Sunday, October 24th, 2010 | Author:
Under is used figuratively.

'Under' is used figuratively.

Art is often seen as an exclusive luxury, possibly even a pretentious foible not suited to the apparent ‘age of austerity’ or for mass consumption. As a designer and someone who is very interested in the creative arts I have often considered the higher end of art to be similar to fashion. That is regardless of content, technical skill or raw talent, Art is sold based upon a market driven (much like the stock market) by the purchasing trends of the elite and wealthy. With the right agent any pile of drivel can be sold to some toff for their pad in the city or second home in a housing starved village.

Having revelled in a (albeit now highly commercial) counter movement of real affordable art such as early Banksy (his art was free once) and other print, and modern/urban/pop/comic artists such as Miss Buggs, Hush and Lydia de Pedro; the idea of The Affordable Art Fair excited me when a friend invited me to come along, particularly as there were small print based galleries represented there as well.

It started well with some great graduate works (with a pretty hefty price tag) but at least they provided a degree of contemporary flair. So I worked my way through the Fair, unfortunately, with an ever increasing sense of anger and disappointment.

The first warning sign were the people. I would say the majority attending were sharp suited city types, pastel shirted company directors, tweed wearing part-time farmers and spoilt brats. Still I can cope with this, it’s the work I am here to see.

The next problem was the art itself. There were too many dull landscape paintings, lacklustre abstracts and some predictable pixel perfect still life paintings. Many of the galleries were also large high profile galleries not exactly the smaller more cottage industry type of businesses I was expecting.

The utter sin however was the price. £2990, £2999, £2700, £2650… for any half substantial work (although one was a box full of sticks and paper cut-outs which at least conjured some emotion in me, even if it was anger). This cynical use of the “Affordable Art” credential was overt, painful and frankly insulting. It was obvious that there was work there that hadn’t been sold in the main gallery and were paraded as bargain basement art for the well heeled, more than not, with the price just a smidgeon off the £3000 limit. Looking at one mediocre piece after another was painful but when I did stumble upon a couple of works I would buy, yep, you got it, £2900, and one of them was photography! Affordable Art, My Arse.

The best you could hope to get is some stamp sized work that would still set you back £300-£500 or some dull landscape or even more un-interesting street scene, touted and sold by, and to, old rich farts.

I would rather go to a small independent gallery and pay a fraction of the cost for some truly engaging, modern, contemporary, interesting art from unknowns than buy some of the monstrosities hanging in the “I Saw You Coming” fair.

There were, however, some notable exceptions, but the overall cost was too high and un-representative of real affordable art that is out there. The lip-service Emmins, Gormley and Hirst gave to the show were complete tripe and I’m surprised they were even allowed to submit work to an event apparently well below their collective astronomical artistic kudos.

Overall a depressing representation of the bauble buying tastes of the homogenous rich, and a stark contrast to the fast developing movement of affordable art you can find in any of your local small galleries or online direct from the artist.

As I left i couldn’t but help notice row after row of Mercedes, Porsches, and luxury cars all parked outside (Maybe it was the galleries owners parking), and just to compound this some flash slicker turns up in a Ferrari just as we are leaving. Is this really the target market for ‘Affordable Art’? Well at £3k for many of the pieces, quite evidently.

It’s a shame any casual first time Art buyer would most probably walk away feeling villified of their original steroetyping of Art as being the providence of the rich. The real crime however is that at the arse end of the exclusive Art market is incredible mediocraty. It would be better for for an art virgin to walk away with some emotion, even anger at some of the art rather than the malaise it would inevitably create in the casual visitor.

My advice is save the entry fee and put it towards supporting small galleries and youthful contemporary talent.

http://www.affordableartfair.co.uk/

A few galleries you should check if you want some great examples of young, fresh and affordable art.

http://www.jealousgallery.com/

http://www.artrepublic.com/

http://www.galleriagagliardi.com/en – (Not quite as cheap but some fantastic work).

Category: Art  | Tags: , , , ,  | Leave a Comment
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 | Author:
Waste of Space

Waste of Space

Simply put, how can we justify footballers, actors, and musicians being paid so much money?

Nurses,  Firemen, Military and the Police that have to deal daily with the most challenging and life threatening situations to make our lives safe and are paid a pittance while celebrities, actors, and footballers are paid in a week what these people earn in a year to prance around in their money fuelled hedonistic fantasy.

Imagine cutting out dead children from car pileups or treating violent alcoholics who thank you with a punch in the face or fighting for your life in a far away battle that most people disagree with only to be forgotten when you return.

It is blatantly obvious that this madness creates a distorted view of life that idealises the cultural celebs rather than the true heroes who are constantly trying to keep our country a safe place to live in. This failing is the responsibility of the mass who consume cultural trash which feeds the demand for this tripe produced in vacuous TV and magazines.

Solution  1
Grade all jobs by their relevance to the social, economic and political well being of the country and its danger for the individual in that job. Force highly paid useless jobs that are graded low on this scale to pay extremely high rates of National Insurance to support the very people who keep them safe every day.

Solution 2
Force all earners of over a million a year in useless jobs to do public service jobs for a certain period each year to instill a sense of social responsibility.

Solution 3
Take the mass population of consumers of fatuous publications and shit TV to Dartmoor and test experimental ordinance on them.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 | Author:

"Nice one Fred"

City bonuses represent a fundamental abuse and insult to the average citizen. How can people justify earning in one year what many of us could never earn in an entire lifetime? On top of these obscene payouts is the complete lack of accountability that means when an executive performs poorly they are usually given a healthy severance and usually they find another cushy position waiting for them after ruining lives sometimes on an unprecedented scale. This coupled with the fact that Bankers on the whole make money almost exclusively from exploiting the very poorest with outrageous interest rates and charges that push many people into a cycle of debt and effective slavery to the Banks  and its shareholders.

Suggestion  1

The New Scientist ran a fantastic article that restricted executive earnings related proportionately to the lowest paid members of staff. Whether this was x5, x10,  or x20 of the lowest wage this would still allow executives to earn what would be considered a very high wage without the obscene excesses that currently are available to fat cats. Of course I have simplified the idea here, but I think this kind of approach is fair. It would also be fair for legislation to be put in place to force companies to profit share to their employees limiting the obscene dividends paid out to company directors.

Suggestion 2

Cap interest rates for loans/credit cards and legislate to stop Banks constantly bombarding us with offers for loans and sending us endless credit card cheques that encourage people to become even more debt laden.


Suggestion 3

Sack them all, take away all their assets, and make them work in a Job Centre, any refusing to do this are slowly dropped into a vat consisting of all of their liquidised assets as cash which has been mulched into an appropriate pap that would eventually drown them.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 | Author:
Social Justice the only way.

"I think you'll find you have my money."

Whenever we hear in the news that another failed executive has just sacked half his workforce while paying himself an obscene bonus, or when we discover another politician embroiled in some kind of political corruption, we all spit with fury and, for a fleeting moment, we dream of storming parliament on PM’s question time with a Kalashnikov screaming “Die you motherfuckers”; hosing them all down, then setting off the 300 ton fertilizer bomb we planted under the foundations blowing all the fuckers and yourself sky high. This brief moment of nihilism, worthy of any fundamentalist’s praise, is a brief musing for most of us, sick of the continual lack of conscience within the elite in our society.

So I have decided to get together my little list of Social Injustice which represents many of the outrages that we all moan about but do very little to stop. Accompanying these I have a few suggestions and welcome anyone to add more suggestions or more cases of injustice that continue to annoy average Joes and fuel revolutionary dreams.

Monday, December 01st, 2008 | Author:

moon1

The Moon, Jupiter and Venus tonight converged in a wonderfully clear sky. Grabbing my camera I snapped a couple of pictures which do little justice to this wonderfully serene view. The light pollution from Brighton did a good job of blocking out much of the rest of the sky leaving an extremely clear view of this conjunction. Seeing three close stellar objects in a small window of the sky makes you really wonder about the skies on other planets. Just imagine the spectacular vistas there must be on the surface of far flung systems. Especially the more  active systems or highly compacted clusters and galaxies.

moon2

Our skies are pretty tame on the whole with stellar events of significance few and far between. This event even though insignificant held me in fascination; its a shame that only in my imagination could I conceive the jaw dropping and totally overwhelming vistas that must exist throughout the universe.

You can find some lovely images here.

Monday, November 24th, 2008 | Author:

In a recent interview with Martin Durkin in Front Page magazine I was shocked to see such an outrageous misrepresentation of Britain, the Welfare State and statistical bias so steeped with classism and bigotry that the only comparison I can draw is that of the BNP’s attitude to race and equality.

Martin Durkin starts to compare 1950’s Britain with 2008 Britain. The first and most poignant mistake in his diatribe:

In the 1950s, the typical working man and his wife In Britain lived in an income-tax free existence. They kept every penny they earned. For an unmarried teenager, there was no council flat (the ‘projects’ I think you call them), no rent rebate, no rate rebate, no housing benefit or anything else. The burden of looking after her and the child fell on her family, friends or charity.”

For some mothers the stigma of raising a ‘bastard’ child was so great that women suffered terribly attempting back room abortions, which often harmed the child and mother. Also, the social exclusion from the family could lead to terrible hardships with no support leading to greater poverty and abuses of the child and mother. Is this something we really want to go back to?

My father grew up in the 1950’s in extremely difficult circumstances. This was not the rosy picture Martin Durkin is trying to present. With no housing estates the slums were extremely basic, with no hot water, no inside toilet, carpets or in some cases, running water. The reality of post-war working class England was of an impoverished and extremely difficult existence. Both my grandparents worked hard to support the family as they had no choice. There was very little support if anything went wrong, which, considering the industry my grandfather worked in was a real risk. The working classes relied on each other because the State, the wealthy and the elite tended to ignore them as a ‘minority’. Yes, there may have been no income tax for the lowest paid, but the wages were pitiful anyway. While the poorest in the cities languished in slums the rural poverty was extreme with many fatherless families from the war struggling to farm effectively, often they were working simply to survive.

In the 50’s the abuses to children and mothers were not recorded with any accuracy, policing was extremely basic compared with modern practices with many domestic crimes ignored, and with many poverty stricken families literally having no opportunity to change their lives.

“The growth of welfare benefits has been huge since that time. And within that system a pregnant girl gets special treatment (top of the state housing list etc). The fear has gone. The old idea, “Don’t, for heaven’s sake, get pregnant. It would be a disaster” has gone. For many girls, getting pregnant is a ticket to get out of the parental home. This has been the subject of detailed studies. A ten percent increase in benefits, one of them finds, tends to increase the prevalence of single mothers by 17 percent. “

The growth of welfare benefits now protects vulnerable women, to assume that it is the main driving factor that creates single mothers is the single most damaging idea you could tout. There have been, and will always be single mothers/fathers. It is the nature of modern society where people have more choices rather than being controlled and dominated by families and attitudes that stigmatise and target them. By bringing back draconian attitudes you will only drive these people into greater hardship.

“The Welfare State, pioneered in Britain of course, has corrupted this country to its core. It has transformed the country caricatured by Noel Coward and others – essentially pretty decent, self-reliant, and plucky – into a country which is thuggish, selfish, mindless, dispirited and lost. Gone is the British stiff upper lip. Modern Britons are moaning, self-pitying inadequate. The welfare state has bred a generation of obnoxious, drug-addled criminals and ne’er-do-wells. It has also, incidentally, burdened what was once the world’s biggest, most dynamic economy with the dead weight of an obstructive and vastly expensive state machine.”

Firstly the Welfare State has acted as a safety net to provide the basics for the most impoverished people in the country, if you consider basic social justice as ‘corrupt’ then indeed you truly represent the classic, arrogant, elitism that has ground people into the dirt in the preceding centuries. National identity is a vast and complex area and to use Noel Cowards representations on national identity as the basis for your own ideals of the ‘British’ truly shows how utterly incredulous your argument is. Noel Coward was an elitist playboy who cavorted and lived like a hedonist while my Grandfather fought in second world war. How could you possibly use his vague national description as a stamp of identity for the British?

“Gone is the British stiff upper lip. Modern Britons are moaning, self-pitying inadequate.”

This is by far one of the most insulting statements about our nation I have ever read, particularly from a fellow countryman. Martin’s views quite evidently adhere to the cliché persona of the Victorian British identity that has been dead for nearly a century. The ‘stiff upper lip’ idiom, is vastly inadequate to describe modern British culture and life, it shocks me that such hyperbole can still be spouted from someone who has by all accounts been educated and lives a privileged life.

Modern Britons still face a vast gap in wealth and education between the rich and poor. For many the Welfare State has offered a chance to ‘even the odds’, and I know that when I claimed income support many years ago, it gave me the chance to enter College and University and vastly changed my life’s potential, something my grandparents never had. Without the support of the state and the Princes Trust my life would be vastly different. This is the same for the majority of people who have had to claim benefits, it is an essential lifeline.

It is with pride that I pay my tax knowing that even though a small portion will go to benefit thieves that the majority will help some poor bugger get off the street, or others to raise a family in a respectable way or enable someone else to go to college like I did. I, like the majority, understand this and are certainly not “moaning, self-pitying, inadequate” but are proud to contribute.

“It’s clear now that in removing economic necessity from people’s lives (which is what welfare does), we risk sinking into barbarism.”

Economic necessity is caused by financial inequality, and without a Welfare State the banks would completely dominate the most financially vulnerable. The rampant and out of control lending by Banks especially within the sub-prime market, is a direct example of this attempt to exploit the poorest. The moral collapse in society isn’t within the Welfare State or within the unemployed or the minds of the British but within the financial systems that have pushed many working families into poverty through pure greed. There again Martin I’m sure you personally don’t have to worry about that do you?

Thursday, June 12th, 2008 | Author:

For many years my PC/Playstation combo was a cornucopia of digital fun. When I wanted complex strategy I could go on the PC, if I wanted mindless arcade fun I would jump into the Playstation. Neither platform attempted to be the other and each held their own ground and so it was a perfect symbiotic relationship for me. I kept all my GTA playing to the PS2 and all my Strategy and FPS gaming on the PC, that was before my girlfriend bought me a XBOX as a birthday present. Now my gaming life is in confusion and I shall explain why.

The first thing is fairly simple and that is that many games for the XBOX are also on the PC. The choice in this case is very simple. If its an FPS go to the PC if it is a Strategy goto the PC if it is 3rd person or driving stick with the Xbox. Its a rule worth following if you have a decent PC.

This rule however is becoming more difficult to enforce and my choices are getting harder to make due to an alarming trend I have noticed on the XBOX. For example:

Battlefield:Bad Company

bf

for the XBOX is a strange beast. Based upon the popular Battlefield series it is like an alternate universe version of Battlefield 2. It has deformable/destructible environment which seems great, a few vehicles and 2 multiplayer modes as well as a pretty large mix of weaponry. But it feels ‘dumbed down’ a simpler approach with thicker physics, some semi-locking shooting, overpowered snipers, graphics look like someone made a pretty horrible cake but dressed it up very well. They look a little weird, sometimes great (when there is action) then pretty plain and dull (when nothing is going on). The helis feel like bricks, the landscape is quite a weird scale and doesn’t feel particularly large, its like a cartoon version. It is however still a very good game and on live with a team definitely more coordinated and tactical than BF2.

COD4

cod4

Another game that has got the dumb down features. Simply put on the console version there is no lean or prone position, which for me, is an essential part of the game. Sheer butchery to a fine (but overrated) game.

Civilisation Revolution

sid-meiers-civilization-revolution-2

Take CIV 4, create a smaller map, remove many of the features, add incredibly annoying avatars, simplify resource management and speed the game up. Civilisation Revolution another dumbed down PC game. One I think I may enjoy, again in secret.

Worms on the Xbox Live

worms

This has been the only game I have purchased on Live and what a disappointment. Most of the weapons from the PC game have disappeared. No level creation options, no start position options (massive flaw) or any options that really vary the game. The explosions, I think, do not look as good as my old Amiga Version and that was 13 years ago. This like many other games on the XBOX is another butchered version of a great game.

GTAIV

gtaiv

Yep, I had to do this game as well I’m afraid. One of the major reasons for getting the XBOX was GTAIV. So after completing the game and playing multi-player; is this a new bright future for this franchise? or a cerebral assault of pointless dumbing down? Well a little of both.

I can sum up GTA IV very quickly, it is a superb graphic engine. The cars look incredible, the peds look great, the action on the whole is very smooth. Dynamic damage on the cars is wonderful and their handling feels superb.

But, there is so much missing, so many little side missions, quirks, humour, creativity of missions, alternative things to do, no businesses, no little hidden things,  crazy stunts (yeah crazy not dull little ramps). By taking itself too seriously its also lost a lot of heart, and even though as a multi player I think its fantastic fun (apart from the appalling racism on live), the single player feels…. empty… and the narrative makes you feel empty as well with both endings being fairly depressing.

GTAIV like many other games coming out on consoles and particularly the XBOX are now trying to produce streamlined games. Games that are fast, easy to get back into, quick to reward and hold little punishment for failure. The amount of cut scenes on GTAIV makes me think that they want us to play an interactive film rather than play a truly dynamic game in an interesting gaming Universe. Sophistication is NOT in fashion, mass appeal (sales) and simplification seem to be order of the day on consoles leaving many console gamers feeling like they have been persistently patronised.

One last note, Battlefield and GTAIV have both ditched parachutes. I love parachutes and I’m not happy.

Category: Blog, Gaming  | Tags: , , , , , , ,  | Leave a Comment
Monday, May 19th, 2008 | Author:

green_es_cells I have been shocked by the backlash of ‘ethical’ and ‘religious’ pundits to the Hybrid Embryo research who’s fate is currently being determined in the House of Commons. Simply put, the research is to examine degenerative diseases and requires the combination of human and animal cells mixed within embryonic stem cells. These embryos will not become mature or allowed to develop within a long time frame. Much like stem cell research the embryos are no more than simple cells where the genetic changes can be closely examined to help fight diseases such as Motor Neurone Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s.

The general argument from the clergy and from ethical zealots is that we are ‘tampering with nature’. An example of many of these ill-informed opinions I think is summed up in this truly dangerous knee-jerk reaction from people such as Rebecca Bradbury from Exeter who says on BBC have your say:

This has just confirmed my fears…humans have become so arrogant that they are playing God. We have diseases for a reason; to stop the population becoming so large the earth can not sustain the numbers. I can not see any good reason why hybrid embryos are created in the first place, it is leaving the door open for the unscrupulous to exploit and potentially cause irrevocable damage to the human race. When are scientists and the government just going to leave nature alone?

This is a perfect example of the twisted mirror that the anti-science conservatist lobby adopts as an argument against scientific progress. So lets look at what Rebecca actually states:

1. Humans play god.

Now I’m not sure that Rebecca has quite grasped the idea that it is surely pure arrogance to assume that she knows these seemingly invisible barriers that mankind should not cross. What exactly determines when man becomes ‘arrogant’ or attempts to become what she considers ‘god’. She obviously knows the limit that we should not cross and this is it. Hardly an arrogant assumption is it?

2. Diseases for a Reason and Natural Balance

Diseases have no reason. They exist due to a number of environmental and genetic factors. The human race has successfully rid ourselves of a huge swathe of diseases over the last 100 years and we will continue to do so as long as people suffer with terrible afflictions.

The Earth with science is quite capable of supporting many more multitudes of people as long as we are careful not to ruin our habitat beyond a livable threshold. There is NO ‘natural balance’ in nature. Nature represents a constantly shifting, changing and developing system that may accommodate humanity or not. Science generally tips the balance in our favour and it is politics, money and greed that drive science into becoming a destructive force, not science itself. Maybe Rebecca would like to return to the more ‘natural’ Medieval period where peoples lives were incredibly short, hard and disease ridden?

3. No reason for research.

Often people who punt the ‘no reason’ argument have not informed themselves of the very research they are witch hunting. If Rebecca had bothered to read the papers she would realise that this research is to investigate whether particularly awful diseases can be cured. Simple. She even acknowledges this in her previous sentence.

4. Unscrupulous Use.

Now this is when the arguments against research become simply absurd. What do people think will happen, clones of hybrid humans and tigers roaming around killing people? Nazi style camps holding mutants that will need to be contained as the human race plummets into some zombie style survival episode? What exactly is this ‘damage’? Again another loaded sentence full of hyperbole.

5. Leave Nature Alone.

If we had adopted this idea we would never have developed civilisation or risen above our competitors to carve out our niche within what is an intensely hostile environment. Real survival which many of us do not have to face on a day to day basis is not a pleasant experience. Starvation, disease, short brutal lives with no justice system, no government, no sanitation, no food stocks, no culture and no survival. If we left nature alone this is exactly the world we would be living in, no future, no hope, no progress. The human race would indeed be short lived and Rebecca would not have the privilege to assault intelligent minds with such banality.

Thursday, May 15th, 2008 | Author:

Who is this lady? Nothing annoys me more than finding a good domain name that someone has purchased with the intention of either selling it on or doing absolutely nothing with it. Bulk domain name buying has been around since DNS was setup but what really irritates me is that there are millions of domains that sit doing absolutely nothing apart from supplying free adverts for the hosting company. I lost a domain I wasn’t concerned about recently only to see it instantly purchased and yep, a buy this domain page put on it. I have no intention of buying it back but I reckon it was purchased on the basis that I had forgotten to renew it and so the buyer was hoping I would desperately contact them to re-purchase or lease it back. Services such as MetaFusion.com are setup for bulk purchases of domains and users then try and sell or lease them on. A domain is only a small part of a successful online presence and certainly not worth the money some of these free-loaders try and charge.

I’ve seen many companies who have tried to trade domains go out of business pretty quickly as it relies on someone truly, desperately, needing that domain. Of course if you are trademarked you could make a claim for the domain but this is often an expensive and pointless exercise.

I suggest that if a web site does not have content, or its content is not relevant or is purposefully purely a pointless advert page that there should be a process to remove ownership and release the domain for a real use. This would certainly cut down on 90% of ‘Empty Home’ domains.

Thursday, January 17th, 2008 | Author:

razor Do you wet shave? Have you noticed how quickly you seem to get through your rather expensive razor blades. In fact, if you thought about the reason you have binned many a blade, you might have realised it wasn’t because it had become dulled, but more likely because hair had clogged up between the blades.

I have now realised that Men’s premium razor blades (whether double or triple or quad) do not have enough space between the blades to allow hair to freely fall through when washing them out. The space is so small that very quickly the blade is clogged and is thrown into the bin. Men may be a bit stupid this way, but women certainly are not and companies such as Gillette know it.

That’s why I suggest you use a venuswoman’s leg shaver for your chin. I currently use the Gillette Venus and it does a perfect job. You may even be able to see the distance between the blades is wider in these two images. The blade lasts for ages and I get a really good shave every time. Don’t be perturbed either by the fact that your razor isn’t the throbbing gristle power saw that swooshes around on the Gillette adverts. It might be powder pink or come in flowery packaging but you will never look back after the decent shave and blade lifecycle you get from a Venus.