Archive for December, 2013|Monthly archive page

The Christmas getaway

20131224_195446[1]It is not often that I judge travel options well. But I think this year I got something right. I write this sat on ICE611 heading to Munich (picture left) having escaped on the 0858 Eurostar London to Brussels this morning and then joining a slightly delayed Thalys from Brussels to Köln. I took the decision on Sunday evening to abandon my plan to travel to London on the 0620 Victoria bound train this morning and book myself into a Travelodge hotel close to St. Pancras station in London. On waking up this morning I discovered that all trains into London from the South Coast are subject to cancellation arising from a landslip near East Croydon, amongst other obstructions caused by a major storm that crossed the UK during Monday and into Tuesday with considerable force.

I’d like to thank those people who helped me get away yesterday evening. As a regular flyer to Munich, I can sympathise with those people stuck at Gatwick Airport suffering from severe delays and cancellations due to a weather-related power failure. This is the second year that I have taken the train to Munich for my Christmas visit having suffered previously from delays and cancellations caused mainly by fog. And airlines.

Fröhe Weihnachten.

Ryoji Ikeada – Datamatics ver.2.0: Brighton Dome 13 Dec 2013

Ryoji+IkedaRyoji Ikeada is a Japanese digital artist now based in Paris. Datamatics is an ever-developing piece fusing visuals and sonics derived from ‘data progress’. The presentation has two extremes. Visually, the projection (onto a curiously creased white screen located on the stage) is black and white with a few red and/or blue ‘accents’; sonically, it is loud, very loud. In fact, the venue offered free ear defenders against the 100 db plus soundtrack. They were needed.

This is a performance that splits its audience. It is clear from the Twittersphere that it was well received by the digital community in Brighton. For2011_datamatics_dna those of us on the periphery, making sense of it was not easy, even if there is sense to be made of it. The accompanying leaflet, some of which I have quoted above, was not helpful. Here is another extract: “Driven by primary principles of datamatics, but objectively deconstructing its original elements – sound, visuals and even source codes – the new work creates a kind of meta-datamatics. Ikeada employs real-time programme computations and data scanning to create an extended new sequence that is a further abstraction of the original work. The technical dynamics of the piece, such as its extremely fast frame rates and variable bit depths, continue to challenge and explore the thresholds of our perceptions.”

At 55 minutes it is over-long. The first ten minutes are thrilling – like anticipating being on a roller-coaster. The extreme sonic and bright visuals shock the body. Then it merely becomes boring, though no less stressful for the body through the senses.

I might have anticipated Ikeada appearing from behind the screen at the end. No show. Read into that what you will.


Ryoji Ikeada:

Datamatics ver.2.0 Brighton Dome –

Planningtorock – Brighton, 12 December 2013

PtR_12_12_13Planningtorock is the stage name of Jam Rostron, Bolton born and Berlin-based. This set was largely based on her 2012 album, ‘W’, and peppered with some new songs that will debut on the forthcoming album (see below).

Rostron was supported on stage with an unnamed musician commanding the Apple computer and electronic drum kit. Rostron herself was mostly in shadow against a backdrop of video images from what I assume were earlier sets typically featuring her prosthetic nose (now gone), maybe to facilitate the comfortable wearing of her sunglasses. Or rather to presage a new musical period.

And what a noise. Much of PtoR material is experimental and often hard to listen to. For a Thursday evening, the audience was invited to dance and share the most accessible tunes in the repertoire and a number of others promised on the tracklisting of the new album, ‘All Love’s Legal’, due in 2014. She concluded the relatively short set with ‘Living it Out’, a clear favourite with the audience, a number of whom took to the stage to demonstrate their pleasure. Rostron was also overwhelmed when one of the stage dancers kissed her.

We also enjoyed the eponymous ‘Janine’, ‘Doorway’ and ‘The One’. All great tracks dispatched with energy, passion and some emotion. The new album and February tour will be events in their own right.

Another reviewer (link below) clearly has more knowledge than I do about PtoR. Worth a read.

Subversive design – Brighton Museum Oct 2013 – March 2014

posterThe exhibition at the beautiful Brighton Museum and Art Gallery in the Dome complex is somewhat mis-named, though no less interesting for it. It less design, more art. Nothing is functional; the output of design normally melds form and function.

Everything has a point to make. For example, Simone DSCF0409Brewster’s provocative Negresse Chaise and Mammy Table (including wallpaper) remind us how recent has been our willingness to use such depictions of black people in cinema and elsewhere for commercial profit. The inclusion of female body parts just compounds this.

Also featuring in the exhibition is some work by enfant terrible, Philippe Starck. Two pieces are on display, both of which are part of the museum’s permanent collection. The stool (below left) was designed originally for film director, Wim Wenders, who wanted a stool on which he could lean rather than sit. Starck_stool

Starck has also got his hands dirty with the Italian firm, Alessi, famous for kettles, amongst other kitchen equipment. Starck’s kettle is a rather un-functional. The cone (right) that dissects the body is a handle, filler and spout. It proved not to work, despite the apparently clever internal technology; Starck himself was unrepentant: “I wanted to get myself noticed [and] Starck_kettlemake a masterly sculptural object”. That it certainly is. Alessi did not buy that.

Ceramicist Grayson Perry, former winner of the Turner Prize, not surprisingly features in this exhibition. His vase entitled ‘Difficult Background’ (below left) has in the foreground Perry_Brightonsmiling children against a background of war – burning buildings and fleeing civilians.

There are some beautiful pieces with interesting juxtapositioning. For example, ‘Fragile Future Lamp’ by Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta (2012, below right) has an environmental theme. It represents the construction and deconstruction of dandelion clocks studdedDSCF0414 with LED lights. The fragility of the structure maps on to a fragile earth; though the lights represent hope.

Note the arachnid wallpaper behind.

DSCF0412Finally, shoes. There are two challenging shoe related exhibits. Not surprising, both relate to high-heels, one a modification, the other a hybrid of human and non-human form plus weapons (left). WeaponsDSCF0413 are generally clichéd. Terry de Havilland’s dagger heeled shoes bear the cliché, but the hooves feel very uncomfortable. Belonging to another creature and appropriated by humans.

Other more extensive reviews can be found here:

The official PR for the exhibition is handled by Lianne Jarrett Associates:

Cigarette advertising: the Autumn 2013 campaign

Vogue_Cigs_Dec13 There’s been a lull over the summer regarding cigarette advertising in Germany. Arriving in Munich last night I spotted a couple of new campaigns: Vogue and John Player.

Vogue (pictured left) is a BAT brand targeted at women and is new to this blog. La Cigarette denotes a singularity with the definitive article; followed by – literally – tasteful pleasure.

Going head to head with Vogue is John Player Special Gold. The tagline (right) is not that different to Vogue: JP_Gold1_Dec13Enjoyment is Gold. How to read this one, I’m not sure, but if I am not mistaken, exposing one’s inner arm to another – or a camera – denotes availability, submission even. Submission in the first instance to the addictive drug and perhaps second, before she dies, to the bloke in the background? No idea what the other woman is doing there.

Industrial action, Quarks and Gravity

Yogeshwar_Ranga2I’ve just been watching an edition of Quarks and Co., a German-language science magazine programme on WDR with the ever-compelling musician turned astro physicist, Ranga Yogeshwar ( Yogeswar (left) is a true polymath with considerable charm. I watch this when I can as part of my German learning programme. The Edition on 3 September was all about time. Why does it feel different, depending on what we are doing? And what do we do with time saved as a result of taking a fast train, plane, etc.? The answer to the latter question it seems is that we work more. However, being on strike, as I have today over the erosion of pay in the higher education sector in the UK, frees up time – after first doing the picket line duties – to go to the cinema for the first time in what may be two years.

Spoiler alert!

Was it worth it? No.

Gravity, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, according to the Guardian’s three reviewers, Xan Brooks, the ever unreliable Peter Bradshaw and Catherine Shoad, is amazing. Sandra Bullock stars as the sole survivor of a disastrous US mission on the space shuttle after the Russians detonate a satellite that generates considerable debris that destroys the shuttle, the International Space Station and a mysterious Chinese craft that we did not know existed. All are in the same unfortunate orbit around the Earth.

George Clooney’s character makes an unexpected – though not real – return to the capsule in order to stop Gravityher suffocating herself out of sheer desperation. There is a lot going wrong and the Earth seems a long long way away. Bullock’s character comes back to life after a word with God – seemingly never needed before – and memories of her lost child.

I could go on. Others intelligently have:

At least I did not squeeze this film into my normal free time. Had I done, I would have felt cheated. And lunch beforehand was most agreeable. Such is the nature of industrial action.