Friday, February 16, 2007

London, Cave Story, Bodysong

Well, quite a lot has happened since my last entry, so lets start at the very beginning (a very good place to start (so I'm told)).


I went to London last weekend to meet up with my parents and my young cousin Rob. It was a delightful experience (as things of this sort often are) and I left feeling thoroughly nourished by the simple wonder of this amazing city. We saw an RSC production of Antony and Cleopatra, with Patrick Stewart in a delightful toupee; we saw Spamalot, the Monty Python Musical - which was funny, very well done, and all in all far better than I thought I would be; we went to the natural history museum and hung out at Lester Square, luncheoned at Covent Gardens, and crossed the Thames on the Millennium Bridge.

We also went to the Tate Modern, which is a truly wonderful place, and never fails to show me to something new which manages to skew my perception of the world, if only for a few seconds. In the Turbine Hall they currently have several cylindrical slides installed, starting from various levels and intended for human use. It's defiantly a different way of experiencing art, expanding the barriers yet again further than what's come before. I'm actually not sure how poignant it was for me as a work of art, but still, it was fun. One of the other main stand-out pieces was a Video Quartet by Christian Marclay which consisted of 4 screens which were used simultaneously to display different clips taken mainly from films. It's main structuring principle seemed (to me) to be a coherent organisation of the soundtracks, at times placing clips with music of the same key together, so you might have Audrey Hepburn singing to an accompaniment of archive footage of a 1930s jazz band, whilst gene kelly taps about, slightly out of time, all brought to a close by Elvis getting shot - what more could you want!

Cave Story

Well, back in Brighton I've been managing to get some composing done, keeping up with the radio show, seeing a few concerts here and there, and amidst all of this productive stuff - computer games!

I like to check the radiohead blog every now and again as they often mention new songs, and what they're doing in the studio, put up pictures, and sometimes random links to things they just think are cool. One such link led me to Cave Story.

It's a delightfully retro little game, akin to Zelda of the SNES era, although with possibly even worse graphics. The trouble is, in spite of its 'old-school-to-the-max' nature, it's still bloody good, and as our TV is reasonably broken, has provided hours of RSI inducing fun!


And finally, yesterday I watched a film called bodysong. The only reason I'd ever even heard of it was because Jonny Greenwood (the guitarist in radiohead) had written the soundtrack. It's about human life and the various stages therein. It's more of an artwork than a feature film, as there's no narrative or characters and its constructed entirely from found clips of footage.

It begins by going through the biological stages in human life from birth to adulthood, and then looks at different aspects of human life: love, sex, food, war, religion, art, communication, death. Often you'd notice (through obvious changes in the soundtrack) that one section had ended, but it would take a while for you to realise what the next section was, as they'd play clips from many exotic cultures from all over the world. For example, the religion section began with clips of African dancing, then a room full of people in pairs hugging each other, then a field full of people completely naked, lying on the floor perfectly still, then someone being crucified, and it wasn't until about a few minutes in when they started showing images of priests, that I realised that this sections was about the many aspects of religion.

Also, this was probably the most disturbing thing I've ever watched. I can handle Horror films fine - blood, guts, whatever - it's always over the top, and cartoonishly unrealistic. Even Scorsese-style violence, it might shock you to begin with, but you can cope with it because it's just not real - you know implicitly that it's fake, and that protects you in some way. In this film, all the images of war, violent crime, police violence, are real. Even images that are well known, like Saigon Execution, or Tiananmen Square, images that could have lost their impact after years of use, appear fresh in the context in which they've been placed in the film, possibly making them even more horrific by their familiarity. However, after saying all that, I'm still not sure myself weather I was more disgusted by the images of despicable human violence, or of Childbirth - I've never seen that before - my god.

But I will say that by the end of the film I was not left entirely distraught by these images, because it also showed many other aspects of human life that make you smile and laugh, and left me with a strange poignant feeling that the human race is a very strange and interesting thing, and although it may seem like a boring and introspective concept to just look at the everyday aspects of human life, it highlights the fact that that's everything our individual existences are. Essentially this film is about everything there is.

Well done if you managed to read this far. In future I'll try and write shorter entries more frequently. Hope you're having a nice day.