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Month: July 2006

Sun God – 1983

Sun God – 1983

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Every year in May UCSD hosts the Sun God Festival, which for most students is an excuse to get drunk and skip class. It is held on the lawn surrounding the Sun God, a large bird-like statue in the middle of campus. There are many student organizations that set up tables & other activities, such as inflatable sumo wrestling or pixie bike jumping. Usually, the controversial student publication, The Koala (careful, if you scroll too far down you won’t like what you see), has some kind of water-based activity. One year ago it was a slip ‘n’ slide, and this year it was a slip ‘n’ slide too, but this time with a chute off a small embankment.

All of this, I suppose, is in tribute to, or because of the statue for which the festival is named. After all, the artist who made it was French, until 2002, when she died. And we all know how those French are, très fou. Well, maybe not.

What’s not to like about this entry in the Stuart Collection? It was the first item in the collection. It’s colorful, simple, vibrant, and not hard to interpret. Perhaps out of all the items in the collection, this is the one UCSD students actually pay attention to most. And that’s saying something, if you’ve ever met an UCSD undergraduate.

Guide my future

Guide my future

So what if it’s meant for recreational vehicles. So what if I don’t drive very much. So what if I’m good at reading printed maps. I need a Garmin StreetPilot 7500 in my Volvo station wagon. Not only is it a GPS mapping device, it’s got an XM satellite radio, it can put live traffic and weather forecasts on the map and use dead reckoning in case the satellite signal fails. Plus, it’s shiny.

It’s only your money. We’re talking about my direction here.

(p.s. I’d accept this one if you’re feeling less generous.)

Madison Madness

Madison Madness

I’ve been riding bikes for so long that it’s unusual that I learn something new. The last couple weeks I’ve started learning how to do the madison, easily the most insane event on the track. The madison, named after the arena in New York City, is a team event with two riders per team. One rider is racing, while one rests. In the multi-day race events, often one rider will ride for hours, and then switch off to the other teammate.

In shorter events, both riders are on the velodrome at once. The one who is resting either rides very slowly or holds onto the railing. When the racing team member wishes to be relieved, usually after a lap or two, the resting rider meets the racer, and they exchange momentum via a hand-sling.

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The thing that makes this event so darned exciting is the sheer number of things going on at once. Firstly, of course, there’s a race going on. Then, you’ve got riders coming in & out of the event. Sometimes multiple riders are coming into the race at the same time, so positioning and timing is very important. Since it is a race where you’re only going one or two laps, essentially a racer goes nearly all out, followed by a short rest.

For an idea of what it’s like to ride in a madison, check out this video from the top tube of a bike from a madison practice.

UNDA – 1987

UNDA – 1987

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UNDA, by Ian Hamilton Finlay (1987) is in the vein of the La Jolla Project, another Stuart Collection item. This time, the stone blocks are smaller and fewer in number. These stones are English limestone and have the latin word for ‘wave’ carved into them, unda. To be more precise, the letters are carved out of order with a s-like shape included which transposes the letters to put them back in order to spell unda (see the sixth item on this list of editorial symbols). According to the official page on this item (linked above) the wave moves through the letters like the waves in the nearby ocean, making a literary wave… or something.

It seems to me that since the La Jolla Project had been installed three years before this item, putting plain blocks out on a lawn would have been plagiarism. Finlay probably thought to himself, “I’ve got all these bloody blocks of limestone, but some other bloke already did art with stone blocks. Let’s put some latin on them… and perhaps put it in the wrong order, like the word has been hit by a wave. No! Wait! I’ve got it!” And the result is what we see today.

This entry in the Stuart Collection is a good one, not a great one nor a poor one. I’m always skeptical of art that I feel is forced (waves upon waves upon undas, bah!) but this is okay despite that. The stone has a nice texture which I’m sure changes by the year due to weathering. The stones were cut roughly so they aren’t square and perfect like the La Jolla Project. The stone has character which the unda doesn’t ruin. It’s worth your time to see.