Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Contemporary furniture

Interesting applications of form and practicality. I like the compact nature and simplicity of these designs.

Hot Chip album designs

I always like Hot Chip album covers nearly as much as their music (which is a lot) It's really bold when there's a running theme or template as with these ones that I've picked out, it shows they are different pieces from the same source and they each kind of illustrate the songs. Each entity circled onto the square seems to embody the sense of the song through textures and materials. Album covers should do what these do, i think; act as a depiction of the music in a seductive, picture frame type way.

Their videos are generally an obscure raw and conceptual style, I find them some of the most visually interesting videos around.

There is an old version they made but never released for 'colours' on this page:


Michael Hughes

Michael Hughes has compiled a small book of postcards, called 'souvenirs' in which he has made images of postcards within their settings and images of attractions worked into their actual setting. I really like this idea of a double photograph. It makes me think about what an image represents and senses of time and presence. like a layered reality. I also came across the below series of images within an image, which really caught my eye.

Hot Rods and Hairy Beasts

This exhibition at London's Coningsby Gallery features work by illustrators Nishant Choksi, Rod Hunt, Linzie Hunter and Allan Sanders. They showcase 'an impressive menagerie of horrendous and hairy beasts'!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

The World's Fastest Indian

In my opinion, this is one of Anthony Hopkin's best performances. It's based on a true story of a New Zealander called Burt Munro, who spent 25 years working on an old motorbike (1920's Indian) that he hoped would break the land speed record held at a convention in Utah on the salt flats. With a threatening heart condition, very little money and his makeshift invention (no breaks, old tyres..) he travels across the world and competes against hundreds of hi-tech creations. There are some awful moments when you think they will just turn him away or it's all going to go wrong and it's an extraordinary adventure of courage and perseverance.

Below are some genuine images from the Burt Munro site;

Trap Door

You've got to love Trap Door! The entire set is plasticine and was created by Terry Brain and Charlie Mills. It's unlike any other plasticine animation, I think, in it's humour and style. Truely brilliant.

UPS Widget

I came accross this UPS pop up whilst researching and not expecting much of it, I had a look and thought there's actually a really good idea in that.. they provide a widget in the form of a branded ups office assistant. The little guy with the post hat on tells you when your packages are being shipped/arrived etc and runs around your desktop. It's quite a novel idea and emphasises the idea of being of service!

The History Boys

"The current of intellectual energy snapping through “The History Boys,” the ferociously engaging screen adaptation of Alan Bennett’s Tony Award-winning play, set in a boys’ school in northern England in 1983, feels like electrical brain stimulation. As two teachers jockey for the hearts and minds of eight teenage schoolboys preparing to apply to Oxford and Cambridge, their epigrams send up small jolts of pleasure and excitement. How to teach and interpret history is the question."

One view is represented by Irwin, hired by the school to scrape away the rust of received opinion from the students’ thinking so that their answers to test questions will have more edge.” On the other side is Hector, the poetry-spouting, eccentric teacher of general studies who cares deeply about how knowledge is applied to life. His pure idealism is measured by his response to a student during a discussion of the Holocaust. When the boy reels off a quote from Wittgenstein — “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” — Hector scolds him for glibness and for treating the words as “a dinky formula.” and responds “All human knowledge is precious whether or not it serves the slightest human use.” Most of the best lines go to Irwin “History nowadays is not a matter of conviction. It’s a performance. It’s entertainment.”

Transferred to the screen with its language intact, “The History Boys” inevitably feels less like a movie than like an academic vaudeville show. In one scene the students converse comically in French. Interwoven with the serious monologues are vintage popular songs (“Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”) and scenes from old movies (“Now, Voyager” and “Brief Encounter”) performed by the students with a deadpan playfulness. If these songs and re-enacted film bits seem anachronistic choices for a movie set in the 1980s (the soundtrack includes period rock by the Clash and other groups), without its breezy horseplay “The History Boys” would come across as a drier, English answer to “Dead Poets Society.” All this verbal dexterity should awaken in viewers a wistful Anglophilic envy. How often do the most articulate characters in American films express themselves with such finesse?

--- London Movie Review

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Fish Face

Cambridge Open Studios

The Cambridge Open Studios are a really good way for new artists to get their work seen. Held annually, the programmes are handed around detailing artists residences and viewing time periods for their work. Some local galleries host the work as well as the artists themselves, which I prefer to actually visiting their houses! But if you go with a fellow art student and make good conversation about the work it can be a very insightful experience. Some of the work I've previously seen is shown on the portfolio websites, although they don't particularly like you to take photos.

Strange Clock

The last weekend I spent at home, I stumbled upon this odd installation apparently recently unveiled by Stephen Hawking adorning the front of Corpus Christi College near the Cambridge market. It's a hideous bug/insect/creature sat on top of a huge gold dial that displays a blue light show of hours, minutes and seconds in some revolutionary way of showing the time... and it cost £1 million. The insect thing moves its mouth up and down and crawls around the clock ( well it moves from underneath it ) and it looks, I thought, just a bit horrible and unsightly! It's strange what some people do with their money..

---Dr Taylor is an inventor and horologist - one who studies the measurement of time - and was a student at Corpus Christi in the 1950s. He has given the clock as a gift to his former college. The grasshopper or "chronophage", meaning "time eater", advances around the 4ft-wide face, each step marking a second. Its movement triggers blue flashing lights which travel across the face eventually stopping at the correct hour and minute. But the clock is only accurate once every five minutes - the rest of the time the lights are simply for decoration. ---
"Conventional clocks with hands are boring," he said. "I wanted to make timekeeping interesting."

"I also wanted to depict that time is a destroyer - once a minute is gone you can't get it back.
That's why my grasshopper is not a Disney character. He is a ferocious beast that over the seconds has his tongue lolling out, his jaws opening, then on the 59th second he gulps down time."


The Art of Looking Sideways

An inexhaustible "guide to visual awareness." This is a concoction of anecdotes, quotes, images, and bizarre facts that offers a wonderfully twisted vision of the chaos of modern life. Fletcher is a renowned designer and art director and describes his book as "a journey without a destination," He captures the sensory overload of a world that simply contains too much information. In one typical section, entitled "Civilization," the reader encounters six Polish flags designed to represent the world, a photograph of an anthropomorphic handbag, Buzz Aldrin's boot print on the moon, drawings of Stone Age pebbles, a painting of "Ireland--as seen from Wales," and a dizzying array of quotations and snippets of information, including the wise words of Marcus Aurelius, Stephen Jay, and Gandhi's comment, "Western civilization? I think it would be a good idea." Fletcher's mastery of design mixes type, space, fonts, alphabets, color, and layout combined with the strange and profound to produce a stunning book that cannot be read, but only experienced. Thought provoking and inspiring, this book is a rambling artist journal of tidbits he has found interesting over his long creative career.

Here are some quotes that I jotted down;

'Triumphs of imagination such as the person you love is 72.8% water'

'How to think by jumping. Never wait for yourself. A word in your eye. The art of looking sideways... By the way, what’s it like living with a paper bag over your head? Not referring to you of course – the uncommon exception to universal bondage.'

'Every tool carries with it the spirit by which it has been created'

And a lot on the philosophy of vision;

If you do not raise you eyes you will think you are at the highest point
The most important instrument of thought is the eye
Every period has its own optical focus
Images have had a great influence on realities
Love comes in at the eye
Every man mistakes the limits of his vision for the limits of the world
To gaze is to think
One hundred tellings are not as good as one seeing
Originality is simply a fresh pair of eyes
To unveil is to enchant
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye
A monk asked his teacher ‘what is myself?’ he answered ‘something hidden within yourself’ the monk asked what this was and the teacher opened and closed his eyes.
Man is a seeing creature who sees with his thoughts and thinks while seeing
The entire course of our life depends on our senses, of which sight is the most universal and noble

What is originality – to see something that has no name.. hence cannot be mentioned although it stares us in the face.

Goethe thought thinking was more interesting than knowing, but not so interesting as looking. Certainly when confronted by a boring conversation my concentration is inclined to fold its arms and divert itself by observing the visual dialogues of my surroundings: the chit chat between dappled sunlight and a chint fabric, the point of contact between the edge of a near chair and the silhouette of a far lampshade, the dissolving outline of a face as it passes in front of a bright light. As Georgia O Keefe pointed out, nobody sees the flower, really, it is so small, we haven’t time, and it takes time to see, like to have a friend takes time.

We tend to reduce our environment to visual muzak – a perceptual symphony of colours, shapes and patterns. Blinkered by habit we glance around rather than look with acuity. In effect the eye sleeps until the mind wakes it with a question.

This has been really good research for my dissertation and given me a lot to consider further