Monday, November 05, 2012

The Science of Magic

I saw an advert from Kenton Knepper, about some material he was offering on memory - and it was apparently stuff he prepared to show Psychology students at the University of Arizona.

Digging a little deeper, I found the course it was intended to be part of...

The Culture of Psychology and Magic

And that article on Randi's site, further pointed to Anthony Barnhart's website/blog

The Science of Magic

Where I found a link to an article by Teller, explaining how the principles of magic, field tested for centuries, can teach psychologists more than the inverse.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Testing, testing

Just experimenting with using Personal Brain to navigate my website - testing Home Page code in Blogger. If it works here, then I may put it in place on the old website... Personal Brain helps organise the pages, and to the left of each box you'll find a link that takes you to the actual page. I will add more content to the bottom part of the frame, bit by bit.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Living on Borrowed Time

As ever, John Lennon said it better than me (see post title and YouTube clip) - although I have managed to claw a few more years out of this lovely little planet, and the illusion of an individual life, than he did. Bless him.

This morning, I found myself in a snarl-off about the job I have now put 15 years into, because although it seems that my fellow workers know what I contribute, the people who actually pay me don't seem to value the role that highly. Hey ho. I am past retirement age, so I should probably just stop grovelling and quit.

I don't really care about pay-rates, but I like respect.

Since I dropped-out of school (when everyone said "you wouldn't dare leave, think of your future") and I just had to call their bluff (even if I starved, as they implied) I have had the same approach.

I remain a loyal and tireless worker for bosses who treat me with respect, but if someone implicitly threatens me with "think of how you would survive in the current economic climate" I just wanna go (I did that in the late 70s when the country was in crisis and someone thought they had the whip hand). I just walked away. I am still here.

But, if this sounds like a negative rant, imagine this. When we were filming The Dark Crystal we reached the end of the day (18:00h) and had not quite captured something we had all been working towards through the afternoon.

Jim Henson - still sadly missed Now in the film business, if you go one minute over, all the unions claim another hour (at overtime rates). We were so close to getting the shot. Jim Henson announced that he couldn't afford overtime for 150 people, but he and Frank Oz wanted one more try at getting it in the can before we all went home. And, that's how beloved they were, as bosses, every person in that room turned a blind eye to their contracts, forgot their unions rules, and their tiredness and family obligations, and unanimously agreed to give it one more go, to get it right!

That's good management. That's working towards excellence with mutual respect. That was my first ever proper job working in a hierarchy (taking orders) - because of my previous 'bad attitude' to authority figures. I guess it spoiled me for the 'real world'.

RIP Jim, and thanks.

When I was younger
Living confusion and deep despair
When I was younger ah hah
Living illusion of freedom and power

When I was younger
Full of ideas and broken dreams (my friend)
When I was younger ah hah
Everything simple but not so clear

Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow
Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow

Now I am older
The more that I see the less that I know for sure
Now I am older ah hah
The future is brighter and now is the hour

Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow
Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow

Good to be older
Would not exchange a single day or a year
Good to be older ah hah
Less complications everything clear

Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow
Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow

"...all I've got to bother about is standing up..."

Monday, February 13, 2012

So far, so good.

Reasons to be cheerful:

  • My birthday may still be associated with chocolate and cherubs, satin hearts and red balloons, sloppy romance and spending money - but at least it's a secular day now - all the religion squeezed out of it. I don't think the Church ever felt comfortable with Valentinus the Gnostic

  • In 66 years I have travelled 38,504,400,000 miles round and round and round the sun, at 66,000 mph. And that doesn't allow for other movements (sun around the galaxy centre, etc)

  • They didn't retire me yet, so I can still afford teeth, and shoes, and that sort of thing - before I fall into the black pit of the tiny pension
Here's Eric to affirm the wonder of it all:

And if you didn't get all those facts and figures, or wonder how accurate they are, this link takes you to a deadpan analysis of the details

This winter I decided to work on my old man archtype (I get bored with all this 'you don't look yer age stuff') On the whole, I'd rather pose with a spliff but it doesn't involve much more than letting the beard grow out (that fools most people, for some reason).

When George Burns was 93 he was at a party. It was after midnight and he had a whiskey in one hand and a cigar in the other. George Burns

Somebody asked him "What does your doctor say about your lifestyle?" and he said "Oh he died long time ago."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

MultiMedia and the Avant-Gardes

I had to help write an essay about multimedia performances a few years ago, and found a wonderful book by Richard Kostelanetz which gave me a clue to how to shape the piece.

I have just bought it through AbeBooks for a very good price, as the Amazon going rate seemed much higher (£20-30 for the paperback).

Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes.

Mr Kostelanetz has written a myriad of fascinating material, and his website is definitely worth a visit.

Admittedly, I bought the first edition (1993) - the one that inspired me - and he has updated the second edition (2001) - with the cover shown here.
Indeed, he has offered some draft updates, should a third edition ever appear.

What I found, to help me shape the essay/thesis (with a deadline of a week!) was his reference to mixed-means theatre. He analysed the various forms that he covers with that term (Happenings, stage performances, kinetic environments, etc) using what I assume he got from Aristotle's rather rigid 'unities' for theatrical performances:

  • The unity of action: a play should have one main action that it follows, with no or few subplots.

  • The unity of place: a play should cover a single physical space and should not attempt to compress geography, nor should the stage represent more than one place.

  • The unity of time: the action in a play should take place over no more than 24 hours.
However, to describe the wider variety of audience, performer, creator interactions of mixed media / multimedia performance (including circus, in my terms) he offered this table:

And that gave me all the structure I needed to help my friend shape his thesis. We simply worked through all the practical projects and shows he had done, and described them as involving:

  • open or closed space

  • fixed or variable time

  • fixed or variable actions.
So I owe Mr Kostelanetz quite a bit (and the library for having a copy of his book available at the time).
On top of all that, I love dictionaries, and this remains a treasure trove of cross-references, eye-openers, and other fun. He doesn't only cover some of my own favourite artists: Duchamp, Cage, Jarry, Joyce; but other perhaps less expected ones like Burroughs, Dylan and Bucky Fuller; and also genres from Performance Art to Punk Rock to Hypertext, and groups like Fluxus and Dada.

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