Blog archive August 2019

<< June 2019 / October 2019 >>

26.08.19 / 01 / 60

I just turned 60. My birthday present from the NHS was a bowel cancer shit-self-sampling kit (apparently everyone gets this now). On the other hand I get free prescriptions. And a third off rail travel. I feel so fraudulent doing this. I wonder what other concessions I can get? Nightclubs? Gig tickets?

My family arranged a week in a big house on the Welsh coast just outside Harlech. The views of the bay were stunning. Harlech has a classic castle and some remarkable Brutalist buildings, now alas closed and under threat.

I spent the actual day of my birthday in Portmeirion. Nowadays Number 6's house is the Prisoner gift shop. 'The Prisoner' was filmed in a way that obscured and distorted the layout and size of the village, so that relative locations and the distances between them seemed much further. The map of the village that appears in the series is not like the real layout. The Dome, where Number 2 is, is made to appear as a huge building a long way off. And the interiors are all studio sets that are far too big to fit into the actual buildings. In addition, the landscaping is now 50 years more mature [yes it's half a century since The Prisoner] which has changed the spaces and views.

On another day we took the Ffestiniog railway from Porthmadoc to Blaenau Ffestiniog and back. The Ffestiniog is good value - you can take one train up, change to another half way down, and see another while you're waiting.

15.08.19 / 02 / see it say it sorted

One of the weirdest legacies of rave culture is the very annoying ‘See it Say it Sorted’ campaign on public transport over here.

That use of the word 'sorted' is inconceivable without rave! 'Sorted for Es and Whizz', 'Top One Nice One Get Sorted' (Altern-8 again!), Ebenezer Goode (at 3:00) etc. It makes the campaign sound like a drug dealer... Someone like the Prodigy would have made a great record out of it in 1991.

The security announcements start ‘If you see something that doesn’t look right…’ report it to the station staff. But as a designer I see lots of things that don’t look right!

15.08.19 / 01 / sweet harmony at the saatchi gallery

Sweet Harmony: Rave | Today 12 July - 14 September 2019 Saatchi Gallery

Well it was crap

Like the wrapper without the contents

Room after room of photos and memorabilia but nothing that gave you the feel of what was happening. It desperately needed videos and music. There was a DJ in one room but he was playing fairly ambient stuff - OK but not in tune with the images on the walls [it wasn’t even Ibizan chillout!]. There were tablets where you could listen to Spotify playlists while facing a wall - about as alienated as it gets. A lot of the tech wasn’t working. I think if you are going to put tech in an exhibition you should make sure that it’s working at all times.

Coincidentally I had been looking up Altern-8. You learn a lot more about rave from 3 minutes of an Altern-8 video.

Some of the stuff on the walls was quite interesting, but ironically if you had been there you didn’t need it and if you hadn’t been there it wouldn’t give you much of a clue.

The best way to rescue it would be to fill the rooms with pumping rave music and videos. Bring the party. They need to have the guts to make a loud noise in the gallery - if that means no other exhibition at the same time, so what.

I was/am really tempted to communicate my feelings. The gallery closed at about the time I got to the end so I couldn’t hang about and talk to the staff. None of whom were born at the time! Of course, the last room of the exhibition opened directly into the shop :( which had pricey smiley artefacts, philosophical books and some Cyberdog merch which ironically was the nearest thing to the real spirit.

I fantasise about hijacking the gallery sound system via Bluetooth with some actual 1988 acid mixes on my phone! Or go in there in a boiler suit and mask with a ghetto blaster and start dancing!

At least the stuff on the walls was actual, by people who were there. The politics and the drugs were presented. In that sense it’s real. But what’s missing is the very thing that made it so exciting - the music.

It occurs to me now that they could have done what so many exhibitions do - give everyone a headset with soundtrack. If it was tuned to the specific room, everyone could dance together silent disco style but actually to the same music. ‘Sorted’, as they say.

<< June 2019 / top / October 2019 >>