Thursday, 28 June 2012

symbols on the skin


Jean Paul Gaultier spring/summer 2012 Source: WGSN

Tattoos used to be for soldiers, sailors, bikers and criminals but now we read that  the prime minister's wife has a dolphin on her ankle. One fifth of British adults are now 'inked', according to a survey and celebrities are covered in them. Wayne Rooney has Just Enough Education to Perform (the title of a Stereophonics album), his wife Coleen's name and a Celtic motif on his right arm, a flag of St George and "English and Proud" on his left, and a pair of clasped palms and angel wings across his back. Angelina Jolie has the coordinates of her children's birthplaces, "Know your rights" in English and Latin, a tiger, a quantity of quotations and a black cross, plus the names of her two divorced husbands (now covered over with new tattoos).

For many their  tattoos are a statement of their  individuality,  they have tattoos to mark important events, people and feelings- a visual record of their ongoing journey through their  lives. Be warned though, 23% of British adults say they now regret the their tattoos (we all make mistakes in life and permanent reminders of them on the skin are bound to be unhelpful).

By the late 1800s, 90% of those serving in the British navy were tattooed and sailing iconography is still influential – particularly with the trend for retro "romantic" tattoos. An anchor could mean crossing the equator, the soul of a dead sailor or symbolise hope, now,  rather than having a particular meaning, the anchor has also become an icon of tattooing – like the broken heart and the swallow.

 This Guardian article recovers from lost memory the symbolism behind the more classic images. Did you know the teardrop could signify you'd murdered someone? Or that Samantha Cameron's dolphin could signify prosperity but also represent duality – a creature of the water, and a breather of air-two worlds at once....

Staff and students at Cardiff Met can find images and articles about tattoos in WGSN our fabulous new fashion database which can be accessed from the Electronic Library. Use JSTOR to find out more about their history.

Friday, 15 June 2012

To celebrate the Olympic year of 2012, a temporary building a one-bedroom boat, the Roi des Belges, by David Kohn Architects in collaboration with Fiona Banner has been installed on the roof above the Queen Elizabeth Hall.The building was picked as the winner in an open competition run by Living Architecture and Artangel, in association with the Southbank Centre
The riverboat building was inspired by the riverboat, the Roi des Belges, captained by Joseph Conrad whilst in the Congo in 1890, a journey echoed in his most famous work Heart of Darkness.

There is a deck, a crow's nest, a cabinet of visual curios - and a bed which slides on rails to make the most of the view over London: a panorama that stretches from Big Ben to St Paul's cathedral. An octagonal library with a curated selection of books and with twin desks looking out across the river enables visitors to use the Room as a studio space.

A range of writers, musicians and artists have been invited to stay in A Room for London, using their time there to create new works or performances. During the year the room  will transmit a programme of writing, performance and music.

Podcasts of the music, text and artworks are available to view from here
Fiona Banner’s work for the Room was  a film of a one-off performance of Orson Welles' unmade film Heart of Darkness The screenplay was performed in its entirety on board the Roi des Belges by the actor Brian Cox and is available on the website here until June 30th

Thursday, 7 June 2012


 Last week BBC 4 aired a documentary called 'Evidently...John Cooper Clarke ' (on iplayer until 11th June only) . It records and celebrates the  life and works of John Cooper Clarke, punk poet, looking at his life as a poet, a comedian, a recording artist and revealing how he has remained a significant influence on contemporary culture over four decades.

The John Cooper Clarke  documentary  is just part of  a whole range of  programmes  for a Punk Britannia season to be found on  BBC Four and BBC Radio 6 Music . The season marks 35 years since punk's heyday in 1977,  the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee.

A new three-part documentary series on BBC4 spanning  1971-1981 maps some of the uncharted as well as the more familiar territory of Punk .

BBC Radio 6 Music is providing a range of curated shows  from some of punk’s most iconic names, alongside a series of themed shows. On Friday 1st June 12am-1am it all kicked off with John Lydon . As a teenager, Rotten Lydon (as he wonderfully refers to himself in the show) announced himself to the world as the focal point of British punk.
This BBC music blog gives more information on Punk Britannia programmes.
Interviews , archive concerts and exclusive new performances from the Punk Britannia season can all be found here

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Little Slide Dress

This Bank Holiday weekend everyone is dressing up in red white and blue or so the shops would have it….here’s an alternative  piece of fancy dress, one that appeals to me .
At Victoria University  of Wellington in the School of Design, that's in  New Zealand ! they run a module as part of their Wearable Technology course which they call 'FIREFLIES AND LIGHTNING BUGS' . In this project students create a wearable garment or accessory that lights up / blinks / glows / pulsates / radiates. They do this using the Arduino Lilypadmicrocontroller which is designed specifically for use with fabrics.
After learning the basics of electronics and Arduino programming students must conceive and realise ‘a functioning wearable with embedded, reactive light component’. As an erstwhile slide librarian I like this one by Emily Steel which she calls the Little Slide Dress and describes here:
The Little Slide Dress ….draws inspiration from classic movies and the ‘magic of film’ to create a wearable piece of technology and art. ….With film we only see what really is going on once the lights go out. For this to work there needs to be a balance of projected and ambient light something the Little Slide Dress tries to emulate. The dress is constructed out of individual slide film images that are backed with LED’s. An Arduino Lilypad connected to a light sensor controls the brightness of the LED’s. The sensor reads the how much ambient light there is and uses this value to determine if the LED’s will be off or on. When there is lots of light the LED’s are off and it looks like a shiny black dress with small hints that something else is going on. Once the sensor determines there is the right amount of light for LED’s to be seen in their full brightness it turns them on. When the dress is on the lights slowly pulse and the images on the dress come alive.