New Club
Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sign

Sign 2

 

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Up Against It
Saturday, 29 November 2008

Recoiling from time to time Nick Cave gets tiny electric shocks from the microphone during the set, stepping back from it, in something between alarm and irritation. I'm getting these tiny shocks he says vaguely, almost, but not quite asking for technical assistance. After a later shock he looks concerned for a moment and then makes a joke out of it "Please" he says "Please don't let me die in Sheffield". It seems a reasonable request and it's one that he goes back to a few times during the night which is otherwise all deserts and moons and melting snow, and rain and beautiful girls and guns of course and bad towns and bad men and blood and fire, and eyes and rage and knives. No one wants him to die. The crowd are too happy with him caught in a boiling torment of lust and doubt and need to want him dead, they are too happy with him caught in melancholic near-suicide mode, they are too happy with him bent double self-tortured and writhing in a sweating, howling, yelling rage of incomprehensible confusion and guilt to ever want him dead. But mostly they want him living so that he can kill. Stagger Lee is what they want to hear. Again and again. Stagger Lee, Stagger Lee. Those are the cries between songs. Stagger Lee. They want him coming out of the darkness and into town, and they want him not dead but murdering,  blood and brains and the rest of it all over the walls and floor, red right hand, but mostly Stagger Lee. And in the end they get what they want.

*

On the floor in the window of the toy shop at St Pancras Station a gaggle of battery operated toys have walked themselves into a corner. The fluffy pig is down there, nose pressed right into the angle, head actioned in a relentless twisting, a frenzied side to side, like he's digging for something caught there between the glass frontage and the wall, his feet propelling him forward, the glass wall holding him forever in place. Forever or until the batteries wear down. Behind this stuck pig, a soldier thing marches back and forth and a few other creatures amble the neighborhood, heading here and there, purposeless, mildly pathetic, and for the most part forgotten. One of them, a duck perhaps, or chicken, is tangled somehow in the lower wire framework of a postcard stand, another (the clown perhaps or the puppy) trails an accidental ribbon of sellotape, gummed with dust and human hair, like an amateur street sweeper. Best of all though is the giraffe, who, at a lanky ten inches tall, has walked himself to the window and is gazing, staring straight ahead, big eyes fixed on the feet passing by, and on the stretch of marble veldt that extends beyond his prison. For motion he has two modes, a pointless side to side juddering jig (net effect = zero), which alternates with a stepping-forwards-with-intent that culminates with a kind of head butting jerk motion. It's the latter that makes him the star of the show. He's right against the glass and every headbutt forwards is directly into the window, bang, pull back, bang,  as if, with the cute face and wide eyes he is trying to hammer his way out, or destroy his good looks, or somehow get the kind of psychiatric attention that is no doubt his due. Giraffe's face though is a total blank, the action, calm, repeated, like one hard-man trying to prove to another that he has no feelings whatesoever, nutting the glass repeatedly - bang, pull back, bang, pull back, bang - the whole thing done with that kind of numb expressionless conveyer-belted animatronic anger you expect from caged animals and humans without hope, a numb rage that suits the context and goes largely un-noticed.

*

Elsewhere.

On a large blue billboard The College of Christ the Redemeer advertises its courses in Theology, Computer Technology, Business Studies and English Lessons.

Not far off in the South London rain a chalk-board slogan beckons you to the

Last ENGLISH run pub on Harper Road

Most of the lettering in white chalk, the word English capitalised in red.

Thanks. But no thanks.

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Two Fragments
Sunday, 23 November 2008

we are walking on the roofs, and he's talking us through the
footprint of the building from above,
the different areas, gesturing around, we're stood on a 3-d map.
Below that's the foyer… out there that way, that's the fly tower,
over there, right up the edge there that's the studio.
We step this way and that on the silver roof paint,
that part there, with the tiled roof, that's the original stage and auditorium, it's just fraction of the complex,
then we're on the move again, wary of the edges, stepping the low 'walls' which mark the boudaries of the separate buildings/extensions/additions to the structure below
look he says, that's the city wall, he's pointing out and down to the stone structure running off beneath us and away from the building, before it's sandwiched between two much more modern structures. We look out over the city trying to get a fix on location,
below us the warren of the spaces we've walked through - under stages and over them, through corridors, passages, second-foyers and studios, past offices and apparently random apparently windowless rooms, through construction spaces, ascending and descending to second balconies, third balconies etc - knots and unknots, tumbling in mental space, as it tries to match, settle or cohere with the plan view we have from up here but whichever way I picture it, whichever way I twist, stretch, bend or compress the model in my head, it seems unlikely that the space below our feet could ever contain the whole of what we saw.

*

later, in another city. Up there on the stage one of the dancers in the golden 60's mini dresses (it's the one with the beard) neglects to put down her bottle of beer as they traipse to the stage for the song, so that the section with the synchronised hand movements - the Supreme's Stop In The Name of Love - has only two outstretched hands to gesture the punctuation Stop!, and a third which seems to vaguely proffer a bottle.

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A Revamped Procedural Sky System
Thursday, 20 November 2008

"First we look to buy a nice house and car. Then we buy guns and other weapons. The rest of the money we use to relax."

Suddenly it's all Somali pirates all the time, all driving speedboats, all loading their machine guns and rocket launchers, all chewing the narcotic leaf qat and dreaming of ways out of the zone - here, here, here and everywhere else. Where is the amazing Kathy Acker when you need someone to mix this stuff up a bit?

*

Initially, the team created a procedural sky rendering approached based on algorithms -- which led to a totally unconvincing skybox that was clearly inferior to what a hand-authored skybox would be. "We considered it to be a total failure," he said.

He explained that a great deal of focus must be put on the tools that surround the algorithms, to allow the systems to be properly harnessed. In the end, the game shipped with a revamped procedural sky system that ended up much more effective than the first attempt. It takes into account myriad weather patterns, atmospheric conditions, and other variables.


Following earlier post on games testing here, and in general zone of The Broken World, the quote above comes from a nice piece here at Gamasutra on virtual world creation and how developers, like those of Far Cry 2, are increasingly minded to use what they call 'procedural content generation' to make spaces, environments and so on from sets of rules and more-or-less random variables. I still can't quite explain or understand why I find this kind of thing so totally fascinating. Link via Boing Boing.

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Night Vision
Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Owl

[picture by vlatka horvat]

Local newspapers carried the typical story of a factory owner who consorted with local witches so that he could transform into an owl to watch over his workforce from up amongst the rafters in his premises, how the spell had been successful and the various dealings and shenanigans he had uncovered from up there involving theft and misappropriation of goods, also how the spell was intermittent and how he had randomly transfrmed from time to time - becoming an owl at a dinner party and at a trip to see a supplier of some essential goods that he needed, to his great personal embarresment and causing probelms with his wife and certain business partners who made comments on his strange transformations and started rumours that he was in league with a devil. Also how he one day transformed back from a owl to a person again without intending to do do and how he was thence stuck up in the rafters, clinging there, naked and alone, weeping, according to a caretaker they interviewed on condition of anonymity, until he got rescued at dawn by some lads from the Maintenance Department on extendible ladders. And how, as time passed he became at war with the witches because of how the spell was so useless and caused so many problems in his work and private life and how he trade descriptioned them for the bad spell and how finally, frustrated with the legal process, he sought to kill them and hired some other witches (from another town) in the pursuance of that act.

*

The geography of the building makes even less sense with the lights on. As if the architecture was meant, somehow, to be navigated late night in confusion, by strobe or ultra violet light, in a state of drunken sway, or otherwise staggering. In blunt daylight, or under the flat vibration of brutal fluorescents, the vertiginous and counterintuitive twists and turns of the stairwells are awful confrontations, abstract puzzles remaindered from some nightmare and rendered in concrete, where at night, routed though its quite other logic, filled with sweat, din of sound, and intoxicated bodies the same passageways are soft spirals, secret routes that turn forever in, out and around your desire. "The space", he whispers, when you find him later "grows from the logic of the night".

*

the pastness of the past you know. what was and what isn't, what's gone.
and your turned back, the perfect symmetry of your arms, your self-absorption,
the blurring/ flattening of the colours thanks to the nightvision so that body and landscape begin to dissolve into each other..
the pool of light and clothes at your feet.
the indistinguishable background that looks like it could have other distant figures,
the sea that could be sky.

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