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blue

UPDATE: The exhibition has been profiled by UAL.

Derek Jarman (31 January 1942 – 19 February 1994) was an English film director, stage designer, diarist, artist, gardener and author. His final film and script ‘Blue’ is currently showing at the CHELSEA Space gallery, London.

Donald Smith, head curator of the gallery asked me to categorise and tweak the images from the two books which make up a large part of the body of the work for the exhibition. Heres a little excerpt from the Tate website about his work, and ‘Blue’.

‘The relationship between film and painting continued to be central to Jarman’s work; the non-narrative flow of imagery and improvisatory collage-like quality of his films was more suggestive of a painterly than a cinematic sensibility.

Jarman was diagnosed as HIV-positive in December 1986. His last set of paintings were highly coloured works in which a word or slogan was daubed across an effusively scraped and splattered ground, again dealing with aspects of his illness. The violence and anger of these paintings contrasts with the serenity of his final film, Blue (1994). Made when he was virtually blind, it consisted solely of a monochrome blue screen, with a soundtrack of voice and music.’

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Nelly-Ben-Hayoun-in-NASA-A-copy

‘Nelly Ben Hayoun has been called the “Willy Wonka of design and science” and she is on a mission to bring chaos, subversion and disorder into the design and the scientific world. An award-winning director, performer, and experience designer from France, she works with leading scientists and engineers to devise subversive events and performances. For the International Space Orchestra, she assembled and directed the worlds first orchestra of space scientists from NASA Ames Research Centre, Singularity University, International Space University and the SETI Institute.’

This short yet very insightful explanation of Nelly Ben Hayoun helps to slightly comprehend her madness but having the opportunity to see her discuss her most recent project was one I could hardly refuse. Here’s the epiiiic trailer for the documentary of the project.

So as well as getting to view the whole documentary, which when it comes out is most definitely worth a watch, Hayoun took part in a good old Q&A session. I think the overwhelming thing about Hayoun is her infectious enthusiasm, theres one particular section in the film when she is trying to persuade the head of NASA’s Ames Research facility to take part in the orchestra despite not being able to play an instrument, he clearly isn’t that keen yet she manages to pull it off after he remarks ‘you could be a con artist…there somebody who can convince anyone to do anything’ and its true she really could.

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Presentation slide 1

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I mean this slide above is pretty out there – RED BOLD CAPS UNDERLINED – she really is this enthusiastic. Literally the list shows it, she approached the project with the mentality ‘so what… MAKE IT HAPPEN‘. The Q&A proved really insightful into her practice, which combines science, nature and design which as it happens is the region where I see myself heading. So as well as really enjoying the project and seeing the outcome I found that design is what you make it and is in many ways who and what you are. I mean I’ve known this donkies but actually seeing someone like Hayoun its amazing what one designer can actually accomplish. Some more images from the film (taken from here).

1-The-International-Space-Orchestra-a-project-by-Nelly-Ben-Hayoun-Copyright-Nelly-Ben-hayoun-Photo-Neil-berrett1-940x468

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ISO-Patches-By-David-Benqué

….Did I forget to mention that the ISO is now transmitting its sweet, sweet melodies out into the vast Universe whilst orbiting above your very head using this amazing new nano satellite… Impressive.

(skip to 47.37s for t-minus 5 seconds).

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What an amazing bit of footage. Looking back on the world and seeing how the future was envisaged, how the narrator is always so assertive ‘this is how the city of the future will look’. It’s strange each time I see one of these films I always make a mental tally of which predictions were true or not. Some are really outlandish, but some aren’t far off others eerily close.

In this short clip from the New York World Fair in 1939, we’re given an overview of the city of tomorrow, well the city of 1960’s America. The music helps aid the sense amazement even I feel caught up in the moment, but the film showed that in the interwar period America and the (western) world were making huge leaps in social structure, technology, industry and highlighted that many people had an all round positive view on the world of tomorrow. Yet there is a slight feeling of naivety to many of these types of videos which is inevitable I suppose as we’re watching them 70+ years later. I guess in some ways its a pat on the back to mankind to say ‘hey, congrats, things are going real swell, today is literally a world away from then… look at everything we’ve achieved.’ Yet on the other you could say, ‘hey, hold on, what was so bad with how things were, really and truly? Yes things were slower, illness was a tad rifer ( a case of swings and roundabouts – life/death cycle was still balanced) but did we have so many economical meltdowns, social media ‘like’ me’ frenzies or anywhere near as many social, religious or political disputes as we do now. Of course  the answer is, ‘no’. Although this debate has raged for centuries it doesn’t take a lot for Tom, Dick or Harry to realise that there’s a lot of pro’s and con’s to both arguments. When we melt it down I suppose this is what they call the human conditionto quote one William Shakespeare (apologies for use of excessively used quotation) –

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages.”

Without wanting to digress to much, the human condition does certainly affect the way we perceive our future, the constant yearning to move forward, transgress more barriers and create a better world are all things that make us solely unique. Bearing this in mind, ‘Futurama’ (above not Matt Groening) illustrates that each generation has its own, very different view on the future. Each one a little closer to the fact every time becoming more precise than the last in its prediction. Our technology and abilities develop as a result of each generation therefore our prediction methods increase exponentially with each generation making our predictions more and more accurate. So we could almost say that at some point in the future our own methods of prediction will be so accurate (not accounting for nuclear war, alien invasion or global meltdown) that our astonishment thresholds may just simply become inert. We may ultimately say, ‘oh ok, not like we didn’t see that one coming’. So as we marvel at new technologies (some of which I must say are seriously amazingwill we eventually just lose our sense of excitement for what tomorrow holds? In forever striving for new and improved ways of utilising technology to predict our future will we lose a part of our condition? Speculation wins out as ever, but let us not forget ‘all the men and women merely players’ and pawns in this never ending mystery tour.