Archive for the 'obsessions' Category

typography – ronnie bruce

February 7, 2010

 

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via William Gibson

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ica under threat

January 24, 2010

 

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Click on the above image to read the Bleeding Cool article on the possible closure of the ICA in May, referencing the Guardian article on the same subject.

The Institute of Contemporary Arts has provided a meeting place for those interested in something that they do not understand, in the arts, for the last fifty years. The place is central, not just geographically (just off Trafalgar Square), but also within our cultural history. Once a club, now open to all for free, the ICA has, since its inception, brought a high end global perspective to add to the home-grown art scene. It has provided a first port of call for those interested in the new, who are also new to the city, welcoming students and professionals alike. For this alone, the institution should remain, a beacon of alternative culture, operating at a global level, in a sea of (sometimes quite parochial) tradition and history.

The ICA is not good just for this. The building looks inward, allowing focus and providing a little oasis from the melee on the Square. There are few places here you can see a show in the morning (not too large so not too off-putting, if it is difficult) and take your mum for lunch (the calm environment and beautiful rooms are a pleasure to visit, even if you are not looking at the art). You can see a film in the afternoon; browse the bookshop; have a drink; enjoy live music, and then enjoy a club night with your mates, all in one place. The programming has not always been to everyone’s taste and it could be argued that it is less edgy than it was. However, this can be reviewed. What cannot be reviewed is the ICA once it closes- in this climate, once it is gone it will be gone for good, leaving little in the way of substitutes.

So much has happened here. So much could happen, but this must be allowed. What can be done?

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the cold light of day .3 – david hockney

January 11, 2010

 

.David Hockney, with his painting Bigger Trees Near Warter (2007)

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In the link under the image above, David Hockney talks about the light and colour of his native East Yorkshire (link supplied courtesy of Jock- thank you, again). As he points out, there are  big skies. He talks at length about seeing the colour. What he doesn’t point out is that there is something quite odd going on with these colours and the light here. Viewers may think his paintings garish and his colours apparently not very subtle (to put it gently). Seeing colour in nature is one thing, but surely the colour is not like this, not even when represented as the artist’s point of view? 

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Hockney is onto something here. The light and the colour are different, as they are in certain places, for a reason. The light is so because the ground is (invariably where Hockney is painting) elevated – there is more than 180 degrees of sky – the trees are on the edge of a ridge above the Vale of York. The ground drops away to reveal a blue and violet patchwork of fields stretching down to the sea, perhaps 30 miles away or more. The word ‘wolds’ means ‘upland cleared of trees’ (I think in Old Norse, a carry over from the blanket Viking settlement of the area) and so it is with the places in these images- few trees come in to crowd out the light. In fact there is very little crowding here- this is one of the least populated parts of the British Isles. You can find lost villages here and be completely alone with the wind. Except of course, that there are always men in caps in the countryside, somewhere, and this place is no exception.

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The bright, almost primary, colouring might be a function of the light and the big skies, or the choice of crops, the big fields revealing their contents easily, or perhaps these colours are everywhere in the British Isles and I just think this place is special because it is my place. I don’t always like Hockney’s paintings of EY for the over-colouring, but this brightness IS there in the landscape, to a certain extent, as the photographs show. I spent an idyllic childhood here on a farm. We were invariably sent out into in the woods and fields to play, as children had been for generations. The landscape now is it was then and was a hundred years ago, too.

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field-trip-49.jpg picture by FableDesign

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We always used to think there were secrets hidden in the valleys and would set out on our bikes to find them. We never found much, just the odd clay pipe, horseshoe and codswallop bottle. There are genuinely lost villages, both documented, such as the one at Wharram Percy, and not. WP can be visited if you have enough patience for the walk- it’s a couple of miles through the fields and hedge-bottoms. Nobody goes there- the locals are farmers and they have enough of this in their backyards. In the summer there is the skylark and the scent of ripe barley, in the winter there is the scent of mud from the ploughed fields and the shriek of the wind. The landscape becomes drained of colour, and as the hedges and verges are cut down for the winter, more exposed. It is a bleak place, possibly at all times of the year, and it is wrong to romanticise it.


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From the sound the trees made together in the wind, a creaking and moaning, we would become convinced that the woods were alive (we were all under the age of 10) and would be spooked. It is unknown to us why the trees are planted like this. Sometimes it is to mark a field boundary, sometimes we believe it is was to mark a burial mound, or shelter crops (the most usual explanation). Sometimes it was the whimsy of the farmer, especially if he planted willow- the wood grows into mature trees when planted in the ground- as happened to my grandfather’s fence-posts a couple of miles from there where the above photograph was taken. We also had roses in our woods, and fuchsia. Perhaps this was my father’s way of trying to tame nature, but whatever it was, it was quite unusual.

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One day my father and some men were clearing some of the woods, thinning out the trees. They built a Canadian style  log cabin there, for my brother and I, perhaps eight foot by eight with the felled timber. The roof was covered with turf. When I was turned out of the house ‘to play outside’ over about seven or eight years from the late ’70s into the 1980s, I’d come here to read comics and draw. Invariably it would be 2000AD (frequently), with Judge Dredd (Carlos Ezquerra) as well as whatever else was available- Valiant, Victor, Shoot and so on. There were also about a dozen Marvel comics, The Avengers, mostly, just enough to really confuse me. Biology was everywhere- Alien came out in 1979 and we gawped at the depiction of Nature that showed. What was most shocking was coming to the understanding that (having seen H R Gigers drawings on a Nationwide programme) that nobody actually was able to put limits on what biology (or indeed drawing, or stories) should be. Strange then, strange now. What, if any, were the rules?

So what happened? Our gang gradually disbanded as we got older and one day there was not enough of us to tend the hollihocks and clear the brambles and nettles. So I left all the comics just where they were and never went back, leaving the cabin under the thorns. As far as I know, everything is still there in the woods, perhaps a couple of miles from where these photographs are taken.

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 David Hockney, David Hockney Painting, May 17th 2006, Woldgate Wood, East Yorkshire

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On the day of my 40th birthday, for these images to fish up, when I was a long way from home, the timing was uncanny. East Yorkshire is not the most exciting place in the world, and there is art I like more, but there is little art that could be more personal than this.
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possibilities, new year

December 19, 2009

 

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This is a piece on the possible future of comics.

In the New Year there is likely to be a lot more consideration of the kind of medium that is looked at in the above sequence (click on the image…), and I’d like to think that the ideas will spread into other areas of work, as well.

Architecture has always involved non-sequential narratives and storytelling. We have our own ways, but we have a lot to learn. There’s a lot of learning documented here and if you are dropping by, I hope you find something good to read (I’ll try and update some of the blogroll, and you can follow up on the posts by clicking on the images).

Thank you to everyone who has helped me this year. You know who you are.

Here’s to learning and being willing to change. Here’s to the unknown future. Here’s to making new stuff and new stories. I’m taking a break from this blog-making (it is quite intense) over Christmas and I’ll be back in the second week of January. Happy New Year. See you soon.

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dip pen

December 16, 2009

 

New Nib (top) and Nib with Coating Removed (bottom)

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the house on tite street

December 5, 2009

 

tite1.jpg


Tite street is in London’s Chelsea. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries many artists and writers lived here, including Oscar Wilde, John Singer Sargeant and  Rex Whistler (see image below, for another side to his work).

 

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Also the composer, Peter Warlock lived here, Turner was just around the corner and AA Milne walked down here on his way to school. Today, the space used for painting by Singer Sargeant and Whistler (the same studio) is still a painting studio. It was where both Mrs Thatcher and Princess Diana were painted by the artist Nelson Shanks. This gives an idea of the street today: reserved, discreet, potentially unchanged, still working, full of ghosts. 

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Whenever I pass this street, I think about how the street was and what was going on in the houses. Then I think about what those houses are like now- dusty, cramped, fossilised with dowagers and trust fund babies. What fascinates, though, is what was happening then. Tite street is not a big place, and neither was society at the end of the nineteenth century. What kind of life happened here and what kind of work?

This doesn’t happen with any other street in London, (with the possible exception of the streets around where I used to live in Hoxton- a place with it’s own strange histories). This street has some kind of special (or possibly some kind of supervictorian-mundane) quality. So when John Coulthart put this then-and-now post on his blog, there just had to be a link to here.

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tite2.jpg

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I’m interested in collecting any other Tite Street then-and-now stories. I’m keen to separate the fact from the fiction. Maybe it’s all council flats behind those facades? Who else lived here? What are the interiors like now?

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scientific images

December 5, 2009

 

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Click on the image above to see a commentary on the years scientific advances, in 60 photographs, all awesome.

The above view is of the space shuttle transiting the sun. The Dubai air show view (from space) is also taken from this list, but some of the more beautiful (and abstract) images are where the scale becomes lost. The smallest items photographed include the blow-ups and mega-views: the blood vessels in an eye, water droplets; the largest, multiple galaxies. In between there is a significant amount of defence-related stuff (- always interesting), satellite photography and all sorts of other stuff. The tags are helpful too, for trawling further in this very accessible website (popsci).

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eigenharp

November 27, 2009

 

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international robot

November 26, 2009

 

IREX 2009 --

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comptoir libanais

November 14, 2009

 

Snapshot 2009-11-14 23-38-48

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pumpkins .1 – shapes

October 30, 2009

 

RayVillafane4

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cardboard camera

October 29, 2009

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cardboard camera

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