Category Archives: Art

This Is Not Art

This is Not Art

This Is Not Art

Well, it’s not. Its a cheap rip-off of a well-known painting. All I’ve done is replace the text, the better to help you think on what isn’t Art. While the original meaning is not lost, it has taken on a fresh, related, meaning from its new context. Hold on …

But what about this:

Not Art!

Not Art!

Now that can’t be Art! A rushed copy, using whatever materials are close to hand, and an online translation algorithm. Well, I wanted to get this post written today, not next week, when I’d sourced a reasonable facsimile of Magritte’s pipe, and an expert translator who understood the context of the piece. But now I’ve said that, it makes this piece part of the zeitgeist, a perfect example of the Internet Age of Instant Gratification. #Art.

Opium

Opium

OK, lets find something that seriously is NOT Art: Adverts. Surely images produced purely to sell products can’t be Art? I just don’t see the artistic value in making pictures or videos whose only measurable merit is how much profit they bring in for their share-holders. I mean, they are just created to have the maximum emotional impact, whether that be humour, lust, guilt or envy, leading to influenced behaviour … hang on there one minute …

But what about the products themselves? Packaged  to maximise shelf-space and branded to be eye-catching, that can’t count as Art can it? Do designers really put that much artistic effort into what is essentially a disposable container for fizzy sugar-water?

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola

I’ll admit that some products have gone on to become iconic images, but this cannot have been the intentions of the advertising executives, stuck in their artless offices, scheming about how best to relieve us of our hard-earned crust? Can it?

Adverts often rely on using sex and sexuality to sell their wares. but can Nick Kamen prancing around in his undies really be compared to Michelangelo’s “David”? While The Nude in Art has a long and illustrious history, having a woman shove her ‘assets’ in your face while shouting “BUY MORE STUFF” isn’t really Art is it?

Mr Chad

Wot! No Art?

OK, lets move to the other end of the scale. Graffiti. The puerile scrawlings on toilet walls. Vulgar rhymes and anatomically-unlikely doodles. Even the colourful “tags” that are left on bridges and sidings are usually more notable for their abstruse placement than original, worthwhile content. This vandalism of public property does little to embiggen the World of Art. Pushing your personal or political agenda through anonymous images and slogans, designed to shock and titillate, can hardly be worthy of the name Art, can it?

Politics

Politics!

Food. Food isn’t Art, no matter what Instagram tries to tell you! Food is for eating, not taking photos of and showing the whole world!

Chippy Art

A Study In Colour 3

Salad Art

A Study In Colour 2

Fried Art

A Study In Colour 1

 

 

 

 

 

Do we really care what our food looks like? Would it be just as pleasant in greys and blacks? Surely after the first mouthful we would realise that our brain has been lied to, and shut down the illusion?

I’m not concerned here with Art made from food. Bacon Dresses, carved tomatoes, and that stop-motion video sequence can all be called Art. but food, presented as a meal, to be eaten?

Despite the obvious similarities of colour in the first two examples here, they are different meals. The visual similarities produce no effect on their taste, and certainly not on their nutritional value.

So there we have it. A short summary of what might (or might not) be described as Not Art.

But I am often told (mostly by Lucretia) that Art is subjective. So what subject do you feel is not Art? Where do we find a lack of artistic expression?

I Haven’t Been Reading Much Lately

Well, actually I have.

A fair amount of the conversation at the pub is centred around what novels people have read recently. From the latest Joe Abercrombie to a re-reading of Dune, we dissect the content, opine on our favourite characters, and bemoan the lack of further books (or bemoan the fall in quality of the later ones).

I say “we”, but in general, I am excluded from these talks. In the last fifteen years (since I bought a car, and stopped getting the bus to work), I have read considerably less than one novel per year. I have thoroughly enjoyed the ones I have read,  but I tend to find other things to do with my time. Often (although by no means always) things where I am the creator, rather than the consumer. I have several websites to create/source content for, an ever-growing toy soldier collection, along with the battle-field scenery I have made, multiple half-finished (and a couple of half-started) electronics projects, to name but a few. I also play games of many varieties (computer-based, card and board games, role-playing and other narratives (RPG), and the “augmented reality” Pokemon Go).

Several of these activities inherently include reading. Quite a bit is reference work, such as the W3schools website-tutorials, or RPG Rulebooks. I have had to relearn a lot of electronics, pouring over manuals and discussing projects on web-forums. The rpg.net games forums take up quite a bit of my time, including the speculative-fiction around the settings for the games.

But when the conversation lulls, and someone breaks the silence with “Anyone read anything good recently?”, they do not appreciate my answer of “CSS Tutorials” or “The Exalted chapter-heading stories“. “Someone on the internet had quite a good back-story for their character” doesn’t seem to go down as well as “<published author you may have heard of> has a new book out”. And no-one (except maybe The Ardingthoth) is interested in “I learnt how to reduce the pin-out usage of my Arduino, by adding a series-to-parallel shift-register”!

I have collected a few novels, including actually buying some, but they are still unread. China Mieville’s “UN LUN DUN” looks very interesting, and I was impressed with “The City and The City”, so I should get round to reading it. I got half-way through the first chapter of “The Three-Body Problem” before I put it aside, awaiting a time when I can give it the attention it deserves. They sit, alongside “The Antivirus Hacker’s Handbook”, “In The Beginning … Was The Command Line” and “The Steampunk Bible”, gathering dust as I concentrate on other endeavours. (ASIDE: Also on that bookshelf are a soldering iron, a copy of the “Blood Royale” board game, a stack of printer paper, Fodor’s USA (1991) and Spike Milligan’s “Hitler: My Part in His Downfall”)

It’s not that I don’t like reading. I do like it. I read a lot. But not novels. It’s not that I don’t like novels. I do. Well, it depends on the novel, but I am happy that the medium exists, and have read many a good novel, novella, short-story and 35-book series in my time. But not recently. Ask me about Ray Bradbury. E.E. “Doc” Smith. Tolkien, or Le Guin.

But don’t be surprised if, when asked “What have you read recently?”, that although I have read a lot (possibly more than you), I answer: “Nothing much”.

Misty Morning, Clouds in the Sky

Like a dreary Rothko, the North Sea steadfastly refused to roll and roil. If it hadn’t been for the surly surf lapping languidly at the edge of the sands, I might have thought it a painted ocean.

The Sea

The Sea

Such was the welcome I received from “bracing” Skegness. The rain hadn’t stopped all day, my legs ached from driving, and the Model Village was closed. But I was on holiday, dammit, and there was ART to be had!

Before long, we were installed in our room, and the weather had improved slightly. Enough to realise that the sea-based wind-farms, notably absent in the previous scene, had marched towards the land enough to be seen!

Wind Farms

Sea Windmills

While this picture shows the extent of the wind-farms, it doesn’t really do justice to their size. As we later discovered, they rise 80 metres above the water, with a turbine diameter of 120 metres (for reference, the London Eye stands 135 metres tall, so a turbine would just squeeze inside).

Closer View of Wind Farm

Closer View of Wind Farm

Being 5km from the shore, my camera was only able to pick up a certain level of detail, but I captured what I could.

Close up view of Wind Turbines

Closer Still

 Now, I’ve heard talk of the turbines spoiling the view, but personally I find them majestic, and I marvel at their construction! One hundred and twenty metre (120) span! 5 kilometres from shore! I’d rather see these awesome structures marching across the horizon than a dirty coal-burner sat pouring soot and smoke out into the air!

Talking of painted ships on panted oceans, the next significant sight took the ubiquitous wind-farms as a back-drop and introduced the Admiral Benbow sea-front cafe-bar.

The Admiral Bendbow

The Admiral Bendbow

Nestled into the sea defences at Chapel-St-Leonard’s, the Admiral Benbow has been a labour of love for it’s proprietors, and this shows in it’s friendly atmosphere and quirky decor. On dry days, one can sit out in the Hispaniola, built from recovered groynes and wave-breaks, and enjoy the view!

The Hispaniola

The Hispaniola

While in Chapel St Leonard’s, Lucretia insisted on finding some geocaches. Unfortunately, some were placed on private land, that the golf club has now restricted access to. But we found the ones that are still available!

No walk along the beach would be complete without pictures of the sand, artfully arranged by Mother Nature and adorned with sea-shells (which can be purchased from a lady, near the beach, if the old rhyme is to be believed!). In this shot, one of the razor-shells has fallen to echo it’s namesake.

Sand

Sand

Art is all about perception, so I’m told. So I found a couple of different ways of seeing the environment, to see if the adage held true. First, a close up:

Close up of Sand

Close up of Sand

And secondly, a shot that encompasses both tricks of perception and accidental art! I was trying for a low-level shot, including the wind farms, but ended up with this, that makes the sea look a lot rougher than it actually was!

Rough Sea!

Rough Sea!

Back at the wind-farm, a ship is spotted. It must have been moving at some speed, to pass the turbines so quickly, but I managed to get a shot of it.

Wind Ship

Wind Ship

I presume it was as supply-vessel for the substation that sits amongst the turbines, piping the electricity into cables for transmission to the shore.

Sub-Station

Sub-Station (Disguised as AT-AT Walker)

Also in attendance was some sore of exploratory vessel (I think. It might have been maintenance of some sort. I hope it wasn’t part of the fishing fleet!).

Explorer

Explorer

So, we took a break from ships, and had a coffee on the pier at high tide (after negotiating the Amusement Arcade that forms the entrance, and, due to strong discipline, only having a quick go on the Addams Family pinball, and a short play on the 2p falls). Not that the tide seemed any closer than low tide! While it was enjoyable, it was tinged with sadness, and I can only imagine distraught parents trying to console the child who fell foul of this tragedy:

Lost Lolly

Lost Lolly

To overcome this we went and found a few more geocaches, walked along the beach some more, and eventually found a very nice bar to have dinner (I can recommend the Big Share Platter!).

And, as with all things, our trip came to an end. With skies darkening, we gave one last wave to the wind-farms, hopped back into Li’lSuzy, and were on our way home.

Last View of Wind Farms

Last View of Wind Farms

 

Write On, Comrade!

Poetry Can F*ck Off!
An evening of Words, at Leicester’s Upstairs at The Western theatre.

“Poetry can seriously f*ck off authority figures. It gets under the skin of those whose brains have been made rigid by power.”

I’ve been hoping to find something tempting at the Western since it opened, being one of the few pub-based theatres in the country, but this is the first show that really grabbed my attention. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. The posters featured little more than the NSFW title, and a quick search revealed the show to be about Rebellion, Subversion and Defiance.

Jonny Fluffypunk, designated poet of the Bristol squat scene

Jonny Fluffypunk, designated poet of the Bristol squat scene

As we were seated in the warm, cramped space (every ticket sold!), a gent sporting a fine beard and steel guitar (Mike Dr Blue), alongside a man with a keyboard on shoulder-strap (this would be Roy Hutchins, narrator), tinkled out some tunes. This was to form the background (and sometime foreground) music for the show.

Once the show started in earnest, we were thrown in at the deep end, as Mr Hutchins launched into a tirade of how poetry has changed the world, forming rebellions, toppling dictators and freeing the oppressed. The three other figures on stage were Jonny Fluffypunk, Sameena Zehra (a veteran of the Delhi AIDS awareness campaigns) and Selina Nwulu (daughter of Nigerian refugees who fled their civil war). They counterpointed Hutchins’ speech with numerous diverse quotes, including Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, William Blake and Gill Scott Heron, to name but a few, echoing them in triplicate, giving weight to the words.

Shelly’s Masque of Anarchy, as recited by Ghandi while he stood peacefully against the the British troops, rang out through the small space to remind us of what all dictators and oppressors fear: our numbers!

“Rise, like lions after slumber
In un-vanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you:
Ye are many—they are few!
Ye are many—they are few!
YA ARE MANY! – THEY ARE FEW!

It ran on in this vein, building a picture of the power of poetry, and how it has been used since time immemorial to embrace the suffering of the dispossessed, clarifying their feelings, expressing them eloquently, and as a clarion-call to action.

Another world is not only possible, She is on her way. On a quiet day,I can hear her breathing. Arundhati Roy

The interval came as no small relief! The heady atmosphere of rebellion was building up, and my chest was tight with emotions. The plight of those who had gone before us had been highlighted; the suffering and subjugation dating back even to Sumerian times. But also, as Jonny’s voice echoed the inscription on Ozymandias‘s statue, that no power can last. Even the King of Kings can be brought low.

We filed back in after the intermission, wary, yet hopeful, of what was to follow.

We were not to be disappointed! With the lights still low, a  local choir stood and performed a very heartfelt “Bread and Roses”. The cool evening breeze, so recently to refresh us, suddenly seemed so far away, as we were transported back to the Massachusetts textile strike, 1912, and the lines of women marching (to avoid a recent No Loitering law!) by the factory gates, demanding not only decent wages (bread), but respect, and dignified conditions (roses).

And more was to come!

The first time I heard it, I didn’t really get “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. How could I? A naive young white boy full of hope and ambition, stretching out on my own, but with a secure safety net in place. Now, many years later, to  hear it recited by The Poetry Army, I felt I finally understood something about what it was about.

I still don’t ‘get’ “Still I Rise”, but I can see some of what it means, and to hear it in choral form set my  heart racing.

From the Peasant’s Revolt (1381), through to Occupy Wall Street (ongoing), featuring Women’s Liberation, American slavery (Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” was particularly harrowing), Vietnam (we had a good sing-a-long to Country Joe McDonald), General Pinochet’s brutal regime, and many more, we were taken through a history of Words overcoming Oppressors.

So if you, like Roddy Doyle, think that “Poetry was School. All poetry could fuck off”, why not take a moment to think on where poetry was not School, and firmly refused to fuck off, even the the face of the worst violence and oppression. Poetry that changed the world. Undermined dictators, unified protesters and brought the spotlight of the world onto injustices.

“Poetry can seriously f*ck off authority figures. It gets under the skin of those whose brains have been made rigid by power.”

Poetry Can Fuck Off!

Geocaching. How to Spot Art Without Really Trying (WARNING: Spoilers)

So, Lucretia talked me into joining her to find a local GeoCache. For those, like me, who have not encountered GeoCaching, it is like a Treasure Trail, following clues to find the Prize. Except there is no real prize, apart from knowing you succeeded. Now this may not sound too much fun, but the trails are often interesting, it gets you out in the fresh air, and the puzzles can be tricky.

The chosen trail is a Pictorial one, meaning we are given some images as clues, and must work out the GPS Co-ordinates from a set of puzzles. To help us along, we have a rough route-map, showing the direction we should be looking for each clue.

WARNING: The rest of this post contains SPOILERS about the route, clues, cache positions and all such sensitive data.

Read on at your own peril!

We start the day at the Town Hall Square, and must work out “How many wings?”.

The Fountain at Town hall Square

The Fountain at Town Hall Square

As you can see, the lions on the fountain are Winged! What is less obvious from this picture is that there are four of them. My high-school maths kicks in to multiply 4 lions by two wings each: EIGHT! We have solved the first clue!

My alter-ego P.C. Wizard has made sure I brought an electronic note-pad to record everything (Technical data: Samsung Galaxy J5 running Evernote app), along with my camera to record the significant details (and any #Art we may spot along the route!)

The route now takes us out onto Granby Street, to find an avian-named cafe. It’s name has been obscured in the picture, but I recognise it instantly: The Turkey Cafe!

The Turkey Cafe

The Turkey Cafe

Obscured ornamentation

Clue B – How many letters in this bird’s name?

This clue is the number of letters. We can count to 6 easily enough, and so it is recorded, and we continue.

Now, I’m hoping you’ve got the idea by this stage. We walk around town, matching provided pictures to the local landscape, and recording the numbers for a later puzzle. So I won’t be fully describing the whole route, and each clue step-by-step.

One thing that this route really points out is the Leicester architecture. While it may seem that the town centre is just your average array of chain-stores, coffee shops (more on these later!) and charity shops, if you take the time to look above the shop-fronts, there is an amazing (as Lucretia describes it) vista of ornamentation, carvings, and designs.

For example, the local branch of Foot Locker is based in what was originally the Thomas Cook building. The ground floor shows little evidence of this, but just tilt your head up a little …

Foot Locker store-front

Foot Locker store-front

The Thomas Cook Building

The Thomas Cook Building

(The clue here was to to find a year from one of the murals. It took us a little while, but we did match the provided picture-clue to the correct train! Another number recorded, and we move on …)

Some of you may have heard about a little sports team called The Foxes, who did rather well in the football this year. (If you’re in Leicester, you’ll have heard of nothing else!). But this is not the first time we have had Sporting success! Back in 1996/7, we had victories in the Football (Coca-Cola Cup), Cricket (Britannic Assurance County Championship) and Rugby (Pilkington Cup)! As is our wont, a statue was commissioned, and placed in pride of place near the Clock Tower:

Lucretia with some sports

Lucretia, and some Sports.

There was a clue re: number of balls on the statue. While I would have made a dirty joke, with all of the featured players being male, I restrained myself, so as not to mar Lucretia’s moment of joy with her local heroes. One football, one rugby ball. Two. Answer recorded. Joke avoided. Next please!

One building that particularly caught our eye was The Singer Building, built circa 1902. Unfortunately, a large tree made photographing it difficult, but I did my best!

The Singer Building

The Singer Building

Not only does it show off the contrast of new shops vs old architecture, but it is a rare example of Edwardian lavish commercial property. The featured murals show British flags topped by depictions of Empire (A camel for Egypt, an elephant for Burmah, a Canadian Mountain Lion, etc). Mainly occupied, as the name might suggest, by the Singer Sewing Machine Company, until 1965, it is well worth seeking out. (Six flags! Another clue recorded!)

At the end of High Street is Jubilee Square, one of Sir Peter Soulsby’s Follies. Commissioned to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th anniversary on the throne, and opened three years later, it is mainly an open patch of grass, crossed by concrete pathways. (At this point we were accosted by a couple of friends, wondering why we were taking pictures of Ascot House, now a bookmakers. “Art”, we told them! They seemed placated by this, and went about their business).

But take a U-turn here, and head back along Guildhall Lane, and you will find The Guildhall! (Shock! An unexpected turn of events!). Now here is proper History!

The Guildhall

The Guildhall

The exact date it was built is not known (luckily the clue just wanted the Century!), but it has been a landmark for hundreds of years. This is a particularly amazing part of the town, next to the Cathedral, and marking the Western Entrance to The Lanes. (I was a little disappointed that the GeoCachers missed an opportunity to include mention of the Great Leicester Hoax here, but I can’t have everything).

Passing onto Grey Friars, we recorded clues re: King Dick 3 and the Council Buildings. And then another statue!

The Leicester Seamstress

The Leicester Seamstress – James Butler 1990

Representing the importance of hosiery in Leicester’s history, the Seamstress has sat outside the City Rooms for over 25 years, still darning that same sock!

And on to Market Street. Not actually where Leicester’s famous outdoor market lies, but part of the Victorian shopping area, now covered by a Conservation Area. Again, the ground level is a mish-mash of modernity: Greggs, StanJames, Cafe Nerd, Subways, and many more recognisable names. But above, a mish-mash of older, less known names!

Market Street

Market Street

(1876! Solved another clue!)

The Toni And Guy salon not only has one of the Fox Trail markers (A Clue!) but also a wildlife mural across its frontage, celebrating Leicester’s rural life.

Toni and Guy

Toni and Guy – with wildlife!

And that Fox Trail marker is the last clue! We now have all the information we need to solve the puzzle, and find the location of the Cache! We retire to Cafe Nerd, order lunch and rest our weary legs.

Lucretia decides upon a low-tech approach to solving our Puzzle (Nothing to do with her fruit-based device having run out of juice!), and we start scratching out numbers on my old notebook. The Puzzle requires a little maths, but the most complicated is: “f = (R – O) / (L x G)”. No real challenge for a mathematical genius .. and even we manage to solve it before too long!

The Puzzle takes the numbers we have found along the route, and calculates new numbers, which represent GPS co-ordinates of the Cache. We punch this into Lucretia’s GPS unit, and set off … but wait … that is pointing to somewhere 5 miles away! There must be a mistake! What is that “2” is supposed to be a “3”? Yeah, that would put us closer – near the Court Rooms! Without stopping to think why we have the number wrong, we set off!

Long story short, we go to the wrong place, and waste half an hour looking for something that is not there!

We decide to check the numbers. If that is a “3”, then this must be wrong … and that also affects that … the mistake is identified – we have taken the year, not the day! Aha! Luckily, we have not strayed too far, and set off confidently!

SPOILER ALERT AGAIN!

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If you don’t want to know the location of the final Cache, then why have you continued reading so far along, when I told you there were spoilers?

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Final Spoiler Alert!

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OK, now we’ve got rid of them, I can reveal where we ended up!

The correct co-ordinates take us along The New Walk, and the Final Clue leads us to a particular sign:

The Clicker sign

“You’ll see a sign that you are at Ground Zero, then everything should click into place.”

Searching around, we find the tiny container holding a list of people who have previously found it, and we add our moniker to it!

Success!

Success!

The Clicker sculpture is a homage to the shoe-workers of Leicester, made from the shapes of shoe-leathers, and named for the noises of the knives as they hit the cutting-boards! A fitting end to our journey, as we have travelled far, and surely must have worn out our soles (although our souls are in high spirits!).

If you have enjoyed reading about our GeoCaching adventure, you can find out how to do your own at https://www.geocaching.com/

Or maybe you have been inspired to take a new look at your own home town, and see the things that you normally overlook.

Either way, I would advise you to get out in the open air, take notice of the spaces around you, and find some ART!

Where Old Sci-Fi Meets Goth

I don’t know how many of you have watched Metropolis, but it’s a fine film.

On what may seem like an unrelated note, The Sisters of Mercy are a fine band.

To bridge these two diverse media sensations, DeNomad Damon has produced a video, matching clips from the movie with the song “Body Electric”.

The dance being performed by the inestimable ‎Brigitte Helm is named “The Whore of Babylon”, where she tempts the audience of decadent young men into sins of all nature.

The song is a tirade against the dirty nightclubs of ’90s Britain, full of “alternative” youths and appealing to the “gothic” scene.

Andrew Eldritch has railed against being labelled Gothic (or anything else, for that matter) on many an occasion, and seems to hold a blatant disregard for anyone who likes his music or attends his concerts.

Setting aside the incongruous messages of the pieces, DeNomad has picked works that fit so well together you might think they were made for each other! From the bass-line matching perfectly with Ms Helm’s wiggling hips, to the final sequence mirroring the refrain “This place is death, with walls”, it sets a text-book example of of how to make a music video!

DeNomad Damon’s other works are well worth a look, but I think this is the pinnacle. Watch the video. Watch the movie. Listen to Sisters of Mercy.

Message Ends.

(This post inspired by the inimitable Lucretia, My Reflection)

A Foray Into Steampunk.

My alter-ego, P.C. Wizard, has always been interested in computers, electronics and techno-gizmos of all varieties. So I came up with a way of linking several hobbies into one Project:

The Digital Walking Cane!

Taking my Smart outfit (colourful shirt, waistcoat, pocket-watch) as a starting point, I decided that a Cane would be a nice addition. But not just any Cane would do! P.C. Wizard demands that it be Interconnected, interactive, and wifi-compatible!

So I’ve had a good think about what capabilities the Cane should have, and this is what I have come up with so far:

  • Wifi. So that it can communicate with other devices (see: Utility Top Hat)
  • GPS. So that I know where it is at all times.
  • Weather Sensors. Why bother waiting for the local Weather Report on TV when I can just poke my Cane out of the window and get my own report!
  • Compass. Remember all those times that you needed to know magnetic North, but couldn’t remember how to calculate it from the position of the Sun? No more being lost in the wilderness. Just point The Cane until the beeps tell you which way to go!

With these basics decided upon, I looked at the best way to put the gubbins inside the Cane. A quick look around the Vintage Stores of Leicester (including the very helpful Pink Pigeon vintage store) led me to the conclusion that I would need a custom-made Cane. Standard sizes just do not have the room. Luckily, I know people in the woodworking trade, and am awaiting their enthusiastic response …

While the actual Cane is in hiatus, I next look at the electronics needed to run the Cane Systems. First, a central Power House. The Heart of the operations. I am looking at two basic options (each with multiple ways of implementing).

  • Raspberry PI. A fully-fledged computer that fits in a (large) matchbox. I have an older, larger version, and a friend has lent me the new NanoPI to play with.
  • Arduino board. A Micro-controller designed for electronics projects.

Both would do the job, and the PI is more powerful. Too powerful, if anything. I need to keep an eye on battery life. A little investigation shows that there would not be that much difference in getting them to work, so I think the Arduino will be the way to go.

Next stop: The Electronics Point. Last time I touched a soldering iron was over 20 years ago, so a little refresher course in all things electronic is probably in order. The forums there are very friendly, and I received some very useful answers to my (probably very stupid) questions. Some good pointers on Arduino-based components and packages, too. But overall, I am still a virtual beginner. A peruse of the circuits I will be needing persuaded me that I need to relearn the techniques, and catch up on new developments. Back to the Breadboard, as they say.

So, from my idea, I am  now back at the basics, ready to build from the bottom up. I dug around for my old box of electronic bits, left over from college days. A quick glance made obvious my suspicions: I need to buy some new parts! A quick trip to Maplins got me the basics, and also a very interesting chat with the young lad at the counter, who gave me some good suggestions on part numbers and types of sensor.

Armed with my new array of parts, I skipped over to the on-line tutorials at Spark Fun to get started! Dang, more components needed! I can’t even get started without some kind of Power! The plan is to run the breadboard from a 9V “square” battery, which I need to drop to 5V (the standard board voltage). A simple circuit, but I don’t have the right capacitors!

Electronics Point recommends several suppliers, and I settled on BitsBox of Rugby. £12.01 of my hard-earned cash later, and I have ordered far more than I need, including a big box of assorted resistors (an essential for any project!).

So now I am in the hands of BitsBox and Royal Mail.

Tune in later for updates!

Ramblings

Is it possible to use well-established Artistic ideas, such as Dada and Surrealism, to create anti-establishment shock-art? Or would I just be flogging another dead horse? And would it still be Art?

In its time, Dada was a counter to the cultural status-quo, defining itself by what it was not, and what it was against, as much as anything it was for.

While a lot of the concepts that Dada railed against are still prevalent in our societies, is hailing back to previous movements merely giving oneself the  label of “Rebel”?

Dyed hair and piercings have lost their 70s-punk power and are now considered mainstream. “The Persistence of Memory” appears on postcards. Banksy murals are bought and sold by local Councils.

Is there anything left to rebel with? Is rebellion itself a form of acceptance? Has questioning authority become a new form of subservience? Is writing a blog-post, assisted by wikipedia and thesaurus.com, bemoaning the impossibility of rebellion just grasping at passing bandwagons?

For new Art to be challenging, it must address the Culture of the day, in ways that acknowledge that culture as existing, identify its flaws and clash with it in a meaningful way. Harking back to times long gone, whose rebellions are now identified, clarified and classified, does no more to advance the cause of Creative Mutiny (or Mutinous Creation) than repetitively quoting well-scripted jokes about spontaneity.

Does one need to study the history of Art, of anti-art, of punk and pop-art, to qualify as a bona-fide rebel? Or does that study inherently embed one in the established traditions?

The answers to the questions raised here, as I read so many times in text-books, are left as an exercise for the reader. Please show your working.

Adventures of the Travelling Stick Salesman

You will all have seen those fantasy pictures: large panoramic views, beautiful scenery. And somewhere in the middle ground, a lone figure, cloak swaying in the breeze, and hand firmly grasping a long staff. You can visualise it so well that I won’t bother posting an example.

The Belgian Jordy Lakiere has come to the conclusion that he is a Travelling Stick Salesman, touting his wares across lands far and near! From Mordor to Tatooine, he seeks out potential buyers, and then vanishes into the mists.

A collection of his customers can be found here:

http://sticksalesmanadventures.tumblr.com

EDIT: Tumbler Blog has changed. Try his Facebook Album

There will be some you recognise, some you don’t, and some you’ll be sure you’ve seen before but can’t quite remember where!

I won’t go rambling on. Go visit the site!

Meanwhile, Bacchus at the Cafe …

You may not be too surprised to hear that I found some Art at a clothes shop today, but it may intrigue you to know the details!

Opposite one of my regular haunts is a clothing alteration shop. I’ve seen it many a time, while sat sipping a latte (No pumpkin spice, thanks. Or vanilla, or any other “exotic” flavours. Coffee. With milk. In a mug. Cheers) in the sunshine, but it was only today that I took a proper look at the decorations around the doors.

The Clothing Alteration Company. Decorations around the door and windows.

http://www.clothingalts4u.co.uk/

None of the surrounding shops have similar frontages, so I thought I would inquire. I stepped inside, and sought knowledge!

The lady at the counter was very friendly and helpful, and explained that the shop used to be the site of a wine merchant, and they had decorated the front with images of Bacchus, the Roman god of Wine and Agriculture, in homage to Leicester’s Roman heritage.

Carvings of Bacchus over the shop doorway

Door Decorations

She was very happy to grant me permission to take a few photos for this blog, so I snapped away for a while, and include a few of the best pictures.

Side panel showing more Bacchus imagery

Side Panel

Detail of side panel

Detail of side panel

Unfortunately, I have so far been unable to dig out the name of the wine merchants that commissioned these pieces, but I will be looking further into this!

In the meantime, if you have any clothes that need altering, and feel a blessing from Bacchus would help, do visit The Clothing Alteration Company in St Martin’s Square! While your clothes are being altered, grab a coffee and admire the decorations!

(I nearly made it all the way through a post without mentioning The Cank!)