Wednesday, December 02, 2009

He's Claes Oldenberg in reverse

click photo to enlarge
Many who came of age in the 1960s tend to look back on the popular music of that decade as something of a highpoint in the genre. I certainly do, though I'd cite the years between 1963 and 1971 as the best. The music of that time seemed to be constantly evolving, absorbing old ideas and giving them a new twist, as well as bringing original sounds, lyrics, melodies and instrumentation to the table. The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Fairport Convention, the Velvet Underground, the Kinks, and the Grateful Dead typify the creativity that was laid before us year after year. However, what we sometimes forget is that for every Roy Harper there was an Englebert Humperdink, for every Leonard Cohen, a Jack Jones. There were definitely troughs as well as peaks.

Then there were those artists and bands who had something to offer, but never quite enough. I 'd include the Searchers in that category. They were capable of great harmonies and 12 string guitar figures that influenced bands like The Byrds, but in their drive to be successful went too far towards commercial, anodyne pop of the "Sweets for My Sweet" sort. This tendency also afflicted The Hollies. Their harmonies were terrific - no wonder Stephen Stills and David Crosby wanted Graham Nash - but they featured in songs that were often second-rate. Successful the Hollies undoubtedly were, but they didn't, in my judgement, produce songs that have stood the test of time.

A few weeks ago I was in Springfield Festival Gardens, Spalding, looking at the pieces of sculpture set amongst the shrubs, trees and flowers, when I came upon the piece by Stephen Newby called "Cascading Water Pyramid". This features a stack of stainless steel "pillows", the largest at the bottom, gradually reducing in size to the smallest at the top. Water falls down the shiny surfaces of these metal shapes that look, for all the world, like they have been inflated. Nearby is a water-wheel with similar "inflated" pillows. As I looked at the incongruity of a steel pillow a thought about their creator crystallized in my mind that borrows from that dire Hollies' attempt at psychedelia, "King Midas in Reverse": he's Claes Oldenberg in reverse, because he makes solid that which is soft, whereas Oldenberg made soft that which was solid! And with that I took my photograph of a corner of the stack of "pillows", water dripping from them, and tried to make something of the line of corners going down the frame.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 27mm (54mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/320
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On