Turner prize 2007 – Review

JMW Turner, the great landscape painter was quite controversial in his day and that’s why they named the modern art prize after him.

Who can forget his “Dog in Vinegar by the Piazetta, Venice”, only matched by “Distant View of Corfe Castle Lights Going On and Off”.

Yes, controversial, but definitely art.

 This year we have the usual ‘Man wandering around in a bear suit’
and ‘Amnesiac Shrine, or The Misplacement (a Futurological Fable): Mirrored Cubes – Inverted – With the Reflection of an Inner Psyche as Represented by a Metaphorical Landscape’

Yeah, I know, “i’ve seen that one before, why don’t they ever have any art?”
Well, the truth is that the prize isn’t about art at all.  

The anonymous sponsor who started the whole thing decreed that if anything resembling real art ever won the prize then their sponsorship would be withdrawn.  The whole thing is a devious plot to make British art look foolish but at the same time increase its reliance on the newspaper and TV media.

The cleaning lady at the gallery said, “It’s a bit spooky at night, ‘specially with that bloody bear wandering around, moaning to himself about his feet aching.  Still it’s an interesting group this year, you never know who’s going to win.  Two years ago I forgot to put the vacuum cleaner away one night and got second prize!”  

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Savannah fashion

Elephants can tell whether a human is a friend or foe by their scent and colour of clothing, according to Fife experts.

St Andrews University researchers found that elephants could recognise the degree of danger posed by different groups of individuals.  The study found African elephants reacted with fear when they detected the scent of garments previously worn by men of the Maasai tribe. 


The researchers also found that although a pack of hyenas clothed in trackies and hoodies only caused mild amusement amongst the elephants, a stampede resulted when the same hyenas were dressed in twin-sets from Marks and Spencers.

Ian Culpable, chief researcher for the University team, stated that he was not surprised at the results.  “My wife’s been wearing M & S clothing for years and I’ve never seen an elephant in Fife”

The hyenas who participated in the experiment were derisive. “Blue tunic with green skirt, I’m not surprised we didn’t get a good reaction,” sneered the leader.
“Yeah, you can’t expect fashion sense from those University types,” laughed another.  “If it was beer tasting or sleeping, then I wouldn’t question their expertise!”

 “Those hyenas don’t take anything seriously,” said an elephant, “if they just made an effort, perhaps even a bit of rouge and lippy, then some of these surreal experiments might actually prove something!”

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BBC Dumber

BBC TV audiences can expect more repeats and fewer original programmes under plans to reduce the size of the corporation revealed on Thursday.  Up to 1,800 staff will also be made redundant – primarily in news, BBC programme making and regional centres.

“I can’t see how they can justify these cuts,” said Natasha Kaplinsky.  “I love working with Dermot, Mishal, Sian, Bill and Moira.  Besides, we need six for the darts team in case one of us is on holiday.”

John Humphrys was in a similar mood; “James, Sarah and Edward would be missed if the Today programme had to get rid of them, but we definitely need a team of four if they expect us to make our own tea and toast every day”.

The expected cuts will result in name changes for many programmes. ‘BBC 24’ will be cut to ‘24’, ‘Today’ will be shortened to ‘This Morning’, ‘The One Show’ will become ‘The One and Only Show’ and ‘Michael Palin’s New Europe’ will be renamed ‘Eastenders’.

‘Newsnight’ presenter Jeremy Paxman has voiced his fears that the show could not “survive in anything like its current form” if its budget was slashed by 20%.
Sir Michael Lyons promised hopeful journalists that it would definitely be at least that.

Sir Michael said that the BBC had been repeating the same twelve episodes of Eastenders for the last five years and nobody had noticed.  Similarly, with the Snooker Championships, the BBC has been editing and cutting together clips from different matches to create programmes that are more entertaining.  This explains the frightening speed of Ronnie O’Sullivan’s last 147 break and why his hair length and shirt colour kept changing between shots.

Nature programmes and Quiz shows will be combined to save money.  Rumours that Anne Robinson will wrestle apes in “The Weakest Chimp” or wild cats in “The Weakest Lynx” have not been confirmed.  “The Weakest Mink” in which the winner gets to keep a fur coat may also be a crowd pleaser.

OK. I’ll stop now.

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What is Dark Matter?

Down the ‘Slug and Philosopher’ last night, Old Ted was staring into his Guinness and frowning to himself.

“So what’s all this Dark Matter then?” he asked.
It’s a good question, there’s been a lot in the news about it lately.

“The scientists’ don’t know yet, Ted.” I said, “The world’s greatest physicists are working on it as we speak.  Wayne might know though”.
Wayne was practising his dart’s ready for the match against the ‘Slug and Film Producer’ later that evening.  Stupid name for a pub if you ask me.

“What do you reckon on ‘Dark Matter’, Wayne?”

“Well yer Dark Matter is basically a hypothetical form of matter that is believed to make up around ninety percent of the matter in the universe.  It don’t absorb light and it don’t emit light, which makes it invisible.  Furthermore it don’t collide with atomic particles which means you ain’t going to be able to touch it either.  However, we know it’s there because it exerts gravitational force.”

He threw two darts into the board.
“Scientists don’t know what it is yet.”

He threw the last dart and turned to face Ted and me.
“I however, do know.”
This didn’t surprise me, Wayne knows a lot of things.  I think he watches the Discovery Channel.

“What is it then?”  I asked.

 “Imagine that time is a straight line,” he said, “which it isn’t of course, it’s more like a ball of water, but that’s another subject.”
I nodded at him to continue.

“As we slide along the line we’re only conscious of the tiny speck of time that we’re currently in.  A speck of time that our brains hold for us so that we don’t go mad and see our whole lives happening in the one blinding instance.  But of course in yer wider universe all our history and all our future exists at the same time.  That’s what yer Dark Matter is.”

“So everything we’ve done and all we’re going to do is sort of ‘hanging around’ in space waiting for us to pass through it?”  I was trying to grasp onto it.

“Yeah, and if yer brain loses its ‘old on yer current time frame you become aware of all that ‘as been and all that will be.  That’s death that is.”

 “But are you saying that my future is all mapped out and that the universe already ‘knows’ what’s going to happen?”
“You mean is everything predetermined by fate or do we have free will?
No, don’t worry mate, you have free will all right and the decisions you make alter the substance of the Dark Matter hanging in front of you.  Funnily enough your decisions alter the Dark Matter behind you as well.”
“You mean I change history by what I do today?”
“Yeah, you do.  It’s all part of the great circle, but that’s another subject and I haven’t got time to discuss it now.  I must practise me arrows.”
Wayne went back to the board and retrieved his darts.

I looked at Ted.
“Does that answer your question, Ted?”

“Not really, I just wanted to know what all this mucky stuff floating in my beer is.”


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Good darts

The switch has been thrown on a telescope specifically designed to seek out alien life. Funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the finished array will have 350 six-metre antennas and will be one of the world’s largest. The Allen Telescope Array (ATA) will be able to sweep more than one million star systems for radio signals generated by intelligent beings.
Its creators hope it will help spot definite signs of alien life by 2025.
“For Seti, the ATA’s technical capabilities exponentially increase our ability to search for intelligent signals, and may lead to the discovery of thinking beings elsewhere in the Universe,” said Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Seti Institute.”

Down at my local, ‘The Slug and Philosopher’ there was a different opinion.
“It could be that our friend Mr Allen has wasted his money with this one,” said Wayne, captain of our darts team. “Although wiv the more powerful equipment we can pick up signals from a wider and deeper section of the universe, that’s not the factor that will prevent us chatting with aliens.”

“Go on, Wayne.” I encouraged him.
“Yeah, yer main problem with alien contact is not yer first three dimensions but it’s yer dimension of time. Until man masters time and distance you can kiss those aliens’ butts goodbye.”

“What do you mean, Wayne?”
“To have two way communications with distant or near life forms you have to co-exist in the same time frame. What’s more both sets have to have reached an advanced technological state. If you live in different times then the best you can hope for is to pick up the historic signals of a long dead civilisation.”

“Like one day little green guys will pick up Eastenders?”
“Yeah, and they’ll be glad our civilisation died out, but imagine that the life of the universe is the double ring around the edge of a dartboard, circular and vast, and that the life of our civilisation is a dart hole in double one. Now imagine that the alien civilisation’s lifespan is measured by the point of a dart and that the dart is thrown at random towards the dart board. Wot are the chances of it landing near our hole?”

“About as likely as you buying me the next pint?” I ventured.
“Yeah, and that’s no chance!”

It’s nice to know you can rely on some things in an increasingly dodgy universe.


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Light Sabre

As part of Star Wars’ 30th Anniversary celebrations, Space Shuttle Discovery will carry an unusual cargo in the form of Luke Skywalker’s light sabre as it lifts off with seven astronauts on its way to the International Space Station later this month.
The famous sci-fi prop was given to NASA officials by some of the main Star Wars characters including Chewbacca, Boba Fett, Jango Fett, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, various X-Wing pilots, Jedi, and storm troopers from the Golden Gate Garrison of the 501st Legion.

These are the same crack storm troopers that allowed themselves to be humiliated by a kid with a sword, a girl, a hippy with a pistol and a seven-foot tall teddy-bear.  Known throughout the galaxy as the ‘storm pussies’ their embarrassment means that they may never remove their helmets.  Darth Vader said of them that “never have so many been so outwitted by so few, only the X-Wing pilots have been more of a disappointment to me.”

“Yeee aaahh ooooo!” said Chewbacca, which is Wookie for “You came, You saw, We kicked your arse!”

Doug Mattice, of Space Centre Houston, NASA’s visitor complex, said:
“We hope the Discovery crew get it out while they’re up there and spend some time mucking about with it.”
What’s he talking about?
“It would be funny to think there were astronauts up in space attacking each other with the Star Wars light sabre.”
Oh yeah, the light sabre.

Yeah, that would be hilarious, perhaps they could dress up in some of the uniforms as well, that would scare the Russians when they meet up in the Space Station.

Help us Old Ben Behind Me, you’re our only hope.


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