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.





Duck & Cover.

One of my long-standing hobbies is watching for discarded notes. Most notably over at Other People’s Shopping Lists, but I keep my eyes peeled for any kind of abandoned writing or photographs – fragments of people’s lives – mostly hoping for treasure maps or Dear John letters in amongst the lichen and chip papers.

Such as this torn beauty:

A document of a holiday fling that ended sourly, found on the street in Liverpool one summer many years ago.

Yesterday, I spotted a square of paper that looked like more than a lost to-do list or B&Q inventory. I kicked it down the road a bit before picking it up. This is what I found:

This is the kind of thing that you keep an eye on the discarded and the mundane for. Folding it out, there is a whole page of name ideas for the Nuclear Winter Menu, with a side section for Kruschev Cocktails:

Some decent pun work – including People In Blankets and Garlic Mushroom Cloud on the meal side, and Berlin Wallbanger and Sex On The Bunker cocktails – is let down by some pretty shit ones (Holocaust Halibut).

I can’t quite see that the anonymous, slightly racist, fantasy landlord will ever quite achieve their dreams of drinking a Sexed Up On The Beach at their less inspired franchise idea: The Baghdad Bistro.

In search of the Sublime.

This might be my second post about Instagram. About its worth to me, personally. It’s quick and superficial — looking at the “the continuous partial everywhere” of Cerveny and Juha, but maybe in terms of Coleridge and Wordsworth. I think I’m coming to find the opposite of Juha’s experience; a continuous partial nowhere.

The constant awareness of other people’s locations – thanks to foursquare, twitter, instagram – is causing a small sense of dislocation. I am not really a part of those locations. It’s wonderful, of course, precisely because of that. It’s cause for fantasy. Of escapism.

I’ve found the photographs I’ve actively liked on Instagram are pretty much a straight split between food/drink, brutal/urban, and pastoral/remote; the rest made up of moments and (what would once have been) noticings.

It’s pastoral/remote images like this:



and this:

I think I’m increasingly drawn to them because they’re over there. Not here, part of my daily routine. They’re a foreign bit, and they are very definitely somewhere. I find myself following people from Finland, Portland, Norway, adventurers and people near lands of tall pines, mountains, fjords. I follow them to escape briefly from the urban, suburban, bricks, mortar and railway tracks.

This is the nearest I have to a contemporary Romanticism; to reconnect with landscapes I haven’t known. Finding moments of the Sublime in amongst the bus rides in the city.

It’s the pastoral companion to Bridle’s Robot Flâneur. It’s post-industrial escapism delivered by the ultra-modern super-computer in my pocket.

(Images by Anne Holiday, Jez Burrows, Graeme Douglas & Jørn Knutsen, respectively)

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).


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)

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!”

One more time, with feeling.

I downloaded the iPhone app Weddar yesterday.

It’s a cute application that seeks to crowdsource the weather in the area that you’re in. It’s not about meteorological fact (22°C, 6mph Westerly wind, 78% humidity etc), but about how the weather is perceived.

Weddar: how does it feel?

I’m struck by the simplicity of its question, and the basic idea behind it: reporting on how it ‘feels’ is quietly brilliant. How does it feel?

Post Future-O-Matic.

A year ago, Russell posted his sketch for the Future-o-Matic Theory Maker.

Future-o-Matic; Russell Davies.

I think at the moment, there is little need for any column except the second one. I have noticed quite a lot of Peak Slow and Post Long recently. These are mostly as attempts to mediate content overload, such as the trend towards #longreads in blog posts and Russell’s own reshaping of Interesting this year.

Of course, the Big Dark is never far away.