DOT COM DOT CO DOT UK
AN EXCHANGE BETWEEN FRIENDS WHO JUST PREFER LONDON AND LOS ANGELES…
05 MARCH 2010
The Curve gallery, which seems like it would be a mere passage wrapping behind the Barbican Concert Hall, is consistently one of the most inspiring venues for site-specific art in London. At previous exhibitions, I have conducted radio stations with my shadow and walked through a WWII-era bunker. The current show, by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot and up through the 23rd of May, is a delight.
One enters through a chain curtain and strobe light into a dark space featuring giant projections of electric guitar playing, accompanied by buzzing, droning noises that tickled my hungover eyelids. Around the bend, the visitor emerges into a happy feeling: Drenched in daylight bulbs, the end of the curve feels like emergence into Spring, a particularly poignant feeling as we here in London have been so thirsty for sunlight through this long, grey winter. (I’ll take this moment to apologise for not contributing to this blog for several weeks, and point the blame somewhat at these ennui-inducing winter months.)
Walking along a wooden boardwalk, the visitor meets several small islands of sand and scrub. Positioned in the islands are musical instruments (electric guitars, basses and cymbals). A flock of zebra finches fly throughout the space, perching on the strings of the guitars and feeding on the cymbals, thus creating a soundscape a bit reminiscent of Neil Young’s soundtrack to Dead Man. As the curators point out, “The piece relies on the visitors’ movements around the space, which elicit counter movements by the birds, resulting in a subtle choreography.”
We, along with the other visitors, couldn’t help the big grins on our faces. A pair of lovebirds picked at each others’ feathers and created a delicate electric quiver of a love song. Some finches would fly from one instrument to another, creating a light plucking noise with each landing. Clustered in cymbals filled with seed, groups of birds created a vibration like an avant-garde composition, as if it would swell into an epic melody, but in actuality never amounting to anything more than these staccato noises, over which sang the sweet chirps of the birds themselves.
In yet another intelligent use of the Curve, the arc of the space is cleverly utilized by keeping the bright, bird-filled area a secret, making the journey’s end all the more joyful and revelatory.
If you are able to stop by the Barbican any time over the next couple of months, we highly recommend this experience. If you’re not in town, this video will give you the idea.
14 FEBRUARY 2010
Jeremy and Jamie, A Love Story
A true reason to believe in love…
In between Z’s “Music for Sensuous Lovers” and Hollywod Brats’ “And Then He Kissed Me,” have a listen to J + J’s love story as read by Jarvis Cocker in his weekly BBC6 Sunday Service* show. Today was a special Valentine’s affair…
Don’t be afraid to cry…
Happy Valentine’s Day.
*If you can’t spare the time to listen to this entirely exquisite show, their story begins a little after 1:20…
03 JANUARY 2010
22 DECEMBER 2009
17 DECEMBER 2009
Can you spare a tenner?
Yes, I think so… I really think you can too. If 10,000 people give £10 to Whitechapel Gallery, this essential institution will be awarded a challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation of half a million dollars to finish their beautiful new building.
I’ve seen so many fantastic shows at Whitechapel Gallery all these years. Most recently, the current exhibition Sophie Calle: Talking to Strangers weirdly made me feel… well, weird. All these emotions came rushing in all at once: existing conditions and perceptions of love and heartache, believed abstractions of identity and intimacy… and most importantly, questions of gender possibilities and its limitations. Amusing and sad. I’ve learned a lot from Sophie…
Give a little this season. Please take care of yourself while taking care of others…
14 DECEMBER 2009
time for tea. and beer.
Back in California, I always associated Stella Artois with a relative level of sophistication; it was the beer of fashion parties, the beer advertised via vintage spots before foreign films in arty cinemas.
I was surprised to find, upon moving to the UK, that here Stella is considered to be the lowbrow brand for lads who just want to get pissed quickly, due to it’s high alcohol content. Jamie T. captured it’s reputation as an angry drunk kind of beer with his lyric, “Sheila goes out with her mate Stella; gets poured all over her fella…”
But Stella struggles against the stigma. The other day on Commercial Street we passed a storefront that appeared to be a replete throwback to the early days of television sets and portable radios.
After a bit, one realizes that in amongst the flickering black and white film clips (including Godard’s “A Woman Is A Woman”) were simple adverts for Stella. “It’s all just a beer advertisement!” exclaimed a fellow onlooker.
In a weird retro pastiche confusion moment, we happened to be on our way to East London’s 1940s-themed tea room Time For Tea. The lager campaign stuck with us; but really we were just craving Lapsang Souchong
12 DECEMBER 2009
The London Nobody Sings…
I think I just found our new favorite blog thanks to the amazingly true Everett True. The London Nobody Sings blog is like love at first sight… I couldn’t have said it any better:
from Everett True himself:
“Actually, it’s long been one of my favourite blogs, if not THE favourite. The London Nobody Sings is an absolute gem of a blog: words and passion and images and music and videos all put together with deceptive, disarming simplicity. If someone at a high-up record company had any sense, they’d even now be compiling a box-set from all the songs Kevin has unearthed…and a video…and a book (both words and pictures)…
THE LONDON NOBODY SINGS …
A SITE DEDICATED TO SONGS ABOUT LONDON. AS SIMPLE AS THAT. THE ONLY RULES ARE THAT THE SONGS MUST BE BRILLIANT AND THAT THE BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS NUMBERS ARE EXCLUDED. THE SONGS MAY BE EXPLICITLY ABOUT LONDON OR OBLIQUELY ABOUT THE CITY IN SOME WAY. THERE ARE PLENTY OF GREAT SITES DEDICATED TO PHOTOS AND IMAGES ABOUT LONDON. THIS SITE IS DESIGNED TO BE A MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT. AND IF YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS THEN PLEASE SHARE THEM WITH US …”
I’m just going through them all through now and there are so many treasures here but an instant fave is this entry:
“Elvis C you shouldn’t have written her solo elpee. It should have been me …” claims Lawrence during his hymn to Wendy James from Go-Kart Mozart’s Instant Wigwam and Igloo Mixture. He suggests she’s second only to “the very, the very great Joan Jett”. It’s a point of view Tom Vague in his Notting Hill timeline seems not to agree with. I mean the Wendy James being great thing, rather than the Elvis C part. Interestingly Elvis Costello has contributed quite a few London songs to our collection. Some may be too obvious to use, and some will, ahem, be on parade here, while some others are less than obviously London related like the great Man Out Of Time and Fish And Chip Papers. One of Elvis’ songs for Wendy was The Clash mythography referencing London’s Brilliant …
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