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Dreamcatching

TOM GEORGE ARTS

Yesterday I met someone in the Egg cafe to talk about my Dreamcatcher project.

This is a series of interviews with folks about interesting, bizarre or memorable dreams they’ve had. I’m editing them into little films for the internet, with some of the dreams being visualised with dream sequences (obviously, the relatively low-budget dreams will stand the best chance of visualisation, as I can’t stretch to victorian costumes or alien battlecruisers at this stage)

Denny gave me a wonderful dream which you will have to wait for the new instalment to see. Meanwhile, here’s a reminder of the first dreamcatcher film.

Anyone with an interesting dream that wants to take part, please get in touch via spooneditor@hotmail.com

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Barcode Man

This is a piece that I am currently exhibiting at Arts Hub 47 on Lark Lane as part of Not Just Collective’s new show. The name of the show is ‘Practitioners of the City’ and features work inspired by the experience of urban living. I had previously exhibited video art with the group and this is my first sculpture, although I have always made things…

15241209_10153831565171735_1131450318289429216_nIn my teens I has a phase of making heads out of papier mache and recently went back to the practice, for no particular reason. This rather primitive human-like head was lying around my flat unpainted for a couple of years until this new show came along and I decided to do something with it.

For a while now I have been paying more attention to a spiritual essence that has become obscured by our obsessions with technology and consumerism. I have always been fascinated by evolution and early human relics – just when did we start being human?

15350458_10153831563891735_8096096447571652291_nIt occurred to me to make something that would reflect the impacts upon the human psyche of capitalism. These days, especially as we brand ourselves on social media, there is a tension between a kind of tamed, commodified self that we want to present to the world almost like a product, and a freer, more implusive, ancient human essence that we have almost forgotten.

The ‘hair’ on the sculpture is made of bar codes which I collected from products in my home and the base is a domestic cleaner bottle. The eyes are reflective plastic from teabag packaging – you can see yourself reflected if you get close enough.

I titled it ‘Something Deeper’.

 

 

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“Evidently, it’s elementary, they want us all gone eventually…”

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Humankind’s first steps into space inspired a rash of pop songs. In the wake of the first moon landing in 1969, songwriters started to imagine what space travel might mean for matters of the heart, and a mini-genre was born. Future-tastic sound effects, weightless melodies and tin foil in the videos all contributed to the kitschy glamour, as these mini-melodramas played out against the background of the cosmos. Set the controls for the heart of the fun – it’s time to find your inner space cadet…

  1. – David Bowie – Space Oddity (1969). The song that kicked off this trend (if we don’t count The Byrds’ Mr Spaceman) Bowie’s classic song features ‘lift-off’ sound effects and a general zero-gravity vibe, perfectly capturing the zeitgeist when it was first released, just before the Apollo 11 moon shot (this is the original lesser-known recording and video)

2. Elton John – Rocket Man (1972).

Perhaps a touch po-faced for this list, but the lyrics and ascending guitar motif place this track firmly in our spacey genre.

3. The Carpenters – Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (1977).

The slightly disturbing brother and sister duo join the space party.

4. Shelia B Devotion – Spacer (1979).

Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards from Chic add a touch of class to this sci-fi disco stomper.

5. Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip – I Lost My Heart To a Starship Trooper (1979).

“Tell me captain strange, do you feel my devotion? Or are you like a droid, devoid of emotion?” sings saucy Sarah. A double clip with lashings of glitter and dry ice.

6. The Police – Walking on The Moon (1979)

This song is not about walking on the actual moon, but rather the semi-weightless feeling of being in love, but it earns its place in our list with a low-gravity arrangement featuring Andy Summers’ spacious, ambient guitar chords.

7. Rah Band – Clouds Across the Moon (1985)

Based around a lovelorn phone call, this would a great song in any genre, but in this case the two lovers are seperated by interplanetary space. A great video bursting with low-budget sci-fi camp.

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bob and..

It could only happen in America. I can just picture hundreds of thousands of psychedelic beach chairs, picnic hampers and parasols spread out on the ‘Empire polo field’ (that famous rock’n’roll venue…) as Bob Dylan, the Stones, Paul McCartney, The Who, Roger Waters and Neil Young perform at a mega-gig in Indio, California this October.

The organisers of Coachella festival have persuaded these fading legends with more wrinkles between them than the Grand Canyon to unite for a three day mega-gig, for an estimated fee of £1000,000 per act.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with celebrating music history, but old legends banding together like this for a quick buck underlines the rift that exists between the older generation and today’s talented musicians. Now that record companies don’t put time and money into developing new artists, musicians are swept up and down on waves of hype, easily disappearing without trace if they don’t make quick returns. If they do get noticed, will their fans actually buy their music or simply play it on youtube, or Spotify where the royalty rates for artists are so pathetic?

This gig will be another easy earner for already-rich performers whose careers blossomed during a ‘golden era’ of huge record sales and music industry largesse. Their generation still have a dependable audience – many of whom are well off enough to afford what are sure to be obscene ticket prices.

It will be like a psychedelic Glyndebourne, glasses raised to the spirits of the past, without the risk of any new blood to spoil the orgy of nostalgia.

This is just another reminder that the music industry is dead on its feet. With no new acts being developed, where are the future elder-statesmen and women waiting in the wings? And there’s another point –  this assemblage of musos is the last gathering of the original rock brotherhood, time-travellers from an era when virtually the only important musicians were male. How dated that looks now.

Don’t they feel uncomfortable turning the stage into a retirement home without any sort of organic connection to what is going on in today? An event like this could easily have included some support acts, I would have thought Neil Young might feel this, or Pete Townsend, or indeed Jagger – who always likes to appear aware of what goes on outside his bubble, at least.

It’s great when old-timers headline Glastonbury; often they can whip the asses of their younger comrades in terms of stagecraft. But sealing themselves off like this is unhealthy. It stinks of greed, complacency and theme-park culture.

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In the seventies there was a slew of tracks that blended folky balladry and rock textures and, although not neccesarily sounding like Dylan, they were clearly in debt to his epic style of songwriting. A long and winding melody would be combined with tasteful instrumentation and cryptic, poetic lyrics that were sometimes comprehensible, sometimes not.

Typical examples include American Pie, Hotel California and Sultans of Swing, and at the louder end Born To Run, Stairway To Heaven and Bat Out of Hell. The long-form song was nurtured by the album culture but these tracks were also catchy as hell and often big hit singles – that fact that I don’t need to mention the artists here attests to their iconic status the songs achieved in their own right.

Here’s a gentler example of the species – Al Stewart’s Year of The Cat. As seventies as cheesecloth and homebrew, and featuring a gorgeous alto sax break. Enjoy.

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Rooftopping In Toronto...***EXCLUSIVE***  TORONTO, CANADA - OCT 2012: A slow exposure of the streets of Toronto, Canada.  WHATEVER you do  dont look down. Daring photographer Tom Ryaboi snaps the Toronto skyline from the top of skyscrapers. The 28-year-old is one of the pioneers of rooftopping, which sees members scale tall buildings to take pictures of the streets below. To achieve these breathtaking photographs, he often has to evade security guards, dogs - and even urban falcons defending their nests.  PHOTOGRAPH BY Tom Ryaboi/Barcroft Media  UK Office, London. T +44 845 370 2233 W www.barcroftmedia.com  USA Office, New York City. T +1 212 796 2458 W www.barcroftusa.com  Indian Office, Delhi. T +91 11 4053 2429 W www.barcroftindia.com

To all members of the soiled siblinghood who cling to the city streets, that feral fraternity bequeathed to us by Madame Thatcher, for whom the park bench is a couch and the church steps a social club, who live alongside our absurd society and happen to be addicted to the wrong things…

To these homeless souls I offer no pity. I offer congratulations. Because simply by surviving they deserve my admiration.

Survival is the thrilling feeling I have craved at different times; like the climber on the rock face, fighting the living rock with fingertips and toes, the unconditional lust of gravity begging him down to the boulder-field below. He KNOWS he is alive. Do you?

The further we get from the rock face, the essentials of survival, the less alive we are.

I look back to a time in Barcelona, living in a cold water flat, no amenities, busking on the streets, wild and hazy. It was a beautiful brand of poverty. At night in my room I always had company, but not of the species I would have chosen.

As soon as I put out the light I would hear scuttling, an ominous pitter-pattering, haunting me like an instant nightmare ‘cos I knew what it was. Cockroaches sweeping the floor, fanning out like an insect army in search of supplies.

My revulsion was such that I chose the only missile available – hurling unopened beer cans into their ranks, to quell the tide.  I didn’t like doing it cos it shook the beer up, and I had to wipe bits of cockroach off the cans before drinking them.

The Buddhist in me was appalled at my behaviour. Cockroaches are remarkable creatures; they can live off anything, live anywhere. Like rats, they’re survivors, and some say that they’d be one of the few life forms to survive a global catastrophe.  The pragmatist in me suggested better tactics – maybe I should call the landlord, put some poison down or move to a better flat. The realist in me told the other two to forget it. When faced with a strange problem I always find a strange solution…

An average city street might have  1000 people on it. 1000 minds in 1000 heads all containing lifetimes of experience and regret and fear and hope and love. Each head containing the world, the universe even, from one particular perspective. 1000 different yet individually definitive versions of everything there is. And each one of them is climbing a personal mountain path to some kind of ultimate reconciliation with the fact that at some point the journey is over. Or not.

1000 worldviews on one street, multiplied across a city, a country, a continent. How can we possibly understand ourselves as a species?

Well, we could try…the combined wisdom of 1000 can either be 1000 times wiser or 1000 times more stupid. We have to learn from insect culture.

The wise among us don’t walk down streets these days. We scuttle. Those carrying their heads too high will have them knocked off by the winds. The weather is not being kind. But we have the logistics, the nouse to survive. We have no pretentions to status. We live the low life, scuttling from one safe haven to the next, where it’s warm and interesting and we don’t feel as if we’re on the wrong side of history.

This is the only way to survive. This is the cockroach culture, low to the ground, resourceful, collective, living as best we can, dodging the governmental missiles raining down on us from above. Reconnecting with our invertebrate instincts, scuttling together under cover of darkness, we will fan out and take the floor…

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