Fried weblog, on toast:
12.01.02. Well, it had to happen. The Greymatter weblog files have been corrupted. How, I don’t know; but I suspect F2S’s servers must have flopped while Greymatter was in the process of a routine archiving operation. But it was impossible to post new comments, and there was other wierd behaviour. So I’ve totally re-installed Greymatter, and it seems to be working fine. My log archives from August 2001 to now are still here, but are no longer searchable.

Below is everything from 1st January 2002, again….

“Quiet, renaissance at work!”:
A good-looking £20 million regeneration project will change the face of a forgotten part of Coventry City centre, featuring new cycling and walking paths through new squares, gardens & bridges through the city. The Phoenix web-site has a large photo gallery; but it’s a classic example of how not to scan, compress and put photos online. Truly awful. But, deep in the site’s structure, there are some wonderful artists’ proposals, with sketches. German artist Jochen Gerz is making the main monument, and his ideas and renderings are fascinating. Also over in Coventry, Coventry Cathederal last week released an interactive guide-book as a multimedia CD-ROM. But it seems you can only buy it from the Cathedral shop, in person. Artists, photographers and craftsmen are also at work on the other side of the Midlands, over at Hereford Cathederal; The Independent newspaper features a Flash slideshow of Tom Pilston’s photo-series of the restoration work there.

A cunning ploy?:
A search for ‘capital of culture 2008’ on Google doesn’t bring up Birmingham’s bid site after ten pages. Thank goodness for a handful of archived press-releases from last October, otherwise there would simply be no mention of Birmingham’s bid. And it seems there’s no web-site yet for Birmingham’s bid, amazingly. But Birmingham City Council will have a page or two, surely? No; their A-Z site listing has no mention under ‘C’, and a search for ‘capital of culture 2008’ gives zero results. Nothing on the Birmingham Arts Marketing site either. Perhaps it’s all a cunning ploy to be ‘low key’. Let’s hope so.

The pleasures of cheap mice:
My new house is very near a branch of a PC World megastore, so I went to visit and came back with a new mouse. I’m always surprised at how cheap computer mice are, and at just how good the cheap mice are. Before now I’ve spent £60 or more on a top-of-the-range mouse, but you really don’t get much more functionality or ease of use than an £7.99 one. Though that’s only true if you keep the gunk out of it and clean it regularly. Nor can you feel ethically superior; Microsoft’s best are made in Mexico, Logitech’s cheapies in China – so you can give the £50 you just saved to Amnesty International 😉 The same goes for mouse-mats; the cheapest plain-fabric mats usually work better than the fancy ones, I find.

The pleasures of cheap tricks:
I discovered that Digita was being “framed” by two sites, so I’ve added a snippet of javascript to the page to reload the page without frames. Free linking is part of the net’s culture, but framing is iniquitous; especially when the framer is funded to the tune of 1.2 million and the framee is totally unfunded.

The pleasures of demolition:
Anyone who’s visited Birmingham city-centre in the last year will have been both inconvenienced and impressed by the scale of the demolition and building work going on around the Rotunda and the Bull Ring. Luke Unsworth is a local painter & photographer who’s been documenting the changes, resulting in impressive online photo galleries, & the Changing Face exhibition (opens 12th January, until 3rd March 2002) in Birmingham. David Hart, the West Midlands’ very own poetry maven, is holding a one-day workshop alongside Changing Face at the MAC, on 27th January 2002. More details: unsworth.luke@virginnet.co.uk

The pleasures of being right:
The European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) have had been crunching the Xmas & Jan sales figures; and have today announced we well & truly have a new and very healthy consumer market in interactive media. UK consumers now spend more on leisure software than on renting videos or cinema visits. UK exports of leisure software products exceed both British film and TV. If the market keeps on growing like this over the next year, interactive games sales will outstrip sales of music. So, having been supporting this industry in the Midlands since early 1998, I feel entitled to ask; just when do interactive creatives & producers get the same level of official support & massive tax breaks that the film & music industry gets – and in the way that we want it, not from some Business Link berk?

Interactive & non-linear performance:
Peter McLuskie at Light House asked me today for some links from my bookmarks, relating to the meeting between interactive new-media & dance/theatre. I thought I might as well share them with readers here too: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (pdf), 6, 7.

The pleasures of linear narrative:
Finally, I got a DVD copy of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The film had been languishing on my amazon.co.uk wish-list, but I’m pleased to say that I plucked it from the horrid maw of the January sales for a mere £9.99. A present to myself for getting (cross-fingers) a month’s paying freelancing work.

The pleasures of winter:
When the yobs are in school, and the ground is crisp, then a casual cycle ride around a local park and canal in Tolkien’s English Midlands can be enough to make you see exactly how he was able to transmute his surroundings into the stuff of Middle Earth. Despite the dismal light, a couple of photos…


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net.art as music?:
Despite the current Emperor’s New Clothes state of net.art, there seems no theoretical reason why such art shouldn’t one day aspire to the status of music. In that it should be possible to break down and ‘notate’ each of the discrete moves and code-snippets that are common across a range of net.art, and then produce them as a series of ‘palettes’ in software. Meaning that interactive artists could then forget Maeda‘s onerous nostrum that “artists must be programmers”, and instead work much as musicians work, with an intuitive range of notes which can be ‘written down’ on a page as a formula for reproduction.

LOTR; save it for the DVD:
It seems that – despite all the rave reviews – Tolkien purists should leave the first part of The Lord of the Rings until the DVD appears. It’s been announced that this will include about thirty minutes of extra footage; hopefully in the form of a full-blown ‘Director’s Cut’, rather than included as optional “added extras”. The re-forging of Aragorn’s sword, the giving of the lemmas waybread, the elven cloaks, Gimli’s love of Galadriel, and more interaction between the Fellowship members are all to be picked off the cutting-room floor. The final 3-film boxed set could weigh in at over ten hours – but we’ll probably have to wait until June 2004 to obtain a DVD copy of that.

More Creative Stoke:
I’ve significantly updated and re-ordered my Creative Stoke page over the weekend, as well as adding about twelve new links.

Churches of Modernity:
John Cecil Clavering has passed away, aged 91. He was the architect who designed & built two famous north Birmingham cinemas. The classic 1936 Odeon cinema in Sutton Coldfield, where I attended uproarious Saturday morning children’s shows, and in later years went on first dates. It was a cinema I used to pass every day on the way to secondary school. Although it was converted to multi-screen in the mid 1970s, the elegant exterior and cool foyer never seem to change; which is probably because it’s now a highly protected listed building. Although I doubt they still have an interval where a lady with a tray of ice-creams stands at the foot of the screen. Clavering also designed the 1935 Odeon in Kingstanding, Birmingham; a cinema that both my grandmother and mother knew well – but which had become a bingo hall by the time I was around. It’s ironic that so many of these ‘churches of modernity’, hymns to the leisure age of the 1930s (the 30’s in middle-class England were mostly rather affluent, if you read the history books), should end up being converted for use by the most narrow of Bible-bashing religious sects.

Minus eight:
Oooof, that was a cold night; minus eight! “Three-pairs-of-trousers weather”. As you can see from the ice in these first two photos, the ice didn’t melt much during the day either. Super-warm Sami reindeer boots, that’s what I need. Unfortunately they cost about £145 in UK prices.


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