader started doing a few years back.
These wonderfully simple works are created by reducing an image to six colours, dividing it up into lots of squares, scaling it up so that its legible and then buying enough Rubiks Cubes to create the pattern. Brilliantly simple and amazingly effective…
In fact there is one of Battersea Power Station in the Mason Arms opposite where I’m currently working in Battersea Park Road. I’m pretty sure its not by Space Invader, but it does look pretty good close up, nonetheless.
I used to work in Smithfield and there were a number of his small mosaic invaders dotted around that always caught the eye. My kind of street art: simple, clever, well executed and universal….
Looking through today’s Guardian, I came across the work of Tom Gauld, a man who obviously has a pretty dark sense of humour.
I particularly like this Noisy Alphabet, surreal but in a soft way….
Saw this in the paper this morning…
Produced by Aardman Animation, Dot is 9mm high and was made for Nokia as a viral for their new Nokia 8 Smartphone.
The animators used a 3D printer to make 50 different versions of the figure as she was too tiny to manipulate or bend in the usual stop motion way. Apparently it was not possible to make her any smaller as it would have been difficult to create visually separate limbs and a head.
Each of the models was then hand-painted and attached to an extremely thin wire and “precision engineering” then moved the backdrop behind the tiny Dot models.
It was all filmed through a CellScope (a microscope for mobile phones)attached to the N8 and its 12MP camera.
Very lovely and sweet….
Over the past couple of months I’ve been reading the first two Takeshi Kovacs novels by Richard Morgan. Altered Carbon and Broken Angles are a stunning combination of genres: cyberpunk, science fiction and noir detective to name a few.
The scope of the work is breathtaking. Set in a dystopian Twenty Sixth Century, the human race has finally reached the stars and is colonising everywhere and fighting everything it comes across. Human consciousness can be digitised and downloaded into cortical stacks in clones (known as sleeving). This helps with interstellar travel where needlecasts send information at the speed of light. It also helps when and if you get killed. As long as your head and neck remain intact, the cortical stack can be removed, placed into data storage facility and the conciousness downloaded once again. At one point Takeshi Kovacs admits he’s been resleeved at least 10 times.
Kovacs is basically a mercenary who benefits from military level upgraded functions including total recall, chemically enhanced physical reactions and cognitive abilities, making him a very difficult adversary to overcome. Interestingly, when I read the first novel, which is set on earth, the images I had in mind were very much based on Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner, with its overcast and rainy weather, knackered cities, and rampant advertising: a place where virtual reality and AI’s are as everyday as drinking coffee.
Like Takeshi San, Master Chief is a cybernetically enhanced human super soldier who, along with Cortana (an AI) spends his time fighting anything and everything that threatens him, which mainly seems to be The Covenant, an alliance of alien races.
I never really got into games. I’ve always liked the idea of them, but the reality of sitting in front of a monitor for six hours at a time, doesn’t do it for me. So knowing nothing about Halo, I looked it up on’t web, and other than being intrigued by the si-fi ness of it all and the very impressive graphics, I’ve found another reason why I like it. Apparently the name Halo refers to huge off-world habitable ringed megastructures, similar in nature to the Orbitals in Iain M Banks’ SF Culture novels. A reference that I appreciate very much having been a fan of his novels for many years now, with Consider Phlebas being one of my all time favourite novels.
So in terms of “connective chronology” it would have to be: Bladerunner – Iain M Banks - Halo - Richard Morgan. Excellent, I like connections very much, it gives me stuff to research in my spare time…..
I came across an illustration that I liked in a magazine today and this led me to “discover” Paul Wearing at his website here..
It’s no surprise really that the bold, solid colours and simple geometries appeals to me. There are strong echos of many of my favourites: Airside, Charlie Harper and Picasso to name a few.
Very nice indeed, and someone I shall be keeping an eye on.
Looking forward to the upcoming Bedrock 12th birthday on the 4th October. This will be our 6th or 7th one over the last 8 years or so, having only missed last years because we were in South America at the time.
Not sure about it being at Brixton though, not really the place to be at 6.00am waiting for the first train home on Sunday with a head full of clubbing… And as for the sloping floor. It would seem after the closure of Matter, The End, Turnmills etc, there’s no where nice and clubby left to play.
Be good to see Coxy again though. I saw him play there way back in the day (mid/ late 90′s sometime). I can’t remember the name of the event, but I can just about remember Darren Emerson and Sven Vath supporting. I also went to a couple of Pong Masters Balls there going even further back.. anyone remember System 7, Eat Static and Senser and of course the mighty Ozrics…. happy if somewhat vague, times.
Anyway, thought I’d copy some of the graphics that Bedrock have been using over the last couple of years. The label has always had a strong identity and style, but these solid colours and simple geometric shapes I think are particulary pleasing.
I got all excited yesterday morning when I read that The Thing was on TV last night, one of my all time favourite films, and one which I hadn’t seen for a good couple of years.
First released in 1982 and one of the last of the classic optical effects films (i.e. no digital effects) it’s a tense, claustrophobic ride which follows the trials of a US Antarctic Research team as they battle for survival against an extraterrestrial being, which assimilates the form of anything it kills… and boy does it like to kill: from the Norwegian shot in the face within the first 10 minutes through the shooting, and burning of virtually everyone else, this film is a full on gorefest which (I think) still shocks today
Today’s digital savvy film audiences, may find some of the animatronic effects a bit wooden and unconvincing, but to me as a sci fi obsessed teenager first watching it the mid 80′s, this was a truly scary and frightening thing, totally believable.
Theories abound as to whether The Thing survives (of course it does!) and if so which one of the survivors it might be. My personal theory has always been that it was Childs as his breath in the frozen air wasn’t visible, whereas Mac’s virtually fills the whole screen.
The (rather worryingly) in depth analysis of the film here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084787/faq#.2.1.1 disputes this theory somewhat (but after 25 years, I’m sticking with it) and adds level of detail I hadn’t even thought about (for instance, if two of the three people who went to the crash site crater where already infected (Palmer & Norris) why didn’t they kill Macready there and then…..
This wonderful film also contains two of my favourite ever lines of dialogue: Palmers “You gotta be f**king kidding… ” when he sees Norris’s head sprout legs and try to escape, and then later when Garry’s blood tests negative, and he looks up at the others and says: ”I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I’d rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS F**KING COUCH!