Saturday, August 9, 2014

"L'enfer, c'est les autres" (excerpts on Saatchi-Freud)

Amazed again! To think, this is where art that doesn't (or can't) belong in the places like The National Gallery gets exhibited and it all started with one man’s personal collection and his benevolence in wanting to share it with the public.

I was perplexed at first by the Richard Wilson installation titled “20:50”; the one where immediately all your senses begin to scramble to make logical assumptions of it all. At first step into this room, the sense of smell heightens due to the overpowering oil spill or tar scent, followed by a conjoined effort from all other senses to figure out where the heck that smell is coming from, and if it’s normal. Next, the brain begins to think what exactly is it that we’re supposed to be looking at, and okay, what if I still can't figure it out after several minutes? What do I do now? Leave?

On the day I went, I actually witnessed several visitors turn away at the immediate judgment of this piece based on appearance alone. They honestly thought this was NOT an art installation, but rather only a room under construction. How funny! Some visitors even went as far as to request for a gallery employee to explain why this was created and what it was they were supposed to look at. The fervor in their quest to know about the piece was remarkable to watch. I was a voyeur in a public space that was incredibly vulnerable to intellectual subjugation and additionally because these “highbrow” people (seemingly well-educated) had no clue what this piece of contemporary art was and it bothered them to not have all the answers. After the thorough explanation from the gallery employee, the visitors seemed a bit still bewildered but satisfied that at least they walked away with the concept of the installation piece.

The rest of the Saatchi Gallery rooms made good use with the amount of adequate space by categorizing genres accordingly. Also, the manner in which they incorporate artists' bio was also impressive for it painted a shared spotlight of merit rather than emphasize just one individual. The art is subjective but the Saatchi Gallery also adds subjectivity to that feature by not implying anything is grander than something else and only presenting ideas to allow the viewers to scrutinize and judge for themselves. Once again, I was very impressed. Museums and galleries here simply can't be beat. London certainly sets the bar high even when it comes to "lowbrow" art. If it’s grand enough to confuse and ignite a quest for answers in these hoity-toity people, then that’s saying something. C'est magnifique!

Further along at the Freud Museum, I was impressed by few but significant things. One being that he had read more archeology books than psychology books and collected anthropological figurines as reference and reminder to try to “unearth” the past in order to study (and solve) the present. It was shocking to hear that Dr. Freud had cancer of the jaw for about 16 years (yikes!), but we could assume it was a result of his excessive smoking habit. And although he only lived at this address for approximately a year, it was nice to see the transition from Vienna to London allowed him the tranquility in that house, that remarkable neighborhood, to focus on his dream analysis research. No photos allowed of the inside of the house, but this is what the Freuds’ (both Sigmund and Anna's) view would have looked like every time they looked out this window. Probably to analyze any passers-by.

Flashing Lights...

The highly anticipated “Boyhood” came out in theaters in July, just in time for our London Rocks group to catch a viewing in West Kensington. A product of twelve consecutive years of filming, the work gives literal meaning to the phrase “coming-of-age”.  From the imagination of director Richard Linklater comes a meditation on the mechanisms of the mind as it adapts from boyhood to manhood. The plot shadows the life of a boy named Mason, as he morphs and develops from the exposures and dramas of every coming year. Played by the same actor, Ellar Coltrane, the screening gives the audience a unique, first-hand experience of the transitions of life.

There was an unavoidable theme of absence integrated throughout the film. The absence of a strong father figure in Mason’s youth developed into a multidimensional bitterness that tainted his future relationships to people and things. His biological father felt an absence of self fulfillment and maturity, taking years to come to terms with his failures as a father, a musician and a man.  The mother felt an absence of her youth, feeling robbed of time by her early motherhood. She spends the duration of the film discovering chances to grow up herself; challenged by the unstable balance being a single mother and reinventing what’s left of her life. The mother created an absence in her children by exercising poor judgement in men, exposing the children to verbal abuse, alcoholism and aggression. 

To further this theme of absence, I felt a strong connection with the absence of romanticism. The beauty in this film is not found in it’s special effects or climactic moments. The beauty was created in its raw, lack of filter. Like so many other typical films in the world, Linklater had no intention of romanticizing the calamities of life. In fact, the point of his film was to urge a new perspective of time. Time is a continuation, a progressor, an inescapable reality. Unavoidable in this film, and in our lives. There were no action-packed explosions or near death experiences. There was no ultimate heroine basked in the glow of flashy lights, serenaded by booming orchestrated movements. There was pain, trauma, birth, rebirth, growth, love, absence, time, all as they exist in the real world: unfiltered, unedited. A study of the rawness of the human condition. Because of the natural fluidity of this film, many people in the theatre found the plot to lack power. But I wholeheartedly disagree.

 Linklater understands that you can’t edit the soul.

Casey Hands

Are you sure it wasn't supposed to be called something else that begins with "sh"?

Before I begin discussing the "spectacle" known as The Shard I will address the mystifying marvel that is THE Stonehenge (and compare and contrast the two). This mysterious place that was formed for many speculative reasons still holds something magical/medicinal/miraculous depending on your own beliefs, whereas The Shard has no such qualities whatsoever, or at least we don’t know that yet.

I understand many of you students were bored with Stonehenge acknowledging it was all a “pile of old rocks” and wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible to return to your air con coach, but did any of you stop to ponder that maybe, just maybe the spirit of Stonehenge was VERY IMPORTANT to other people?

During our trip to Stonehenge I noticed a woman holding an umbrella standing completely still in front of a healing rock for several minutes. The weather was extremely warm on this day and with her back to the sun for who knows how long and her eyes always closed, I could tell she was up to something personal or spiritual. Of course I wasn’t going to interrupt and stop to ask this woman what the heck she was doing standing there like a mannequin in the blistering sun; we probably didn’t even speak the same language, but she certainly set an impression during my visit and all I kept thinking as I listened to the audio tour was ‘Whatever she traveled all this way to improve in her life, I really hope it comes true for her.’ An individual who stands out like that amidst dozens of obnoxious people really deserves the extra well-wishes. However, I was ticked off on her behalf for all the selfish loudmouths not honoring her practice or the mere atmosphere of this location for that matter. I bet bus-loads of people around the world would kill to see Stonehenge, just so they can live better! 

Now for The Shard. Shangri-La? Okay, I can see the notion of creating that hotel inside The Shard, but it class-i-fies and separates society even further apart in doing so; limiting access to both spectacles combined. And like Stonehenge, where the stones themselves are fenced off so no one can touch or climb them, the “restrictions” are a commonality for both places; about the only commonality, though. I mean, at The Shard you can’t even get past the elevator lobby without proving you are a registered guest of the hotel. Fair enough for those privileged-enough to afford the luxury pinnacle of architecture, but really, it lacks its own essence, which Stonehenge already has and has had for eons. The following picture I took shows how small The Shard can look from a different perspective (can you even see it?), proving it still has insignificance to many people in this city.

Despite advertising its unique welcoming signature scent, and perhaps because it’s still too arrogantly new, the faux-welcomes at the entrance of The Shard are enough to make anyone with real class turn away and say, "I'd rather stay elsewhere and get a good view of London from either St. Paul's Cathedral or The London Eye." Perhaps this will change in the next years.

Spectating the Spectacle; A trip to Bath and Stonehenge

In order to classify something as a spectacle, one must know exactly what a spectacle is. By definition, a spectacle is "a visually striking performance or display" with the Latin roots meaning "to look" and "public show." This is precisely the category that Bath and Stonehenge fall under; two very different places, but each a spectacle in its own regard.

Upon arriving in Bath, it becomes quite clear (depending on the weather) just how much the city alone is a spectacle; small, filled with centuries of history, one hundred miles outside of London with the tranquility to prove it. Right outside of the Roman Baths, there was a woman singing the most beautiful sounding Opera music that seemed to suit the city so nicely, as if that kind of music should be playing on a track every day, if only for ambiance.

The Roman Baths alone were a spectacle, and are the reason behind the city's name. Built around 60-70 AD with several developments in years following, many of the original baths and architecture still remain (of course with some redevelopment along the way, as preserving such an elaborate place is no easy feat). The most intriguing and visually stimulating of the Baths (up for debate) is the Great Bath, which at one point in time had a roof over it. What is particularly fascinating to learn is that Bath houses, such as this one, were a place of communal activity, not merely a private hygienic obligation as it is today. Bath houses were a source for social gathering and relaxation, and still are in many places, such as the bath houses in Turkey, a custom that dates back several centuries. The Great Bath is quite a spectacle, although the green water isn't too inviting for a swim. The roof that once covered this bath would have protected it from things such as rain, sun exposure, and other natural elements.
From Bath, we ventured to Stonehenge, the very epitome of human creation and a perfect example of the meaning of the word spectacle. Even the drive to Stonehenge and the area surrounding it was quite a sight as well; seemingly endless fields of grass and a clear sky and absolutely no people, minus the tourists of course. Stonehenge exists alone in a vast landscape, and it is one of the most recognized images around the world. It is a mystery, and it is spectacular. It is difficult to marvel at this monument without wondering about the physics of it, especially during a prehistoric time. Upon further research, it appears that Stonehenge was a burial site at its very beginning until around the third millennium B.C. This reveals exactly how important death ceremonies are to humans as a species; we have been burying our dead for centuries, often ceremoniously, and continue to do so today. Honoring the dead is something that has more or less stayed a crucial part in human history, and Stonehenge is a perfect example.

What is so rewarding about seeing a spectacle (besides, of course, seeing the spectacle) is being a spectator. A spectator is someone who views or watches, and hopefully what they are watching is something spectacular. Without the spectacle, there is no spectator, but without a spectator there will still be a spectacle. Stonehenge will still be fascinating regardless if there are people to watch it. We cannot be spectators without having something to watch. It's almost like the "if a tree falls in a forest" question. Of course it will still make a sound even if no one hears it fall, and Stonehenge will still be a spectacle even with no one to see it.

Take me down to Camden Town

Camden Town, the magical wonders of Camden Town. When going on this CineTrek I don't know what I was expecting except I was excited. Going to Primrose Hill was kinda a let down, the town was cute and the hill would have been really pretty but it was cloudy and we couldn't really see anything. But our trek to Camden Town was on a whole other level. As soon as we walked through the market it was chaotic but the food smelled and looked soo good. It was awesome seeing all the different booths with foods from different places was very eye opening because they were serving foods that weren’t the typical foods that you would normally see from those countries. Once we moved on from all the amazing food and reaching the inside markets with all the crafts. I’ve been to craft fairs before so most the stuff was pretty cool but pretty typical, but the atmosphere was what made it. An Alternative culture that exists outside the fringes of mainstream culture, way different then posh South Kensington. Just leaving the tube station you are greeted with storefronts with huge objects on the walls depicting what they sell in the store.

Then all the alternative stores with Goth stuff and leather. Leaving the safe haven of South Kensington and seeing Camden Town was a sort of a released breath that I didn't know I was holding. Uniqueness all in its self, you go around London and you don't see tattoo parlors or people with Mohawks, but in Camden Town they’re everywhere. Going through the mazes of the markets felt like I was leaving the city behind and entering a world where people don't hide who they are and sell weird stuff. 

Mostly the same stuff but still wandering through the different alleyways going deeper into the Camden Lock, you get a sense of entering a world of merchants. A different style of life that you wouldn't normally see when you walk around South Kensington or even central London, which is a relief to know that not all of London is so posh. Also there is more of a younger crowd that goes there, we stayed pretty late and was able to see what the nightlife entailed, which was a whole other experience in itself. But the whole Camden Town experience was one of my favorites here in London, just getting out and seeing a different side of England was a really good cultural experience.

I don't care too much for £...

“1,012 feet and 308 meters.” our tour guide said coolly. She was calm and collected, unlike her unsteady workers who had been fidgeting anxiously for the full 20 minutes before her arrival. Their hair was pulled back so tightly you could hardly avoid their bulging eyes darting back and forth between our group in the lobby and the front entrance. I’m not sure what was more entertaining- watching every muscle in their body tighten when we spread out over the entire seating area, or watching their faces when one of my peers picked up a magazine then put it back on the opposite end of the table. Inconceivable! Shockingly, they never approached us while we sat there. They just extended their full wingspan and silently hovered over us like hungry vultures. 

Where were we? We were at the Shard. Waiting politely for a private tour arranged by our professor. We were experiencing what every avenue in the London Underground was advertising: the best view of the city! The magnificent Shard! You haven’t seen the city unless you’ve visited the Shard! Such welcoming advertisements; inviting every member of the public to enjoy the city’s most majestic view for a small fee of £25 a pop...

I took a deep breath of the herb-infused air-conditioning and relaxed into a sofa that could easily pay my college tuition until our tour guide’s untimely arrival signaled the vultures cool off. As she ushered us into the lift room and away from the seating area, the vultures attacked the scene. The pillows were put back into place and the magazines realigned before the tour guide had even tapped the lift’s “up” button. Charming. She took us up an elevator, some fifty floors, until we arrived at the main hotel lobby. It was magnificent. Circling the entire floor was a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city. Sunlight streamed into a white interior with an elegance and sophistication that made me self-conscious. Exclusive art was placed tastefully on the walls which enclosed lavish lounging areas, private rooms and a gourmet restaurant. On our way to a second lift to take us to a hotel room, I caught a few glimpses of the people dining in the restaurant. Dressed head-to-toe in designer fashions and drinking dirty martinis, I experienced a moment of surrealism. Call it jealousy, bias or trying to read a language I don’t speak, but these people looked cold, bored and alone. Though they were surrounded by an opulence unparalleled to anything I’ve ever seen before, I couldn’t bring myself to envy any of them. Even the workers who served these icy individuals looked as though their smiles had been screwed into place before clocking on. 

After viewing a surprisingly typical hotel room, our tour at the Shard was over. Without paying the £25 a piece, our magnificent view meant for “every member of the public” was over. Don’t get me wrong, the Shard is an exquisite addition to the London skyline- no questions asked. Renzo Piano’s got some serious style, and he’s definitely got some guts. But you couldn’t pay me £25 to walk in that place ever again. 

£’s can’t buy me love!

Casey Hands

Ivy League is public?!?!

Going to Oxford was not at all as I expected. Back in America when we hear or think about Oxford University, intelligence and prestige comes to mind. But it is much much more impressive then that, although it is still much different then schools in America. Learning about how schooling is different here versus how school is done in America is weird to think about but only because we are so used to how things are done in one place. Like how education is specialized for each person after the age of 16, at 16 I was more worried about getting my drivers license. However I like the fact that it is specifically general education until 16, so that you get it all out of the way instead of going through the same courses over and over again like in high school then college. In America we don't have A levels but it seems like the same basic concept as taking main general education courses in High School. Going to College over here seems more of an option too. However only being able to study one subject then if you decide to change you have to go all the way back to the beginning seems like a total waste of time and a bummer. I mean who is ever really sure of what they want to do in life. Unless you are one of the lucky ones who knows exactly what you want to study you get to study what you want and not have to go through useless class like here in America. Its weird that here public schools are often pretty good schools, even Oxford University is seen as Ivy League but is still a public university. This is definitely different, seems more a choice, in America going to college almost seems required, to get a job one must go through half their life sitting behind a desk. Even in public and private school differences seem more elitist then in UK, where schooling is based on grades and how much your willing to work for it. Seems there is more of a choice to do what you want rather then what is required of you. At Oxford you do have to be smart just like at any other Ivy League school in America, but it seems more simple. Schools like Harvard and Stanford are usually more known for lawyers and doctors. Where as in Oxford it is mostly single subjects at different colleges in the Oxford community. Very different then SDSU because we have all kinds of majors and all types of classes, and unlike at SDSU, Oxford has classes that are more personal and smaller numbers of students. Which offers a more exclusive education, British school culture seems more interested in learning because going to a school like Oxford versus SDSU is a personal choice where you get a better education because school is geared towards you instead of your money.
Oxford is way more respected and exclusive then SDSU, just the fact of how the learning environment is almost sacred at Oxford. At SDSU you can just walk onto campus and do as you please where as in Oxford you have to pay and have a certain time to go check it out, even have to be super quiet.

I Wanna Live in Bath

The beautiful city of Bath, mostly famous for its Roman Baths, no surprise there. However defiantly was not expecting to appreciate the entirety of the city, upon driving into the city everything looked the same but was gorgeous. It was nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of London and go out to the countryside to a small town. Being surrounded by buildings and skyscrapers was getting a little claustrophobic, and while driving out to Bath it was nice to see something outside of the city. All the green hills and cows and trees, defiantly and beauty you don't see in San Diego. Upon arriving in Bath the whole city just screamed rich and fancy, and was actually very busy (mostly because of tourists) but seeing the buildings and the Roman Baths and the history that it has seen was impressive. London has some history too but since the Romans sort of paved their way through Britain (literally paved their way through, with the roads they created) it was cool to actually see something that they created. Almost like a little Rome right there in Britain. I was however a little disappointed that the only original pieces were underground, and just the walkways. But that was just because I didn't know that it had been covered and rebuilt which was actually pretty cool that they were able to find and uncover such a historic artifacts. Seeing this visual was a good history lesson and a different side of visual that you wouldn't get by just seeing the city. The city of Bath, being an hour away from London, seemed like its own little world out there in the countryside. Then seeing the Roman Baths and what it used to look like when it was built and how it looks now, its like seeing a different world in a small world. Roman inspired buildings surround by typical English style was very eye appealing. Although not gonna lie, was more excited about the fact that Jane Austin lived there and there was a little museum right next to the Roman Baths. 
However after spending and unfortunate small amount of time in Bath, I didn't want to leave. Bath gave off an atmosphere that was relaxed and soothing, even though surrounded by tourists it was still a nice little retreat that I want to go back to one day.


Spectacle spectacle spectacle

What is in a spectacle, well first off the building is a spectacle itself. When we first got out of the underground you are greeted with this ginormous stone building, quite ugly too. Built post war after the bombs ravaged the city. Not sticking to the typical Georgian style buildings these were built in the 70s very modern and plain. Once we found the museum and entered the exhibit we are greeted with computers and software as from days past. Being a techy myself I was in love, always enjoyed the wonder and impressiveness of computers and software and what it is cable of. Walking through the different exhibits we are taken through time from the beginning to the most modern, how they filmed Gravity by Alfonso Cuarón. Being filmed in a light box and watching as to how they did it was quite impressive, just the amount of technology and creativeness that was put into it. They couldn't figure out how to move Sandra Bullock’s character through space, so they realized that they could use technology to move space around her. The designer got the idea of a light box from a concert he went to and just took the idea and went from there.
The most impressive part of the exhibit to me was the interactive technology. I stepped into a room, with the warning of loud music and to keep moving around the room. My expectations from that were what the heck am I about to see, what does this have to do with technology. However stepping into a room with a 3D image of an Egyptian pharaoh and three large gold triangles with music instruments in them was most certainly not what I was expecting. The graphics were so surreal and the three gold triangles that held the musical instrument robots that played the music. It was cool to see it in person because you only ever hear about robots doing human things in newspapers and never actually in person.

The next room of interactive technology was a spectacle in itself, using coding and images. I've done some coding and configuring of computers before at my job and I know how time consuming and hard it is (and we’re just doing simple stuff) so watching these amazing works of art doing things such as turning spoken words into digitally written words on a screen and then turn into a butterfly was amazing. I am very interested in technology and my current job is working in technology but seeing this exhibit really put it into perspective for me, I developed a greater sense of appreciation. Seeing how far technology has even come, starting from simple coding programs to create games like Pong, to games that can recognize a specific person or voice. Technology has come a long ways, and it is used everyday and in a lot of things that people don't even realize. Such as movies and how we receive the news, it is changing daily, as we evolve it evolves. 

V&A: Disobedient Objects

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London is a beautiful, gargantuan, Victorian building housing a treasure trove of Britain's (as well as many other nations') most valuable artifacts. It catalogues the way that form and function have interacted through the ages to bring us the artistic and useful objects people interact with, and have interacted with for centuries. From chairs to guns to wrought iron gates to statues, all the items in this museum are examples of craftsmanship taken to another level.

But amid all the ornate Chinese tea sets and baroque, garish French dining rooms comes an interesting new exhibit. Just this summer, Disobedient Objects opened its temporary gallery in the V&A. This exhibition is devoted to the art and craftsmanship that goes into the creation of objects that aid in protest movements. Buttons denouncing Apartheid, posters calling for change on Wall Street, makeshift riot shields and the like were all laid out carefully with didactic descriptions of their context and purpose. The room itself was a spectacle, having enormous screens overhead projecting images from various protest movements across the globe. Massive puppets, banners, and picket signs were displayed high up upon the walls. The general mood in the massive room was reverent but not without the air of excitement inherent in protest.

What fascinated me in particular was the semiotic contrast between this exhibit and the museum it is housed in. Here I am, in a grand Victorian building filled with artistic (some might even say stuffy and old) artifacts, and then here comes this hip, fresh, modern, and edgy parade of protest images. This juxtaposition is something one finds all over London, and indeed this exhibition might be thought a microcosm of London's essence. Everywhere one looks, he sees the old, proper, grand, and beautiful contrasted with the new, the urban, the edgy, and bizarre. This relationship is so inherently and excitingly London. The objects in the exhibit denounce dictators, tyrants, and hateful regimes, something the British themselves have done in the past few hundred years. The specific objects are all of international origin, like many of the newer aspects of London's cultural landscape.
This aesthetic representation of the city's character is exemplified once more (disobediently) by this graffiti I happened across on Brick Lane:

An old 19th Century Brick building, stern and beautiful, brightened and made fresh by this modern act of artistic expression. A disobediently placed heron upon this brick façade is exactly the mood created by the Disobedient Objects exhibit at the V&A, and is one of London's most unique and spectacular qualities.

Fancy Schmancy Shard

Going to The Shard I had no idea what to expect, just a very tall building that is advertised everywhere. Seeing so many advertisements I was curious as to what the hype was. Was it uber spectacular or just advertising? Well after going to the shard I can say it was both. The fact that we even got a tour was pretty amazing, the high price and ritzy atmosphere it puts off was very off putting. However after getting a tour and hearing about who their clientele is, it's understandable as to why they give it so much hype for such mediocre things. Yes the eagle eye view of London is spectacular (Saint Paul’s Cathedral was a way better view because you had to work for it), yes there is TVs in the bathrooms and the beds are probably pretty comfy. However for the price of almost a grand a night I was expecting a little more. Even the way we were treated upon arriving, getting the evil eye from one of the desk ladies, who hilariously quickly fixed the pillows and couches as soon as we left. Experiencing how the other half lived was quite amusing.
Back to the clientele, it was shocking yet not so surprising that most their customers were mostly from Dubai and other rich countries. I thought it would be more like rich or famous people wanting to stay in the fancy schmancy highest building in London. It would have been pretty cool to have been able to see the pools and observation deck because from what we saw it was just a fancy high-rise hotel. However the triangle building was a pretty big spectacle. A giant, very modern glass building amongst all the old brick buildings, instead of the old world feeling you are left with this monstrosity of a building. Old world London tries to go modern; it looks more out of place then swanky. Inspired by the railway lines and old London spires coming out of the River Thames, meant to enhance the London skyline. But really just shows us that time is moving on, and even old school cities like London are going to become more modernized. 

That's 30 minutes away- I'll be there in 10.

Friday evening, August 1st around 6:45pm, our Visual/Viral group headed out to the viewing of Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” at the Roxy Bar & Screen. Experiencing a film is an enormous part of both the American and British cultures. Cinematography registers concepts, emotion and dilemma through interpretive visuals that open our eyes and challenge our beliefs. However, half of the experience of spectating a film is dependent on the audience member’s exposure to their surroundings. The people you are with, the lighting, the sound, the ambiance of the room, the food or drink, the detachment or engagement of the audience as a whole and in groups, all play key roles in the digestion of a film. Movie theatre’s undertake an enormous responsibility for all of those elements, aspiring to provide an optimum movie-going experience for everyone in the building. 

However, as we all know and have experienced before, not all theatre experiences are pleasant. Whether it’s the boisterous fraternity brothers sitting directly behind you or the passionate couple to your right, traditional theatre experiences can be irksome. American movie theatre traditions aren’t exactly glamorous either; we pay an arm and a leg to sit in an itchy, unpleasant seat only to  engorge our bodies with 1,000 calorie nachos, Cheetos, popcorn, candy and a large Sprite. People rarely associate with anyone outside their group, and the "post-movie discussion" typically takes place on the sleepy drive home.

The same is not to be said for the Roxy Bar & Screen. Our visit to this theatre was by far my favorite CineTREK to date. Could it have something to do with the fact that “Pulp Fiction” is one of my favorite movies of all time? Perhaps. But enjoying a movie in such a social and sophisticated setting was a magical experience. Before the movie began everyone was buzzing around, enjoying a beer and socializing; something that I've found to be typical of British culture. The bar was big, extending along the main wall which eventually lead to the theatre. The walls featured a small collection of local art and photography, giving the place a stylish touch.  There were all kinds of people there ranging in age and style listening to the selection of electric music that was playing throughout the building. The theatre itself resided in a moderately sized room behind the bar with a curtain to separate the rooms. There were big couches and chairs with tables and barstools making the theatre feel far more like a cool, intimate lounge than a big, cold, impersonal stadium with symmetrical rows and an enormous screen. Being able to enjoy a Guinness as well (alright, two Guinness's...) made the movie experience feel like a nightlife event. Everyone was drinking, laughing and responding to the movie together, making a room of random strangers coexist. Finally, as the movie concluded, people in the theatre stood around and talked about the what they thought of the film. Some went to the bar to order another drink, then continued engaging one another and sharing responses. This is something I have never experienced in America. Not only were the tickets an alarmingly low price of £4 a piece, but the Roxy created a place where audience members were meant to watch the film as means to discussion, critique and debate. This institution has a vision of taking movie watching a step further, transforming a single isolated event into a series of social interactions and collaborations of random civilians and cinema-lovers alike. 

Casey Hands