The Empathy Podcast with Oisin Lunny

the empathy podcast oisin lunny adam gee

I can’t recall exactly how or when I first met Oisin Lunny – it was through digital media/multiplatform circles. But I do clearly (that is, as clearly as was possible in the circumstances) recall listening to his band in a rowdy basement in Watermint Quay, Hackney on big nights among the London Irish Murphia – they were called Marxman, a pioneering Celtic hip-hop band that used the bodhran, the traditional Irish drum, for their beats. The band was on Gilles Peterson’s Talkin’ Loud label (alongside the great Young Disciples among other footstomping acts which defined the 90s). They had the distinction of having their first single banned by the BBC and their third one performed on Top of the Pops. Oisin making his marx in music is no surprise given his heritage – his da is Donal Lunny, Irish producer extraordinaire and member of seminal bands Planxty and Moving Hearts (with the likes of Christy Moore). Oisin has moved the family on from the bouzouki to all things digital and mobile (but with a healthy respect for the bodhran and the Irish songbook).

marxman Oisin Lunny

Oisin in Marxman (left)

Among his digital marketing related activities Oisin produces a podcast about Empathy called The Empathy Podcast. He recently recorded an episode with me in which we discussed the relationship between Empathy, Creativity, Connection and Networks. Here is the programme [Running Time: 22 mins].

oisin lunny

Another Marxman on Simple Pleasures.

Marxman with Sinead O’Connor:

“Ship Ahoy” by Marxman from Oisin Lunny on Vimeo.

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The Casting Game No.s 102 & 103 – Triple Frontier special

 

Triple-Frontier-Charlie-Hunnam-actor

Charlie Hunnam

as

jonny wilkinson rugby player england

Jonny Wilkinson

and

oscar isaac actor third frontier

Oscar Isaac (in Third Frontier)

as

Ian McShane actor

Ian McShane (in The Battle of Britain)

The Casting Game No. 101

Dean Martin

dean martin rio bravo cowboy movie

Dean Martin in Rio Bravo (1959)

as

Victor Mature

victor mature my darling clementine movie cowboy

Victor Mature in My Darling Clementine (1946)

understudied by Sylvester Stallone

Rambo-5-Last-Blood-Sylvester-Stallone movie

Sylvester Stallone in Rambo V: Last Blood (2019)

 

The Casting Game No. 100

Eric Ambler author writer spy books

Eric Ambler

played by

michael caine actor

Michael Caine

Lost Postcard No. 5

The last of the re-found batch of postcards as explained here.

old postcard

This one is the most impenetrable. Very few clues. I can’t even tell if it’s a mass-produced card or a one-off/short run for a family or individual. The girl looks pretty young – perhaps 16 or less. No clues in her clothing – a simple white smock with a little detail or perhaps piece of jewellery centrally at the neck.

On the reverse the printed words are: Post x Card, Correspondence, Address Only. No stamp. In the stamp space a logo: TIC in a horseshoe.

But thanks to the internet, it turns out that actually enables us to date the card. TIC stands for Thomas Illingworth & Co.

On vintage British postcards the postage stamp square is where the manufacturer would commonly place their brand mark or logo. Thomas Illingworth & Co. were a paper manufacturer founded around 1904. TIC manufactured the Horse Shoe Brand of photographic paper in London NW10.

The large photographic supplies company Ilford bought a controlling interest in TIC in 1919.  The business was fully absorbed into the Ilford Group around 1930. During this period (1919-30) date coding appears on TIC Horse Shoe postcards. A conscientious, dogged amateur, Geoff Caulton from Norfolk, had a stab at decoding these symbols around 2010. Here’s what he worked out:

TIC horse shoe postcard date codes symbols

My card has a single tiny X between the words Post and Card. So 1920 by Caulton’s calculations.

The Norfolk man explains: “I have included the Horseshoe brand in this decade because after checking hundreds of dated photographs with this mark I have yet to see one dated outside the twenties.
Correction ‘except one or two dated 1919 and one or two dated 1930’.
Unless there is evidence to the contrary I would date any card with this mark to the 1920s.”

Caulton surmises that these date marks serve a quality control purpose for the photographic paper/card on which the postcards are printed.

Parenthetically, my maternal grandfather, Ian Harris, would love this one – he was a scientist who specialised in printing photographic images. He worked for Picture Post and Metal Box among others. His Picture Post story is covered here. I have memories of him using Ilford products.

Caulton’s theory is this: “All Real Photographic postcards started life as a pre-printed sheet of photographic sensitive card. Each photographer’s stock of photographic paper postcards had a shelf life.
If you look between the two words POST and CARD on a T.I.C Horseshoe card you should see a symbol. These symbols could be taken as typographic decoration. However I believe they have a purpose in what would now be called quality control. I suggest they represent the manufacturer’s date of production, possibly a span of six months.
There is an identifiable pattern. For example in my own collection of T.I.C horseshoe portraits I have four unrelated portraits, each dated 1922. All four have the ‘double dagger’ symbol between the words Post & Card. This cannot be chance or coincidence.
I would not be bold enough to suggest that a card can be precisely dated using these symbols but they can certainly be batched into early, middle and late twenties. I have extracted the dated portrait cards from my collection and found a very significant clustering of dates for certain symbols. There are of course stray cards which were probably inscribed many months after they were printed and other inscriptions may be inaccurate but there are enough clues to indicate there is information of value here.
My instinct tells me that a single symbol represents the first half of a year and a double symbol the second. It is only a theory but the evidence is strong and I am convinced I am on the right track.”

That’s what’s great about the Web. It gave birth to an age of the Amateur, in the true sense of the word, “a lover of something”. True expertise lies in such people as Caulton in the Internet era.

Thomas Illingworth, founder of Thomas Illingworth & Co. Ltd., was the son of a photographer also called Thomas Illingworth,  whose firm was based in Halifax, Yorkshire and also eventually had studios in Huddersfield (Bradford Rd.) and Bradford (128 St Stephen’s Road, West Bowling). Thomas Illingworth Senior was born in Oldham in 1838. He learnt the photography trade in the studio of his maternal grandfather, John Eastham, who was based in St Ann’s Square, Manchester.

Bear in mind that the first photograph (i.e. the earliest known surviving photo made in a camera) dates from 1826 or 1827 so Eastham is pretty early to the business. Eastman took Daguerreotypes and was a “Photographer to the Queen” (Victoria).

the first photograph ever earliest known surviving photograph

Here’s that first photo – taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, the view from an upstairs window at his estate, Le Gras, in Burgundy, France.

Thomas Illingworth Snr. married Amelia Oates in 1859. They had seven children – Thomas Jnr. was the only boy, born in 1867.

Thomas Illingworth & Co. Huddersfield photographer

Thomas Illingworth & Co. Huddersfield photographer

Snr.’s studio work

Jnr. went to London aged 19 and set himself up as a photographic printer and dealer at 38 Sherriff Road, West Hampstead. That’s four and a half miles from where I’m writing this (at home).

Two years later he moved to larger premises at Ruckledge Avenue, Willesden. Then in 1896 he opened a showroom at 5 Soho Square (or Street), W1. In Willesden he got increasingly involved in the manufacture of photographic paper.

The catalogues of the annual exhibitions of the Royal Photographic Society (of which my Picture Post grandfather was a Fellow) list addresses for Thomas Illingworth & Co.:
1898 – 5 Soho Street; and Oxford Street, W. [a route I take often to cut through Soho Square to Frith, Greek and Dean Streets]
1900 & 1901 – The Photo Works, Willesden Junction, N.W.

His business continued to thrive so moved to a new factory in Cumberland Avenue, Park Royal. The foundation stone was laid on 4th September 1912. Between 1911 and 1914 the Manufacturing department trebled in size.

Jnr. married Marta Ann Midgely in 1891. They had six children. Their eldest son, yet another Thomas Illingworth (Thomas Midgely Illingworth), took over the firm when Jnr. retired in 1922, going to the big dark room in the sky in 1923, three years after my postcard. Jnr. Jnr. (i.e. Thomas Midgely Illingworth) took the business closer to Ilford until it was finally amalgamated, with him becoming a Director of Ilford in the process.

I’ve found a few other Horseshoe cards online:

TIC postcard markings logo mark brand

The date code (1922)

TIC postcard markings logo mark brand

The logo

TIC postcard markings logo mark brand

Blank reverse of a TIC card (1919)

TIC postcard markings logo mark brand

Front (1919) – not my one

TIC postcard markings logo mark brand

Is the dark shadow at the bottom some kind of modesty? or a mistake?

Back to my card…

TIC postcard markings logo mark brand

On the reverse of mine is a short lightly pencilled message:

Doff

With fondest

Love

Danny

So from meagre clues we have come some way. Who Doff, Danny and the girl on the front are, we’re unlikely ever to know. But who knows – this is the Internet…

tennis TIC vintage postcard reverse

1928 (reverse of tennis portrait below)

postcard TIC

another pencilled message

TIC thomas Illingworth postcard

I found a fascinating collection of 67 TIC cards here https://www.flickr.com/photos/alwyn_ladell/sets/72157645197389979/ gathered by Alwyn Ladell. He has captioned this one: Women’s Ward, Boscombe Hospital, Shelley Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset
T.I.C. (Thomas Illingworth & Co.) Bailey, 228a Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth.
Postally unused (c.1923).

 

 

Quote of the Day: Going Gaga

Today the Internet Association (UK), as led by my former Channel 4 colleague Daniel Dyball who spoke for them on BBC Radio news this morning, is presenting to the UK Parliament their suggestions for regulation of social media from the big tech firms including Facebook and Twitter.

On Sunday night Lady Gaga performed an intense version of what proved to be the Oscar-winning original song, Shallow from A Star is Born, with Bradley Cooper.

 

Lady Gaga said of online rumours of a love affair between herself and her co-star based on the performance:

social media, quite frankly, is the toilet of the Internet

Nice, concise turn of phrase.

In full: “…social media, quite frankly, is the toilet of the Internet. I mean, what it has done to pop culture is abysmal.”

 

The Casting Game No. 99

Kenneth Branagh played by (hello!) Jason Isaacs

all is true poster kenneth branagh film movie

Kenneth Branagh (in his latest movie)

played by

Captain-Hook--jason-isaacs actor movie

Jason Isaacs (who took the Edgware coach to school with me back in the day)

 

 

 

The Casting Game No. 98

Liam Williams played by Ewen Bremner

Liam Williams wales rugby player

Liam Williams wales rugby player Wales England Six Nations 23 february 2019

Liam Williams (of East Finchley) playing for Wales against England last weekend

played by

ewen bremner as spud in trainspotting movie film

Ewen Bremner (as Spud in Film4’s Trainspotting)

(I worked with Ewen at my 2nd job at Melrose Film Productions when he was just starting out – lovely fella)

They are both cousins of Forrest Gump

forrest gump tom hanks

It’s all in the haircut

The Story 2019 – the first decade

On Friday I went to my ninth The Story (I was working abroad one year and reluctantly had to pass on my ticket (though at least it found a good home with Jörg Tittel, producer of the forthcoming Brexit comedy short Nyet) ). It is an annual day-long conference/gathering focused on stories and storytelling – the only such event I go to religiously every year as it is unfailingly a source of inspiration, being a rich mix cutting across mediums and platforms, usually with a good sprinkling of digital. It was initiated by Matt Locke of Storythings when he was working with me at Channel 4, so I was able to get in on the ground floor.
I spoke at The Story No. 9 to introduce a documentary inspired by The Story No. 8 – director Victoria Mapplebeck showed her first smartphone doc at No. 8 and I commissioned a second one, Missed Call, for Real Stories, which was just coming out of the edit at the time of last year’s The Story where we played a teaser clip. So an organically Story project.
This 10th edition had the familiar alchemy, a range of story forms and storytellers which complemented one another beautifully.
2008 / A Gathering Space / Scotland at Venice Biennale of Architecture - curated by Patricia Fleming

2008 / A Gathering Space / Scotland at Venice Biennale of Architecture – curated by Patricia Fleming

First up this year was curator Patricia Fleming, the driving force of the Fuse initiative in Glasgow in the 90s which connected and supported over 500 visual artists, including a good smattering of Turner Prize winners such as Douglas Gordon and Martin Boyce. Patricia is evidently a master of putting empty buildings to constructive use and collaborating not only with the artists but also with the suits, including developers and the suity end of the architect scale.
11-11-memories-retold game still

11/11 Memories Retold

Next up was a Creative Director at Aardman Animation, Finbar Hawkins. He’s been with the Interactive team for the last five years and was one of the prime-movers behind the First World War game 11/11 Memories Retold. I worked with that very talented team at Aardman about a decade ago on an animation hub called 4mations, in a team with the then Channel 4 Arts Commissioning Editor Jan Younghusband and animation veteran Camilla Deakin of Lupus Films. Finbar gave a detailed walk-through of the process of creating the game and the thinking behind many of the creative decisions. The decision to reject proposed Vorticist/Paul Nash-style imagery in favour of Impressionist style and palette was an interesting one – the game does look beautiful [Note to self (inspired by Finbar’s talk): go see the Bonnard exhibition currently showing at Tate Modern].
Morph aardman animation

Keeping it thumby

Particularly interesting was the story structure section where Finbar described how the two writers had to impose structure on the narrative when they were brought on-board. Also the focus on meaningful choices in the game which impact on the story/editorial as the underpinning of the interactivity really spoke to me – much the same principle as informed the multiplatform projects I led at Channel 4. I loved the use of animal characters to provide other perspectives – a cat for exploring, especially confined spaces, and a pigeon for overhead views. But most of all I loved an imperative phrase quoted from Aardman main man Nick Park: “Keep it thumby”  – i.e. not too smooth, retaining the feel of the human creative touch.
on guard world war one postcard august 1914
The narrative of the game was based on letters home from the front. It’s a subject I’ve been immersing myself in recently through found postcards like this one and the one above. Found stories was at the heart of the next session, the highlight of the day for me because of that shared interest, a fabulous presentation by Brooklyn-based multimedia immersive artist Alison Kobayashi. As soon as she showed her collection of old ansaphones with their unerased tapes – in other words, treasure trove of found audio stories – she had me hooked. Then her mention of her collection of eBay-acquired Black & White photos of rainbows was cherry on the cake. The combination of found narrative, collecting and surreal humour is 100% my bag.
Say Something Bunny at UNDO Project Space

Say Something Bunny at UNDO Project Space

The meat of her talk was about her 6-years-in-the-making Say Something Bunny project – a live participative performance centred on a ‘wire recorder’ found recording from 1952. The wire recorder was a short-lived recording device through which sound was recorded on a spool of wire. The performance derived from the recording Alison acquired of a New York family playing with their new machine – singing, kvetching, teasing, joking – involves an audience of 25 seated in the round. To make things even more rich, the found audio is a palimpsest with an old radio show previously recorded bleeding through onto the overdub.
missed call research in film award 2018

Scion of The Story

Missed Call (mentioned near the beginning) recently won a Research in Film Award of which we were all very proud as research is rarely put in the spotlight. Research and Deep Listening is the beating heart of Say Something Bunny. It highlights Connections and Serendipity which are core to Simple Pleasures Part 4, being core to Creative Thinking and Innovation.
I had a serendipitous encounter with Alison in a nearby Korean restaurant at lunchtime after her session and will follow her work closely henceforth as I felt we fish in the same waters in the same spirit.
Alison Kobayashi at the story 2019 conway hall london say something bunny

Alison Kobayashi being true to herself

Alison spoke about how important it is to…
alison kobayashi at the story 2019
This was a theme echoed by comedy writing partners Joel Morris & Jason Hazeley – veterans of Viz and Charlie Brooker telly stuff (incl. Philomena Cunk) as well as the wags behind the adult Ladybird Books (like the one I was given by my other half at Christmas: ‘How It Works’ the Husband) – in their closing session (slight time warp here).
How it Works: The Husband

How it Works: The Husband

Their talk about Big Laughs in Small Spaces analysed the art of ultra-short stories and jokes. Like Alison, they highlighted the role of the audience in filling out the spaces and used this story to illustrate their point:
Joel Morris & Jason Hazeley at The Story 2019 conway hall london
Seemingly, although often attributed to Hemingway, it dates from some less famous source in 1906. It is a great example of a story that bursts into bloom as soon as it touches your imagination like one of those Japanese paper flowers hitting water.
chalk_outline bullets cartridges
Joel summarised short jokes as “the chalk outline & spent cartridges” – all that’s needed to set off the audience’s imaginations and creativity.
Knights Of founders Aimée Felone and David Stevens

A sparky double act: Knights Of founders Aimée Felone and David Stevens

A lovely touch of dynamic, young entrepreneurial creativity showed up in the form of hot-off-the-press new publishing venture Knights Of. Aimée Felone and David Stevens have launched their enterprise from a pop-up in Brixton followed by a crowd-funding campaign which attracted the attention of some of the big boys, including Penguin who match-funded their fundraising efforts. Their enthusiasm and energy was infectious.
Videogames- Design : Play : Disrupt Victoria and Albert Museum, London
As was curator Marie Foulston’s for all things video game, including her Wild Rumpus Collective pioneering new ways to bring games to public spaces and in particular her exhibition at the V&A (which closed today after a six-month run, though it is moving on to V&A Dundee) Design/Play/Disrupt. It strives to present the video game as a design object with an associated design process. She used a glittering quote from Frank Lantz
Games are operas made out of bridges
to capture the combination of artistic emotion and technical craft. I heard someone else today use the phrase “poetry and pipes” to describe the same concept (but I’m darned if I can recall who it was talking about exactly what).
It was great to see physical notebooks as design artefacts. I’m a great believer in notebooks and in pencils. There’s no digital way of reproducing quite the thumbiness of these tools.
Spider-man- Into the Spider-verse 

Spider-man: Into the Spider-verseMore gorgeous colours

Bringing some Hollywood glam to the afternoon Justin K Thompson Production Designer of Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse talked us through the making of the animated movie, which may well win the Oscar as I am writing this post (having already won the Golden Globe and the BAFTA, for which I voted it), using fascinating layered moving picture illustrations to show how shots and sequences were conceived and built up. I was particularly taken by the colour palette and mood board illustrations and the ‘colour script’ which captures the colour and lighting across the whole movie. Justin, with whom I had a brief chat on leaving Conway Hall, captured the driving concern to get back the tactile quality into animation, the qualities which made us fall in love with comic books, the line work, the imperfect printing – in other words, Nick Park’s thumby qualities which bring the humanity to animation and other artistic disciplines.
Justin highlighted a couple of key aspects of creativity – the permission to try & fail (in an intelligent, progressive way) and perhaps above all the ludic quality (which Marie Foulston also touched on) – the best creative projects are made fun as the team are empowered to try new things.
Justin K Thompson Production Designer of Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse 
For pure speaking-verve, it was hard to beat the very engaging Head of Engagement at the Museum of London Sara Wajid. She brought us back in touch with those childhood experiences of museums as playgrounds (again that ludic dimension of the creative experience).  Having highlighted the nadir of “book on the wall” museum experiences (I have a strong fairly recent memory of that in the British Museum where my MA had not equipped me with the wherewithal to understand the labels by the permanent exhibits). Sara drew attention to the quality of “bounce” – the word of the day – gritty energy to debate and then get shit done. She advocated bringing the vibe and dynamics of the TV comedy writers’ room to museum design and curation. She discussed all this in the frame of diversity – one of the first talks on that dimension of creative enterprise I’ve heard that captured the true energy and advantage of mixing things up, of bringing together talents and ways of thinking from all quarters.
Museum of London moves to Smithfield Market

New Museum of London space in old Smithfield market

She gave us a sneaky peak of the new Museum of London space in Smithfield market. Conway Hall, the home of The Story, is another great London space. It opened in 1929 as the base of what is considered the oldest surviving free-thought organisation in the world, established on 14th February 1793, 226 years to the week before The Story No.10. (My first visit to the Hall was a creative one – my first commissioned photo shoot, around 1987 – to photograph Gerry Adams and Ken Livingstone for Sinn Fein’s An Phoblacht magazine.) With its legend (one of Shakey’s, from Hamlet)
To Thine Own Self Be True
high above the speakers, it is the perfect reflective, ethical, free-thinking place to learn from and delight in stories.
Conway Hall to thine own self be true hamlet
***
Previous The Story posts (with pics) include:
2014
2012
2010

Art Vandals 5: Indelible Marx

Weapon: (1) Hammer (2) Red Paint

Reason: (1 & 2) political

tomb of karl marx highgate cemetery london

Three miles down the road from where I am writing is this North London landmark – the tomb of Karl Marx. Buried beneath this grizzly bust are Marx, his wife (Jenny von Westphalen) and other members of his family, all gathered together there in 1954 after having been buried elsewhere in Highgate Cemetery (about a hundred yards away). The tomb has been listed since 1974, elevated to Grade I in 1999.

The monument was attacked for a second time in a month a week ago today (15th-16th February). The first attack was on 4th-5th February. Whether this fully constitutes Art Vandalism is a moot point – it is not the sculpture that has been targeted but, firstly, the plaque with text and, secondly, the pedestal.

Karl_Marx_tomb highgate london

The tomb (as it is generally referred to) was designed by English sculptor and artist Laurence Bradshaw. He was for a while assistant to Frank Brangwyn who in turn was assistant to William Morris, creating a resonant Socialist chain of heritage.

The memorial was officially unveiled on 15th March 1956 at a ceremony led by Harry Pollitt, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain. The party funded the tomb.

The tomb is topped by the bronze bust of Marx. It sits on a marble pedestal. The words top front on the pedestal – Workers of all lands unite – are the final words of The Communist Manifesto. The central panel – target of the first attack – comes from the original 1883 grave and lists those interred, which include Marx’s housekeeper Helene Demuth. The text at the bottom comes from the conclusion of Marx’s Eleven Theses on Feuerbach.

Marx was a political exile in London, arriving in June 1849. There are various Marx-related London landmarks including at 28 Dean Street, Soho

blue plaque karl marx dean street soho london

2nd floor, 28 Dean St.

and in Maitland Park Road, South End Green/Belsize Park, where he moved in 1875 and remained until his death in 1883. The house there was replaced by a Camden Council housing block in the 50s due to bomb damage from the Blitz.

karl marx brown camden plaque Maitland Park Road belsize park london

site of 41 Maitland Park Road

He wrote Das Kapital in our city, famously using the British Library reading room at the heart of the affluent thinking territory of Bloomsbury.

This month’s attacks are not the first. There were two bombing attempts in the 1970s, including a pipe bomb set off in January 1970 which damaged the front of the memorial.  And there have been numerous other incidents of vandalism ever since its unveiling in 1956. It has had paint daubed over it before. The bronze bust has been dragged off the plinth with ropes.

karl marx tomb vandalised highgate cemetery

Hammer attack on the panel from the original grave

The weapon of choice earlier this month seems to have been a hammer, a rusty one. The words targeted seem to be centred on the second occurrence of his name.

karl marx tomb vandalised at Highgate Cemetery in north London

The second assault was with ironically Communistic red paint.

karl marx tomb vandalised at Highgate Cemetery in north London

The daubed words include “doctrine of hate”, “architect of genocide” and “memorial to Bolshevik holocaust 1917 1953 66,000,000 dead”.

Morgan: a suitable case for treatment karl marx tomb 1966 movie film

Morgan: a suitable case for treatment – David Warner as Morgan

One of my first encounters with the tomb was as a teenager getting deeply into cinema, watching the 1966 film Morgan: a suitable case for treatment directed by Czech-British director Karel Reisz. He was a child refugee from the other more famous Holocaust, rescued by Sir Nicholas Winton along with 668 others. Both his parents died in Auschwitz.

Morgan: a suitable case for treatment karl marx tomb 1966 movie film

The Friends of Highgate Cemetery called the hammer attack “a particularly inarticulate form of political comment”. Suits the times.

After the first attack the Metropolitan Police said: “Initial enquiries have been completed and at this stage the investigation has been closed. If any further information comes to light, this will be investigated accordingly.” Another sign of the times.

Officials from the cemetery are getting in touch with the tomb’s owners, the Marx Grave Trust (based at the Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell). The monument is uninsured. They are to discuss the possibility of installing CCTV around it.

After the second attack the Metropolitan Police said they had received a report of criminal damage at around 10.50am on Saturday. “There have been no arrests. We would appeal to anyone who has any information to contact us.” The Met spokesman also confirmed no arrests had been made over the 4th February attack.

The quality of political debate in this country is about on a level with the effectiveness of an over-stretched police force. Morgan would love it.

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