Raphael Preston: "Selfridges Oxford Street London 2014"
"Selfridges Oxford Street London 2014" by Raphael Preston.
"… their bodies were streaked … the dancing began ..."
Well, I haven't gone out dancing tonight (working too hard(!)) and I await the kick-off of the England World Cup match against Italy, so I have a spare hour to enjoy some writing! And here it is!
Raphael's graphic and dynamic account of window-shopping in London, invites the viewer to consider both the aesthetic and conceptual aspects of his photographic art-work. How much of the colouration is due to photo-editing and how much it was part of the display, I cannot say. However, the splattered paint seems too daring to be entirely the work of window dressers, even for a store such as Selfridges. Therefore I will assume there is at least, some editing.
The artist leaves comments refering to dancing and a battle. Conceptually, for me I can only conclude that Raphael intends to inform us about tribal dances and battles that are evoked by a shop display at a prestigious store in an affluent area of London. So, Western cultures are aspiring to tribal cultures! So much for the supremacy of the West, see Postmodern theory and globalisation/multiculturalism. I also note the cyborgesque nature of the mannequins in the series of photos. Photographers and artists who regularly reference mannequins are not only refering to the dehumanizing nature of capitalism, but the condition of "fluid indentities" and "fractured subjectivities", that we currently experience in the West. Particularly in large cities.
Well, England are kicking off soon, so after writing about the conceptual evocations of the work (and the series) I will briefly touch on the the aesthetic relevance of the work.
Like an automatic post-painterly, post-modern painting, dripping with haptic, layers of abstraction this photographic "accident" (art-concrete or "found objects"(?)) is a great example of contemporary, visual art. I resist using the term "avant-garde" because it is debatable whether there is such a thing anymore, perhaps "cutting edge" is less rigorous but more relevant?
Of course, these are my critical murmerings and they may not be what the photographic artist meant at all! I reckon I've touched upon some salient sentiments, but the artist knows best what his intentions were! I forgot to mention musicality; the energy and colour suggest a musical sensibility, but England are just about to kick off! So I'll leave you to consider this and I'll be off to watch the beautiful game....
This project keeps me on looking, and I hope it will do the same to others ….
How Light Forms a Physical Connection Between an Artificial Suburban Environment and the Ether
Quiet goes the fraction into illustration,
as though inference were bread to feed the human.
Your caliber strains the faculty of belief.
Just one pronouncement comprises mediation.
Lasting moments tense otherwise ripe elastic.
Indivisible comes crashing down on justice.
". . . 'Tis of thee," spoke the prophet, as though eavesdropping.
One of us is doomed to be called professional.
High stakes, cold snakes, posture after posture lakeside.
This early stuff of chemistry fills camisoles.
la reconnaissance et l'aspiration
Here Jamari appears like a quixotic apparition; a feminine ideal or oracle, perhaps? Her balletic pose is probably born of "suffrage" more than graceful delicacy, but that is the nature of dance! I liked the presence of a costume designer in the photo, helping to create a meticulous illusion of beauty. As cosmetic as the theatre can be and as hard working as performers have to be, the stage continues to call us to "tread the boards" in order to perform a representational version of human experience.
Recently I am doing a lot of Bhangra dancing as well as Salsa, although Salsa seems to be gradually being shunned for the less elegant Kizomba, and I am becoming drawn more to the idea of the heartbeat as an intrinsic time-signature in both dance and music. Whereas the heartbeat is often used rythmically to denote romance in music. The presence of an enduring pulse seems more important today in dance and music than ever before.
How we ever got so romantic I don't know, but the ebb and flow of the heartbeat seems to echo through cities, reverberate in concert halls and pulse steadily through pop music. As a dancer, it should come as no surprise that my attention is often focused on my breath and heartbeat, however increasingly my timing is shaped by the response of my heart rate to the continuous flux of musical tempos.
Thank you to Jlior for letting me use her photo in this image.
Convenience isn't Everything
Interesting post from the Economist.com where author Andrew Keen argues that the Internet has contributed to greater inequality in society.
My response was originally posted in the comments section of the article. I have pasted it below.
"I think Keen makes some compelling points. Particularly when you consider the increasing corporate nature of large Intenet companies. Even though IT can create jobs, usually there are more jobs lost than created, which is the appeal of IT in the workplace; it reduces staff. Intriguingly, when I first started using the Internet about 20 years ago, I was blown away by the creativity of users. However, today I get a potent sense of censorship, restrictions and cynical advertising/corporate enterpise. Even though there are a few opportunities for people via the Internet, largely and incrementaly the Internet, in my view, contributes more to global and societal inequality than it does to equality."
An interesting series of self-portrait photos by "Kahinaspirit" entitled "Reborn", I felt compelled to utilise the power that they featured. Cropped, distorted and layered with digital abstracts, I still feel that the potency of the models expression is retained, and perhaps enhanced?
Thanks to Kahinaspirit for letting me use her photo in this image! :-)
Gravity (3D Version)
This is the first 3D film I've ever seen at the cinema. The 3D imaging hurts your eyes as objects career into you retina, or so it seems! Gravity is essentially a day in the life of two astronauts, well arguably three and eventually only one. For me, Gravity is an empty vessel that has very little of any significance to express at all. In fact it is a kind of Cowboy film in Outer Space, with a minimum of characters. George Clooney is problematic as, well a cowboy in Space and Sandra Bullock is little more than useless, apart from her gravity defying gymnastics that are reasonably aesthetic and exhibit some physicality.
Nonetheless, the film is curiously good, although far from fascinating. It isn't the strength of the acting - mediocre at best and it isn't the predictable and, arguably facile storyline, therefore it must have been, at least in part, the effects that enthralled. However, there's more to Gravity than that; Outer Space, isolation, globalisation and multiculturalism in abandoned, fractured space stations! Postmodern? Well, I wouldn't like to say that the writer and director were utilising space travel as a postmodern metaphor, as a film akin to the Matrix may consciously do, but the feelings of isolation and human vulnerability were palpable.
At one stage Bullock's character feels helpless and lost while alone in a space capsule. She turns off the oxygen and Clooney's now deceased character comes to her in a semi-conscious dream. This solipsistic, narcissistic state (dream state) with echoing memories of "authentic" humanity motivate her to begin her trip back to Earth. Throughout the film the characters are cyborgs dependent upon and, potentially destroyed by new technology.
Ok, so "Hal" isn't going to develop consciousness and throw a multitude of philosophical and ethical questions into the narrative, as we saw in 2001; A Space Odyssey. However, Bullock's characters return to a foetal position, for me has echoes of 2001 and the Alien series of films where Sigourney Weaver's character becomes the mother of an alien/human hybrid. In Gravity we witness the frailty of human existence both emotionally and physically. This could be seen as a metaphor for the psychological vulnerability of people living in big cities, spending much of their time in front of screens reacting to media thats only justification is its self. Or money may be more honest, but less philosophically appealing. Baudrillard may have seen reverberations of simulacra in Gravity.
It is worth mentioning Bullock's character's descent to Earth. When she lands in a lake, I assume in the outer-reaches of China, she mistakenly opens the hatch of the space capsule and water, like oxygenless Outer Space, begins to pour into the craft. She manages to escape and eventually swims up to the surface gasping for air. Indeed, there is no escape in Space (nor in cyber space) from the trails and dangers of life. Nor back on Earth, where for all its familiarity and beauty, potential risks lie around every corner. Strangely, there is no welcoming committee to greet Bullock's character; she appears to revel in the isolation, grasping at the soil at the water's edge breathing the air and feeling the warmth of the Sun on her skin. Isolation, throughout the film seems inevitable and desirable.
The U.S. has stopped funding the Space Shuttle for a while now (the Shuttle is pivotal to the film) and, it seems that according to Gravity even in tandem with space stations from other countries (notably Russia and China) the U.S. does not have the power nor ability to conquer even the nearest reaches of Outer Space. In fact, the U.S. may be a victim of its own success, re: the Space Shuttle disasters. When you consider that a stray missile causes great damage to Space stations and the Shuttle in Gravity, both the difficulty of conquering Space and the risks associated with new technologies seem particularly, relevant points.
In conclusion, it is once again worth noting that Gravity is not a "conceptual" film in the sense that it doesn't make any profound points about contemporary life or, indeed about our possible futures. Nonetheless, Postmodern themes are touched upon in a playful and almost incidental manner. Not only do we have fractured subjectivities and fluid identities we also experience fractured proximities. The inability of the U.S. to conquer "local" Outer Space could be seen as indicative of Western decline and the progress of emerging economies. However, for me it points more towards an economic, intellectual and cultural stagnancy rather than paranoia about non-Western supremacy. In this sense Gravity is both Postmodern and ironic and cites isolation and aloneness as implicit to both contemporary life and to our technology-driven futures. Bullock's character is spared by Clooney's character, which appears to suggest the primacy of the life-giver. Nevertheless, ironically her descent to Earth results in near-death and isolation.
Blue Skies Trace Fingers Across Our Eyes
distance du loin
I wanna be famous
like a Greek sculpture
I want I want post-historia
Gay militaria puissance
drone attack apercu
art is measurable
at the point of sale poetry
is an eye looking back
in situ, garnered by loins
to sanction epistle
Ornee, une touche des femmes
If I look again
will the miasma make sense?
What does this mean to a
point in a turn
a clavicle a point to the sky?
Sooth, my directionless child
weapons are our first choice.
On Google Glass
Google Glass (Google Glasses) are a rather disturbing new product that allows individuals to "wear" a computer (as far as I understand similar to a smart phone) that is built into a pair of glasses. You actually look at the screen while you look through the lenses of the glasses! Bizarre?
I read a Blog post where the author states; "The most important Google Glass experience is not the user experience – it’s the experience of everyone else." Sure, he has a point. What if you are attempting to discuss something important with the wearer and he/she is distracted by the web, or worse, recording your, potentially private conversation and posting it on the web! Or, for that matter sending it to Google where they may wish to continue adding to their alleged database of information, see Snowden and spying.
However, for me the ethical considerations are also for the wearer of Google Glass(es). For example; driving or crossing the road may become absurdly dangerous! Of course the ethical considerations regarding potential injuries and the use of information/spying and the like, could go on ad infinituum! But there are other important ethical considerations. For example; health. Our bodies and minds are not designed to live in increasingly, artificial environments. Heart-disease, cancer and other immuno-deficiency disorders, such as allergies and asthma, mental health disorders (from stress to schizophrenia), diabetes, strokes, Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease and a myriad of other illnesses are caused by, or exacerbated by living in artificial environments. Virtually plugging ourselves into a computer that we can constantly view and interact with while living our daily lives will surely increase the incidence of these disorders. New technology tends to make us lazy, both physically and mentally. A good example of mental stagnation is the SatNav. How can we exercise our minds and our memories when we no longer use maps or memorise routes? Are we contributing to the "time-bomb" of Dementia?
Do we actually want to live in a continual artificial (or semi-artificial) reality? What are the philosophical and psychological implications of this? Is it ethically sound to detach ourselves from reality, when reality is full of urgent problems that need addressing? Should we encourage narcissism and escapism in the young and impressionable, when many young people have difficulties with the most basic of coping mechanisms and comprehending a complex, hyper-real existence. Will advertising be streamed across their field of vision throughout the day, further blurring the line between fantasy and reality? Overt escapism from reality is not an adequate way to cope with reality and, where it can be manipulated by powerful, Internet corporations, exploitation seems inevitable.
Finally, a note about the future. We are, indeed, Cyborgs, interdependent on machinery. From trains to Smart Phones, to electronic tills in supermarkets, we increasingly rely upon technology in our day-to-day living, where we coped and were capable of being quite content before these inventions were even thought of! Should we allow (will we always have a choice?) these unnecessary devices to increasingly become part of our perception, our identity and our physical functioning? How long before some kind of electronic device is permanently worn by the public? Perhaps woven into our clothes or even attached to our skin? Of course, this is speculation and still the stuff of dystopian Sci-Fi movies. Let's hope it stays a paranoiac fantasy. And let's hope we will always be able to tell the difference.