Millennial, right?

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Tate Modern will be marking its tenth year in May.
Brittle Bright Morning

It is actually not surprising when you think about it: Tate Modern was opened in 2000 as one of London’s Millennial projects. None the less it seems odd that it’s ten years old. In part, it feels like it can’t really have been open that long, surely? And in part, it seems so strongly a part of London that it seems to have been around for far longer. When it was first announced, I was disappointed that it was rescuing Bankside power station instead of the more iconic Battersea. But in the decade since “oh, let’s just go for a wander along the South Bank to the Tate” has become a familiar phrase, and one of my favourite ways to pass a sunny Sunday in That London. Tate Modern has become as iconic as the other popular Millennial project, the Wheel.

I’ve mentioned how my love of the galleries, and my magpie-like urge to collate things, combined to create the Tate Galleries flickr group before. This week, after running it for five years, I finally got an email from the Tate itself. It was not telling me to stop it. Instead it was inviting me to join the 10 Years of Tate Modern group and to spread the word via my group.

They’re after people’s ten best photos of the gallery, which will then be fed onto their site. Photos submitted before 16 April may also be picked to appear in a Tate at 10 film that’ll shown on their site.

I’m a fan of museums engaging online. Tate did this with How We Are back in 2007 and hold Flickr-based parties. So I’m really pleased to see them intergrating it into their Tate Modern celebrations: Bankside and Flickr have evolved together over the last decade so it makes sense to enjoy that connection.

If you’ve photos of Tate Modern you’d like to add to the party, it’s at 10 Years of Tate Modern.

Museums and modernity

Sunday, 26 April 2009

I’ve been on Flickr since, oooh, at least early 2004 and one thing I’ve noticed is the different way different cultural organisations are responding to the web 2.0 channels.

Flickr allows users of museums and galleries to create their own virtual tours of the exhibitions, or to pool their images to make a large mosaic of the place. Not just the exhibits but also the structures. Some organisations run flickr groups in order to create exhibits and events: the Tate‘s How We Are Now and the National Maritime‘s Beside the Seaside.  And some are also using it as a means to make their archives available: the National Maritime again, and the Library of Congress. Some also turn a blind eye to infringements of the on-site photography rules (I know at least one Tate employee knows about Tate Galleries for example).

What has really impressed me today is the Victoria & Albert‘s decision to actively engage and encourage visitors to take photos not just of the structure of the museum but of the exhibits.  Their flickr group includes themes and effective treasure hunts which actively want people to take photos of their treasures.

I’m not a fan of people who take photos instead of looking at exhibits, especially if they, say, use flash photography in rooms with deliberately lowered light levels. Some woman at Versailles walked into a room that was dimmed to protect an ancient tapestry and fired off a bunch of shots. The shots tend to be rubbish anyway, and the flashes incrementally damage the very objects you’ve come to admire. It’s annoying, and museums and galleries are right to restrict photography when necessary. The Andy Warhol exhibition at the Galeries Nationales, for example, were ruthless in enforcing a photography ban. Buy a postcard, people. Or at least look at the actual object whilst you’re in front of it.

Anyway, I’m delighted that one of my favourite museums – and one whose temporary exhibitions like Modernism and  Cold War Modern often cause me to get over-excited, over-whelmed and footsore – is embracing the idea of a virtual, user-built, museum. Their flickr group is a delight and well worth visiting if you can’t make South Ken regularly.

Tonight We Fly

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Fate doesn’t hang on a wrong or right choice,
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice,
So sing while you have time, let the sun shine down from above
And fill you with songs of love
Songs of Love, The Divine Comedy

Yeah, I know I’ve quoted it before, but it does remain one of my absolute favourite Divine Comedy songs. We went to the Roundhouse on Thursday night to see them live. The support act were musically competent, but suffered from being a checklist of clichés. The Divine Comedy were, of course, excellent. Hannon is the sort of artist who easily gathers up the audience and plays it like a dream, from his teasing threaten to strip to bringing on a brass section for two songs in the encore. The highlight was The Plough, from Victory for the Comic Muse, where he told a life story in the time it took to smoke a cigarette.

We then spent the Friday afternoon at Kew Gardens, nipping into the Temperate House at one point to warm up from the chilly autumn air:
Autumn Colour informal lake island
Pagoda The Temperate house Time Forgot
[all images here]
We tried to get tickets for Late at the Tate but were too, er, late.

Then to Brizzol for the weekend, and PPH‘s birthday. The SS Great Britain is, indeed, an excellent museum. There’s been a conscious effort to remove the barriers between visitor and objects. The route is defined a little, in that you start with the rusting hull, then visit a dockside exhibition which goes backwards through time, before stepping onto the restored mid-Victorian deck of the ship and investing its various quarters. But within that journey back through time, you are given freedom: you can try to steer using a working wheel and pulleys, or wander through the ship in no order. There’s an active encouragement to try the doors in the salons, and a turning engine at its heart. And this is before I mention the glass sea… Wonderful. Highly recommended.

Modern(ist) Life is Rubbish

Friday, 19 May 2006

Not really.

Back from another work-related trip to London. Luckily the tedium of long-distance commuting and meetings I could have done in my sleep was offset by an enjoyable trip to the Modernism exhibition at the V&A. It’s an exhaustive show, as well as exhausting. Ninety minutes or more of looking at things and debating the aims of the modernist movement, what we liked about it and why these utopian idealogical dreams failed both in general European terms and in spefic relation to Britain’s cities of tomorrow (which are the slums of today). We also discussed chairs, ballet and which car was Thierry Henri advertising in those va-va-voom adverts. That last one had nothing to do with the exhibition, just sprung out of nowhere. It’s the sort of show which suits wandering and discussing stuff.

I have discovered the one flaw in the relaxation of drinking laws in the UK. Since time is no longer rung in some pubs, you may find yourself realising it is nearly midnight and you need to get onto the Tube quick before it shuts down. Had a hotel room with a stunning view of the Post Office tower through a shell of a building being gutted and rebuilt, which seemed an entirely appropriate image to end an evening of modernism on. I did try to take a photo but it was feeble.

Back in Devon, I’ve switched hairdresser to one who actually listened to what I wanted and had a rare moment of buying music. I went in vaguely hoping for some Cory Branan and came out with Belle & Sebastian, The Magnetic Fields and British Sea Power. At least generically they are all similar and The Magnetic Fields album makes sense as I have been unable to stop singing I’m The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side since I first heard it. I was going to get Brenan because I also love The Prettiest Waitress in Memphis and in my brain – and my playlists – those two songs are linked.

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