December 6, 2012


Somehow this caught my attention. Perhaps because it is so true.

This from artist Christoph Niemann who has a regular column in the New York Times Magazine called Abstract Sunday.

Christoph Niemann - Red Eye

Christoph Niemann - Red Eye

Christoph Niemann - Red Eye

Christoph Niemann - Red Eye

Christoph Niemann - Red Eye

Christoph Niemann - Red Eye

Christoph Niemann - Red Eye

Christoph Niemann - Red EyeChristoph Niemann - Red EyeChristoph Niemann - Red EyeChristoph Niemann - Red EyeChristoph Niemann - Red EyeChristoph Niemann - Red EyeChristoph Niemann - Red Eye


Age Quiz Time

July 27, 2012

People have been posting this sort of picture onto Facebook and elsewhere with the message – “you know you are old if you recognise this”.

Here are a few from my childhood.







One of the slightly surprising things that this exercise has thrown up, is in fact how little things have changed in the last 50 years or so. Setting aside the computer/mobile phone/ television examples, it is hard to find much that has changed so much that they are unrecognisable.

Even some of the objects I have shown here are in contemporary use in some form. The hand sprayer, the can opener and even the mini-blackboard (slate) for example.

The fundamental objects around us have been refined and re-designed but are generally fairly recognisable.

By the way, the objects are –

drive-in cinema speakers, sardine can opener, hi-fi stylus, US 45-rpm record centre, school inkwell, Philips videocassette, school slate, car starter-handle, clothes wringer, two can-openers, Tonette, fly-spray

Imagined Lives

July 3, 2012


So, London turned on a typically cold and wet summer again so far this year. Not that I regard that as a particular problem when visiting the old town. That’s what its fabulous museums and galleries are for.

I have written before about various visits to galleries. such as Art and Politics, Where Would We Be Without Maps.  

A particular favourite is the National Portrait Gallery. There is already a preponderance royal portraits at the best of times and during the Jubilee it was a bit overwhelmed with royal stuff.  But there are fortunately still other exhibitions on show.

As is often the case, the most interesting exhibitions are the ones tucked away in corners or downstairs by the bookshop. This time was no exception.

Imagined Lives is a small collection of portraits of unknown people that were once thought be be others.

Unknown woman, formerly known as Mary, Queen of Scots, by Unknown artist, circa 1570 - NPG 96 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

For example, this portrait which was once believed to be Mary Queen of Scots but which is now simply listed as a portrait of an unknown woman.

What makes this exhibition special is the very clever book that accompanies it. For each of the portraits a well-known author – John Banville, Tracy Chevalier, Julian Fellowes, Alexander McCall Smith, Terry Pratchett, Sarah Singleton, Joanna Trollope or Minette Walters has written a fictional account of what the lives of these sitters might have been like.

There are some wonderful portraits made all the more interesting by these stories.

Who Owns An Image?

May 9, 2011

This blog is very dependent on the reproduction of other peoples work and I try to credit them when I know who is responsible. Often I copy photos and artwork from website where the creator is not named even though sometimes the identity of the originator is only a few clicks away. Nonetheless, I am aware of the possible risks associated with using people’s work without permission and the potential for accusations of hypocrisy in doing so.

Part of my justification is that I use these pictures, either to draw attention to the artist’s work or to comment on it in some way, and certainly there is no material gain for me in this.

An interesting angle on this is found via Fstoppers – a website for professional photographers.  In a video entitled The Stolen Scream,  photographer Noam Galai tells the story of how a single photograph of himself posted on Flickr has become a universal image.





Noam generously sees this circulation of his work as publishing rather than theft, though he draws the line at people making money out of his work (let alone his likeness). It does raise the question though of who owns an image and does the act of posting it online negate any claims. Noam himself gives the example of an artist not receiving any ongoing gain from a work hanging on the wall of a gallery.

I suspect that it is a forlorn hope to want to share in the profits from the use of work posted online.

Love at first sight

April 25, 2011

How else can I describe my discovery of Google Patents? This has got to be like nirvana to a dedicated cyberslacker. Access to over 7 million patents. Why, I may never leave my desk once I get into reading all of them.

OK so here are a few fun ones to be getting on with.

Hat simulating a fried egg.


Toy gun convertible into robotic-humanoid form.


Space Vehicle propelled by the pressure of inflationary vacuum state


Combined scarecrow and advertising device


Method for concealing partial baldness



Device for cooling infant’s brain



Hmm. I wonder if it also protects against alien abductions

Mixed media

April 19, 2011


Sometime back in the last century (1972 actually), a friend and I made a computer generated film where the image was created by the soundtrack.

For the technical minded, that is a EMS Synthi A synthesiser running via an analog-to-digital converter to a PDP8. A 16mm film camera with servo controlled coloured filters recorded the output on the large circular cathode ray tube.

Unfortunately, I don’t know where the film is now but my memory is that it somewhat resembled the coloured patterns that media players show when playing music files. Unremarkable now, but at the time it was novel. I think the doing of it was worthier than the result.

I was prompted to recall this by seeing this music machine shown at the design academy Eindhoven’s exhibition at Milan design week 2011.


It consists of a scale model of the city of Eindhoven wrapped around a cylinder which when rotated plays a piano keyboard.

How successful this mixed-media work is is open to question as the accompanying video is so poor that you can’t really hear the sound.

Still, like my 1972 film, I applaud the effort.

Slow posting

April 18, 2011

Yes it is true. I have not posted anything for a very long time.

It is possible that I have taken the ‘slack’ part of Cyberslacker too literally, but I think not. What is more likely is that the online world of sharing ideas has changed. There once was a time when I used newsgroups to share thoughts, and before that I posted things on bulletin boards. Blogging is so much easier and so much more accessible, especially for someone who wants to share images publicly, so I have been doing that for a few years. Though sometime it does feel a bit like throwing ideas and images out there and hoping someone is listening. Writing a blog doesn’t automatically make one feel like part of a community. I wrote in my first blog “yes I do like the sound of my own voice”.  A bit indulgent you might think. And with good reason.  Maybe blogging has to give way to the next technology, whatever that might turn out to be, that connects more. Although I do post videos on Facebook, I don’t think that it a long-term replacement for a blog. Perhaps I’ll stick to this for the moment. 

In the meantime … more of the same from a collection of wonderfully whimsical oddities at

Wow. How?

and via meme-meme there is Like Cool who describe themselves as a gadget magazine.

The music player bed



The digital measuring tool (though its range is limited!)


or the folding keyboard