Towards Better Democracy

Good words, well written, better the world. Good literature betters the world immeasurably.

Surmounting the obstacles


I cannot resist in advance of establishing an arts blog in writing here of where I stand in the Fine Arts.

Historically the arts have changed with time. New forms of depiction and new media have been adopted as time has gone by. So it is with our era, that of the digital. The human is only limited by the powers of the imagination. And, if you can imagine it, more than likely you will make a reality of it.

Every previous generation has been left behind by its successor generation, in this case by our children. Children now are exposed to digital devices from the earliest age. Mummy is on the cell phone perpetually, Babies play with the cellphone finding and working around apps on their own.

There is much to be frightened of when facing the prospect of a digital future but I think that much of what is said comes from those who don’t know what the heck they are talking about. All this talk of big data, the internet of things, and so on, is talk. Those who talk using those terms have no idea as to how they might be implemented.

With about the prospect of this amorphous digital world, where potentially the digital threatens to remove many jobs from human reach, two things have me change my mind.

The future is further off than we think it to be. What is said to arrive tomorrow does not come even the day after. What we have grappled with has always been difficult. Take any example you like. Flight might be one. Building pyramids another. And so it is now; it is quite one thing to talk of something, it is quite another to make it a reality.

What comforts me immensely about this so called digital future is that the human is at the heart of it. Without the human none of it is remotely possible.

Far from being an alienating environment divorced from any kind of humanism, it is human because we shape it according to our image, a mirror of ourselves. Which is as well, for we have to live in it and with it.

Prescient writers have long predicted the future, choose your favourite writer, and to some degree they got it right. To write of space travel was to completely overlook the sheer difficulty of getting there, never mind the cost. And to what benefit? To walk on a dead surface more dead than any of our deserts. Mars! Why would be go there. With hunger, war and disease prevalent on our planet, our planet itself we are endangering. Why would we not want to stay and attempt to address those problems, to gain humanity in doing so.

So many challenges lie await ahead of us on Earth, why would we want to go anywhere else.

I write because those of you who are aware that I do art work will know that most of it is digital art. This is a challenging field for a number of reasons. One can do the sorts of pretty pictures, according to your taste, that I do at present. Or one can look to the challenges and possibilities that the digital medium offers. And they are many but challenging. First of all they are technically difficult if one is to go into the realm with any kind of seriousness. I have just downloaded a software, an open software, which works from the command line. The second reason for wanting to develop further the digital as a media is that the possibilities are so enormous as to leave one wondering where to start.

One can take a well established direction such as the graphic work seen in the gaming world with its primary concern with the grotesque. The imagery is stereotyped and all embracing, in the way a python is, or one can break away and find one’s imagery which speaks for, and from, the self. Not cartoon nor formulaic but that which has an integrity about it that convinces viewers.

The compulsion to write this morning stems from what I said earlier, that those of us of, the previous generation, born during, or shortly after WWII, grew up in a world without any of the digital means we see all around us to the point of ubiquity. We have not grown up with it in our blood so to speak.

Bridging that gap is not easy. My wife told me of a programme she saw on television recently where a class of 8 year olds were engaging in a thing called the Mad Science. The adeptness, adroitness of these children, their grasp and dexterity in this medium, the digital, she found breathtaking. And I can well understand that. I have worked in that environment more of less since its infancy. Hollerith punched cards and all that.

But it is the speed with which these children, all children now, can understand and flourish in this environment that astonishes.

But I had that as a child, My generation, growing up in the Sixties, rapidly was leaving our parent’s generation far behind. We had opportunities that they never had and we took every one of those and made it our own. We had ready access to university, we had professions open to us, and so on, that they never had. Diet, medicine and so it goes on.

I think it is the speed with which the present generation catches on that led my wife to be astounded. And I am caught by it too.

Can we catch up? Can we make this realm our own? I think so. As I move forward as an artist I shall certainly try. However dextrous one is, hard work is required. Success in no field is possible without it. And the motivation to do so.

Malcolm D B Munro
Tuesday 6 June, 2017

 

 

Filed under: Arts, Current Events, history, Media, Memoir, Music, poetry, politics, songs, stories

Music from the Heart of Space


Music from the Heart of Space

Malcolm D B Munro
Friday 12 May, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Current Events, history, Media, Memoir, poetry, songs, stories

Works for Imaginary Book Covers, number 7


Letters from My Son in Exile

Available at Saatchi Art

The point of political art is to draw attention to injustices and intolerable situations. A call for attention, action.

This work does not do that. Here the call is to draw awareness to the human dimension. Here the work asks you to put yourself in the position where you feel for this mother’s plight, all mothers who have sons and daughters incarcerated by those who pursue the cause of serious harm and death of those whom they feel are a threat.

The suggestion is that these letters may not have come from the woman’s son; even the name is redacted.

The suggestion too is that she is fearful of using her real name in publishing these letters.

The mother lives in hope of being united with her son, of seeing him again. But that hope may never be fulfilled.

He may be dead and she may never learn of his death.

Malcolm D B Munro
Tuesday 2 May, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Book Review, Current Events, history, Media, Memoir, poetry, politics, songs, stories

To those of you who have adopted to follow my presence on Artfinder a note of thanks


To those of you who have adopted to follow my presence on Artfinder a note of thanks.

This seems to me to be an appropriate medium to express my thanks to you. You come from a wide variety of countries and your presence has me feel that I am part of a wider community of artists.

The response to my work so recently mounted and still going up on Artfinder, is encouraging.

Those of  you who are followers of this blog who are reading this will have noticed that my graphic art work has in recent times been noted as being available at Saatchi Art and or Artfinder. Hence this post.

Again thank you.

Malcolm D B Munro
Monday 13 March, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Current Events, history, Media, Memoir, poetry, politics, songs, stories

To Visitors and Followers of Towards a Better Democracy: an appreciation


To Visitors and Followers of Towards a Better Democracy: an appreciation

At frequent intervals I reach out to those of you who visit the site and those of you who have generously adopted to follow the blog to tell you how much I appreciate you.

To share has meaning to me. It is simply part of my nature and that I have this blog and that you visit and follow it allows me to share with you my interests and predilitions.

I seldom comment since I think the site and its content speaks for itself. But I will take this opportunity to note with satisfaction as I reach through the tiny corners of the content of Youtube to discover new music the extent of the interest in this music.

To be part of such a community is quite something. And to be one of those creating it …

I do not pander to popular taste. That there are others who share my interests is gratifying. After all,  one does live on one’s own in this world. And spouses and friends can hardly be expected to like or admire what we do.

Thank you.

Malcolm D B Munro
Monday 13 March, 2017

 

 

 

Filed under: Book Review, Current Events, history, Media, Memoir, poetry, politics, songs, stories

Is this a volcano or just a fire: Donald Trump campaign spoke with Russian ambassador about closer cooperation five months before election


Donald Trump campaign spoke with Russian ambassador about closer cooperation five months before election

Malcolm D B Munro
Wednesday 8 March, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Current Events, history, Media, Memoir, poetry, politics, songs, stories

chat noir en pince nez


chat-noir-en-pince-nez

chat noir en pince nez
Available as a print from Saatchi Art

Malcolm D B Munro
Wednesday 1 March, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Memoir, poetry, songs, stories

An explanation


Some of you who visit and those who follow the site may have noticed a gap in the music I put up. An explanation of why this is so would not be out of place.

I have spent my life listening to music and, to a far lesser extent, studying it and am familiar with the whole range of the Western tradition of music.

Youtube is a cornucopia of resources for music. There is almost no corner of music performance which is not up on the Web. This allows me to discover composers with whom I am quite unfamilar.

 But missing in what I put up and what I listen to is music of the Classical Period and the Romantic Period.

A favorite has always been Baroque music. I find it glorious, such a celebration of life. And the number of composers of the period is vast. Almost every court, large and small, in Europe had a resident composer. And each composer was connected to the movements and styles of the rest of Europe, those countries and areas outwith the area in which he composed and worked. For example, I am currently listing to Carlos Seixas, whose music I haven’t put up yet. He is influenced, by among others, the German style of the period. I am not sure how composers all over Europe were aware of each other’s music. Perhaps as one composer travelled from one court to another the traditions and styles travelled with him. Also you find a German in England, an Italian in a German Court. And so on.

This interconnectedness is all the more remarkable since music manuscripts were not printed during this time but were copied by hand from the original manuscript.

What appeals to me so much about the Baroque period are the sonorities and the instruments. The former has a pungency which is lacking in later periods. The instruments are still not perfected so do not have the almost lifeless smoothness of later instruments. The playing style too is quite different from later periods. There is an exuberance generally lacking in later periods. The musical form is more more interesting and varied than that of later musical styles. Both Classical and Romantic music is restricted to three movements; fast, slow, fast. Frankly boring in that there are no surprises. Baroque also draws on dance forms popular at the time which are usually lively and each distinct in its own right.

Growing up, Baroque music was quite unperformed and unrecorded. The staples of recordings and performances were of the big guns. You can only listen to a piano sonata by Beethoven, for example, no matter how wonderful the music is and no matter how exquisite the permanence of that music is . Finally, I find too music of the Classical and Romantic eras smooth and lifeless. This is not however in the least true of, say, an opera by Mozart, among the greatest glories of the entire corpus of music.

As I say, until my twenties Baroque was absent. Pioneers like Sir Neville Marinner and his group of musicians, Academy of Saint Martins in the Field, and records labels like Argo who paid close attention to the exigencies of the recording techniques required to properly capture the music, began to emerge.

However Marinner’s group employed modern instruments and one felt there was something lacking.

It took people like Gustave Leonhardt and Nicholas Harnoncourt to develop playing and presences styles that mirrored Baroque practice and to adopt the use of original instruments. This transformed the sound of the music. This was  accompanied by the emergence of recording companies such as l’Oiseau-Lyre in France and the Archiv label in Germany that had a sensitivity towards the needs of chamber music which, for the most part is what Baroque music is. This development was required because 100 piece orchestras have quite different needs over the smaller ensemble of Baroque music. Instruments like the modern piano are loud compared to the sheer quiet of a harpsichord which was designed for small rooms with a an audience numbering in, at most, twenties, whereas the piano had to fill a vast concert hall with a thousand or so in attendance. And this was before amplification was used in performance.

One must note the exception in talking of sheer volume and note that choral Church music of the Baroque period, and before, was amplified so to speak by the vast, echoing cathedrals in which it was performed. Churches ceased to commission music on a regular basis after the Baroque period and services become austere as a result. Bach, for example, was commissioned to come up with a new, major work every week.

I don’t suppose any of you noticed the absence of the music I talk of above. But here is why. Perhaps in the future I shall be able to return to the music of Tchaikovsky which I so loved as a child, and to Joseph Haydn, whose fabulous music I listened to in my thirties.

Finally, I disliked CDs over vinyl records. The music recorded on CDs is harsh and brittle and lacks the warmth of of LPs. The sound on Youtube is far, far better. In addition, Youtube opens up endless vistas. More and more undeservedly forgotten composers will be rediscovered and revived continually enriching our music listening experience.

Malcolm D B Munro
Tuesday 14 February, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under: Arts, Current Events, history, Media, Memoir, poetry, songs, stories

New build British steam locomotives: Tornado, Peppercorn Class A1 Pacific


New build British steam locomotives: Tornado, Peppercorn Class A1 Pacific

tornado2

Tornado3.pngTornado completed 2008

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 11 February, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Current Events, history, Media, Memoir, poetry, songs, stories

does it


does-it does it

Malcolm D B Munro
Friday 10 February, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Current Events, history, Media, Memoir, poetry, politics, songs, stories

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