Saturday, April 30, 2022

Bell, Len

From the thesis:

Straightforwardness returned again in the early nineties. It came back with the Auckland City Art Gallery’s 1950s Show, the largest and most popular exhibition the Gallery had yet hosted, in 1992. To mark the occasion, Landfall, which had thrived in the fifties, published an edition devoted to the decade, although it appeared in April of the following year. Francis Pound, one of the Guest Curators of the show, was Guest Editor of the edition.  He saw the decade as a thing of the past: 

The art and literature of the 1950s are today of largely archaeological interest. They have become an ancient artifact, and with something of such an artifact’s fascination, its exotic glamour of otherness. Yet it is today’s very distance from that decade—its very otherness—which makes it available to historical consciousness. We see it now as if in Albertian perspective, diminished in size and detail, in inverse ratio to its distance from the observing eye. Its distance from today—from New Zealand art and writing’s present concerns—makes of it an intelligible object of study, with its devices and suppositions become visible, discernible now as pattern—a curious and archaic pattern, splendidly wrought.

Pound’s edition included essays on various aspects of the culture of the decade but these did not include architecture. This is curious, given Landfall’s previous contributions to architectural debate and the strength of architectural display in the exhibition. The architect Tim Nees, writing in the art magazine Glory Glory, was particularly taken with the architecture: “The Group Architects form a strong focus, and rightly so, for they have been influential and inspirational for subsequent generations….The full scale reconstruction, however, of the living room of the Group Architect’s First House, complete with repainted mural, is a delight to encounter.”

There was none of this in Landfall. However, Tomory’s ideas about colonial brutalism did make a return, in the guise of art. Leonard Bell, writing of “Landfall, the ‘primitive’ and the Visual Arts”, quoted Tomory’s phrase “colonial brutalism”, but as Clark and Walker note “any reference to architecture is excised.” Bell, writing about Tomory’s lecture, cut the phrase out of its architectural setting and relocated it to an earlier part, so making it appear Tomory had used this phrase to describe the work of the painter Petrus Van der Velden. Thus, colonial brutalism becomes a quality of art, in the absence of any appropriate art theory. Clark and Walker had observed of Bell’s misappropriation, “a post holding up a carport has evolved into a cultural condition”, but it seems more to have been forced into a role for which it was never intended. 

Some fifteen years later, and nine years after the publication of Looking for the Local, Pound himself used “colonial brutalism” thrice in The Invention of New Zealand, his study of New Zealand’s modern art. Like Bell, Pound gives the impression Tomory coined the phrase to describe painting, although in his second footnote he does disclose that Tomory was referring to architecture. It remains to be seen whether these are isolated incidents or whether a struggle between art historians and architectural historians for colonial brutalism is playing out over decades.

Henry Cow

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Devil's Hand


The theme from The Devil's Hand was released as a single by Baker Knight and the Knightmares, on Chess in July 1961. 

After a brief performing career, Baker Knight became a song writer, for Ricky Nelson among others. His songs have been recorded by Elvis, Dean Martin, Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Pat Boone, Jerry Lee Lewis, Emmylou Harris and Sammy Davis Jr. His most famous composition is The Wonder of You.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Couponing for pleasure and profit

Casual ideation pods are primed

"Intense artisan process sustained by forced relaxation" happens at Dreamworks, according to I Wish I Worked There, a look inside the most creative spaces in business, a book which (of course) has its own website and a blog that has not been updated for a while. And on the website there is a short and annoying promo, where happy creative staff are shown having fun in their innovative working environments, accompanied by what used to be called slogans but are now called messages: text which is playfully angled and tells us to "promote collaboration" and "encourage play." These are creative spaces, the inspiring workplaces of twenty famous brands, where innovation is at the heart of their culture.

Yes, there is table football. Always there is table football, or table tennis or something like that. And you can clutter your workspace (what used to be called an office in the bad old days of walls and doors) with toys. And you can keep your bicycle in your workspace. And you can dress like you were still in college. And everywhere is open-plan. And there is free food in the canteen. And there is Google, always there is Google in books about innovative creative business:
Microkitchens are destinations that have been deliberately built into daily Google life. Each one has a different feel and is stocked with different food preferences, so people are encouraged to visit different spaces throughout their working week. The unwritten rule, that no Googler is ever more than 150 feet away from food, means that there is an abundance of opportunities to stop, refuel and casually connect with co-workers. 

Or Johnson and Johnson, where sharing is working: 

Bulldog clip placeholders allow for regular rearrangement of team members, to encourage mixing.

Semi-private booths support telephone activity and private focus for media planners and marketers.

Designer teams share one big table, supporting the collaborative nature of their work.
Or Nike, where ideation maters:
Casual ideation pods are primed, ready for use.
A Filing cabinets form focused yet open ideation pods with pin-up space
B Natural light and wonderful views promote the right creative state
C Storage files on wheels and bins filled with supplies - everything you need for an ideas session
D Comfortable seating and low tables encourage relaxed ideas sharing
E Whiteboard tabletops for quick capture

Or Oakley, which is like live-action roleplay: 

Perched on top of a decapitated hill in southern California, the headquarters of sunglasses manufacturer Oakley could be taken for a post-apocalyptic fortress from an alien planet. It is aptly described on Oakley's website as 'a place of reinforced blast walls and the padded cells of mad science.'
Or Urban Outfitters:
In the Urban Outfitters retail environment, people are taken on a journey that
draws them in, tickling their imagination and lulling them into a creative
state. This piques curiosity and implies constant movement rather than a finite
point of completion. The 'unfinished' nature of these spaces is a critical part
of the underlying creative philosophy... paint peeling from columns, untreated
sealed walls, partly sanded floorboards - it's all about continuing a journey,
not about having arrived.

Yes, continuing a journey, that would be it: everyone is on a journey; nobody ever arrives. Because all this tat is installed for staff who are always at work, who cannot go home for fear of being stigmatised as slackers. Everyone is on the team. No-one has a life.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Thought for the day

'If your friends congratulate you for not getting sodomised by progressive politics, it might be wise to rethink your strategy.' 

You would not want to find that in a fortune cookie.

Large Plants

Monday, April 18, 2022