Everybody in the Place

As each generation enshrines the culture of our youth with significance, we are mourning our own lives. Youthful optimism preserved in amber.

I remember these parties and these people. This is the era that formed me. Seeing the culture through the eyes of a new generation is important. Humbling. Watching these kids watch Ron Hardy and Spiral Tribe like artefacts from another dimension feels moving in a way I’m struggling to convey.

There‘s been a litany of docs reminiscing about how fun and silly it all was, the colours and the gurning, but few have questioned the roiling currents beneath the hedonism.

God it was fun. At least for a bit. And it felt so important. Like the world was about to change. Like new paths were possible for us. Vans. Benders. Sites. Trucks. Only for a moment. Before we seemed to get sidelined by capitalism and money and property again. As before and so again.

Seeing this part of me through the prism of these kids. And how those paths don’t seem remotely possible to them. This feels so important. And sad. Bittersweet and optimistic.

Thanks Jeremy. Juan. David. Larry. Francois. Ron. So many Rons. All them cats too innumerable to list.


Prove you’re not a robot

The terrifying realisation that we’re on the outs. And we’ve all been training the hive mind.

Tapping away, tinkering and tweeting, toying and talking, changing our passwords, forgetting our logins, selecting the squares that contain storefronts, and traffic lights and buses.

Prove you’re not a robot.

As the robot wakes. Watches. Waits. The robot never forgets.

Slowly surely this anthropocene will fade. Whatever inhospitable mess is left. The googlecene. The cybercene.

Your self driving car will not stop until you are dead.

Climate of Envy

I’m so happy to see climate change finally being discussed. The frightening combination of plummeting insect numbers and subsequent vanishing bird populations is suddenly in our discourse. The cultural conversation. Leading news bulletins. Radio 4 interviews. Guardian think pieces.

It’s long overdue and deeply important.

A raft of artists and public figures have put their name to a public letter drawing direct connections between the wonder of birdsong and their own creative practise. It’s not an open letter; it’s a public letter. To warrant inclusion to such an esteemed forum entails a degree of recognition I don’t, and begrudgingly only now am I beginning to reluctantly accept, probably won’t possess.

There are 78 names on the list. Which doesn’t seem like many to me. It’s a well intentioned and oddly moribund list, from national treasure to local scenester.

Here really lies the crux of my dilemma. As heartening as it is to hear Sam Lee on front row, extolling the joys of his beautiful paean to birdsong with inimitable charm, and the very public campaigns of household names against netting and habitat destruction tweeting their way into public awareness, there’s part of me that feels cheated, duped, overlooked.

I should feel elated. Instead I feel, ridiculously, childishly green with jealousy.

Why wasn’t I asked ?

Why does no-one want to see my birds?

My human ego is the real problem here, and wasn’t it ever thus. In the last year I have engaged in submission and conversation with the BFI, Arts Council England, Random Acts, the local wetlands, the RSPB and various others, as I’ve hoped in vain to scrabble together enough money and time to make an animation about swifts, their migrations, their precariously magical fragile airborne lives, dancing at the edge of the sublime.

My employer, an animation studio of some renown, has no interest in supporting films that address climate concern outside of typical advertising budgets. My newly heralded local borough of culture has resources aplenty for the reappropriation and presentation of locally popular Victorian wallpaper magnates but precious little for 20th century animators with 21st century concerns.

And herein lies my real dilemma: do I really care about the plight of birds, the swifts, the sandpipers, these most delicate of eco systems.

All the things I profess to care about. Or do I really only care about myself. My sense of feeling cheated, overlooked, excluded.

What a terrible, selfish, oh so fitting human response to something genuine and real and horrifying and true, the extinction that will claim us all:

career envy.

Swifts looping