Too Many Ideas - the impworks Blog

Bronze Age Pocket Junk

April 13th, 2014

Back in November I posted about Pocket Litter as a way of getting a handle on characters for gaming and writing.  A New Scientist article put me on to the ice preserved remains of a man, known as Ötzi, from about 5,300 years ago were found in the Italian Alps in 1991 with many of his possessions.  These included: a diverse set of primitive clothes, tools, weapons, fire-makers, supplies and foul-weather gear suitable for his mixed roles of soldier, hunter, camper and explorer:

  • tinder fungus on a leather sting and flint and pyrite for making fires
  • lumps of birch polypore fungus on a leather string – these have antibiotic and antiparasitic properties and can stop bleeding
  • leather backpack
  • unfinished 1.8m longbow with an estimated effective range of 40m
  • a quiver containing
    • 14 arrows with viburnum and dogwood shafts
    • 2 arrows, which were broken, were tipped with flint and had fletching
    •  12 were unfinished and untipped
    • what is presumbed to be a bow string
    • unidentified tool which might have been used for sharpening arrow points
    • axe with a 10cm, pure copper head with a 60cm yew handle- suitable for chopping wood and as a weapon.  The head fixed to the using birch-tar and tight leather lashing into a crook in the handle
    • flint-bladed knife with an ash handle
    • scraper
    • drill
    • flint flakes
    • berries
    • two birch bark baskets

His clothing included:

  • well-worn, often-repaired goat-hide leggings
  • deerskin shoes with bearskin soles
  • stripy coat made from strips of goat hide
  • woven grass coat
  • loincloth
  • bearskin cap


Not Quite Wordless Wednesday 26

April 9th, 2014

Owl figure on Whitehouse building Waterloo

Owl figure on Whitehouse building Waterloo

Hello My Name is Paul Smith at the Design Museum

April 7th, 2014

The Paul Smith exhibition at the Design Museum has been running for a
while and will be on till June.  As retrospectives of the work of
designers go its good but the balance is a bit process heavy.

The entrance is through a minimalist reconstruction of Smith’s first
shop.  Following the exhibition round clockwise we pass a recreation
of part of Smith’s office, through an instillation of Smith talking
about his work, then a room about process, in to a space full of
Smith’s none fashion work, on to a display of some of Smith’s shops,
through an array of Smith’s fashion designs and in to a room where
screens show a film about putting on a fashion show.  In the middle of
this rotation a space is given over to display a huge number of
pictures Smith has collected or been sent.

The office and the room about process have the problem of all
recreated spaces – they can feel created rather than recreated.
Despite that they convey something essential about Smith’s process.
They succeed in avoiding turning process in to explaining how sausages
are made.  We get something of the rationale of his design process and
how important his wife is to his work.

The obvious danger would be that the space given to none fashion work
could have been unbalanced.  Its not.  Personally I’d have given more
space to the core of Smith’s work in fashion.  There is virtually
nothing in the exhibition before 2000.  It would have been nice to
have seen a space given over to the development of Smith’s style from
the ’70s to the presence. I’d have happily sacrificed the audio
installation and half the space given oven to pictures for that.

Overall a good exhibition although a little light on Smith’s core work.

Beautiful Science: Picturing Data, Inspiring Insight at the British Library

April 6th, 2014

This free exhibition at the British Library looks at the art and science of infographics.

Rather than taking a very broad approach, cherry picking a few examples from every branch of science it focuses on three main areas: health, biology and meteorology.  Each features both historically important examples and modern works.  John Snow’s On the Mode of Communication of Cholera and Notes on Matters, Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army by Florence Nightingale sit alongside modern interactive pieces on the impact of different responses to an outbreak of an infectious disease and an animation of the global ocean currents.

Well worth a visit if you’re in the area (especially handy if you have some time to use up before getting a train from St Pancras or Euston).  On till late May.

Is that a TARDIS in A Bird’s Eye View of the Bank of England

April 4th, 2014

If you take a look at Joseph Michael Gandy’s painting A Bird’s Eye View of the Bank of England (1830) there is a small blue box towards the bottom right hand corner.  Is it the TARDIS?  Is this a late April Fool by the BBC and Tate Britain?

Joseph Michael Gandy's A Bird's Eye View of the Bank of England (1830)

Joseph Michael Gandy’s A Bird’s Eye View of the Bank of England (1830)

Here’s a blow up of the corner.

A Bird's Eye View of the Bank of England TARDIS?

A Bird’s Eye View of the Bank of England TARDIS?

Sadly if you see the real picture up close at Ruin Lust its not a TARDIS but its a nice bit of fun to play with the idea that it could have been included by the artist after an encounter with the Doctor in the 1820s.  Maybe the Doctor prevented the destruction of the Bank of England.  Anyone spot a DALEK?

Nearly Wordless Wednesday 25: The Return

April 2nd, 2014

After a short break Nearly Wordless Wednesday Returns…

Accidental Photo - Building through Gate

Accidental Photo – Building through Gate

This shot was pretty much a happy accident – other than cropping it and changing to black and white. I’d left camera in a special mode I rarely use last year so after a 4 second delay it auto shot a dozen pictures. This is the only shot in focus and of anything I took while working out what I’d done.

Ruin Lust at Tate Britain

April 1st, 2014

Ruin Lust seemed like an interesting concept for an exhibition – a survey of art focusing on ruins.  It’s an interesting exhibition looking at ruins in painting, drawing and photography along with (to a lesser degree) film, sculpture and literature.  The variety of ruins featured runs from castles to abbeys to imagined vistas of destroyed London to bunkers to housing estates to a bizarre flight of three steps all alone in a field.  The variety of work on show is excellent.  While I don’t want to pick and choose from amongst the pieces I really like Joseph Michael Gandy’s A Bird’s Eye View of the Bank of England (1830).

Joseph Michael Gandy's A Bird's Eye View of the Bank of England (1830)

Joseph Michael Gandy’s A Bird’s Eye View of the Bank of England (1830)

I can’t help thinking that a tighter integration of the literary element alongside the art could have added interest.  It’s the reverse problem I have with British Library exhibitions where going past the words and in to broader art can liven up an exhibition.  Here a few well chosen quotes could give context to the art in a broader way.  Instead the main literary element is a film recording of actors reading from science fiction authors (1984 and beyond) which at 60 minutes long is a bit of a challenge to sit through at the end of an exhibition.  The other (maybe obvious) omission is any mention of archaeology and its associated art which has since Time Team made it cool been very much tied in with our view of ruins often so far gone as to be lost beneath the ground.

That said the exhibition does manage to cram quite a lot in while not leaving me exhausted as Tate’s Water Colour exhibition or the RA’s Bronze.    The rooms have reasonably clear themes and the presentation of the works is structured rather than just a random assembly of pictures or an arbitrarily enforced chronological survey.

It did suffer from a few of what I’ll call my usual grumbles about exhibitions.  The text for several pieces grouped together requiring a bit of simple detective work to identify which text goes with which picture.  The use of a rather small font that anyone without perfect eyesight will struggle with.  Putting the text for a work in a corner making it hard for more than one person to read at once.  Where there are video and audio pieces a simple indication of duration and some way of knowing if you’ve arrived half way through would be nice.

So if you’re interested in 200+ years of art of and about ruins Ruin Lust is worth a look.

Almost Wordless Wednesday 22

March 5th, 2014

Albert Dock Heavy Frost on Chain 2010

Albert Dock Heavy Frost on Chain 2010

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