visitors to the golden fish know that i am fascinated by colour and light. when i was finishing high school i came across the work of the pop and op artists. their use of colour and light to suggest movement and form was a source of amazement to me then and when i look at their work now i am still drawn to it.
it was like stepping forward and backward in time (at the same time) when i came across andy gilmore's work. andy's art has clear references back to both of the artists i mentioned above but he has an edge to his work that suggests pixels have had a huge impact on his design aesthetic. some of his images make me think of deep space shots that have been enlarged until all that remains are red, yellow and orange pixels and in the caption it might read "a distant star formed one hundred million years after the big bang".
andy maintains a fascinating blog that is comprised primarily of sketches but what sketches!!! he also has a blog that reveals the incredible extent of his work and man is this guy prolific or what?!!!
here are a few of my favourite works by andy . . .
you might have noticed in the sidebar that i'm listening to music by hildur guðnadóttir. hardly a household name (as are so many of the musicians i listen to), but all the same an amazingly talented woman who crafts powerful soundscapes with her cello.
a trip over to hildur's website reveals that she began playing the cello when she was a child. after a stint at the reykjavík music academy she moved on to musical studies/composition and new media at the iceland academy of the arts and universitat der kunste in berlin.
since that time she has been involved with a number of projects and bands including the kitchen motors think tank, the band angel, dirk, mum and pan sonic. her own albums include mount a, under the artist name lost in the hildurness, and a lovely piece of work (available on itunes astonishingly) with field recording artist and performer bj nilsen.
her latest release entitled "without sinking", was composed and recorded in berlin and reykjavík. on "without sinking", hildur plays cello, zither, processors and voice and is accompanied by skúli sverrisson on bass and processors, jóhann jóhannsson on organs and processors, and guðni franzson on clarinet and bass clarinet. the sound is dense and mystical, sometimes overwhelmingly lush and then also filled with colour and emotion.
sonic connections i make would go directly to brian eno's take on pachelbel's canon - discreet music.
here is a video made of the faster than sound festival back in 2007 using hildur's music accompanied by some footage of her playing.
hildur's myspace site has four selections from her previous album as well as a small stack of videos of her playing including one lovely piece of brian eno's music for airports and this exquisite piece entitled the ghost ship (calling all...)
the comforting sound of rain on the roof in the dark. i open the window to hear the passing of cars, tyres hissing through the sheer midnight blue skin of water. streetlights like splattered orange peel on the driveway.
when robert fripp released "exposure" back in 1979 it was immediately one of my favourite albums with its incorporation of seemingly every extant musical style available to the contemporary musician into a journal-type format walking the listener through a day - or a very long moment.
one of the many songs that has lasting quality from exposure is entitled "north star". penned by joanna walton, daryl hall, and robert fripp.
here is the song in one of its original incarnations:
and here is the song in its current incarnation as rendered by daryl and his own gathering of musicians. to give it a listen start with this link to daryl's house and then have a look at the set list to the right of the page. click on "north star" and listen to daryl as he reprises a song that is absolutely timeless and beautifully played and sung.
saw the country and returned—now deep at night i lie in bed and fields of mustard flowers bloom before my eyes
and i see them so clearly.
sometimes when i look at the very tiny details of this world i wonder at the improbability of it all. here's a very small seed making its way across an icy landscape in front of my home. to what? possibly to end up finding soil in a month or two. perhaps snagging itself in that soil and becoming a plant. and then beginning the incredible process of turning sunlight, water, and the micronutrients it will find in the soil into stems and leaves and more seeds.
lichens and mosses are among my favourite living things. they are beautiful at a distance and equally beautiful when seen up close. this beauty caught my eye on an errant boulder deposited here by a long past glacier during the last ice age. i believe boulders like this are called glacial erratics. the day i took this picture was very very cold and yet here was this beautiful gathering of little plants, surviving against all odds.
can a house be like life and have layers of memory hidden beneath depths of time. can you dive back through time to view those layers and relive those memories once more?
in this exquisitely drawn and filmed short, an old man lives in a town that has become submerged in water. as the water rises, he builds additional levels onto his home in order to stay above water. one day he accidentally drops his favorite pipe into the lower levels of his home, and decides to rent scuba equipment and to go searching for his pipe. as he descends through his sunken home, he recalls memories of the past in each room.
conjuring sounds from his apple and guitar. christian fennesz. (image courtesy klaus muempfer)
the world that needs to be here has poked its head in the door. the media has been advertising its imminent arrival for some time now. the financial system that has driven the west and then the rest is woefully out-of-date and so has opened itself to abuse through lack of care. transportation, manufacturing, and energy systems no longer match the needs we and our planet have. much of our culture is directed towards a purpose far removed from its actual intention - making money instead of welcoming the creative energies that pass through this world without condition.
if you read this and assume that i am sad about any of this then let me assure you - i am actually very pleased! to be present as the bridge between these entirely disparate worlds is built is a magical and wonderful experience. to know that there are possibilities rather than inevitabilities is gratifying and energizing. what is sad is the human price that has been exacted by avaricious individuals at all levels of commerce.
dissonance and consonance. change. reconciliation. describing the future in the current moment.
music often tells the story of these changes - before they come about.
one such musician is christian fennesz . fennesz has been a favourite of mine as a progenitor of glitch and abstract music. what's unique about fennesz' music is that it drifts in and out of consonance and dissonance without leaving the listener feeling like they've paid a visit to both poles. rather, his music is a melding of the two extremes.
i have been known to spend many an hour watching streams, rivers, ponds, waves, pools, aquariums, anything with water moving around. imagine the happy dance i danced after finding this treasure trove of fluid simulations!! i can't believe that there are people doing this for fun and some even do this for a living!!! lucky people.
as a long time admirer of stewart brand's thinking, i find myself drawn to his work regardless of its chronological point of origin. why is this? i think because he speaks about timeless truths that address the intrinsic flaws in the time-based experiencing of people.
this video is part one of a six-part series bravely and presciently released by the bbc and based on stewart's 1994 book "how buildings learn: what happens after they’re built", an illustrated book on the evolution of buildings and how buildings adapt to changing requirements over long periods. if you love architecture and innovative thinking as i do then you'll love this video set..
winter's not done with us yet. pockets of snow and ice are scattered fractally across the lawns and fields, gap-toothed ice sculptures whittled in shades of grey still line the roads and there's nothing in this neighbourhood taking the risk of poking its fragile head out of the still-hardened ground.
but there's a whisper of warmth feeling its way into the air.
here's an image i took a month or so ago. it captures an essence of winter for me.
the birds are looking north to see if there's any more white stuff headed this way.
in addition to being an extraordinary musician, visual artist, videographer, and thinker, brian eno has developed his social presence into that of a speaker - particularly on socio-political hotspot topics. i came across the text of such a speaking engagement recently and would like to share it here.
sure it's a little lengthy, but it's such worthy thinking and reflective of a very considered form of thinking that it really deserves your attention. the speech took place at what is referred to as "the convention on modern liberty".
brian eno: hello. i am sorry that i gave you a few bad moments anthony, but i was trying to get through, i couldn’t get through the back because the security was so tight. it is actually true, i was there for 10 minutes or so arguing with people
“i really am brian eno”.
- “no you’re not!”
most of the things i had intended to say have been extremely well said by other people so i won’t repeat them. instead, i will pull back the lens a bit and talk about something that does interest me and i think frames this discussion, which is about imagination.
what distinguishes human beings from all other creatures in the universe so far as we know is that we can imagine things. we can imagine things that don’t yet exist. we can invent a course of action and then we can play it out in our heads. we can entertain the future; several alternative futures. equally we can imagine alternative pasts so we can think of actions we committed and we can think of other things we could have done and how they would have played out. that is the basis of regret, which of course is a great feat of imagination and one of the things that make humans develop in the ways that they do: it makes them pull themselves up by their own boot straps.
we are able to imagine because we practice it all the time. we practice it by engaging in art forms, like novels and films, where we imagine ourselves to be in another world. we have professionals who help us do that: they are called artists of futurists or cosmic physicist or astronomers (not astrologers, who don’t help very much actually…). essentially, we conceive of our great creations with our imagination. we don’t do it empirically: a lot of time we do it in imagination.
we also have the great human talent of empathy. mary coldhurst, talking in a session this morning, said it was interesting that since the end of the last war we have really stopped seeing other people as the enemy in the way we used to. it is very difficult for us now to regard another bunch of humans as the enemy when what we see on our television screen are women and children who look like they are made of the pretty much same stuff as us, suffering in pretty much the same way we suffered. in a sense, our circle of empathy, which one imagines in the past extended to family, clan or tribe - or at best our nation - now sort of extends over the whole globe.
it expresses itself in other ways as well. we are concerned about the fate of people that we really have nothing whatsoever to do with. when there was a tsunami, a lot of us sent money to people that we would never meet in places we would never go, suffering in ways that we were not even concerned to particularly find out about, but we did in some way extend our circle of empathy, perhaps because it was christmas when it happened. nonetheless, if you track the contributions to charities over the last 50 years or so, they go up year on year. except if they are given by governments of course, when they go down year on year.
so whilst we have extended our circle of empathy, we have shortened our vision of the future, i think. what has happened is, because the rate of change is so fast, we do very few things with a very long view. businesses for example are revving themselves up into shorter and shorter cycles: they are terrified of the next shareholder meeting; they are terrified of what the financial times is going to say. the share-price oscillates wildly every day. unfortunately, governments have copied that model rather. governments are terrified of the next election - i don’t blame them - but they are equally terrified of the next by-election and the next edition of the sunday papers and the next opinion poll. this means it puts governments in the position of being extremely reactive and carrying out decisions that are dramatic and incendiary: they look good in the papers, and really plant the seeds of very very bad legislation.
in the longer view - which isn’t really encouraged by anybody, particularly the media - in the longer view, one would be thinking about what a systemic change causes in the long term, actually in the way chris was saying. we have to think about legislation, not in terms of how it plays on the front page of the daily mail but in terms of what it means in 20, or 30 or 40 years time. what we have succeeded in doing is an act of anti imagination actually: it is carefully taking apart what was a very, very beautiful structure, actually. the british law for all its bolted-on, ramshackle quality, was nonetheless a very effective structure. in ten or fifteen years we have managed to take a lot of that apart.
now it has not affected most of us directly, unlike the gentleman at the end of the line, i have not personally been arrested or harassed by the police. i have recently been told that at the demonstrations i have attended, i am no longer allowed to take photographs of policemen, which starts to get a bit disturbing. i have noticed since i have worked with stop the war coalition, every time we are organising a big demonstration, the computers go out before the demonstration. it is not a piece of paranoia, it actually happens. it happened in the gaza demonstration. i am starting to become aware that there are intrusions being made. you know about all of those, you have been listening to all of that all day.
what i want to argue for - one frame we should put this whole discussion in - is how we operate in a socially creative way? what is it that keeps the conversation of democracy going? what is it that keeps us renewing ourselves, rethinking things, looking at new situations, finding new ways of adapting to them, watching the changing flux of populations and technologies and so on; and being able to operate without becoming totally paralysed? the problem with the kind of legislation that we have been seeing, is that is so security oriented that, in fact, it is a form of paralysis. governments actually like paralysis because it is easy to deal with. they don’t really like a vigorous democratic conversation because it is messy; it is very unpredictable. you get a lot of nutters in those conversations. unpredictable, wild things happen. as dominic grieve said this morning, quality of life and security are not necessarily the same thing. if we want total security, we can have it and we will be hide bound. we will be in a straight jacket. total security was what was achieved in the soviet union in the thirties. i am sure it was achieved in maioist china. the khmer rouge probably did well. it is very clear that it is the stifling of the imagination: the place where people stop talking to each other - they stop trading wild ideas, stop tolerating the nutcases and become insular.
we need to do the job. we are facing humanity’s biggest challenge. we have a few years to respond to it. what we need to be doing is creating a climate of completely unrestrained public discussion, social experimentation of a kind never seen before because we are going to need every hand on deck to deal with climate change. it is the biggest issue. we are going into it with exactly the wrong set of social tools. that is to say, governments are trying to do that, or our government. what we ought to be doing is looking at what is happening now with younger people. younger people are starting to have conversations with each other through the social networking sites, which are really unparalleled. they are starting to do things with exactly the same technology the police are suing to paralyse the situation. we should be helping them. governments, as i say, like the tools of control. technology: boys trust technology and like dealing with it more than humans. what we have now is a vast technology which is so much more complex and detailed than you can imagine and has two possible futures.
one is the future of the kind of total control that some people would like. the other is the future of possible total chaos, because the software won’t work. if we can’t even get a national health service piece of software working even at double the original budget, we won’t be able to get this kind of software working. vince cable was saying he was very reassured by the fact that nobody will ever get it all to work. (laughter) i am sort of reassured by that as well, but what i am also very aware of is that they will still carry on using it even though it does not work (applause).
i will finish very shortly. education ought to be the place where children are taught to swim in liberty, to be able, for once in their lives, to try any experiment so long as it does not directly hurt somebody else. unfortunately education has also adopted the business model and gone in exactly opposite direction (applause). i endorse what you said, that this is something we should be talking about at schools: we should be preparing a generation to be able to use liberty to understand what it means and to be able to use their creativity, freely and without the kind of constraints we are seeing now.
sorry did i go on a long time?"
if you nip over here you can watch and listen to the plenary.
a very big thanks to guy aitcheson who dropped by to let me know about the presence of a cleaned-up version of brian's talk as well as the existence of the podcast.
a very long time ago i rode subway trains and buses to get to and from work. on the rides to and from work i read books; lots and lots of books. among those books were two by the great nigerian writer amos tutuola entitled "my life in the bush of ghosts" (which inspired david byrne and brian eno to produce their iconic album of the same name) and the other entitled "the palm-wine drinkard". the "palm-wine drinkard" tells the story of a man who follows a palm wine tapster into the land of the dead or "deads' town." there he enters a world of magic, ghosts, demons, and other supernatural beings. sort of like leaving your conscious mind and spending a week in your unconscious. hmmmmmm. tempting!
among the many characters and settings you meet in the palm wine drinkard is one called "the white tree". inside the white tree it is a sort of paradise.
whitetree is now the name of a trio of musicians who have brought together decidely disparate styles and musical perceptions into one organic, fluid whole. inside whitetree are musicians ludovico einaudi using piano, robert lippok using electronics and ronald lippok using drums. einaudi has a largish following but somehow escaped the eagle eyes of the golden fish research team. here's a sample of his solo playing. sounds an awful lot like philip glass to me . . . which is alright.
robert lippok has a myspace page you might like to visit. his music has a fairly rough, glitchy but danceable sound and feel to it although if you scout down the playlist you'll come across a lovely piece credited to "martini lippok" (a.k.a. beatrice martini)from an english concert that is very lovely and really worth a listen.
ronald lippok has associations with "tarwater" whose music can be heard here and here.
here's a snippet out of a review by thaddeus hermann of de: bug magazine:
"it all started in 2006, when einaudi approached the lippoks to do an italian tour together. a week of rehearsals was all they built their set on. "it was a dedicated club tour", ronald lippok remembers, "small venues, sometimes it was almost impossible to get the piano onto the stage." the trio connected well while on the road and decided to record some of the material in the studio. planet roc in berlin was chosen, a place which has "history" written all over it. the former broadcasting centre of east german radio has a reputation for perfect acoustics and all kinds of special you need for anything from recording an orchestra to making a radio play as realistic sounding possible. "we played as a band. always live, always in one room", says robert lippok. the mixture of quiet and loud, the always shifting level of energy is intriguing indeed. the shocking thruth: there isn't a single piece on the album which distinctivly identifies one member of the group as the composer. the joint effort is, among other things, what makes ”cloudland" such a unique recording. (thaddeus herrmann / de:bug magazine)
here are whitetree gathered 'round the piano.
here's a live version of "kyril" which also appears on "cloudland":
you want to hear more? visiting their myspace site you are immediately treated to a beautiful piece of music entitled "mercury sands" from their new release "cloudland" followed by two more selections.
still not heard enough? then nip over to itunes where their album has been up since march 13th.
roving reporter alan, a.k.a. "the first-born", fired off a breathless e-mail to me here at golden fish world headquarters regarding a magical confluence of buckminster fuller's thinking and a bicycle. at what unholy crossroads would the two meet? well the answer is in the tensegrity bicycle.
tensegrity isn't something you'd generally hear about at the breakfast table so in a nutshell, what's tensegrity? websters has rendered the collective meaning of tensegrity down to "all things working together". but tucked away inside that definition are the following ideas: "- loading members only in pure compression or pure tension, meaning the structure will only fail if the cables yield or the rods buckle (the rods would have to be an exceptionally weak material with a very large diameter to yield before they buckle or the cables yield) - preload, which allows cables to be rigid in compression - exact constraint, which reduces stress localization - mechanical stability, which allows the members to remain in tension/compression as stress on the structure increases." (wikipedia) which looks like this: and this: a well-illustrated overview of all things tensegritous can be found here.
so what about the bicycle? well, using the idea of a structure stabilized by both solid tubes and wires, romanian designer ionut predescu has crafted an improbable-looking but functional machine. here it is: constructed of carbon fiber and kevlar cables, the tensegrity bike seems to float when viewed from certain angles . . . i think that the first few rides would be real gut-clenchers if for no other reason than looking down you'd see a wire stretching improbably between the post supporting your nether regions and the post supporting your most advanced regions. in other words, it looks like it should fold together - with you squished in-between the two! i'd like to know what it feels like over bumps, turning, in sudden stops. intuitively i think it's likely no different than a regularly constructed bike. if you get a chance to ride this let me know!
i went for a walk through the park today. kids are playing in the woods. it's soggy underfoot and slippy with old autumn leaves.
the temperatures are rising up through the day above zero and down below zero each night. the snow cover is almost gone. there'll be snow, we all know that. for now though there are lawns being raked, christmas lights being taken down, deck chairs being pushed back into place, huge lawn umbrellas being reassembled and pools being gazed at longingly.
anneke brassinga has been one of the stars of the dutch poetry world for many years. her use of language is at once sensual and from the gut. instinctive and insightful. the dance between her inner and outer perceptions is masterfully demonstrated in this lovely piece of writing entitled:
the happy ending
what on earth are we doing here, we do not ask ourselves as long as the jigging of tunes keeps coming from the speaker cabinets, hanging invisible in the trees, and we go on thinking that it’s birds there twittering away –
what are we doing here? just feel first if our feet are warm enough and their knobbles bearably painful, then take a good listen to the gentle bubbling in the deep recesses of our gut, old soothsayer that lets us know
if we’re once more dying of hunger if not thirst, there’s no way of knowing otherwise and please let it not go awry in the here, the silting up, the woody sand-drift where the lemonade stalls one after the other
appear to be mirages, if, panting, you thought you were there – in the here where you walk and, since you constantly cannot refrain from once more looking back to see where you have come from, keep on stumbling over tree stumps,
getting grazed by the rough bark of oaks and scratched by rust- or blood-red barbed wire, remains of civilisation. and the more you turn your head, slogging on, at the magnificent sunrise motionless at your back above the distant
trees that rustle inaudibly, the more you know: that waking with the freshness of tahitian limes, that paradise-like first bite of tropical delight in a covering of milk chocolate – the blindingly pristine does not return.
what are we doing here? what we are not doing is taking heed. or is the abyss invisible, or is there no abyss until you fall into it, shoot along a smooth rock wall? it happens swiftly. in the grass by the stream at the bottom
God waits, cheerful as a mother who all that time has stayed at home, with a bowl of peanuts, sherry in the glass. and from beyond the flowering trees, at last there they come, the missing ones for whom you unmissable, whom you could not bear to miss.
the mantis parable first emerged in 2006. the lovechild of josh staub, the mantis parable won a heap of awards.
here's what josh has to say about his labour of love:
"the mantis parable is my first film, my foray into the world of linear story-telling. prior to accepting a position at walt disney animation studios in 2007 i spent 13 years developing computer games where the purpose is to allow the player discover the world, choose their own path, unveil the story at their own pace. it's up to them. this time, it was up to me. during the creation of the film i spent my days as the art and visual design director for cyan worlds, inc. helping develop most recently - uru: ages beyond myst. the mantis parable was a labor of love, and was created entirely by me alone (story, visuals, animation, sound, and music) over an 18-month period in my spare time."
if a parable is an accretion of metaphor and allegory then a careful and selective chiselling at its features should reveal its discrete elements in relief and eventually its essence. have a go at this one.
i see some of it but the whole hasn't reconfigured in my head just yet. i think it might be one of those shorts that requires mutliple viewings which is not that hard in fact as it is technically incredible. enjoy, the mantis parable.
the loyal loot collective is making a little bit of a name for itself in design circles. featuring the work of four women - doha chebib, carmen douville, dara humniski and anna thomas, the collective creates works that grow out of narratives that generate simple yet elegant objects that are also functional.
i love all of their work but these log bowls are especially intriguing.
there are people testing the limits of human and technological endurance everywhere. for example, who knew that a team had set as its goal, the flying of a helicopter all the way around the world?! seriously!
11 days, 7 hours and 2 minutes of flying later and they succeeded in setting a new record.
here's their story. "the grand adventure is about breaking a record. pilot scott kasprowicz and co-pilot steve sheik will fly 20,000 nautical miles, crossing every meridian on the globe, in an effort to break the current record for circumnavigating the globe in a helicopter. what's more, the helicopter is a factory-stock agusta grand with no mission-specific special equipment on-board. the current record was set in 1996 when ron bower and co-pilot john williams flew a bell 430 around the world in 17 days, 6 hours, 14 minutes and 25 seconds. the team traveled 20,508 nm with 165.1 total flight hours."
we live on an outrageously beautiful planet. from the tiniest microorganism to the gorgeous alluvial fans of rivers emptying into the ocean. proof arrives all the time in the form of stunning landsat images like these (courtesy of "jeff").
in the early morning, freezing rain coated the front window with a beautiful shimmering coat of ice.
a very early morning view . . .
a little bit later in the morning . . .
where molecules of water took dictation from the cold between the stars, the crystals in the lower margin looked like characters in arabic, cuneiform, and mandarin, six-point, a smattering of chaos somebody with better eyes might read. however bundled we went out, we felt the cold when we had entered it begin to enter us. misunderstanding circumstantiates the world.