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Hmmm. Decisions decisions.

I finally got a new lens for my camera yesterday — I say finally because for various reasons I won’t bore you with, I’ve been waiting for one for months now — and I’m now not sure about it.

It’s a wider-angle lens (28mm, so equivalent to about 45mm on a film camera) and it’s not as fast as my old lens (f2.8 compared to f1.8). Of course I knew it wasn’t as fast when I bought it, but it was still a bit of a shock: it was really struggling yesterday in the gloomy conditions and I actually started to wonder whether I’d got a bad copy of the lens: I took about 60 test shots and none of them was really sharp.

Well, in today’s glorious sunshine it’s working much better, so I no longer think there’s actually anything wrong with it. But still, having a lens which is dodgy in low light conditions might be all very well in California, but it’s less wonderful in the UK, where the poor light often lasts from about September to April. I was really hoping to use it as a standard lens to just carry around with me, but if it only works when the sun’s out…

So I was considering returning it. On the other hand the only real alternative for a faster lens is the 35mm f2.0, which isn’t really that much wider than my old 50mm; unless I’m going to spend a lot more money. Which I don’t particularly want to do.

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‘Rodchenko & Popova’ at Tate Modern

I went to ‘Rodchenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism’ at Tate Modern today. I’ve seen quite a few exhibitions in the past few years that feature Aleksandr Rodchenko*, so I wasn’t really sure how much I would get out of it, but in the event I enjoyed it. Firstly I didn’t know anything about Liubov Popova, and also they had a couple of rooms of paintings, which I certainly hadn’t seen many of before.

I think they were much better designers than painters, mind you — the paintings look like rather generic examples of early geometrical abstracts, to me — but it was still interesting to see them. And the graphic design work they had on display seemed to be a different selection from what I’d seen previously. So that was all good.

The Tate’s exhibition website doesn’t have much stuff on it — I’ve used most of the pictures in this post — but curiously enough, when I was looking for pictures, Google threw up the Tate’s Immunity from Seizure page which, currently as least, is full of (rather tiny) pictures of work from the exhibition. If you’re curious:

Part 6 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 provides immunity from seizure for cultural objects which are loaned from overseas to temporary public exhibitions in approved museums or galleries in the UK where conditions are met when the object enters the UK.

Or you could check out this page of Rodchenko stuff from Howard Schickler Fine Art in New York, or this from MoMA.

Incidentally, I was interested to note that they’ve started using touchscreen iPods for their multimedia guides. Last time I got an multimedia guide at the Tate, it was on a Windows Mobile-fuelled piece of crap of some kind and it annoyed me so much that I complained about it at some length afterwards. I didn’t try the guide today, so I can’t offer a comparison, but it seems like a move in the right direction.

* There was an exhibition of his photography at the Hayward; at one stage the Tate had a room displaying his photomontages for USSR in Construction; he also featured in the V&A’s Modernism exhibition and the British Library’s exhibition of printed material from the European Avant-Garde.

» both pictures from the Tate website; the top one is Liubov Popova’s Painterly Architectonic, 1918, and the bottom is Aleksandr Rodchenko’s design for an advertisement for the Mossel’ prom (Moscow agricultural industry) cafeteria, 1923.

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