Daily Mind-ful 2 May 2017 (Museum of Childhood)

This Daily Mind-ful clip is mostly about my visit to V&A’s Museum of Childhood, so I’m going to dispense with the customary recapping of every Instagram story contained in the accompanying video and share my impressions about the Museum and why it’s a destination as entertaining and enriching for adults as it is children.
Although a parade of prams and baby buggies greets you at the entrance, the museum’s huge collection of toys, dolls, games, party favors, costumes and childhood whatnots archived since Victorian times is a treasure trove for the most exigent adult socioanthropologist studying the stuff of childhood over the generations. What’s missing, however, is exhibits dated after 2000, as if childhood ceased to evolve, when, in fact, the stark opposite is the case. Indeed, my main impression of the museum was a rueful sense that, in one or two generations, childhood and adulthood have converged – possibly to the point where there’s no longer anything to separately archive for the former. Considering that the material artifacts of childhood amassed over one hundred years could undoubtedly cover the surface area of a few small countries, the museum’s curators have chosen objects which are not only good exemplars of their age but idiosyncratic, eccentric, exquisite or weird in many cases. As a bonus, adult art, such as Sarah Raphael’s sculptural Childhood Cube and Rachel Whiteread’s large collection of dollhouses, “Place (Village)”, punctuates the exhibition halls as a sort of meta-commentary on childhood, its obsessions and playthings. In one of the captions, the museum states “all creativity has a value,” espousing a highly progressive vision of childhood education which dovetails perfectly with its embrace of multi-ethnic, multi-culturalism, a theme expressed with multi-lingual captioning in one of the exhibits. (I didn’t bother to scratch the surface of that exhibition and only noticed the unorthodox signage.) Last but not least, I was struck by “Searching for Ghosts,” the thought-provoking exhibition about Britain’s housing crisis in the front hall of the museum. It certainly wasn’t for children and featured photographic portraits by Tom Hunter of families living in one of London’s original council estates. While it wasn’t a suitable diversion for a child, the art made sense in the context of families, households and their inhabitants and asked viewers to engage with a pressing civic issue. The name “Museum of Childhood” doesn’t reflect the kaleidoscopic richness of this museum, not at all. Suffice it to say that I walked through it like a kid in a candy store.
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Daily Mind-ful 29 April 2017 (Dulwich)

I don’t understand dogs. They’re so domesticated that they won’t leave the house after 8 hours inside unless a human takes them on a walk; travel and logistics nightmare today because I have to go to London and Dulwich and the trains are being repaired. It means we have to take the train from Stansted into the city – NIGHTMARE; an article in the the SmartCities SmartBrief about my home town, Cincinnati, Ohio, catches my eye: it’s about how the digital divide — and a lack of internet — prevents social mobility among the lower rungs of society; I complain about the lack of internet in the countryside but the digital divide mirroring the structural poverty of the poorest strata of society in the United States is actually much more serious. Living in the UK, perhaps I’ve become myopic and blind to such important issues; I dart into the “America After the Fall” exhibition at the Royal Academy and am struck by how many of the works painted during the Depression reflect the dystopian atmosphere and problems of today; at 45 Jermyn Street, I’m struck by how the thin value-add of Virgin Mary sauce on top of a smashed avocado justifies its overpriced place on the menu; then, we head off to Dulwich for my cousin’s birthday lunch; next time, I’ll check out the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the UK’s oldest art gallery, which also boasts an outdoor gallery of street art; after 11 hours, we’re back home; John lights a fire in our kadai, a giant cauldron fit for roasting small children; I review and annotate the most recent issues of The Week in preparation for my next vlog; I download the Google Art & Culture app which allows you to discover the art and culture destinations in the vicinity of your real time geolocation. It’s a fantastic, invaluable information resource; my stepdaughter tells me about a new app, Smartify, which is the equivalent of Shazam for art; I end the night by watching the Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko fight for the heavyweight championship of the world.
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Daily Mind-ful 27 April 2017 (music discovery)

I start the day with a Facebook fail; I’m interviewing photographer, Edgar Martins, next week in London, at the recommendation of a FORMAT Festival curator. Like Konstantin Bessmertny, whom I just vlogged about, he’s from Macau!; it’s outrageous that Maria Sharapova is back on the professional tennis circuit; my 18-year old son is much more organised than I am; experiencing a crisis of self-confidence after realising it won’t be easy to start my new business, I call an old, very good friend, who spurs me on to hustle, a simple but effective exhortation; I spent most of my day editing footage of FORMAT’s artistic director, Louise Clement Mazmanian; much of my day is about music discovery: one of the best resources for royalty-free music is a site called PremiumBeat; after listening to countless tracks on the site, I find a perfect backing track for a project; but of course, I can’t buy it until the client has A-OKed it. Therefore, and in the meantime, I need suggestions from you for an interim specimen backing track which can be used for aural illustration. Any ideas?; pressed for time, I listen to the work of Johann Johannsson who composed the music for Arrival to find a suitably uplifting “human drama” track; his music is perfect; in a related observation: it’s interesting to note how contemporary classical music which is otherwise unbearable to listen to takes on a totally different sci-fi character once the sound of a distorted human voice is overlaid, another, different type of music discovery. You listen to the track in question here; tonight is one of the only occasions when I have to look semi-decent because I have a dinner with civilised people — in the countryside. Not being able to find the single one piece of clothing I’m looking for, a pair of brown corduroys, I put on a Dior Homme suit instead and wear it with my faux mucking out boots from Frye; having been in the fashion industry for so many years, I can make almost any outfit match; I never owned or bought a pair of brown shoes my entire life — until now — giving you some idea of how I’ve been a country chic virgin until now; dinner with the Brexiters was fun and memorable. Contrary to what you may think, there are quite a few people like me in the countryside!; it’s long overdue to vlog, with myself as the talking head; I watch Agon, a ballet by Stravinsky choreographed by George Balanchine. (And, frankly, it’s too conventional for me to vlog about.)
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Contemporary Music 101: The Playlist from An Exposition Not An Exhibition (Ari Benjamin Meyers), Spring Workshop


If you’re genuinely interested in (classical) contemporary music, here’s a playlist which is tantamount to a crash course in “Contemporary Music 101,” so to speak. Besides the durational performances of this “piece,” An Exposition Not An Exhibition by Ari Benjamin Meyers, staged at Spring Workship during Spring 2017, this list from the “exposition” was one of the most invaluable take-aways from the listening/witnessing experience for contemporary music neophyte me. Contemporary music is inscrutable and difficult. At first hearing, it can even be unbearable. But it’s my own experience that listening to it can afford genuine insight into the intellectual underpinnings, meaning and definition of music. Thus, delving into this genre of music is an intellectual investigation rather than an unmediated, bacchanalian experience. Here are the first 25 works in Meyers’ list, retyped for convenient reference, in case you don’t feel like transcribing from the video:
Farewell Symphony, Franz Joseph Haydn
Vexations (1893), Erik Satie
Scherzo (1903/1914), Charles Ives
String Quartet No. 2 (1907-1908), IV, Arnold Schoenberg
Unanswered Question (1908), Charles Ives
Four Pieces, Opus 7 (1910), Anton Webern
Six Bagatelles (1913), Anton Webern
Concertino (1930), George Antheil
Density 21.5 (1936), Edgar Varese
Variations (1936), Anton Webern
Living Room Music (1940), John Cage
Quartet for the End of Time (1941), Oliver Messiaen
Duo (1942), Roger Sessions
Dream (1948), John Cage
In a Landscape (1948), John Cage
Sonata (1948-1953), Gyorgy Ligeti
Quartet in Four Parts (1950), John Cage
4’33” (1952), John Cage
Sonata (1955), George Crumb
Sequenza (1958), Luciana Berio
Variations I (1958), John Cage
Variations II (1961), John Cage
Variations III (1962), John Cage
Mei (1962), Kazuo Fukushima
Variations IV (1963), John Cage
Ko-Lho (1966), Giacinto Scelsi
Violin Phase (1967), Steve Reich
Manto I (1967), Giacinto Scelsi
Chambers (1968), Alvin Lucier
Triple Quartet (1968), Steve Reich
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An exposition, not an exhibition (Spring Workshop)


Kudos to Hong Kong’s Spring Workshop and its founder, Mimi Brown, for breaking new ground in arts and culture by daring to introduce ground-breaking art exhibitions and performances like “An Exposition Not an Exhibition” by Ari Benjamin Meyers to Hong Kong. I attended an hour of this unusual musical happening which features a five-hour durational performance comprised of pieces from the canon of contemporary music, played in different locations within the premises of Spring Workshop, without any prior distribution or announcement of the program or sequence of pieces to be played, to the audience. The entire experience was rendered even more fun and intriguing by the sporting of masks by both the performers and audience members. By bringing this unusual, world-class event to Hong Kong, Spring Workshop dares us to open our mind to the new musical forms presented by contemporary music. If you’re interested to learn more about contemporary music, my best advice is to start by listening. The playlist for Meyers’ piece is a great starting point and can be found here on my site.
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The Handmaid’s Tale (Stephanie Rushton)


While documenting FORMAT 2017, I met artist, Stephanie Rushton, who told me about “The Handmaid’s Tale”, one of the images in her “Archaea” series, on display in Pearson House, along with a live plant sculpture. By portraying plants as phantasmagorical, surrealist, anthropomorphic creatures, Rushton makes the point that they possess an intelligence which connects them to human beings. The “Archaea” series was a great example of how FORMAT artists expressed this biennial’s theme of “habitat.”

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1913: The Rite of Spring (Stravinsky/Nijinsky/Diaghilev)


Diaghilev’s 1913 Paris debut of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring choreographed by Nijinsky represented a revolutionary leap in modern art and culture and caused “rioting.” We have to ask, could such a leap of consciousness or concept occur today? The answer is, sadly, resoundingly, no. My various vlogs explain why culture and creativity are stranded and stymied at all phases of development, beginning with the artists themselves. You can see the full video of the Mariinsky Theatre’s performance, from which this clip was excerpted, here.
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Daily Mind-ful 21 April 2017 (FORMAT 2017)

[APOLOGIES but the first story in this clip appeared in yesterday’s diary post.] You can watch my full rant about how Mark Zuckerberg needs to grow some balls and show more leadership here; first stop on my tour of FORMAT 2017 is the University of Derby on Markeaton Street, located across the street from a trailer park; you can actually order instant coffee at the cafe; the FORMAT exhibition spans 15 venues across the city of Derby so that residents, students and everyone in Derby is exposed to the art; bleak images of the former Yugoslavia by Borko Vukosav; gorgeous, if slightly obvious, images of glaciers juxtaposed against abandoned eskimo dwellings by Magda Biernat; extremely disturbing autoradiographic images by Masamichi Kagaya document the radiation still present in natural and man-made objects in the environs of the Fukushima nuclear plant; FORMAT is astounding for its curatorial choices and quality of writing; Derby is quaint and idyllic to boot; my iphone selfie lens has a crack across the protector explaining why I haven’t been and can’t be the talking head in my own vlogs lately; I arrive at Pickford House, the 250-year old former residence of Georgian architect, Joseph Pickford; Shivani Gupta’s portraits of Ladakh people printed on fabric are gorgeous and folkloric; but I’ve spent too long savoring the art at the first two venues, meaning that I’m running out of time to see the rest of the venues in FORMAT today; St. Werburgh’s Chapel houses two artworks by Tim Simmons and Simon Aeppli, captured in a video on my Instagram feed; at the Derby Museum, there’s an exhibition dedicated to the contents of one of the world’s oldest photography studio, W.W. Winters of Derby; one of FORMAT’s strong suits is the very disparate aesthetic, historical and thematic range of images on display; I check out FORMAT’s River Lights venue so that I can try out the Virtual Reality headsets from Oculus; I didn’t video any part of my visit to the Dubrik recording studio because it’s right next to a halfway house (and lots of dubious characters loitering loudly on the street); I fall in love with one of the FORMAT venues: the Small Print Company and end up shooting the owner of that business instead of the photography — enough to make a short film actually; the penultimate venue of the day is the semi-derelict Pearson House, a mystical,
overgrown former school housing the artworks of about 10 photographers; Poulomi Basu’s video and virtual reality installation about Western Nepalese women ostracized under Hindu tradition for undergoing menstruation for the first time is arresting and memorable; my final stop is on Cathedral Green, to see FORMAT’S iteration of the global, travelling photography project, Flaneur; after a jam-packed day at FORMAT, I have to drive home — starving and thirsty; the real, hard work begins after I download all the clips from my camera; no Prets in Derby (but it’s a good thing); HOME – at last — after the LOOONGEST day!
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Daily Mind-ful 20 April 2017 (Facebook)

Still learning to use the video camera before pushing off to Derby for FORMAT 2017; British traffic sucks; Wind farm; Derby is cute and historic; the founder of FORMAT, Louise, not only established the art and film center, QUAD, in Derby. But the UK’s biggest photography festival, FORMAT; clearly, I’ve been slacking and doing nothing these last ten years; when we met in Hong Kong, I had no idea about the magnitude of what she’s built; I assume Derby is safe because there’s no one on the street at night (????); I can’t believe Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s development agenda is so vacuous. Based on the intentions he stated during the recent F8 developer conference, his top technological and commercial priorities boil down to adding idiotic fripperies borrowed from Snapchat and Pokemon Go. The fact that a platform as powerful as Facebook needs to borrow and copy rather than pioneering its own ground-breaking initiatives based on its founder’s deepest ethical and entrepreneurial convictions is disturbing and disappointing enough. But it’s even worse that his top priorities are so devoid of social, political, environmental, cultural value; for example, he should really be implementing innovative, badly needed functionality which automatically identifies and eliminates fake news and enables greater participation in the political process rather than spending tens of millions developing three dimensional smiley face stickers; imagine other multi-billion dollar companies like Unilever, Lockheed Martin or General Electric pursuing similarly mindless agendas: it would be entirely unacceptable to shareholders and the general public. That’s the problem with a thirty-something year old developer (computer science engineer) without any sociopolitical consciousness let alone conscience wielding enormous power. It’s just as worrying to think that this is the sort of person spearheading crucial technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Zuckerberg needs a conscience internship with Bill Gates!; it pissed me off so badly, I taped a full vlog post on the topic.
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Daily Mind-ful 19 April 2017

Personal infrastructure milestones (intended, anyway): broadband installation TODAY plus, finally, I’m going to set up a UK bank account (after an entire year); I decide to attend FORMAT 2017, the UK’s biggest photo fair founded by my friend, TOMORROW because I need to make a short film about the festival for the website of my new business; before then, I need to learn how to use my new video camera; birds = dinosaurs;
about to replant our kitchen garden (from which, going forward, we will obtain all our vegetables for home consumption) ; husband continues to deny that he’s camp; milk in salad dressing. REALLY?; In order to conduct, you have to be able to master seven clefs and be able to transpose them on the fly. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!; Denise asserts that there is an unmistakable resemblance between Leonard Bernstein and John; Therefore, we’re going to make a film about it; Jaap van Zweden, the conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, will assume the post of conducting the New York Philharmonic next year. LORD, I’m behind on culture news!; tonight’s cocktail is called “Between the Sheets”; Denise makes me watch the 1913 version of the Rite of Spring by Diaghilev. It’s unbelievably avant-garde and I can’t believe that Nijinsky and Diaghilev tried this IN 1913! No wonder there were riots; the camp accent and urban vernacular of artist, Jordan Wolfson, triggers an instant prejudice against him (at least for me).
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