Premier League Deal – Allow Us To Retort


While not quite up to the standards of those plucky foreign stand banners, this DIY attempt by Crystal Palace fans gets the message across.

While not quite up to the standards of those plucky foreign stand banners, this DIY attempt by Crystal Palace fans gets the message across.

Make Mine A Double Dinner Deal

Gronk, gronk, gronk. As the Premier League FatCat Pigs tuck into another top TV dinner deal, Crystal Palace fans make their feelings known. Not quite up to the standards of this or this (still my personal favourite), but head and shoulders above anything else the English have had to offer.

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Red Serpentine Pavillion


Nice pics of the Serpentine Gallery from a while back.

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Long Time Coming


So yeah, I had the birthday, which was very enjoyable thanks for asking.

The Roundhouse playing piana

The Roundhouse playing piana

We went off to see the David Byrne ‘Playing The Building’ installation at the Roundhouse during one of its ‘bring your own tambourine’ evenings, which had the potential for both awesome spectacle and truly painful knitted raffia music. The reality was a bit half and half. I felt a little let down by the installation. While it’s a great idea – a kind of artistic Einsteurzende Neubauten (go google them) without the full on destruction – I thought it veered too far in the direction of installation rather than an actual functional experience. You can see that the single piano-cadavered instrument sitting in the middle of the Roundhouse makes a fantastic image, stark, empty and a fusion of ancient and modern, but it would have been far more interesting to have more instruments controlling the sounds made by the building. Certainly more people would have been able to interact with it than were allowed for by the single piano and you’d have had a much more exciting, cacophonic experience.

It was, however, a genius idea to allow people to come in on certain evenings with their own instruments. Again, this could have been a recipe for disaster. Instead it was somehow incredibly touching and polite as bunches of people with guitars, tubas, those mouthy blow organ things that the guy in Gang of Four had, toy instruments and a variety of other wind and percussive things strolled around the space playing their own things, while trying not to overwhelm anyone else. And while it could have gone all Glastonbury porridge field, it somehow didn’t. Not my usual thing, but really good.

View from Arundel Castle

View from Arundel Castle

Meanwhile in my search for the perfect iPhone app, I’ve discovered two really sweet ones. The first is the carefully hidden tilt-shift filter in Photo FX (find it in Lens fx /depth of field). Tilt-shift being the effect that makes everything look like it’s a teeny weeny little model as exemplified by my favourite Monster Truck videos (see this post). While hardly perfect, it’s pretty good as you can see from these images. I would like to be able to alter the blur areas but that’s just being picky.

The other great app is iDrum Underworld. A bunch of Underworld tunes, including Cowgirl, Born Slippy and King of Snake, which you can mix up and use to create your own stuff. Really compelling and pretty addictive. As one review said, ‘This steals your life’.

I’ve also started to get back into running using my favourite social media site (or at least the one I’ve been most active on), Nike+. I’m using their now-working-pretty-well Coach facility, which has me doing very simple daily runs, although that will ramp up as the weeks progress. You can follow my attempts to get one leg in front of the other on Twitter.

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Recappage


Very, very blue. Roger Hiorns' Seizure.

Very, very blue. Roger Hiorns' Seizure.

Having managed to be nominated for a Turner Prize, or at least being responsible for having its creator Roger Hiorns nominated, it’s no surprise that the council who wanted to demolish this old council house block somehow haven’t quite got around to breaking it up. In fact you get the feeling that if they could only find a way to levy a charge on this it would cover the building of a few new decent homes.

Still, Hiorns’ Seizure, a copper sulphate encrusted house that’s well worth seeing, has been reopened (until October 18 2009). It does make you wonder what they’ve been doing with it since they closed it at the tail end of last year. Anyway, it’s great and you all should go and stand in line to get your feet into the now probably very scabby festival gumboots you have to wear to get inside. You won’t be disappointed (foot infections aside). More info on Shapeandcolour and here, oh and here too.

Frankly if Hiorns doesn’t win the Turner Prize, then the art people need their heads examined.

Squire Jules in his new headgear

Squire Jules in his new headgear

Went out to see the medieval jousting at Arundel Castle, where the Boon were able to equip themselves in a style they could only previously have dreamed about – real swords, super-vicious gauntlets and some quality headgear such as this forward thinking child encasing unit – simply place the unit on child and watch them bimble about merrily for the next ten minutes heroically bumping into stuff left right and center. For double amusement equip child with a finely made longsword and back off quickly. We thought the Boon would be enthralled by the fine exhibition of olde worlde sword fighting and jousting, but it turns out they really raved over the castle, which was “A proper castle just like I wanted”. Best bit obviously being the Tower Guards’ outdoor toilet.

Meanwhile, the Lairds of Scunthorpe album has been developing at a pace over the summer. Currently there are 10 – 12 tracks being worked on, from material developed solely on the fantastic Beatmaker on the iPhone, to fully Logiced up songs with some neat beats. I want to get it to about double that before I start working out which ones to focus on.

As if this wasn’t enough I’ve been rewatching The Wire (like anything else is worth rewatching alright). Only this time I’ve added a new twist. I’m watching it in French with English subtitles. That way when I go over to France I’ll be able to talk in authentic Baltimore French, which I guess is a bit like McNulty’s genuine English. Spot On eh.

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More Better Bigger Faster


Beatmaker on the iPhoneCould this be my absolute favourite app yet? Not entirely sure seeing as I’m very attached to Posterize, but it’s a damn close run thing. Only the other day I was thinking about having to have the fantastic Maschine, only to wake up at 4 in the morning and find this on the app store. Admittedly it costs (and at over a tenner it’s at the extreme end of the app cost range), and it’s like some kind of spastic half-arsed country cousin to Maschine, but it’s actually not bad at all. I was able to pull together some bits and pieces and cobble together a new track (all 53 seconds of it) and still have enough time to go back to sleep before morning. 01 First Stab is the result and I’ve got to say it’s pretty bloody good for something put together on a phone in bed at 5am. Definitely something I’ll be spending more time with. I’m not sure if there’s any kind of song sharing community – the BeatMaker community seems pretty new – but it would be great to hear what other people are doing with this.

A small section of the huge mud wall painting at Tate Britain

A small section of the huge mud wall painting at Tate Britain

Something else I’ll be spending more time with is Posterize. A great simple, free app that turns your iPhone pictures into pseudo-polaroids and lets you scribble any message you like on it, as long as it’s 14 characters or less. Simple and potentially stupid, it’s a bit like photo candy or popcorn or crack. Once you’ve done a bit you probably want to do some more. My latest were taken at the Richard Long exhibition at the Tate Britain, which is pretty bloody fantastic too. It’s one of the first exhibitions for ages where the catalogue is genuinely worth having. And you can see what the effect of Posterize is on this too. It just makes the colours look really enticing and I love the stupid writing. You can see more Posterize images in the Posterize group on Flickr and more of my ones on my Flickr pages.

Meanwhile, putting the iPhone and its apps aside for one moment, let me roundly condemn Van Cam for introducing me to Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher comic. I’d been trying to avoid it for ages, mainly because I’d taken a somewhat irrational dislike to Dillon’s artwork (no accounting for taste), but I got suckerpunched into it when we were inadvertantly browsing through the racks at the Trafalgar Square Waterstones. Now I’ve read the first issue I’m bloody well crack happy on the book and only too aware that I’m going to have to blow hard earned cash money on the remaining 8 or 9 volumes. Bastard.

Finally, I’m loving the new Little Boots album.

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Modern Eastern Art (and some Lego)


There’s a bit of a debate going on as far as modern art is concerned, particularly about the continuing relevance of all this new Brit Mod stuff. Now, I’m all for this modern stuff, it’s generally more interesting and real to me than those bloody Turner seascapes that I was dragged off to see when I was smaller. And I totally get the notion that it’s not just about what it looks like, it’s about what it means in relation to the continuing artistic discourse, but I don’t think that that means that any old pile of dross should qualify as art simply because some tosser says so. Just because Magritte said Ceci n’est pas une pipe, doesn’t mean that your spastic outpouring of junk is automatically art.

Crap Modern ArtTake the last Turner Prize, which supposedly reflects a body of work exhibited over a year. At least three quarters of that was unmitigated super-pretentious art wank (see the fine close up of the truly uninspiring Mannikin and String diorama from Cathy Wilkes). Even when it was explained by people from incredibly erudite art magazines who seem to still believe in the sort of pseudo-communist politico drivel that launched the Baader Meinhoff group it was still rubbish. At least the winner, Mark Leckey, had included a half hour movie in which he attempted to explain what the hell he was up to and was able to relate it to Road Runner cartoons.

So we’re left with the thought that actually most modern British art is pretty cruddy. And certainly if you drop down to the Tate Modern that’s pretty much what you’ll find, some pretty crud art that’s not very inspiring, set in a gallery that, the Turbine Room aside, is ill prepared to display art. Its rooms are too high and not wide enough and badly lit and I still can’t figure out why the escalators don’t go to all the floors.

In contrast the Saatchi Gallery is great. It looks like it’s been designed to show art, rather than just cut up to make a bunch of rooms. The space doesn’t attempt to overwhelm the art and it feels like it’s been intelligently lit. There are also multiple points of views in some of the rooms, with space to view the art from floor level and from above. And the art is, frankly, a lot better. Admittedly it’s not up to the class of personal favourites like Shark (see fantastic Lego version by The Little Artists (John Cake and Darren Neave)), Blood Head (more fab Lego) or, best of all, Jake and Dinos Chapman’s HELL (see super video), which single-handedly validates the many, many hours I spent ineptly making Tamiya models, but when it’s good, it’s a cut above Leckey.

Ghost : Kader AttiaThe current Unveilled exhibition at the Saatchi gallery is challenging not only in terms of its opposition to Brit Mod, but also in terms of our perception of Middle Eastern culture. Installations like Ghost, with its ranks of space-blanketed worshippers, slowly bowing from the back of the room like a tsunami of genuflection, are both powerful and hilarious. Powerful in the sense that they demonstrate the scale and majesty of communal worship, a theme reiterated in Neal Stephenson’s latest novel Anathem (go read it); hilarious in so far as it looks like a host of Star Wars Jawas oogling the latest piece of technology they can steal.

And while there’s a lot that’s pointless and rather tedious in Unveilled – most of the paintings and the really childish Hey Look Here’s Palestine diorama – there are some great pieces. I enjoyed the plastic scultures of Diana Al-Hadid, which reminded me of City of Lost Children, the uber-detailing of Laleh Khorramian’s Eden, the architectural bits n bobs of Marwan Rechmaoui and the wild hairstyles and gowns of Hayv Kahramen. I wasn’t so keen on the disturbing dubious sexuality room.

There’s also the bonus of Will Ryman’s The Bed (a proper papier mache slap in the face to Tracey Emin) and the mad geezers who rule the world from the comfort of their wheelchairs. Could you want anything more?

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