It is 65 years since Buckminster Fuller patented the Dymaxion Map, designed to show, and only show, the whole earth. Fuller’s map forced less distortion than contemporary projections; it also, having no ‘right way up’, embodied his idea that the only directions in the universe were ‘in’ and ‘out’.
The plane of Google Maps has an up and a down; it also has an in and an out: the zoom between tile layers, the moment of transference, of refocussing and resolution. What if we could fold digital maps like the dymaxion, go truly into them?
Above is the Bullring in central Birmingham. Below is my local park and allotments in Stirchley.
At first these pictures look like gag cartoons (there’s a funny drawing, and then a caption that might provide a laugh) but on closer examination they reveal themselves to be a different animal. In a gag strip, the caption usually puts the image to a full stop — the joke has been released from the image, and so the image has been “used up” — disposable as the burnt rind of a firecracker. With some of Dean’s images, the caption can indeed provide a laugh, but the image, instead of coming to a full stop, begins to spool out in disquieting directions…
This one was picked out by Andrew Simone at Clusterflock (from whom, via) and it’s a nice example of this disquiet. At first it’s a sweet image of a young couple in love, but there’s something else lurking there, something unspoken, undrawn even.
Birmingham is not a coastal city. An Englishman’s blood tastes of lager and salt, but those that live in the shadow of the Bull Ring are landlocked; non-swimmers in a nation of mermaids. Even the city’s proudest claim is an open joke amongst its residents: “more canals than Venice,” we say with a grim smile, knowing the difference between the breathtaking tragic romance of Venice and our banal doom but leaving it unsaid like a shopping trolley sinking beneath the water’s surface.
The still brown water of the canals is metaphorically a million miles from the sea, but Birmingham is only 100 miles away from the nearest beach. The irony from our disconnect to the sea is that in anywhere else in the world Birmingham would be considered ’coastal’. Australians talk about driving four hours to get to the beach like it was popping to the outdoor for ten fags, and Americans that live in the mountains own jet skis.
Those from Birmingham are perfectly placed to write about an ephemeral British seaside because that’s what the seaside is to them: a ghost, a Vaseline-smeared Shangri-La cobbled together from Carry On films, hazy childhood memories and nostalgia for a bygone era.
Nice to see the incredible amount of coverage Home of Metal has been getting is trickling down to the Supersonic Festival mothership with this nice spotlight in the Guardian’s “Pop music’s mavericks” feature.
Like many great events, Supersonic came about by not so much ignoring the rules as not knowing them. Meyer and a friend had enjoyed small-scale all-dayers in Leeds and Nottingham, and wondered if they could host a much bigger version. So they started emailing their favourite bands, using the computer at an arts centre. “We didn’t know what we were doing,” Meyer says. “We’d get really excited if we went back the following week and someone had actually replied.” Perhaps intrigued by how innocent enthusiasm bypassed accepted channels, people did reply.
The art of layering multiple recordings of one person’s voice is probably as old as the multi-track tape recorder, and was certainly being done in the 1960s, but the art of coupling this with video recordings of the person making those sounds as they are being made is a relatively new thing, I think, and has become something of an online video phenomena.
I like these because they’re one of those “YouTube artforms” that don’t really work as well outside of that context. It’s also a nice mix of analogue – there are frequently no instruments involved at all – and digital, using technology to defeat the limitations of time and create a choir.
There’s lots of chatter about “digital” agendas in the arts at the moment with, from what I can see, very little clarity as to what that really means. I think something like this might be a clue.
I haven’t read this yet so caveat emptor, though I can be pretty sure it’s worth it. I’m posting pre-read because it’s apparently “online in its entirety for a limited time” before being locked away in the print version of Bomb magazine. via J Couthart.