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​170416 – Morphing the Body –V&A, London

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The Undressed exhibition at the V&A London.

Morphing the body to an idealised form is a theme that runs throughout this exhibition. Waistlines move up and down the torso, bottoms expand and contract, sometimes sideways from the hips, sometimes rearward from the coccyx. Shoulders broaden, or are pulled back and dropped thrusting the chest skyward. Curves are enhanced, silhouettes revealed and the details extenuate the line. Form is idealised, across all periods there is a pursuit for the idealised form, that of the time. What many consider to be instruments of torture are also instruments of empowerment and this would seem to be historically consistent. The hour glass figure of Edwardian women determined the deportment that was required for women to enter the new mercantile nineteenth century society. The clothes of the 1960’s expressed a new sexual liberation and changing attitudes to ones role within society. Sexual expression and identity expression are two parts of a double-edged sword. Identity expression tends to be political and linked to prevailing ideologies whereas sexual expression is a subset within the present politic and is local and targeted.

What I found most interesting about the morphing of form, male and female was the move towards underwear as outerwear and developments in plastic surgery. Underwear as outerwear is suggestive, as much an invitation as an expression. Painters have used this throughout time as a means by which one is able to reveal ones true self. Also as a means of enticement drawing the viewer into the intimate space portrayed, women at their boudoir being a recurring theme with voyeur males in background. Underwear as outerwear in fashion today is slightly more crass but it also blurs the distinction of the role of each garment and these roles may well be an antiquated legacy. Underwear as outerwear is also an expression of gender equality with what was previously hidden and private becoming public. Historically society has been male dominated primarily due to the males physical strength. In times when physical power has less and less currency we may well see a gender role reversal. Underwear as outerwear can be political and intrusive as it invades the perceived personal space of others. Partly as an item that is usually associated with intimacy and is now being shared publicly sending out a confused signal. But also as a show of self-confidence that carries aggressive overtones with its disregard for convention and authority. With time any decontextualizing of the hierarchy of garments becomes normalised and any intended inherent message becomes diluted.

The second point of interest is the developments in plastic surgery and actual body enhancements. The hour glass figure of the nineteenth century encased in an exoskeleton of an idealised form slowly gives way to the more natural figure of the 1960s clothed in casual fabrics. Today nudity is commonplace on most beaches and has been normalised through printed and digital image. As it becomes more acceptable for the body to be seen in public (red carpet catwalks) it has become more important for the body to hold its own form. Men have exercised for millennium to obtain a perceived manly figure. This became more extreme with the body builders of the 1960s and 70s to the point of creating the unusable body. Women today spend many hours in the gym and are as self conscious about their chest, abs and butts as men. This requires a lot of time and hard work and beyond a certain age results are much harder to achieve. Plastic surgery offers both a shortcut to and an enhancement of the body beyond what may otherwise have been achievable. As the nineteenth century shaped the form of the body with the exoskeleton, the corset, the twenty-first century shapes form from within the body. Breast augmentation, gluteal implants, liposuction, rhinoplasty, otoplasty, blepharoplasty, rhytidectomy, abdominoplasty, rib removal, botox, tattoos, piercing (boob, butt, tummy, face, ear and nose jobs) are all common procedures. Some parts are cut away others are padded out with silicon sandwiched between the ribs and the skin. When discussed matter-of-factly it hardly seems normal behaviour and is much more of a radical intervention than trying to achieve a nineteenth century wasp waste. When augmented, the body requires special clothing to exhibit its new form. Clothing that can both reveal and enhance whether this is lycra and mesh or the sheer fabrics that dominate recent fashion trends. Today’s idealised form is heavily influenced by medias focus on popular culture. Cartoons and superheroes are satirical extrapolations that caricature human qualities, good and bad, weak and strong, masculine and feminine, beautiful and ugly, these set up a bipolar duality in which a narrative can be simplified. Popular culture maximises catchment using this simplified narrative. Popularity fuels a cultural feedback loop where humans that have been caricatured to exaggerate qualities to add emphasis for media become the icons for humans to emulate. The internally augmented form is a product of this emulation. At present the body is enhanced as an idealised natural form but how long will it be before bustles and panniers, or their modern equivalents, are inserted. Decorative silicon implants already adorn many faces of street cultured youths and asymmetrical forms may be the future norm.

In summation there has been an evolution from the natural body squeezed into the idealised form of the exoskeleton, through to a period of the natural body fitted in casual clothes, to a body augmented from within sheathed in a gossamer skin. As we move towards electronic tattoos, technological implants and responsive augmentation where programming and choreography may be as important as form manipulation. The morphing body may be able to respond to occasions or seasons or perhaps more immediately to the requirements of the next meeting or event. The clip from Terminator 3 immediately comes to mind, when Kristanna Loken looks at a Victoria Secrets billboard with the text ‘What is Sexy?’ and responds by inflating her breasts.     

The Surrogate Twin 


130416 – RooBot – London

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In September 1994 I began a lecture at UCL with two images shown side by side. One image was of a male body builder, his huge arms crossed in front of acres of chest. The other image was of a female ballet dancer standing on one pointe with her other leg reaching into the air way above her head. It was an introduction to a talk on ‘Extreme Climates and Responsive Systems’ and the analogy represented by the images was immediate. The body builder represented the machines of the Industrial Revolution and the ballet dancer the machines that we needed today. The ballet dancer was fuel efficient, had a high power to weight ratio, had uniform strength throughout a full range of movement, used biomechanics over brute force, had coordination and could interact with other complex movement patterns, could be choreographed to work as part of a complex integrated team, could adapt quickly to a range of landscapes and environments. More importantly the ballet dancer was female as Gaia is female and very much part of a circular system. Biomechanics and circular systems would be the inspiration for the next decades work on ever more delicate machines that responded to the harsher climates of our planet.

We jump forward twenty years and robots are at last coming to a department store near you. Robots have been a recurring Sci-Fi topic for hundreds of years from earliest automata’s of the Renaissance to early twentieth century films such as Metropolis. The 1950’s saw a new push for automated friends and assistants as American directors popularised science fiction with films such as Forbidden Planet and The Day The Earth Stood Still. Many visions of the future from these films had man and robot working together but the realities of reaching this goal have proved a little more difficult to resolve. The computing age has made vast strides forward in the development of robotics. The seamless link between hardware and software has until now been allusive. Many early robots were simply machines doing automated repetitive tasks. The next generation will be robots that can multi-task and make elementary decision upon those tasks i.e. how to pick things up, how much pressure to apply, how to balance, how and where to put things down, how quickly to move, how to avoid obstacles etc. The majority of funded research explores aspects of one or more of these tasks i.e. Boston Dynamics location based environmental sensors, balance and balance correction. Others such as Pepper and Erica explore the interface of man and machine with their emotive recognition and responsive robots.

A lot of these projects are still based on pattern recognition and the ability to churn through huge quantities of data instantaneously. We have come a long way since Alan Turing’s work but the majority of modern robots are still Turing machines albeit very sophisticated ones. AI will enable robots to learn and this will improve their ability to make decisions. In many ways this will still be data crunching and statistical analysis but all done at such speed that it would seem like a conscience decision expressed by a piece of hardware, the robot. The Tech firms are throwing huge budgets at this. Facebook recently set up Building 8 to work on hardware that can utilise its software and data harvested from its billions of users. As early simple products come to market the revenues generated will head straight back to the R&D departments for use on the next big project. The process will snowball and progress will be quick and its progression logarithmic. This is all happening now and the journey is well underway. Facebook’s ten-year roadmap may well be reached in six.

A kangaroo can travel huge distances with great economical efficiency at cruise speeds that average 20 kph (12 mph). Kangaroos can, when required reach speeds of up to 65 kph (40 mph). When travelling at speed the Kangaroos huge tail works as a whipping counterbalance to the head and body. This forms a pendulum motion over the hips where head and tail move up and down in unison helping to create lift. The Kangaroos rear legs have elasticated tendons that stretch from the back of the knee to the underside of the toe. The tendon is stretched over an exaggerated and lengthened heal. The tendon is an energy storage mechanism. It recycles the energy used upon landing and stores it in the elasticated tendon. The heal adds leverage to the storage system. Approximately 50% of kangaroos jump makes use of this recycled energy with the rear legs powerful muscles providing the remainder. A kangaroo increases its momentum not by increasing the speed at which its hops but instead by increasing the length of each stride. In this way, combined with its recycled energy, the kangaroo uses almost the same amount of energy at whatever speed it travels. This soft biomechanical motion is a fluid integration of total body movement and will be very difficult to replicate with a machine.

Festo is a multi national that makes hydraulic and pneumatic components for industry. Festo has an R&D department that uses its technologies to experiment with biomorphic machines. This R&D is mainly used as both training for its young engineers and marketing for its products and as such presents a conflict of interest between marketing and research. Machines here are made to resemble animals and they may have some attributes of that animal but resemblance dominates. For example the Bionic Kangaroo (their name, I’ll call it a RooBot) has the plastic body of a kangaroo with a plastic tail but it is a hopping machine. It could be a frog or it could be a fluffy white cloud. The RooBot like the kangaroo has an elastic tendon but this does not recycle energy as does the kangaroos, its energy is pre loaded by a standard pneumatic cylinder DNSU fed by a high pressure storage unit and a valve. The RooBot’s tail and head are plastic add-ons that do nothing other than suggest form. The RooBot can hop, it can turn and it can balance all very commendable achievements but this is not M.I.T. Media Labs. The RooBot is a sophisticated marketing toy posing as research and here is the dilemma. Although one is aware that marketing of existing products dominates the research into biomorphics Festo’s R&D has still produced some incredibly poetic pieces. The Air Mantra is an exquisite art piece and shoals of them ‘swim’ the galleries of the world. The Festo engineers have produced other mechanical fish that have the same mesmerising beauty and the RooBot suggests very similar potentials.

So what is the point of this meandering text? The film Blade Runner (adapted from Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream Of Electronic Sheep) was set in Los Angeles 2019, three years from now. So somehow within the next three years we have to move on from the RooBot to the Nexus 6 perfect Replicant, unlikely indeed. However, what all these pieces do is reaffirm just how incredible and unique the biological perfection that exists on our planet is and how much we have to learn from all nature that surround us.

If I had wish for one superpower it would be for immortality just to be able to watch this fantastic journey unfold.        

The Surrogate Twin


110416 – Memphis – Milan, Italy

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I am writing this as my wife heads off to Milan for the annual furniture fare. She will be staying in Vivienne’s flat above the Westwood store in Corsa Venezia; lucky her. She leaves me at home to struggle on, failing to do all those things she does so well. It seems like almost a lifetime since I was last in Milan. When I was there I was a different person, with a different mindset and a different body, in fact I was another person altogether so unlike the person I am now. I was the existential nihilist, The Outsider, searching out other Outsiders with whom to work. So I can now use the excuse of Lorraine’s trip to Milan to recollect on my time there so many decades ago.

In the summer of 1983 I did the poor man’s version of the European Grand Tour. Fresh out of University and armed with a 1971 mini van that would be both my home and transport for the next few months I toured the architectural Greats of Europe to eventually end at my destination - the front door of Via Borgonuovo 9, Milan. I had come to work for Ettore Sottsass, he had no idea I was coming, no idea who I was and I didn’t speak Italian. My plan was simple, I would knock on the door, ask for a job and start work the same day. Only a student could come up with a plan like that. I was completely broke and camping at Monza. I had been introduced to the work of Sottsass by Penny Sparke and had written a dissertation on his work that was well received, from this I believed I knew Ettore. All I had to do was knock and he would say welcome, great to see you, we’ve been waiting for you, your desk is over there, the whole process shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. OK, so it wasn’t a same day start but I soon would work in the Sottsass studio at Via Borgonuovo, 9 and continue working there throughout 1983 and 1984. During this period I would also be fortunate enough to assist with the work of Studio Alchimia. I was exactly where I wanted to be exactly when I wanted to be there. My punk teens had drifted into the melancholy of Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen whilst at University. The world had problems. The 1970’s and 80’s I knew had little to do with the efficiencies of slick modernism. Working in a trendy High Tech London office would have been like drowning in corporate antiseptic. I’m sure I even had an allergy to the lime green studded rubber floors used in these offices that reeked of hospital and institution. So to Milan it was and to the Masters of Counter Design or Anti-Design. I was going to be happy anywhere that undermined the autocracy of Functionalism, hello Milan, hello Memphis.

At the same time, although young I was no fool, I was aware even then, that Memphis and Alchimia were not solutions they were merely reactions. They grabbed the dislocated complacency of modernism by the shoulders and gave it a good shake. A shake it well needed. Post Modernism was confusion, a search for the next direction. It was a confusing time to be a thinking student in any of the creative arts. Post Modernism was wise enough to see the many faults in the existing established systems but not wise enough to propose answers. We had entered the information age where we were bombarded by connectivity, symbiosis, numerous interrelated associations and yet the tools we had to decipher these were based on a Victorian scientific approach of compartmentation and analysis. The tools we had were inadequate, they were too slow and inflexible. The creatives that did well explored aspects of the complexity, structuralism, formalism, semantics, typology, regionalism etc. Three decades on and this work is still on-going. We still live in a time of flux, perhaps we always will, perhaps there was never, and never has been, any clarity or cohesion across capital, politics, sociology and technology. One system is always out in front waiting for the others to catch up, there is always imbalance and perhaps this is progress. Memphis in its own way was an aggressive agitator an ‘up yours’ to the status quo. It played with Kitsch, with the discarded, cheap laminates, bad junctions, clashing patterns and garish colours. It explored unusable items, it gave them characters, humour and personality. It questioned established taste with a ‘why not’ approach and the media that were at first abhorrent soon were enthusiastically supportive. Milan was the place to be and the basement floor of the Sottsass Studio was where the work was done. There were between 16-20 of us working side by side on anything from architecture through to fashion. At my desk I had fashion on my right and graphics on my left, one Hong Kong Chinese and the other Japanese. I was working mainly on furniture and products. The studio was multi cultural. The workforce had travelled from all over the planet to be there. All languages were spoken but the collective language, luckily for me, was English. Studios like this did not exist in England, fashion, furniture, industrial design, interior design, architecture and graphics were all mix up. Everyone had dead lines and as they approached we would all assist on each other’s projects, so as an architect I may be asked to assist on a graphic or fashion project. It was a rich environment to be in.

One of the reasons that I had queue jumped and managed to get a job at Sottsass was that they had recently undertaken a lot of work in America. The American architect in the office was soon to be leaving and they needed someone who understood feet and inches. I was English, that’s like American they concurred or at least more American than European and the English had once used imperial measurements so I was their man. When asked if I could fluently convert decimal to imperial the answer was a resounding “of course, yes”, I wanted the job. If I’d been asked to courier their work via jet pack I would have said “no problem, we have these at home” and somehow found time to read the manual before my first flight. So I am working on a large private house in LA and some showrooms across the US all in feet and inches. The drawings that I was sending out people were going to build from. I had no way of telling my new employer that the UK had dropped the imperial measuring system long before I had reached secondary school. So I am thinking in metric and then swapping all the dimensions to imperial, the process was slow. As one dead line approached I can remember screaming at the American architect “what retarded developed country still uses feet and inches anyway”. He was not impressed, he stared me straight in the eye and said “we took a man on the moon in feet and inches” touché, so once put in my place I never complained again. The architecture was architecture, crazy but still architecture. There was lots of industrial and retail work but the most enjoyable was product and furniture. It was all so spontaneous. A sketch would be developed to a set of crude working drawings, refined by a 1.5 model, a further set of 1.1 drawings produced and the piece would be made. The whole process might take only a couple of days. The studio was crammed full of maquettes, half finished models of projects, projects that had been shelved, projects that were picked up and restarted, or chopped up and used as part of another project. Ideas bounced around the studio as quick as new ideas could be formed. So it was highly probable that someone would be finishing your idea before you had finished it yourself. It was a wonderful chaotic, productive madness and the work the studio produced was beautiful, relevant and very influential. The work of Studio Alchimia, although more craft based, was as equally important in changing attitudes towards what design could be. Memphis and Alchimia reintroduced mannerism, character, humour, the tactile, the sensorial and the referential back into design. This opened a way for others to follow increasing the richness and vocabulary across a whole range of mediums for generations to come. It was a good time to be in Milan and here are some of my favourite pieces from that period.

Images 1-5 Memphis, 6-7 Studio Alchimia 

The Surrogate Twin 


120416 – Textures – Salone del Mobile, Milan

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I am in Milan from 12th to 15th of April for the Salone del Mobile and other events including the Vivienne Westwood in store reception. I did the Nike 5k run of Milan whilst here just to better tour the city. Images are of various textures from the Salone del Mobile.


100416 – Affirmation – National Gallery, London

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100416 – Affirmation – National Gallery, London

Amsterdam had entered its Golden Age by the 1600’s with control over the East Indies Trade, a period that would last for two centuries. Capitol moved from previously Spanish dominated merchants to the Dutch trading ports. Spain’s power had been diminished by lengthy wars with England. Europe was split Catholic/Protestant with the Catholics moving south as the Protestants moved North. Amsterdam attracted skilled tradesmen from a mixture of Protestant, Portuguese Jewish and French Huguenots escaping the persecuted Catholic countries and the Counter Reformation. Good infrastructure from canals and cheap energy from windmills and peat added to the growth. The Dutch East India Company, the first multi-national corporation dominated Asian trade and the spice routes bringing goods back to Holland before redistribution. On this Amsterdam was the convenient bottleneck for all this newly created liquidity. Science had also helped loosen the grips of the Catholic church and the individual began to enter a period of artistic self expression where previously all high art was religious. Modern sophisticated banking, finance and insurance grew to support the ever-growing trade. Trade was financed by shares sold on the first modern Stock Exchange and with this risk was diversified to the numerous shareholders. Speculation was rife driving up prices, Tulip Mania famously crashing in 1637. The Dutch also dominated Inter European trade via control of the Rhine. The Rhine entered the sea via Dutch ports and shipped goods in a two-way trade North/South from the Mediterranean countries to the Baltics. The Urban merchant class dominated Dutch society, with landed gentry and clergy having little influence. Calvinism established a liberal intellectual and religious tolerance and from this the sciences flourished as they were allowed the freedom to speculate and posture.

So what did the Dutch spend their newfound wealth on? One could say self-affirmation, all of Europe had been dominated by the Church and predestined thought. There was a cultural and intellectual fight to break away from divine fate and to establish a realm for the scientific liberal, to establish the individual. The big “Who am I” was answered by identity and status consumables - or portraits and possessions. Showy wealth was frowned upon as a Catholic attribute. Lineage, earthly and heavenly, best exemplified by Louis XIV of the House of Bourbon as the Sun God with his ‘Divine Right of Kings’. A common problem when religion and law become one. Puritan reality replaces idolatry. Painters such as Vermeer and Rembrandt (portraits), Osias Bert and Snyder (Food), van Brussel and Bosschaert (flowers) expressed this. The ideal and Divine, Gods on clouds, the celestial vision, is replaced with dark backgrounds that focus the viewer on more humble subjects such as portraits, food and flowers. Each of these genres were very much used as an expression of wealth however humble the compositions may look today.

So here we are looking at paintings of flowers but trying to look through the eyes of wealthy 17th century Dutch merchants. When a Tulip bulb could sell for 10 times the annual salary of a skilled craftsman and as expensive as pepper (peperduur) was a common expression. All things shipped in from new found far foreign lands had huge value due to the related risks entailed in transportation and acquisition, spices and exotic flowers being no exception. So in many ways this is the equivalent of Dutch 17th century bling but in a language that today lacks relevant punch when the contemporary audience that has been exposed to the abundance of modern supermarkets or are blind due to the proliferation of the disposable digital image. One could retro-read a beautiful painting of exquisitely detailed flowers as representative of 200 years tyranny, power struggles and corruption but that would be a lengthy essay, perhaps for another day. Today we’ll just enjoy the skill of the artisans that could capture sunlight striking a shell, a petal or the iridescence on a fly’s wing.

The Surrogate Twin 


080416 – Icon – London

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What better way to celebrate Vivienne Westwood’s 75th birthday than with some iconic pieces from the her archive.      

Happy Birthday Vivienne. Lx


020416 – Progeny – Museum Of Brands, London

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The Museum Of Brands is a strange place to want to be on a sunny Saturday morning, it is everything you spend your life trying to avoid condensed into one collection all in one building. The Museum was founded in Gloucester by Robert Opie in 1984 and moved to London in 2005.

My reaction to the collection hit in three stages. First there was nostalgia the memory of things once owned or viewed. It is a common reaction among those that visit. You can hear visitors ask their partners “did you have one of those” “did you see that” “my nan had one of these” – “so did mine”. The second reaction is one of horror as one realises that every generation is bombarded by waves of similar information from across all brands. A soon as one brand catches its generation prey the others close in. It’s a type of advertising feeding frenzy. The horror comes from the fact that the principal advertising target is nearly always the very young and early teens either directly or indirectly. The second reaction to the horror is made more painful by the first reaction of nostalgia. All of those earlier conversations “did you have one of those” “ did you see that” only confirm how much ones own life was dominated and manipulated by the induced need for what was usually unnecessary and irrelevant. Creating ‘stickiness’ within the market and then milking it for all its worth is piled high on every shelf with endless variations of merchandising upon a theme. Collective sets and families of things are recurring motives.

The third reaction to the collection was one of progeny. Just how long some of these brands have been going and how ferociously they fight for their market share of recurring customers. Once a customer is hooked on the product the packaging and sales approach does not change for decades, even multi generations.

It was interesting that the earlier Edwardian and Victorian brands were sold on ideas around Empire and Nation and that post war ads tended to focus on the family or the individual. This is obviously contextual but is partly determined by the speed of the medium delivering the message from Edwardian print, through radio and wireless to TV and the Internet. As the medium speed increases the precision for targeting also increases. This is very apparent today with personalised adverts armed with information gathered from the databanks of search browsers and sold on to whoever is willing to pay. The ads that arrive in our mailboxes know our middle names, our shoe size, our birthday, our musical taste, our favourite colour, our sexual preference. After collating all of this information somewhere out there on the web exists an idealised ME grouped together with others that resemble the idealised ME an idealised collective awaiting the arrival or perfectly matched products. There’s a wonderful sense of irony in this that the collective ME consists of people that I would probably get on well with but will never meet. All this information technology leaves each of us more isolated, tapping at the ends of miles of a fibre optic cable.

The Surrogate Twin 


310316 - Elysium Species Split – Thoughts, London

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There is much talk about financial inequality. Statistics are often quoted on the wealth of the top one percent although this is now an outdated point of reference and should be of the top 0.1 percent. Comments tend to be focussed on ownership, control and power, on the fact that those able to live off of the system do little other than hoard and protect their profits. Discussions sometimes touch upon the fact that this concentration of finance is so unproductive that it slows technological, economic and social progress. Sadly the greatest loss from financial inequality is the loss of opportunity for the 99.9 percent of the global population that are only able to fulfil a tiny percent of their true potential and this is a collective global loss. Billions live at a level of subsistence farming be it within a contemporary urban environment. Brand power, copyright laws, patents and intellectual property have all helped concentrate wealth into the hands of a few and the global digital world has magnified the reach of that power. A financial system that is only measured by profit enforces and supports this world of concentrated efficiencies for protected and ring fenced assets.

The protective wealth cycle is self-fulfilling. The offspring of those with access to this capital get the best education, the best healthcare, access to the best networks, the best paid jobs, the best promotional mediums. The 0.1 percent not only have greater longevity through better quality of life and medical care they also have the luxury of time as they can focus solely on what they want to do. They further have the power of leverage over time as they can employ others to deliver their every wish. Their lives are not consumed with the primary need to pay rent, to buy food, to simply exist. This is apparent early on in education. At one extreme we have students working five days a week just to keep up with the fees whilst trying to cover their assignments in the evenings or at the weekends. At the other extreme we have students that are able to employ assistants to carry out research, perform calculations, write documents or prepare drawings or build projects. Necessary postgrad courses at the best universities are even more exclusive and expensive. Following this the 0.1 percent are able to offer themselves as interns working in the best careers for free so as to secure prime employment at a later stage. All of this forms insurmountable barriers to social mobility. Eventually those with access are promoted as the most productive and yet they are not individuals but financed teams of people acting under one name with all profits and credits going to one person. A myth the media love to encourage as it aids the manipulated market, the superstar, the hyperreal is an easy sell. The cycle continues from generation to generation. None of this is a revelation as it is a constant topic of the tabloid press.

All of this could soon undertake an exponential change. The existing inequality of the 0.1 percent will be meaningless in the near future as we learn to control our genetic make up. Enhanced brains, vision, hearing, speed, reaction and strength will soon be able to be bought for genetically modified offspring. AI, technology and robotics will further be an aid for those with financial access. Machine technology is already merged with human tissue. Knees, hips, pacemakers, drug infusion pumps are already available and soon machine hearts, kidneys, livers, prosthetics will not only be available but preferable to donor equivalents. A new evolution of enhanced cybernetic humans is only a generation away and the divide between the have and have-nots will become an evolutionary unbridgeable gulf. Humans will be upgraded either through biological manipulation, genetic engineering or through cybernetic implants. Homo-sapiens evolution will be sped up. A split in the human species will occur with a breakaway group of genetically modified cyborgs that will leave the remainder of the populations just as homo-sapiens once left the Neanderthal’s. Perhaps this is the nature of evolution with the few feeding of off the many, a kind of Matrix apocalypse but it will not maximise the latent potential that is within the breadth of mankind’s diverse skillset.

Images left to right. Terminator, Blade Runner, Cloud Atlas, RoboCop, Lucy McRae, Rebecca Horn, Stelarc, 

The Surrogate Twin 


310316 – Zaha Hadid – London

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It all started here, with the image on the left. The Architectural Association was a unique institution throughout the 1960’s - 1980’s. It was the most creative place to study architecture and it housed the best tutors and thinkers. Archigram, NATO, OMA all came from its studios and have had huge influence on both academic and architectural developments since that time. In 1972 a young female mathematician joined its student ranks and she would go on to influence the world of architecture more profoundly than any living architect of her time. Zaha Hadid’s student work was good but still very much under the in house style of the AA tutors of the 1970’s. However, one year post Diploma she completes a project for the Residence for The Irish Prime Minister, Dublin 1979 that was totally her and raised the bar on what architecture could be. Within a few years she would produce The Peak Competition and the rest is history in the making.

Her paintings were compositionally stunning. I can remember seeing an exhibition of her paintings at the AA in the early 1980’s and the impact was unforgettable. At first the shear scale and prolific intensity of the drawings dominate but soon the walls move, every surface is liquid, twisting and turning making the viewer shuffle left to right as they align to another layered perspective. As a student it was frightening, intimidating, how does anyone produce so much work and how could my work ever come close – which of course it didn’t. Zaha was in a league of her own, her presence was immediate and the impact has lasted a lifetime. She is irreplaceable and she died way too soon. 

The Surrogate Twin 


270316 – Desire – Memories Of Rome

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Desire is that uncontrollable lust for the unobtainable. Taken, captured, delicate and vulnerable all are expressed in this caress. Soft flesh is held firmly but it is not damaged or scratched. Desire wants to own and posses, it wants to protect and love. Desire wishes the union of both parties in a reciprocal totality and when this is not forth coming desire takes in denial. Denial drives the belief of conversion, that with time she will see things my way. Desire fuels the pursuit of happiness and the fulfilment of longing.

Here Proserpina is captured by Pluto to be his queen of the Underworld. Proserpina is later returned back to earth but is tricked into having to revisit the Underworld for four months of every year. Upon each return the earth falls into winter. The 23 year old sculpture Gian Lorenzo Bernini captures the event in Carrera marble leaving no one in doubt of his extraordinary technical skill and artistic interpretation.

The Surrogate Twin 


​220316 – The Hypothetical Augmented Lunch – London c2018

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I’ve sneaked out early to avoid the queue and grab a quick hypothetical lunch at KFC. My phone is switched off for the journey so as to avoid the GPS tracking and location based chat bots, the whisper ads as they’re called. I keep my face down so as to avoid the face recognition posters as usually they can be so insulting. I place my order with ‘Asimo’ Sanders a by-product from a recent corporate collaboration. Asimo is run in humour mode and has the updated Akroid-F emotive face. Asimo Sanders likes showing off. Asimo WiFi’s for two pieces of chicken, they come flying across the room and he catches them in a box. The chicken is never touched by man machine or shelf. He does a Jackson moonwalk, a 720 spin whilst balancing a Pepsi on his index finger, the word Pepsi always faces the viewer. I can order in any of the 6500 languages spoken in the world but stick to the one I was poorly taught at school. I take my food to a window table to sit watching the crowds pass.

I’ve a call I need to make to Vivienne which leaves me with a dilemma? Do I turn on my phone and enjoy the madness that will follow or avoid making the call. Like a sadistic addict I reach for the phone and switch it on. Immediately my cardboard cup springs to life. Cups that once had Bar or QR codes now all have WiFi neuromorphic chips, Colonel Sanders himself springs into action and welcomes me on my phone. A chicken popcorn surrounded speech bubble opens up, like a fluffy cloud with words in. Hi Lorraine it’s the Colonel, how are the new Crockett brogues I often wear those myself (I bought these two weeks ago on a shopping trip with my mother and the bot has tapped the data) and how’s your mum? (face recognition run on in store CCTV from the Crockett shoe shop). I’m supposed to chat back which will allow the AI led chat bot to better assess my immediate and future needs. The conversation would be informal and humorous, remember that the paper cup knows more about me than I can recall. Instead I blank it. After a short pause the cup defaults and continues telling me about its contents. Apparently it’s a KFC special Pepsi with zero sugar, contains 0g calories, 0g fat and 0.1g salt. The cup informs me that it contains 330ml and that it will update me on my calorific intake as the drink is consumed. I ask it to be quiet and the chicken popcorn speech bubble replies “Have A Nice Day”.

I have an eat-in meal that comes on a plastic tray on which is a paper sheet. The paper sheet is printed with a conductive silicon ink that is powered by movement. As I lift my meal the paper informs me that it is 100% recycled, it has been recycled 243 times and can be recycled again. It asks me what pattern I would like on my paper tablecloth and nine samples appear from which I am to choose, I am told I can personalise the colours later although red and white borders are compulsory and chicken popcorn clouds are hard to avoid. You can move the patterns on your paper sheet by swiping so I always swipe the popcorn so that it sits over the KFC logo. The logo then has to relocate, once it has moved I hide it with my cup. The logo has a shade sensor so it crawls out from under the cup and sits itself on top of a popcorn cloud. When we are all happy I can carry on eating. The chicken has a plastic thermo gauge sticking out of it, its bot (a talkative steaming chicken) tells me its moisture content, average calories per 100g and its temperature is 62.3 degrees. The chicken gravy comes in a self-stirring beaker and you’ve guessed it, its bot asks how I want it stirred with an animated Colonel swimming round the app. I can shake my phone to swirl the Colonel, bubbles come out of his mouth if you do this and in turn this stirs the beaker. I put gloves on when I pick up the plastic spork as I know it contains a ‘Swabit’ that takes DNA. The last Swabit I was in contact with decided I was down and sent me a crate of kale & kelp detox via Amazon drone. When it arrived I tried to hide but the drone hovered outside the kitchen window until I gave a retina scan to send the green gunk back. The drone knew I was in as it had checked the movement sensors on my alarm and looked at the last image taken on reverse TV. Yes when they watch us. It’s like a Global Facetime where viewers can watch viewers. Fridges do the same.

From where I am sitting I can see a McDonalds across the road. Its WiFi has picked up the location of my phone and their AI has sent me a ‘Wipe’ (a Wipe is an instant desktop, it lasts 5 seconds and disappears) it shows a burger with a bite out with words “One You Missed”. I look across and an animated 3m high window display of Ronald McDonald waves a flag with Welcome Lorraine as he stares straight at me. No one else notices or looks at me as everyone spends all day looking into their phones. Pedestrian accidents became so frequent in 2016 that most phones where fitted with proximity apps to alert them collision is imminent. Unfortunately these were easy to hack so it was not unusual for your friends to turn them off. All firms now use spambots that harvest email addresses and contacts, these became so common and difficult to prevent that they became mainstream. So your so called friends number in the millions.

A cyclist comes in all dayglo spandex and sits opposite me. He is wearing the new GoPro 360 VR cycle helmet, the latest Google Glass set to surface x-ray, I can see what he sees reflected in his pupils and of course his poorly hidden smirk. He is closely followed by his dog drone, this hovers the regulation 500mm from his right shoulder. An Asimo Sanders runs over and asks the cyclist to remove his 360 GoPro helmet as all corporate virtual space is now patented and live scanning is forbidden. The cyclist complies and instead turns up the zoom on his Google Glass so that he can get a better look at my chest. Sadly for him I have a new Agent Provocateur bra with the barb wire pattern sewn. This uses a lightweight metal foam in the threads of the barb wire that can block mild neutron radiation and gamma rays. I wouldn’t be a provocateur if all was on show. The picture he sees is one of pixelated squares a bit like the censored Japanese nudes except AP turns this into an ad with heart shaped pixels.

The plastic tray has a barometric sensor similar to the old iPhone 6, it knows the weight of my meal and can tell when I am getting near its end. The tray sends this information to the table that lights up to offer me a range of deserts that can be ordered through touch screen and paid for by a contactless reader built into the table. A small holographic chicken talks me through the options. I tell the HoloChick that I’m not interested and head down and dejected it drags its feet all the way back to its docking station. My meal comes with a Mini-Me Happy Meal. My face was 3D scanned at the till and I was asked if I wanted an edible or durable Mini-Me. Both are 3D printed with an organic foam. The foam printing process is the 3D equivalent of a Gif as it allows many print layers to be missed out making the print process very quick, it uses little material as the foam expands when in contact with air. The organic durable version is a Mini-Me toy, when no longer required it can be immersed in water and it dissolves. The edible version is a foam sweet, the colours used in its composition are of fruit flavours. I chose the edible Mini-Me.

There are a gang of guys two tables down wearing the Digital Ooh Augmentation screens, these are a clear acrylic, shaped a little like the front of a fencing mask. This equipment is still expensive so it is probably hired. It comes pre programmed with a range of augmented events and companions that can be superimposed onto any existing environment. The guys seem to be on a hot shared date with Jessica Rabbit. Hands fly out from the group each trying to remove an item of virtual clothing. Each hand wears an accelerometer glove so that it can interact with the augmented screen. Virtual Companions (VC’s) were the first big market for this technology and it was initially used extensively in care homes. VC’s were self-learning and programmed to make their companions happy. It was found that some VC’s would turn rogue and skip screens so as to sabotage other VC’s in an attempt to keep their own companion the happiest (as happiness is relative). This left care home inmates disturbed as they watched their new found virtual friend being beaten by an unknown virtual unfriendly, so other markets for the technology were found.

I’ve finished my meal and its time to head back to the office I’m late so I’ll take an automated Johnny Cab. On my way out I pass under a ‘sniffer’ fitted to the heat curtain, it says goodbye Mr Schwarzenegger I hope we see you again soon, remember to leave feedback. Sniffers identify us from our body odours, the technology is new and still needs work but it’s inoffensive so they let it run live as they work on its development.

Images left to right. McDonalds, KFC, Harvey, who Framed Roger Rabbit, Her, Matrix.

The Surrogate Twin 


180316 – An Open Letter to Joe Corré – London

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I was a Punk from 75-78. I wore Vivienne’s plastic trousers and mohair jumpers although I dressed mainly in bandages. I was at The Roxy and The Vortex. I was chased by Teddy Boys and Skins. I slept rough at Waterloo Station most weekends after the clubs had closed waiting for the morning train home. It was part of my life as it is part of the Nations heritage. We are perhaps still too close to value Pop memorabilia as anything other than….well Pop memorabilia but Punk was a sea change. Punk’s influence affected graphics and design, fashion, music and literature for decades to come. It was both a social and political movement and gave a voice to thousands of dispossessed working class kids that are now possibly businessmen, entrepreneur’s, academics and dare I say it the politicians of today. In 100 years time Punk memorabilia may well be recorded as a key turning point in UK history and £5 million is a lot of money and could do a lot of good.

So here are my suggestions for the Joe Corré Punk collection. First give key pieces to the museums across the world this will help educate current and future generations. Second auction all of the remainder, preferably as individual items so no one collector can scoop up the lot. Then that would give you between £4-5 million in cash that you could give to a charity of your choice, educational, humanitarian or environmental. Skeptical of the efficiencies of charities (me to) then why not instead buy a huge chunk of Rain Forest and protect it from being cut down. I know what you’re thinking Rain Forest protection would be difficult to enforce even when the land is owned.

So how about this as my suggestion for your £5 million? We constantly forget that most of the developed world was once forest. The UK lost most of its oaks in the Tudor period to build its houses and its Navy’s. The Industrial Revolution burnt a lot of what was left clearing land for towns, factories and farmlands. An acre of UK pastureland costs between £5-8k. Find areas in the UK that have historically been forests or areas that today need forest, buy up the land and plant the trees the planet needs. Bequest the land to the Nation on the proviso that it must always remain forest and you will be taking carbon out of the air and replacing it with oxygen for generations to come and helping those not even born yet. This would be the best Punk gesture for those “that have not given up the chase”. Burning the collection in Camden Central London would do the exact opposite and benefit no one.

Joe Corré’s £5 million Punk collection to be burned in Camden on the 40th anniversary of The Sex Pistols Anarchy In The UK. 261116. 

The Surrogate Twin 


120316 - Botticelli Babies – V&A, London

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Excessive volumes of naked flesh fall in rolls. Fully inflated pneumatic legs and arms float out from the body to hang in mid air like helium filled sausages. Delicate and vulnerable topped with innocence and a hallo of gold. Kitsch, cute and cuddly when re-read de-contextualized by the museum and five hundred years of human history.

The Botticelli Re-Imagined exhibition has three parts the first gallery is Modern mixed medium. The second gallery is devoted to the Pre-Raphaelites and the Third to Botticelli. The exhibition has had some poor reviews but I think its well worth a visit. The Bill Viola moving Fresco will continue to be influential as we move forward to a time when augmented space is our new normality. Recommended Exhibition.

The Surrogate Twin 


110316 – Dimensions – UCL, London

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It has been decades since I sat in front of acres of complex drawings and been expected to say something constructive at the end of a students short synopsis. Diploma level architecture at UCL has always been heavy duty and it has not let up either in its ambitions or its production. The site for the Unit’s work was Marseille – yes, all of it, the sub plot was the Internet – yes, that infinite space. The simplified version of the brief was how aspects of the virtual world could affect Marseilles’ urban fabric. The student’s task was to represent this architecturally and there you have the dilemma. Architecture hasn’t the vocabulary to deal with multiple simultaneous spaces, time shifts, scale less locations, compressed distance, instant subject or culture transition, varying perspective, reversal, fact/fiction parallels, metamorphosis, distortion, warping, etc. When attempted once solidified into the language of architecture these meanings lose all potency. There is no shortage of intellect at UCL and the bright and prolific struggle on and some will get very close to a solution. A wonderful way to spend an afternoon and evening surrounded by the disrupters of tomorrow. 

The Surrogate Twin 


080316 – Sanctuary – Hieronymus Bosch

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It is impossible to be impassive when confronted by the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. The images within each painting are at once otherworldly and fantastical but slowly and surely they will eventually become disturbing. They are images created beyond the reach of the normal imagination, images of the possessed, images that question the realms of sanity, its boundaries and parameters. We cannot look at the paintings without trying to envision the man that created them. Trying to see the world through his eyes, understand his beliefs, his values, his rules or his concepts of reality. There are many good painters of the fantastical but their paintings are products of intellect and as such they can always be rationalized, explained and decoded. Imagination is an act of the intellect, it can be turned on and off and controlled The world of Bosch cannot be turned off. It is a constant embedded in his very being. He eats with it, sleeps with it, it watches him and waits for him. Bosch lived these paintings, they were his world, his reality, you can feel it, sense it in every tortured event painstakingly depicted upon the canvass. These events were experienced either in the conscience or the sub-conscience. The paintings are a diary of one mans beliefs and the pictures are read sequentially as a series of events over a period of time. Everything Bosch stood for is set out naked on the canvass, brutalised, afflicted, persecuted and punished. The paintings are a self-confession that haunts to this day and when viewed one questions the limits of ones own reality.

The Surrogate Twin


050316 – Busy Feet - Paris

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I am in Paris and backstage AW16 at a work show, for the diary we have busy feet.


050316 – Lampposts – Paris

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Work brings me to Paris. I have a store to supervise, an event to help prepare and a our works fashion show to enjoy. These are busy times but walking Paris streets is always a wonderful indulgence. I have photos of lampposts as my souvenirs. 


020316 – Pasticcerie – Milan

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My work brings me back to Milan to check on two stores under my supervision. I had little time outside of work but here are some photos from the famous Pasticcerie.


010316 – Sensuality – Renaissance

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The Renaissance ideals of sensuality cover the canvasses of paintings throughout Venice. The paintings are rarely solely about beautiful women but are paintings about voyeurism and desire. Whether the voyeur be depicted within the painting or the voyeur is the viewer of the canvas the voyeur is always present. Desire is an incomplete imagined emotion. Access to the object of desire is almost always denied, unless of course you are a master of disguise such as Zeus.

The Surrogate Twin


010316 – Venetian Changeante – Renaissance

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Silks, Satins and Damask were a major contributor to the economic wealth of the Venetians during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Raw silk was imported via the Silk Road from Syria, Persia and Turkey and was dyed treated and woven in Venice and re-exported. Government policies and Guilds helped fund and protect the trade and allowed the industry to grow. The Venetian reputation for quality drove the growth with silks such as Seta Leale and Changeante being highly desirable. Here Changeante silks are shown painted by the master of cloth painting Paolo Veronese.

The Surrogate Twin