August 31, 2007


"Giselle watches the tiltrotor commuter shuttles carrying the air-networkers, while in the distance airships circle Airlander with London sightseers." (picture caption to "A Fly-By-Light Architecture", from's "Sustaining Architecture in the Anti-Machine Age", again)

This is like shooting fish in a barrel, but here goes... the Fly-By-Light group propose a ginormous 400 metre high Futurist transport hub ("Airlander") looming irridescently over Charing Cross, complete with a swarm of V-22 Osprey tiltrotors flying low along the river to and from commuter hubs. But has our Giselle actually heard an Osprey, not perhaps the quietest of aircraft on earth? Or wondered about their per-passenger-mile energy budgets?

I'd accuse the authors of taking the piss if I didn't feel I was being pissed on in turn….

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August 25, 2007


Fleeing through SoMa pursued at every corner by those velvet Elvises of the hipster art world, the omnipresent Frida Kahlo self-portraits…

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August 22, 2007

Ciné, ma verité

Chris Marker's Sans Soleil: an exquisite flowing piece of (or about? who knows…?) exquisite orientalisms (in the broader Saidian sense), beautiful cliches, the sort of thing that always says infinitely more about the observer than the observed, that feels more like a travelogue of a filmaking era than of memory, place, and culture (it's always fascinating to see what fascinated someone like Marker 25 years ago), a melange of signs of signs, a thoughtfully-constructed cabinet of curiosities of curiosities. Like La Jetée, the effect's hypnotic, but this time it's difficult to escape the feeling that you're watching a filmmaker at work at making you watch a filmmaker at work, striving for significance with a studied and sometime sardonic off-handedness that tries to hide or efface the portentousness always lurking on the surface. All of which makes it sound as though I disliked the film, but it's stayed with me for weeks, mostly as a complex impression, a set of tones and colours, a pleasurable flow of little misdirections….

(Part of Flix).

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August 18, 2007

Another Damn Slideshow?

US Highway 50, Central Nevada

For those of you who asked (you know who you are), I finally got around to putting up the full Flash-based slideshow / gallery from the earlier desert trip (see e.g. the april archives ad nauseam). Click on the image above or here to see the gallery. You'll need a fairly hi-res screen (it's optimised for at least 1280 x 1024, but it'll work at less than this), and you can fiddle with the enigmatic little icons on the bottom right of the page to start things going and to enable or disable image titles, etc.

And if you don't have Flash and / or Javascript (or you've disabled them), you probably won't see anything at all. Which might be a blessing — there's a lot of images up there…

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August 17, 2007


Propelled across the Great Basin and the Mojave by Glass's attractively expansive 3rd Symphony (it's a perfect soundtrack for high desert two-lane blacktops), I had to ask: why did he write this as a symphony rather than a quartet? It's a natural for a quartet (a form he's written well for); his orchestration (19 piece string band) doesn't bring much to the piece for me, it just muddies the lines, subtracts from the power by adding to the volume (yes, he eventually gets 19 separate lines running simultaneously, but that feels a little gimmicky in context, something like wringing a Bolero from Metamorphosen).

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August 10, 2007

In Harm's Way

What a principle to live by: "And we should only have Americans in harms' way where there are U.S. interests at stake" — Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., quoted in a recent NYT.

Yes, it'd be naive to believe she meant that only Americans should be in harm's way when US interests are at stake (instead of, say, all those expendable UnAmericans in places like Iraq). An unwittingly good rule to live by, Ms Wilson. How about it?….

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August 03, 2007

Chauncey Bailey

I can't claim I knew him, but like more than a few Oaklanders, I knew who he was (he was locally famous for asking hard questions and for a few run-ins over the years with the powers-that-be around here), and I'd run into him at one or more interminable downtown functions (in my case in the newly-refurbished Rotunda building a few years ago, if I remember correctly). He was gunned down in broad daylight at 7.30am yesterday on his way to work as a well-known journalist for a local paper in downtown Oakland. Unusually for Oakland, it's got all the typical hallmarks of a targeted assassination — a carefully-chosen and very public location, a masked gunman, two shots to the back of the head from close range, a pre-planned escape. The news even made the Sydney Morning Herald's web site, which is probably a first for an individual Oakland gun death (at least since the days of the Black Panthers).

The killing was Oakland's 72nd homicide of the year (there have been two more since yesterday). Once again, let's put this into perspective: this gritty little city of Oakland (quite a bit smaller than Australia's Newcastle) will probably have more murders this year than in all of Australia's largest state by population, New South Wales.

(Picture by KTVU news).

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August 02, 2007


How does he do it? Hal Foster, in the middle of an otherwise clearly-written preface (to his "Design and Crime"): "I think we need to recapture some sense of the political situatedness of artistic autonomy and its transgression, some sense of the historical dialectic of critical disciplinarity and its contestation [...]". I'm tempted to say I get it! I get it! but the joke's still on me.

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