Mordaunt Short

Although I can’t paint at the moment as I’m getting ready to move house I’ve been thinking about the way images can affect us when we look at them.  Even simple things like fonts and trademarks have an effect.  I’m someone who is not affected by a lot of advertising.  Most of it just passes me by and some of it actively puts me off buying from certain companies.  However, occasionally I get really caught by something.  A few years ago I was mildly unwell – running a moderately high temperature and feeling a bit sorry for myself.  I got really captured by the trademark of the surround sound speaker system we had at the time.  The trademark is so simple – just the name in white capital letters across the bottom of the speaker but it was really effective.

The speaker looked a bit like this on the outside:

ms6 - Copy

But when watching a big movie or listening to a  video of a music concert we would remove the black grills and then the speakers looked more like this (except that the wood was a cherry colour.)

410mordant.2 - Copy

Anyway, I ended up writing about the experience of being kind of captured by this piece of advertising.  Here’s what I wrote:


Mordaunt – Short

I am sitting staring at the blackness of the TV screen when my eye is caught by a small, precise label near the bottom of the centre speaker, sitting on top of the set.

Mordaunt - Short

I look at the speaker. The front panel is black protecting three dark orifices of sound and language. The case is wooden, chosen to match the colour of the furniture in the room, although it doesn’t, quite. The name fills my mind and body, it echos inside me, resonating, touching me right down to my toes. I am captured, transported for a moment into the ecstasy of quality. My heart is filled with that bedrock-deep love of machines, perfectly and exactly made, and I feel connected to another life, a life of order, of peace, of place and stillness.

I am stunned at how this small piece of advertising can suddenly reach me. Perhaps it’s simply because I’m unwell and febrile. Perhaps it’s because I’ve just been watching the History Channel which would have been great except that there were more adverts than program – ten thousand little bits of trash that some smiling actor is pretending to encourage me to buy. So maybe seeing all that had put me into a cynical, unreachable place where Generation X is born and so made the shock of being touched by a trade mark so much stronger . Or perhaps there is power in the shape and form of words, “Mordaunt Short”, an echo of the Logos itself. Like a prayer, like an incantation it reaches inside me and plays the music of my heart.



Giger and the National Gallery

This weekend I was supposed to visit the National Gallery again.  I was really looking forward to it.  However I started having problems with my sinuses again – sore thoat, bad head and face ache, swollen glands and a mildly high temperature.  So I wasn’t well enough to go.  I ended up going to bed really extra early last night and reading some more of William Gibson’s ‘Idoru’ before wiping out completely and sleeping for more than 12 hours straight.


The bit of ‘Idoru’ I was reading was describing Tokyo in the future after a terrible earthquake had pretty much levelled the place.  In this story it had been rebuilt really quickly using nanotech – tiny microscopic machines which are programmed to build things.  The buildings which were made like this had a strange alien, organic look.  One of the characters in the book describes them as ‘…like Giger’s paintings of New York.’   Well I wanted to understand this reference so I looked it up and found this artist who designed the aliens in the classic sci-fi film ‘Alien’.

Some of the paintings are quite disturbing to look at but some are really fascinating too.  For me it’s similar to watching a TV show like ‘Criminal Minds’ where you get to hear how some really bad people think and behave and you get this feeling like you want to know but you don’t want to know at the same time.  Some of the Giger art I really don’t like – especially the stuff with sort of sexual overtones.  I’m really uncomfortable with that.  But some of it looks like this weird alien technology and I really like that.  I’m thinking of doing some sketches using Giger’s style as a ‘jumping-off point’.  I might even try to draw my idea of Gibson’s San Francisco Bridge that way, or perhaps my idea of his distopian future Tokyo.


Here’s some of Giger’s work:

Giger Painting
Giger Painting


Giger Painting
Giger Painting


Giger Painting
Giger Painting


Giger Painting
Giger Painting


What I’m thinking is that it might be possible to develop a new style from this kind of focus by using less black and more colour and light to make it softer and less scary- looking.  His pictures are amazing, if quite weird.  It’s not quite the National Gallery experience I was hoping for today, but is still really interesting.


Post Script:

I was looking around the internet and I came acorss this brilliant picture of Gibson’s SanFrancisco Bridge by an artist on DeviantArt.  The artist’s name is  DahliaInosensu. (<- please click to go to her DeviantArt pages)

I think it’s amazing!

Beautiful Artwork by Dahliainosensu!


The Bridge

I’m not painting at the moment as I’m preparing to move house.  I have limited physical ability so I’m concentrating on what really has to be done but I need to rest in between to get my strength back each day.  Although that’s quite frustrating I’ve found that I can use that down-time to do some reading which is really enjoyable.   I’ve been re-reading William Gibson’s Bridge Trilogy:

  1. Virtual Light
  2. Idoru
  3. All Tomorrow’s Parties

bridge trilogy books

I really loved them the first time I read them, quite a few years ago now, but they don’t seem to have lost anything with time.

The stories are centred around a bridge in San Francisco in the future.  It was damamged and no longer used after an earthquake.  After some time of being fenced off and deserted, homeless people started living on it and formed their own naturally occuring post-modern culture.  It’s kind of beautiful in it’s own way.  Anyway there these three brilliant stories which weave in and around this unusual place and they fit together into a loose kind of trilogy.


I find it quite difficult to explain exactly what I like about them, they just give me a feeling from the words which makes me feel relaxed and happy.  In his writing I find a kind of sympathetic understanding of the joy of the details of objects.


For example from Idoru:

“She complained, always, that the nature of celebrity was much the worse for wear. Strip-mined, Laney gathered, by generations of her colleagues.

She propped her feet on the ledge of a hotdesk. She wore meticulous little reproductions of lineman’s boots, buckled across the instep and stoutly laced to the ankle. He looked at her legs, their taut sweep from wooly sock tops to the sandpapered fringe of cut-off jeans. The tattoo looked like something from another planet, a sign or message burned in from the depths of space, left there for mankind to interpret.

He asked her what she meant. She peeled a mint- flavored toothpick from its wrapper. Eyes he suspected were gray regarded him through mint-tinted contacts.”

I just love the details in this. They make me feel like I’m eating cherries (my favourite fruit) and something inside me seems to sing for joy because, in this detail-rich writing, I think I kind of feel a sense of connection.  It’s like something in me resonates with the descriptions of a hundred thousand perfect little facts desribing actual things and I just feel joy, again and again.  There is lots of other writing which I enjoy but only Gibson gives me this feeling to this degree.  Raymond Chandler is a bit like that, as is Richard Morgan at times but Gibson is always like that.  I love it.

I wonder if this joy in the small flat facts of objects is part of the way autism affects me or if this is something that people generally like – after all Gibson is  a very popular author.  It seems, when I read his work, that I have found someone who looks at the world in a similar way to me to some extent and is interested in the small things which really touch my heart.


The second thing I really like about Gibson is that he doesn’t describe characters in terms of their character – he’ll describe what they’re wearing and the absolutle and complete details of what they do and how they do it and, just like in life, you have to see what kind of person they are by their actions.  So as you read the book you kind of get to know the people in it.  I really really like that too.  Also, with his characters I like it that they all seem to have strengths and weaknesses and they’re all really interesting people – like ‘Sammy Sal’ in Virtual Light.  He’s this black gay bike messenger with a sound system on his bike which runs through the structure of the bike – almost using it for a soundboard.  He’s such a vivid character and a really nice bloke too.  Skinner really intrigues me as well – he’s this bear of a man now old and a bit done in but with this part of him which still rescued Chevette (a young woman with a virus making her ill).  Then there’s Yamazaki  – a Japanese Social Scientist interested in the details of how culture changes and yet his actions and way of doing things is beautiful.  I feel this sense of stillness with him, of being in the right place at the right time, when the chapters are from his point of view.

They are fabulous books.  I would highly recommend them.   😀