Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog


Art and MusicSaturday, October 9th, 2010, (4:36 pm)

Following on from a recent post I made about Justin Beiber’s song ‘U Smile’ that had been slowed down 800%, I’ve come across another dramatically slowed down soundscape. This time it’s not some Canadian teeny bopper, but one of the most famous and influential composers of all time: German classical composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven.

Ludwig van BeethovenNorwegian conceptual artist Leif Inge took Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and digitally stretched it to a staggering duration of 24 hours with no distortion or pitch shifting. The result is a deeply ambient soundscape that that wouldn’t be out of place in a film like Baraka.

The 24 hour soundscape is called ‘9 Beet Stretch’ and was originally created as an art instillation at Oslo’s NOTAM (Norwegian network for Technology, Acoustics and Music) in 2002, and has since been featured as a 24 hour audio artwork around the world.

According to the New York Times, ‘9 Beet Stretch’ was inspired by the Scottish visual artist Douglas Gordon, whose “24 Hour Psycho” (1993) slowed a Hitchcock film to uncover its “unconscious.”

Personally, the thought of watching the film Psycho stretched over 24 hours sounds like torture to me, but Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony similarly stretched creates an interesting and sometimes epic soundscape.

While ‘9 Beet Stretch’ hasn’t appeared in any art galleries recently it can still be heard online. The soundscape has been playing continuously every single day online since may 7th, 2005 when it was started at sunset in Vienna, Austria, where Beethoven’s ninth symphony was first performed, on may 7th, 1824. There is now even a free ‘9 Beet Stretch’ iPhone app!

You can listen to the live 24/7 stream of ‘9 Beet Stretch’ or sample five minutes of it in the clip below.


Live continuous broadcast of ‘9 Beet Stretch’
As heard on RadioLab’s show about ‘Time.’
Slow down Justin
Tree roots and other things
Four decades of naked ladies

ArtFriday, September 10th, 2010, (11:34 am)

We all have habits and little quirks that we don’t give much thought to, minor indulgences we enjoy in passing. One of mine is the rather silly practice of creating what I’ll loosely call ‘bathtub art.’

Bathtub art

I took these pictures a while ago after I had a Jackson Pollock moment with the bubble bath and the shiny white ‘canvas’ of the empty bathtub. The funny thing is that this wasn’t an isolated incident, I do this every single time I have a bath.

I don’t usually photograph it, but I do stand there and daub the bubble bath in random Pollock style swirls. Sometimes I even take the time to dribble a few other colors to really add to the ‘art.’ And yes, that means that I have indeed purchased bottles of bubble bath for no other reason than their color!

There’s no method to this, no abstract expressionism or art to be deciphered. It’s like I said.. We all have habits and little quirks that we don’t give much thought to, minor indulgences we enjoy in passing. This just happens to be one of mine.

Bathtub art

Unleash your inner Pollock
The price of genius
Bubble trouble
Say hello to Mermac

Art and Photography and TravelFriday, February 19th, 2010, (5:07 am)

I’ve always appreciated the work of graffiti artists and in Melbourne, Australia, spectacular graffiti art seemed to be everywhere. Bursting off the walls in vivid explosions of color, the urban artworks brought their surroundings to life and helped give the neighborhoods that much more of a pulse.

Melbourne graffiti by Simon Moody

Melbourne has a rich and impressive selection of graffiti art lining its streets and alleyways. So much so that the British street artist, Banksy, said it was arguably Australia’s most significant contribution to the arts since they stole all the Aborigine’s pencils. However, it’s not just other street artists that think highly of Melbourne’s graffiti, as Australia’s National Trust and Heritage Victoria are both in favor of protecting the city’s graffiti art.

Unsurprisingly though, not everyone considers graffiti as a valid art form to be celebrated. Scott Hilditch, chief executive of Graffiti Hurts Australia says that protecting graffiti would signify the acceptance of society’s decline and open the floodgates to vandalism by sending a dangerous message that graffiti is acceptable.

Melbourne graffiti by Simon Moody

Melbourne graffiti

According to The City of Melbourne’s own figures approximately $700,000 was spent cleaning up illegal graffiti over a 12 month period spanning 2007/8. That figure has been rising steadily since 2001/2 when the local government spent $358,000 on graffiti removal.

However, unlike the ugly graffiti ‘tags’ I saw in Zadar, Croatia, much of the graffiti I saw in Melbourne was ingenious and engaging. Indeed the city government recently conducted research and community consultation which revealed that while most people agree that ‘tagging’ is unsightly and unwelcome, ‘street art’ graffiti is widely appreciated.

I wish I could give full credit to the artists who created the fantastic works and stunning murals featured in this post. Unfortunately though it’s extremely difficult to identify the artists involved, even when the works are completely legal.

Melbourne graffiti

Melbourne graffiti

Melbourne graffiti

I very much enjoyed wandering around the streets of Melbourne looking at and photographing graffiti art that turned ordinary walls into galleries. My only complaint was that there was no map that would help me navigate my way around pieces of particular merit or interest. However, I suspect that’s part of the what gives graffiti its value. It’s ability to grow from nothing, like a seedling taking root where utility had perhaps all but suffocated creativity.

As I wandered from street to street browsing the graffiti, I found myself looking at various pieces and thinking about how a bland and ordinary brick wall might dream of one day becoming the home of art. How some bricks might aspire to be a part of a wondrous work of architecture, and how others might long to become an essential piece of an artists expression.

I remembered how the influential architect, Louis Khan, once suggested that even a brick wants to be something. So as my eyes studied the artfully adorned walls with their colors, messages, declarations and emotions, I couldn’t help but imagine how these bricks might very well be happy with their place in the world.

Melbourne graffiti

Escape – Melbourne Graffiti website
Victorian councils trial use nanotechnology to halt graffiti
Melbourne graffiti considered for heritage protection
Art on the street
Graffiti hurts Australia

ArtFriday, June 12th, 2009, (2:18 pm)

It’s the end of another long working week so you’ll probably be in some state of neural fatigue which makes you ripe for this optical illusion, sent to me by my friend Susan, which will exploit that very condition.

Pink dots, green dots

So here’s what to do: Let your eyes follow the movement of the rotating pink dot, you will only see one color, pink. Now, stare at the the black plus sign (+) in the center of the image. First, the moving dot turns to green. (I saw the green dot right away, so perhaps you will too?) Then as you continue to stare, all the pink dots will disappear, and you will only see only a single green dot rotating. This can happen in different ways (including different ways for same person in successive viewings):

  1. Green dot consumes the pink dots
  2. Dots disappear, but reappear briefly after being passed by green dot
  3. Dots in certain positions disappear quickly and dots in other positions can persist for several additional rotations of the green dot.

Because this is an effect of neural fatigue, minor gaps in concentration can cause the circle of pink dots to reappear (and disappear again). Holding your visual concentration, shift your gaze away from the center of this image. The pink dots reappear, but you may also see a full circle of green dots centered on your new focus point.

I’ve actually found another aspect to this illusion which you too might see. If I concentrate on the plus sign for a few seconds then move closer to the screen a little I see a ring of green dots around the ring of pink dots. If I move back from the screen I’ll see the ring of green dots inside the ring of pink dots. Does that happen for you too?

Another popular optical illusion you have probably seen is the old/woman by American psychologist Edward Boring. Apparently when looking at the picture (right) young people tend to see a young girl; older people, an elderly lady.

With effort, you can switch from one to the other: the young woman’s chin becomes the old woman’s nose; the old woman’s mouth, a band on the neck of the young woman.

I couldn’t see the old woman until I read instructions on how to do so. I don’t know what this means in real terms though. Either I have a “young” (and somewhat dumb?) brain, or I have an overactive honeyometer?

Thanks to Susan for the email

Freaky Friday
Get my blog by Email

Art and Found on the webFriday, July 25th, 2008, (8:00 am)

It’s Friday, and I’ll admit that I’ve been feeling a little underwhelmed of late. It’s nothing serious, just a simple a combination of small things like the complete lack of a summer here in the UK and a plethora of tedious work projects that are about as exciting for me as grocery shopping. I want to feel inspired and energized. The upcoming weekend away in Scotland with friends will help no doubt, but for now I’ve found a distracting site that allows me to peer across the expanse of the internet and find out how other people are feeling. Welcome to the voyeuristic virtual vista that is

We Feel Fine

‘We Feel Fine’ ( is a clever and completely engrossing website that scours the internet every ten minutes, harvesting human feelings. The site scans blog posts for occurrences of the phrases “I feel” and “I am feeling”. Having found an occurrence the system looks backward to the beginning of the sentence, and forward to the end of the sentence, and then saves the full sentence in a database including any image that accompanied the blog post.

For the end user of the site those feelings can be explored using a unique and quite beautiful self-organizing particle system interface, where each particle represents a single feeling posted by a single individual. The particles’ properties – color, size, shape, opacity – indicate the nature of the feeling inside. Any particle can be clicked to reveal the full sentence or photograph it contains, clicking that sentence or photograph then takes the user to the blog from where the feeling was harvested.

Created by Jonathan Harris and Sepandar Kamvar ‘We Feel Fine’ is described by them as “an artwork authored by everyone”. It’s been harvesting feelings since August 2005 and to date has collected 11,441,722 feelings.

So it’s Friday and maybe you’re feeling in need of a little distraction yourself? If that’s the case then I feel like you should check out this fascinating site. They say it’s going to be a sunny weekend here, maybe even a hot one too. If that’s the case then I’m quite sure I’ll be feeling fine again too.

We Feel Fine

ArtTuesday, June 10th, 2008, (9:00 am)

Stop what you’re doing for a moment and take a look at these hauntingly beautiful pictures of underwater sculptures by artist Jason de Caires Taylor. The sixty-five sculptures, covering an area of 800sq metres, are sited in the clear shallow waters of Moilinere bay in Grenada, West Indies.

Jason de Caires Taylor's underwater sculpture park

Jason de Caires Taylor's underwater sculpture park

The underwater sculpture park was created back in 2006 and was designed to create artificial reefs for marine life to colonise and inhabit. Exposed to the ecological processes the sculptures become home to coral and marine life and slowly transform over time.

“The experience of being underwater is vastly different from that of being on land. There are physical and optical considerations that must be taken into account. Objects appear twenty-five percent larger underwater, and as a consequence they also appear closer. Colors alter as light is absorbed and reflected at different rates, with the depth of the water affecting this further. The light source in water is from the surface, this produces kaleidoscopic effects governed by water movement, currents and turbulence. Water is a malleable medium in which to travel enabling the viewer to become active in their engagement with the work. The large number of angles and perspectives from which the sculptures can be viewed increase dramatically the unique experience of encountering the works.” Says Jason de Caires Taylor’s website.

Jason de Caires Taylor's underwater sculpture park

I first saw these pictures earlier back in March and found Jason’s site by simply doing a Google for ‘underwater sculptures.’ His site features loads of beautiful pictures and a really stunning film of the underwater sculpture park.

Jason followed the success of the underwater park with the creation of ‘Alluvia‘ which consisted of two female figures submerged and fixed to the bed of the River Stour in Canterbury, England. He is currently working on a new series of sculptures to be placed on land and underwater in Italy, around the La Castella and Capo Colonna coastline.

According to his website, Jason is seeking volunteers to be life-casted for his projects. If you are interested in being represented in the form of an underwater statue and can travel to London then email him. I might just volunteer myself.

Jason de Caires Taylor's underwater sculpture park

Jason de Caires Taylor
Underwater sculpture film

Next Page »