Tag Archives: london

It’s snowing!

It’s always amazed me with how much excitement and joy snow creates in people. I think seeing snow fall is the single thing capable of pulling everyone together out of the darkness and cold that persists every single day in our European winters. It’s something between a mass plunge into childhood and a promise of Christmas being just around the corner when the our cities get spun in flurries of snow.

Ben Marsh created an awesome Twitter Google map mashup of what’s going on with the snow in the UK (though I guess the site is so busy that I can’t actually get onto it now). Twitter users post the first half of their postcode and the state of the snow fall on a scale of 1-10 (as in 1/10 for light snow and 10/10 for a blizzard). The map is constantly updated with tweets for around the country and #uksnow is already trending on Twitter.

#uksnow

[Image courtesy of whole9yards]

Seizure is back!

Seizure is an amazing installation by Roger Hiorns in SE1. Go see it, it’s on until January 10th 2010. The council flat that the installation is in was meant to be demolished last year, but I guess that the glitz of its interiors has gotten it out of the danger zone.

Roger Hiorns took advantage of a couple of the complex’s bedsits and filled one of them with 70 000 litres of hot solution of copper sulphate at 60 degrees centigrade. The liquid was poured into the flat through holes in its ceiling and was kept there until its temperature dropped to 30 degrees, thus allowing crystals to form on every inch of the flat’s surface. The liquid was then channelled into the neighboring flat, which is now used as the waiting site. The results of the experiments weren’t precisely known until the entire process was over. The flat had also been stripped of all furniture and reinforced by nets of steel to give more surface for the structuring of crystals. The results are pretty impressive.

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The rooms of the exhibition are accessible only in rubber boots provided at the spot. The rubber boots also provide a good way of controlling the number of people present in the rooms, so at least you can have some space to enjoy it all. Seizure has a strange feeling to it – something between a post-disaster waste site to a luxurious glitzy night club. The floors are uneven and still wet with the chemicals used to create the crystals. The area of the council flat is all but impressive, so you are all the more impressed when entering rooms made of illuminated crystal.

1:00-17:00 Thursday to Sunday
Closed Monday to Wednesday

[Image courtesy of Nick Cobbing and art rabbit]

Museum of Everything

There are few places in London that keep me going back to them and Museum of Everything has definitely become one of them since it’s opened back in October. It’s located in Chalk Farm just off Regent Park Road, which is one of the most quaint streets in north London. The street serves as a good ‘afterparty’ location for the museum with its cosy cafes and little restaurants (one of my favourite discoveries is Troika, a medium-sized cafe restaurant that serves delicious Russian food, cakes and tea). When you pass the bridge at the top of the road remember to look to your right to see another sight – the lone standing group of skyscrapers against the bridge’s graffiti.

Museum of Everything is filled with what it calls ‘outsider art’, i.e. art created by people living outside of artist societies and anyone from jailbirds to janitors can be found among the artists. I really like the idea of ‘outsider art’ actually whether the museum is about it or not – in a way I think that seeing art created by those who didn’t have the luxury of being an artist is even more interesting than seeing the art conceived by those surrounded by it on a daily basis. Could it not also be more relevant to real life and have the chance of being more original since it’s not plugged into any art trends or pressures?

For these artists there are o studios, no press junkets, no art fairs, no magazine spreads. Instead there are treasure troves of untrained work, discovered under rocks, in basements and attics, its creators often unaware their art would ever see the light of day.

James Brett, the founder, says that the ‘outsider art’ is not much but a catchphrase and that the art that’s inside the museum is there because it’s just interesting. In our short phone conversation he also said that art is normally too pre-occupied with big ideas and that the art world might be too caught up in itself, perhaps like a patient who is so focused on analysing his problems that he becomes unable to overcome them.

The Museum of Everything is located in an old dairy factory and with its warehouse feeling really reminds me of Shunt in some ways. The rooms are filled with intricate decor, windy corridors and an impressive array of art pieces. The collection ranges from mosaic sculptures and miniscule illustrations to temples made out of transistors to somewhat resemble Lost City structures. The first exhibition includes the first public show of Henry Darger’s artwork and was curated by a group of renown artists from Nick Cave and Jarvis Cocker to Eva Rothschild.

Entry to the museum and all events held there are free – in fact, the entire organisation runs on donation. The setup has its flaws though – the museum is not getting enough donations at the moment and might have to start charging for tickets in the future.

So anyway, hurry up, go see it, have some tea and be generous when you leave!

You can find the Museum of Everything on Twitter too at @Musevery.

[Image courtesy of Christoffer Rudquist]

The Digital Cloud

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I’m way too busy to blog this properly, but you must read about this. There is a new project from an international team of architects and designers to create a giant floating connected and publicly accessible cloud in the London skies. The project will be sponsored on a donation basis, which has some chances of failing, but then again, could inspire some rich pockets if they get sufficiently inspired by it.

The construction would include 120m- (400ft-) tall mesh towers and a series of interconnected plastic bubbles that can be used to display images and data. The Cloud, as it is known, would also be used an observation deck and park.

Its designers plan to raise the funds to build it by asking for micro-donations from millions of people.”It’s really about people coming together to raise the Cloud,” Carlo Ratti, one of the architects behind the design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) told BBC News. “We can build our Cloud with £5m or £50m. The flexibility of the structural system will allow us to tune the size of the Cloud to the level of funding that is reached.”

‘Data streams’

The Cloud was shortlisted in a competition set-up by London Mayor Boris Johnson. The structure draws on work by artist Tomas Saraceno, a German-based designer who has previously shown off huge inflatable sculptures.

The Cloud infographic

It is envisaged that the spheres would be made of a plastic known as Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), the material used to build the Beijing Aquatic Centre. The different spheres would act as structural elements, habitable spaces, decoration and LCD screens on which data could be projected.

“We could provide a custom feed of…searches made by Londoners during the Olympics to give a real time ‘barometer’ of the city’s interests and mood,” said Google, one of the supporters of the project, which has also offered to provide the information feeds.Ramps, stairs and lifts would carry people to the top of the structure to look out over the city.

‘Zero power’

The inflatable elements of the building would sit on top slender, lightweight towers, stabilised by a net of metal cables. Damping technology, similar to that used in Japanese skyscrapers to resist earthquakes, would prevent the towers being buffeted by the wind.

The structure would also be used to harvest all the energy it produces according to Professor Ratti. “It would be a zero power cloud,” he said. As well as solar cells on the ground and inside some of the spheres, the lifts would use regenerative braking, similar to that in some hybrid cars. That way, the designers say, potential energy from visitors to the top of the tower can be harnessed into useful electricity.

The team have launched a fundraising website called raisethecloud.org and are now looking for a site for the tower.

 

The laziest Sunday jams

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Oh, Sunday, the only day of the week when truly everything comes to a halt. Rain or shine, Sunday is inevitably an end to some things and a prelude to new beginnings. Possibly one of the best things I’ve recently discovered to do on lazy Sunday afternoon are jam sessions at East London’s Rich Mix.

The sessions are hosted by Soweto Kinch, who in 2001 established the Soweto Kinch Trio – with bassist Michael Olatuja and drummer Troy Miller. The artist continuously explores boundaries of jazz though mixing it up with hip hop and other genres. Hailed as one of the most exciting young jazz artists in the UK, he can now be seen for free at Rich Mix every Sunday until December 13th.

Rich Mix’s base is a cinema, but it has always strived to provide a variety of art events and activities for the public. Check it out and say hi if you’re there next Sunday.

Slow Bicycle Racing

Standing on bicycles is something I see everyday at London’s intersections where bicycle couriers impress the rest of us, the ‘lame’ cycling crowd, with not having to touch the ground as they ‘wait’ for the lights to change. Today though I found slow racing, which I guess is no new idea. Definitely going to try this.

Walking in My Mind

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In case you’re worried about not being able to see Walking in My Mind, it is still on and will be on till the 6th of September. The exhibition is a good combination of artists whose aim was to express their mindscapes as tangibly as possible. Walking in My Mind really does in parts feel like walking through others’ minds, dreams and fantasies.

The thing that struck me the most perhaps was Keith Tyson’s work. Though I can’t say I was impressed with his visuals, I really enjoyed his writings. I particularly remember a text from February 2004 that was written over a window of rain and talked of a night where pain transformed into joy as a spectacle of a rainy London evening passed.

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A handful of other works I remember include a somewhat suffocating web of wool strings resembling a forest surrounding two ghost-like figures, a brain-like structure you can walk through and the famous red polka dot room that is by now the icon of the exhibition. You can also find a small house by Yoshitomo Nara and a room that has a playful, if surrealist installation of sound and floating body parts.

All in all, bits of Walking in My Mind are definitely worth seeing. On Fridays you can also get a 2 for 1 deal on the exhibition site, which can come in handy 🙂