Neil Mitchell on F# from a Haskell perspective

Neil Mitchell on the F# language [dons].

j-star 08, Holotronica, and Pierre/Gondry at onedotzero_adventures in motion at the BFI

Here are some words and some (mainly excellent) music videos for you.

The above is the gorgeous video for the equally beautiful and gentle song “Omstart” by Cornelius. It is one of two things I saw three weeks ago at the British Film Institute which particularly caught my eye/ear. The other is this 1998 video, “Deadly Media” by Hexstatic:

Actually, that’s a lie; several other vids caught my eye/ear to a similar if lesser extent…

I’d gone to London to see Bash, to hear Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie talk about Lost Girls at the V&A, and to go to Bash’s flat-warming party. On Sunday afternoon she had to work, so I was at a loose end and popped along to the National Film Theatre to catch j-star 08, “the latest and most inspiring music videos, motion graphics and shorts from some of japan’s finest moving image-makers and young talent” — part of the onedotzero_adventures in motion event taking place that weekend. I rather like shorts, and music videos, and the Japanese aspect promised an interesting time. While the results were mixed, I wasn’t disappointed.

On the way in, I noticed a “Holotronica” exhibit and, while scoffing at the hubris of an artist claiming to “devise” a term, and while unimpressed by the 3-d aspect of the display, I did rather enjoy the music playing as I walked past: the Hexstatic piece linked above. I thought it was a bit old-fashioned, but good for it — and of course now I see it’s 10 years old, so that makes sense. The use of vocal samples was reminscent of JMJ’s pioneering and wonderfully cheesy yet still compelling Zoolook (the video for which introduced a young me to the lovely word “Djibouti”), and the audio/video link made me think of Lasse Gjertsen’s modern classic Hyperactive.

The j-star show was very enjoyable, though a bit tedious in places. Many of the shorts were too long, and it was very very CGI heavy: only a few pieces weren’t entirely CG, and it often felt like it didn’t add anything, or wasn’t used imaginatively. The Cornelius video above was the standout exception, indeed the best thing in the show — thoughtful, subtle, and making the most of the total possibility of CG without just being a bunch of flashy effects. A number of other vids were just flashy effects (usually to some generic breakbeat music), a few were “in love with the underlying model” (exposing wireframes, etc., which is cute but ultimately empty) and some were cartoonish, and kinda fun but not soooo amusing. On reflection I think my enjoyment was often coloured by the music as well, of course. With that in mind, a few (non-exhaustive) comments…

Three of the pieces which weren’t totally CGI were excellent. Kosai Sekine’s video for Maledict Car by Jemapur used real world footage and imaginative symmetry to very good effect, I thought — and the music was great. K+Me’s Screaming Dance by Leonard de Leonard was very good fun and again had the advantage of a rather stonking tune. Finally, this Nike cosplay ad by Kan Eguchi is classic Japanese madness, and utterly awesome. The other vids with a substantial reality presence were Junji Kojima’s video for You-you-you by Polysics, which I quite enjoyed but didn’t find beautiful, and “Evening Before the Hangover” by Ichiro Sato, (I can’t find it online) of which I wrote “Alien disco, but so what?”. It was a cute joke, but basically dull.

Clear Skies In May by Tetsuo Suzuka was beautiful, imaginative, classical, and beautifully typographical. Well worth a look.

There were two 8-bit nostalgia trips, only one of which I enjoyed. Yosawya San by Tsuyoshi Hirooka & Yohei Ito was great: musically interesting, and a very cute video. Compared to the other (below), it seemed truer to the 8-bit gaming tradition, and with some really imaginative touches, perspective, etc. (Look out for the Go game on the TV screen.) The other, Hideyuki Tanaka’s video for Ram Rider’s hello_8 bit edition seemed more lego than 8-bit (in the video, anyway), and was about 2 minutes too long; I didn’t like the music though, which can’t have helped — although on reflection it was truer to the 8-bit tradition than the other offering, so there you go. Well, there it is: you might enjoy it, but I certainly didn’t.

On the cartoony side, it probably suffices to just mention Usavich – Beware of Dance — the first of three Usavich cartoons, and quite funny (I wrote “Tyres goes disco bunnies”, meaning Tyres from Spaced), but by the third I was really bored of them.

Afterwards, I took a saunter round the BFI, experienced and enjoyed The All-Seeing Eye (The Hardcore Techno Version) by Pierre Bismuth & Michel Gondry, and, wrote on a wall. I can’t remember the details of whose installation this was, but projected onto this wall/whiteboard was a cartoon view of a town, on which we were invited to draw “where you live” using the available coloured pens. I found a suitably rectangular collection of roads and drew a simple commutative diagram encapsulating commutativity of function application, which felt like as a good an explanation of where I live just now than anything else I could think of.

Then I went back to Bash’s and cooked a mighty vegetarian lasagna for the six of us there present.

To conclude: a great day (and weekend!), and one which made me think it might be worth living in London (for a while) after all.

Where I’m at, where I’ve been

I’m in Newcastle, staying at a hotel in the shadow of the rather impressive Tyne Bridge. I’m up here with Harold and others, visiting Michael Harrison, doing talks, etc. I spoke today, about “generating theorems from user interface automata”: lots of good discussion and nice ideas for what to do with this next. More of the same tomorrow, then back to Swansea on Thursday; it takes all day on the train. Oh yeah, and it’s frickin’ freezin’ up here. It keeps snowing, just a dusting. Thank heaven for warm gloves, warm hats, and Montane.

Lots of gallivanting of late. This time last week I was up in Gregynog for the annual Swansea CompSci shenanigans. For the first time since I joined Swansea, I wasn’t organising the trip (my sixth time there, and seventh in total) — but I didn’t get to relax because I was still doing the pub quiz (very well received), and a talk on my research (also seemed good, and by the way, woo Keynote!), and helping out because illness had knocked a few members of staff out of the proceedings. Oh, and I sang the first verse of a Czech folk song solo, and didn’t completely screw it up – so that was good too.

Then on Cardiff went to Friday (other way round) with gorgeous friend Adwoa, stayed overnight at gorgeous friend Kate’s house, then flew to Amsterdam for to see Rodrigo y Gabriela at Paradiso. Kate had spotted this gig and suggested a mission, and somehow Adwoa and I were so taken aback by the audacity of the proposal that we had to agree. A 24-hour trip to another country to see a band neither of us knew yet? Fantastic! And it was: with one notable exception I’d say this was the best gig I’ve seen since The Chemical Brothers in Cardiff in 1997. Gabriela is absolutely the star, to my mind (sound quality awful but just watch her go; better quality but less animation), but I would say that because I favour rhythm, and that’s where she’s at. Anyway, yeah, they rocked and I’ll be buying the live album when it’s out.

Then we popped back to our hotel and asked the guy on the front desk if he knew of anywhere nearby doing decent electronic music, and he suggested Melkweg, casually mentioning that Nathan Fake (of my love for whom see here) was playing live. WTF? Oh yes, and Speedy J (hugely influential to my early electronic awakenings, e.g. via The Oil Zone) was DJ’ing. So we went there.

Electric Deluxe poster at Melkweg

Actually, I found Fake’s live set disappointing: way too much glitch, not enough repetition, just too screwed up — Adwoa seemed to rather enjoy it, however. And I couldn’t fault what I saw of Speedy J, though I confess I didn’t stay for the whole five hours. ;-)

Didn’t get much sleep, but it was pleasant. Awake at 7; on a tram at 7.30; at railway station at 08.00; at airport at 08.30; at departure gate at 09.10; liftoff 09.55; land Cardiff just over an hour later; asleep just over an hour later (again, at Kate’s). Since I was getting a train to Newcastle the next day, it seemed more sensible to stay there than to go to Swansea, so that’s what I did. Then I came here. Then stuff happened. Then I started writing this. Right, that’s me up to date. Bedtime!

Gay (and poly) marriage: the database engineering perspective

Awesome database/sexual equality tutorial — required reading! [mrdaveb]

Frances the Cat Finds Enlightenment behind the Couch

Frances the Cat Finds Enlightenment behind the Couch.