"Martin Trusttum, from CPIT's Faculty of Creative Industries, likens his ArtBox project to a game of Tetris. 'It's just like Tetris but in slow motion. They are cubes and eventually they will come together to form a precinct.'
ArtBox will be located on the corner of Madras and St Asaph streets on the old Southlander Tavern-Jetset Lounge site opposite Anton Parsons' sculpture Passing Time.
It is a rare collection of mobile and flexible modules designed by Sydenham-based F3 and will offer about 18 spaces suitable for galleries and studios. It offers a practical, timely solution to the many low-cost premises used as galleries and studios destroyed by the February 2011 earthquake. "
(Vicki Anderson, 07 September 2012, Stuff.co.nz)
"Taking the digital pulse of libraries, galleries and museums, looking at new and interesting ways to access and interact with collections from all over the world."
(Radio New Zealand, 30 November 2011 Radio New Zealand)
[Courtney Johnston takes time out of the National Digital Forum (http://ndf.natlib.govt.nz/about/2011Programme.htm) to talk to Radio New Zealand's Kathryn Ryan about crowdsourcing weather and food history. Read more on her blog at: http://best-of-3.blogspot.com/2011/12/day-after.html]
Old Weather, National Maritime Museum, London: a citizen-science project where volunteers are helping transcribe the logbooks of Royal Navy ships from around the time of World War One.
What's on the menu, New York Public Library: learning what people were eating a century ago in New York by transcribing NYPL's special collection of historical menus
Australian Dress Register: Collecting examples and information about clothing in New South Wales before 1945, from public and private collections.
Remix and Mash up competitions: Mix and Mash winners LibraryHack winners.
"The aim of Culture.Info is to be the first port-of-call for users seeking cultural information on a particular topic. Each Culture.Info sub-portal will provide a carefully researched set of listings of links to information that is more focused and useful than can usually be obtained from the vast majority of existing listings or search engines.
Cultural areas will be added in due course in the following key areas:
* Heritage including archaeology, archives, conservation, history, heritage, museums
* Media including advertising, broadcasting, digital & new media, film, games, publishing, radio, television
* Performing including circus, comedy, dance, festivals, music, opera, puppetry, theatre
* Pursuits including antiques & collecting, hobbies & pastimes, outdoor activities
* Sport individual and team, and also sports involving animals
* Visual including architecture, crafts, design, exhibitions, galleries, painting, photography, sculpture
* Words including books & literature, languages, libraries, reading, writing
* A place could be a country, a region or even a city."
"The London Underground has commissioned a lot of art in its time. But more than that, it is practically a work of art itself. Few of its users have any idea how it really goes. What we know of it is a beautiful fiction. Other cities give you the facts; in Paris, at any station, you can see a geographical map of Mιtro lines superimposed on a street plan. In London, the Tube left earthly reality behind long ago, to become a land of imagination.
For most people, the Tube simply is Harry Beck's revolutionary map of it, devised in the 1930s and still in use. Based on electrical circuit boards, it transformed the Tube's layout into a topological scheme, which displays connections while paying little heed to distance or place. Lines are made straight, bends, angles and intervals regular. It's brilliant for journey-planning, utterly misleading for walks. And it frames our experience of Tube travel itself. It encourages us to see the Underground as a parallel dimension. It has stations that are portals to the life above ground, but the system itself is its own universe.
Altogether, the Tube is a strangely displaced world. If you think how this transport system is usually visualised, there are no famous sights that stand for it. Its icons are signs and symbols. There's the Beck map. There's the typography of the station names, using designer Edward Johnston's clean sans serif typeface. And there's the roundel emblem, the circle crossed by a bar, which was adopted as the general Underground logo in 1908, when the various line operators wanted to advertise themselves as an integrated service.
This roundel will shortly be appearing in many forms. To mark that centenary, Art on the Underground has commissioned 100 artists to design a poster based on the emblem's form. The first of these, by Liam Gillick, arrived on Tube platforms last week – multiple monochrome roundels are shown in an expanding circular formation, like a receding tunnel or a loudspeaker blare. And in coming months there'll be variations by the likes of Bob & Roberta Smith, Susan Hiller, Cornelia Parker and Jeremy Deller. The full 100 can be viewed next month at Rochelle School in Shoreditch.
A prosaic brief? I don't think so. For so simple a shape, the Tube roundel is a remarkably resonant sign. It looks like one of those runes used in astrology to signify the planets or star-signs. And that celestial echo may remind us of what stiff competition those 100 artists are up against. One of the most famous artworks ever to be commissioned for the Tube was a poster by the surrealist Man Ray. It shows a night sky, with two brightly glowing bodies in it: the Tube roundel and – a clear visual pun – the planet Saturn with its rings.
And this is part of a wider pattern. You could make a good exhibition from art that's been inspired by the Tube, and you might be surprised at how much of it had a heavenly, mystical, or otherworldly tendency. When they turn to the Underground, it seems, artists can't help seeing it as a threshold to the beyond, or a strange mirror image of the sky overhead.
One supernatural connection is plain. The Underground is the underworld. It has associations of the grave and the ghostly afterlife. The most famous artworks to exploit this are Henry Moore's wartime drawings, showing Londoners using the Tube as a mass bomb shelter. Moore's close-packed tucked-up sleepers, glimmering in endless tunnels, present a very cosy, cuddly underworld. But notice also how the use of the Tube as a bomb shelter re-asserts the link between the Underground and the sky, pointing upwards to where the bombs come from.
You get a less visionary idea of the practicalities of bomb sheltering from a picture of the same subject painted in the First World War (yes, it happened then too). Walter Bayes's image, showing people in Elephant and Castle station, is actually titled The Underworld. But the best use of the Underground/underworld idea is from between the wars; Wyndham Lewis's subterranean scene, One of the Stations of the Dead. A line of semi-abstract figures stand on a straight bank, which could also be a station platform. The ritualistic afterlife title holds a clear double meaning.
The Underground can be a womb of doom. Both hellish and air-danger associations are given full rein in the bizarre post-war sci-fi film, Quatermass and the Pit. Weird things are happening down at Hobbs End, a fictional Tube station, in a part of London that has a spooky reputation. Hob, as someone points out, is an ancient name for the devil. But it turns out it's an alien spacecraft, crash-landed centuries ago, long buried and dormant, and now coming back to life, with a full invading force of Martian insects for Professor Quatermass to deal with.
The world is saved. And of course it would be wrong to suggest that all Underground art is otherworldly. From Walter Sickert to Jock McFadyen, there have been fine realistic depictions of its platforms and tunnels. But its metaphysical possibilities seem hard to keep down. TS Eliot's poems, Four Quartets, show another way they can go. Here, the Tube, with its depths and darkness and claustrophobia, is a place of spiritual self-emptying: "Descend lower, descend only/ Into the world of perpetual solitude,/ World not world, but that which is not world..." The poet lived near Gloucester Road station, whose platforms could be accessed both by lift and escalator. "This is the one way, and the other/ Is the same, not in movement/ But abstention from movement..."
These themes turn up again in the work of the contemporary artist who has made most of the Underground, Mark Wallinger. His When Parallel Lines Meet at Infinity is a dense and minimal film, which extracts from the Tube every possible intimation of the beyond. It shows the view, straight ahead, from the driver's cabin of a travelling Tube train. The parallel rails stretch always in front. In the middle of the screen, never moving, there's a dark spot that marks the eye's destination, where the rails would meet if they went straight, the point you're constantly moving towards but never reaching. You pass through lit stations and dark tunnels: days and nights, lives and deaths. And the line is – well, obviously – the eternal Circle Line.
Wallinger's Angel is an even more complex bit of Tube spirituality. Its basic inspiration is the kid's game of running up the down escalator. Set in Angel station, it presents us with a paradoxical pilgrim. A blind man, with a white stick, is walking backwards, and speaking backwards (a passage from the gospels), at the bottom of an escalator that's moving against him, so he's walking on the spot – but then the whole film is shown in reverse, putting him in limbo of one way and the other, belief and non-belief.
Last year, there was a cover design for the Tube map by Wallinger. The Tube roundel was simply replaced by the RAF's target roundel. It was a harking back to the Blitz, another splicing together of underground and sky above.
Of course we shouldn't forget the most popular piece of recent Tube art, Simon Patterson's elaborate variation on the Beck map, in which all the stations are given new names, from historical figures and modern celebrity. It's a slightly boring joke, except in the work's title, The Great Bear. A constellation, in other words: which makes you see the stations, strung along their lines, as like stars linked by the imaginary lines of their patterns.
So, beyond whatever new posters are going to appear soon on the station platforms, here is an imaginary exhibition well worth waiting for. I even have a name for it. "Mind the Gap: Heaven and Hell on the London Underground."
100 Years, 100 Artists, 100 Works of Art is at Rochelle School, London E2 from 9 to 30 October; for details see www.tfl.gov.uk/pfa or call Art on the Underground at 020-7027 8694"
(Tom Lubbock, 22 September 2008)