One of the first rules of writing is to open with a catchy line, and never with a technical topic. So I’m going to blow that one right out of the water and start by writing about entropy.
Entropy is a theory in thermodynamics (yes, I’m doing it!) that has also crossed over into the fields of astrophysics and philosophy. It is used to describe a sudden change that causes erratic and chaotic events, often leading to the creation of entirely new objects. Entropy always moves forward with time, and creates events that cannot be undone. A good example is the collapse of a star, folding in on itself and becoming (perhaps) a black hole. Stephen Hawking describes the idea of entropy nicely in A Brief History of Time when he refers to how an “intact cup on the table is a state of high order, but a broken cup on the floor is a disordered state.” (p 161) Continue reading “Exquisite Explosions – The fine art of destruction”
In Ancient Greek literature sudden and vast travel occurred regularly. As the nomadic and expansive ideas of the writers of that era sought to understand their world through travel they often created mystical methods of transcontinental journeying. Great waves tore Odysseus and his crew from his homeland, and the wings that Daedalus built helped him soar to freedom from his island prison. Airplane travel in the 20th Century led to unprecedented opportunities for travel and communication that mimic the adventurous nature of these fictional tales. If travel should broaden the mind then broader travel may have stretched the mind even further. The concept of travel has been broached across the arts, culminating in works in the late 20th Century and early this century that create a reality from the myth.
It is sad to think on how long ago MUW last had a post, but it is 2014 now, and activity will start again. Writing sank down a priority list in 2013, but is now kicking off with inspiration from a Franco-artistic group of authors, known as Oulipo. For this post, I will avoid all utilisation of that most common of all symbols in our vocabulary, “E” (apart from just now!). In illustrations using a book, film or author’s call-sign, a * will stand in for that infuriating symbol.
When Shakespeare plays were originally performed, it was not allowed for audience members to bring in paper for fear that they would write down and steal the plays. To counter this, furtive audience members would go to performances and each remember different sections of the plays, then meet later and write down all they could remember. Each section was then stitched together, and the works were stolen regardless.
From the moment we learn to read the English language (presuming you can if you are reading this), we learn to decipher a series of characters twenty-six letters long, give or take. Each character has a sound associated with it, and we hear these sounds as we read. The characters are all symbols, each with its own significance to our understanding. SSSSSSSSSSSS can represent a long, hissing sound, just as KAKAKAKAKA could be a machine gun. We learn this system of graphics, recognising the line across the top of a T as opposed to the one that is missing on an I, and we make sense of the words that are written by scanning these graphic signs and creating words from our understanding of their sounds.
Far before we learn to read and decipher the graphic symbols of this Latin alphabet, we learn another language. This is the language of the visual, and it involves the same method of deciphering what we see into other forms, but it is different as with this language we do not necessarily have a spoken language to go along with it. At our youngest and most naive, we decipher the symbols of the people raising us, seeing their representations as those of family or friends, but we do not recognise any link between these people and language. Instead, we simply categorise and recognise, realising that there is something different about these people to the people that we pass in the street. Continue reading “Seeing Scene Seen – Everything we read is art”
It is difficult to deny that Kraftwerk have been an astoundingly influential band since their formation in 1970. Revolutionary at the time, the German quartet incorporated an almost entirely synthesised music in an attempt to foreground the oncoming new media phase. But one of the more interesting quirks about Kraftwerk is not necessarily their music itself, but the idea of time that surrounds their music. With its industrial, drum-machine-driven synth and robotic sound, the music was designed to be “music of the future” in the 70s. However, it has since dated due to the technology that they employed in making it, and has instead placed them irrevocably at a certain point in the past. They are a band that lack a temporal definition, both part of the past and part of the future.
The digital age is popularly seen as an age of infinite information. It is described using terms like “interactivity” and “new media”, and is highlighted as an era that allows for the endless access of customised information at the fingertips of every individual user. The result is often a transient relationship between the user and the information, and as a result the idea of time, and our use of time, is becoming topical in current cultural writing.
Poster and billboard advertising is an acute way of judging the difference between two places. In the undecorated steel and glass of airports there can be few indicators to remind a traveller who has just arrived that they have even left their original location. One of the common and decisive indicators is a change in language or tone in the advertisements that are on display.
I remember landing in London for the first time and getting the tube into the city. At the first station three escalator journeys awaited, and on the tiled wall during the slow ascent there passed identical framed advertisements spaced a little apart from one another the whole way up. This deluge of small posters is not a rare sight in the London Underground, but it seemed unusual to me initially as it did not mirror any other metro or untergrundbahn that I had previously encountered. Continue reading “This Is Your God: Orienteering by advertisements”
One of the most notable visual effects of the international economic crash in 2008 on the western landscape was the sudden closure of hundreds of small and large businesses, and the emergence of idle business premises in urban centres. From factories to fashion boutiques, empty spaces corrupted the urban landscape and spread like a pandemic through cities and towns in Europe and America from 2008 onward.
In town and city centres the effect was most visible as large chain stores began to go into receivership and their commercial outlet units began to shut up shop. Usually located in prime areas, these vacated properties created trails of desolate spaces in urban areas. The result was for these spaces to lie idle, in some cases for the past four years. Continue reading “Filling The Void: Art in disused urban spaces in Ireland”
For any who have ever experienced caving, you will remember unsure footing, tight squeezes and low-hanging rocks and the claustrophobic feeling that can come in the moist earthy air. You will be aware of how extraordinarily dark it can be in the gloomy underground. It can be stifling and unsettling in the depths of a cave, but with light to guide the way, the experience can instead be extremely fulfilling. Continue reading “Illuminating the Grotesque: Crawling into political satire”
1640s, “evergreen,” formed in English from L. perennis “lasting through the year (or years),”
adjective lasting or existing for a long or apparently infinite time; enduring • (of a plant) living for several years
Some things last a long time. Others are over in an instant, as they pass from the near future into the recent past. This piece concerns the former. Some occurrences seem to become mainstays overnight. Although certainly nothing lasts forever, some events can span lifetimes or generations. Continue reading “Blink and You’ll Miss It: Events on the Internet”