Architecture : Art in Architecture

Kengo Kuma cites Seurat’s influence.

I used Kengo Kuma’s books (little) on Small Architecture and Natural Architecture as jumping off points for a discussion on the equation with art in its many forms which is to me fascinating. <strong>Kengo Kuma</strong> (隈 研吾 <em>Kuma Kengo</em>, born 1954) is a Japanese and professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at Tokyo.  Kuma is also noted for his prolific writings. I tale heed when an Architect talks about ‘caulking widths!’ and the other day I spoke to a tiler about the ‘Equipe’ (Spanish) tiles he was using and they were perfectly utilised and the caulking was a light grey instead of a white or dark grey with the tiling – external and white polished ceramic – little modulations on a modest retail facade. The detail imbued by Kuma is similarly drawn.

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Graham Sutherland work

With painting, a subject and other visual Art forms, techniques line up tougher to provide solutions and knowledge we otherwise take for granted or fail to see the connections between. The challenge here is to express the randomness in the regularity of nature’s life and movement through time which is a perpetual engagement.

Natural Architecture is calling us to think of Buildings as clothing says Kuma.  In the characteristics of the body the Heritage Museum of Kuma (Hiroshige Museum) is in three layers. An overcoat of 3cm x 6cm cedar slats, at 12cm intervals, inside his a jacket of <em>washi</em> paper wrapped cedar louvred. Finally on the inside is a layer of <em>washi</em> paper illuminated from within. The structure and elements of walling, flooring are at multiples of 12cm.  The studs of the light walls are at 24cms intervals. The walls are like Japanese inn <em>shoji</em> screens. As this form of construction would be in a public building a layer of plasticised paper was applied to the inner layer to thwart children or damage from visitors.

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Modular

While this is a compromise the principles hold true.  The flooring too is 24cm squares. The structural engineers – Shigeru Akol and Satoml Makino – designed slender columns keeping the rhythm.  Using humanised materials – <em>plastics</em> – would seem like abandoning the natural approach or compromise but Kuma correctly maintains there would be no ‘Architecture’ or it would be at a standstill were modern inventions, uses not applied. There is no right way he suggests and things must co-exist.  The form of a Building must be a collection of things based on collectivity, humility and hard work.

When this approach is further stimulated by considering the outer world and the barrier the forms make with it there is a further compromise or idea to be taken in. The modular is Le Corbusier territory famously and he was also conscious of the natural responses. Even in The Modular. The plan of Paris 1937 had its relation to nature. Seurat is another whose senses were inspired as Kuma points out by nature’s rhythms.  He is conscious of achieving rhythm by ‘disrupting’ it through choice. The ‘disruption’ takes the shape of a lover for example shaping into modular form light shading a floor or water. It makes the senses defence the man made and the natural in harmonic resonance.

The way that Seurat found it – expression in painting – and engaging was to devise a technique most resonant with the experience of looking and show the world this manner of seeing.  When he was observing the Normandy headlands of other elements of nature, the way trees sway and people are set into a notion of place, be it as occupants in a man made environment or as constituents of a habitat defined by nature itself, he was at once aware of the <em>En mosse</em> unity of movement and alternating states.  Not many accept that as a way into his work.  Instead some see it as a rejection of the impasto approach of his contemporaries and his sparking pointillist invention as a fractal of spaces with each point belonging in a sense to its neighbour while outwardly there are no similarities between those outer objects and the near object except through the continuum of colour balance throughout.  Each colour being totally different yet at the same time forming this <em>En mosse</em> delight in seeing. Seurat like Kuma and others before him were in essence realising the unity of form through observation of the surreality of paint and line in Human form. They would have it demanded of them to react and the stimuli would be forthcoming with and in ideas and expression.  The Normandy work Le Bec du Hoc, Grandcamp (1885) is one such breakthrough in art.

Predating Picasso, Braque, Van Gogh and the many modern painters to follow his insight was to develop – and it was brought forward by drawing purely in pencil tones of black and white on textured paper this abstraction of thought now realised to be advanced in paint.

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Kuma points to three things that make up our world.  His Japanese senses using folklore and the tale of The Three Pigs.  The outcome is to allow the world as we see it to be viewed in any number of ways and thus Buildings need ‘conform’ to the metaphors of natures delicate balance.  Each ‘string’ of nature interconnecting as today science shows and continuously proves to us. The change is manifested in nature and stubborn as mankind adaptability is necessary and a given. The interaction too is often cited. That interaction between particles in ourselves and in nature and which artists find compelling in subject. As Kuma raises <em>Monadology</em> is the (Leibniz) theory of monad recombination or multiple variations producing single entities themselves compromised by time and interactivity.  Or words to that effect!

More temporal is the artists quest. Seurat was in his work a philosopher painter. With his expression he enabled others to see the vision of combinations in colour and their juxtaposition.

The painting most often cited as his ‘enlightenment moment, for the viewer, was Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte (1884-86), undoubtedly the miraculous societal and beautiful flaneur, promenading, egalitarian viewpoint which took another perspective on the world within it the 57 or so characters. Does the black dog count?

With it came a one man view on which were to be built other abstractions.  Above is a psychological drawing of Seurat himself  (no.3.) as a lone person on La Grande Jette giving a meaning also in singular societal form, as well as seeing the painting itself being a singular reality.  The same can be said of the lone fisher lady next along.  Neither could it be construed, nor would he have sought that idea, as it having a special status, it simply became symbolically of itself.  It was as just one painting and each time Seurat painted he contributed further to the panthéon françaises of the stable of art.  The panthéon françaises is another route into this thinking. By saintly intervention almost the presence of spirit is told in Buildings and this is since Newgrange, Ireland, to this example, a national monument in Paris, France, it was used as a sepulcher for ‘eminancy’.  The Church that follows.

Church states of mind.

The church of Ste. Geneviève formed in 1764 was secularized in 1885 and to many as  monument was known in Seurat’s time Churches held a special imagery.

As nations define themselves through the respectfulness of habitat Architecture expands those implicated values. The shifting changes of the outer world are stilled in a Cathedral as the past is venerated and reflected on.  War and compromise of the human destruction of meditative states are shades of liberty.  The other sense within a Church most connecting with self and affinity to a higher entity is silence. The inner prayer. With this silence the words when the state of inner peace and enlightenment is reached some rejoicing or in the case of a Church worship is given in song and music. The condition of mankind is satiated temporarily as it is with paintings.

Life is temporary nature is permanent.  Edges of materials are often an artists field of exploration as they are in Architecture.  Glass and steel.  Man made and conforming to many attributes in behaviour. Behaviour is obtained as with man and neither is the person is defined by their behaviour but how they are. Conceivably individual and not as in relation to another thing. Force is applied to material to obtain a reaction and it is therefore defined by that reaction.

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Compromises are evident in Japanese thinking however revered it has become. Edo and one hundred views, a compromise numerically there, flipping the horizontal to the vertical, a compromise there. Intrinsic are the compromises of distilling thoughts into the numerical or geometrical whereas the abiding theme is regularly of time as revolving and returning as night and day.

Seurat never finishes a process in his work.  Rather he moves onto the next trial of the idea of seeing. The subject matter is only partially societal in its observation. Whatever is forming a frame or image it is to be subjected to a trial or excursive outworking in art. The medium is the matter. The concepts are conjunctions of the viewers perceptions overlaying the relative ideas of every artist. Be it promenading or working in the fields, or at leisure on a lake or fishing on a river everyone there is a discussion of life involved.

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After Seurat by myself.

Seurat genius’s was to form into his new-impressionist technique that abstraction which would influence other artists.  I believe this went into glass and sculpture. Henry Moore is attributed with ‘inventing’ the hole in sculpture but never alone with his art it can only be seen in relation to other works.  The preceding or later forms tell us what to appreciate of the work.  A value is struck and each one is different. A previous observation I made concerning this is found in an earlier exploration of Game of Thrones https://wp.me/p2R05n-ka in comparison with a place we’re a number of artists collaborated on the reforming of Coventry Cathedral. The artists there to make the point extremely well, just as Seurat made.

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I once had a long conversation with Zaha Hadid when we encountered together maromina plaster at the 9h gallery I think in London. Asking what I was doing and observing my touching a plastered wall with the Venetian plaster technique in understated glory she was at once in agreement concerning the multiple readings of the distressed appearance and randomness it evoked. The control of material was meticulous in its functionality and with little holes, ‘flaws’, perhaps gathering tiny particles of dust in the indents, the presence of the material as a singular statement of collected skill and artefact would be a long subject of materials and their compromised beauty.  Even now long after it, is the vision of the late Zaha Hadid whose work employed those characteristic formations of rationality along with the expression through material the natural value aesthetic she became renowned for.

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John Graham

29 November 2017

Belfast

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Fraught : A photographic interlude


Fraught worlds subside

SARC and the hearing experience

Few places free your mind like SARC.  Open today for a lunchtime performance by Frances-Marie Uitti for a blistering bewildering controlled journey in Cello polyphonics we were treated to this composers playing of a new works, one with accompaniment of Franziska Schroeder of SARC came a wonderful excursion through the places they have explored in experimental music.  On Cello the first piece was a setting of a work by Jonathan Harvey (1982) Curve with Plateau.  It at first sounded delivered straight from the Cello without monitors.  Then it became clear it opened up in binary speakers.  Taking in high straining notes symbolic of a curve it dropped and interweaves as a duet of sound like it was lineage of controlled nature in balance and fraught with counterpoint.  It challenges and transports then coheres as a watery path of sound in this auditorium a special rarely found and simply absorbed warm and breathy work.

Next came what is a piece by FM Uitti, an excerpt from Utopia (2015).  Built on classical lines it is a twisting resurgence of fine percussive beats and primitive rhythms played as Cello in counter sometimes double bowed mellow bass like Cello as another contest of vibes.  This time it’s considered, notes inform, as East : West with no complacency or stopping.  Machine sounds from F M U’s library of sound embrace the stifling proximity of intransigence with overtures to power held and thrust as dictates or trampled on as put down.  It too became a piece of remarkable playing in this auditorium.  I compared it to Drum and Bass with effects at a level taking in primitive basic sounds and echo was only in use as a spatial quality transporting listeners to a desolate and machine dominant sphere.  Samples prove to be a good tool with them in use not as stand alone found audio but as here used in overlayers and undershaping sounds.  The tomes of City etc. as literal devices have little use as these sounds cmbinecas unique and unheard sounds oblivious to our connection with those words.  The simple thing it projects is to a Utopia which we cannot see but might hear.

The final piece was the collaborative piece was reminiscent of when I heard Jan Garberek and The Hilliard Ensemble perform in close proximity.  JB was about a meter away when he began the concert and this time no tenor, counter tenor, or contralto but a fusion of ‘bird’ talk’ between two instruments.  The Cello and Saxaphone.

If more info is wanted follow improvasionalresearch.com and the SARC site where the binary headphone experience is to be mixed and put up for a representation of the above through Sonic Performance spaces 34 speakers.  That will be entirely different form the performance but a huge almost surreal transmission of it.  sarc.qub.ac.uk events will find you in the place.

Next Art from corners

Line and Litho 1

Improper Knot 2

RUA Time-Out (Children’s ante-room is a relief)


Metal object 1


RUA Fun Item 1


Binary World (after RUA work)


RUA 2 Fun is discernable?


Metal object 2


Portrait (after BP neck stretching exercise)


Metal alchemy 1

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Food corners

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Interior folds out

 

John Graham

12 October 2017

Belfast

 

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September Ends : A Photo Blog

Blogging Diversion

As I have not seen a film to review in the past few weeks I offer an alternative.
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Great Patrick Street
Here are some of the photographs I’ve taken in and around September.  Not necessarily in this year and also revisited and manipulated at times to draw out the hidden art.
The end game as UUsee it.
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The end game as UU see it.       Here is what Rankin said about his photography lately.

My versions of reaching into those places you see as touching you


Culture Night : Step into the dark. Part 1


Culture Night : Step into the dark. Part 2.

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Vanishing                                                     In the afternoon

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A smile from Poland

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Shouting or silence?  Great Patrick Street.  Paddy McCann installation.

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Tamar Walk wrapped.  C.S. Lewis.

Julie                                                      Anon

 

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Clonard

Eileen in disguise

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Friar’s Graveyard Belfast

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All Souls Belfast

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Riddel’s Warehouse Belfast

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Please check all rooms are unoccupied and switch off all appliances and lights removing plugs from sockets and ensuring all doors are closed and locked where appropriate.  Thank you for your attention.

 

John Graham

28 September 2017

Belfast

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High Rise : A Film Review

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A film by Ben Wheatley, starring Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Elisabeth Moss Cert.15.
Lofty ideals

J.G.Ballard as a writer has been difficult to translate into the Cinematic media though notably Croenenburg succeeded and then some in the nihilistic self extuiguishing Crash in which human desires are not enough in the conventions programmed and hurt and pain must be confronted and when not around sought as a will of living in a world without purpose self sacrifice extends the precept becoming a concept.  It is the concept of the body surface being immaterial and destructible.  Innate memory is apparently located in the brain.  It has a physical location, yet how are we to comprehend how it excercises it’s life giving instructions onboard memory.  The circuitry of cars and machines – being pre internet etc – Ballard in one sense has been prescient although breathtakingly bleak in an appraisal of what might emerge.  Certainly almost apocalyptic violence is manifesting though not as the Nuclear fears expressed in both Crash and High Rise have espoused.  Here and now is as bleak a trajectory.
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The concrete jungle in High Rise is a universe, a small holding, within again the Handmaids Tale projection of externals, internals.  Ben Wheatley and his wife and the films screenwriter have as 70’s children forgone the machinations of post war Britain and Wilsons, Labours uprise after the Conservatism which failed in and after the War.

We are, they are acclimation get us in this narrative by keeping the Ballard thematic Seventies view which they can relate to.  If you can also; it’s a bit difficult for the Irish (the scourge of Catholic suppression and child harm is recent memory – only now is England a customizing itself to the horrendous (is it a co-incidence it surfaced – underground – in the seventies as a outplaying of liberalism and thereafter the liberal economics also took time to die?) child church abuses taken place in past eras.  It is also difficult for the North, Belfasts high rises were thrown up as mini me type developments luckily not on a scale represented elsewhere in the United Kingdom, and thus the Divis Towers, Municipal tower blocks were not only of a social class apart from Highpoint and the contemporary Jean Renet style of streets as living machines with added landscaping environments (there called trees and plants!) so the idealism is quashed by Ballard.  Even Jean Renet got things wrong although they were minor errors in comparison.  To place living rooms on the North side; his early designs were far to swift out of the ‘blocks’ and the schoolboy error was emitted, later disposed of.
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Ballard thought technology was something to destroy humanity, “the high-rise was a model of all that technology had done to make possible the expression of a truly free psychopathology.”  Repression he thought would be our illness.  It is of a kind prescient but it is wholly the making of a society detached and apart from the environment except in its unsustainable present form, population levels being unsustainble. He does not acknowledge that part of our demise rather expresses the violent reaction to it which is not as in High Rise a social contract ripped up but a severe case of the colly wobbles – OK – mental meltdown overcoming a ‘tower block condominium’.

Parts are played by a cast of very accomplished stylised and perhaps becoming ad-hoc actorial spokespersons of an age.  The redoubtable West Cork boho Jeremy Irons adds his throaty gravitas to the (and Ballard names his characters in keeping with character, King, Wilder etc.) Penthouse dweller is he.

Evelyn Waigh tried fictions sing Ernö Goldfinger but it was never likely to reach Ballalrds essentially more demonic vision.  Ernö is attributed to the Hungarian modernist feel London was to be influenced by.  Even maybe Denys Lasdun taking a que  from him in the brutalist, watch the same time comforting realism of form and with erstwhile honesty still considered a valid statement architecturally and socially befitting then and now.

An illustration of the might and probably intolerable self belief of Ernö as opposed to a depiction on film by the redoubtable Irons comes with the story, true, of him called his architectural practice from afar and someone of his Architectural practice answering as he Ernö Goldfinger himself answered. “Goldfinger speaks.” Enraged he said apparently “This IS Goldfinger, Who is this?” Met with silence, “I will be back in my office by four and if I am not told who is my impersonator I shall sack you all.”  He returned to his office at four.  All the staff remained loyal to the miscreant and he said. “Right, you are all fired.”  Every single member of his staff were thus summarily dismissed.  So I wonder if hat featured in the iron filings of Jeremy’s researches.  It is Carparthian precocity and bombast which carried him through and to make monument of social order in the form written down as High Point.
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Tom Hiddlestone who is magnificent as the operative Night Manager alongside the malevolent, in the acting sense, Hugh Lawrie is in this a bit too laid back and all Etonian with his Doctorial manner.  It is not as mad as Ballard intended and perhaps constraint was wrongly deployed or instructed by Ben Wheatly. His views on ‘critics’ I learn is somewhat acerbic but I attribute that to his ouevre being table salt currently, not river salt – digest as you see fit.
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The film is averistically consuming of material in every sense.  The detail recognised with such relevance and reverence by designers is scornfully treated here not is nicely observed.
A Cinematogopers eye is usually lustfully absorbed into the kind of Goldfinger mettle advanced by and so meticulously created, from the top down to the social order of his office staff. I can hear him proclaim – get on with it.  He apparently dished out the same invective to his Mother.  There is undoubted beauty, relationships with colour and audacious constraint and minimalist editorial guile within much of Goldfingers work from the smallest home, shop to this High Rise ‘edifice’ which is a signature piece now.
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I Am Belfast : A Film Review

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Digital Belfast

You couldn’t make it up, people often say about this place.  Glenn Patterson says much the same thing in his soon to be a movie, Book on DeLorean, Gull.  Circumpspecticion of a different kind than this film by Mark Cousins now, though a frequent visitor, a bit of an outsider and holds memory differently than those who live here. When I returned I noticed some things that a normal citizen (in the broadest sense of the analogy you understands!)would overlook or take as axiomatic. So it is with a insight brought in a filmmakers eye Mark Cousins enters Belfasts personality. It is the personality he seeks as he literally takes a woman ass the embodiment, the device to present and explore the place.

As part of 16th belfastfilmfestival.org presentations this will feature across Belfast at numerous locations which you can find via. the website itself. The residency is for 10 days at Queens Film Theatre, University Square, is that street in the film? You’ll have to see.  One or two nearby are certainly and what is Belfast without its Uni.

I Am Belfast is a mighty call.  It is the form of magic realism and thoughtfully inventive though constricted by viewpoint and what the director, writer, Mark Cousins signals and the cinematographer Christopher Doyle lights for you in his viewfinder.  Some times it strays tediously towards referencing Hitchcock, transference on a few pigeons on the street, or iceberg like doomladen mountainous hills ape actually a Salt pile for gritting.  Unenclosed.  The barn, or salt depository in East Belfasr, formerly, preceding this store was a almost medieval cathedral like building which is an intricate and simple cone arising from Belfasts skin. Not seen.   It takes a long memory and none is longer than, Helena Bereen the actor portraying the 2000 year old memory of the city in human form.
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a photo not from the film
A colorful tapestry
Decorous and sublimely serene with beautiful eyes and swept back silver hair she is a joyful, good mannered, robustly human and carefully cynical form encapsulating, it is hoped the qualities Mark Cousins seeks to convey.  She narrates his script, which is a tad literal in that it relies heavily on the image, the transference thing, Mondrian in Belfast for paint squares and rectangular affected geometries, the type you will find if looking long enough in basically any United Kingdom city.  Our yellow cranes are symbolic but so are red bridges, green clusters of agricultural buildings on outskirts, red buses, green buses, pastel raised terraces over a port, signal red statues and crimson icons.  Steely or otherwise each city is trademarked thus.  The music is from David Holmes who excercises constraint and ditches the Manic Street Preachers, and God knows Belfast has more than its fair share, always has, delivering a touristy feel ambient repeative soundtrack as a Kelly’s in Portrush holiday feel tinkle.  Never funereal or questionable dark and foreboding this predicates a certain style and mood.  
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Runty Monaghan and the other half of the art college disappears My photo
It is not intended that we are overcome by joy.  Neither is it manifested we accept this for a definitive documentary of a place in time or even across time.  The heft is ambitious while flawed by its one restrictions.  I see it as a kindly, painterly effort with no radical delving and believe me Belfast is there for the radical delving such are its straight talking devil take he hindmost people.  Social justice and cantankerous phlegmatic views have been elucidated by many, many citizens of Belfast for the Socila good that is put away by plunders and people whose ideals require a lot of scrutiny.  The people selling their grannie to the Mafia etc. The corrupt roping of the complacent and none cemented by the true radicalism espoused by such as Francis Hutcheson. His close proximity to Belfast, Hos capital city is without question and being the most prodigious of philosophers it is our right to claim him, even though he had to go to Glasgow to fulfill that.
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Pioneers and Scholars

During his time as a lecturer in Glasgow College he taught and influenced Adam Smith, the economist and philosopher. The order of topics discussed in the economic portion of Hutcheson’s System [of Moral Philosophy, 1755] is repeated by Smith in his Glasgow Lectures and again in the Wealth of Nations.
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If Belfast were to be seen as anyway a foundation of learning which I believe it is right to attest it follows its citizens from Henry Montgomery, the attention seeking Cooke, and the conflicting minds has contributed, across the world and needed some recognition in this film other than the arbitrary, it is through such thinkers or betrayer so we need look for Belfast intense integrity.  It has a sha,Ed recent past which has in many senses eclipsed previous ideals and these attributed to Hutcheson. Wiki comes to my aid!  These are some of his more famous quotes.

consciousness, by which each man has a perception of himself and of all that is going on in his own mind (Metaph. Syn. pars i. cap. 2)

the sense of beauty (sometimes called specifically “an internal sense”)

a public sense, or sensus communis, “a determination to be pleased with the happiness of others and to be uneasy at their misery”

the moral sense, or “moral sense of beauty in actions and affections, by which we perceive virtue or vice, in ourselves or others”

a sense of honour, or praise and blame, “which makes the approbation or gratitude of others the necessary occasion of pleasure, and their dislike, condemnation or resentment of injuries done by us the occasion of that uneasy sensation called shame”

a sense of the ridiculous. It is plain, as the author confesses, that there may be “other perceptions, distinct from all these classes,” and, in fact, there seems to be no limit to the number of “senses” in which a psychological division of this kind might result.

It is a moral fabric perhaps every city has too early extent or another.  It’s sense of place which in the mirror it reflects across the world.
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Where are we

Those of us born here know straightaway what our limitations are.  There’s that River through. The Lagan.  There’s the tributaries running down its hills and some like the Blackstaff go off on their travels divided ending up discharging into Strangford beyond Dundonald and out yonder at Comber.  Where once there were trains running through.  Our limits are known to us.  The Lagan just a broad important deep channel large enough to send ships to the mercy of the seas beyond the mouth at the end of Lough named after the city.  Broad and flat the select beds reach up the hills.  Cave hill our Napolean.  Dead warrior given his ‘mote’ to Jonathan Swift for Gullivers Travels apparently and were Wolfe Tone took to the Caves his henchmen whose fate was sealed by treachery Int heir midst and a severely idiotic undermanned and insouciance met with reactive violent repression by the cohorts of the occupying state whose ministries ran like a blade the length of Ireland, in the North the hangmen of the day, the Church of Ireland, and in the Southern part the same with a mightier Roman doctrine stifling their cohort.  On the sleech homes were built.  On the hills. Mills. Factories. In the Harbour ships, flying aero planes, in the port handling sheds.  The Cavehill to the North sweeps round West and forms a bowl disallowing building homes except for a landed few on the steep slopes. Confinement ultimately a downfall.  
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Rendering by the nomad

The film renders no topographical sense of place, no genus loci.  It is bereft of vision and eve with a raw past Belfast does do, does do nostalgia.  Softly Softly sings Ruby Murray over a cloudscape and direct plane view of the island beneath.  It’s not a satellite view so no sense of two joined tectonic plates, no rudimentary paleontology or archeology for that is the dictator of Belfast just as the Himalaya’s create the people of Tibet, the Serengeti produces the  Tanzanian sultans and practices of kinship.  “Here we are, caught up in this big ripple, Tinseltown in the rain“, (Paul Buchanan) except it is only its fore bearer.  The place left to spread the American Dream.
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Conclusion ### more to come

 – I had an interuppted insight as did several others and intend to complete this incomplete review – how will it end !!!!! – reviewers are not supposed to give away the ending but post a flavor and hopefully some insightful guidance to steer your own visions of the material, for what it’s worth.  Cinema changes and has intentional many different views to be absorbed.  Go lightly with your tone and candor then I hope and this is an excellent piece though unsurprisingly is short on detail and is not a serialism do documentary of which several may emerge over time.

See belfastfilmfestival.org for screening details.
At QFT from Friday 8 April through to Thursday 14 April 2016.

I will revisit this blog and review with a view to updating it soon!

John Graham

23 March 2016

Belfast

Le Mepris : A Film Review

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Director Jean-Luc Godard, France/Italy, 1963, 1hr 43mims, subtitled, Cert, 15. Fritz Lang, Brigit Bardot, Jack Palance.
Unreal brilliance
In the most stunning of places a trio meet to discuss changes to a movie.  The Producer, the Director, the potential rewriter  – scriptwriter and his wife.
Local World
For the beginning of the narrative the producer Jeremy (Jerry) Jack Palance is found at his former film stages on set in Italy with a dilapidated enterprise wound down and worn out studios. It is he claims pointedly his kingdom now a ruin. With each word the echoes of former cinema are torn rags and Fritz Lang as himself is not delivering the film Jerry wants and needs.
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Gone are the days of United Artists and independent is key and new formulas are embraced by film makers and demanded by cinema goers.  The sense of this reality plays out as a old and modern struggle which is comedic to begin with and hopeless inertia seems so set in on this venture all are engaged in.  It is of course Homer’s area of conjecture on fate, destiny and life, ‘The Odyssey’.  So many spellings and readings of the title are played with on clapper boards, posters, books that uncertainty is prime.
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Body beautiful
Initially we meet resident author Paul, husband of Camille.  Michel Piccoli and Brigit Bardot. They are in bed in the morning and the nude not naked Camille quizzes him on his perception of her.  Her awakening is a prelude to her questioning as the day goes on her real place and relationship with Paul.  Jean-luc Godard has cast a slightly troubled male partner for Camille to draw out the state of any marriage of sexual union.  Will it entail asking if the other loves them or will they find a set of silent responses like animals dropping their brow or leaning their head and moving their mouth in or out of a smile?   Or will it remain continual test ratified by lovemaking or rejection. Camille is questioning and is unreadable even to herself.
Restlessness and Compromise
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Godard plays to the stresses it puts on the viewers instincts to warm or dismiss the characters in the centre of things. In the second part of the film we are at the newly aquired flat where the reading of Camille although she won’t admit it. Is that Paul is using her to ingratiate himself with the producer.  Jerry acts as Poseiden perhaps.  Though he could be the benefactor of the left at home Penelope. Works each way.

Paul is essentially the Odysseus part. Lang is fatherly and learned in his assessments but comically inept at showing any brilliance in working with the Jerry contrived script that he brings to the film process.  A scene of straight talking about where they have reached takes place in a projection room.  It provides a theatre set for emotions to fly around the room.  

Infidelity

This is where Paul is challenged to become involved in something he needs only to satisfy what he believes may suit his ailing relationship.  The one that began ailing that very morning for no particular reason, unspoken ‘gift’ of his wife open to Jerry as passenger to Villa One! and Camille is none the wiser (to him) and maybe uncertain of her own covictions as to why it appears to becoming a shipwreck.

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Where the Odyssey leaves out truth and goes searching for as Lang recites, pursuit of learning, we are switched as lights of and on the trail of each story.  Godard does occasional cutting room forays into the near past and in a frame shows a piece of edited future.  He also catches Camille once or twice in partial darkness with her eyes piercing the cloth of the screen in luminous glorious singular gaze.  Whether through accident or design it is a shot that looks deeply to the interior of Camille and only Brigit Bardot would possibly have that capacity to draw you into her through simple singular framing of her eyes.
Fixation
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Journey
The journey in the Odyssey has many players and it is Penelope who is stationary. Caught on an island, Ithica, alone and under orders to entertain strangers bearing gifts.  Is Jerry to be the benefactor?  Fritz (I prefer M) Lang has many of the best lines.  Jerry has his thumbnail size red book of very decent beliefs to shar with everyone but is in Palance’s take of American producers not least probably from his own experience does not intellectualise his character too much but keeps him save and knowing what plays out.  He pump primes those around him with the decadence, visited, of money.  Palance could not work with Godard. And hated the work asGodard would not entertain his take on the American moguls. The film encircles the themes in many other reality connections.  Carlos Ponti wanted more BB sexual presence. Bardot wanted fun and to be working on the French new wave. She also despite having relatively few speeches evolved her own acting style and played the part of a woman needing intellectual equality and uses a brunette wig to signal this and acts as though her beauty is the spoiler. Go to Fritz for some script objectivity as Godard frequently explored the femme fatale and used BB too much to extepolorise this.

For producers came from theatres accumulated monies along the way which the more honest and creative Paul subsists through his gift which is constructing mysteries not plagurising historical narratives.  Paul is adrift and all too quickly appreciates the level of his relationship with Camille is at.  Throughout the film Godard uses left to right and back again for speeches between people which Fritz takes part in memorably and intuitively accurate in pacing and projection.

Others Views
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Casa Malaparte
Into each section of the film comes a love of location which ultimately finds itself at a truly remarkable and appropriate place.  One built by a novelist, diplomat who is alters his name along the way.  Visually the film is multi-layered with tropes of cinema, vaudeville scenes, back lot references in the art and exactitude of portraying what is ineffective a fictional account, the beautiful serenity of lingering on a human form which happens to be Brigit Bardot in all her exterior beauty.  The play on environments and in particular Godard’s strong rapport with built and natural scenery knowing when it is strong and instrumental in storytelling.  Colour is used in bold contrast.
Signal Signature Colour
 Again Fritz even gets to comment as a mere aside on the use of a colour to one of the actresses circulating within the drama.  It is fabulous excentuated by sublime weather where even the shirt and tie works with a linen or woollen suit.  Jerry wears, un- Jack Palance like a red woollen pullover as part of Godard’s visual mission control.  More absurdity and juxtaposed alternative to reality which the movie industry is renowned for and Godard unashamedly offers the con it to us on many subtle palettes. Chiefly his directorship as the supreme lead.
Sense of place Genus loci
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Some shots of action are subtlety sexually charged and little censorship of sexual discussion or interaction is employed with grace respect and good taste prevailing making it inconspicuously overtly sexual not

 pornographic and distracting.     A slipcase book provides the juxtapose of the two forms and Hollywood meets West Hollywood (pardon the Michael Connoly stereotyping – it goes with Paul’s real home keyboard) through ancient ephemeral depiction of the Kama Sutra in one or two overtly animalistic traits.  A scene includes a referencing, subtly ancient images of the porn Paul shows only tacit interest in, given it by Jerry.

Slipcase art
The location is itself an epic, famous and powerful influential piece of architecture.  Like a terracotta upturned boat, in the film it becomes a forth character symbolising in its dilapidated state, (it has thankfully been restored to a pristine gem of a building nestling in Capri where the never changing and always changing sea comes to its base.) a need for change and compromise as nothing stands still.  Pure elemental longing lust love present themselves no matter the surroundings and while isolation and focus is brought by the location, voyage of discovery in simpler ways of doing things, of needs and true rapport and connection are thrust forward changing the dynamic of the one person among others. Brigit Bardot, the one person is torn between her present and future desires.  Is she the sacrifice she believes she is in this male world?

Is she Penelope?

Visual mastery
Former illusions especially visible around filmmaking subvert the lives as Jean Luc-Godard explores and exploits the narrative to find ways of describing the innermost emotions and feelings.  Jack Palance is singularly determined not to loose his love yet in his role as producer he has – like Godard making a commercial international appealing film, certain values to set aside no matter how hurtful or destructive they may be in the scheme of things as they unfold.  
Architecture of unique beauty and inspired forms
Casa Malaparte is homage to destiny by Italian architect Adalberto Libera started in 1937 for the journalist, novelist and diplomat Curzio Malaparte. Born Kurt Erich Suckert, Malaparte’s name derives from “evil/wrong side” and is a play on Napoleon’s family name “Bonaparte” and clear what that intended.  Malaparte rejected Libera’s initial design for the house went on to build it himself with the help of Adolfo Amitrano, a local builder which they completed in 1942.
American Movies
Paul goes into it naively and learns more about his wife than he bargained for and he is therefore required to accept, even as an asset, this previously unseen need of his wife.  To be less shallow than a suntan or embodiment of beauty which is where Brigit Bardot, as Marilyn Monroe struggled, with the precarious value of provocative and erotic beauty simply held as the visual self which everyone adores and see degrees of wonder in. 

Brigit Bardot became reclusive and found her peace in an equally beautiful spot near St Tropez where she developed a sanctuary for cats and strays.  It is as if the beauty she clearly, not plainly, was became a burden on her mind, altering her sense of self and the value of intrinsic interior beauty.
Father of film
Fritz Lang’s ability, cinemas perhaps, to be the agent of learning; his frequent use of historical quotation and writings, particularly referencing the importance of residing in the present moment where the only reality that exists and matters, is central.  The feminine needs and desires are put forward as being utmost in obtaining the key to happiness with allusion to Gods active part, being close but not controlling is at the forefront of the analysis.  His quotations come in his little 1963 book also in part. He was involved at a time he needed the acting fee and his part is topping an era where film making has new routines and lost traditions.

However faulty it is all there is to go on and the apple And original sin presents the flaw of human acting firstly in the woman (Jesus displaying psychic traits believing himself as the son of God perhaps) displaying fashion judgement in plucking the fruit forewarned not to and binding to her by chains of regret the male psyche.

You could go on for days discussing and wondering about this as it is a staple of art and film without any end or  concept of reasoning outplaying another.  So films attract and stars who define the implications of our own values come streaming on our insatiable quest of self discovery.  Discovering beauty is a very giving life force with powerful incentive to desire it even more once the source has been imagined as found.  It’s there or here or possibly hidden if we were to lift that or this.
BFI re-release with Studio Canal
The BFI seem to think it is a cause worth salvaging and reworking for these times, 2016 appears and it is 53 years since it was made. Some of the following images take the place and its unintended symbolic awesome presence to project values against.  From glasses to scent to clothes it provides projection. 

To even take things further, the building is beguiling feminine like an emerging body rising out of the shoreline as a pubic carapace solid and fundamental. It is seductive and mysteriously many things.

Conclusion ##### 5
Absolutely superb film making as good if not better in this restored version and some fifty three years of being able to regard it.
Thanks to the whole unit who made this for us to see another day.

It is running now at Queens Film Theatre until this Thursday, the last showing presently and widely available and worth seeing on a cinema screen and to join in the laughs and reactions which are illustrative in themselves.

John Graham

5 January 2016

Belfast

Architecture : Game of Thrones

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World of Imagination
Television series Game of Thrones has created a set of imagined spaces and realised them in a conscripted form of Architectural history.
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It is not stationary but adds its own vision to it, forming the world it inhabits.
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Outside of reality imagined sets of Cities, Interior worlds, Ampitheatre and Theatrical overtures are clamouring to focus the viewers attention on storyline and plot. Narrative drives everything from the Throne itself and many sublet versions of it make the story follow the money or the gore.
The alterations in ownership of the top of the pyramidical structure is wrought for all it’s worth. Space and control of it are primary edicts.

The world of nature and environment are the primary winners and humans have their own constructions on it.

The seminar set up by QUB Architectural Society I attended had as it’s title On the theme ‘Journeys in Architecture’ – the Physcology of Space with reference to the Production of Game of Thrones given by Deborah Riley it’s Art Director. (Note the psychology spelling mistake of the poster – it rarely entered the psychology in any case)
History
Never far away are actual pyramids and the ancients. From the film I recently viewed, Sunset Song, symbols are also referenced though these are in the form of megaliths and standing stones. Ancient reference. Here instead Game of Thrones acts out the Alexander, Roman and Moorish examples of architectural artifice.

Conceit is always thrust forth as the mental, psychological, imagination in flight. Birds, three eyed or binary are roll called to stir the emotional wizardry and supposed shared worlds of control and magnitude of spread of territory. Likewise the roots of nature are entwined into preternatural creatures, here in rhododendron bush branches laboriously honed sanded to configure and clasp as the rooted body of a key character are extensively relied on to convey this otherworldly vision. Outside of visual digital conception this is arranged as a epoch making manifestation of series style.
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Nature endures. Nature endures. Foremost is this primary truth yet the series is a purvey acne of artifice and untruth with the counter narrative of we see the world outside the reality or imagination driven to the viewer.

Is it a cast back to the theatrical illusions and distortions often seen in three dimensions in an auditorium or outdoors at night at an Ampitheatre?

I think this two dimensional treatment forgets it’s delivery is into living rooms or large screen darkness in a audio visual suite. Potentially the architecture is diminished and tokenistic. Any elaboration is taken as artifice for what it is alongside the digital visual lift shed upon the screen.

Detail is so important as a statement and substantiation of the theme or direction of concept. Through my short viewing of the series I often note the absence of drapery or tapestry and the gilt pictorial representation present in all cultures. Neither sculpture or art works are there any indications of higher art. Each of those is only present in a slightly formalized way, with dogs, wolves, no wall hangings and elsewhere in tiling and geometrical mosaic like depiction.

A lot of referencing to the Albert Speers, Frank Lloyd Wright, both psychological practitioners, were raised by the designers working on Art direction and underwhelmed being so familiar as erecessitive style icons. Also hinged into the work is religious beginnings with little or no spiritual delivery or significance. A kind of consumerism enters.

It’s possibly unfair to cite a TV series as anything of bearing on the practice of architecture. Civilizations real have sought and corrupted the art just as a corruption of talent and ideas for as long as it has existed.
It has existed alongside the sublime to the ridiculous.
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For a series though it has the element of embracing thought and the imagined potential which otherwise remains unaccomplished. It’s service is not aspirational or inspirational but as a means of observing what world thoughts have a presence on our psyche. It is not a noble examination but merely a snapshot illuminating the human condition flawed or otherwise.
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Difference
Of the 20th Century some buildings went so far as to redefine in timeless and awesome beauty and incredible execution of higher things and none so brilliant than Coventry Cathedral by Basil Spence.

Into this building and I rate it more significant and better than anything produced by Jean Genet, Jorn Utzon or anyone else regarded at the height of architectural expression, their is a collaborative element like no other.
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Sir Basil Spence like so many architects in previous centuries called upon artists and craftsmen to deliver into this building the real composition of a whole. The participants where Graham Sutherland and John Hutton.
There is the cluster of triads on the ‘Bishop’s throne from the inspiration of Sir Basil Spence who alighted on a complex thorn geometric frame in Graham Sutherlands house as unifying his idea to simplify and create choir canopies, the throne backdrop and horizontal pull from the chancel onwards the high nave windows.
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The vertical depiction of thorns as a canopy to the throne becomes transformative. It’s as though the thorns become birds. There is also the sculptors Elizabeth Frink, whose lectern is an astonishing eagle of perfect scale and presence. Even the grid to rest the Bible upon is an open grid frame. It is perfection. Ever present is the work of Sir Jacob Epsteins whose imagery is at once the gravitas and supreme heraldry of The Cathedral in its portrayal of St Michael and the devil.
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Looking back on these things now is like looking at the origins of the work of Michelangelo. Sir Jacob Epstein was working at a time after conflict and great loss of human life, was re-evaluating on behalf of a Church which was soon to attempt its own transformation alongside its fellow traveller the Catholic Church whose Vatican 2 was in the potential making.
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He therefore uniquely placed to envision on the cliff face of this impediment, this mere cliff face of a building reaching towards the sky as a unifying, one spire like edifice to awaken lost souls. I say impediment because it is a space we are drawn to and we cross an imagined boundary into it. That is we take in its thrall. Entering a tomb for the living to reflect and return to themselves having sought the power instilled in them by God.
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The vision created by the unity of vision which Sir Basil Spence brought is still overlooked in its entirety. To have said in the trenches off Normandy in 1944 when asked what his ambition was, under the consciousness of the bereavement of war and of obvious reflection on the waste of mankind he said, and it is true not folklore, “to build a Cathedral”.
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The Church of England was the the musician of the orchestration of the Phoenix it was once the host of. From the Coventry of Lady Godiva to now return to creating a new church was its necessary task. Such were the enthusiasm of the Bishops and Holy Family empowered with conceiving of this instrument to play before God they were richly rewarded with inspiration not least to fasten upon the developing skills of the Architect Sir Basil Spence. Even from the beginning what we now think of as the Graham Sutherland tapestry owes its presence to the initial sketches including the figure of Christ in tapestry at the focal alter place of the imagined Church.
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It was an outstanding vision no doubt borne out of deep reflection and concern of the cost of war, this new expression of love and hope with a reticence and design of omission of artifact and iconography hitherto present and faintly if not entirely plagiaristic.

We are lucky to also have in Ireland parallel works by the late renowned Architect religious practitioner Liam McCormick. His influences personal and of wider perspective have a fellowship unmistakably in harmony with Spences.

Sir John Pipers stain glass windows are a vector of light inspiring the interior and the effect is muted while gloriously effecting response to the kaleidoscopic abundance of elemental worldly existing things and evoke things of unimagined presence yet to be discovered.
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So many combined to author this magnificent Building while understanding the importance fiction only aspires to intemperately and transgressively.
Forms are not two dimensional transitory things is one lesson Architecture teaches us. Transfiguring. Articulating. Expressing. Editing and observing are calculations due evidential conception. The art of deploying to a work by which ever chosen method is a bridge to the materialisation of the sum of those ideas given to the imagination.

The materiality is found shaped in the many combinations, juxtapositions, combinations and support of separate materials. In the following is an illustrative, evident, example.

Forming the glass screens and the stained glass windows where key and delicate decisions of choice and instilled the renaissance of religion into a city bombed into oblivion. An act of extraordinary resurrection was the weight and burden challenging the theologians who were to use the building and bring the common man to turn to God in desperation after the horrors of war and one within the sight of God.
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So profound was this challenge it barely takes a word to dismiss Game of Thrones as a mere token of time driven pretence of no significance at all.
The lack of psychology in the talk despite its form was probably because of a distinct lack of understanding of the subject.
Surreal fictional ‘humans’ are the storytellers and authors of the inhabited spaces. They are in their world and we cannot ascribe our own psychology to theirs.
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The Chapel of Unity is perhaps the most perplexing space in Coventry Cathedral. It is – and this is fundamentally a fault of denominational religion – a separate place of worship and reflection intended for the ‘Free Churches’ alongside the Anglican tradition who’s Church it forms a part of. You could begin a long discussion on difference when only one creator exists on that alone and the Architects, mere artisans when it comes to inspiration and vision on their part when confronted with such a brief are to be consumed by many external wishes and considerations.

So the Chapel of Unity has a psychology of space of preternaturalness deviating from all reality of things. Our existence inhabiting space.
Playing with concrete, glass, light, entrance, enchantment, accord is something the Architect is challenged immediately with.
The parameters are explanation enough from the Anglicans. They regarded ‘The Chapel of Unity’ as needing no more than 200 seats. It already thereby making a statement of itself as a sect.

To sum up a little on the premise set, the tract of land, the conveyance of thought and requirement of the idea of Church, the collaboration, the statement, of a building together with its grounds or other appurtenances we see Coventry Cathedral calling towards the goal of its brief – ‘Furthermore the building will embody the thought of the descent of the Spirit upon the waiting Church. Liturgically it will have its centre in Pentecost, and will be the Chapel of the Unity and of the Holy Spirit. That will give it a very specific function in perpetuity within the Cathedral and within its liturgical meaning.’

From with one instruction for ‘The Chapel of Unity’ can be gathered many things. In the Cathedral is a division. The words can apply to the whole but are specific to the Chapel. In its awe inspiring sanctity it creates difference. Mere play with materials such as concrete and glass, of height and containment are graduations of meaning humans in cloth have chosen and made progress on choices. It is unfathomable and incomprehensible to elicit the creator in a building on the confines of earthly things.
It is astonishing the comprehensibility is shaped so progressively as a true Journey in Architecture held here.
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The Elizabeth Frink masterpiece

For architectural Students to find any depth or even direction in Game of Thrones is pretentious bile. It is a confection yes and of ‘financial’ value mainly to the company at its helm but compare the reality of the art of Architecture in actual buildings instead to find real value.
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Understanding spaces is ultimately a correlation of human occupancy, use and enhancement of their spiritual and core worth. Expedience is not a resolution in itself. So where do you find it?
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Coventry Cathedral is one primary source.

John Graham

8 December 2015

Belfast

With love and Best Wishes to all this Christmas.

Solar Eclipse 2015 March 20

The Deadly Sun
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For us to have sight of the sun we are first told the light from it will destroy our vision. We are in the light everyday without fear we are accustomed to protecting our eyes by using an aid such as the Ultra violet ray’s filter incorporated in glasses.

Straight away the strength of the sun and it’s association to us is present.

Sunlight emitted from the Sun takes Eight and a third minutes to reach us. The light from other planets is traveling from billions of light years before though we can look through the night sky at this ancient light.
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The distance between the earth and sun is around 93 Million Miles.
In kilometers is 150,000 million kilometers which divided by the speed of light, 300,000 kilometers per second then the eight seconds shows the proximity of this major planet in our solar system.
Celestial once uniform
Our solar year comprises the 365 revolutions which brings around each season of our calendar.

Into this derived calendar over millennia these behaviours of the sun have been become patterns which our presence on earth has consumed and adapted to then recorded.
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Only since the discovery of notation have we discovered how far back the recognition of the solar effect had celestial realisation, entering into how we explain to ourselves the continuation of our planets as a system both fluid and static.

The static meaning is used to highlight the times preheating us, in which the sun will have crossed the moon and the earth comes between the sun and the moon.

Numerically the latter is highly frequent whereas what we witnessed on 20 March 2015 is not only very infrequent it has a set of appearances which the Jewish faith have taken to signify the timely extrapolation of their Biblical history. The patterns are so pronounced they appear as visionary.

The occurrences of Jewish upheavals are seen in Biblical texts with Israel affected by the events known and actual have almost formed, co-inciding as a will or expectation that at times The Jewish faith believe they will be challenged and confronted with fundamental elements and outcomes as is present at the point of the celestial indicators of the eight moons.
Eight Blood Moons
This year contains eight blood moons in sequence of which the eighth is after our common week of seven duration predicates the new day of learning or reckoning.

So Exodus and various religious tracts are unfolded to bear witness on us.

But how this is known is the greatest question of all. God only knows.
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It is not known but merely the very creation by giants of imagination, the authors of our historical revelation, recording for themselves the events of Christian thinking, told with the narrator not Jesus but Moses.
The Israelites being so outside of The Lord God, could not themselves listen directly to God but were totally reliant on the words given to Moses.
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Jesus was on the side of God and Gods word was the word Jesus taught us.

The words of Moses deserve and are worthy of faith but are not the entirety of faith nor is the word of The Lord set to divide or set apart some from others. Jesus told us to be aware of the simple truth and reject all other things.
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The Easter Time
We are coming towards a time, Easter, when we again realise the world is of our habitation not our making and until we return to God forsaking all sin of war, hurt and harm, from ignoring our love for our neighbour as given us then we are on the path away from God and the pain of the crucifixion is our eclipse.

We are not in the sight of God when we ignore the wisdom given. We are in anticipation of of the words of the Lords Prayer.

We are in the hearing of the sound of the world washing us in the water here since the world became.

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Within air, the air, nitrogen, oxygen carbon monoxide and other spoiling polluting gases in which we reside silently breathing until God takes us away from this life and returns us to his.

Other Occula

We see as we have seen on the Sun the formation of Crescents. Some called Occula.

Occula
This a protrusion on the occipital bone of the skull that forms a joint with the first cervical vertebra, enabling the head to move relative to the neck.
On our nails are a crescent shape. The fingernail from under our skin revealing an inner fixed point.

The edge extends the crescent stays within us at the finger and between the head and body there is this Occula bone being a sign of the two elements most evident and whole being joined.

Across the world we explore connections with even wider universal discovery exciting and forever making us totally in search of inexplicable and forever creating insights to sit around and explain the order our planet may find itself in at this moment and the next.

John Graham

22 March 2015

Belfast

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