I was talking to this very nice person at a very fashionable opening in London who said she used to read my blog and really enjoyed the witty commentary on contemporary culture.

This really made my evening. Obviously this is no longer the case, though. So I am making a not-quite-New-Year resolution of sorts to go back to my fascinating days of yore. Stay tuned, but in the meantime please enjoy some of my Greatest Hits:

Lead Into Gold
Face Value
Never, Ever Reach the Moon
Why Have a Blog?
Bring on the laptop concerto
Crumpled up Paper Vs. the Idiolect
So Much to Learn from Old Pizza (Or, Did Andy Like Anchovies?)
Dude, Where’s My Coconut?
Rest In Peace: Alexander Calder (1898-1976), and Piet Mondrian (1872-1944)
Expo, or, the Tale of Two Mayors
Just Add Water
The Real Life of An Artist
Last Speakers


2009 is …

the International Year of Astronomy.
the Year of Creativity and Innovation in Europe.
the Year of the Hacker.
the Year of the Gorilla.
the Year of the Earth Ox.
the Year of Science in America.


Much Ado About a Meme

Eight years ago, a filmmaker by the name of Charles Stone III was approached by Anheuser-Busch to turn his short film into a series of adverts for Budweiser, and the Whassup? meme was born. (There is extensive history and information on the awards this ad campaign won on Wikipedia.)

Soon, “True, true”, “Yo dookie”, and of course, “Whassup?” became part of the vernacular, at least in North America. The popularity of the series led to a torrent of parodies and homages. My favourite is the painstakingly crafted mashup wherein the Superfriends play the roles of the Whassup boys.

In 2008, this meme is pretty old, and basically out of circulation. And so it goes with these things: they come and go, enjoy their moment in the pop culture sunshine, and then are replaced with something else. But this time is different: with the American election imminent, the Whassup boys are back, imbuing their initial schtick with substance and effectively playing on the power of the meme created by the initial advert and subsequent parodies. Enough time has passed that people have forgotten about Whassup, but not enough time has gone by for it to be a totally irrelevant reference.

It’s marvellous to see such a clever re-use of a much-loved meme. …and it gives me an excuse to say: get out there and vote, my American friends!

Art & Culture Asides

Manchester Urban Screens

USM logo
This week, the Manchester Urban Screens two-day conference and four-day programme of events kicks off.

The omnipresence of public displays such as LED, LCD, plasma screens, large scale projections and media facades demands a critical reflection of their impact on cities and on our perceptions of them. At the same time, they offer new and exciting possibilities for artistic and non-commercial use as well as for community development and play. Urban Screens Manchester looks specifically at the creation of content, commissioning / funding issues, curatorship and the architectural possibilities of urban screens in the 21st century.

The schedule is packed and looks as though it will present the possibilities of urban screens from as many angles as possible, with a range of speakers from academia, industry, and arts. I’m speaking with Dooeun Choi and Sylvia Kouvali on a panel moderated by Mike Stubbs. The panel takes place on Friday Oct 12 at 17.00 and is entitled: “Curating Screen Art for an Urban and Architectural Context”. The panel is described the programme notes thusly:

Until now it is rare that a curator or other new media expert is consulted on the conception of media facades and other urban screens. Consequently, lots of existing urban screens lack the comprehensive sophistication that would explore spatial, architectural or medial potentials. Which curatorial criteria should be applied to the creation and curation of urban screens? How important is site-specifity and the local context? Which economic and content-related restrains do curators have to face? Do urban screens suit a presentation of elaborate artistic content or will entertainment win over art?

I’m also pleased to announce that both of the recent video programmes that I’ve curated for urban screens will also be presented as part of the art programme: Otherworldly and Best of Transmedia. The complete listings (including times and locations) for the art events is on the Manchester Urban Screens website. This is the world premiere for Best of Transmedia and only the second run (the premiere took place in Melbourne, Australia) of Otherworldly. I can’t wait to see both programmes on the screens, both permanent and temporary, throughout Manchester’s city centre!

I’m very excited to be in Manchester this week chatting with experts in this growing field and hope to see many old friends and colleagues there – do get in touch if you will be attending!