Wednesday, 10 August 2011

stay safe

The riots of the last few days in England have raised some pretty obvious spectres of former times as well as dystopian nightmares of a future yet to come. Haunted barely covers it. Thoughts are obviously with everyone affected by the violence and destruction, and massive thanks go out to all the emergency services and ordinary folk who've put in a massive effort. I hope we're past the worst, in more than one sense. One phrase dominated throughout for me – "stay safe" – which was everywhere, heartening and comforting, but also throwing me back to 1970s public information films. I should stay with the most recent morphing of Keep Calm And Carry On, turned by the riotwombles into Keep Calm And Clean Up but then, as with other reappropriated uses of phrases and images in rhetoric, that's also become Keep Calm When Rioting (& Always Mask Up). So I'm back at those 70s safety films, seeing another sinister side as they resonate a little too clearly.

After all ...

Below, pre-CCTV and yet ...

The images resonate even where they're not meant to, either in look or feel. This is a warning about not burning coal when there's fog.

 And the fella here becomes a totally different kind of stranger danger. 

We're not so far from the past, and yet a long way from knowing where we are. All I can do is say, wise words as ever from Mr Stardust. We could use some coo-ca-choo.

And, away from the film stills, this poster might be where the solution starts.

thanks to Nate Hill for the image

Monday, 8 August 2011

pledge for the new Superstitions issue of Craphound

Three hours and counting to contribute to the printing costs of the fantastic Portland-based themed art magazine, Crap Hound. In other words, snap up a copy. For this eighth issue, it's images all about Superstitions.

return to joy

pic by me, charityshopper
Hello. I really didn't mean to be away so long. Are you still there? Or maybe, like the Fifth Dimension installation in 1970s Girvan, one day you just suddenly disappeared. An accident meant I had a cast on for a couple of months. Yes, I was in a kind of spectral dimension. 

This photo is from a recent trip to Edinburgh, where the contradictions of utopian visions and sinister realities, gothic heart and brutalist fringes and the ever-present past create sights that are somehow never quite right but always mesmerising. Here the mixture of ionic columns, cold war numeric font, disintegrating, Victorian shopfront-style sign and a doorway sealed shut got me. The doorway could lead to a secret nuclear bunker or into the tunnels of the sealed up plague city of the vaults. This is Edinburgh. Anything's possible. 

More to come, from the borderlands of the supernatural and popular culture, from London to outer space. For now, liking Derby University's cultural studies MA in horror and transgression and looking forward to Simon Armitage's exploration of the Pendle Witch Child story on BBC4 (Wed 17 Aug). And go and see the Memory Of A Hope group exhibition in Liverpool if you can - 36 artists explore creation, destruction and nostalgia, with the twin pillars of Henri Lefebvre and JG Ballards as the goalposts of imagination.

Reality is never what it seems, and maybe that's the way we like it. It's good to be back. I'm putting the Soundcarriers back on. Loud. Mind how you go.