persistence_memory_dali_small.jpg  Dali’s Persistance of Memory – my most disliked work of art of last century.

My father died a month ago, after a difficult 5 months of brain injury, coma, a stroke, further brain damage, and a few bouts with MRSA. This has been one of the most difficult situations I have ever had to cope with, and the experience still feels largely undigested.

Now that my dad is gone, I have been thinking a lot about memory. Specifically – all that i have left of him now are memories, padded with photographs, words, stories. Suddenly I am distrusting my memory, it seems so ephemeral, like trying to catch bits of a dream in the morning, and not very persistant at all.

This feeling, coupled with being in Johannesburg with very little internet access and a great sense of dislocation from the world and the web, has made me think a lot about how I am locating some of my memory more and more online. I don’t just mean having firefox remember logins for me, I mean that it seems so much easier to just google something than it is to hold that information at the forefront of my brain. I’ve let my phone remember all contact numbers for a few years now.  I’ve thought about dystopian situations where humans have to rely exclusively on their machines in order to remember anything at all – even our own names …

Kevin Kelly of Wired said in 2005 that  “…What will most surprise us is how dependent we will be on what the Machine knows – about us and about what we want to know. … The more we teach this megacomputer, the more it will assume responsibility for our knowing. It will become our memory. Then it will become our identity. In 2015 many people, when divorced from the Machine, won’t feel like themselves – as if they’ve had a lobotomy.”

I assume that by Machine, Kelly meant the web?

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Seeds dreaming

February 27, 2007

dad.jpg My dad: 1938 – 2007.  And he said: You would know the secret of death.  But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?  The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.  If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.  For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.  In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; and like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.  Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.  For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Dr Clock’s Handbook

January 31, 2007

dr_clocks_thumb.jpgThis new offering from Redstone Press bills itself as the definitive handbook of the absurd – an absurd idea if there ever was one.

Clocks, calendars, timetables and guidebooks assure us: there is order to things. You can tell the time, organise your days, plan your weeks, cultivate your garden, plot your travels. Reality rules!

In Dr Clock’s absurd world, on the contrary, things are not always what the seem. Logic leads to surprise, paradox reigns with looking-glass rules, things slide quickly from the sublime to the ridiculous. It’s a world turned upside down and back to front. And it all makes perfect sense.

I highly recommend this book!

Ernesto Neto

January 20, 2007

1.jpg   I am not sure if this wonderful Brazilian artist has ever been influenced by rave culture, but someone should put him in charge of all chillout spaces all over the planet.3.jpg

For a more thoughtful investigation of Neto’s practise in terms of art and design, see his interview on designboom.    Similar but different to Oursler’s  Thoughtforms.

lagomera1.jpg  The weather in London is not currently like this.  In fact it is quite foul.  But on La Gomera, the second smallest of the Canary Islands off the left side of Africa, it is beautiful for most of the year.  The temperature hovers around a most pleasant 22.  Kind of like Hawaii for Europeans.  As a result it is full of said Europeans trying to excape the foulness of winter and find some sunshine.  I am so happy that we went there over Christmas: we also spent a few days on Tenerife, but I won’t sadden you with tales of thoughtless development, sprawling shopping malls and lobsterish hordes.  If you do go to the Canaries, La Gomera is really worth while – peaceful and beautiful.  We stayed in Valle Gran Rey, apparently an ex-hippie hangout, and there are still some organic food suppliers and fire/juggling/performers on the beach at sunset.

It was wonderful to see stars again (natural ones, not manufactured celebs that you may or may not see in London), and no sirens.  For a whole week.  Just the sounds of goat bells and roosters and waves.

Travel tip: take gravol – there is a long ferry ride that can be quite rough, and the roads are well maintained but hairpin bends are plentiful.

lagomera2.jpg

late but happy new year wishes

Gone Fishing

December 10, 2006

This dusty little corner of the blogoverse is going to get even sadder, dustier and quieter until January 2007.   I am going back to johannesburg – city of the painful dial up modems among other things, and then off to Spain for Christmas and New Year.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is glamorous.

Wishing you heaps, oodles and gazillions of good things

Memories of strangers

December 2, 2006

blinks1.jpgI can’t believe that it is December already – what happened to November?  Soon, soon the thesis will be done.  If not done, handed in at least.  In my ‘research’ I came accross this interesting installation: between blinks and buttons by  berlin based artist and designer, Sascha Pohflepp.  You’ll have to check out the images yourself, but I really liked the way that she is thinking about photography.  She says ” … cameras become networked buttons that create a link between two people through the simple fact that they did the same thing simultaneously: pressing a button. The cameras create a visual trace of it, with time as a reference.”

and

“In addition to their value as a memory, each image contains a multitude of information about the context of its creation. Through this metainformation, every image is linked to the precise moment in time when it was taken, making it possible to see what happened simultaneously in the world at that instant. This work tries to focus the user’s imagination on that other, to create narratives that run between one’s own memory and a stranger’s moment which happened to coincide in time.”