Friday, March 31, 2006

The power of unreadable meaning

Sometimes my computer can't decipher an email message, and I've begun to collect the unreadable graphics of the texts, potent with indecipherable meaning. They are unique in that no one (in their right mind) would actually sit and type this stuff. They have all the markers of painstaking labour that most art seems to have, like it or not, yet they are 'found' and free. The latter was a significant factor in some of the early conceptual art of the Sixties. In contrast, I saw large white canvases with a date repeatedly painted in row upon row, at the Venice Biennale a few years ago. In some attempt to authenticate the act, the artist had spent ten years doing nothing else. They bridged the gap between the obvious 'labour' of painting and conceptual art. The labour and tenacity were his only currency, in my opinion. I prefer the instant, throw away joy of found graphics.
Here's one, which actually went on for twenty pages:

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Down a narrow corridor

At the New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art this Christmas, I saw one of favourite photographs, the above Cartier Bresson. I was immediately shocked at the power and the size, a mere 8' x10" (I assume there may be other editions), hanging in a narrow corridor between two large galleries. Almost a forgotten space. It has an extraordinary presence, combining the purity of an unstaged found image and the best traits of collage. The scale of the two men is really confusing. It seems impossible. The man with glasses is standing far forward, looking through a hole in the door, but the background differs from the rest. I guess the building stops abruptly and there's grass beyond. The circle of his lens and the circle on the door send the eye in reverse perspective, small to large. The rear man sends your eye back farther into the picture, adding the tension of an imminent bull. The centre of the dark background is a near perfect golden section proportion, as is the centre of the nearer man's face, vertically. The diagonal slats on the bottom front of the door send one into another perspectival quandary. It could so easily be five separate pieces of photograph stuck together. And then there's the use of graphics so common with collage: the painted number 7 in a circle, half of which is set forward, losing the continuous perimeter of the circle. It's brilliant, really.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Digital rendering

Realism is no longer a problem, obviously. This is a drawing. It doesn't exist as an object.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Critical mass

At some point a blog morphs from a bunch of friends kindly posting comments to a place where strangers drop in from around the world. A public forum, however small. Welcome Jhansi Ki Rani, journalist from Gujarat, and to Michell from Washington, above. Thanks for coming.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Rainy day in Soho

The documentary "If I Should Fall from Grace: The Shane MacGowan story" reveals the sad, brilliant man behind some of my all time favourite songs of the last three decades. Toothless drunk? Yes. But as his Dad says, after a few million lost brain cells, he's still smart as a whip. Not easy for a poor Irish kid to get a scholarship to the Westminster Academy (where Blair sends his children), and of course he was expelled. Here's a sample of one of my favourites:

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Seona Dancing

Before Ricky Gervais became to my mind the funniest man since Cleese circa 1968, with 'The Office" (UK, not US), he tried his hand at Bowie/Wham-like pop as "Seona Dancing". Here he is, before and after.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


I grew up instilled with the knowledge that Timbuktu was the epicentre of nowhere, the farthest possible place from civilization. Well, here it is, once the centre of the expansion of Islam, strongest culturally from 1493 to 1591, and home of the amazing Mali music of today. Home also to this music's strongest star, Ali Farka Toure, who died the other day.

Flavio Poli

Of all the art glass designed in the fifties/sixties, Poli's is, for me, the most breathtaking. I visited Barry Friedman's gallery in New York in 1981, when my interest in Poli was at its height, to ask if he had one. It was a long shot, as they were rare as hen's teeth. He took me to a large back room, where folding tables lined the perimeter like a classroom. Laying flat (as they are tall, thin and unstable) were approximately twenty five of these. In his usual MO, he'd snapped up every one in his known world, probably for a song, over a two year period. They were worth about $6,000 each, shortly after.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Kits Beach

On a more humble level (after that pic of Cal Trans), this is the restaurant on the beach my office finished in August:

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Congratulations to Thom (and Blythe) on the opening of the Morphosis show at the Centre Pompidou last night. Wish I'd been there. The pic is of the California Transit Authority building in LA.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Hong Kong

Two amazing photos of Hong Kong from photogapher Michael Wolfe.