Category Archives: Pictures

Minute Man

In February of this year, Stoke Newington-based artist and performer Brian Lobel asked the good people of Brixton Market to put a price on their time. He offered to purchase 60 seconds of it for the sum of £1- a more lucrative rate than the London Living Wage, which works out at a mere 13p per minute. If the shoppers and passers by agreed (and some didn’t), Brian filmed them doing whatever they pleased for exactly a minute; some sang, some danced, some wept, some slept.

Once they’d signed on the dotted line, their latterday Faustian pact was sealed, and like a tech-savvy Mephistopheles for our times, Brian proceeded to burn the exclusive minute to DVD, flogging it back to the public a week later for purposes both virtuous and nefarious- it was down to the consumer to decide.  Outside the cosy Book Box cafe on  Thursday 3rd March I filmed the grand unveiling of the Carpe Minuta Prima vending machine (or should that be time machine?).

A meditation on exchange, ownership and value, to chime with the private and increasingly public obsession with time management, precious time, spare time, free time, the time rich, the time poor… ad infinitum.

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Hear This

Friday night saw the official fundraising launch of Hackney Hear at the Red Gallery in Shoreditch, which really is full of East End Promise. The next incarnation of the Hackney Podcast, Hackney Hear is a bold innovation in the medium of audio production- a GPS-enabled smartphone app that will sonically-enrich the journey of any given listener, as they wend their way through the borough. In case you missed it, you can hear founder and director Francesca Panetta speaking about the genesis of the project in my interview with her from February.

The production team need to raise £5000 to develop the technology to get the free app up and running in time for the Olympics. They’re casting their net wide, joining the growing pack of arts organisations appealing to and empowering Everyman generosity via crowd-funding. The well-attended Rivington Street shindig sparked the imaginations of an animated bunch of industry professionals and local enthusiasts alike; the hope is that as the word spreads, so will the urge to dig deep. Bard of the borough Michael Rosen set the example by turning out his pockets of small change for the cause, live on stage.

Whilst aiming to fill the coffers, the event was also an opportunity to revel in the inimitable hotch-potch of Hackney. Upon entering the unexpectedly cavernous space of Red, guests were enveloped by the characteristic sights and sounds of EC2 to N16, with postcode cupcakes by Violet bakery honouring the turf. The podcast archive was deftly remixed by sound artist Word the Cat and a selection of homegrown, critically acclaimed short films were shown- Iain Sinclair’s Rose Red Empire, Emma Williams’ Under the Cranes and Shehani Fernando’s Night, inspired and soundtracked by the HP edition of the same name. Thoughtful party-goers were also invited to pin their favourite Hackney sound on a wall map of our boomerang-shaped borough. The party game culminated in the judging of the winning sound, deemed to be the sonorous bells of St. Peter’s heard fleetingly from a passing bike.

Next up were a series of performances by some of the great and the good of the neighbourhood. Charged with manning the DVD projector in the chilly white-cube screening room, I was glad of the body heat as expectant listeners crowded into the nerve centre of the venue. We were treated to the psycho-geographical soundscapes of the cross-legged vocalist Paper Dollhouse, Rob Gallagher AKA Earl Zinger’s zany acoustic set and Michael Rosen’s glorious ‘baigel’ call and response routine. Shane Solanki proved an exuberant host and delivered an aptly- chosen rap on smart-phone mugging, moving masterfully from the anecdotal to the surreal, with much hilarity.

There’ll soon be an app for that; listen out.

You can donate to Hackney Hear via IndieGoGo. And yes it is me in the promo (I hereby declare a charitable interest).

Olympic Ambitions

Since the bid was settled in 2005, politicians and pundits have been promising that the Olympic boroughs of East London will inherit the legacy of aspiration and investment conferred by London 2012. For our assessed TV news package at City, Anisa Kadri and I went on the trail of small businesses attempting to cash in on the kudos of the Olympic Games. Are they merely resourceful entrepreneurs or opportunistic ambush marketeers? The Olympic  Games Organising Committee and Newham Council have the deciding vote on which local venues have to re-brand before the tourists arrive.

Filmed 23rd February 2011.

The Uncommon Reader

I joined Anna Lewis of Completely Novel to review Alan Bennett’s novella The Uncommon Reader in 3 minutes flat. We hunkered down in her spare room in the Hackney/ Islington hinterland to condense our spiralling book worm thoughts into a handy micro-critique.