The Bells of St John.

TV Oh the irony. Earlier in the day, the BBC found themselves in the midst of the kind of information emergency which could only exist in the social media era as the epic casting announcement of some of the people who’re going to be returning to the 50th anniversary, clearly otherwise embargoed until some time in the next week found itself online thanks to subscribers of Doctor Who Magazine receiving their copies earlier than usual, presumably due to the posting pattern being disrupted thanks to the Easter bank holidays. Once again, the premiere of a new run of Who episodes is overshadowed by the news of some future instalment.

Before the internet such news would have remained whispered in hushed tones on street corners and in pubs, but within seconds fans were taken their phones from their pockets and tweeting the news, the BBC still attempting to shutdown the message with the poor old Doctor Who News page posting that they’d been asked not to publish anything by the BBC until an official announcement, despite Bleeding Cool, Blogtor Who, Doctor Who Online and a dozen other sites splattering photos of the David Tennant, Billie Piper and John Hurt all over everywhere. Cue rushed out press releases and story up on the BBC News page and something eventually being posted on the Doctor Who news site later in the day.

Now in the evening we have a story thematically about all the networks which led to the story proliferating, with screenshots of flickr and jokes about Twitter, in one of those rare occasions when Doctor Who becomes so zeitgeisty it’s commenting inadvertently about its own existence as an entertainment entity. Incidentally, this isn’t the only occasion the BBC’s been caught on the hop by a publication being posted early; the first time anyone knew that the show was taking a break in 2009 was when the RSC sent out a brochure advertising Tennant’s appearance in Hamlet at a time when most fans assumed he’d film the next series. Here we go again.

With all of those shenanigans, what of The Bells of Saint John? How did that go? Went the day well? The day went very well, especially considering the narrative and structural nonsense Moffat as usual is masochistically inflicting on himself. The episode has to act like a season opener, except it isn’t. It’s episode six, or seven depending on how you count the Christmas special. It has to introduce a new companion, except it can’t because she’s already been in the series twice, or three times depending on how you view the coda in the Christmas special. Tossing a Christmas special into the middle of the series has created all kinds of problems, especially at Easter.

Faced with all of that, Moffat cunningly pulls back on attempting inject too much extra business too soon, parking most of the mysteries previously set up and simply offering what seems like a relatively generic piece of nuWho that purposefully doesn’t put too many demands on the viewer, offers some surreal scares but overall presents something which reaffirms the franchise’s core values in its first televisual salvo of the anniversary year. Some wags will presumably be calling it RTD-lite, but it's to Innes Lloyd they should really be looking back to since this was mostly an affectionate homage to The War Machines.

Have you watched The War Machines lately? With its treatment of Dodo it might have one of the worst companion exits in the show’s history, but otherwise, in 1966, Ian Stuart Black and whoever else worked on the script set down all of the archetypes that are still in evidence in the franchise today, and like The Bells of St John, it also offered a light format reboot in the middle of a series (the First Doctor arguably becoming an even more vital presence than before), introduced some new companions (however poorly executed later) and the Time Lord referred to using his full name several times.

Having already been spoiled about the ending by the usual social networks, I wasn’t too surprised that the client wasn’t revealed to be iWOTAN but the Great Intelligence’s behaviour isn’t too dissimilar, taking control of us humans via the pre-eminent communication media of the period. Of course then, WOTAN was attempting to construct a version of the internet for itself. Now (or whenever this episode was set), the Great Intelligence simply botnetted into existing networks and from the top of the Shard, a London icon which has arguably superseded the BT tower, which seemed so with it, and was back in the 60s.

What are the Spoonheads but slinkier War Machines, the Doctor interrupting their connection to the hive via keyboard and code rather than giant ungainly pieces of wire? Instead of hypnotised humans engineering aggressors in a warehouse, we have the brainwashed behind tapping away behind desks in an office. If Dominic Sandbrook ever wanted to present a social history through the medium of sci-fi, all he’d need do is show these two stories back to back, grinning smugly between. At one point, I almost expected Adam Curtis’s voice to chime in and trace the socio-economic policies of the 1970s back to two teenagers who met at the Inferno club.

All of which said, rare is the modern Doctor Who story which doesn’t have one of its predecessors arthritically nudging against it. But there was a warm embrace to The Bells of St John, a sense of, “and we’re back”. Since the broadcast of the previous five, I haven’t been back to them, partly because I’ve been stuck in the mid-period quagmire of the Hartnell era, but mostly because somewhere in there it stopped being fun. Perhaps I’ll re-appraise when the blu-ray boxset of all this is finally released, but at this point I can’t imagine why I’d want to sit through "The Doctor uses a gun" or "The Doctor kills a bloke in cold blood" or "The Doctor lets some innocent people die while saving his friends".

No so The Bells of St John. I want to be watching it again right now. Much of this has to do with Matt’s performance which seems re-energised by the loss of all the narrative baggage which ultimately came with the Ponds, pointed weariness rather than the general weariness when we weren't sure if it was just acting. One of his best performances is still in The Sarah Jane Adventures story, Death of the Doctor as he brought the magnetic magician element of the character to the fore and here he is again, relishing the potential of the script for some off-kilter line readings and the chance to let the character be.

There’s also a specific detail to his characterisation as he notices the Doctor is and has to be a different character around Clara. Because the incarnation was still cooking around Amy, it’s almost as though, if you’ll forgive the Twiglet reference, she became imprinted on him, whereas in Clara, like Donna before, we have a figure who reminds him what it’s like to have a friend, but who he’s also intrigued by because of her status as an enigma. But her willingness to set aside her own life in order to look after this man’s children also makes her special, or least gives him a reason to convince himself that he isn’t simply dragging her along for his own amusement.

But oh Clara, who are you? Jenna-Louise isn’t giving us many clues. She’s been allowed to keep her natural accent, wandering the British Isles like an episode of Coast, her delivery the screwball ratatat of Katherine Hepburn or Jean Arthur. If anything she’s been given the kind of blank slate character design of old, pointedly without fixed abode or family unit beyond what we saw in the prequel, a mother who for all outward appearances might not even be biologically such. So far, she's been as much about all of the expectations that we and the Doctor pour into her and Jenna-Louise is entirely cognisant of that.

But notice how often in scenes when she’s supposed to be the viewpoint character, and the companion usually would be, yet simply isn’t. Partly this is because an earlier iteration of Clara has had that moment, the “bigger on the inside” bit which is thrown away in the heat of battle here, the Doctor talking all over her, but that’s also true in her valour against the social network which is conducted in the background of the Doctor’s own discovery of just how powerful his enemy is. Even in her self-actualisation moments, she’s being kept at one remove, never allowed to or doing what we might expect.

Since we’re on the subject of casting, it’s probably important to note Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’s Celia Imrie’s first appearance in the Whoniverse cast against type as the villain (leaving Hetta Charnley, Joan Collins and Mark Hadfield as the only primary cast members from Ken Branagh’s In The Bleak Midwinter who hasn’t had a brush with the Whoniverse) (sort it out Big Finish). For all her serpent like slither as Kizlet, it’s her final plaintive delivery after her returning to innocence which sticks in the memory. No longer watched over by the machine of loving grace, does she deserve this fate?

Do any of them? Scratch the surface and for all the excitement of the Doctor’s Testicle-like control of the spoon-person in its drive up the Shard, in releasing the souls from the network, he’s only really committing the same mercy as disconnecting the personality echo from the space suits in The Silence in the Library but unlike CAL he isn’t somehow able to resurrect them corporeally. When the network is triumphantly purged in the closing stages, we’re also watching hundreds of people’s life forces being snuffed out on-mass. The subliminal streak of darkness which has crept into Moffat’s work of late continues unabated.

What of the portrayal of social networks? Well, we’ve come a long way since the misuse of the word “blogging” in Utopia, haven’t we, with jokes about Twitter, though as others have noted elsewhere, the referencing of Bebo and MySpace must have been a way to demonstrate just how long these humans have been under the influence. You might wonder why the network gave them enough autonomy that they set up social media profiles especially if like their team coaches they’re no longer the people they originally were, but there is enough ambiguity perhaps to suggest they’re simply agency staff being given a much needed psychological nudge.

Anyway, the Wifi here is surprisingly accurately utilised apart from the bloke who found a decent signal on the train. Open up your laptop in most places and you’ll find half a dozen signals not your own, all with little locks next to them, some of them with mysterious codes which don’t make much sense not that you’d want to click on any of them. But this is a system designed for the less savvy user, like Clara, willing to click on anything to see what happens. It’s why and how spyware, and botnets and all the other crud gains traction and continues to exist. As well as social history, this was also a pretty good public information film.

Fun then. Grim in implication in places, but fun. A few new mysteries. Like who the woman in the shop was that gave Clara the TARDIS’s number. We’re perhaps supposed to assume River Song unless Paul Magrs is expecting a royalty payment soon. Like how she ended up with a copy of Amelia Williams’s book in the house of the many other pieces of children’s literature in the Whoniverse. Like why the Doctor tasted the leaf in her book and grinned with recognition. Like why she doesn’t apparently remember anything about her other existences other than subliminally. I like these smaller mysteries more than the great big ones.

But The Bells of St John’s real achievement is that demonstrates that 2013 isn’t simply going to be a year long wait for the 50th anniversary special, that there’s going to be something worthwhile in-between. Moffat could have included some more onanistic foreshadowing in here, Rose popping up again or the Eighth Doctor’s TARDIS landing in the gap the Eleventh Doctor had just vacated and while such things would have led to this being a rather more squee laden couple of thousand words, it reminds us that for its mythological referencing, Doctor Who should always be about its current identity and on the basis of The Bells of St John, that’s in pretty good shape.

Wes Anderson's new film.

Film Post-modern noodling perhaps, but this new creation from the Anderson/Copolla axis is richer and more involving than some major motion pictures. There's also something comforting about still being able identify some film directors by their style even in the commercials work, that auteur theory isn't dead.


Nature In example of something which you would think be a larger news story than it apparently was, at the end of Novemeber scientists released a paper explaining how they managed create bacteria which could be used to carry a current within an electronic system:
"Previous studies performed by scientists and collaborators at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (Berkeley Lab) Molecular Foundry have made enormous headway toward cellular-electrode communication by using E. coli as a testbed for expressing an electron transfer pathway naturally occurring in a bacterial species called Shewanella oneidensis MR-1. The engineered E. coli was able to use the protein complex to reduce nanocrystalline iron oxide (Jensen, et al. (2010) PNAS.). Building off of this research, a group led by Caroline Ajo-Franklin, a staff scientist in the Biological Nanostructures Facility at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry studying synthetic biology, has now demonstrated that these engineered E. coli strains can generate measurable current at an anode."
Or at least a much improved version.

Peter Bogdanovich interviews Alfred Hitchcock.

Film In what amounts to a precursor to The AV Club's random roles interviews (the structure is incredibly similar), a 1963 Peter Bogdanovich interviews Alfred Hitchcock, throwing the titles of his films in his friend's direction and receives some concise responses on works which are less well known by the wider public. Example:
"How did you come to make Jamaica Inn?

"I was talked into it. After I'd signed with Selznick, I had time to make another picture. When I saw what this was going to be, I tried to get out, but I'd already taken money from them so I couldn't. The root problem was that there was no mystery. This is the story of the parson who preaches in the pulpit; and the mystery of who is the wrecker, the man who puts a light on the rocks, causing ships to approach the rocks and be wrecked so they could be looted. Of course, the parson turns out to be the wrecker. And in Jamaica Inn, you have Charles Laughton playing the parson. Who's the wrecker? Who's the wrecker? What are you going to do--have a little bit-player turn out to be the central figure? Doesn't make sense. It's very difficult to make a who-done-it. You see, this was like doing a who-done-it and making Charles Laughton the butler."
Which is roughly the contents of my own review, albeit with more wit [via].

WHO 50: 1981:
The Keeper of Traken.

TV It’s the late nineties. I’m standing in the gift shop of the Doctor Who exhibition in Llangollen having spent the past couple of hours being smacked around the eyeballs with nostalgia wondering how it is that I’ve never visited before. My friends are waiting outside for me but I’ve realised I can’t leave without buying something.

The exhibition piggybacked on the side of Dapol’s factory, Dapol being the then current licensee for the action figures which they manufacture, just about, in conjunction with Hornby’s model railways. The displays inside the factory show an especially British mix of steam engines, public police call boxes and men in Edwardian frock coats.

But I don’t want any of that. I’ve already picked up an unpainted cast off moulding of the Seventh Doctor’s umbrella and that was enough for me. So after glancing around the shop at all the books (so many books), I decide to go to source and choose a video of one of the stories.

I select The Keeper of Traken, for no other reason than it is the cheapest at £7.99. Even to this day, when faced with a massive selection to choose from of whatever it is, I always tend to buy the cheapest because it saves me from making that selection. Plus it always tends to be what I can afford. I’m always poor.

During the transaction, the clerk asks me if I’ve enjoyed my day and I giddly set about describing all the things I’ve seen which he presumably already knows about because he works there. He asks me why I'm choosing Traken and I tell him I vaguely remember the statue thing on the cover. “The Melkur”, he says knowledgeably.

Then the conversation takes a curious turn. As he puts the video in a bag, and I don’t remember the details of how reach the subject, but I says it is a shame that the TV Movie with Paul McGann didn’t go to series.

Then he says something, which is the reason I remember this whole incident as vividly as this. He leans across the counter, conspiratorial like, and says, it’s coming back. I ask him what he means. They’re making new episodes he says and that I should watch out for them.

Before I can ask him anything else, another customer turns up behind me and he simply tells me to have a good day and turns his attention to them, leaving me with a mix of curiosity and ecstasy as I leave the shop. I remember repeating the news to my friends as we get in a car. Neither of them are too convinced.

Weeks, then months, and no public announcement of the return of Doctor Who, at least to television and to this day I’m not sure what he was referring to. Big Finish began releasing a couple of years later. I suppose it’s possible he was simply relaying the news of that from Doctor Who Magazine at a time when I wasn’t a reader.

But I was briefly given some idea of what it must have been like to be a proper fan during the wilderness years, when every rumour was pounced on as a small piece of hope that some day it might come back in some form, when even The Curse of the Fatal Death looked like an example of how to make it viable.

Watching The Keeper of Traken was the moment when it came back to me. I wasn’t a “proper” fan again yet, but it was enough to make me curious enough to want to watch plenty more of them and I did, recorded from UK Gold by my tolerant auntie, not everything, but enough for me to see what I was missing. Thanks Melkur.

Watching and listening to all of televised Doctor Who in order: The First Doctor.


Film Huffington Post have released this video of Woody Allen stammering for forty-five minutes:

Amazing work from editors Ben Craw and Oliver Noble.  Have spoken to Ben via email and omissions of things like Don't Drink The Water, Company Men and The Sunshine Boys were due availability and time (project took several months).  They may be added if there's an update for the next release.

The Wolfman (2010)

Hamlet played by Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro).

As this rather good summary notices, there are plenty of less overt parallel's between The Wolfman and Shakespeare's play (the writer is reviewing Jonathan Maberry's novelisation but the connections are still valid). But without prior warning it's still something of a surprise to be confronted by this splinter of performance with Benicio Del Toro tortuously working his way through a chunk of Yorick, skull in hand.

This is the interior of Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond in Surrey, southwest of London, which as this reverse shot demonstrates is a classic, old school proscenium arch house.  It's 1891, so the audience is still the black tie crowd.  Perhaps I shouldn't be too hard on Talbot's interpretation.  In 1892, Herbert Beerbohm Tree mounted his famous production of the play, pictured here, and as you can hear from this later recording, the acting style of the time was different and we might imagine Del Toro heard that as part of his research.

That's an uncredited Sam Hazeldine as Horatio (Barty Crouch Jr. in the Harry Potter films).  It's difficult to tell who the Gravedigger is.  The next scene is in the post performance party where Elizabeth Croft is credited as an Ophelia (one of her next jobs was as a Vampire Girl on Doctor Who's Vampires in Venice) and Brigette Miller as Gertrude (Emmeline Vance in the Harry Potter films).

Notice how elaborate the set is.  The production designers and set decorators are well researched.  As The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Stage explains, this was still the period when plays would often be shortened to make way for elaborate effects and recreating worlds on stage, the entire locale changing between scenes, rather than simply between acts or halves as is often the case now.  Often plays would be adapted into much shorter versions or spoofs like W. S. Gilbert's parody of Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, which was first produced in 1891.

The next shot in the film is of Emily Blunt's Gwen Conliffe in one of the boxes regarding the performance.  In the Hamlet analogy, she's the Ophelia of The Wolfman.

The sequence ends with this shot from above as Hamlet regards Yorrick as actors often do. The full section of the speech is ...

"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips ..."

... the shots changing between clauses even when Talbot/Del Toro ignores the obvious pause where the exclamation point is after "imagination it is".

The scene ends on Blunt's face as he says, "Here hung those lips..." which causes us to immediately look at her lips such is the nature of editing, which is important because she has information to impart.

Time Lords.

Travel The BBC Magazine asks, "Has Street View changed the way we behave?"
"Google's Street View cars have driven millions of miles, picturing the streets and landscapes of 39 countries. But while many people use its 3D maps to look at the places they already know, has it also changed the way they relate to the wider world?

"Drag and drop Google's little orange man onto a map of the street where you live and there is a good chance that you will find your home.

"Move the figure along the surrounding roads and you can find the shop where you buy your milk, the pub where you drink and maybe a neighbour or two - their faces blurred to provide a semblance of anonymity."
Of course it has though it has to be used sparingly. Despite the time locked nature of the images, it could spoil one of the best elements of a holiday or day trip, discovering the place once you get there. When we visited Edinburgh for the first time, we took a tourist bus tour first of all so that we could get our bearings, have an idea of the place. Doing that at a computer just isn't the same thing.

Jennifer's Lawrence's Family.

"I mean her nickname was Nitro growing up..."

Liverpool represented at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Photography Los Angeles County Museum of Art has put twenty thousand high quality scans online of items in its collection which it believes to be in the public domain [via].

I immediately went to the search page and tried the usual keywords. Shakespeare reveals a number of printed woodcuts, Doctor Who some unrelated cotton pickers and a painting of Rochester (which isn't to say Big Finish couldn't produce a release from those elements) and Liverpool, which as you can from these links are revelatory:

Brunel Aboard the Aphrodita, Liverpool
Isambard in his familiar pose on board the Merchant sailing ship out of Liverpool

Shipping at Liverpool
An etching of a sketh by James Whistler.

Brian Epstein, Liverpool
A remarkable shot of the Beatles manager on the Mersey Ferry with the Liver Buildings in the background.

Running Man, Liverpool (Railroad Yard)
A between wars view of the area around Lime Street Station.

Woman Using A Clean Needle Provided By Liverpool Needle-Exchange Program, Liverpool, England

Liverpool Beach Burial
Liverpool Beach Burial
Mysterious lines of people buried in the sand with only their heads in view, whilst other stand looking.  This needs further study.

Commemorating George Washington.  Made in Liverpool.

Punch Bowl
Oriental design.  Made in Liverpool circa 1730.

Bust of George II
White porcelain sculpture, England, Liverpool, circa 1757-60.

Wedding Dress
From 1868.  Again from Liverpool, donated by a Mr. and Mrs. Chester A. Ornes.

On Narrative.

Film Last week, The Guardian published a brilliant piece from John Yorke which encapsulates filmic narrative structure in a fun accessible way filled with examples. As one of the commenters beneath notes, it stands on the shoulders of giants (McKee, Propp and I'd argue Bordwell & Thompson) and contains massive spoilers for a number of things, particularly The Wire and No Country For Old Men. But that's rather the problem with academic film criticism. You have to talk about the whole story in order to talk about the whole story:
"Your character has a problem that he or she must solve: Alice has to get back to the real world; our spooks have to stop a bomb going off in central London; Vladimir and Estragon have to wait. The story is the journey they go on to sort out the problem presented. On the way they may learn something new about themselves; they'll certainly be faced with a series of obstacles to overcome; there will be a moment near the end where all hope seems lost, and this will almost certainly be followed by a last-minute resurrection of hope, a final battle against the odds, and victory snatched from the jaws of defeat."
Additionally I'd also recommend again this short post about Kristin Thompson revelation of the four chunk narrative structure, the adherence to which or otherwise tends to explain why a film doesn't work as a piece of storytelling.


Space Two stories which remind me to rewatch Contact and Space Camp soon. Firstly, perhaps there'll be an Ellie among students at Lewiston-Auburn in Maine who will soon have the chance to talk to astronauts on the International Space Station, thanks to a ten minute window when ham radios in the area will be able to reach the atmosphere:
"Last year the Bates art museum held a “Starstruck” exhibit, which Shostak called the first major art exhibit of photos of space that was cataloged and documented. The exhibit held more than 100 photographs of space, many taken by cameras on telescopes; a few were from NASA.

"Shostak's brother-in-law, Dave Taylor, is an amateur radio operator and member of the Maine chapter of the American Radio Relay League. He saw the space exhibit and told Shostak about NASA's national call for proposals for radio operators to talk to orbiting astronauts."
Meanwhile there's a real sparkle of Kathryn Fairly in the eyes of Astronaut Abby:
"Abby Harrison, 15, a sophomore at South High in Minneapolis and an aspiring astronaut, will travel to Russia and Kazakhstan in late May when three astronauts head to the International Space Station.

"The trio includes Vinning, Minnesota native Karen Nyberg, of NASA, Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Luca Parmitano, an Italian astronaut from the European Space Agency. They will launch from Kazakhstan May 28 aboard a Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft for Expeditions 36-37, conducting scientific research during the six month mission."
Abby's blog is here.

The Sunday Seven.
Sinta Tantra.

Sinta Tantra created one of my favourite installations at last year's Biennial, which is still in place, the facade at the Open Eye Gallery.

How did you become an artist?

I don't think I was particularly interested in art when I was younger; I was much more of a musical kid. At school I played the piano, trumpet and sang. It was only until my late teens that my attitudes towards art developed. I preferred the more contemplative side of art making; the creative process seemed more private and I took refuge in the fact that you didn't necessarily need to 'perform' in front of an audience. Fast forward another 15 years and ironically, what we see now is a practice all about engaging with audiences and people - from the passerby who encounters the work on street level, to those I work closely with on production and pre production. There's a strong visual formalism too which is rooted in my learning about musical composition and four part harmony.

What was your inspiration for newest commission?

I am inspired by stories and the framework of narrative. Narrative (meta or grand) acts as a cultural wormhole that enables one to be completely submerged in another space or being. The title of my latest public art commission in Swansea is called, 'A Greater Reality of Elsewhere'. It is a quote taken from a Truman Capote travel sketch essay of New York City. I enjoy Capote’s sharp style of writing which lies somewhere in-between story telling and journalistic reportage. As an artist I am intrigued by the ‘fantasy / fiction’ duality - especially in the context of pop culture and the world of art. ‘Romantic truth’, as seen in the drip paintings of Pollock, has been replaced by the 'genuine fake' of Warhol – and it is this sense of hyperreality that I wanted to bring into my work in Swansea.

What was the trickiest element to achieve?

For me the trickiest part of any commission is engaging with the local context and site - creating a work which is both intriguing and challenging. Previously, the only facts I knew about Swansea were Dylan Thomas and beaches. When visiting Swansea I was struck by the cultural diversity as seen on St. Helen’s Road. Walking past you’ll see Welsh next to Ethiopian, next to Chinese, next to an Indian, next to Italian – and coming from Bali, I was particularly drawn to the unexpected presence of an little Indonesian restaurant called 'Garuda'. Although I am very used to towns and cities dividing themselves into cultural neighbourhoods such as ‘China Town’ or ‘Little India’, I have never seen such a crazy cultural mish-mash on such a small stretch of road. I wanted to create a piece of work that reflected this experience and challenged the stereotypes of Swansea – injecting a sense of exotica and tropical deco into the fabric of the town itself.

Of everything you've done what have you been most pleased with?

Most artists are very critical of everything they do. Its a game of highs and lows - figuring out what you want to say, how you are going to say it and whether what you have to say has any real significance to anyone, anywhere. To answer to your question, for me there is not one particular piece that highlights my career, rather its about developing a practice that's in it for the long haul. What I am most pleased about though, is the fact that I have somehow figured out a way of working which enables me to visit extraordinary places and meet the most interesting people.

I really love your Open Eye Gallery installation. How do you go about designing a composition when it's the facade of a building like that?

As you know, Open Eye Gallery sits within a new development on Liverpool's waterfront, Mann Island. One of my first tasks was to talk to the two architects involved with the development: Matt Brooks from Broadway Malyan (who designed Mann Island) and Tim Riley from RCKA (who designed Open Eye Gallery). I was intrigued to find out what types of buildings they wanted to create, the type of social and historical dialogues they wanted to engage in, their thoughts on art, architecture, community. On a very practical level though, I would say that I work very much like a designer but not like a designer. I draw on the computer, make models, animations, write e mails - but rather than pursuing a total concept from start to finish, I give myself much more of a licence to change direction whenever it feels necessary, exploring new tangents and avenues to the slight worry of my commissioners.

Who’s your favourite artist?

Can I cheat and mention a few? In my staple diet I have: Matisse, Sol le Witt, Paolozzi, anyone and everyone from the Bauhaus - a wonderful Balinese artist called Nyoman Lempad who made the most exquisite drawings - Duchamp, Beuys, Jorge Pardo, Polly Applebaum.

What stops you from feeling listless?

Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, Dim Sum in China town, cocktails and conversations, Farrow and Ball paints, vintage hats, black and white films, swimming and sunbathing either by the beach or by the pool but with a pair of Italian sunglasses.

Sinta's new work, A Greater Reality of Elsewhere is part of Swansea's Art Across The City festival which runs at locations across Swansea from 28 March – 12 May 2013.


Nature The Christian Science Monitor reports that the Groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil (the prognosticator of prognosticators) is being indicted by a prosecutor from Ohio for fraud:
"Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that spring would come early," Mike Gmoser, the prosecutor in southwestern Ohio's Butler County, wrote in an official-looking indictment."

"Gmoser wrote that Punxsutawney Phil is charged with misrepresentation of spring, which constitutes a felony "against the peace and dignity of the state of Ohio."

"The penalty Phil faces? Gmoser says — tongue firmly in cheek — is death."
Does Phil feel lucky now?