Handmade: Slow TV —


Handmade is a series of three programmes from BBC Four that look at three master craftsmen and their processes. The key difference is that these programmes are slow. Very slow. As Director Ian Denyer explains: “The brief was brief: no words, no music, long, very long held shots I added my own restrictions – no shot less than ten seconds, and no movement of the camera.”

This makes for an unusual and absorbing hour and a half of TV. I find the pace, the craft, and the exclusive use of diegetic sound calming, cathartic and comforting. As someone who is something of a frustrated ‘maker’ I love watching people do what they’re good at. Seeing someone use a tool that they know so well that it’s a habit rather than a thought about action is thrilling and genuinely inspirational. (I get the same feeling of wanting to create things when I’m in Atlantis looking at sketchbooks and pens…)

Check all three out here.

The series blog is also worth a look for the voices of the craftspeople and an insight into how the series was made.


Mike Bracken & GDS —

I watched this talk from Mike Bracken about the Government Digital Service. He talks about how the processes and practices the GDS encourages can help reshape how government is delivered in the increasingly digital future.

On the purely practical level I think the GDS can make the business of government (i.e. living and working) more up-to-date and more politically progressive. On a current affairs note it could also be a way to facilitate budget cuts that not only keep ‘front-line’ services the same but actually improve them.

But more than that, I’m interested in the way the GDS does this. Mike Bracken contrasts the iterative, responsive, adaptable and ‘fail fast, fail cheap’ approach of the GDS to a ‘big bang’ style favoured by policy makers. I’m becoming more aware that successful projects seem to have this modular structure built into them. It means they can be added to later (as needs or budgets develop), moved in a different directions and also contribute to a coherent whole.

It’s not just government or design projects this can apply to – in analysing the things I like about my garden it’s this ‘ahem’ organic way of allowing things to happen and within certain boundaries not being too fussy. Later on you can check on what’s happened in the system or framework and make decisions from there. If it’s good - encourage it, if it’s bad, stop it and try something else. This sort of plan also allows for serendipity and responds to actual conditions rather than sticking rigidly to the plan you set out at the beginning..

I think I’ve fairly comprehensively mixed my metaphors here but I’m sticking with it. Gardening is good, setting up systems is good, and working iteratively, with cycles of critique and reflection is good.


Notes on The Delirious Musuem

I recently read The Delirious Museum by architect and exhibition designer Calum Storrie. Here's some of my favourite bits. ----

Introduction pg 3: Robert Venuri:

"I am for messy vitality over obvious unity. I include the non-sequitur and proclaim the duality. I am for richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning; for the implicit function as well as the explicit function. I prefer 'both-and' to 'either-or', black and white, and sometimes gray, to black or white."


pg 67: Samson by Chris Burden is a piece of art that pushes apart the gallery it's in as visitors enter through a turnstile.


pg 138: This is Gipsoteca Canoviana in Possagno, Italy. A building designed by Carlo Scarpa which houses the working plaster models for sculptures. The space is a very simple cube but has the corners removed and skylights/windows (Scarpa described them as 'fragments of sky') installed instead. I really like this deconstruction/dismantling of the gallery space.


pg 151: The Museum of Unlimited Growth was designed by Le Corbusier in 1939. It attempts to solve the problem of a museum building which has an expanding collection (as most museums do). Visitors are directed through a channel in one side and arrive in the centre of the spiral structure from where they can explore the galleries and rooms. The museum can be expanding by adding more spiral over time. I love the idea of a never ending museum- a continuing process. Or even better one which is both complete (it is a complete building) and in process at the same time (it can be added to when needed).