Conflict, time, photography and other stuff

My Netflixation
Seems like some time since I last wrote a post here – apologies for that. I have developed somewhat of Netflixation which has taken up a lot of my spare time when I could be writing. Netflix is a wonderful example of how modern technology can bring joy into the world since without it I would not have been able to enjoy the varied delights of such things as Kill la Kill, Orange is the New Black, Dollhouse (although this recently jumped over to Amazon Prime), Knights of Sidonia, Archer, Bojack Horseman, and Better Call Saul.

It has also allowed me to finish watching Misfits Season 4 which I somehow managed to miss and given me access to some great stand-up comedy and documentaries. Okay advert over (I don’t get paid). Other digital streaming services are available!

Reading
In terms of books I have recently finished reading the over long novel ‘Closing Time’ by Joseph Heller, but I was way too confused and frankly disappointed by it to come out and write a dedicated post about it. For me it was too repetitive, meandering and the surreal ending mean it compared rather unfavourably to Catch-22 of which it is a sequel.

One interesting bit of the book (and there are quite a few) was one character mentioning that he knew Kurt Vonnegut and was in the war with him around the same time as they were stationed in Slaughterhouse 5. It was interesting reading about the same episode in WWII from a different perspective.

Conflict, Time, Photography
That segues nicely into my visit to the “Conflict, Time, Photography” exhibition at the Tate Modern which features a quote from Vonnegut about the firebombing of Dresden as an introduction in which he says that people aren’t supposed to look back. Maybe it is less painful if we don’t but then how would we learn anything from our mistakes?

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It’s not cheap, but if you like old war photos then I recommend it whole heartedly.

The exhibition contains photography and works from people wanting to record the after effects of war and as such provides something of a history of conflicts around the globe told through imagery. The time line covers conflicts from around 1850 to present day and so includes subject matter from the Crimean War, the American Civil War, WWI, the Spanish Civil War, WWII, Vietnam, Angola, Nicaragua, Bosnia, and Iraq to name but a few.

Rather than being presented chronologically each room contains works relating to how much time has passed when the photos were taken – for instance in one room the visitor is presented pictures of the mushroom cloud from one of the bombs dropped on Japan in WWII and in another room we have pictures of survivors of  death camps forty or so years later.

This is not a collection of pictures of dead bodies; it is less explicit and as a result more thought-provoking than that. Sure there are photos of bits of bone and personal remains dug years later, a fused pocket watch from one of the nuclear attacks and an extensive family tree cut short by killings, but these things are presented in a very low-key fashion letting the visitor decide how to react rather than forcing you down an expected reaction. I would love to share some of the photos with you, but as you know I am a strong believer in copyright law and I think it would be unwise of me to flaunt it here.

The Wallace Collection
Instead here are a few photos from the Wallace Collection which I also visited with Siggy on the same wet weekend in London.

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The old dears in the background were doing a drawing lesson, with mixed results.

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One of the wonderful rooms housing the Wallace Collection.

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I’m not a big fan of this type of sculpture, but I do like the tiles.

I was being a bit furtive with my camera (old iPhone) which might explain the pish quality. I got some good ones of a Canaletto, but that’s not for sharing…

The Wallace Collection has free admission and is an excellent assortment of furniture, arms, armour and paintings. I was particularly taken by the stunning array or suits of armour which to my mind rivalled those in the Tower of London and also by the room dedicated to Canaletto and his impersonators. Canaletto is one of my favourite artists because of his command of perspective, use of light and for his time almost photographic renditions of Italian architecture and the canals of Venice.

Here’s a link to their website: The Wallace Collection for more deets.

Call of Duty
Back at home, If I haven’t been watching Netflix I’ve been gaming. I have been playing the ‘Advanced Warfare’ and ‘Black Ops II’ campaigns – both have strong storylines and good acting. I haven’t tried the zombie levels on either game or the multiplayer maps – I’m getting too passive for that kind of stuff.

It was great to see John Malchovich’s appearance in the Advanced Warfare add-on and Kevin Spacey’s performance is pretty good in the campaign. I found the controls in Advanced Warfare a little tricky at times and spent most of the game not using the exosuit abilities (unless forced to by the usual ‘press X’ shenanigans).

I think I prefer Black Ops II which is saying something given that it’s a Treyarch production and I am not a big fan of theirs. Apart from some of the clumsy tech (are we really going to be using lumbering Bigtrak style drone tanks in the future??) and ‘defend the flag’ type levels it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve not completed it yet, but will be doing so shortly. By the way I never recovered from my disappointment with ‘Thief’ and so don’t expect a review – I got as far as level 4 and then traded it in.

CD Marathon
This continues and expect the roundup of ‘P’ soon.

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