Friday, 28 November 2008

88 Hampstead Lane

(From A Matter of Life and Death (Powell and Pressburger 1946))

J: Hello G George, hello G George, are you all right? Are you going to try to land, do you want a fix?

P:Name's not G George it's P Peter, Peter D Carter, D's for David, Squadron Leader Peter Carter. No, I'm not going to land, undercarriage is gone, inner port's on fire, I'm bailing out presently, I'm bailing out. ……Take a telegram.

J: Got your message, received your message, we can hear you.

P: Telegram to my mother, Mrs Michael Carter, 88 Hampstead Lane, London North West.

J: 88 Hampstead Lane, London.

Peter's mother apparently lived right next to Hampstead Heath, but it now seems to be stuck right next to a council tip, its hard to tell. I will go and find out...

88 pianos, 88 keys

The bizarre and harrowing film Electrocuting an Elephant (Thomas Alva Edison, 1903), though not an isolated case of an Elephant execution, is especially remarkable because it represents the extremes to which Edison would go to protect his interests.

Edison and Topsy the Elephant's fates met after Topsy had trampled to death three men in as many years at Coney Island's Luna Park. Simultaneously Edison had been on a campaign of animal electrocutions to prove the danger of George Westinghouse's Alternating Current, which was struggling for dominance in the 'War of the Currents' with his own Direct Current. Edison had pioneered the electric chair for just this reason in 1890 and was confident that, not only could an elephant be destroyed by electrocution, but that by proliferating a film of the act via his kinetograph machines across America, he could create enough of a stir to help stigmatise AC for good.

This came at a time when Edison was looking for ways to monopolise cinematic production and distribution through his company's patent rights. 5 years later he would succeed with the creation of the Motion Picture Copyright Corporation (or The Trust) which approved studio licenses enforcing holders to pay fees to the Edison company. This effectively disenfranchised independent film making in America until Carl Laemmle's company spearheaded a definitive stand against Edison and The Trust.

Edison's plans backfired, by 1912 The Trust was taken to court and in 1915 was dissolved. Similarly DC lost out to the AC that is generally used today despite his attacks on Westinghouse. In the end, aside from seeming unusually cruel, Topsy's Death is symbolic of Edison's frustrated attempts at dominion both over Cinema and over electricity itself.

1 Adult Elephant tusk can produce 44 pianos, thats 88 per Elephant. Each piano has 88 keys.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

NASA image of the UK and Ireland

This is something I made last November or thereabouts whilst I was working on an exhibition called Flyer. This part of it was never shown, it is a NASA image of the UK and Ireland.

The image comes from here:

Here the important part of the image, for NASA, is the equation of the space shuttle Endeavour with HMS Bark Endeavour in which my ancestor Captain Cook sailed to Terra Australis Incognita.

Incidentally the space shuttle Endeavour was named in a competition won by students at Tallulah Falls High School, and its first launch was embarrassingly advertised by a sign that spelled it Endeavor, because NASA staff hadn't realized the reason for the English spelling.

Sorry, realised.


In my old job there was a secret staircase with a secret cupboard in it that nobody seemed to care about. In this cupboard I placed instructions for each of the red, white, green, blue and orange teams. The notion is that if anything happens in the game that creates a void between players understanding and the reality of play, or if things become dangerous, there is a place, which only I know the exact location of, where basic explanations can be found pertaining to these teams.

Sunday, 23 November 2008


Completed at the beginning of 2002, this is the video me and David Turner made in University. 

The idea started off as 'How could you remake a Woody Allen film without Woody Allen in it?' and I think we ambitiously thought we could remake the whole film. 

It soon became more about Leeds than Manhattan, and about trying to construct some sort of Civic pride in a place we didn't necessarily always like.

Tragically, we probably didn't even get marked on this, though its about the best thing either of us did...



Abba in the infinite, only one part of my current Abba fixation. Abba seemed to have some idea of timelessness and endlessness; two of their records end with endless loops, one is a ticking clock, the other is an endless applause. Here I have just completed what I thought they wanted me to do. 

I've also written a treatment for a radio play (or it may become an issue of my comic book) set in the 1975 Eurovision song contest where Abba fight off Baader Meinhof, Swedish Protesters and Cliff Richard with their super powers...

Friday, 21 November 2008

Abersham Road Exhibition

Here are some photographs of the exhibition we held in our house on the 8th of the 8th '08:

Paul Sammut made a little stall with diorama's and paraphernalia dedicated to  Richard Warwick (the actor) in our hallway:

Sophie Hodson made a  2-player Space Invaders video thing:

Vincent Larkin made a tent with a computer that talked to people in it. The computer program was from the late eighties and reacted in unpredictable and bizarre ways that made you feel like you were losing your mind:

Also, much to my delight, a number of neighbourhood cats attended, one of which was particularly taken by my drawings:

There was also a ill-advised video I made with Daisy Joel and Francesca Cowan which was supposed to encourage people to buy the Foster's Lager we had bought in. We bought this  chiefly because a) Foster's was first brewed in 1888 and b) Daisy reckons she can do an hilarious Dannii Minogue impression which, if you watch the video, is not strictly true:

No Ordinary Library

I just got an e-newsletter from the British Library. It contained a press release regarding the weird thefts they had at the hands of a wealthy Iranian scholar. There just one passage in it which seems  a bit, I dunno, Judge Dredd...

"The library takes very seriously its duty to protect its collections for your use, and for the generations of readers to come. We have zero tolerance of anyone who harms our collections and will pursue anyone who harms them with the utmost vigour."

Doesn't it conjure up all manner of dystopian visions of futuristic totalitarian library-states policed by tweedy librarians armed with laser canons? Just me?