29 September, 2011

The last gasp of summer!

With the weather making us feel like it's the height of summer, this weekend has so much going on it feels like a bank holiday... if you're looking for something to do over the next three days, look no further than Liverpool, and my round up of events below...

First up - and spanning the whole weekend - is the marvellous, fascinating, bizarre and always memorable AND Festival. Boasting a series of exhibitions, films, events and talks as well as a range of online and public realm activities there's plenty to choose from. Grabbing my attention are three exhibitions in FACT: Zee in Gallery 1 (by Kurt Hentschlager) is an installation of fog, light and sound which promises to be an immersive and disorientating sensory experience. In Gallery 2 is an installation from artist Ahmed Basiony, who was tragically killed during the Egyptian uprisings. His work was created over 30 days of running and tracks how his body responded physically and physiologically. In the same space is an exhibition by Chinese artist Zhang Qing. Posing questions on government surveillance and the spectre of Big Brother; the artist uses Communist-inspired propaganda, filmed using CCTV.

Exhibitions at FACT run through till the end of November but an event limited to this weekend only is happening just around the corner, at No. 2 St Peter's Square. Entitled 'The Immortal', AND hosts the world premiere of a piece by Revital Cohen where life support machines are linked together to create a moving, breathing synthetic organism - a commentary both on the potential of artificial life and the fragility of human life when supported only by the power of machines. The Immortal runs 11am-6pm until Sunday.

Now, if exhibitions and challenging narratives get a bit heavy - you're probably after a good party so you can shake what yo' mama gave ya... (yes, i said it) - so get down to Wolstenholme Creative Space on Friday night for AND's collaboration with local alt-heroes and queer punk party favourites Chew Disco. The night is centred round a screening of Bruce La Bruce's hardcore film LA Zombie. Expect gore, expect a damn good playlist and if you're lucky a secret early morning after-party!

Chew Disco won't get started till about 10, or more likely midnight. To get yourself warmed up, i recommend the acoustic delights and shoegaze DJ sets at My Twee Box, marking volume 5 with a move to the fantastic Static Gallery. Nomad Soul, Dirtblonde and ESA are on the line-up tonight. Over at Mello Mello at the same time is a night from EDILS Records, presenting female indie-pop group Puzzle, indie rock band Elk and 'post rock' band Rhodes, fresh off their first UK tour!

Saturday, get an antidote to excess and head down to newly opened The Brink on Parr Street. It's a café, bar, venue opened to support recovering drug and alcohol addicts and promises to never serve alcohol. The old head chef from the Everyman Bistro has been employed, so the food should be suitably delicious.

Now, not advocating further drinking, but Saturday night continues the hectic pace set by it's younger brother (...Friday, keep up...) Over at The Kazimier is a celebration party to mark the end of a week of Atalonia tours, an event which it seems more apt to call a phenomenon. It's being given impressive and rave reviews by those lucky enough to have experienced it so far. The tours are sold out, and i expect the night will be too but to see more details, visit the Facebook event page and maybe you'll be lucky to find some spare tickets out there!

Turned away from The Kazimier? The alternatives aren't too shabby - head over / back to the Static Gallery for an impressive show featuring local math-rock band Vasco da Gama, ably supported by Loved Ones, Voo and Dire Wolfe. For a perfect after-party, head up Hardman Street and drop into Liverpool institution The Magnet, which is reopening after several months hiatus. Legendary DJ Norman Jay (MBE no less!) is taking centre stage on the night.

If you make it through to Sunday in one piece, there is but one recommendation - a trip back to Wolstenholme Creative Space. A fascinating exhibition is running from Friday, through to Sunday afternoon. Entitled Unintention, it features a work by genius satarist Chris Morris (of Brass Eye, The Day Today and Four Lions fame) in which one of George W. Bush's Presidential Addresses is reworked. Another highlight in the varied exhibition is a collection of photos by Quintin Lake entitled 'Pripyat: 21 years after Chernobyl', examining the state of decay in the ghost city closest to the infamous former nuclear power plant; promising to be both haunting and fascinating.

Explore the exhibition, grab some food but then head back if stamina allows. From 7pm, the Unintention closing party begins - with a documentary screening then a series of musicians performing to a live visual installation from AV collective HIVE. With descriptions including 'mind melting' and 'electro doom jazz noise', the party looks set to be a fascinating and suitably crazy end to a whirlwind of events over the weekend.

Proof, if required, that life in Liverpool need never be dull!

08 April, 2007

Happy Easter!

Despite the mistaken belief of Somerfield (a UK supermarket) that Easter was when Jesus was born (news article) "Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, which his followers believe occurred on the third day after his death by crucifixion some time in the period AD 27 to 33".

For most people though, Easter means time off work, seeing friends and family, and chocolate - lots of chocolate! So, before i go to see my family, here are two of my favourite chocolate articles from this week:

Edible Chocolate Billboard!
A Thornton's chocolate shop in London constructed a billboard on the street outside their premises, using 390kg of chocolate. The public were invited to eat it if they wanted, and they did - after nearly 10 days construction, the billboard was eaten in less than 5 hours. Brilliant!

Viral Confections
Something not quite so appealing are chocolate models of the Hepatitis C virus. Part of an art exhibition, the little chocolates were cast from an authentic model of the virus. The hope is that visitors, and tasters will be able to reflect on what is an extremely prevelant and often forgotten disease.

Read more about Hep C on Wikipedia and at The Hepatits C trust - a UK based charity that provides information, support and representation for people affected by the disease.

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04 April, 2007

Deep Blue

NASA's image of the day gallery has again impressed me. Below is a satellite image of Eta Carinae, a Hypergiant star, the second brightest in the night sky. The clouds surrounding the star form an evolving nebula. Eta Carinae itself may explode as a supernova soon (in the next million years). It could in fact become a hypernova explosion, which can result in a black hole and causes Gamma-ray bursts - the most luminous events known in the universe.

Click for the bigger picture...

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Milk meets Coffee

Ever watched milk meeting coffee, or tea and been transfixed by the cloud of milk dispersing through the dark liquid in the mug....? Just me then! well, anyway, much better than that is a series of photos posted by 'busted' on You Say Too, a community website. They show the first moments when milk is dropped into coffee, in amazing detail. The shutter speed must have been incredibly fast. Click the link above, or the photos for more.

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03 April, 2007

Terkezi Oasis

One of the best sources for amazing photos is the NASA image of the day gallery. A few have caught my eye recently. The one below is a section of the Sahara Desert in Chad, showing a rocky expanse near an Oasis. I love how it looks really abstract - with no prior information it would be hard to tell what it is...

View the full image here, or by clicking above.

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Rail Rage?

A city in the Czech Republic began an amitious plan to move railways out of the city centre, presumably to free it up for road traffic. They did quite well... but then ran out of money. They seem to have removed stations, embankments, cuttings... but left the rails. This has resulted in the insane situation where steam trains travel in the middle of the road alongside cars - no divider, no fences, no protection.

via Say no to crack - full set of photos on the original Russian site, Ziza.

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Giant Agave Flower

My friends Andrew and Catherine are currently in Madagascar, on a 2 year charity work assignment helping to improve water supply and sanitation in remote villages. They're keeping a photojournal of their travels and their work there. I love photos of exotic places and weird and wonderful plants and animals, so i had to share some of the photos. The one below is the most impressive...

Looking like a tree in it's own right, It is in fact a 36 foot high Agave flower, photographed by Andrew in Antsirabe. For plenty more, check out their Flora and Fauna gallery.

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Lazy Eye

I have been very lazy - neglecting my poor blog for over 2 months. It's not for lack of material to post, but other priorities overtook my internet time.

However, i'm determined to make another go of it. I really got into posting and looking back, i'm really pleased with what i posted...

Anyway, enough massaging my ego - on with the posting!

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20 January, 2007

Water flows uphill

The 'Physikshow' is a regular exhibition held by students at the University of Bonn to demostrate the fun side of physics to members of the public. Videos from the most recent event have been put on YouTube and have been a big hit. My favourite is of a boat floating in the air:

The tank it floats over is filled with Sulphur Hexafluoride gas which is significantly denser than air and will therefore support light objects. You can see the effect when the students try to fill the boat with the gas and it sinks down. Brilliant!

The best of the rest include a cigarette burning through metal, a nuclear reaction shown with ping pong balls and water flowing uphill!

Scratch and Sniff Stamps

China has issued stamps to celebrate their New Year on 18th of February that when scratched smell of sweet and sour pork! When the back is licked, the stamps also taste of the dish... in case you hadn't guessed, this year is the Year of the Pig.

It sounds like a made up story but the technlogy to make scratch and sniff stamps has been around for decades. The Royal Mail issued Eucalyptus scented stamps in 2001. Last year, Australian Valentine's Day stamps were issued smelling of roses. Several other scented stamps have been issued, including Magnolia, Green tea and Chocolate. The evolution of Postage Stamps is given in this comprehensive Fortune City site.

19 January, 2007

Storms sweep across the UK

Yesterday's storms in the UK caused traffic chaos, killed 10 people and left hundred of thousands without power. It was a crazy day!

I was working, and we knew it was windy but the realisation suddenly dawned on us that they were storm conditions. People were talking about 90mph winds and a ship sunk in the Channel overnight. Then in the afternoon emails started flying - one of the CCTV cameras has been blown down into the street, the car park barriers have been broken by the wind... then traffic. The Runcorn bridge closed, the Knowsley expressway closed, then the Thelwall viaduct on the M6, then gradually the region's motorways began to shut down. Closures on the M56, the M60, M62, restrictions on the M53. Lorries jacknived, trees fell, flights and trains were cancelled. Everyone was wondering how and if they could get home, and hoping their houses were undamaged.

Today, the morning light revealed broken walls and fences, roofs that had come crashing down. One friend took 3 and a half hours to get to the airport, normally a journey of an hour. People reported being stationary in queues for an hour or more. The BBC News and Travel pages were invaluable to keep us up to date and today they've published the best photos received from visitors to the site.

Coastal photos:

Transport photos:

Nature photos:

and Building photos:

11 January, 2007

Antarctica - land of fire and ice

You're in Antarctica. The ambient temperature is in the region of -50°C, but you're dodging balls of lava falling out of the sky... What the hell's going on?

They're coming from Mount Erebus, a volcano and one of the weirdest geological features of the frozen continent. Right in the midst of the snow and ice a massive pool of magma (molten rock) bubbles away, hurling lava out onto its slopes. The heat melts ice caves, some of which sustain life and in other areas, gas escapes to the surface and forms giant fumaroles which can reach 60 feet high. Intrepid photographer George Steinmetz had the oppourtunity to visit and capture the savage beauty of this landscape. The Smithsonian's website has a report, photos and a video of the volcano erupting.

It's all about the fish

Tropical, Coldwater, Marine, Freshwater... whichever your preference, aquariums are popular things. I have one myself - a 2 foot tropical freshwater tank. They're fascinating, addictive and also immensely frustrating, but i'm definitely hooked! For some people the hobby becomes an obsession. Nothing is too big (or small) a challenge, hence the brilliant palmtop aquarium:

When the smallest fish in the world was discovered, the challenge went out to find a suitable aquarium to house it. The result is this tiny tank, made from a bird feeder less than 100ml in volume, with sand, mini rocks and java moss. Beautiful!

The website (Age of Aquariums) also features an aquarium made from a cracker box, and one from a lightbulb.