(james benedict brown) on the road

Missing you already

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 9 October, 2008

Tthe University of Sheffield School of Architecture has launched its 2008 Live Projects, and the fifth and sixth year M.Arch students are currently out there shaping alternative practice in Sheffield (although checking my diary it’s possible the sixth years are huddled away polishing off dissertations this week). Out of tiny seeds are mighty trees grown… project blogs are now the norm and not the exception, and I am one of a growing number of ex-students watching this year’s projects from a distance.

This year’s M.Arch handbook (pdf) has more information about all the projects and all the design studios launching in November.

Globalisation part II: your local news goes on tour

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 9 August, 2008

Following his observations on the evolution in news delivery (i.e. mass redundancies of journalists) at Global Québec and my post about virtual newsroom architecture Steve Faguy makes some interesting observations about what a green screen to do for local newscasts during the regular newscaster’s vacation. If a newscaster can go on holiday and be replaced by another presenter in another province in front a greens creen, why not just get Jamie Orchard to pack a fold up green screen to take with her to Punta Cana?

Introducing the absence of Garfield

Posted in Uncategorized by James Benedict Brown on 5 August, 2008

Some examples of a recent discovery, the surreal online cartoon / blog Garfield Minus Garfield.

Irishman Dan Walsh conceived Garfield Minus Garfield earlier this year, and the cartoon has proved to be a phenomenal hit.

Walsh explains:

Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.

A new strip is uploaded most days, and with the blessing of Jim Davies (the creator of the original Garfield strips) a book is on the way.

WordPress meltdown

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 17 April, 2008

Sorry, no posts from me this week… work has piled up and WordPress has “upgraded” to a new publishing interface, which has buggered my attempts to post images. I’ll take the time it’ll need to relearn WordPress once I’ve cleared this backlog.

Mind spillage: the photographs of Damon Fairclough

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 1 February, 2008

Finished yesterday’s day of tutorials in the studio discretely drinking something that might have looked like red wine. A fine way to wind down after a busy day discussing the progress of our research and design projects. Drinking something that might have looked like red wine with me was OB, another student in my studio. She’d be hunting down photographs of Broomhall, a part of Sheffield that has seen a great deal of change in the built environment over the last few years. In her search, she had discovered the brilliant monochrome photographs of Damon Fairclough.

Fairclough has published some of his photographs and writings online at noiseheatpower.com, and is gradually uploading photographs to Flickr at flickr.com/photos/noiseheatpower. There are more than a hundred online now, dating from the second half of the nineteen-eighties, capturing Sheffield before some of its more recent transformations and ‘regenerations’.

Unusually for me, it wasn’t the photographs of architectural subjects that caught my eye, but those of people that seemed to have been shot discretely around the city. A number were taken on a lazy Sunday afternoon at The Leadmill, Sheffield’s infamous Sheffield music venue. Back then, some twenty years ago, the venue was home to a rare Sunday daytime event – lunch and live jazz. Fairclough explains:

No shops, no banks, no comings or goings; it was Sheffield on a Sunday. If you wanted to stretch your legs and head outside, you were meant to go to Endcliffe Park or Fox House, Ladybower or Bakewell. It wasn’t the city’s custom to head into town, so a 1986 Sunday lunchtime trip to the Leadmill still felt illicit – even though you were up to nothing naughtier than flipping through the colour section with a pint of Marston’s Pedigree.

One time, in 1986, I took a camera. And deep in the shadows of the pictures that follow, you can just about sense the subversion of a Leadmill Sunday; jazz solos, brown rice, noticeboards and flyers; the smuggery of those who got a seat, the awkwardness of those left to stand.

I was still in short trousers when these photographs were taken, but they remain quite incredible photographs, not just for the now semi-historical value of the images, but also for the remarkable compositions. In any exhibition of photographic work, there’s usually one image to which I will come back to again and again. In Fairclough’s online gallery, my favourite has to be this one, seemingly taken with a surreptitious eye, as the Sunday crowd heads the the bar for a pint of bitter.

Many thanks to Damon Fairclough for letting me publish his photographs here.