Thursday 18 February 2010

Dieter Rams retrospective at the Design Museum, London

On a recent trip to London I visited the Design Museum for the first time to see the Dieter Rams retrospective 'Less and More - the Design Ethos of Dieter Rams' and it was such a visual treat - the building itself is striking, the area the museum is in is one I hadn't spent much time in before so I enjoyed the views of and from Tower Bridge, and all the designs Rams created for Braun were amazing to see. Lots of beautifully designed record players and film cameras that would not look out of date today.

I came away from the exhibition struck by the 10 elements of Dieter Rams' design philosophy:
  1. Good design is innovative.
  2. Good design makes a product useful.
  3. Good design is aesthetic.
  4. Good design makes a product understandable.
  5. Good design is honest.
  6. Good design is unobtrusive.
  7. Good design is long-lasting.
  8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
  9. Good design is environmentally friendly.
  10. Good design is as little design as possible.
It seems like Rams was a victim of his own philosophy as his designs have become so imitated and inspiring to others that it has become a 'style' in itself, something that seems against his philosophy as quoted on the Guardian "I believe designers should eliminate the unnecessary... That means eliminating everything that is modish because this kind of thing is only short-lived."

I just loved all the old record players and home movie cameras - they're so beautifully made and the designs seem so simple and pure, there's nothing that isn't necessary. I spent ages looking at all the record players as it is still most definitely my favourite medium for listening to music. As I write this today I am enjoying listening to 'Have one on me' the new album by Joanna Newsom which came on triple vinyl in a lovely box - so not only is it a wonderful listening experience, it's also a beautiful object to look at. I am a relatively recent convert to the ipod but I think even without the information given at the exhibition I would have figured that the designer behind a lot of Apple's designs was influenced by Rams.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

'Norman' - show combining dance, performance and film returns to the MacRobert Arts Centre

I missed this show the first time it came to Stirling so I'm really looking forward to seeing it next month. On a recent trip to Stirling Council Archives (where our Norman McLaren Archive is being stored whilst the University library refurbishment continues) I was lucky to get the chance to look through his letters home from Canada to his parents in Stirling. I only got a chance to read a few but it's whetted my appetite for more. The ones I read were from 1939 and talk about the long journey on the boat from the UK to New York, and then the excitement of his first few months in New York. I'll need to go back for another look (once I get my conference paper for Los Angeles written, it could be my reward - well, in addition to a night out and some nice wine of course!). Anyhoo - to get back to the point of my blog post and off my ramblings - Norman! The whole concept of the show sounds really intriguing. The dancer/choreographer Peter Trosztmer interacts with the films of Norman McLaren on a visit to the offices of the National Film Board of Canada (where McLaren worked).

Created by Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon of lemieux.pilon 4d with Peter Trosztmer. here's some information from the lemieux.pilon 4d website about the show.
"This production bridges the gap between performance and documentary filmmaking. Peter screens interviews made with people who knew McLaren and his work; these witnesses materialize out of thin air and appear onstage to guide Peter in his exploration, sharing their knowledge and feelings about the filmmaker. A selection of about thirty works from McLaren’s corpus, some of them never released, underline the testimonies and allow Peter to communicate what he's learned, sometimes verbally, sometimes simply through the dance that links him to the films. McLaren once said that if he hadn't been a filmmaker, he would have been a choreographer; this show uses movement (of light, of images, of the body) as a way to access his creative world.

As I haven't seen the show yet here's a link to a review from Peter Dickinson's blog 'Performance, Place and Politics' from a performance of Norman in Montreal May 2009.

Below are some images of the corridor outside my office where a number of drawings, prints, photographs and paintings from the Norman McLaren Collection are on display (sorry they're pretty poor quality photos as the light isn't great, and I'm not that good a photographer!)

For information on how to book for the shows see the MacRobert Arts Centre.

Monday 8 February 2010

Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, Los Angeles

I am so excited to be going to this years SCMS conference in Los Angeles! I've never been to the conference before, never been to LA before, so there's plenty to be excited about! The conference programme and the screenings all sound really interesting - can't wait!

Me, Karl Magee (University Archivist here at Stirling university) and Christophe Dupin (Queen Mary University of London) will be presenting a panel on 'The Cinema Authorship of Lindsay Anderson'. Karl Magee will present a paper 'The Auteur in the Archive… Finding Lindsay Anderson' and Christopher Dupin will present a paper 'The Auteur vs. the Institution: The Rise and Fall of the Relationship between Lindsay Anderson and the British Film Institute'. My paper is entitled 'The trouble with The Old Crowd - examining collaboration and authorship'. I won't say much more about it now - best get on with writing my paper!

If anyone wants to read more about the conference the programme is now available

Sunday 7 February 2010

Archiving the Future - film archive symposium

Another exciting film archiving training opportunity has just been announced. 'Archiving the future - emerging practices in moving image archiving' is a two-day symposium on 27 and 28 February at York St John University (York, UK) in partnership with the Yorkshire Film Archive. I wish it had been announced sooner, or I had noticed it sooner, as I'd have loved to have gone. Maybe I missed it on the Archives - NRA list but I did receive notice about this event through the AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists) mailing list - a good reason for being on as many relevant mailing lists as possible so as not to miss anything! They state that "the event will inform those within the field of archiving about emerging technologies which could affect the future of their work, but also those in production roles of future practices which they may need to adopt as part of their practice." At £20 for the two days this sounds amazing, in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it's already full up but I thought I would post a notice anyway in case it is of interest to anyone.

More details can be found here

Friday 5 February 2010

Letters from the Lindsay Anderson Archive

The file of letters I'm cataloguing today is in the A-Z correspondence series, on the letter 'M'. The last three letters have been from Arthur Miller, Helen Mirren and Jessica Mitford - what an amazing run of interesting letters!

Unfortunately the Arthur Miller letter is very short - just a few lines about a play he is working on, but the play isn't specified and I haven't yet come across any other references to any proposed collaborations between Anderson and Miller in the 1970s (the date of the letter is 1976). So, if anyone has heard anything about possible film or stage projects they might have discussed then please, let me know.

Helen Mirren discusses the differences working with the Royal Shakespeare Company as opposed to working with Anderson, and talks about the play she is starring in with Graham Crowden, both of whom worked with Lindsay Anderson.

Jessica Mitford discusses a possible film project she is involved in - once again, if anyone has any idea what this film project could have been I'd love to hear from you! There's also an entertaining discussion of the travel arrangements for her next visit to England - she's travelling first class on a cruise ship where her passage is paid for by lectures she will give to holidaymakers on the cruise.

Of course, not all the letters are from famous people, not all the letters from famous people are interesting, and there's plenty of interesting letters from non-famous people, but I just thought this was an exceptional run of letters and wanted to share my excitement - sometimes working in an office on your own can be a bit lonely!