The Arts – Suicide Sculptures, National Theatre Greed, Pop Pretensions
Mark Jenkins & Sandra Fernandez, Male Suicide
I saw these poignant sculptures the other day walking along London’s South Bank on the LWT/ITV Tower, a powerful and compelling statement about the fact that every week, 84 men die from suicide in the UK. There are 84 life-size statues, based on real people, created by artist Mark Jenkins and collaborator Sandra Fernandez.
Sad as this is, it made me think about the irony that they should be placed on this iconic building which will soon be demolished so the money vultures can make even more from a new building with smaller studios.
Many people were stopping to look, most taking phone pictures and probably some with no understanding about what it was they were seeing; I hoped they would find out as this is terrible blight on our supposed civilised society.
‘The Great Wave’, Dorfman Theatre at the National
My visit to the South Bank was because I was on my way to the National Theatre to see a matinee performance of ‘The Great Wave’, not about the well-known woodblock print by Hokusai, but a new play by Francis Turnly about the abduction of a Japanese teenager by North Koreans in 1979. Her mother feels her missing daughter is still alive and tackles the reluctant to get involved Japanese government which eventually takes on a global political dimension. The well written play was moving and well acted, the set and video projection design and lighting were beautiful and should win awards.
But the Dorfman Theatre is such a dreadful design, a studio theatre gone wrong, one that means so many people have Restricted View seats, as I did, which rendered it nothing like the experience theatre should be.
The director used most of the thrust stage which meant that I could not see the action on the right side of it; those parts could have been a radio play. This I can only view as greed with the object of getting as many people in as possible whether they could see or not. A friend who went to an evening performance had the same problem with not seeing what was going on one side of the stage.
None of this will persuade newcomers who venture into a theatre to return, so sad that our National Theatre should have set such low standards for its audience in the Dorfman.
The Secret Science of Pop – Hit Song by Computer?
A rather self-opinionated academic, Professor Armand Leroi, tried hard (and failed) to get computer algorithms to make a hit record, utterly pretentious drivel that was never going to succeed.
With a lot of whizzy computer graphics he managed to get other people involved in it. Nike Jemiyo, a bright young talented singer, Trevor Horn, a celebrated music producer, songwriter, musician and singer, and Rhys Hughes, the head of BBC Radio 1 Programming. All of them seemed slightly embarrassed to be in it but humoured the hapless academic along, which the camera picked up but he didn’t.
He even had the gall to relegate The Beatles to ‘below average’, with average being his benchmark that he wanted to achieve. The words ‘passion’ ‘heart’ and ‘creativity’ were remarkably absent of course; no algorithms would ever have a spark of inspiration. For example, in the 1960s, Eric Burdon and the Animals, recorded a pop song that is still played today, ‘The House of The Rising Sun’, in one take. The Beatles, who he rubbished, recorded their best work on a four-track tape recorder, yes four-track! But they had the true genius of George Martin producing them, not a computer.
So it would not surprise me if the BBC doesn’t ask him back to make another waste-of-time programme about getting a computer to make a new and obviously much better version of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel. For once, I sincerely hope I’m wrong.
All that I could like about this programme was the sheer front the guy had in persuading BBC Four to fill up an hour of primetime TV with this fatuous pap which was a wasted hour of my life.