Art

Auden: aspects of our present Weltanschauung

Looking for something in Auden, I hit another passage, about human nature, art, tradition and originality (below), that I couldn’t put my finger on when I last needed it a few months ago. We’re edging towards the World Brain, but it can’t come fast enough:

It seems possible that in the near future, we shall have microscopic libraries of record, in which a photograph of every important book and document in the world will be stowed away and made easily available for the inspection of the student…. The general public has still to realize how much has been done in this field and how many competent and disinterested men and women are giving themselves to this task. The time is close at hand when any student, in any part of the world, will be able to sit with his projector in his own study at his or her convenience to examine any book, any document, in an exact replica. — H G Wells, ‘The Brain Organization of the Modern World’ (1937)

Auden. I’ve often referred to this passage and am very happy to make it ready to hand through pinning it here:

3) The loss of belief in a norm of human nature which will always require the same kind of man-fabricated world to be at home in. … until recently, men knew and cared little about cultures far removed from their own in time or space; by human nature, they meant the kind of behaviour exhibited in their own culture. Anthropology and archaeology have destroyed this provincial notion: we know that human nature is so plastic that it can exhibit varieties of behaviour which, in the animal kingdom, could only be exhibited by different species.

The artist, therefore, no longer has any assurance, when he makes something, that even the next generation will find it enjoyable or comprehensible.

He cannot help desiring an immediate success, with all the danger to his integrity which that implies.

Further, the fact that we now have at our disposal the arts of all ages and cultures, has completely changed the meaning of the word tradition. It no longer means a way of working handed down from one generation to the next; a sense of tradition now means a consciousness of the whole of the past as present, yet at the same time as a structured whole the parts of which are related in terms of before and after. Originality no longer means a slight modification in the style of one’s immediate predecessors; it means a capacity to find in any work of any date or place a clue to finding one’s authentic voice. The burden of choice and selection is put squarely upon the shoulders of each individual poet and it is a heavy one.

It’s from ‘The Poet and The City’, which I think appeared first in the Massachusetts Review in 1962 and was then included in The Dyer’s Hand (1963). Lots in this essay. ‘There are four aspects of our present Weltanschauung which have made an artistic vocation more difficult than it used to be.’ The others:

1) The loss of belief in the eternity of the physical universe. … Physics, geology and biology have now replaced this everlasting universe with a picture of nature as a process in which nothing is now what it was or what it will be.

We live now among ‘sketches and improvisations’.

2) The loss of belief in the significance and reality of sensory phenomena. … science has destroyed our faith in the naive observation of our senses: we cannot … ever know what the physical universe is really like; we can only hold whatever subjective notion is appropriate to the particular purpose we have in view. This destroys the traditional conception of art as mimesis …

4) The disappearance of the Public Realm as the sphere of revelatory personal deeds. To the Greeks the Private Realm was the sphere of life ruled by the necessity of sustaining life, and the Public Realm the sphere of freedom where a man could disclose himself to others. Today, the significance of the terms private and public has been reversed; public life is the necessary impersonal life, the place where a man fulfils his social function, and it is in his private life that he is free to be his personal self.


Bonding with the reader

Another cardboard package, but without the Amazon name. And inside:

'Tree of Codes'

What a pleasure to find a book wrapped and presented like this. Visual Editions.

'Tree of Codes'

'Tree of Codes'

From the publisher’s microsite for the book: ‘With the story literally carved out of another book, Tree of Codes has a different die-cut on every single page. Telling the haunting story of “an enormous last day of life”, it is a book that looks every bit like it feels: unlike anything else.’

'Tree of Codes'

'Tree of Codes'

If you’ve not yet looked inside a copy for yourself, you can read more about it, take a peek at the publisher's photo set on Flickr or watch this video by Jonathan Safran Foer — ‘I hope the Tree of Codes in some ways contributes to this conversation that we’re now having about what’s possible with literature and what’s possible with paper’:

I use Amazon a lot for books. With Amazon, I’m in the world of the utilitarian and the books I get often bear all the marks of having been handled with a complete lack of interest in the object, the thing itself.

The experience of buying, receiving, opening, reading and learning about Tree of Codes is another thing entirely. (It makes me think — again! — about what a book is for and what you can do with one, what publishers are for and the varying reasons why you might want to follow their work. And … paper!) Few publishers have ever sent me a book presented with as much care and love.

I was nervous, trying to video flicking through the book, lest my thumb caught on the paper and snagged or tore it. But what a pleasure to handle this:


The electric garden of our minds

Last month, on my way back down the Euston Road after seeing the window displays at the Wellcome Trust, I had time to go to the Gagosian Gallery for Crash — Homage to J G Ballard. The experience was of overload, but I got the chance to pop back again last Thursday. Two visits certainly paid off.

… only a commercial gallery of this pulling power could manage the loans to flesh out Ballard’s text so grandiloquently; no museum could have responded so quickly, or quirkily, to the novelist’s death last year. The idea of a visual tribute to a writer is so marvellous and generous that one wishes it was as standard as a memorial service or an obituary. — Jackie Wullschlager, FT

As some reviewers have suggested, there are works on show here that seem … a little beside the point. All the same, some of these are striking:

Works with an, at-best, tangential connection to Ballard stand out, foremost being Paul McCarthy’s “Mechanical Pig”, an astonishingly life-like plastic sow cruelly wired up to machinery, twitching and heaving in a tortured coma. This freakshow attraction goes beyond sensationalism to bring us face to face with our mechanised use of livestock, and is a great example of contemporary art’s relationship with impact advertising. I was mesmerised by its laboured breaths, each one threatening to be its last. — Ballardian

I liked … the Eduardo Paolozzi:

Gagosian: Crash — Homage to Ballard

Three decades before Andy Warhol immortalized the Campbell’s Soup can, Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) was crowding childhood scrapbooks with images of American popular culture he found in old magazines, newspapers, and comic strips. … As the novelist J. G. Ballard noted in his introduction to General Dynamic F.U.N., “Here the familiar materials of our everyday lives, the jostling iconographies of mass advertising and consumer goods, are manipulated to reveal their true identities.”  Nothing is as it seems and irony abounds.  Lady Godiva rides a motorcycle; Christ’s image is profaned as a paint-by-number; flesh turns green and lettuce grows blue.  Paolozzi reconfigured unrelated images to form a tangle of references and connections, leading viewers in as many directions as there are ideas, images, and products in our modern world. — Saratoga Today

The artist’s friend and sometime collaborator, J.G. Ballard, described General Dynamic F.U.N as a ‘unique guidebook to the electric garden of our minds’. … For Paolozzi, the modern age, exposed as ephemera, is a necessarily fragmented collision of visual stimulus and influence, and his work is a ‘health warning for an uncreative and thriftless society’. — Southbank Centre

The Warhol, Green Disaster (Green Disaster Twice), 1963 (reflected: Richard Prince — Elvis, 2007):

Gagosian: Crash — Homage to Ballard

The Jane and Louise Wilson DVD projections:

Gagosian: Crash — Homage to Ballard

Peter Campbell, writing in the LRB (about the exhibition’s catalogue):

On the page facing Allen Jones’s Archway (a sculpture in the Heathrow Hilton, Ballard’s favourite London building), you read that ‘sitting in its atrium one becomes, briefly, a more advanced kind of human being. Within this remarkable building one could never fall in love, or need to.’ Even when the overlap between a work and anything Ballard wrote is accidental, or vague, there is common ground in his attention to the look of things. He saw them as a painter might. His language was precise and often technical: his vocabulary when cars are involved is that of a maintenance manual; his sex scenes look like an atlas of anatomy.

‘I’ve always wanted really to be a painter,’ he said in 1975. ‘My interest in painting has been far more catholic than my interest in fiction … I’ve said somewhere else that all my fiction consists of paintings. I think I always was a frustrated painter.’ He not only envied visual artists, he believed in their power. ‘I didn’t see exhibitions of Francis Bacon, Max Ernst, Magritte and Dalí as displays of painting,’ he wrote in 2003. ‘I saw them as among the most radical statements of the human imagination ever made, on a par with radical discoveries in neuroscience or nuclear physics.’ … In the catalogue Will Self writes of Ballard’s ability to see the nature of what has grown up around us: ‘Bleak man-made landscapes, technological, social and environmental developments and their psychological effects – these are aspects of the dystopian society we all live in now. Ballard may have started out as a science fiction writer, but his texts now read as social fact.’ …

Ballard’s sense of something wrong with the world our appetites and ingenuity have created makes ordinary things – suburbs, roads and high-rises – look different, as they might in the lurid glow of an approaching storm. It is a gift to art that has been appreciated.

The Independent has a nice gallery piece where Charlotte Cripps talks to some of the artists involved. Loris Gréaud:

J G Ballard was not in the future but in the ultra-present.


"If we want to contribute to some sort of tenable future" …

Artworks in general are increasingly regarded as seeds — seeds for processes that need a viewer's (or a whole culture's) active mind in which to develop. Increasingly working with time, culture-makers see themselves as people who start things, not finish them.

And what is possible in art becomes thinkable in life. We become our news selves first in simulacrum, through style and fashion and art, our deliberate immersions in virtual worlds. Through them we sense what it would be like to be another kind of person with other kinds of values. We rehearse new feelings and sensitivities. We imagine other ways of thinking about our world and its future. …

As artists and culture-makers begin making time, change and continuity their subject-matter, they will legitimise and make emotionally attractive a new and important conversation.
Brian Eno.

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tapTap and Beatbox

A very great pleasure last Thursday lunchtime to welcome Andy Huntington to St Paul's — to talk about his work as an interaction designer and artist. Part of a strand in our talks that seeks to show how computing is now intimately involved with the creative arts as well as the sciences, Andy’s talk both explained the background to his approach and interests and gave plenty of opportunity for hands-on engagement, focusing on tapTap and Beatbox, as the pictures show.

Andy

tapTap and Beatbox

tapTap and Beatbox

tapTap and Beatbox     tapTap and Beatbox     tapTap and Beatbox

Experiencing the shared delight and pleasure in the room when tapTap left the realm of talked-about-concept and leapt into life under Andy’s hands was just great. Toy + game + interaction + music. Play and enthusiasm.

Lots of good feedback about this talk. Thanks, Andy.

We hope to be doing some follow-up, inter-disciplinary work with Andy.


Berlin

Notes (for next time) …

It won my affection very early on: cosmopolitan, easy-going, alive with street life and cafés, art and music. It felt simultaneously safe and louche — and very, very European. History was obvious in nearly every street we walked. The area we were living in and exploring, Kreuzberg and its neighbourhood, is relatively poor and lacks pretension. It was easy to unwind there — and this despite that always present sense of the past and its burdens. A worldly city, urbane, accommodating, with a thin crust between the day-to-day and the life underground that is the past or the lot of the marginal. (The lobby area to our local U-Bahn always had one, sometimes two, much-the-worse-for-wear guys making little attempt to hide their role as drug peddlers: taking written and spoken messages hurriedly passed to them by people coming off a train or based in or near the station, like someone out of The Wire they would read or listen, rush off — or nod and carry on mumbling to the U-Bahn passengers as they flowed out of the station.)

Safe and louche, then, but with a whiff of something more just off-stage, somewhere over there …

Volkspark Hasenheide

We came home to tales of systematic car burning: Berlin's luxury car arsonists - Boing Boing. More here. And here.

So what have I taken away this first time round? Far, far less fraught than London (I could probably live in Berlin, but London would exhaust me) and with none of Paris’ self-satisfaction, it’s still re-creating itself after so many decades of the most traumatic history. Cranes are everywhere, buildings are going up, coming down, being re-purposed or awaiting their time. There’s a wealth of cultural life and diversity and much evident (relative) poverty. It’s a strikingly student-centric city and a place where ideas still matter and are actually … discussed. (How refreshing.)

We rented a flat a stone’s throw, we discovered, from Blu’s work:

Graffiti

I found a couple of videos of these being created:



(Blu; Blu in Berlin, 2008, here and here; JR.)

The NYT has a 2008 piece about Berlin graffiti, One Wall Down, Thousands to Paint (and they have a video, Graffiti in Berlin, here):

The city’s skyline might be defined by a Sputnik-era TV tower, bombed-out churches and the ghost of a certain wall that once split the German capital. But its streetscape is largely molded by graffiti. … The roots of graffiti culture can be traced back to West Berlin in the early 1980s, when the American-occupied sector was the reluctant melting pot of anarchist punks, Turkish immigrants and West German draft resisters. Kreuzberg, a neighborhood surrounded on three sides by the Berlin Wall, blossomed particularly well, with miles of wall space and little police scrutiny.

We walked a lot. Not because of the S-Bahn drama (my thanks to Chris and Paul, through delicious, for these links, there to greet me when we arrived :) — Economist, The Local, World Socialist Web Site) but because we enjoy that: it lets you get to grips with a city at a level of intimacy that matters. I thought I knew about the wall, but the reality of it (the 43.7-kilometres, the path it took, its utter centrality) is quite staggering. Lots to choose from on the web: “Berlin's official Internet site”, Berlin International, was useful — Where was the Wall?; The Wall inside the city; Aerial views of the Wall from 1989.

1989, Brandenburg Gate

Talking with friends and then placing the divided city in the divided Germanies (‘to a West Berliner, everywhere was East’) took us mentally to the Helmstedt-Marienborn border crossing:

The Border checkpoint Helmstedt–Marienborn (German: Grenzübergang Helmstedt-Marienborn), called Grenzübergangsstelle Marienborn (GÜSt) (border crossing Marienborn) by the German Democratic Republic (GDR), was the largest and most important border crossing on the inner German border during the division of Germany. Due to its geographical location, allowing for the shortest land route between West Germany and West Berlin, most transit traffic to and from West Berlin was handled by the Helmstedt-Marienborn crossing. Most travel routes from West Germany to East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia also used this crossing. The border crossing existed from 1945 to 1990 and was situated near the East German village of Marienborn at the edge of the Lappwald. The crossing interrupted the Bundesautobahn 2 between the junctions Helmstedt-Ost and Ostingersleben.


View Larger Map

Back in 2004, we drove to Krakow. One day, I’d like to drive to Berlin, taking the Helmstedt–Marienborn route. Driving these very non-UK distances, crossing land fought over and carved up, again and again, brings home the history.

Amongst other things, we saw the Stasi Museum. The building, numbingly dull, drained the joy from that particular afternoon. If it had been fiction, it could have been laughed off (I heard someone else say, ‘This is all like James Bond’), and it took us a while to fathom the reality behind this:

Yes, the Stasi Had a Giant Smell Register of Dissidents.

I was 10 when George Blake escaped from Wormwood Scrubs, an event which made enough impact on me then for this to pull me up short:

At the Stasi Museum 

Back home, I was delighted to hear again Tom Bower’s 1980s documentary about Blake:

For 18 years, Blake served as a trusted and senior MI6 officer. But secretly, in 1952, he became a double agent, betraying MI6 operations and personnel to the KGB. Over the course of nine years, at a critical period of the Cold War, he destroyed most of MI6's activities in Eastern Europe. 'I don't know what I handed over', he admitted, 'because it was so much'.

More, and more links, at Stasimuseum Berlin - Stasi headquarters.

We didn’t go to the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial, the main remand prison for those detained by the Stasi. I think we should go to these places but, although it didn’t reduce me to tears (unlike the information centre at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe), the Stasi Museum was life-sapping enough for this brief stay.

We did go to the Soviet War Memorial, about which I’ve made various notes on Flickr. Immense, and immensely moving (7,000 men). Much to learn here.

Memo to self: dig out a copy of Deyan Sudjic's book The Edifice Complex and read the chapter Geoff Manaugh rates, ‘The Long March to the Leader's Desk’. (And is that red marble story true?)

Museum island, of course, and lots to explore another time. Google Maps for Berlin is not keeping up with the pace of change: the map of the area around the Palast der Republik, that area between Schloßplatz and the Lustgarten, confused me. Thanks again to Chris for the link which explained all — Brokedown Palast, a 2006 film about the Palast der Republik by Clockwise Media:

How best to respect, or remember, the past and move on?

CCTV sign, Frankfurter Allee            View across Frankfurter Allee to Karl-Marx-Allee: "a monumental socialist boulevard built by the young GDR between 1952 and 1960" (Wikipedia)

In a spot which has become subsumed into a rather tawdry, touristy area, the outdoor exhibition at Checkpoint Charlie does a good job of bringing the history to life:

Checkpoint Charlie, 10 April 1986  Checkpoint Charlie, 10 April 1986. Friedrichstraße

The New National Gallery has been given over (until 22 November) to an exhibition, Dream Images, of surrealist and early American abstract expressionist works in the private collection of Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch. From the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin site:

The Pietzsch Collection ranks as one of the internationally most significant collections of Surrealist art, with principle works by André Breton, Salvador Dalí, Paul Delvaux, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Joan Miró, André Masson and Yves Tanguy, as well as numerous works by other artists more broadly connected to the Surrealist movement. A second important core aspect to the collection lies in works by the Abstract Expressionists in America, whose art movement rose directly from the roots of Surrealism to flourish in the New York of the nineteen-fifties. Works by important figures who have since become legends in their own right, such as Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman are all represented in the collection together with works by the great Mexicans Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

FT review is online.

I was particularly taken by the fragments of ‘Capricorn’ (1948), included near casts of the complete piece:

ernst_capricorn  (from bildertraeumeinberlin.org)

From The Burlington Magazine:

In an interview with Patrick Waldberg he [Ernst] announced with refreshing candour: 'Painting is like chess: you have to give your whole mind to it. You live in a state of concentration that is almost unbearable. But with sculpture I can relax. I enjoy it, the way that I enjoyed making sandcastles on the beach when I was a boy'.

From the LA Times:

His sculptural tableau, "Capricorn," incorporated various ethnographic influences visible in exaggerated body proportions and serenely simplified faces. But the piece also was uniquely an Ernst creation, a paean to impromptu inspiration. Everything was pieced together from cement casts of odds and ends: milk cartons cast and piled on top of each other to make the king's scepter (also reminiscent of Brancusi's undulating "Endless Column"), eggshells for the queen's downcast eyes, a cello (harking back to Cubist still lifes) for her body. Like most of his other sculptures from the '30s and '40s, this piece was seldom seen publicly until it was cast in bronze years later (in this case, in a slightly different form). … The sensibility that informed these large and small three-dimensional works was the same puckish, deliberately irrational and willfully inventive spirit that earlier led Ernst to make collages of bizarre encounters (based on illustrations clipped from magazines), fantasy drawings based on rubbings ( frottages ) from pieces of wood, leaves and other materials, and dreamlike paintings. What we tend to forget is that these sculptures also represented a revolutionary way of viewing the human body, beyond traditional Western representations of ideal or actual human figures. During the first few decades of the 20th Century, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Ernst and others dared to raise the curtain that separated polite, normative behavior from secret and "forbidden" thoughts and actions.

The photo of Ernst and Dorothea Tanning with the sculpture (in Sedona, Arizona) is terrific:

capricorne

One reviewer commented:

This is a truly historic exhibition, not only because it marks a rare example of the activities, against the odds, of two sophisticated post-war German collectors, but mainly because it represents the transition of great modernist art from Europe to the USA and in so doing commemorates the incalculable damage the Nazis managed to effect upon Germany and Europe, and almost on the rest of the world, too, and finally because it represents the triumph of artistic creativity over totalitarian orthodoxy.

I’d like (almost) to end on this note of play and creativity triumphant.

*****

Berlin, a city emergent, the contours of its past so evident, its new form not yet settled. In Berlin, I was very much aware of a living history and of living in history. Leszek Kolakowski died last month and these much cited words of his came back to me many times during our time in Berlin: ‘We learn history not in order to know how to behave or how to succeed, but to know who we are’.

My photos are online.


leaving Berlin: dawn at the Hauptbahnhof

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The certainty of chance

From the Economist's obituary of George Melly:

As a lifelong Surrealist, he was sure that the bizarre and marvellous lay in wait for him everywhere, and carried in his head a Surrealist motto, “the certainty of chance”.

'The 'certainty of chance' was', James Boyle says, 'the phrase André Breton used to describe both modernism and his own philosophy of life'.

Earlier this month, the TLS reprinted George Melly's 1991 review of A Book of Surrealist Games, in which he concluded:

It may puzzle the more pompous as to why this body of men and women, these ardent revolutionaries of the spirit, spent so much time engaged in occupations usually considered more suitable for bored children on wet afternoons. The answer is, to quote the preface, that “Surrealist play is more like a kind of provocative magic”, that it “breaks, the thread of discursive thought” and, above all, helps to confirm the primary Surrealist belief in what they called “objective chance” or “the certainty of hazard”. These games will prove to you that not only was Lautréamont justified as to poetry; one could add a rider: “Surrealism too can be made by all.” 

Surrealism 1

Of the cover, George Melly wrote:

… a bourgeois interior, painted with the minimal realism of early Magritte. Seated opposite each other in identical armchairs, a young father is engrossed in his newspaper while his wife is teaching their son to read. Something is mildly askew. Is it because, while it is dark outside, the curtains are undrawn, or that the room is lit by anachronistic Victorian oil lamps, or that the newspaper, despite the completely Western ambience of the decor, is printed in oriental typography?

The origin of this illustration is unrevealed. I suspect it may have been an advertisement for a pre-war European product aimed at the Japanese market, or vice versa, but it is a brilliant trailer for the displacement on offer within. In a balloon-shaped inset, replacing perhaps a commercial slogan, is a quotation from Lautréamont, the nineteenth-century writer so revered by the Surrealists: “Poetry should be made by all.”

Amazon carries an "editorial review" (cited as Amazon.com): 'Surrealism is far more than some dead art movement: it is also a collection of tools for perceiving and representing the world in ways that transcend normative perspectives. … If you have any spark of creativity, you are strongly encouraged to get this book to help loosen the holds of quotidian existence on your craft.'

I see Anne's been here before — and quotes more of the preface to A Book of Surrealist Games than George Melly did:

Surrealist games and procedures are intended to free words and images from the constraints of rational and discursive order, substituting chance and indeterminancy for premeditation and deliberation... In one particular and important respect Surrealist play is more like a kind of provocative magic. This is in its irrepressible propensity to the transformation of objects, behaviours and ideas. In this aspect of its proceedings Surrealism makes manifest its underlying political programme, its revolutionary intent.

Before going on to put some surrealist games online, Anne also quotes Philippe Audouin:

It is not to belittle Surrealist activity to consider it as a game, in fact as The Great Game, whose prizes in the eyes of those who played and lived it, can be calculated in promises of freedom, love, revolution, and in anything else that intransigent desire can aspire to.

Unsurprisingly, various things here made me think again about the aleatoric


Ice Age art

Something beautiful …

Archaeologists at the University of Tübingen have recovered the first entirely intact woolly mammoth figurine from the Swabian Jura, a plateau in the state of Baden-Württemberg, thought to have been made by the first modern humans some 35,000 years ago. It is believed to be the oldest ivory carving ever found. "You can be sure," Tübingen archaeologist Nicholas J. Conard told SPIEGEL ONLINE, "that there has been art in Swabia for over 35,000 years." Spiegel Online

Mammoth 1
Universität Tübingen 

The figure of the woolly mammoth is tiny, measuring just 3.7 cm long and weighing a mere 7.5 grams, and displays skilfully detailed carvings. It is unique in its slim form, pointed tail, powerful legs and dynamically arched trunk. It is decorated with six short incisions, and the soles of the pachyderm's feet show a crosshatch pattern. …

The geological context of the discoveries and radiocarbon dating indicate that the figurines belong to the Aurignacian culture, which refers to an area of southern France and is associated with the arrival of the first modern humans in Europe. Multiple radiocarbon dates from sediment in the Vogelherd Cave yielded ages between 30,000 and 36,000 years ago, the University of Tübingen reports. Some methods give an even older date. Spiegel Online

Mammoth 2
Universität Tübingen 

These tiny artworks, recently unearthed, are among the oldest examples of figurative art ever found. (For comparison, the oldest known cave/rock paintings go back to 32,000-40,000 years ago. The paintings at Lascaux in France and Altamira in Spain are somewhere around 15,000 years old.) Thinking Meat

via 3 Quarks Daily

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London (week two)

 

 

Celebrated this, the second week of living in London by dashing off to the Velázquez at the National and the British Library's London: A Life in Maps.

The painting shown above, An Old Woman Cooking Eggs (1618, oil, 100.5 x 119.5 cm, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh), is my favourite of those on show. I love its colours, its use of light and shadow — and its striking use of a double perspective: I didn't buy the catalogue, but I browsed it and recall it as talking quite excitedly about how we look down on the eggs, the bowl, the knife, the knife's shadow … and directly at the boy and old woman. Fascinating. The small, free exhibition guide takes a rather different view: 'he is not able to fuse the independently studied parts to create convincing space'. The boy-painter, just 19, may well have struggled, but I still find the painting utterly memorable and the two angles of vision are part of what makes it stay in my mind. That, the colours, light … and the humanity of the two figures.

Rod's piece about the Velázquez is here, says many good things and makes many good links. More about the maps later — I've got Peter Barber's book to read and I want to get hold of Peter Whitfield's London: A Life in Maps.


YouTube

Be it Frank Zappa specials, such as I am the Slime and Mike Nesmith and Frank Zappa on 'The Monkees', or Captain Beefheart — Lick my decals off, baby … or the loftier heights of The Hearts of Age (Orson Welles) and Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren), YouTube is going to become compulsive viewing. (All links via del.icio.us, the first three via Merlin Mann, the last two via Warren Ellis.)

Wikipedia on The Hearts of Age:

The Hearts of Age is the first film made by Orson Welles. The film is a four-minute short, which he co-directed with William Vance in 1934. The film stars Welles' first wife, Virginia Nicholson, as well as Welles himself. He made the film while attending the Todd School for Boys, in Woodstock, Illinois, at the age of 19. The plot is a series of images loosely tied together, and is arguably influenced by surrealism. The film is rarely seen today, but many point to it as an important precursor to Welles' first Hollywood film, Citizen Kane.

Meshes of the Afternoon, to my shame, is a discovery. Better now than never. Wikipedia here. An Uruguayan site here (Spanish). (Both these links via absurdita, who uploaded the film to YouTube.) IMDb entry here.

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