Blog January 2006 - AndyPryke.com
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Tue 31 Jan 2006

Ikon Gallery

I'm not so into 2D art, and only a couple of the photos at the Ikon's opening stood out to me. What was most interesting was a video of Candadians rioting. I didn't know Canadians rioted. As far as I was aware, and informed by Micheal Moore's film Bowling for Columbine, Canada is a place of unique peace and harmony. But here they were, Candadians, rioting. Wearing clothes from the 80's I think, lots of stone washed demin), but rioting. And, most bizarely, rioting over hockey! Here is a side of Canada we haven't seen before. Having said that, it's not an amusing film. A series of short scenes, looking less like news footage than like they were taken by an activist, show some people enjoying the riot, but others being beaten or shot in the face with tear gas. One or two scenes are quite painful in empathy.

Religious Hatred Bill

The House of Commons has stood up to the Government and kept the Lords amendments to the religious hatred bill. These make it harder to prosecute people, but still not impossible. Myself, I'd rather no bill had been passed at all. I think it's a perfectly good thing to hate some people, and to incite others to hate. For example, should it be illegal to incite hated of murderers? What if someone claims that they murder because god told them to, or starts a cult which considers murder a religious duty? Does that then give them protection from others expressing their views?

The full parliamentary debate on the religious hatred bill can be read here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmtoday/cmdebate/06.htm#hddr_3 but here's some key samples...

Paul Goggins speaking for the Government said their intent was to pass a bill allowing the prosecution when "an individual must have the intention of stirring up hatred, or stir up hatred by acting recklessly through their behaviour or use of words". He contended that the "reckless" clause meant that people could not be caught accidentally.

Mr. Robert Marshall-Andrews stated "The example was given of the following statement: “Mohammed’s marriage to a six-year-old was immoral, and a call for the right to marry children is to be condemned as immoral.” How could such a statement not be caught by the recklessness test, given that the person saying it must perceive that their comments are at least likely to stir up religious hatred?"

Paul Goggins: "I make the point to my hon. and learned Friend that the precise context in which those words are uttered is the key determinant of whether or not an offence would be committed. Clearly, the same words may be used by different people in different contexts. In one case they may amount to an offence being committed, whereas in another they do not."

Now to me, this seems terrible - sometimes it will be illegal (with up to seven years in prison) to say X and other times not. This kind of randomness in restricting freedom of speech is bizare and frightening.

Paul Goggins: "I should make it clear that actual evidence that hatred had been stirred up is not required for the offence to be made out."

So no evidence of any effect in the world is needed.

Paul Goggins: "Someone who was intent on stirring up hatred could use a quotation from the Koran or the Bible. In that case, the words could be caught. However, if they were used as an expression of faith or as part of a debate about faith, they would not."

Again, randomness in application.

Mr. Grieve: Many people are worried, and the Bill’s opaque nature is one of the things that worry them most. I will come on to that in a moment, but the fact that the Minister has to say that he will issue guidance highlights the fact that this is catch-all legislation. He is saying, “You need not worry too much about that because the Attorney-General and the prosecutors will ensure that only those cases that need prosecuting are prosecuted.” However, that leads to a terrible chilling factor among those who wish to express their opinions, whether it be comedians who do not know the limit to which they can go, or those who wish to preach their own beliefs and at the same time, inevitably, to criticise the beliefs of others. They do not know at what point their actions can translate into the reckless insult of another, at which point they will be prosecuted and condemned. That is the nub of the matter.

Nice point, Mr Grieve. Now for a bit a light relief from the House of Commons "Chorus"...

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): Will my hon. Friend consider a slightly different angle on the problems that the Bill is likely to create? If a group of people following a particular form of undesirable activity set themselves up as a cult or religion, could they not use the Bill to claim protection from criticism? It is gradually dawning on moderate Muslims just how restrictive the Bill could be. For instance, a group or people with bizarre sexual preferences might say that those practices were part of their religion. [HON. MEMBERS: “Like the Liberal Democrats.”] I was not referring to the Liberal Democrats. Could someone criticise that group of people without falling into the trap that the Government are blunderingly setting out for the House?

Mr. Grieve: My hon. Friend makes a good point. Earlier in the Bill’s passage through the House, we debated the real possibility that people of extreme political views could claim that their views were part of their articles of faith. In that event, they could use that to prevent criticism of their beliefs. I am aware that the definition of religion can be brought before a court, but religions can be created quite easily. They are not confined to the principal, monotheistic faiths.

Well... there's so much good stuff I think you can read the rest in Hasard!

Sun 29 Jan 2006

Dodgy Pubs Recalled

I remembered that I hadn't linked to Ben's excellent write up of our "Dodgy Pubs Pub Crawl" back on the 6th of January.

Sat 28 Jan 2006

Ex-Cathedra at The Oratory

Although I've often seen their flyers, I've never seen/heard Ex-Cathedra in the flesh/voice so to speak. They gave an excellent performance, quite transporting. The volume they acheived was impressive too! - http://www.ex-cathedra.org/

The performance took place in the Birmingham Oratory, quite a splendid church on the Hagley road. It only dates from the begining of the 20th century. You can see some pictures here: http://www.birmingham-oratory.org.uk/

Fri 27 Jan 2006

Return of The Wriggler

Yesterday: Stan's Cafe play at the MAC set in a future world without electricity. A complex and funny set of interweaving tales involving 87 characters, constructed from interviews with people linked to the (now closed) Rover car plant at Longbridge in Birmingham. Given the sheer volume of names, I initially didn't try and track them, but found that by the end of the play, I'd formed quite clear pictures of many of them. It was quite poignent, seeing these lives laid out in front of us. All the lighting was done using electricty generated on stage, using exercise bikes and a giant hand-driven wheel. At one point a bulb went, and the cast went straight into their assembley line characters, and tried to fix it. The play concluded with a wonderful, time-travelling, myth, which if I can drag it out of my brain at a later date, I'll put here. Posted on the move at 13:49

Tue 24th Jan 2006

Upcoming "Lighting Festival" In Digbeth

OK, they're calling it "Eastside" rather than Digbeth, but we all know what they mean smile

It's running from the 10th to 26th of Feb, with 6 outdoor lighting installations and some guided tours. More details: http://makeashorterlink.com/?Y3752368C

Opera Mini

Just downloaded Opera Mini onto my mobile phone (nothing too fancy, a K700i) and it's great. I can browse the web really well, and even access my gmail account. It's transformed my phone!

Looking at a BBC news story, with toolbars off and the small font, I get around 18 lines of 37 characters, as opposed to 8 lines of 21 characters in the built in browser - somehow it's clearer too. The built in browser uses a fixed width font and wastes half the screen space on toolbars.

Download now by pointing your phone at mini.opera.com It's around a 100kb download, and should work on most phones with Java.

One set up glitch, though. My standard O2 settings didn't work:

APN:wap.o2.co.uk
username:o2wap
password: password (I think)
password request: off
Allow calls: Automatic
IP address: ...
DNS address: ...
Authentication: Normal, None
Data Compression: off
Header Compr: off

Instead I needed to use some I took from a web-page:

APN:mobile.o2.co.uk
username:mobileweb
password: password (I think)
password request: off
Allow calls: Automatic
IP address: ...
DNS address: ...
Authentication: Normal
Data Compression: off
Header Compr: off

Sun 22nd Jan 2006

Channel Three - Electric Cinema

More shorts, including Rabbit again (see Thursday) - which I was looking forward to and it didn't disapoint 2nd time around. Also a weird exercise video featuring a woman in a neck brace and Murder She Wrote star Angela Lansbury. Too many to remember I'm afraid, but a great finale to the festival for me.

Kodachrome Wake - Sunflower Lounge

This was a wake for a film stock. An unusual occasion by anyone's standard. It was an "open casket" ceremony, with a coffin and candles as shown below.



The films were varied, and included one I've seen before by Filmficciones featuring the music of Pram remixed by Plone - one of my favourite tracks. We also got to see local films, including a strangely tame balloon. As I left (to the Electric), we were moving on to a set from the U.S. currated by Vladimir, who's 3D Viewmaster experience (Fri) I missed but I heard plenty of positive comments about.

An Afternoon with Henry Jacobs - Electric Cinema

Henry himself couldn't be with us - he's in his 80's and seems to be living it up in California! What we did get was a specially filmed interview and all 3 of his groundbreaking "The Fine Art of Goofing Off" (with Bob McClay and Chris Koch). As a bonus, we also had specially selected tracks put together by Grandmaster Gareth and Tom (aka Erotic Volvo) from Misty's Big Adventure.

Henry seems to have been influenced by a kind of zen philosophy, and the 3rd (I think) FAOGO dealt with time. Things I remember include: some great spoof public information films encouraging people to "compete, not co-operate" and "do more overtime" - it's the American way smile ; An interview with Shorty Petterstein, a really wild jazz musician; and some wonderful cut-ups.

It's hard to describe, but it was warm, funny, insightful, and it amazes me that it was actually shown on TV! I'm getting the DVD.

Sat 21st Jan 2006

Haru and Between the Tides - Flatpack Festival

Between the Tides is a wonderfully technicolor film showing the various plants, animals and birds which inhabit the British seashore. Narrated in a beautifully deadpan way, like a proper public information film.

Haru details 25 years of a couple spending their summers alone on a small Finnish island. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that they are ageing and that one of these summers will be the last. Nicely narrated and shot on home cinecam.

Modulate Installation - Flatpack Festival

Wandered down to Decoy at Green St for the installation by Modulate - nice eclectic music and blue lights suspended in round glass shades. It was quite light when I arrived, and there's a glass ceiling, and I'm sure that the visual impact will change over time as it gets darker outside.

Fri 20th Jan 2006

StrangeTime

At the ActressAndBishop, supported by Dedd Zebra and The Disciples Of Tone. The StrangeTime blog is at http://strangetimeblog.blogspot.com/

Posted on the move at 13:18



Charade Launch

Charade ( www.charade.org.uk ) is an art project in which members of the public are asked to memorise a particular book, or film, or song, in the manner of the Farenheit 451. In the book/film F451, books are outlawed and firemen employed to hunt them down and destroy them. In order to keep the books alive, the Book People commit a particular book (or just a chapter) to memory.

  • TheBookPeople.amr: The Book People - Clip from Fahrenheit 451 (Best Quality, requires Quicktime or other amr codec)
  • TheBookPeople.mp3: The Book People - Clip from Fahrenheit 451

I'll be learning the BBC Radio commentary on naval review by Lt Cmdr Tommy Woodroffe from 1937. My guess is that the good lieutenant commander was a little nervous before his broadcast and had one or two drinks to stiffen his nerve. Or maybe it was five or six drinks. He's meant to be commenting on the royal naval review, which seems to consist of a large number of ships with lights on, plus some fireworks. He finds it hard work, but actually says some quite lovely things in his inarticulacy.

You can hear the piece in either real-audio or mp3 format. Both seem to cut off at the same point, but I'm not sure that's the actual end of the broadcast.

There's also a transcript here, but I think I'll produce my own.

My Spelling

How come I can perfectly easily spell "inarticulacy" or "honorarium" but can't spell recommend or other simpler words? One theory is that they just passed me by due to my high reading speed. I'm also not particularly good at spotting double letters, which could reflect a kind of vision related dyslexia. For example, if I type "illlusion", particularly in a small font, I find it hard to count the l's. Hmmm... maybe I should add a spell-checker plug-in to the site.

Thu 19 Jan 2006

It's Started...

...the hippest thing to hit Brum in a long while - the Flatpack Festival! A kind of 7" cinema on steroids, Flatpack brings its eclectic collection of weird, wonderful, fun and inspiring short films to the Rainbow, SunflowerLounge, the Electric Cinema and MAC until Sunday.

Flatpack launched today at the Rainbow with a great selection of films, multiple sets by those fantabulous Sugarfoot Stomp girls and a live laptop set - what more could you want? What extra you got was reasonably priced drinks, a late bar plus some of the nicest people in Brum all gathered together.

The film highlight for me was a story about two children who find a living idol inside a rabbit, who then proceeds to work miracles for them. Each item in the story: the rabit, the idol, the bread, the knife etc. had the word floating next to it as in a children's "learn to read" book. It gave a charming naivety to the film. You can see a clip at http://www.runwrake.com/recent_work/work/rabbit/index.html There's also a very full storyboard at http://www.animateonline.org/films/rabbit/all.html , though this will spoil the suprise of seeing the film itself.

We also had a train journey - from London to Birmingham Snow Hill in 5 minutes or so. Strangely, the train appeared to be driven by a man in a milkman's uniform!

A film I'd seen as an installation at the Creative Alliance show at the Mailbox in November was also well received - a series of dancing silhouttes either in sticker or badge form, animated to show the motion.

Tue 17 Jan 2006

Light Installation at Glynn Vivian, Swansea

Visiting Swansea for a couple of days, I popped in to the Glynn Vivian gallery on the recommendation of a friend and found a wonderful exhibition by local artist Simon Fenoulhet.

Coloured drawing pins, with a projected square of light, arranged to form patterns reminiscent of an electron micrograph of a spherical pollen grain or diatom, or maybe a computer generated fractal.

Ping pong balls lit from within form little red lights suspended in darkness. As my eyes dark adjust, the darkness fades, amd a pattern in each light is revealed. A texture. A shifting, ephemeral texture. Not on the surface of the balls, but somehow suspended in front of them. A pattern of tiny lighter and darker dots, which dance as you move your head. Imagine looking through holes at a brick wall. As you move your head, the pattern of bricks moves. You can tell that the texture is behind the holes, and that they're not just paintings of holes. This is the same, except the texture seems closer to you than the objects which possess it.

Sticks of light covering a circular shape on the floor. All angled and pointing in about the same direction. This provides a very strange visual effect, in which the sacades of one's eye movements become clearly visible. That is, as you look around the piece, it seems to jump (as your eye actually does) rather than move smoothly (which your brain normally fools you into seeing). My guess is that this effect is due to the fatiguing of the line detection neurons for particular angles. When you look at a different place in the piece, the unfatigued neurons fire much more strongly and the change is clearly visible.

Thu 12 Jan 2006

Talk at the Ikon Gallery

Very nice talk at the Ikon Gallery, with artists Alan Smith and Savage. Alan's work is currently on show at the Ikon, and I wrote about it at the (Ikon Opening in December). It basically involves a sum of money, invested, to which it's own interest it added, and added, and added, making it grow exponentially. Eventually, this sum will "eat up" all the money in the world.

Savage has had a lot of (mostly negative, tabloid) publicity for his work "Stolen White Goods" inspired in part by Ceal Floyer's receipt listing only white items (bought at a supermarket in Moseley).

They're both talking about how consumerism works, what is money, what is art, capitalism and capital etc. and (with the other two speakers) gave a very warm and interesting presentation.

In Our Time

Melvin Bragg's Radio 4 programme "In Our Time" was on prime numbers today, it's great to see the breadth of topics and depth of coverage he gives.

One thing he didn't mention was this rhyme describing "The Sieve of Eratosthenes", a way to find prime numbers. I think my grandfather taught it to me:

Cross out the two's
Cross out the three's
The sieve of Eratosthenes
Follow this method quite sublime
The numbers which remain are prime

Tuesday 10th January

We're Still Here

Custard factory gallery. Exhibition of mainly drawings from recently graduated, mostly Birmingham based artists and illustrators. Lots of different work, and of high quality. There is also a video piece with illustrations of songs written b y a man with memory problems, and an installation piece in a dark space with uv light though i only got a glance at this. Great to see people putting in the ef fort to put all this local contemporary work on show. The show finishes on the 2 0th.

Sat 7th Jan 2005

Fraggle Rock Songs

This site has a great collection of Fraggle Rock songs - http://www.gosdin.net/rebound/fraggle/rockin.htm Up till now, I only had the theme tune, but it looks like I'd better get downloading.

One Tape Challenge

The One Tape Challenge is series of short films done for BBC Birmingham by an ozzie journalist. All the footage is shot continuously on a one hour tape.

He's been on the wheel, to the outdoor ice-rink and also videoed the first impressions of Birmingham. He's even dressed up as a panda, to celebrate Babu, the panda who won Brummie of the Year ( http://www.birminghamitsnotshit.co.uk/awards05/ )

You can see the films at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/birmingham/content/articles/2005/12/13/btv_one_tape_challenge_feature.shtml

Thu 5th Jan 2005

Google via Text Messages

Google has a service I've not explored before, the ability to use it via text messages. As I've just moved to a contract with 1000 SMS a month, I might well make use of it. It's kind of gimicky, but you can test it out (in the UK) by sending a text like "g Andy Pryke" to phone number 64664 (think "o Goog" ) to check it out. You can get upto 4 SMS back.

You can also checkout an online demo at: http://www.google.co.uk/sms/ (or http://www.google.com/sms/ for US users).

The service will also translate e.g. "t how much is the cow with large brown spots to french" gives me "Google Translation: 'how much is the cow with large brown spots' in English means 'combien coute la vache avec de grandes taches brunes' in French."

Wed 4th Jan 2005

Personality Tests

Heard an interesting program on "the big five theory" of personality on radio 4. I've done these several times on training courses and for job interviews, and it was interesting to get some insight into how they are interpreted.

I also found a relatively short online test ( http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/j/5/j5j/IPIP/ ) which gives you the results in the terms of percentiles e.g. _"you are more modest than 90% of people of similar age/sex"_. As well as scores on the "big 5" of Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience, you also get a break down of these into sub-factors. The descriptions of what each trait means are blunt and to the point, so that some scores come across as actively "good" and some as actively "bad".

Sat 31st Dec 2005

Best of Blog 2005

Finished my BestOfBlog2005, summarising what I liked most in 2005, the best photos, the most interesting events, the most fun! smile

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