Lumiere London (from the PTBM Blog)

Being as we all presumably are, citizens of London, or at least spending a fair bit of time in lumiere-london-logoit, you probably found it hard to avoid mention of ‘Lumiere London’.

 

Boasting its title as the first ever London Light festival of this size, it was, at least for us, impossible to see it all. But much like Fringe Festivals from Brighton to Edinburgh – seeing it all is not the point. In fact, one could argue that individual works all work together to create the main work, the atmosphere and the newfound appreciation and view of familiar spaces and buildings.

 

But I digress.

We started at Piccadilly Circus (walking down towards Green park) and made our way under the huge floating fish kites. They must have been almost 10 metres long, made of a white translucent nylon reinforced by hoops every couple of metres along the body. They floated, bobbed and weaved through the air only 6 or so metres up at their lowest – low enough for their long tails to be within reaching distance for the tall. Their bodies also glowed from the coloured lights on the hoops and head, which added to the exotic soundscape was pure magic to the mingling crowd below.

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There were a few other works we saw of note, but I encourage you to find as many images and listings as you can, it being over now.

There was the elephants rear and front, projected onto either side of a skyway just off Piccadilly. ‘The Travellers’ was endlessly beguiling and rewarded the keen eyed with some very strategically placed statues – the work consisted of human wire frame figures flying, perched or lying on roofs and fountains, and they all shined with hundreds of ephemeral, ghostly lights.

I am aware of the politics around a public art event such as this, but this is not the time to go into it.

lumiere-londonHowever, I will say that ‘Plastic Islands’ by Spanish Art Collective Luzinterruptus was incredibly either fitting or hypocritical as a choice to include. It fitted right into their distinctive style I latter found through research; expansive, charged, visually arresting.
Fitting as a demand that the viewer confronts the human impact of plastics and waste disposal on the otherwise idyllic, and encourages the viewer to look again at the issue with new eyes; but perhaps hypocritical thanks to the amount of energy it took to power the whole festival for the 3 days it was on! (perhaps a moot point)

Regardless, the festival – or what we saw of it – was fantastic, I hope you saw it and I realise it’s too late now if you didn’t.

http://www.visitlondon.com/lumiere

John Hammond and…Guinness?

So here’s the scene;

I’m at work behind the bar at Chelsea. There are several TVs about the room, usually playing various football games, interceded with adverts. The sound is turned off on these TVs.

An advert comes on, shot in budget monochrome, a fast paced narrative of John Hammond, the radio producer who defied the ban on the broadcasting of black artists and black music.

It’s a nifty little sequence, the cuts are good, there’s energy to the piece.
Then, right at the end of the advert, the oh so familiar ‘Guinness – Made of More’ title card comes up.

What in the hell?

I felt very odd about the whole thing – what possible association does Guinness have with John Hammond? And if they have one, what is the context of today which would make them broadcast an advert like that? Essentially, is it crass and audacious as an ad, or meaningful?

Because popular culture, and especially advertising is an expression of our underlying cultural context, I think that this is a question worth asking.

At this point, I want to reiterate that the sound was not playing, so I first came across the ad, and had my first 2 or 3 viewings of it in silence.

Guinness also, as  it turns out, commissioned an interview with Rudimental, ruminating on the cultural legacy of John Hammond in music today.

 

This, I’ve noticed, is what Guinness do – attach themselves to areas of significance in popular culture, and the question is that of the chicken and the egg – are drinkers of Guinness fans or Rugby and Rugby fans fans of Guinness so Guinness ad moguls want to represent that fact, or did they see an untapped market in middle aged men looking for a drink and try and get a Guinness into their mind and then their hand.

I have no answers exactly, but I do have a vague sense of unease about the whole thing.

The Stage and Performance

It probably wouldn’t be overstating it to say that my background is in Theatre; I’ve amassed years of Am Dram, A Level Studies, Choir Performances etc. In the Ira Glass sense, I like to think that my taste is good, and good enough to know that the work I make right now is not up to the level I’d like it to be.

Saying this, I was recently incredibly inspired by the array of performances at the 2016 Grammys.

Now, I’ve seen videos of Gaga performing before – notably at ArtPop, amongst the work of Jeffrey Koon.

It’s simply sheer joy to watch Lady Gaga perform – it’s seemingly in her blood.

During this, her homage to David Bowie, she embodied his spirit masterfully – it felt like she really ‘got’ Bowie and his characters.

 

The rest of those videos are all from the same show.