If you live down a well with no radio, on Desert Island Discs famous/important people pick eight pieces of music they’d take to a desert island. Then at the end of the programme they pick a book* and a ‘luxury object’, meaning something that won’t help them escape or communicate with the outside world but will improve their stay on the island.
In a conversation with Anth Melton a couple of months ago about augmented reality, Anth said something that turned my view of the technology on its head. It’s stuck with me, got to be shared and he won’t be bothered, so here goes.
We tend to come at augmented reality from the point of view of the benefits ‘within’ it, ie. what it does for you once you’ve got your Google Goggles or iSpecs on and you’re wandering around a world you’ve programmed, seeing a range of content and adverts picked out and filtered for you. But Anth suggested we should regard the development of AR from the other direction, from a town planning / eco-improvement perspective. Perhaps it offers an incredibly powerful tool (or at least impetus) to sort out the real physical world. I honestly haven’t heard this perspective on AR anywhere else and it amazes me, the more I think about it, it’s almost Mayer Hillman counter-intuitive.
You know the way that sometimes urban spaces look suddenly, unexpectedly beautiful if you look up above the ground floor? The truism that if you’re walking around a shoddy town centre, overcrowded with consumers, full of advert hoardings and with every building covered in shop signage, that the buildings themselves are actually gorgeous? You just have to look slightly upwards – to the first floor and above – to get smacked in the face by how lush these streets of varied historic architecture are, especially at a quieter time of day. For me Oxford Street and in particular Charing Cross Road are like that early morning, when there aren’t the usual bucketloads of numpties. Brighton is like that too because we have ramshackle, alleyway architecture which fades into the background when the town is rammed brimful of tourists and shoppers.
With foreign films I guess the assumption is always to watch the subtitled version, not the dubbed version. But with animation I’m only just now realising this is dead wrong. Late to the party, I know. My logic has always been: I want to hear the ‘original’ voices and follow the script on the subtitles, not listen to a bunch of jobbing Hollywood b-listers chew microphones through some kind of Disney-ised, morally compromised script?
But now I’m forced into a rethink, thanks to a conversation with a spectacularly well-informed barman in the upstairs coffee shop at the Duke Of York’s in Brighton. They have posters up for the new Studio Ghibli animation Ponyo, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, which opens in two weeks. It’s profoundly exciting news for anyone into Ghibli animation, and will hopefully rebuild my faith in the studio after the disaster of Tales From Earthsea, where Miyazaki’s inexperienced son Goro was given the film of Ursula Le Guin’s classic pioneering fantasy novels, after Dad had chased them for years. Goro fucked it up big-time.
Over the weekend I wrote my Morning Star column, which this week is about LSD. Then yesterday, for the first time, the editor refused to publish it.
The subs told me: “Not that we’re anti-drugs or anything, but he reckons you’ve crossed a line by actively, massively advocating the stuff.”
So I’ve written them something new, which I’ll email in the morning, though it’s probably too late for this week’s copy of the paper.
Meanwhile here’s the column they didn’t want. If you regularly read this blog but not my MS columns, it’s worth remembering this was written for print, not a blog, with their house style in mind (ie. it’s a bit different from most of my blog entries and not so readable onscreen!) and also it might be old hat because I’ve boffed on about this subject here already. But anyway…
The plan was to walk to all eight open-air Henry Moore sculptures in London. This was the planned route: T-T’s Henry Moore Walk. In the end, we managed seven of the eight before running out of steam at just under 14 miles and diving into a Battersea pub. We made it from Kenwood House up above Hampstead, down into central London, then across the river and out to Kennington Park and Battersea Park.