gistofthegrist

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ukiyo

HUANG WEI’s contemporary ukiyo-e paintings are lovely. Fusing POP art and illustration with an Oriental sensibility.

huangwei@neochaedge01

 

discover and rewrite the past

I have been away from ART for far too long. I missed this show earlier in the year. And it was only just down the road too! Drawings by daughter of J.G.Ballard.

The author’s wartime chess set

This chess set looks like it is composed of all white pieces? They way it should be.

‘Whilst clearing her father’s house – the family home, Fay found herself confronted with ‘stuff’. Small possessions, containing countless memories that shape us and the stories we tell about ourselves. It is on these small objects that the artist’s attentions are focused …’

ELYSIUM

Missed this one [like so much of late] last year. Another scorched earth movie narrative. As always my main interest is in the imagined urban landscape.

Elysium ruined Earth city

Elysium ruined Earth city

Read this interesting article today, about two of my favourite author’s apocalyptic urban landscapes novels. The Drowned World and Hello America.

Thinking about saviours, here’s one of my favourite Ballard ‘quotes’, from one of my favourite texts:

“It’s no coincidence that religious leaders emerge from the desert. Modern shopping malls have much the same function. A future Rimbaud, Van Gogh, or Adolf Hitler will emerge from their timeless wastes.” [Atrocity Exhibition, 1990]

The old Lie

Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori

Wilfred Owen, 1918

Months, if not years, start today of old imperial sabre rattling commemorating everything Empire.  If only the powers that be, had sat down to a game of Risk or Diplomacy, how different the past 100 years history of the world might have been?  Looking at the continued carnage in the Middle East [roots of the problem certainly sewn during W.W.I] clearly nothing has been learned.

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Ozymandias

Who’d have thought in 1886 that the statue of  Liberty enlightening the World would come to have such an iconic status. Especially for Sci-fi.

I leaned right over to kiss your stony book
A little jealous of the ships with whom you flirt
A billion lovers with their cameras
Snap to look, and in my fantasy I sail beneath your skirt

Statue Of Liberty. XTC. 1978

day_after_tomorrow_final

The Day After Tomorrow, 2004

statue

Planet of the Apes, 1968

She is nought but a contemporary potential Ozymandias?

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

There is something very interesting to note about the images above if you look carefully. Apparently even Bartholdi was initially uncertain of what to place in Liberty’s left hand before he settled on a tabula ansata. If only one could revisit pre-1916, one would be able to go all the way up to the torch balcony [closed since].

Looking at digital flood map protections makes fascinating reading. But they are in general not very sophisticated. Just because a landscape is X metres below sea level does not in itself mean this area would become flooded [depending on the water table and ground conditions] if water levels rose. The low lying areas would need to be connected, for water to flow from one area to another [and with no flood defences].

Much more likely that a future Earth would become drowned in sand than water.

antediluvian

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Of course no sooner did I blog yesterday then the skies opened up with torrential rain. Long time the end of the world scenario of man’s demise.

Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 1

When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Of course the sea rise levels needed for most of these tales [apart from temporary tsunami events] are not believable/possible. Apparently if ALL the ice/snow etc melted on the entire planet, sea levels would only rise about 75 metres. Certainly not enough to top Mt Everest let alone to submerge even the tallest of skyscrapers. So as long as you settle somewhere just above that altitude then your descendants at worst will enjoy a beach side property.

Waterworld [1995] not possible, AI [2001] just about feasible in extremis; though they make visually striking metaphors.

AI, 2001

AI, 2001

Drowned

Middle of the day and I can hear the delicate sound of thunder outside; the weather has been unsettled for a week, with temperatures hitting 30. water-saving-awareness-campaign-bench I found this great advert for using water wisely. In the 21st century it will become as precious as gold [that and oxygen perhaps]. Amazing how we take such a resource for granted. I guess history is easy to forget when you don’t feel you are living in it? By which I mean, everyone’s day to day needs [not arguably for most, out of absolute necessity] create a short-sighted ‘in the moment’ style of being/behaving. The proverbial Easter Island problem. Taking rungs from beneath you in the ladder to make the rungs above?

I noted this lovely illustrated edition of Ballard’s Drowned World recently. With the now soon to be ‘fake’ replacement chimneys of Battersea Power Station. Another iconic landmark due for a contemporary makeover retrofit.

JAMES BOSWELL

JAMES BOSWELL

ready reckoner

I have found myself in the last week collecting several old dictionaries.

  • Webster’s new school and office dictionary and atlas, 1946
  • Oldham’s Concise English Dictionary [1940s?]
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1971 but with thumb index pages
  • Pitman’s English and Shorthand Dictionary [1950s?]

I will look at old atlases next. I love all kinds of old reference books, especially maths, science, biology, with illustrational drawings.

Interesting to see artists using old dictionaries as the ground for illustrations themselves based on illustrations from old dictionaries.

camera

tome

Strangely, whilst I can think of quite a few movies about writers/their books/narratives coming to life, I can only think of three that are actually about books in their own physical self, The Name of the Rose, The Ninth Gate and FAHRENHEIT 451.

The 9th Gate

The 9th Gate

Arguably also The Book of Eli but for most of the film it seems little more than a McGuffin. Of the four films mentioned only Ninth Gate feels to be really, primarily about books, without too much other distraction.

solitude

I rarely [if ever] seek to know anything about the personal lives of artists or authors. One is always afraid that their masterworks will turn out to be nought but thinly disguised autobiography. I have never believed the, to my mind, daft commonplace interpretation of the quote by Mark Twain, “Write what you know.” Strikes me as both lazy and apt to lead to rather boring output?

I have to say though that I was intrigued by learning that Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, whilst not in utter isolation [apparently he was unable to look after himself], in the seclusion of  the island of Jura.

Books and desert islands as it were. There be treasure.

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