Sunday, December 04, 2005

Day 215

Nipped in a bit of time this morning on Photoshop; following the monster scanning session, there are some of the better individual pictures that I'm slowly returning to and tweaking. Nothing too serious—scratch and dust removal, a spot of Levels and maybe a bit of sharpening. The eventual intent is to have a digital portfolio of my better pictures, the ones I tend to frame up and put on the wall.

Then it was out to the Barbican for a bit of culture: Yo-Yo Ma playing three of the Bach cello suites (plus three encores). 3 and 6 were great; 5 was very intense but perhaps a little ponderous for me. It's hard to believe he's fifty—he looks like he's in his thirties.

The coughing of the audience during the performance was kind of odd; there was the usual few coughs during the actual playing, but lots of people seemed to hold it in until the end of a movement—the gap between some of the movements was a veritable cacophony of coughs, and Yo-Yo Ma would just pause and wait for it to die down. It's a long time since I last went to a classical music concert, so I don't know if this is normal or not.

I was also reminded of how awful the Barbican itself is, both inside and out. Horrible concrete, which I'm told is now Grade 2 Listed and so is now stuck there forever. It's also amazingly difficult to find your way around, again both inside and out. The inside would work well as a map for a multiplayer FPS game—lots of nooks and crannies to camp in, and lots of stairwells and mezzanine levels. The outside is just as confusing, with different levels of walkways and stairs and corridors. There are occasional maps displayed on the walls, but these are more likely to confuse than help because they've taken the bizarre approach of orienting the maps differently in different places. (My only theory for this was that it might be a misguided attempt to align the maps with the walls that they're on: a map on an east wall has west at the top and so on). They obviously know it's a problem—the walkways that lead through the residential part to the theatre part all have yellow lines painted on the ground to help lost tourists ("Follow the yellow brick road! Follow the yellow brick road!").

One of the other folk (whom I'd not met before) in our little group has a flat in the Barbican, so we stopped off for a coffee there after the concert. Quite a nice flat, in a 1970s kind of way, but what was more impressive were the brochures that he had for a couple of other flats he was keen on buying. They were also at the Barbican, but up at the penthouse level, over three floors and with a great view. Price: a cool 1.8 million pounds. At this point I felt much less guilty that a complete stranger had bought an expensive round of drinks for us all.

4 comments:

Henri-V said...

Pardon my ignorance, but is it a real status thing to have a flat at the Barbican? Or are only certain structures desirable? I don't think the U.S. has any comparable development that incorporates residences, arts venues, merchants, etc. (?)

I just looked at more pictures of the apartment buildings. (http://www.barbicanliving.co.uk/
main_frame.htm) Kind of hulking and institutional.

I loved all your linked photos, especially the one of the gate and the silhouette of the cranes in Japan.

galloglass said...

The Barbican is very close to the City, so it's convenient for traders and merchant bankers and suchlike. It's also got some tall towers, so there's the potential for great views over London. The downside is that the whole area is very dead at weekends; hardly any of the shops, restaurants or pubs are open. Also, I think that some of the flats are actually council flats, so I guess it's a bit of mix.

It's strange to realize that a lot of the buildings from that era are deliberately spare (the Barbican, the Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre). Partly it was because the architects were making a statement about exposing the function in the form. Partly, they look ugly now because at the time no-one knew what 20-year old concrete would look like. (Or at least, that's what I was told by an architect acquaintance once, possibly in defense of his profession).

Anonymous said...

In some of your copious free time, do you think you can find out what the 2nd encore was by any chance? Presumably something from that Silk Road cd he did? It would be great to hear it again!

galloglass said...

Sadly, I've got no idea how to go about finding out what the encores were; searching the filthy internet doesn't seem to reveal anything useful.