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Posts tagged ‘arts’

What has it got in its pocketses?

We were lucky to have won tickets to the first public screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We were seated quite close to the front, but the free popcorn and coke were a nice bonus. Because really, who wants to pay for popcorn? Free popcorn really does taste better.

Meanwhile, some excellent spot prizes were given away*, after which we settled in. But for what were we settling in? Many people at this screening (at 12:01 am, 12 December) were very excited, and appeared determined to love the film. We were a little more ambivalent — were three films necessary for the very slim Hobbit? is the fuss over the frame rate warranted? what about its troubled start in life? could Peter Jackson and his team create the same magic again?

So, a few days on, having had some time to ruminate, here are some thoughts on An Unexpected Journey. As a warning, there will be elements below that may constitute spoilers. If you don’t like spoilers, perhaps it would be wise to stop reading here.

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Peace window

It’s human rights day today. So that has me thinking about Marc Chagall‘s Peace Window on the ground floor of the United Nations headquarters building in New York City. Created in tribute to former UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld and those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace, it is a beautiful piece of art with a deep message.

Marc Chagall, Peace Window, United Nations headquarters New York City

Doesn’t Chagall’s glass work look beautiful in photo form? We were also in awe of his monumental series of stained glass windows in the Fraumünster in Zurich. No photos allowed there though, so be sure to take the chance to check them out if you find yourself in Switzerland and haven’t already had the pleasure of seeing them.

CIA

Photo by CIA of Marc Chagall’s Peace Window, New York City, New York, United States, January 2012.

Sculpture for all ages

Oddooki by Seung Yul Oh, Te Papa Tongarewa, 2008

Oddooki by Seung Yul Oh, Te Papa Tongarewa, 2008

Back in 2008, on the Sculpture Terrace of New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, overlooking the sparkling turquoise ripple of Wellington harbour, PJD, Occasionally Travelled and I ran into some Oddooki (see photo at left). “What are Oddooki?”, you might well ask, as we did, that sunny day. Well, Oddooki are the creation of Auckland-based (until recently!), Korean-born multimedia artist Seung Yul Oh, and they are fun, they are playful, they are everything that interactive sculpture should be, and they are surprising.

Oddooki sketch by Seung Yul Oh, Te Papa Tongarewa

Oddooki sketch by Seung Yul Oh, Te Papa Tongarewa

Egg-shaped birds, sculpted in high-sheen vivacious colours, Oddooki are eye-catching and engaging. Give an Oddooki a little push, it will roll from side to side, making a gentle chiming noise as it does. Oddooki have endured in each of our minds since we found them that day, and they remain some of the most interesting and innovative sculpture that we have seen. Definitely, sculpture for enjoyment and access by all ages. So, it was with great excitement that PJD and Occasionally Travelled last week checked out some new Oddooki, on show in Auckland at the Gus Fischer Gallery.

 

Oddooki

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Dedication?

The hours are counting down, and the preparation is proceeding at pace. The final touches have been made to the film, the actors have arrived, the red carpet is being rolled out, fans are already lining up. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey* is premiering tomorrow.

I was in Australia when the other movies provided Wellington with its last moment in the world’s filmy glare. No big deal. I’m here now. And trying to make the most of it. So check it out, the night before the night before the morning after.

Even my hard-bitten cynicism is being chipped away by enthusiasm and dedication.

PJD

Photos taken just now, minutes ago, by PJD, Wellington (the Middle of Middle-Earth).

* Not to say the first of unexpected parts

Starry night

You can't beat Wellington on a good night

PJD

Photo by PJD, Waitangi Park, Wellington. Taking this shot, PJD is now determined to invest in a good DSLR Camera. It’s a terrible thing, isn’t it, to be bitten by the photography bug?

The Weeknd, live.

As I walked along the waterfront this evening, I came across this quite random chalking. “The Weeknd” looked great in yellow chalk, along the side of whatever wharf shed this was. It reminded me of Pitch, and though we’ve already mentioned how great Jessie Ware, SBTRKT and Gui Boratto were, we’ve neglected the Weeknd.

I first came across The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) when I heard a song on an NPR broadcast (Public Radio is a good thing!). The song, House of Balloons, included a sample from the Siouxsie and the Banshees song Happy House. The guitar was slowed right down, but I recognised it right away – a remnant from my mis-spent youth, appropriated from the mis-spent youth of the generation before me. I have, since then, become completely hooked.

I was lucky enough to download his three mixtapes before the release of the album Trilogy, which includes remastered versions of the tapes*. If you weren’t, it’s probably worth getting. Because it’s a m a z i n g.

Our friend and her sister are also huge fans, and at Pitch, we were all stupendously excited to see how the music we loved converted into a live experience.

We were not disappointed. It was not a flawless performance, and at times, the live sound struggled to capture the layered richness of his recordings, whilst the vocal performance was at times a little pitchy. But Tesfaye has awesome stage presence, and he had the enthusiastic Dutch crowd thrashing about in front of the stage in ecstatic rhythm.

PJD

Photos by CIA & PJD, Pitch Festival, Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam, July 2012.

* Mixtapes seems like an awful misnomer in the age of digital music.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

Geometry isn’t always an inspirational subject. I remember struggling with trigonometry, eventually reaching a point where I could reliably get the correct answer, with absolutely no understanding of the mechanics underpinning the calculations. Geometry in photography though, is a much more attractive proposition.

The geometrically complex concert hall in Reykjavík, Harpa, provides a good setting for studies of geometry. The building itself, constructed of steel-framed polygonic windows was (and is) controversial. A product of the Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson, as well as Henning Larsen Architects and Batteríið, construction began before the 2008 crash which triggered world-wide economic difficulties.

The expensive building was the subject of considerable debate in Iceland, before the Parliament eventually agreed to fully fund the construction of the building. I’ve been told there was some discussion that the foundations of the building should be left unfinished, to remind Icelanders of their economic folly, and as a tribute to hubris. We can, should, and must be grateful that things turned out differently, and that we have instead a beautiful, striking building which could be thought of as a Sydney Opera House (another exercise in geometry, budget overruns, and for which we can now all be grateful) of the North.

The interaction between the mirrored ceiling, the lights — which were designed to evoke the Aurora Borealis, and the optical-illusory nature of the various internal levels are astonishing. It is hard to imagine that the designers knew exactly what effect their design would have, but the building stands, gorgeously, as testament to geometry and architecture.

PJD

Photos by PJD, on a cold evening in early September, 2012.

Weekly Photo Challenged?

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