ffffound.com (closed beta. Sorry, no invites left) is really very lovely.


This: del.icio.us crossed with Clipmarks crossed with Flickr. It’s social bookmarking for images.


It’s also a lot simpler than del.icio.us. As nice as that simplicity is, there’s a big part of me that really wants it to support tagging.

I’ll try to share inspirational typographic/arty/design stuff there. I’ve added the feed and a link to my page to the feeds list in the sidebar.

Anthony Gormley – Blind Light

Anthony Gormley (the talented British sculptor who created the Angel of the North) had an exhibition in London at the moment called ‘Blind Light’. Although it’s presented by the Hayward gallery, the exhibition is by no means confined there. In fact, according to the Southbank Centre website, it “features sculptural casts of the artist’s body on rooftops and public walkways across central London, dramatically transforming the city skyline”. And they are dramatic indeed.

On a recent trip to London with Rob Smart we both regretted not having our cameras with us to capture the eerie sight of bronze sculptures poised on the edges of dozens of rooftops around the centre of the city. Today, I didn’t forget, and managed to snap a few shots while walking across Waterloo Bridge.

Blind Light Blind Light Blind Light London 031

Blind Light Blind Light London 041 London 042

Of course, none of this is new news to anyone living in London, but for me, with my frequent but irregular visits to the city, this is quite exciting. Has anyone been into the exhibition itself? I quite like the idea of walking into a cloud. For just £8 (and half price on Mondays apparently) I may well have to go and take a look.

Me and my avatar, morphed

Ian noticed Sqirlz Morph recently (via some rather fun composite Hot-or-Not images). I immediately started hacking with Sqirlz Morph myself, and found it to be much faster and more more powerful than any morphing tool I’d tried before.

Sqirlz Morph screenshot

Of course, the first thing I did was to morph my real face with that of my avatar, Algernon Spackler. The results are pretty spooky when animated.

The hair emerges from nowhere, but the other facial features are able to map quite nicely to each other, meaning the half-way point is a bizarre blend of my real and virtual identities.

Roo Reynolds aka Algernon Spackler

The real real me is in there somewhere.

Ian already posted his Epredator with spiky hair / Predator gear vid on Eightbar. I will probably make some more of these for other people over the weekend, and will post the whole collection to Eightbar on Monday.

In other news I have a long weekend off work, and took the opportunity to get a haircut ready for a TV interview coming up on Tuesday… meaning my video is out of date already. At least my avatar doesn’t need haircuts.

IBM 1401, A User’s Manual

From the ridiculous to the sublime…

My brother recently got back from the Iceland Airwaves music festival. I’m a big fan of the Reykjavik scene (and really like Sigur Rós, Amiina, múm, …) so it was great to be introduced to yet another great Icelandic artist. Jóhann Jóhannsson is an Icelandic composer and founder of the Kitchen Motors record label. Jóhannsson’s 2006 album ‘IBM 1401, A User’s Manual’ appeals to me on so many levels, not least because it includes samples from an IBM 1401 Data Processing System. From the album’s website, ausermanual.com, we learn more about the history of the album:

“Inspired by a recording of an IBM mainframe computer which Jóhann’s father, Jóhann Gunnarsson, made on a reel-to-reel tape machine more than 30 years ago, the piece was originally written to be performed by a string quartet as the accompaniment to a dance piece by the choreographer Erna Ómarsdóttir. For the album version, Jóhann rewrote the entire score, and it was recorded by a sixty-piece string orchestra. He also added a new final section and incorporated electronics alongside those original tape recordings of the singing computer.”

It is seriously haunting and gorgeous, and I could listen to it every day. You can see some footage (and an interview) of Jóhann Jóhannsson on YouTube with a little more detail of the role of the 1401 in the piece:

“My father … learned of a way of making music on this computer. By placing a radio next to it the radio could pick up these electromagnetic waves. They discovered a way of programming the memory so that these waves could be modulated and they could produce melodies. So this is what they did, these engineers at IBM after work they made this music – these melodies – on this computer.”

Incidently, the day after the festival officially finished this year, Erland Øye (Kings of Convenience, The Whitest Boy Alive) performed three songs in a tiny church. Stunning. The more I see, and the more Sam talks about Iceland Airwaves, the more certain I am that I have to be there next year.

Real, or rendering?

My brother, Sam Reynolds, is a stunningly good graphic artist who specialises in 3D, though he’s also annoying good with Photoshop and v-jaying with vvvv. His job has even involved designing skate parks in 3D Studio Max.

He recently emailed me some renders he’s been working on. Would you believe that this is not a photo?

Sam ink bottle render

My own experiments with photo-realistic rendering are a joke compared to what Sam gets up to. My jaw dropped when I saw this. Click it for a bigger version, in which some of the details in the lid show up even better.

Who wants to be a millionaire?

My latest LEGO creation.

Chris taunts another contestant with a cheque….

but we don’t want to give you that.

Strategic Pursuer – LEGO image rendered using POV-Ray

Made the model in MLCad. (Find instructions for the set at peeron). Converted to POV-Ray using Lars C. Hassing’s L3P.

Rending time: 4 hours.

Arty stuff: Inkscape, Dia and Artrage

Inkscape is a free SVG editor for Linux and Windows (an article about it was linked from Slashdot today) which spun off from Sodipodi. Dia is another related project; designed to be more of a diagramming tool (a bit like Visio). Dia (like Sodipodi) requires GTK.
ArtRage is more of a realistic painting simulator than an art package. It’s very intuitive and works splendidly with a graphics tablet. It’s free. Sadly it only works on Windows, but since that they were developing primarily with the TabletPC in mind I can just about forgive them that.

San Francisco, Day 3

Another foggy day in San Francisco. By the end of it I will have spent an hour misleading an art gallery. First though, I decide to head to Alcatraz. I feel that the weather should perfectly suit the mood of the setting. I am excited about visiting the Rock. The concierge at the Hilton dashes my hopes though. “Sir, they are fully booked until Friday”. Damn. Other than the potential of seeing the seals again, I see no reason to go back to the wharf today, so I am pleased that I checked the Alcatraz situation before going to pier 41.

What to do instead? I decide to check out the art galleries. My wife is a artist, and she has taught me well in the ways of the art critic.

At the first gallery I get a frosty reception. This does not bother me particularly, as I am there only to browse. Buying original art works is not something I am likely to be able to afford for many years. The Picasso and Rembrant etchings before me are more than just a little out of my league. When the staff of the second gallery ignore me in exactly the same way as the first I become a little worried about it. My paranoia grows and I believe that they are quietly mocking me by pretending I don’t exist. I narrow it down to my age (22) and my appearance (trousers and shirt are not scruffy but not obviously screaming “art collector” either). When I enter the third gallery and a very friendly Californian guy greets me happily my spirits soar. Perhaps I am capable of pulling this off after all. So, by accident rather than by plan, I gradually begin to slide into a simple but total deception of this smiling man.

It begins with an icebreaker. He greets me with more effervescence than I’m used to, even in California, the most bubbly of states. I, after returning his salutation and assuring him that I’m doing very well today thank you, inform him that Californian galleries seem more friendly than those of Paris or London. This has two obvious effects.

  1. It demonstrates that I am English and not a local. Furthermore, if he is one of the seven Americans in the world capable of differentiating between a London accent and a Liverpudlian, that I am from the south of England with an accent which we would call home counties. This is not a deception. I don’t need to put on a posh accent. For some reason I speak like a toff all the time. Sometimes I am aware of it but rarely do I try to disguise it.
  2. It implies that I am familiar with European art galleries. Not, perhaps, a total lie but I get the feeling that the total lies are not far down the track.

His attention sufficiently captured, he asks what I think of the rather striking Andreas Nottebohm painting I was admiring as he greeted me. I tell him I am not familiar with the artist but I am fascinated by the technique. Is it acrylic paint applied directly to aluminium? David (for such is the Californian’s name) seems pleased I spotted that and wants to show me more of the Nottebohm works they have. I am genuinely keen to see more. This artist is new to me, and I really love the three pieces I’ve seen so far. We merrily chat about the style and the kind of lighting required to bring out the textures ground into the aluminium sheets which give the paintings their unique (as far as I’m aware) look. By this point we have gone up some stairs (past some Picasso etchings and, I note with joy, Salvador Dalí paintings) to a larger collection of Nottebohm paintings. They vary in size and shape (some are huge concave dishes) but all would make great book covers. They seem to depict the unseen depths of space. Some are strewn with intricately drilled and detailed markings – like an alien map or instruction manual. These pieces could, the viewer could easily imagine, be artefacts. Beautiful objet trouvé rather than man-made art. Others look more like intense space-scapes. Light plays across them revealing new aspects with every move of the head. The textures in the underlying aluminium are as important as the mind-bending shapes and colours the paint which covers it.

I realise that I am gushing a bit about these paintings but I want to emphasize that I am not pulling this guys chain. I have a very real admiration and respect for this work. It appeals to the sci-fi reader in me.

Now the crunch point. So far I could walk out the shop without having said an untrue word. The fulcrum is a question which David who has been subtly probing about where I am staying (the Hilton) and what work I do (computer geek) comes out with the biggie. “So, what do you collect?”.

I am pleasantly surprised. His incorrect assumption that I own art pleases me greatly. I also presents me with a dilemma. If I were totally honest I would laugh lightly and say “I wish” or something similarly self-deprecating. I am here to browse, thanks for showing me this stuff and do feel free to get back to your paying customers. Something in me doesn’t want to be so honest though. He has spent quite a while with me already, and I don’t want to let him down. Plus, my ego was dented earlier by being ignored and David has just enlarged it quite enormously. I’m also interested to see how far I can take this. Do I lie and name some obscure painter, or even make one up? This is risky. I may be expected to know what the works that I own are called, their style, where I purchased them and so on. I am not a bad liar but this is too complex for me to get into. The happy medium is to admit that I currently have no collection but also imply that I might be here to investigate the beginning of one.

This minor hurdle out of the way, David moves on to the next stage. Prices. This gallery (I won’t name it for David’s sake) is not so coarse as to display prices next to the art. Now that he believes I am for real (something my self-confidence is still floating over) he guides me through the prices of the works. He does not even, as I was more-than-half expect him to, concentrate on the cheaper works. Instead he concentrates on the ones I admired the most and goes from there. Essentially, though, I can spend from 2-3 thousand dollars, for a 4 x 3 inch work, to 50 or 60 thousand for the larger pieces. In order to maintain some sanity I indicate that the more affordable paintings are very interesting to me. I don’t say ‘affordable’ though I say ‘accessible’, thinking it’s a more respectful word when handling money. Looking back on it, ‘accessibile’ to an art dealer probably equates to ‘understandable’, but I’m sure he knew what I meant.

At this point he suggests that I might want to come to a Nottebohm exhibition in one month. We have passed the point of no return now. My brain too well fluffed to do anything other than say “I would love to! I don’t see why I shouldn’t come back for that”. A total lie. The reason I won’t be there is because I am really here on business and couldn’t really afford the flight let along the paintings I’m pretending to be weighing up. David doesn’t know this though, so I am taken to a small back room. A dozen or so of the smaller pieces are brought out from storage. David wears white cotton gloves. The small pieces are known by the artist as ‘Universes’ and I go through a frankly unbelievable process of selecting the ones I particularly like. I even, internally laughing at how far this has gone, pick out 3 that look good together as a triptych.

This goes on for perhaps half an hour. I have wasted an hour of David’s time now. Gentle guilt rests on my stomach. Before I can leave though I am shown catalogues. We exchange email addresses and I dutifully take a small Nottebohm brochure and agree that arriving 2 or 3 days before the show to get an early look at the new pieces will be wise. David also offers to email me some jpegs of other Nottebohm paintings which might be there. (I am really looking forward to this). He also takes my home address, which I give so that he can send an official invitation to the show. In return I agree to email him once I know when I will be arriving and where I will be staying in San Francisco. The one thing I demur on is my home phone number. Emails and letters I can cope with. Real-time communication would embarrass the hell out of me though.

In the evening I have chinese with some new friends at a great restaurant called the House of Manking. This we washed down with drinks at a variety of bars. I go to bed with a slightly guilty conscience. Poor David. He was so nice as well.

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