Saturday, 23 October 2010

Currently reading

A Post-Olympic Beijing Mini-Marathon is made up of a series of interviews with a number of Chinese artists, writers and thinkers conducted by Hans Ulrich Obrist on New Years Eve, 2008. Taking the form of his now famous Serpentine Gallery Marathons, the event was an attempt to understand and evaluate the state of Beijing in the aftermath of the Olympic Games, to come to terms with the changes the city had seen and give a sense of what it is like to be living in the city at a time when it is rapidly evolving. An attempt to record history as it happened, the event focused not only on the impact of such a massive, worldwide spectacle as the Olympic Games but also issues such as the role of the Internet and the role of the artist in China today.

The book is published by JRP Ringier and beautifully produced by Vitamin Creative Space, who hosted the event at their space in Beijing.

(Photos of the Bird's Nest Stadium and CCTV Building by Dulcie Emerson)

A Week At The At The Airport

I've just finished reading Alain De Botton's A Week At The Airport, an observation of Heathrow Airport's new Terminal that he made when approached to undertake a live-in residency at the airport, spending seven days exploring the terminal, meeting the people that operate it and the customers passing through it. I was attracted to the book at first by the quote on the back cover

"a single pace that captures all the themes running through the modern world - from our faith in technology to our destruction of nature, from our interconnectedness to our romanticising of travel - then you would almost certainly head to an airport"

which seemed to sum up the essence of various themes I have been interested in for a while now regarding my own practice, and felt this could be a nice break from all the theory I've been attempting to plough through. Essentially De Botton's book is focused on the people that inhabit the airport, suggesting less that it is some quasi-utopian place of technology and travel full of people moving from one place to the next without a thought for the others surrounding them (although, on the surface, that is what it is) but that it is full of thousands of individual stories and dramas, a collection of individuals brought together for a brief interval of their life between destinations, a strange non-place of coming and going.

De Botton is also keen to aknowledge our unwavering faith in technology, reminding us of the awe we should feel that something so enormous as an aeroplane can move, letalone fly. He claims that the new Terminal 5 is an attampt to create a vision of how we'd like to view ourselves, celebrating technology and progress, the shimmering glass structure "proposing a new idea of Britain ... that would no longer be in thrall to its past". The book for me is a poignant and timely vignette that captures the magic that is air travel in our times, how quickly a far off exotic land becomes a distant memory on arrival and how we will always long to be back aboard a Boeing 777 flying 30,000 feet in the sky to somewhere different once again.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Summer sun, where have you gone...

This week I scanned the negatives from the roll of film that I put through my Olympus Pen in the summer, which had given me loads of great shots yet the majority of which were badly overexposed and had resulted in nothing more than a plain white/grey print. Amazingly when I scanned them in the overexposed frames came out perfectly and so I have even more hazy, sunny, summer memories now, like the one above. I was most happy to rescue some photos which I took at Barcelona Airport, which I've put up in a new album on my website. To see them just click here...

Thursday, 7 October 2010