First Friday

Good afternoon! This blog right here is going to house interesting shit that I want to talk about without having to pin individuals against walls for an audience.

I’ll be covering stuff like art theory and history, music and philosophy, linguistics and semiotics and other ancillary interests that i get evangelical about if I’m not careful (see Knolling below for a thick, syrupy taste of that category). I’ll be treating the topics like pieces in a gallery, with long, overindulgent descriptions that assert that this, right here, is the good shit. Please feel free to skim past all that and consume the links alone if you like.

It’ll never be more than 5 points long, so don’t worry about wearing out your mouse wheel. To start off, here is:

  • One piece of art, herein known ingeniously as “Robot Playing Guitar in the Rain” by Goro Fujita.

Image result for goro fujita robot

This piece is par for the course in Fujita’s expansive wheelhouse of robot-meets-world illustrations, which is to say it’s a beauty. Conjuring false memories of a cleaner, less futuristic Bladerunner set with the dull, rain-slick streets reflecting a neon rainbow, paired with the subtle lens flare towards the upper left quadrant, one could believe this to be a concept panel for a neo-noir dystopia film were it not for the quirkily misshapen vehicles pootering through the scene and, of course, the big dumb grin and anime yawn of our two main characters. the humanity depicted in these distinctly unhuman faces is what drew me to this image initially, and the character design that radiates from their posture, positioning and proxemics has such a pull that it’s hard not to imagine the story beyond the scene. the framing is tight on the bot’s upper half, giving us the detail of his fretting appendage and umbrella deployment system, both of which further emphasize the fact our protagonist is spec’d for having fun. Other interpretations of this image have the robot busking, presumably for the money to feed his cat friend but i think the removal of any suggestion of an audience or donations hat dissuades this reading; we have a happy robot and a bored cat, making music into the rainy night. The simple beauty of the concept shines through the piece, which is why it has been my desktop background since the day i found it.

  • Besides staring at my computer screen in a lazier-than-thou extreme form of procrastination I took to rereading Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy, more to improve my knowledge of time periods than anything else. Luckily, yet unsurprisingly, there are prescient passages abound in the work, including the quotation found below. the whole book can be nabbed online here: The passage from which this quotation is taken is on pages 227-228.

Fear took the place of hope. the purpose of life was rather to escape misfortune than to achieve any positive good. metaphysics sink into the background and ethics, now individual, become of the first importance. Philosophy is no longer the pillar of fire going before a few intrepid seekers after truth: it is rather an ambulance following in the wake of the struggle of existence, picking up the weak and wounded.

Russell here is quoting C.F. Langus in Cambridge Ancient History, accessible here if you or a loved one has ‘appropriate credentials’.

Discussing the state of philosophical play by the 3rd century B.C, Langus is attributing the shifting place of intellectual development from beacon to bastion to a growing realisation in the populace that uncertainty governed their lives, from their wealth to their safety to the very nation they lived within. All things were apt to change, and while many tried to nullify this fearful fact through trust in astrology (proposed by Russell and others to be the result of exotic religions creeping through Greek society) many other intellectuals sought to repurpose Philosophy for comfort’s sake, rather than for the sake of mental exploration or categorization. This passage highlighted for me the potential harm in a placid adoption of Stoicism; accepting without resistance the harshnesses of situations or events may leave oneself without mental anguish, but does little to dispel that which might have harmed. I think I remember Seneca briefly discussing why stoics should be politically active, and vigorously so, but the rhetoric was muddied. I’ll be returning to this area once I’ve read up, and may well raise it with Jacob on our podcast in the future.

  • Moving onto something less existentially dreadening, a technique i loved but for which I had no name has revealed itself to be known as Knolling. watch this:

This sequence by Tom Sachs is just one of many, many great snippets from his vimeo series which watch like infomercials in the background of a Wes Anderson film. Though kitsch at times (swear jars and rubber band guns? in this economy?) they’re all worth a watch (another short but sweet highlight is How to Sweep, which forced me to reconsider a career in teaching DT.)

I found the name for this sweet technique while deep in a Y-hole at 2 or 3am, regretting but not really regretting the monster can i had, minutes prior, ripped into and pounded down. Anyway, it was here on Tested, a youtube channel that follows Adam Savage in his building and discussions of engineering, propmaking and nerdy lego kit assemblage.

The episode that describes Knolling relates the story, backed by Wikipedia, that the technique was deployed by Andrew Kromelow, a kindly janitor at Frank Gehry’s furniture shop in an effort to make the space look less messy, and to help the workers find their bits faster. named for the angularity displayed in the process, reminiscent of Knoll furniture (I guess these dudes were well versed in their furniture fashion history) the whole story reminded me of my time working in an architect’s studio back in Birmingham, where each member had their own quirks and styles of drafting, both onsite and in the shop. They even filed their PC documentation in different ways, which was frustrating when looking for idiosyncratically titled blueprint number 4 but a great look into the types of people that go into the creative industries, in hindsight.

  • Speaking of creativity and looking back, one song has kept creeping into my algorhythmic (™ ™ ™) playlists from the old days of my spotifying, and that is Skinny Lister‘s If The Gaff Don’t Let Us Down:

Playing this track instantly throws me back 5 or so years into the path between Aberdeen’s Zoology department (where i spent most of my time researching, since the distinctly brutalist building housed an array of awesome skeletal displays and an unparalleled number of freely accessible computers) and St Machar Drive, the arterial causeway for trips to the beach, the Olympic-quality sports centre and so on. While my time in Aberdeen wasn’t a walk in the park, the place itself has an unmatched beauty and sense of history that I’m grateful I experienced.

This song reminds me of my earnest need to return to the comfort and security of familiar turf, while also bringing to the fore the excitement and freedom that came from my first taste of independence and self-control. Plus, it’s a lively jig of a song and that was always welcome to brace against the knife-like chill of coastal Scotland.

 

That’ll be doing us for this week, next time I’ll spend more time being succinct and less time linking to brutalist buildings. Maybe.

 

Jozef

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