Saturday 12 April 2008

two links for my more cultured readers.
Mark Liberman at the Language Log investigates the history of Dr Syntax.

Syntax was a satirical character who enjoyed some fame between 1807 and 1820, thanks in large to the excellent aquatints by the great Thomas Rowlandson. He was a lampoon upon one Dr Gilpin whose fahionable principles of the picturesque were joshed by Jane Austin in Nothanger Abbey (two lovely paragraphs quoted).
(link via drjon)
Stephin Merritt from The Magnetic Fields plays songs from the band's new album, Distortion, and talks about his music.

"I want to be an artist's model,
an odalisque au naturel,
I should be good at spin the bottle,
while I've still got something left to sell."
The best song writer of our times, if you ask me.
(link via Hayley Campbell)
And one that is an oft visited subject here at Campbell blogspot, Courtroom Sketch Artists.
"Is courtroom sketching a full time job? Are these people fine artists or commercial artists? And what kind of artwork do they do outside the courtroom? I decided to contact a range of courtroom sketch artists and see what I could find out."

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Friday 11 April 2008

in the neighbourhood of my computer:

In response to yesterday's post, John Coulthart linked me to this essay by M Kingsley:

John Berger built upon the work of Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes while describing the collision of advertising and news images in popular media. " The contrast between publicity's interpretation of the world and the world's actual condition is a very stark one, and this sometimes becomes evident in the color magazines which deal with news stories. The shock of such contrasts is considerable: not only because of the coexistence of the two worlds shown, but also because of the cynicism of the culture which shows them one above the other. It can be argued that the juxtaposition of images was not planned. Nevertheless the text, the photographs taken in Pakistan, the photographs taken for the advertisements, the editing of the magazine, the layout of the publicity, the printing of both, the fact that advertiser's pages and news pages cannot be co-ordinated — all these are produced by the same culture."

wee hayley campbell says the Findus 'Rock'n'rolls ads from 1992 starring Spinal Tap mustn't have appeared in Blighty as she can't find anybody who remembers them. There were at least two, well loved in this house.


Apatoff on Edgar Degas He has a couple of late landscapes I don't recall seeing before.

In today's 'Ya made me larf' department, 'And a blind man shall ink them', being a comment on our dear bveloved Vinnie. Posted by the Fake Stan Lee.

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Thursday 10 April 2008

two facing pages from La Razon that caught my eye while I was in Granada, Spain in 2005. Does this gesture with one hand over the face and one over the groin have some significance? Or is the guy on the right, who is presumably advertising a skin or fitness clinic, inadvertently mocking the tragedy of the poor geezer on the left.

I have looked around for some info on hand gestures. The wikipedia page has a catalogue of information, but nothing that corresponds to the two guys in the paper. Somewhere else I see somebody writing a thesis on "Detection and Analytsis (sic) of Hand over face gestures," but otherwise I'm just a tourist.
Graffiti village name change plan- BBC - 9 April

Vandals keep changing the letter 'L' to a 'C' on the village's signs
Residents living in a graffiti-plagued village in Merseyside are being asked to consider changing its name to tackle vandals who alter signs in the village. Lunt, which dates back to Medieval times, has been repeatedly targeted by vandals who change the "L" to a "C".
(with photo)


Wednesday 9 April 2008

from my verandah (click to enlarge).

The fourth part of How Art made the World aired on the tv here last night. Having enjoyed previous offerings 1, 2, this time I had problems with the whole scheme. His subject was visual storytelling, one that I've had plenty of time to think about myself.

"When we watch a good film, something extraordinary happens. We become so involved with what's going on that we feel we are living the story ourselves. Where did the ingredients of visual storytelling come from?"
Spivey starts with the Gilgamesh carvings in Assyria. "The first story ever written" he says (how can he know?) in the same authoritative way he called the Riace bronzes "the finest statues ever made" (given the near thorough destruction of classical Greek statuary, who can have any grasp of what was 'made'?) On through the sculptures of the Odysseus story at Sperlonga ("It took the Greeks to come up with a visual storytelling style"), to Trajan's column in Rome.
"In the end, however, as impressive as the column may be, it's still missing something - it still lacks the power to captivate. But this missing piece can be found in the non-classical civilization of the Australian Aborigines, whose storytelling combines the visual, as well as music and singing. It is this soundtrack that provides the power for the Aboriginal story to have survived thousands of years, and which is so critical to the success of modern film's ability to transport us into other worlds."
Going from an ancient Roman emperor glorifying himself to the simple honesty of indigenous Australian sacred culture leaves enough of a sour taste, but by trying to make all of this into a unified story the point ends up being that the glory of the Hollywood movie owes its thanks to all these other folk providing the parts that go into its making. This is getting it upside down. The beauty of the Aboriginal culture of Arnhem Land that he investigates lies in the fact that all of its social custom and history and personal interrelationships and people's relation to the land are bound and maintained and celebrated and lived in the dance/music/painting ritual of the storytelling. This is on a different level from the sedentary watching of a DVD fantasy. As Sacheverall Sitwell wrote (in the 1940s) (quoted by my favorite diarist Walter James) "Compared to us, the Aboriginals are like muses crowned with flowers. They take part in their ceremonies. We merely sit and gape."

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Tuesday 8 April 2008

i'm making arrangements to meet up with Neil Gaiman when he's in Australia next month. It occurred to me that in the twenty years I've known Neil, the only time I can recall us being in a photo together is this one, and I'm only in it by accident because I'm asleep in the background. It was July 2005 and Neil arrived the day I'd just got back from San Diego.

that's wee hayley campbell at the front.
Termites feast on trader's money- BBC- 7 april

A trader in the Indian state of Bihar has lost his life savings after termites infesting his bank's safe deposit boxes ate them up. Dwarika Prasad had deposited currency notes and investment papers worth hundreds of thousands of rupees in a bank safe in the state capital Patna. The bank says it put up a notice warning customers of the termites.
(link thanks to abovementioned wee hayley)
our pal drjon interviews Shaun Tan for the new Comic Journal You can read part of it here.


Monday 7 April 2008

clearing up my shelves I came across this sketch I made on a beach a couple of years ago, of a girl who was standing on a rock at the water's edge. Ballpoint is my sketching tool of choice. The ink runs out at approximately the same speed as my eye uploads, and you can go light tentatively and then darker decisively. After the first sketch I realised the subject should have been the way the intense sunlight was falling vertically on the figure and quickly did a second one.


At Electronista ('gadgets for geeks'): Latest Blu-ray copy protection cracked

The latest effort at blocking unofficial copying of Blu-ray movies has been undone, the developers of a cracking utility claim. Any DVD adds the ability to bypass BD+ encoding, used on a number of discs to prevent either direct copying, or ripping to a hard drive. This change is said to particularly affect releases from 20th Century Fox, who have led the adoption of BD+, while other companies continue with variants of AACS... etc etc bla bla bla
The author of the above has chosen the From Hell DVD to illustrate his article. (link thanks to my pal Chalky White)


Sunday 6 April 2008

Charlton Heston Dead

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Charlton Heston, who won the 1959 best actor Oscar as the chariot-racing "Ben-Hur" and portrayed Moses, Michelangelo, El Cid and other heroic figures in movie epics of the '50s and '60s, has died. He was 84.
NEW YORK TIMES: Charlton Heston, who appeared in some 100 films in his 60-year acting career but who is remembered chiefly for his monumental, jut-jawed portrayals of Moses, Ben-Hur and Michelangelo, died Saturday night at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 83
update; the NY Times issued a correction.