The Hepworth, names to take home.

I have just retured from The Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. It’s a wonderful modernist building, a temple to perfectly crafted form, holding brilliant sculptures and the odd painting.

Exterior, Hepworth.

I’ve never considered myself a fan of sculpture, but it keeps creeping up on me. The things that tend to stand out in my memory of gallery trips definitely fall under that banner, from Joan Miró’s peopleAlexander Calder’s mobiles, Antoni Tàpies’ cloud or Ólafur Eliasson’s frozen BMW —

Olafur Eliasson's BMW H2R

Ólafur Eliasson, BMW H2R. Photograph © Adam Schwabe.

As I’m not a ‘fan’ of sculpture, getting by on a surface of knowledge and a likes-what-I-likes approach, I found the Hepworth to be an excellent journey. It is very good at contextualising the work, through showing initial sketches, maquettes, series, contemporaries. I think exhibitions are always best when they show the artist’s working out.

There were plenty of piece to enjoy, but these are the works that I made a personal note to record and follow up on:

Maybe I will.

Breaching Experiments.

A new show opened at Site Gallery today by Finnish artist Pilvi Takala. It’s brilliantly observed work focusing on banal absurdism, mainly around rules, perceived rules and behaviour. It’s deeply funny and well worth popping into if you’re nearby.

Watch an excerpt of Takala’s The Real Snow White for an example of how she pokes things with a straight-faced stick.

 

 

 

Mount Eerie presents…

Phil Elverum has made a visual playlist of videos and music that are good reference points and (possibly) inspirations behind the newest Mount Eerie albums, Clear Moon (released end of May) and Ocean Roar (September).

It’s an interesting mix of a lot of things I’m interested in: Pacific North West music (Eric’s Trip, Nicholas Krgovich, Earth), ’80s UK goth type acts (This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins), ethereal soundtrack music (Popul Vuh), a good dose of Black Metal, and a lot of natural landscape fantasies.

It’s great that artists can make these kinds of context documents for fans: to share actual inspirations that can be in some way experienced, understood and add value to their own creations.  These things used to be limited to the ‘thanks’ section of LP inlays, where I would see which bands, record labels and — occasionally — authors, artists, books and films would be referenced before going into town and spending money on one or two of those things.

Anyway. Enjoy the playlist, and pre-order the LP.

SLIDES: Beauty of Digital, Sheffield (28/03/12)

I was invited to take part in the Sheffield leg of a series of events run by Creative Times called The Beauty of Digital.

I spoke briefly about digital not being a thing, and it being a tool. I made a bunch of slides that looked like this:

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It was an enjoyable session with a pretty inquisitive audience. The rest of the speakers were James Wallbank (Access Space), Bea Marshall (Moogaloo) and James Boardwell (Folksy).

LINKS ETC:

1. X1172 by Max Capacity, via New Aesthetic
3. Chromaroma by Mudlark
4. Derby [2061] by Mudlark
5. Birmingham Civic Dashboard by Mudlark
8. One Minute Internet, Part 2: Fukushima (March 12, 2011) by Marcus Brown
10 & 11. MemCode, Issue 2 by Mudlark
14. Ugle by Voy
15. SXAESTHETIC by James Bridle
16. Foo Fighters, Live From Reading ’95 by The Uprising Collective
17. You Don’t Compare Wolf, via New Aesthetic
18. Parasol via Circumambient (oft NSFW)

Finished. It’s finished. Nearly finished. It must be nearly finished.

Last week, Marie and I posted the last entry to Playlist Club, a 51-track compilation featuring an appearance from all the contributors of the last year. It was the end of a year-long project, and it wasn’t an easy thing to do. As I said over on PC:

Hopefully, you’ve found one or two new songs or artists that you hadn’t heard before, or rediscovered some forgotten gems, and that we’ve done our bit.

Our time is up now, kids. These 12 months — and the shedload of songs, stories and elevenses they have brought — have been a lot of fun, but it’s time to move on. A year seemed about right, and there are lots of excellent new ways of discovering music that have popped up since we started (a favourite of which is This Is My Jam, say hello & hai! ), and perhaps our purpose is served.

The other side of that, is that it got a bit tiring. I have endless respect and admiration for the people behind the 365, curating a person to contribute every day, needs full-time editors. Marie and I jumped in head-first without really thinking it through. I’m glad that we did it, after calling her on a flippant comment, but harrying people every week — with occasional anxiety about missing our set publication time — came to be a bit of a drag. When people are dead into it, they are dead into it; when they’re a bit lackadaisical, it’s a bit frustrating. Of all the weeks, we only missed one day (cheers, Brandon) and had a couple of late shows. Not bad, I think.

Anyway, so the ending of it. We’d got tired early December, but decided we would stick with it until there was a natural moment to break it up. A whole year, 52-weeks, seemed as arbitrary as it did good, so we decided that mid-February would see the end of Playlist Club.

It seemed so final. We’ve got a real URL, a proper logo (thanks Kipi), shiny badges (shout if you want one) and a massive stack of people who still wanted to contribute (sorry, pals). We’ve put in many hours to this thing, often with minimal reward, but it was a fun thing.

Importantly, it was a thing, but its life had run and we put it to bed. I thought that maybe we could just tweak it, make it a monthly thing and lighten the burden on us, but it would just slowly diminish and lose any lustre that it had. This way, it may be a bit disappointing to a few people now — but we’re not disappointing everyone for a long time.

It was good to do. I’ve been thinking about endings, off and on, for a while now. There seems to be a disjunct between ending Real things and Digital things, even if they’re not that different. In the ‘real world’, it is easy to put things to an end. Artists end their own stylistic periods, musicians kill off personae/bands (“Mount Eerie is a new project. The Microphones was completed, or at least at a good stopping point. I did it because I am ready for new things. I am new.“), narratives are drawn to a close (Gold Blend couple) and we all sup the last of the tea.

I’ve noticed an odd trend of the concept of time in Digital. In ‘the past’, time has been planned, forward. Things plotted against and things made to arrive on a certain date, for a certain reason. An ad campaign would have its lifespan for as long as it could afford screenspace, newspaper ads, or billboards, or backs of buses. The product was locked into time and – because of that – had to end. Digital has given the illusion that time is some how more real now. Things are always on and always available, Day V Lately from the Yellow Pages campaign could be, right now, looking for his record in Vinyl Tap — so he will tell you about it, right now.

But what happens when he definitely is not?

He gets busy, doesn’t have time for us any more. Takes a break. Or goes on holiday:

It might be a bit facile to pick two fictional characters from ad campaigns, but they’re indicative of the difficulty in letting go. There’s the illusion that they could always come back, but there’s a slight hint of desperation — if what we’ve got lined up doesn’t work out, we’ll be back.

There’s no desire to sever the ties, but I think that’s important for getting on with new things.

Me to play.

On occasion, it is good to recall this tale told by Nagg in Beckett’s Endgame:

An Englishman, needing a pair of striped trousers in a hurry for the New Year festivities, goes to his tailor who takes his measurements.
“That’s the lot, come back in four days, I’ll have it ready.”
Good. Four days later.
“So sorry, come back in a week, I’ve made a mess of the seat.” 
Good, that’s all right, a neat seat can be very ticklish. A week later.
“Frightfully sorry, come back in ten days, I’ve made a hash of the crotch.”
Good, can’t be helped, a snug crotch is always a teaser. Ten days later.
“Dreadfully sorry, come back in a fortnight, I’ve made a balls of the fly.”
Good, at a pinch, a smart fly is a stiff proposition.
To make it short, the bluebells are blowing and he bollockses the buttonholes.
“God damn you to hell, Sir, no, it’s indecent, there are limits! In six days, do you hear me, six days, God made the world. Yes Sir, no less Sir, the WORLD! And you are not bloody well capable of making me a pair of trousers in three months!”
“But my dear Sir, my dear Sir, look—
—at the world—
and look—
—at my TROUSERS!”

Instagram and Other People’s Shopping Lists.

Since October last year, Instagram has ruled my photograph taking. It’s done what Flickr should have done and what twitpic, yfrog and the like thought they were doing — a simple, single-purpose photo sharing mobile app.

It gets a lot of flak from people moaning about the use of filters, but that misses the point of what it really is. Like criticising twitter for people’s spellings. As a social space, it’s probably my favourite at the moment. It reminds me of the early days of twitter – the days when you followed a fairly small, but diverse, group of people. When you shared ideas – occasionally what was for lunch – and didn’t have to worry about blocking all the SEO spammers or niche retail outlets from Kentucky, or people shouting for attention.

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