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July 25, 2006

'Amnesiac Shrine or Double coop displacement'


That's the title of installation artist Mike Nelson's current show (above and below) at Matt's Gallery in London (England).

You better hurry: it closes July 30, this coming Sunday.

Sorry about the short notice (it's been up since June 7 but I just learned of it in the July 21 Financial Times (FT) via Gabriel Coxhead's review).

Coxhead described the exhibition as "a kind of occult monument to oblivion."

Kind of fits bookofjoe, now that I think about it.

Best not to go there.


Nelson was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2001.

Here's the FT piece.

    The presence of absence

    Mike Nelson's previous exhibition at Matt's Galley, in the East End of London, took place in 2000. It was an important show in his career, garnering widespread critical acclaim and establishing him at the forefront of a new generation of installation artists. Since then, Nelson has been nominated for the Turner Prize, and has exhibited in major venues in Britain and internationally, including the Venice Biennale.

    Nelson's oeuvre consists of building rooms. Usually, he converts gallery spaces, although some installations are site-specific. The environments he stages are low-rent, dilapidated, or abandoned spaces - old cinema foyers, seedy biker bars and taxi offices, arcade parlours, grimy hallways, low-fi spaceship interiors. They are typically filled with a profusion of junk objects and bric-à-brac: weathered stacks of pulp books and magazines,trophy animal-heads and fright masks, broken toys, rusting oil-cans and funky objets d'art.

    With nods towards occultism, orientalism, science fiction, and crazy conspiracy theories, Nelson's installations are liminal spaces - suggestive of journeys, escapes into other realms. The idea is that viewers are able to create their own narrative and imaginative associations.

    But his current return exhibition at Matt's Gallery is different. Entitled Amnesiac Shrine or Double coop displacement, it's much more austere, even barren, than anything he's done before.


    Again, there's a room, of sorts: a vast, square cage, built from chicken-wire and wood, harshly lit by vertical strips of white fluorescent tubing. Inside this cage there's another square cage, and inside that a third one, in the shape of a pentagram, itself subdivided into yet smaller units. A maze-like series of inconspicuous doors leads through different levels of the structure, creating a deepening sense of claustrophobia and entrapment.

    Nestling in various corners of the installation are five large, bulbous, crudely shaped pods. Made from lumpy plaster-of-Paris, their organic forms, bulging through the wire mesh, seem vaguely disquieting, alien in this otherwise sterile environment. They're hollow, with gaping holes implying mouths or wombs. But inside they're empty - just a twig latticework frame, and the wet smell of stretched muslin. The only other objects in the cage are three piles of charred sticks, like abandoned campfires.

    The overriding sense is of absence, a sudden and terrible emptiness.

    It is an inversion of and comment on Nelson's other pieces, with their material abundance - as if all of Nelson's usual knick-knacks have, here, been magicked away. Whereas in earlier works some of the assorted curios would always end up being stolen by viewers, here the temptation is to leave some kind of object behind - perhaps secreted in one of the hollow pods - as a sort of offering, an attempt to dam up the yawning void of nothingness.

    In fact, the current installation directly stems from an earlier piece: "The Amnesiacs" (1997) were a mythical biker-gang, a metaphor for Nelson's practice of nomadic scavenging for discarded cultural detritus. The piece itself consisted simply of a vast repository of found objects inside wire-mesh cages.

    In "Amnesiac Shrine", the premise is that the gang have returned. Instead of redeeming material ephemera, they've built a kind of occult monument to oblivion, an invocation of entropy.

    The work's second title, "Double Coop Displacement", is a reference to a piece by another artist - Bruce Nauman's "Double Steel Cage Piece" (1974) - also a cage-within-a-cage. Similarly, the fluorescent strip-lighting recalls Dan Flavin's brand of minimalism. But where Nauman's and Flavin's work was about inducing in the viewer a moment of self-reflexive consciousness, a recognition of spatial and temporal specifics, Nelson's installation destabilises such certainties, creating a space that's both actual and mystical, where the presence of absence can be felt.

    Or perhaps the point of such artistic references is that art itself - as opposed to pop- or sub-cultural paraphernalia - is less tenuous and more mythically enduring.

    Inside one of the globular pods there's a solitary red light-bulb, casting a faint circular glow on the floor. It echoes other works by Nelson, where red lighting was used to suggest a darkroom, or to conjure up an atmosphere of seamy menace. Here the red light is less prominent, almost unnoticeable. But, as a kind of signature motif, it becomes a subtle statement of lingering creative presence.



Matt's Gallery is at 42-44 Copperfield Road, London E3 4RR; Hours: Wednesday—Sunday 12—6 p.m.; tel: +44 20 8983 1771.

July 25, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Drawer Organizer — The end of the Procrustean bed in your junk space


From the website:

    Drawer Organizer

    Adjustable partitions fit the contents instead of cramming parts into preset sections.

    Plastic partitions trim to fit any drawer!


    Separate utensils in the kitchen — organize the "junk" drawer.

    Separate socks, underwear, bras in dressers.

    Set of 10, each 16" long.



$7.99 (drawer — and contents therein — not included).

July 25, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

C-Ice Marijuana Tea — Now Legal in Britain


No joke.

You can stroll into any English health food store as of today and spring for a container of C-Ice Swiss Cannibis Ice Tea.

It will cost you £1.29 ($2.38).

It's packed in a bright orange carton and contains cannabis sativa syrup, water, sugar, lemon juice, lemon flavoring, black tea extract and ascorbic acid.

According to a June 26 article on breitbart.com, "the beverage contains 5% hemp flower syrup and a tiny (0.0015%) quantity of THC, the active ingredient of marijuana."

The manufacturer approached the British Home Office to make certain the cannabis syrup in its drink was below illegal levels, and once that was confirmed there were no other regulatory hoops or hurdles to contend with.

The tea, launched in Switzerland in 2003 by Thurella, already sells some two million cartons a year.

It's a fixture in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

Predictably, British anti-drug campaigners have their baggies in a twist, saying that the tea will lead to a needle park endgame.

Don't look for C-Ice Tea anytime before 2050 in the U.S., would be my prediction; if you want to try it, you'll just have to get on a plane, won't you?

As if.

I must say that 0.0015% — which equals 1.5 parts per 100,000 — would barely even cut it in homeopathic circles, it's so dilute.

In case you were wondering how much you'd have to drink etc. etc.

Long story short: you'll be dead from hyponatremia long before you feel anything.

More, including a consumer review, here.

[via Jenny Wiggins and the Financial Times]

July 25, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: 'How noise can make you smarter'


Say what?

Noise makes me crazy, not smarter.

Around here silence is golden — except when it's bookofjoe time, which is often.

Then it's 10/10 on the volume control and Prince or The Who providing accompaniment, so insanely loud that I can't hear people pounding at the front door asking me to sign for a package or whatever.

So loud that the guy driving around mowing my lawn isn't even on my radar until he enters my visual field.

But I digress.

In the new (August) issue of Wired magazine is a Q&A with Bart Kosko, a professor at the University of Southern California whose upcoming book, "Noise," argues "that even the most annoying racket can be beneficial."

Interviewer Bob Parks asked Kosko, "Can background music make you smarter?"

His reply: "The more you can concentrate with background noise, the more it strengthens the brain. Isaac Asimov used to set his typewriter up in stores and other loud places to work. His claim was that you get really good at writing when you're in a crowd. You want to be energized by that background noise, rather than distracted."

That's good enough for me.

I think it's time to step up to a bigger boombox.

For a sense of how Kosko thinks, you could do worse than spend a few minutes here.

Here is a link to his Wikipedia entry.

FunFact: Asimov kept a number of typewriters in his New York apartment, each with a different book in progress, so that he could simply move to another when he got tired of working on a particular one.

July 25, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Floating Hammock with Integrated AM/FM Stereo Radio — 'Listen to tunes while you relax in the pool'


Tell us more.

From the website:

    Deluxe Floating Lounger with Radio

    This floating hammock with built-in AM/FM stereo radio lets you listen to tunes while relaxing in the pool.

    As you laze in the pool, the integrated speakers in the lounger's headrest surround you with the sound of the ball game or your favorite music.

    Water-resistant touch controls allow you to easily choose your favorite stations.

    Lounger pops open in a second with patented "spring" technology.

    Foldable design has a special valve that inflates and deflates quickly for easy storage and transport.

    There's even a cup holder for extra convenience.

    Holds up to 250 lbs.

    Requires 2 AA batteries (not included).



Originally $75, now reduced to float right off the website at $49.99.

July 25, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Goody Two-Shoes Boots


From the website:

    Goody Two-Shoes Boots

    Mother always said to keep your shoes shined — looks like you've listened (again).

    Gleaming espresso leather features deep V-cuts and fringes.

    Handmade in Argentina.

    Leather insole/sole.

    2.25" heel.




July 25, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Monk-e-mail — 'Stupidly addictive'


That's how Financial Tiimes columnist Sathnam Sanghera summed it up and I'm inclined to agree.

Get yours here.

July 25, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Say what?

From the website:


    This unique tool's chopping blade breaks ground meat into pieces that cook faster and more uniformly, helping speed cooking time!

    Great for stirring soups and casseroles too.

    Plastic blade won't scratch non-stick cookware.


    10"L x 3"Dia.


Until such time as Flutist Haynes-not-Hayens weighs in with her unique take on this singular object, let me offer a few of my own alternative product name suggestions:

• StirBoy

• MeatMaster

• GrindWand


July 25, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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