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Atom, Hampstead

May 24, 2011

This is Atom from Kinetica’s Imagination Our Nation project on Hampstead Heath today. The children from the biglop schools in Hackney who are looking after him, took him up to the top of the Parliament Hill, where he could see the Olympic Stadium (it’s just to the right of the trees in the second photo).

More re-enactments

May 24, 2011

Some more iconic re-enactments here, this time from the AND office. Using photoshop in these re-enactments is like the whip in horse raceing – over-use it and you could get disqualified. So, mad skillz as they are, I have relegated the photo-shopped ones to the bottom of the post. These are technically my colleagues here but they need to remember that I’m the judge, so I’ll do what I want. Starting with the worst, moving to the best….


This is a high-grade mass particpation effort, with an impossible camera angle but a bit of fail on the fascinators. Also they seem to have failed to notice that there is a bloke in their original photo. What is going on here? I don’t understand so I’m punishing you – 2.1/6


If you rest a pencil on the screen along the line of arms of the man pretending to be Torville here and then slide it across to the real Torville, you’ll see that they aren’t correctly aligned. But otherwise this is pretty smoking and a genuine bone fide recognisable Olympic moment.  4.8/6


Woh. Pose, composition, grace. And the blue shawl in the last photo has made another ingenious comeback. Respect  to the players here for being properly in costume too, but i feel like they could have rubbed in some hair gel for that shimmering wet look. 5.0/6


Keen observers will have noticed a clear H2O theme in these photos. What is that about? I don’t know. But I do know that this is probably as strong as reenacting the Olympics gets. Admittedly the addition of some speedos might have made it more real,  but the face-to-carpet commitment on show here is a worthy tribute to the iconic boy Olympian

5.3 /6

Disqualifications for over-use of photoshop whip.

Dreams and nightmares

May 23, 2011

This is really lovely. The story of Mary Lou Petty-Skok – a member of the American swimming team for the 1936 Olympics. She speaks powerfully about the universal power of sport, at a time when race and nationality cast far greater divides between people than they do today and yet at the same time, she conveys a believable sense of the awe people felt in the presence of Hitler. The difference between the dream of the Olympics and the nightmare of Nazi Germany is clear-cut now, but for ordinary people and competing athletes at the time, it might not have been so obvious.

I was particularly interested in the story of how the American team (including Jesse Owens) traveled to Europe in the hold of boat, playing skittles with oranges and bottles and playing around-the-world on a table tennis table.

On the other, they were locked on a lower deck, just like passengers in the movie “Titanic.” When the great actress Helen Hayes invited some of the swimmers to dinner in first class, they weren’t allowed to go. And almost everyone got seasick.

The swimming pool was a rectangular metal tank in steerage; when the ship rolled, swimmers would slam against the side. And after a few days, the water was so fetid no one could use it in any event.

There was one table-tennis table and one volleyball net for more than 300 Olympic athletes. Ten would play table tennis at a time, taking turns with the paddles. “We bowled with an orange and Coke bottles. That’s Americans for you.’

Reenact a moment from Olympic history.

May 19, 2011

I’ve been neglecting the blog lately, which is daft as there is much to blog about. I’ve made contact with someone who coached the dream team, I’ve visited Punchdrunk’s Space Invaders Agency underneath Waterloo Station  and we’ve been planning the School of Research as a part of biglopfest.. So much to do.

And the other news is that task 3  is starting to take on a life of it’s own.  Rolling Sound offer their re-enactments… I know that it’s the taking part that counts, but I couldn’t help giving marks out of six and adding my comments. Starting with the worst, moving on to the best, here we go…


These are supposed to be iconic moments. I don’t recognise this one. Solid poses but they could have done something about the background – and they should wipe those smiles off their faces. 1.2/6


This is Kelly Homes winning one of her gold medal’s in 2004 isn’t it. I remember this one. Great hand gesture from the supporting actor but his face lacks the wist of defeat. The person playing Kelly looks less like she’s wrapped in the ecstasy of victory and more like she’s going to grab me and eat me. Good choice of photo though. 1.7/6


This one has been submitted a bit small which makes it hard to judge (I’m thinking it might be Carl Lewis at Atlanta 96?), but I really like the photoshop skillz on show here. And the pose of the athlete is as true to the original as you could wish. A step up 3.2/6


Hmm. I feel like these actors know that they’re goofing around here and aren’t taking this seriously enough (those skaters could have been seriously hurt) but you can’t get away from the fact that they’ve put saucepans on their heads. 3.7/6


Ok, I really feel like we’re approaching the business end of these submissions now. This is a proper location here, with some really ethereal use of light to boot. The choice of costume really echoes the weightlifters. And you know what,  this is actually the first photo where I feel like I’m getting some convincing emotion from the actor. Has she won? has she lost? I don”t care, I feel her pain. Look at the size of those dumbells she just hoiked onto her shoulders.  Wow. I just sense this person knows about training and works out – I know that she knows what it means to the weightlifter. This is Olympic. 5.1/6


Oh dear. After melting over the weightlifter I feel like I’ve copped out by choosing this one as technically it’s obvious that it’s just not as good. But I dunno. Not only have they chosen implements that curiously resemble those used by curling contestants in the 1920s but they  also happen to be the implements of office cleaning and polishing – the hoover, the mop, the brush etc So ingenious, so accurate. I feel a bit sad that they didn’t do anything about the hats though. To score really well in this game I need to believe that if you were renacting a scene from the ancient Olympics you would be doing it as they did – naked. I’m not getting that sense of commitment here – which I’m afraid leaves us well short of a perfect six. 5.2/6

dreams of something better

May 3, 2011

I spoke to my friend and former colleague Gerry Hassan last week about his project ‘A Scottish Wave of Change’ which is part of the cultural Olympiad. It’s a sort of national story-telling project, organized in workshops across Scotland. I find it odd that things like this and three letters that spell out the word RUN can coexist as ‘Olympic culture’. But good too, obviously.

What is ‘A Scottish Wave of Change’?

A Scottish Wave of Change project is about stories, the future and change. It is a four year programme which sits in the Cultural Olympiad – which aid, nurtures and encourages people across Scotland to think, imagine and then create their own future.

Why are you doing it?

The project follows the imaginative Scotland 2020 and Glasgow 2020. Those projects were immense eye-openers to me, about the capacity of people to be creative, imaginative and tell hopeful stories, whereas as we know ‘the official story’ often rights people off. A Scottish Wave of Change was the chance to develop this further, and see how far we could go aiding and nurturing change.

What has it got to do with the Olympics?

A Scottish Wave of Change is part of the Cultural Olympiad. We started our first events with an exploration of the Olympic and Paralympic values; inviting people to identify the values they would like a future Scotland to embody.

Your project is a sort of cultural project because it’s about stories, but it’s also political because it’s about the future. Are the conversations supposed to be a chamber of political debate, or is it just about creating conversations between people who wouldn’t normally talk to each other, about things they wouldn’t normally talk about?

It is more about aiding conversations, listening and dialogue. Bringing people together. In some bringing together people who haven’t spoken in years and getting past that. In some cases this can be people who live in neighbouring streets. Some of this can be simple and complex, but takes time and involves nurturing spaces which aren’t official or part of the system.

What will happen at the end? How will you represent people’s stories – is this like a census?

A Scottish Wave of Change at its conclusion will have lots of stories, theatre, music, film, conventional stories and graphic novels. We will have several local future visions. And we plan to bring this together and capture the myriad stories of the future, and tour some of the stories around Scotland with discussions, conversation and various exchanges and are looking at numerous ways this can happen.

Invent your own competition, enter it yourself.

April 28, 2011

My friend Max visited the Olympic stadium in Stockholm recently and sent me these photos of the stadium. The games were held there 1912, four years after the first London games.

Pierre de Coubertin the founder of the modern Olympics and the Chair of the International Olympic Committee, was very keen that the Stockholm Olympics should have a cultural festival – so keen that when the Royal Academy in Stockholm refused to organise his proposed series of artistic competitions on the grounds that artists would not be able to glorify athletic life as they lacked any technical knowledge of athleticism, he pressed ahead and had the IOC run the festival itself. Medals were awarded in Architecture, Music, Sculpture, Painting and Literature. Somewhat amusingly de Coubertin entered the literature competition under a pseudonym and won the gold medal for the competition himself.

I think this model of belligerently using the Olympics to invent your own competition, entering it yourself and winning is a useful example for anyone who wants to make the Olympics their own.

I found out most of this in the 1912 Olympic report that Max pointed me towards. Thanks Max.

Here are some pictures I cut and pasted from it.

Lord Bates is go

April 27, 2011

His website


His Facebook

Category Error

April 27, 2011

Last week I went to go and have a cup of tea with these men who fish on the Regents Canal just below Victoria Park, a bit west of the Olympic site. They have been fishing on the same stretch of the Canal since the 1950s back in the days when you needed a key to a gate to access the towpath. They are adamant that there are way more boats on the canal than there used to be. Talking to them made me think that the issue with the boaters really has very little to do with the Olympics. It just seems that there are alot more boats on the canal than there used to be, and there’s only so much space for boats on the canal. You can argue about the best ways to decide who does and doesn’t get to live on the canal and the ethics of those decisions, but to make it about the Olympics just seems a bit of a category error.

Teddy from Korea: Reported.

April 14, 2011

Collecting items in homes from competing nations continues. This Teddy competes for Korea. Thanks Esme.

World in Den

April 13, 2011

Esme from Lift sent me these pictures from one of the schools they have been working with in Ilford. The children made a den, filled with  objects from different countries around the world that they collected from their homes. The world in a Den. Not sure what they all are – particularly the odd picture of the man with poppy heads where his face should be.

Interested? Why not do it yourself.