• OH NO, there's an election on its way!

    Seven-party TV debate plan announced between the Three Fates, the Three Stooges and a dogturd!

  • Sunday Story 04

    This is a place-holder,
    Instalment four will be posted as soon as I'm satisfied It reads right. I've typed all the words, it's just that, so far, they're all in the wrong order.

  • Originality 12

    The thing that started me thinking about originality, was the idea developed by my fictional characters during the "Miss Leading Bra Saga" a serial published on this blog during January this year.
    3D printing, on which the the idea of "Tulivuori Technology" was based, is rapidly becoming established as the manufacturing method of choice in all sorts of feilds. A woman's skull was recently replaced by a 3D printed replica, and all sorts of small componants for vehicles and household appliences are now made in this way. As a technology, it is extrordinarily adaptable and can either be used in the direct production of both simple and complicated designs, or to make masters for casting in non-printable materials.
    Of course, no idea stays new for long, because if it works, it will spread wherever and whenever designers find it useful. My claim to some element of originality in the story, is in that my characters, Ragna Tulivuori and Hermione Leading, developed a way of "weaving" a fabric using 3D printing at a molecular level. This meant their novel fabric could be could be 3D-printed so that it stretched in one direction only, and the direction varied from zone to zone. Such a material could be made to do extrordinary things, as the story set out to prove.
    Originality is a fleeting thing, so I guarantee that something very like this is probably in somebody's design pipeline already or will be in the immediate future. It is such a natural path for this technology to take.

  • Sunday Story 03

    - continued from last Sunday.

    Sunbright and Shadow

    In contrast to the dusty sun-striped atmosphere of the old refectory, the chill cloister passage was awash with brightness, filled with the pressure of a hard North light that seemed to crowd the nun and her apostles' worth of urchins into the narrow lancet of the doorway.
    "Far be it for me to say," said Amadea, smoothing the sombre folds of her habit as she unlatched some infant's hand, "but whatever saintly future you may espouse young Sam, it will not be that of Saint George."
    In the centre of the abandoned refectory hall, between the wicker wreck of the dragon carcase and its estranged head, young Sam, the urchin who might never be Saint George, clasped his hands behind him and sought to hide his guilty toe behind its fellow leg. At this point, Helios colluded with the monastery to intervene, as the creeping shadow of the nearby bell-tower reached the edge of the high refectory window and all across the room, the sun's bright lances fell away one by one.
    In front of him, Sam's strange one-legged shadow faded and with it the dragon's head on its reef of scattered books lost its glass-eyed sparkle. Surprised, Sam turned and looking up at the frayed cord still hanging from the smith-struck iron hook, from whence the wicker remnant of former mummery had fallen - not like Satan from Heaven's heights, but from the shady vault of a masonry sky. Suddenly Sister Amadea's future scolding seemed infinitely preferable to the company of an abandoned dragon, who in its child imagined mind, might be resentful of that disruptive shunt from young Sam's disrespectful toe.

    - to be continued next Sunday.

  • Originality 11

    There must be thousands of possible definitions of Art, each true for somebody. Many will include originality as a factor, but not all.
    Personally I think trying to be original is essential, as is a high degree of skill in the medium chosen. However skill alone is Craft, not Art, and Originality alone may be merely a curious experience, odd event, weird graphics or unexpected solution to a mundane design problem.
    So please take this opportunity to define Art as you understand it. Go on, have a go in the comments section if you dare!

    - to be continued.

  • Sunday Story 02

    - continued from last Sunday.

    The Dragon Snapped

    Helios had triumphed, but night was not the only darkness that the city had survived. Pestilence had come and passed. In the churchyards a strange tide had arisen beneath the fresh and fallen stones. Between them the veridian turf had grown lush on the casts of a million feasting worms and scarlet poppies blew over forlorn graves where no wreaths fell.
    In the monastery without the city walls, the few remaining brothers had abandoned the majority of their broad stone domain and huddled in the range of small cells and offices around the cloister. In the great cathedral, easily accessed from the cloister, the devotions were reduced to a thin uncertain voice where once that lofty nave had been filled to bursting. Beyond this island of activity the emptied halls waited patiently on the tides of time.
    In one such hall, left to their own devices, a galaxy of dust-motes drifted indolently. Airborne flecks both defined by and defining the mid-morning sun-stripes from the great window behind the dais. In the uppermost of the two shadow wedges so defined, in a dim reflected glow, the high vault displayed its sexpartite tracery, while in the middle of the stone flagged floor, beyond the lower wedge of shadow, a dragon sprawled, inert, unanimated and decapitated. Here and there, its wickerwork ribs poked through the remnants of its painted canvas hide and its head lay where it had rolled, stranded on a reef of ancient books. Between the two parts of the dragon stood the child, a grinning urchin whose artful toe had just divided them.
    Such was the scene that caused sister Amadea to raise a slim hand to her mouth and wonder just what might come of such an act.

    - to be continued next Sunday.

  • Originality 10

    During the long reign of Queen Victoria, art and design were formalised. Great works of the past were sorted and grouped into "Styles" and handbooks produced so students and those engaged in creating new works could choose to do so within a recognised framework. Design in all fields became a pick'n'mix, for example, the Houses of Parliament, after much tribulation finished up as a classical building clad in a disguising shell of Gothick; that is Gothic with a K to distinguish it from the genuine article.
    Curiously, it was this strange philosophy, which allowed such unholy mating of opposing styles, that provided the opportunity for originality to shine through.
    The way originality made itself most felt was in the search for a new "Style" to add to the "Seven Lamps of Architecture" as defined by John Ruskin in 1849. This led to numerous trends, such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco and more. All very confusing for a student, such as myself in the 1960s, trying to make sense of the past while looking to the future.
    I have never been quite sure whether I was extraordinarily lucky to have been starting my architectural training then, or cursed beyond redemption.

    - to be continued.

  • Sunday Story 01

    Helios Triumphant

    At last, the moonless night is ended and the dawn breaks thin and cold. At first it is only a radiant strip along the eastern horizon, forcing its way beneath the crushing blanket of night clouds. Slowly the colour warms until, suddenly the overcast is ripped and Dawn's bright invader casts long shadows across the battlefield. Great haloed Helios deploys its troops. Lowering their golden lances, they flood across the primal heath and crowd dangerously along the scarp above the city, teetering on its sudden edge. A momentary pause, a breath of courage, then the silent plunge into the remaining sea of darkness.
    At the foot of the scarp, they cross the meandering river in a single stride; not for this Solar legion, the need to wade waist deep in the waters of the ancient stone-paved ford, as had the Romans, Saxons, Norse and Normans. There the vanguard lightly treads the crest of a convenient causeway, patched remnant of an age-old road. Beside it, skirmishing sunbeams skitter purposefully, flushing noisy wildfowl from among the flanking reeds.
    Ahead of the sweeping battlefront the land rises, marshes giving way to meadows, the causeway to well trodden track. Here, the bright belligerents regroup and advance towards the Monastery, where the chime of matins bell offers immediate surrender. Glowing detachments reclaim the eastern windows from their pale beeswax garrisons. There they are met with plainsong and respond with stained-glass glory. Now all that remains is the attack on the city itself. The walls are high, the way is barred, but the conqueror is not impeded. Its forces gain covert entry through oaken cracks in every gate and leap the flinty ramparts to triumph in the marketplace. Citizen arise and stretch; the bustle of the day begins and once again for a while the night is banished.

    - to be continued next Sunday.

    This is an excerpt from the first historical novel I attempted to write in the vain hope it might impress my children. Never finished and probably a good thing too. :D

  • Originality 09

    The other bugbear in any process, be it in design or organisational preparations of any type, is the impact of the bean-counters. For one reason or another just before anything actually reaches the moment of achievement, some accountant, politician, banker or other professional spoilsport pops up and wants to save money.
    For instance, I was a junior architect in a team that designed a large building that had to be clad with a special glass. The entire concept of the design relied on this material and the rest of the structure was much cheaper because of it. The bean-counters, however, seeing how cheaply we had made the rest of the construction, decided that by cutting the cost of the glass, a huge saving could be made. They then persuaded the client accordingly. We pointed out that the expensive glass was what made it possible to reduce costs elsewhere, but corporate stupidity and sheer greed defeated us. So despite pointing out how spurious this saving would be, we were forced to use ordinary glass, thus converting what would have been an office block with an extremely pleasant internal environment into a solar-powered people cooker.
    Needless to say, once this problem became all too apparent, they discovered there was no place in the design where they could install the now essential high-power air-conditioning. It would have been much cheaper to have used the right glass, but they never admitted it.
    It was at that point in my career that I bailed out of big-firm architecture and started thinking about alternative ways to make a living.

    - to be continued.

  • Originality 08

    Originality 08

    Back then, training as an architect involved two separate years of practical experience. One in the middle of the course and one at the end. For the first of these I joined a local architectural firm as a dogsbody one step above print-boy. My job was as part of the team that drew vast numbers of detail drawings from rough sketches handed down by the partners. This was done on tracing paper, from which the necessary number of copies were printed by means of a crude and temperamental machine involving sensitised paper laid over the tracing paper and activated by an arc-light. The one we used was a magnificent example of late Victorian technology and required a pact with the Devil to operate successfully. One of my first tasks was to tame this beast, which also involved taming the print boy, who had a social chip on the shoulder about "jumped up students who thought they knew everything!"
    The firm was in the process of crossing over from its retiring patriarchs to their young, fresh blooded junior partners. The main task of this new management was to keep the firm going so lovely fat pensions could be paid to the retiring old guard. There were, therefore, two separate threads to the type of work passing through the firm.
    One day I would find myself drawing full-size stonework profiles for neo-Georgian country houses, the next attempting to make sense of the boss's back-of-the-envelope sketches for huge London overspill housing projects. The design of which involved a philosophy which the drawing office referred to as "floating-over", but to be fair, was somewhat original and with a bit of creative thought could be used to produce quite pleasing results. Both threads were good experience, and I was pleased I had been lucky enough to be there at such an interesting juncture in the development of design philosophy.
    It was not until my finals year of professional practice, that I found the pitfalls of being original. The first being that if you are a junior member of a team and your idea is successful, the team leader gets all the credit. The second is that often the team leader will subtly change the idea so it no longer works, or circumstances change so the idea becomes irrelevant, but the team leader ploughs on regardless; either way you get all the blame.

    - to be continued.


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