Treasure!

A walk through Hyde Park will show you a city already suffocating under the weight of the Olympics. Marquees, souvenir stands, tiers of steel seating, tents and fast food vendors, pairs of police every way you turn. The thwack of helicoptors overhead – could actually see them today as it wasn’t fucking raining…

In the middle of all this insanity, though, a treasure.

For the last dozen years, the Serpentine Gallery has had a pavilion built before it – flawlessly designed and showcased to be art as well as function. Isaac and I have gone to see them – and this year, the designers, Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, have surpassed themselves.

A flat pond, still, with a pair of serene looking ducks. Under it, a cork-built maze of tiers and seating, descending in tesselated platforms to a flat base where summer staff were letting the kids plot and draw and make mazes of their own.

One of them told me that this year’s pavilion started life as an archaological dig – they’d tracked all of the soil marks from the previous dozen pavilions, and built/dug this one to show where all of theose marks had been.

It was a very, very cool thing.

And it just goes to show that, although the rising tide of consumer tat threatens to drown us all (if the rain doesn’t), that there are still magical moments to be found :)

Qik Thinking: Social Media and Visual Orientation


At the weekend, I took my Cub on Hyde Park safari – we went on manoeuvres, enjoying the many tourist temptations that lie in wait, basking in the London sun.

Ranging up the Serpentine, we surprised upon the just-completed Pavilion installation by Frank Gehry – and this is where words, and blog, fail me. I’m not usually taken with ‘contemporary art’, but this was dynamic, dramatic, powerful; a creature of glass, wood, angle and sunlight that stood bright against the sky.

I took pictures with my little cam and found myself wishing I could share my entrancement, the wonder the work created. I wanted to do the Qik thing – I needed to be ‘live and streaming’; the passion and immediacy of the visual was the only way to express how I felt.

Fiction writers – particularly in science fiction and fantasy – paint incredibly powerful visuals with words, imagination, experience, ardour. Done right, these visuals don’t come to you, the reader, from the page, they’re powerful enough to spontaneously ignite in your mind’s eye. But they take time – and editing – and proof-reading…

Social Media is of the ‘NOW!’ In the flesh, communication is about body-language and eye-contact more than it is voice – and this holds true on the web; we perceive more by image than word. Recently, the loss of the S3 server deprived Twitter of both avatars and backgrounds – and we were instantly disconcerted. Like faces, we need patterns for immediate recognition.

A magical moment, wherever you find it, is there-and-gone – if we want to share it, it’s up to us to choose the best tool and platform. Blogging needs focus, both reading and writing take time; we can instant-hit-upload our images to twitpic, utterz or flickr – or we can, quite literally, see though each other’s eyes by sharing the optical experience.

Walking round the Serpentine Gallery really brought that home to me for the first time.

One might say: a Qik-ture paints a thousand tweets?