MA Fine Art Digital Summer Show 2017 Walk Through Discussion

The final post on the MAFAD course and post 198 just for the record. It’s a pity that work largely overshadowed the final month but that was expected. Nevertheless, I definitely feel I have achieved a lot on the course particularly in regards to personal development. See Unit 2 Critical Evaluation  for further comment. This month’s highlight was on the first day of the month. The Unit Two Symposium Talk  , seems a long time ago now. Looking back, why was the symposium condensed in one afternoon???? A six-hour marathon. I think I faded after four hours and that was about midnight for me. If I were to make any amendments to the course, I would definitely rejig that area right away.

And finally, two videos follow: The first by my daughter while attending the show and the second, a walk through discussion filmed by Jonathan and facilitated by former MAFAD students. The extract from the video focuses on my work with comments about my work which was very engaging and yet scary to watch. Jonathan also posted me encouraging comments (below) just before the work was being installed. Thank you for your support, Jonathan.

 

 

“It looks great and the overlay of sound from the 3 films work really well in the space. It gives constantly different visual and sound experiences due to the different lengths of the 3 films. The sound will also echo up the stairs drawing people down to the work”
Jonathan Kearney (2017)
 

 

Underdrawing

In this extract from The Secrets of Drawing: All in the Mind (episode 3)  Art critic, Andrew Graham-Dixon touches briefly on  underdrawing . Using drawing as my main tool and central in my process, I found this extract of the series particularly interesting and I’ve not read or found much on celebrated underdrawings. Here, Graham-Dixon informs us that during World War Two, an American fire bomb was dropped in Pizza, just missing the tower but landing on the nearby chapel. As a result, the lead roof melted, dripped down the walls damaging the 14th century frescos. But that wasn’t the end for the frescos as they now hang and are celebrated in a shoddy condition in the anti-chamber of the chapel. However, what became more astonishing and spectacular by pure fortuity, was that from the resulting blast, the frescos now reveal beautiful, detailed underdrawings made by Francesco De Triano. Probably one of the first instances where drawings reveal that order of raw consciousness, thinking and planning.  This made me consider what other hidden treasures could be found under great works of art? The extract concludes with a very engaging experiment conducted by John Tchalenko, Head of Drawing & Cognition at an educational institute I’ve become familiar with over the past three years, Camberwell University of Arts in London.

Extract times: 12:00-24:33 or a better idea would be to engage in the whole thing! It’s a cracking documentary.

 

 

Japanese Comics-Manga

In a previous post, My Beautiful Laundrette , I made comments on Japanese laundrettes with comparisons to ones in the UK. England. As with most interiors which require a waiting action, there is plenty of literature to keep one occupied, which brings me to the topic of this post, Japanese comics.

Japanese comics have been a very popular form of pop culture over here since the early 1950s and are read by all ages. Manga, as they are commonly known, is big business, making millions and the comics are translated into many languages across the globe. A typical manga comic is printed in black and white and on very thin paper. They come in various size formats, which caters for the consumers young and old. For instance, the One Piece   B5-sized comic, popular with students, can be easily stored in a student’s school bag. Then, there are the bulky and cumbersome-looking comic books, very uncharacteristic in Japanese design in my view. They have the appearance of an old telephone directory or car manual . Seeing middle-aged businessmen taking these weighty-looking objects out of their suitcases fascinates me.

Manga comes in a wide range of genres such as romance, sports, school life, gangs, mystery and fantasy. The comics range from the tame to the ones with a high violent and sexual graphic content. You also have to bear in mind, what we think in the West is explicit might be considered tame in the East. It’s the comics which depict Japanese social realism which I find engaging. Just by leafing through this comic at the laundrette, I see familiar themes and issues in the narrative- high school girl titilation, yanki and bosozoku subcultures, sexual behaviour, noodle slurping, suicide, modern living, dinky interiors, mansions, communting to work and educational environments.

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Psychogeography: London, Southwark

It’s now the low residency fortnight on the course at UAL. I’ve spent the past three days in the Southwark area of London while attending some of the course events. Since starting the course, most my Southwark walkabout explorations have been from Denmark Hill train station to Camberwell University of Arts on the Peckham Road. Now I had the chance to soak up this buzzing, thriving environment even if it’s just fleetingly. Below are a few observations recorded in sound and visuals. It’s true, what you read does have an influence. I’m currently reading Jon Day’s Cyclogeography: Journeys of a London Bicycle Courier. Day’s (now a lecturer at a university in London) memoirs are very engaging even if the reader (like me) is unfamiliar with areas of London he documents. I make comparisons when I’m weaving through the traffic in central Tokyo.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16 

Camberwell Rd & Peckham Rd Derive

peckham-road-derive-2017

The local cafes offer warmth from the bitter cold and are good retreats to scrutinize the everyday activities. The two that I did frequent were surprisingly almost empty at peak breakfast time. Is it the end for Greasy Spoon cuisine? I hope not.

The Jungle Grill on the Peckham Rd

 

A recording of a police car’s screaming siren on the Peckham Rd.

Lyrics of an old Jam song spring to mind, more nostalgia:

“A police car and a screaming siren
A pnuematic drill and ripped up concrete
A baby wailing and stray dog howling
The screech of brakes and lamp lights blinking
That’s entertainment”

Peckham Peace Wall

I was really taken by The Peckham Peace Wall. Jonathan had gave us some historical background  when visiting Peckham platform the previous evening. I returned the following morning just to get a better understanding of this moving piece of art.

peckham-peace-wall-2017

From the Peckham Platform website:

“Peckham Peace Wall by Garudio Studiage celebrates the wall of post-it notes of love and respect for the area which grew on Rye Lane following the disorder of last year, and launched on the 8th August 2012 to mark this one year anniversary.

Commissioned by Peckham Space with funding from Southwark Council’s Greener Cleaner Safer fund, the Peckham Peace Wall comprises 4000 original post-it messages including those from London Mayor Boris Johnson and Leader of Southwark Council Peter John alongside those from residents. Each of these was digitally hand-traced by artists Garudio Studiage working with young people from Peckham” 

Letterpress Workshop

The workshop was a very nostalgic experience. After leaving school I briefly worked in a small back-street printers for about a year learning how to operate Heidelberg printing machines. The smell of the inks and machinery in the work area instantly came back to me. However, due to new printing technologies at that time, new companies began offering a faster printing and publishing service and sadly our small company went bankrupt. I was made redundant at 17. Disruptive technologies?

James, the letterpress technician gave a very informative workshop and after a brief history of letterpress printing, talking about the tools, how to do basic compositing, dos and don’ts etc, we got round to ‘play’ Here, I began composting letters, numbers, hard objects and anything that I was ‘rollable’ where I got an impression on the paper. My ‘play’ evolved into an urban landscape. How fitting that the brick wall, some insulated wire and an electrical box make up an apt background.

letterpress-1

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17 

Camberwell Rd-Walworth Rd-Elephant & Castle Derive

camberwell-road-derive-2017

I’m up early and on my way to meet a friend who I’ve known for a few years but never met in the physical. A good example of how technologies are making human relationships. We’re meeting at the Tate Britain, so I head towards the Elephant & Castle. As with many inner city London areas, the busy road is lined with a mixture of council blocks, Victorian terraces, open markets, eyesaw-looking shopping centres, eateries=good,bad and seriously ugly  and a few saw dust bars.  Drifting along the unknown eventually bought up to the Elephant & Castle tube and the end of my play. The statue of red elephant prominently marks the area. I wasn’t able to get lost. What a shame. As I now know that I’m not too far away from The Oval, it will be interesting revisiting this area in a different season.

Star Cafe, Arnside Street Walworth

Egg,Bacon, tea and toast= £3.20

Laura Oldfield Ford

Earlier this year I went to an exhibition followed by a discussion at  The Towner Gallery  in Eastbourne called Recording Britain  . I witnessed some fascinating drawings and paintings from a variety of British artists. Most of the artwork in the collection is between 1939-1942. However, there are a few more recent drawings and photographs in the collection. I was particularly drawn to a drawing by Laura Oldfield Ford . It was an urban scene from a London suburb in which a menacing Brutalist high-rise occupies the backdrop. The drawings offered a distinctive punk visual aesthetic; I was instantly drawn to her work.

These stylish dystopian scenes  made me think about the ‘derives’ (drifts) I have been on around the backstreets of inner-city Tokyo. A city no different than London being centres for free enterprise and modernity. Yet in Tokyo, particularly in the sprawling metropolis of Nakano-ku  and Shinjuku-ku, old crumbling relics of the Showa Period are still in abundance yet inevitably and sadly their days are numbered. I also learned that Oldfield is a psychogeographer  and ‘has organized drifts, flag burning ceremonies, mass activisms and other performance pieces in an unconventional extension of her practice’. (C.Lomax, July 2008).

To celebrate a few pieces of her work in a slide show, I’ve accompanied Mountain’s 1971 Nantucket Sleighride. An instrumental piece that later gained more acclaimed when used for the political/current affairs program Weekend World in the late 1970s.

 

Day Tripper: Ho Chi Minh City

 From my note book written last week, the following is a brief travelogue documenting an experience in Vietnam while en-route to Tokyo. 

“Yesterday I got back to Tokyo. The trip was more exhausting as usual and to be honest, I don’t think I’ll go down that avenue again, just in pursuit of a bit of adventure that is (I know, I’m sounding old). No problem with the place, I just wasn’t really prepared. Anyway…. 

Last month I spotted a cheapy flight from London Heathrow to Narita Tokyo via Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. The cheap price relates to the fact that I would be in transit in Vietnam for just over 12 hours. As there are no visa restrictions for Brits to enter Vietnam, I thought I could make a day trip of Ho Chi Minh City and do a bit of exploring.

After the 12-hour flight, I’m in the airport, it must have been about 35 degrees. The humidity was quite intense even at 9 in the morning. After a quick airport toilet wash and gulping down a few bottles of mineral water, I studied the map at the airport tourist office. Psychogeography  was the next part of the plan. I considered doing a ‘Will Self’ which was to walk from the airport into the city. By doing so, I could get to grips with the environment, atmosphere and its surroundings which would give me a better perspective. However, on second thoughts, the controller voice inside me was telling me that if I get lost, mugged or injured somehow along the way, the consequences would cause serious problems as I had a full-on schedule the following day in Tokyo. I took the safe option and hopped on the bus instead. On the semi-packed bus I got talking to an American/Vietnamese woman. She gave me a few useful survival tips. One of them being, when crossing busy roads, don’t run, just hold up your hand.     ???? I thought.

Ho Chi Minh City (2016)

45 minutes later the bus had transported me into the city. It was frenetic beyond belief! The main roads were just a total free-for-all. Buses, trucks, cars, bicycles and scooters in their thousands moving in all directions. The woman directed me to the first port of call, the  Bitexco Financial Tower  . “Over there” She said. Then I tentatively crossed the busiest road ever amid the mayhem around me, taking her advice, walking slowly with my arm held aloft. It worked; I was still in one piece!”

Saigon Sky Tower
Bitexco Financial Tower Sky Deck

 

Bitexco Financial Tower (2) Bitexco Financial Tower (3)

Bitexco Financial Tower (1)

The Bitexco Financial Tower (what an awful name!) is a very impressive structure. While in the Saigon Sky Deck on the 40 something floor, I found myself  drawn more to the ceilings than the view. Like a hall of mirrors at a fair, there is an abundance of glass facets on the ceiling. Here I’ve enlarged areas of interest where the natural light is clashing with the reflected surfaces. The textured, geometric abstractions are just absorbing . 

April 22nd, 2016      

 

 

 

 

Ennio Morricone at The O2 arena, 16-02-16

 

Ennio Morricone Concert.jpg

                                                                                                           Poster Design: jpm 16

Over the years I’ve missed  trying to see the Italian musical maestro in concert so when I heard about a re-scheduled Ennio Morricone concert, without hesitation, I quickly snapped up a ticket. Bearing in mind, old Ennio, despite still going strong at 87 years old, if I missed my chance, I might not get another. On his 60th year of performing, he didn’t disappoint or short-change his audience. What a memorable performance!

Like many people in the audience of a certain age group, when the spaghetti western scores were performed, images of Sergio Leone films penetrated the mind.  Accompanied by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. The performance of the evening for me, and probably for many others was set up superbly. Just before the interval, like a marksman loading his gun, the soprano unobtrusively enters the stage and takes her seat. The opening cords of the powerful and dramatic, Ecstasy of Gold begin and together with the soprano, Susanna Rigacci, they simply brought the house down. It seems I’m not alone with my comment, in similar adoration, Rob Hastings of The Independent, when reviewing Morricone at The O2 arena this time last year comments:

 Wooden crosses rush by, gravestones swirl, an outlaw’s eyes widen, grass blurs, dirt flies – that breathless final scene of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly as Tuco runs around a cemetery in search of buried treasure may not be playing on the screens beside the stage at the O2, but those images from Sergio Leone’s masterpiece are surely in the minds of everyone in the audience, as the arms of Ennio Morricone beseech the full orchestra before him to yield every last drop of spaghetti western magic from his tour de force, The Ecstasy of Gold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Japanese Funeral (2016)

Introduction

Inside one of my Christmas cards last year read the message, ‘Hope this year is a better one’ or words to that effect. The meaning of the message relates to the passings of my parents last summer. A kind message from a thoughtful person. However, sadly, on the 19th of January, my father-in-law passed away due to heart failure. He was 75 years of age. Due to his deteriorating mental condition, he had been admitted to a nursing home five months earlier. Nevertheless, is passing was very unexpected. His funeral took place three days later.

In Japan, traditional burials are not the norm, only cremations. From my recent experience, I have found out that Japanese and English cremations contrast considerably. The Japanese employ particular rituals which might appear a little too disturbing for those with a sensitive nature. From my recent experience, my perspective of cremation funerals has changed somewhat.

Part One: The Funeral

The ceremony took place at the Jizo-in Temple in Ome, West Tokyo on Friday, January 22nd. This glorious piece of architecture is located not even a stone’s throw from my in-law’s house. You could say across the road. It was an icy cold yet crystal clear sunny morning. The ceremony began at 10:30 a.m. prompt. The congregation were offered green tea on arrival. By the time we were all inside the temple, there were around 75 people consisting of close family, distant relatives, friends and neighbours. My father-in-law was one of seven children. Incidentally, his oldest brother (85 yrs), the oldest of the seven and his youngest brother (68 yrs), the youngest of the seven, both still survive and were both in attendance at the ceremony.

First, in turn, (always in hierarchical order, I was fourth so I always had to carefully watch what to do. No rehearsals!) everyone knelt and bowed before a large decorative alter inside the temple. The alter consisted of the open coffin which was surrounded by flowers and wooden tablets. Then, each person lit a jostick (senko), placed it upright into a small bowl of sand, chimed a small bell and prayed. Next, the congregation took a seat which are in rows. The close family sat on one side of the room facing friends, relatives etc on the opposite side. Though not a blood-relative, I sat with close-family. In the centre, two priests conducted the service. In this case, father and son, both were facing the temple alter.

Jizo-in Temple in Ome, West Tokyo and its surrounding environment

Gizo in Temple.jpg.jpg

The older priest then read the sutra (Buddhist scripture) to the congregation. After the reading, my brother-in-law (the eldest brother of the deceased’s family) read a kind of eulogy to the congregation.

The next stage is to burn incense for the departed’s soul. In pairs and in hierarchical order, everyone went to the alter and placed a pinch of incense on the smoldering incense after bringing it close to the forehead. This action is repeated twice. Then, before returning to their seat, each pair bowed twice, first to close family then to the rest of the congregation. While this procession is happening, the priest continued to chant.

After the last pair bowed, like a swift scene change in a theatre, the suited temple staff appeared from behind the scenes and hastily cleared the alter in preparation for final coffin viewing. Pallbearers carefully manoeuvred the coffin from the alter area. The Flower heads were cut off and with origami, are presented (in  hierarchical order) to everyone on large steel trays. We placed the flowers carefully around my father-in-law’s body. I think I was presented with flowers and origami at least three times.  Though I found this whole experience very over-whelming at first, I soon adjusted and felt more comfortable just by the aura of the spectacle. Also, I was surprised by how composed everyone remained through this ritual. Finally, the coffin lid is sealed and is carried out to the hearse. The family then travelled to the crematorium. The ceremony at the temple took around 90 minutes.

Jizo-in Temple (interior) in Ome. Photographs taken just after the funeral ceremony

1 Jizo-in Temple Collage.jpg

 

Part Two: The Crematorium 

The car ride (riding in a newly designed sporty-looking Japanese hearse) to the crematorium took between 10-15 minutes. Once inside, we were directed to the elevators and to the second floor. The building is modern, large and spacious. I felt slightly agoraphobic and once inside the building, I soon lost my sense of direction so it was a case of just following the crowd. From the elevator, we are all herded into a grey-walled, windowless, high-ceilinged, unfurnished, square-shaped room. We waited in silence for a few moments as the coffin was carefully brought in by the pallbearers.

A small window on the coffin lid was opened, my father-in-law now visible again but for the final time. A priest asked everyone to come forward to the coffin to make a final prayer. Again, in order, we clasped our hands together and prayed. The coffin was then moved and placed onto a platform near a wall. One of the crematorium staff, in this case a suited women, opened a discrete operating pad from inside the wall. A section of the wall opened up revealing a dark, rectangular space. The coffin was then electronically transported like a box on a factory conveyor belt into that space. Everyone was asked to pray again. The coffin then slowly disappeared from view and the wall is sealed back to its original state. At this point, I was unaware that the coffin was heading into the vaults of the building and then to the incinerators. We were all led outside the room and taken to the crematorium canteen.

Lunch was served up at 1:00 on the dot. A traditional Japanese meal consisting of delicacies such as sushi (raw fish), miso soup, tempura (fried seafood) and dango (pulped sweet rice) for dessert. My wife, her mother and brother sat with the local priest. I sat next to my wife’s cousins. I usually feel a little anxiety in family situations in Japan, largely due to my hopeless Japanese speaking skills. Fortunately, I had my son and daughter to translate my thoughts and feelings which was a relief.

Lunch at the crematorium

2 Lunch at the Crematorium

At the end of the meal, I assumed the ceremony had finished though there was one more ritual to come. At 2:00 the crematorium staff led us back up to the same room where we had previously been. I must have been the only one curious to why we were going back into that very room.

Picking the Bones

A table had been placed in the centre of the room. On the table was a large decorative blue and white ceramic urn and a framed photograph of my late father-in-law.  Everyone assembled around the table. The wall then magically opened and one of the crematorium staff, took out a large steel tray with a portion of bones and ash on the tray. I must admit I winced when seeing part of my father-in-law’s skull and what looked like his pelvis and shoulder blade bones on the tray. We (members of the family) were then given unusually large thick wooden chopsticks. In pairs, using the chopsticks, we picked up the bones and placed them into the urn. My chopstick dexterity didn’t let me down, thank God. The urn was half filled. However, there was still a considerable amount of bones and ash left by the time all the members of the family had picked the bones. Then, a member of staff intervened. It was obvious he had an important role to play in the next procedure. I vividly remember his white gloves, his movement, poise and grace. First, he placed his hands on the bones inside the urn and gently crushed down. Then, using the chopsticks again, he gathered the remaining bones, each time crushing them down to make space for more. Finally, only the skull and ashes remained. I was relieved to see the skull remained not crushed,  he simply placed the part of the skull at the top. Then, using a white bristled brush and a small shiny steel pan, with exquisite manual dexterity, he brushed up all the remains from the steel tray into the urn not leaving a trace of ash. Finally, he placed the urn into a wooden box then covered the box with a decorative Japanese designed cover. We stood and watched in complete silence. I was mesmerized by the whole process. This was a performance.

The bones picking ritual stayed vivid on my mind for days after the ceremony. It was such an astonishing and over-whelming experience for me at the time. Also, I was mystified about the incineration. How could only some bones remain solid while the other bones had dissolved into ash? I later found out that the incinerators are always set to a certain temperature.

Part Three: Paying Respects at Home

The urn, now filled, was taken away from the crematorium with the flowers and the framed photograph by the family. My son held his late grandfather’s photograph in the back of my wife’s car. When we got back to the house, my mother-in-law set up the praying area in her bedroom. Re: Photograph (below)- To the right of his photograph are a wooden tablet with details of his name and age and the urn in its decorative cover. On the next platform (from left to right) are the objects which are used when praying. A candle, a box of matches, a jostick bowl and sand, a vase of josticks, and a small metal pitcher (pot) with chimer. Also, it’s customary for fruit and rice to be displayed too.

The day was still unfinished. Friends, neighbours and my father-in-law’s ex work colleagues came to the house to pay their respects from late afternoon into early evening. My mother-in-law offered green tea and then directed each person to the praying room. The door bell never stopped. Even my brother-in-law’s work colleagues came too. Like my father-in-law, he’s in the construction industry, so there were quite a few builders coming to the house after their work. Finally, after a light supper, by 10:00 p.m. we were all bathed, changed and under our futons. The candles remained burning through the night.

The Praying Room in the House 

Praying Area.jpg.jpg

 

In Memory of Akio Ogura (1940-2016) R.I.P.      

 

On a final poignant note, it seems that with these recent family passings and all the passings you hear about everyday in the media from cultural rock & pop icons, to politicians and TV personalities, I feel it has starting to take effect on me. I’m in my late 40s and for the first time in my life, I’m starting to consider my own mortality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seasidism & Dismaland

I spent the first seven years of my life in Hove (a small seaside resort) then my parents left the South East and took a job in the South West in Burnham-on-Sea (a smaller seaside resort) in Somerset. My grandparents lived in Sandbanks (a sort of seaside resort) near Poole (father’s side) and Southend (a bigger seaside resort) (mother’s side). I would visit my grandparents and explore the seaside resorts regularly during the school holidays.

After leaving school, I lived in Burnham-on-sea briefly before going to live just up the road in Weston-Super-Mare (‘the seaside town they forgot to close down’, allegedly Morrissey sang these lyrics about Weston), then in the county of Avon, now North Somerset. After a few years, I returned to the South East (I’m not sure why), living in Worthing (another seaside resort) and then Brighton (a very cosmopolitan seaside resort)  briefly. In my early 20s I gained a place at Bristol University. As it was a cheaper place to live and I was already familiar with the area and people, I moved back to Weston-Super-Mare. In 1999 I moved abroad and returned 12 years later. I relocated where my family were based. Yes, that’s right, another seaside resort and supposedly the sunniest place in England, apparently; Eastbourne. However, I still pop over to work in Tokyo. A helicopter parent? As you can see, my UK life has been a seaside resort relationship.

Brighton (2012)

Brighton (2012)

Last month street artist, Banksy from Bristol opened a pop-up theme park called Dismaland in Weston-Super-Mare located in  a derelict lido site, The Tropicana. Actually, I lived just opposite The Tropicana, but never went in. After all, I was a local not a tourist.    I’ve been reading quite a few reviews on Dismaland recently. The results being both positive and negative. A stab at crass consumerism, the Bemusment Park offers an eclectic mix of collaborators employing eerie installations to political rhetoric art on themes like police brutality, CCTV to contemporary issues such as the refugee crisis.

Image (below) courtesy of Reuters (Toby Melville).  The sculpture depicts a pensioner being engulfed by seagulls. A reference to media panic about aggressive birds.

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For me, I’m fascinated by Banksy’s concept and very inspired by Dismaland. Probably as I’ve lived in and visited many English seaside towns, enduring the superficiality that surrounds these Victorian concepts. Environments that are primarily staged for outsiders to engage in the following activities for a week or two: eat fish n chips/ ice-cream/sticks of rock, ride on a dodgem car, play on the penny falls, stroll on the promenade, sit in a stripy deckchair, swim in a freezing cold sea and then go home. What a holiday! I’ve not completely given up hope of trying to get a ticket for Dismaland but I’m aware time is running out.

And finally, as we live in the age of the selfie, this post wouldn’t be complete without one. Here’s one of the author looking out on Weston-Super-Mare pier, circa 1994. Possibly trying to envisage Dismaland.

Weston-Super-Mare 1994.jpg

 

 

 

 

Eastbourne: The 10th Unhealthiest Town Centre in the UK

Sometime last week, while watching the local news on the BBC. The adorable Polly Evans informed us that Eastbourne (where I reside in the UK)  is currently ranked number 10 as one of the unhealthiest town centres in the UK. Actually, considering the assortment of shops that surround the main bus stops outside the Arndale Centre, the report didn’t surprise me. In the context of this issue, I’ve given my take on the report in the form of a photographic representation. So last Friday, I popped into the town centre with my camera to see if there was any truth in the report. Here’s my effort aptly titled, ‘Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea’

 

Not Everyone's Cup of Tea.jpg

 

If you’re interested, here is the link to see if your high street is ranked in the healthy /unhealthy list:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/26/report-britains-unhealthiest-high-streets

Mary Moore on Damien, the narrative, life with Henry and digital art

Came across this interesting article in the Guardian yesterday. Mary Moore, daughter of the sculptor Henry Moore gives us her views on a few issues notably on digital art (in bold). Below are selected extracts from the article.

Damien Hirst set back art by 100 years, says Henry Moore’s daughter | Art and design | The Guardian. Damien Hirst has set back art by 100 years, according to the daughter of Henry Moore, the man who arguably changed British sculpture more than any other artist.

Mary Moore said her father, who died in 1986, had challenged the narrative and formally-presented artwork of the Victorian era. “What he did was come along and take it out of the frame in a very weird way,” she told the Guardian. “I think Damien Hirst put it back in the bloody frame and art is all now in the frame and what you forget is how radical it is that it’s not in the frame. “[Henry Moore’s art] is not narrative, it’s not contextual, it is about exploring the invented object in front of you.”  Moore was speaking before a major exhibition exploring her father’s relationship with land. More than 120 works will be on indoor and outdoor display at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, including a room curated by Moore offering a personal insight into how her father worked.

The issue with the work of Hirst and others was that it relied on title and the cube it was in, she said. It was much more about having to read the label to know what was going on.  Henry Moore’s work was more gut instinct, confronting an unusual sculpture which, she said, could be so many different things from different angles.  “Art has gone back into a frame, it has gone back to being a contextual, narrative thing which is actually where we were with the pre-Raphaelites,” she said. 

The show is particularly significant for two reasons. Henry Moore was born only 15 miles away in Castleford, in 1898, and played an important role in helping the park become what it is back in the late 1970s.

Mary Moore was treated like an adult from a young age and the games she played were about form and shape and judging distance. “I really enjoyed them. They were all really exercises in using your mind and sensing form and spatial distance.

“He wasn’t training me, he was playing a competitive game about things he was thinking about all of the time.”  Moore said she worried, in the digital age, that we were losing our skills to see things properly.  “We don’t look at things, it’s terrifying, it’s happening more and more and more. People see two-dimensionally on their phones and laptops and iPads; they don’t see shapes or understand form. “My father always used to say: ‘How would you draw my hand, this side is dark, this side is lit.’ He was constantly making you think about form.

Arguments Against Mary: Hang on a minute, Mary! Digital artists still need to know a thing or two about art. For example, colour theory, drawing ability, shading, toning, pressure on stylus and of course eye coordination, well, that’s if you’re not rich enough to own a cintique (like me). Also, didn’t artists learn from technology back in the 17th century? Camera obscura.

What’s your take on Mary’s views?

Digital Vellum

Last weekend, when visiting my step-dad (87 years), he gave me old photo of my mum (pictured below) from her wedding day, March 1st 1962 . “I was having a clear-out and thought you might like it” he said. I gratefully received it. An original 10″ x 8″ monochromatic print preserved for 53 years under decorative acid paper.

Jackie ( March 1st, 1962)

Yesterday I came across an interesting article in the Guardian (below) that made me consider what measures will be taken when preserving photographic prints such as old family snaps. The article states that webpioneer Vint Cerf is warning us that without the development of ‘Digital Vellum’ , we could face, “a forgotten generation, or even forgotten century” through what is called as bit rot”  The article was also followed up in the leader comment (an article in digital conversation, The Guardian p32) with more thought-provoking views, “An album of analogue prints of family photographs may fade with the years, but digital printouts will disappear altogether, and the media on which they are stored electronically will almost certainly have failed long before the people in them die. The pictures of your grandparents are going to be preserved much better than the pictures of your children or your grandchildren will be

So does this mean that animal membrane (ancient parchment) will become more prevalent in  preserving our prints in the future?

 

The Guardian (February 13th, 2015 )

Google boss warns of ‘forgotten century’ with email and photos at risk

 

 

 

 

Omtosando (Tokyo): The Art of Designer Shop Fronts

Sunday, October 12th

I arrived at the Rat Hole gallery in Omotosando at 10:00 a.m. , only to find out that the gallery opens at 12:00. Rather than hang about in a cafe for a few hours, I thought this would be a good opportunity to go on a photo shoot around the Omotosando neighborhood. Omotosando is a mecca for high fashion designer clothes and accessories.

1/ Educate Yourself

Here, you will find the latest garments from designers such as Issey Miyake, Miu Miu, Prada etc. The area encompasses an urban cool, power and chic aesthetic. However, I found these architectural structures all a bit overbearing though it was  very absorbing watching the designer clad Tokyoites strutting around the Omotosando `catwalk`

 

2/Prada

After walking through a few streets, I was amazed by the large expanses of glass used by each shop to display their goods; I was impressed too by the innovative shop displays. The Prada building being a noticeable example and visually stunning. As I looked through the glass, the mannequins and goods became distorted; losing their representation . An attractive concept to entice the consumer? I thought so, and I gained some visual ideas for my own project .

 

3/ Moncler

Just round the corner, Educate Yourself, employed a telephone box-looking structure display detached from the shop.Interesting. Other familiar themes involved using graffiti, retro designs, industrial settings and the use of historical characters (samurai)  in a sporting context. Funny! Overall, it was a well-spent few hours and the shoot has encouraged me to do more shop fronts in unfamiliar neighborhoods around Tokyo.

 

4/ Once Upon A Time
5/ Miu Miu
6/ Dress Camp
7/ Jill Sander

Jonathan Meades: Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloodymindedness (Part One)

There didn’t seem to be much in the form of entertainment on the EK312 from Dubai to Tokyo last Saturday. However, in the Arts and Music section, I came across an art documentary called Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloodymindedness. It was presented by writer, journalist, essayist and film-maker, Jonathan Meades. I remember watching a Jonathan Meades art documentary at university called Jerry Building, the subject matter focused on architecture of the Third Reich. It was my first exposure to Jonathan Meades; he’s someone you don’t forget easily; he’s very visual, witty, and articulates such colourful sounding phrases that I’m usually reaching for the dictionary just to comprehend his rhetoric. Incidentally, I still retain a 20-year-old doodle with a comment by Meades from the Jerry Building documentary! Unlike other art presenters such as Simon Schama and Andrew Graham-Dixon and no disrespect to them, he has a very theatrical, eccentric and comical way of presenting his programs. He might walk into shot from left to right and something unexpected might fall on him. Also, his dress sense is very individual for an art presenter (i.e. a black gangster suit and black shades). When discussing his documentaries with friends/ work colleagues, I often get mixed opinions about him as an art critic. I’ve found you either love him or hate him. In my opinion, he doesn’t try to stamp his point of view on you yet he makes you think deeply about the subject matter and possibly change your way of thinking.

In Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloodymindedness, Meades looks at how modern gothic architecture in Victorian times influenced the modernist buildings (brutalism) of the late 50s/early 60s; often looked at in derision or contempt and seen as concrete monstrosities. A phrase you will become accustomed to during the program. However, as Meades points out, ‘Why should buildings and landscapes look friendly?’ and goes on to say, ‘We don’t expect films or novels or paintings or sculptures to be pretty so why should we expect buildings to be pretty?’ He has a point there though the more important point he makes is that architects from the 1860s to the 1960s were not viewed as servile technicians or social workers but as a maker, an artist. They make something that didn’t before exist. The program brought back memories from my university days, notably when a group of us made a short documentary about architecture in the Bristol area. We chose the high rises in the Bedminster area. Before shooting commenced, I recall researching the urban planner, Le Corbusier. The man whose dream was to build high-rise structures where people could live in harmony vertically. In countries such as Italy, France and Holland his utopia became a reality. However, in Britain, the high rises of the late 50s/early 60s became stigmatized and were often associated with social problems such as (in the program’s words) addiction, family break-downs, sexual violence, long-term unemployment, looting, diseases etc. Overall, it’s an insightful documentary that makes you draw your own conclusions on Brutalist Architecture.

A doodle from a university lecture when watching Jerry Building in 1994, I wrote, ‘The treehouse of the mad child that wanted to rule the world’ (J Meades 1994) . The treehouse being Berghof, Hitler’s private retreat in the Bavarian Alps.

‘Unexpected item in the bagging area’

While strolling down the Peckham Road earlier this week with a few students on my course, an ambulance with a screaming siren screeched past us interrupting our conversation. As a result, a conversation ensued about how loud emergency service sirens have become in recent years. Why is that? A thought occurred. Well, it is possible that as we now live in a ‘wired’ society, wearing headphones/ earphones and being preoccupied with our devices have blunted our street awareness and our peripheral vision. Just a thought. Anyway, back to sounds in the suburbs. We continued talking about annoying, familiar sounds you hear in shops especially supermarkets. The repetitive voices from the self-service check-out machines have seemed to replace background music. And for those of you that love a bit of trivia, a former well-known actor from the British TV soap Eastenders is one of the voices used on the self-service check-out. Check it out (excuse the pun).

Earlier Last year I made sound study while walking through a shop in Tokyo. The shop in question, Village Vanguard is regarded as Tokyo kitsch. The products are usually a mix of low-brow style with mass-produced art or design using popular Japanese or Western icons. The products can be quite pricey yet very popular among Japanese and foreigners. As I’m interested in retro industrial design, it’s a great place to kill time for a few hours. I’ve always been intrigued by the assortment of sounds that can be heard in these shops. Even though the sound quality in my film isn’t exactly high-tech (filmed with a basic Nikon digital point and shoot camera), you can get a general feeling of character and atmosphere inside the shop. Hopefully, I can follow this study up again but next time using an audio recorder.

TEST: First, try watching the film with your eyes closed. Imagine the visuals from the audio. Then, watch the film normally. Were your initial preconceptions similar or different?  Oh, and make sure to crank up the sound before listening!

Early Influences: Edward Hopper

Soir Bleu 1914 by Edward Hopper

Years ago, while researching painters as a component for the A-Level Art curriculum, I became very influenced by the work of the American realist painter, Edward Hopper. Hopper’s work is very photographic and minimal. A lot of his later famous paintings were of New York scenes and I was very interested in the way he carefully arranged figures in his paintings, notably in works such as Chop Suey (1929) and Nighthawks (1942). The street scenes were very cinematic and had a geometrical quality about them. Famous directors like Alfred Hitchcock paid homage to Hopper and his influences can be seen in the film Psycho. Bates’ Motel is clearly modelled on The House by the Railroad (1925). I was more influenced by his composition and the way his images, especially in his work in the  30s and 40s, seemed uncluttered and stylish. Until I started to broaden my ideas on an Art Foundation course, I was very photographic in my approach to pictorial art. Pictured is my favourite Hopper painting, Soir Bleu (1914) . I just adore the character study. Actually, it’s contrary to a lot of Hopper’s work I like as it’s not an urban/rural scene, has more than one person in the scene and was painted when visiting Europe early in his career.