Thursday 23 October 2008

Musical Lectures

My seven art history lectures in the first half of this term have featured an ever-widening range of music. Here is everything I can recall, whether it was a band performance, youtube video or background music to images; and in alphabetical order.

Blur "Country House" (video)
David Bowie "Everyone Says Hi" (live video) (and other tracks)
David Bowie "Modern Love" sung by a woman, possibly Astrid Young (background)
Dandy Warhols "We Used To Be Friends" (live video)
Enya "Only Time" (background music to a youtube video about Hitler)
Kaiser Chiefs "Modern Way" (background music)
Kraftwerk "Radioactivity" (live video)
Marilyn Manson "Mobscene" (video)
Michael Nyman: music from "The Draughtsman's Contract" soundtrack (background music)
Pet Shop Boys "Rent" (background music)
Roxy Music "Remake / Remodel" (live video)
The Velvet Underground "Venus In Furs" (background music)

Monday 20 October 2008

Divertment... And Seriousness

Highlights of a trip to London at the weekend:

Now I must settle myself to write two essays:
  • Art: 1000 - 2000 words; due 19th November. My choice from six options: one work by Marcel Duchamp. I will try "Nude Descending A Staircase, No. 2".
  • Archaeology: 800 words minimum; due 29th October. My choice from three options: Ethnoarchaeology.

This week's studies are as follows:
  • Art: perspective drawing and a lecture on Charlie Chaplin;
  • Archaeology: "Cultural Systems" and "Neo-evolutionism".

Thursday 16 October 2008


or The dread of a task unfulfillable and the euphoria of a deadline met.

I've had two difficult projects in the past fortnight.

The first was a college project. The brief: to fill a sketchbook and create / explore a series of logos about oneself. This kind of thing is more reflexive than I'm comfortable with and I spent several days unsure of where to take it.

Lacking inspiration and suffering from unwise sleep patterns I found myself rebelling against the disciplines of study and reading. I bicycled around Portsmouth; fell asleep in the studio; ate my packed lunches before mid-morning and went to the library computer room and listened to the sound of busy typing.

On the final day I awoke to find all the missing ideas and motivation jostling at the front of my mind. I got right up to speed; finished the project and went home satisfied after handing it in.

The second project was a mini-commission (at least, I chose to see it that way) to produce a handful of A3 posters to be displayed at a little conference. With only four days' notice I prepared by taking a few photos of the subject and brainstorming content - but the specification was vague in the extreme.

On the due date I found myself greatly motivated by washing-up, shopping and tidying. Things in cupboards needed using up and I spent hours choosing and executing recipes for figs, marzipan, celery, mackerel, sole and sausage rolls.

This time I got down to the job with under three hours to spare. When the time ran out I had to tidy my drafts; laminate them and shove them up on the wall. I still don't know if they fitted the request but, as before, after the frustration, uncertainty and self-criticism of a difficult project, I was walking on air.

Now, this is bad practice and a hard habit to break. The redemptive relief of finishing a task is a rare joy but bodes against sanity for the majority of my work time. MUST LEARN.

Sunday 12 October 2008

Explanation #2

Southampton; Portsmouth:
Two universities at which I am enrolled.

Hartley; Frewen:
Two libraries that I can access.

Library Of Congress; Dewey Decimal:
Two classification systems that I navigate.

Theory Of Archaeology; Art, Design & Photography:
Two subjects that I study.

1930s German Nationalism:
The common link last week.

Les Oignons

I should have perceived it when I stopped to inspect an enormous onion in the road, outside the wholesalers in the High Street:

to bicycle around town at 2.30 am on a Sunday, wearing a black-and-white-striped jumper, is to be taken by tipsy nighrevellers for the Onion Man, the itinerant Frenchman of local lore.

After a couple of comments ("Onions!"; "Is your name Pepé?") I decided that I didn't mind letting the clubbers walking home think they'd seen the onion seller, so I put the beret on. ("Frenchie!"; "Don't shout: he's French.")

All of this came about because, as I rode home after an evening of pleasant sprawl with Amy and Andy, I found that I didn't feel like stopping and so rolled down the Avenue, London Road, Above Bar and the High Street.

I go out in town sometimes but tonight I could have gone straight to bed in my hushed suburb and forgotten the activity that hums away, a mile south - Southampton is not glamorous. Yet, I feel expanded and comforted by a furtive glide past the mêlée of taxis, packed takewaway houses, collapsees, police and busy club pavements. I took the chance to visit Rob, night-portering at the Grand Harbour Hotel, which, tonight, hosts Cyndi Lauper.

Just as the day had begun, it ended with a thick mist. It muffled Town Quay in a greasy cloud that almost hid the moon and was broken only by big, silent white gulls. The Isle Of Wight ferry was at dock and about ten fellows populated the end of the quay surrounded by rods, buckets, vans, cycle-trailers and a large "No Fishing" notice. It must be a weekly gathering: they turned as I passed and I felt like I was interrupting. I stopped to sketch the faint shimmers of light from the container port.

All of this was unplanned; I was alone and didn't even buy chips (which is always fun on a bicycle) but I hope I added something.

Perhaps the Onion Man was someone just like me all along. If so, for tonight, I am him.