Archive for March, 2015

At this time of wall to wall Election Bullshit Overload, I thought it pertinent to remember there are;
Damn Lies,
and Statistics…”

Puff the Mutant Dragon

Back in the 1940s before the polio vaccine was invented, the disease caused a lot of anxiety among parents of small children. How could you reduce your child’s risk of contracting this nasty illness? Some misguided public health experts apparently recommended avoiding ice cream, thanks to a study that showed a correlation between ice cream consumption and polio outbreaks. This study fortunately was BS. Yes, there was a correlation between ice cream consumption and polio outbreaks, but that was because both were common in the summer months. The authors of the study had mistaken correlation (ice cream consumption and polio are more common at the same time) with causation (ice cream increases your risk of disease).

Medical researchers often trawl through data sets to try and figure out what environmental factors cause chronic disease. Unfortunately, these kinds of studies sometimes make the same kinds of mistakes as the ice…

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Arundhati Roy – “People who are privileged are also the ones who are the most hopeless and the most easily decided there is no hope…. The point is that the alternative and the hope is not going to come from the people who designed the system and who profit from the system, in the first place. It is going to come from the people outside it, and they are going to say ‘enough’.

You cannot have our mountains…. And when that begins to unfold, there will be a domino effect and people will have to find different ways of managing.”

Google Street Art Project: ‘We are not the mural police, we are the mural conservancy’

How the internet giant is helping to catalog thousands of pieces of street art before they disappear forever.

What some call vandalism, others call street art. Where some see criminals, others see outlaw poets, heroes of free speech taking their work directly to the people, bypassing galleries and auction houses, and democratizing the relationship between art and the public. That outlaw freedom jumped time and space last week when the Google Street Art Project announced it was doubling its worldwide database by adding 5000 new images.

Launched in June 2014, the street art database features roughly 260 virtual exhibits from 34 countries where you can browse art or hear guided tours. More than 50 organizations partnered on the project, southern California contributors being Wende Museum in Culver City, Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles.

Offering the best the street art world has to offer, the Google collection is an obvious boon for fans of the medium and benefits artists by giving them worldwide exposure. But cataloging, quantifying and curating run contrary to the street art ethos adhered to by artists whose ephemeral messages admonish and amuse people around the world.

“We are not the mural police, we are the mural conservancy,” says Isabel Rojas-Williams of the non-profit Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, one of Google’s partners on the project. She defines a mural as “anything stuck to a wall that is a monumental piece of art”, an inherently judgmental definition, though Rojas-Williams chafes at the idea of curating.

“We really are not picking and choosing,” she contends. “My staff and volunteers and I get into my car, each of us with a camera, and we’ll go through the neighborhoods taking photos. Now we can have over 3,000, but unfortunately, for lack of finances and lack of manpower, we can’t put them in there [Google] unless we have the information, name of the mural, the artist, the exact location and maybe biography. But we are very fair about everybody having an opportunity.”

A longtime champion of public art, Rojas-Williams helped write and pass the city’s mural ordinance that dispensed with a moratorium lasting 10 years, leading to an explosion of public art, particularly in the downtown Arts District. For a work to have legal protection, it must be registered with the city for a $60 permit fee, hardly an option for artists who may be wanted for vandalism.

“I use the street to democratize art by putting art in places where people live and can easily access it,” writes Shepard Fairey in an email. Worth an estimated $15m, Fairey’s commitment to his work on the street led to an arrest while he was on his way to the opening of his show at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 2009.

“An outlaw will always be an outlaw,” offers artist David Leavitt about his friend, Fairey. “If they’re not chosen in the curatorial aspect, then an outlaw will just go out and do their shit, right?” Along with David Torres, Leavitt, aka Davey, makes up the two-man street art collective Cyrcle, based in Hollywood. Their installation occupied a gallery at the Google launch party last Tuesday where guests were encouraged to articulate their deepest secrets in a soundproof booth while their words were converted to sound waves projected on the wall outside.

“I do think that any genre that becomes popularized poses the problems that people are borrowing styles too much and it’s not creating enough originality. But how can you expect originality in an over-saturated market anyway?” wonders Leavitt. “The only scary thing to me about too much exposure is having something to do with success, and the only thing about success that is scary is the fear of it itself.”

While some might argue that street art is meant to be ephemeral, the entire community grieved when they awoke one November morning in 2013 to learn that 5 Pointz, New York City’s mecca offering 200,000 sq feet of murals by many of the world’s finest artists, had been whitewashed. A year later it was torn down to make way for a condo complex. And while everyone knows street art comes with a limited life expectancy, it didn’t make it any less painful. What did was Google documenting 5 Pointz before it was destroyed.

“Though I’d love for people to experience street art in person, the reality is that public art is ephemeral by nature,” says Fairey. “Google’s new project not only catalogs an artist’s work but archives it and allows people to see the art long after it has disappeared.”

”BEING IN THE WORLD”’, a documentary directed by Tao Ruspoli, takes us on a journey around the world to meet philosophers influenced by the thought of Martin Heidegger, as well as experts in the fields of sports, music, craft, and cooking, in a celebration of human beings, and our ability to find meaning in life through the mastery of physical, intellectual, and creative skills.

We quickly move beyond the Greeks and then beyond Descartes’ mentalist notion (“I think therefore I am”) of reality to Martin Heidegger’s conception: reality and meaning exist where minds interact with the world.

We see humans at work and at play: juggling, doing high-precision Japanese carpentry, flamenco, and cooking gumbo. While we watch them work and struggle to introspect and talk about their art and their craft, we also hear Hubert Dreyfus and his students reflect on Heidegger and his philosophy.

Our artisans confess that they cannot explain in rational terms how they do what they do. The being is in the doing. Interviews and action intertwine to make a challenging philosophy clear to the lay-viewer.

Fukushima Pictures 4 years on With scarred skies, scratched negatives, shots of shattered railways and dead wildlife, Japanese photographers respond to the tragic events of 11 March 2011, when an earthquake led to a tsunami and nuclear reactor leak

A shot from Rasen Kaigan (Spiral Shore), by Lieko Shiga. Morning Glow, by Kikuji Kawada. Minamisanriku, Motoyoshi, Miyagi Prefecture, by Kōzō Miyoshi, who was among the first photographers to engage with the 3/11 disaster by travelling to the sites of destruction. Portrait of Cultivation, by Shiga Lieko. From the series Caesium, by Masato Seto, one of the few photographers to gain direct access to the nuclear plant after the disaster. Untitled, from the series Site/Cloud, by Daisuke Yokota. Another image from Rasen Kaigan, by Shiga Lieko. Onahama, Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, from the series Mirrors in Our Nights by Takashi Arai. From the series Mushrooms from the Forest by Homma Takashi.

Into The Wake Exhibition: a Japanese response in pictures to Fukushima disaster.

(wrong country I know but I don’t care, it’s a good soundtrack to the photos) Pere Ubu – Chinese Radiation

Apologies in advance for the use of a link from the Daily Heil.

The Real Scroungers of this Country!

Here’s yet more evidence of the kind of odious self-serving scammers and carpet baggers that the British public keep electing back into power.
It’s absolutely clear that a huge number of MPs don’t give a fuck about working on our behalf.
Their efforts focus on scamming as much cash out of the taxpayer as possible.
The three Westminster establishment parties have done virtually nothing to prevent their MPs from ruthlessly gaming the system to maximise their own personal profits, yet the English and Welsh public still keep voting the three corrupt Westminster establishment parties and their egregiously self-serving politicians back into power time and again (out of fear that the wrong corrupt Westminster establishment party might get in if they vote for an actual alternative).

Please copy and paste this. and vote for the person NOT the Party!

Summary of: Consumerism as a form of social control.
(extract from my last year’s BA dissertation)

Herbert Marcuse strongly criticizes consumerism, arguing that it is a form of social control.
He suggests* that the system we live in may claim to be democratic, but it is actually Authoritarian in that a few individuals dictate our perceptions of freedom by only allowing us “choices to buy” for happiness.*
In this state of “unfreedom”*… consumers act irrationally by;

  • working more than they are required to in order to fulfil actual basic needs,
  • by ignoring the psychologically destructive effects,
  • by ignoring the waste and environmental damage it causes,
  • and, by searching for social connection through material items*.

* [Marcuse, Herbert (1991). “Introduction to the Second Edition”. One-dimensional Man: studies in ideology of advanced industrial society. London: Routledge. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-415-07429-2.]
* [Marcuse, Herbert (1991). “Introduction to the Second Edition”. One-dimensional Man: studies in ideology of advanced industrial society. London: Routledge. pp. 1, 7. ISBN 978-0-415-07429-2]
* [Marcuse, Herbert (1991). “Chapter 1”. One-dimensional Man: studies in ideology of advanced industrial society. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-07429-2]

How to Block a Surveillance Camera: A DIY Art Tutorial from Ai Weiwei


A wine opener usage George Orwell would approve of.

“When things get tough,” Neil Gaiman advised on in his fantastic commencement address on the creative life“this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician — make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor — make good art. IRS on your trail — make good art. Cat exploded — make good art.” One could easily extrapolate, “Big Brother on your ass — make good art.” Amidst recent outcries against the present-day surveillance state we live in, what else is there to do but make good art? Cue in celebrated Chinese artist, provocateur, and human rights championAi Weiwei. From Do It: The Compendium (public library) — the fantastic collection of famous artists’ wide-ranging instructionals for art anyone can make based on 20 years of legendary curator and provocateur Hans Ulrich Obrist’s project of the same title, which also gave us David Lynch’s tutorial on how to make a Ricky Board — comes this antiauthoritarian creative project from Ai Weiwei, a DIY way to stick it — spray it, rather — to Big Brother:

CCTV SPRAY How to make a spray device to block a surveillance camera: Do you feel uncomfortable, confused, disgusted, or even irate because of a surveillance camera fixed at the wrong place? To block its view, spray-painting would be the best choice. It is highly accessible, inexpensive, and effective. Moreover, it is a perfect gesture in presenting street culture. It is difficult to spray on a surveillance camera at a high place directly by hand. Instead of carrying a ladder on the streets, it is more practical to make an adjustable, easy-to-carry, and low-cost spray device. It is best to use materials easily found from daily life to create this tool.

He goes on to list the materials needed — a spray bottle, a wine bottle opener, a bike bottle cage, a bike brake bar, a screw, and a stick — with the instruction to “choose materials that are as practical and reliable as possible” and are also “cheap and easy to obtain.” He then moves on to the step-by-step “Production Procedure”:

First find a long stick of suitable height. Considering portability, a collapsible tree pruner is recommended. Then select a stable frame that can secure a bottle or a can. For example, a bottle cage for bicycles would be a good fit. After that, find a trigger and fix it at the top of the stick. A wine bottle opener is a good choice, because its flexible lever structure can reduce the force and distance needed to press the spray nozzle. We also need a linkage device to control the wine bottle opener at the top. A bicycle brake bar is an excellent choice. Finally, prepare screws and nylon ropes as needed.

Under “Usage,” he instructs:

First fix the wine bottle opener at the top of the tree pruner (a.01). Then set the spray can into the bottle cage. Make sure the handle of the bottle opener is affixed to the right position, where it gives easiest nozzle control. Use screws to secure the bottle cage (a.02). Fix the brake bar at the other end of the tree pruner (a.03). Secure the spray paint can and use a nylon rope to fasten the flexible shaft (a.04). Adjust the height of the stick. Then connect the handle of the bottle opener to the shaft of the brake (a.05–a.06). The homemade adjustable spray device is now complete.

Complement this exercise in creative civic disobedience with BBC’s excellent Ai Weiwei: Without Fear or Favour. Do It: The Compendium is superb in its entirety, brimming with similar irreverent gems by some of the world’s most acclaimed contemporary artists. Sample it here.

See also my ongoing blog “Subversives in Art”

Article in today’s Guardian online…

Independent review of benefit sanctions urgently needed, say MPs
Cross-party report comes amid concerns that financial penalties have been issued inappropriately and caused hardship and destitution

My thoughts:

How is a job seeker who has lost all financial control and is told constantly (mostly passive aggressively through media and societies controlled perception) that they are useless & worthless, supposed to then find the motivation and self belief needed to sell themselves at a job interview?

The government want to encourage personal responsibility and get rid of victim status (I am all for that) yet at the same time help to strengthen “victim status” mentality by making people feel powerless and depressed.

Surely positive encouragement is needed to motivate people to get help get a job?

Their main priority seems to be punishment for the people abusing the system – which I actually believe are few and far between and is backed up by statistical research – but their current system punishes every person on benefits;

  • The people who have had jobs all their lives and paid into the system only to find through no fault of their own they’ve been made redundant.
  • Graduates leaving University and looking for their first professional job having now experienced the entire GRADUATE PREMIUM Myth!
  • People with genuine disability who have been treated absolutely disgustingly by this government, etc, etc.

You’re always going to get people who abuse the system including those who work within it! Sanctioning just weakens a persons resolve to find work but I can’t help thinking that’s what they want anyway!?

The people who they’re taking the power away from are the same people who have the power to oust them!

It works in the government’s favour to make people as passive as possible their very political survival depends on it.


Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the UK today!)

A woman was arrested today after posting a photograph on Twitter of chancellor George Osborne at her flat when she worked as a madame at an escort agency.

Natalie Rowe posted this photo on Twitter just two days ago:

rowe osborne

Then today Natalie was arrested by the police for “abusive behaviour”:

rowe osborne1

Natalie’s home was also searched last year by police after she tried to publish her memoirs in which she mentions Osborne took cocaine and used her services as a dominatrix called Miss Whiplash:

Cops raid home of ex-vice madam about to tell all on wild parties involving top Tories

Of course this could all be coincidence.

Or perhaps more proof – if any more were needed – that our police are being used to protect politicians’ reputations rather than catching criminals?


UPDATE: Natalie has posted another photo of Osborne – this time off his…

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