August 12, 2005

Weather

Yesterday's rain? In one word – WOW! Best weather EVER!
I left the office last night at about 5.50pm at which time the rain was coming down very hard. Armed only with my brolly I walked slowly to my car and got absolutely soaked! Brilliant! My suede boots were completely soaked and my feet of course, thoroughly wet. My skirt was soaked too. Driving home was a fantastic adventure. Roads were awash with water and many areas the water had flooded and stretched across both lanes. For most part, the route I take to go home was down to about 20mph as visibility and conditions prevented any faster speeds.
I live for days like yesterday. wish I wasn't wearing my favourite boots though.

For those who don't know me, I love rain and loathe sunny, warm weather.


August 10, 2005

Separated at birth?

Has anyone else noticed the similarity between 'Lisa' all–singing, all–dancing female supersoldier from the wonderful Team America and Flog–it's Kate Alcock?

NO? Well take another look –

"Hey, terrorist – terrorize this!"

"Would you consider parting with your Clarice Cliff vase?"

Just a thought!

Another similarity I noticed lately.
I saw a picture of Tony Blair which reminded me of the old Spitting Image puppet of Margaret Thatcher. I couldn't find a good pic of the puppet but look at the pic of Mr Blair and those of you who're old enough to remember will, I'm sure, agree with me.


August 09, 2005

Ant

I was bitten by an ant yesterday and it bloody hurt!

I was having a nice day, milling around and happy verbalising my thoughts – something along the lines of: 'tra la la' so when break time came, I decided to go and sit on the grass with a nice cuppa (I make lovely tea!) and a good book (currently reading Mobius Dick, which I'm enjoying). Break time over, I sat back at my desk when BAM! Where my arm meets the table I felt a stinging pain and moved my arm in time to see an ant meandering away on its six legs. It really did hurt! Stunned for a moment as to what to do, I eventually decided to take revenge on said insect by flicking it away with a Post–It note. HA, that'll teach it!
My arm swelled up where I'd been bitten and it went red over a radius of about 1 1/2 inches!

It looked just like this:

How scary!


August 08, 2005

Richard Avedon – In the American West.

Title:
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

Quite simply, my favourite book. Its actually a collection of photographs taken over a five year period in, as the title suggests – the American West. I came across this book about four years ago when it was in the possession of my housemate Darren, and I've coveted it ever since! I've had it on my 'to buy' list for a while but during a recent 'clear out', Darren very kindly gave it to me as he knew how much I prized it. Its a book I come back to time and time again.


Above.
Roberto Lopez, Oil field worker.
Lyons, Texas, 09/28/80
Right.
Charlene Van Tighem, Physical Therapist
Augusta, Montona 06/26/83


Above.
James Kimberlin, Drifter
State Road 18, Hobbs, New Mexico, 10/07/80
Right.
Myrna Sandoval, eighteen year old, and her sister Claudia, fourteen year old.
El Paso, Texas, 04/20/82


Clarence Lippard – Drifter
Insterstate 80, Sparks, Nevada 08/29/83


Above.
Richard Garber, Drifter
Interstate 15, Provo, Utah, 08/20/80
Right.
Benson James, Drifter
Route 66, Gallup, New Mexico, 06/30/79

Avedon's method was to place his subject against a large sheet of white paper and photograph them with a Deardorff (means nothing to me!), a large camera similar to those used by portrait photographers.
Avedon 'chose men and women who work at hard, uncelebrated jobs, the people who are often ignored or overlooked'. It is though, the drifters who amaze me. Who are they? How have they come to be where they are? Where are they from? Where are they going? What stories could they tell about their life drifting from place to place?

For me, these pictures are mesmerising on their own, but along with an explanation, they become something more.

As Laura Wilson explains –

'On August 22nd, 1980, we were eating breakfast at Keith's Lunch and Breakfast in Provo, Utah. A man sat facing us, two booths away. He was gaunt and dirty. He gestured, rolled his eyes, crying as he talked to himself. It was difficult to tell his age. He looked different than the local people in the booths around him. We wondered how to approach him. But when Avedon introduced himself, the man was glad to talk.
His name was Richard Garber. Months before, he had come up from the south to look for work in Utah. He talked about losing his car. It had been impounded for a parking violation and had no money to get it back. His life was painful, he said, and he wanted to die. He went up into the mountains, alone, for four weeks. He had no food. Once he heard the whine of a train whistle as it snaked along the Utah Valley. He hated the sound. "A train whistle is the loneliest sound you'll ever hear."
Just that moring Gaber had walked down from the mountains. He had tried to telephone his mother in a distant state but was told she had been put in a mental institution. He was standing on the corner of Center Street, next to the post office, when a man gave him some money for breakfast at Keith's.
In front of the white seamless paper, in the shade, with only a thin jacket over his 'Mardis Gras' T–shirt, he shivered.'

An amazing piece of work.


August 07, 2005

Installation

On Friday, on my way to that fine establishment, Uni' House Cafe, I saw the University's new acquisition, hanging in the Atrium – an untitled piece by David Batchelor. This is composed of a strip of rectangular shapes of various colours and lights. I liked it as soon as I saw it and immediately thought of a number of my favourite artists such as Piet Mondrian, Kasimir Malevich, Bridget Riley (specifically – Nataraja), Sean Scully, Mark Rothko and Liam Gillick:–


Mondrian – 1920
Composition A: Composition with Black, Red, Gray, Yellow, and Blue


Rothko –1950
No. 10

Gillick – 2002
Entry for the Turner Prize


Riley – 1993
Nataraja


Malevich – 1915
Black Square and Red Square

I'm not sure what anyone else thinks of these pieces but I think there is a measure of overlapping, from a purely aesthetic pespective, and its fascinating to me that I can glean the same visual pleasure from all of these artists and that they can arrive at their end pieces from very diverse paths.
I believe that Batchelor is similar to both Gillick and Riley in that: 'David's studio-based and theoretical work is mainly concerned with transformations in the experience of colour that have occurred with the development of new materials, and with their application in contemporary art. His three-dimensional works mostly combine brilliant colours (using fluorescent light, neon, plastics, etc.) with a range of found light-industrial material' – Insite. Whereas Gillick's body of work obstensibly deals with the perception and changing judgements of the individual's relationship with their architectural environment and the emotional reponse that this elicits.
I personally think that Riley's work is visually antagonistic and almost seems to assault the viewer's sensations but always seeks to challenge expectations in the same way as Gillick and Batchelor.
Malevich's Suprematism negates this and pushes to the forefront, pure feeling. Consider 'Black square and Red square' – The square, an embodiment of feeling, the white field, the void beyond this feeling.
My favourite artist, Mondrian and his progression into pure abstraction with his use of shapes, line and colour in his search for the simplification of nature has long held for me special fascination.

Whatever path these artists chose and whatever the result of their endeavours, I can still look at a piece of work, completely detach myself from its evolution and say 'That's pretty, I like it.' Superficial? Possibly. Missing the point? Maybe. The true and enduring value of art lies solely in the feeling expressed by the viewer!


Piet Mondrian – 1911
Gray Tree


Ellsworth Kelly


July 18, 2005

War of the Worlds

I tentatively went to the Skydome in Coventry to see War of the Worlds wanting more than expecting to see a good, enjoyable retelling of H.G Wells's famous novel. Since this time I've read reviews of the film and heard people declaring that it's Spiellberg's best ever film. This is nonsense, or so I thought at first. In my opinion, Spielberg is a very talented director with a good vision for transferring ideas onto the big screen.
He is indeed a master of Mise–en–scene, his set pieces are visually very impressive. One only has to look at the ghetto scenes in Schindler's List or the UFO landing area in Close Encounters of the Third Kind to realise this. This though, is not enough to carry a film or to get the audience involved with the characters emotionally. Increasingly, Spielberg relies on the 'family' dynamic to tell his story in his films, but appears to miss the mark by a considerable margin. In H.G Wells's book, the Earth is invaded by Martians and Human kind is soon brought to its knees. The only thing that matters is survival, not wealth, materialism or greed. Indeed human values struggle to be maintained in the face of such desperation and the fear of being wiped out.
None of this sheer desperation comes through in the film and so ultimately, one has only the special effects and set pieces to look at.
This film will obviously resonate more with the American audience with the memory September 11th still fresh in everyone's minds and the film does use images inspired directly from this time – a wall of photographs of 'missing loved ones' for instance. Whether Spielberg was paying homage to some of the people at that time or whether he was trying to make a connection specifically with the American audience, I don't know. I only know that I wasn't comfortable with it. I haven't really gotten over Spielberg Americanising (or Americanizing!) a story set primarily in London!

The book tells the story of Martians coming to Earth whereas the film states that these aliens of undetermined origin have been 'waiting' inside the Earth for millions of years. Why would they wait until now to wipe out Humanity? Surely it would have been logistically and strategically easier to have wiped us out a few thousand years ago when we were all still running around in loin clothes and 'ug ug ug' was the best it got in the way of stunning chat up lines? Another point – bacteria is eventually responsible for killing the Aliens, but there's blood everywhere, lots of blood, gushing, flowing – you get the picture. Humans are food for these aliens. It was recently pointed out to me that the anitbodies in blood would have killed these aliens long before the bacteria could get all binary–fissiony on their alien asses! I'm very confused at this point.
So, I do think this is his best film for very long time, but that's not saying much.
If you want action, good set pieces, but no involvement, go and see this movie. If you want something else, watch The Little House on the Prairie, its much better, and marginally scarier too! Those Ingalls – EEEP!


SHUDDER.

Vicky rating = 2 out of 5


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