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JUMBLE COMMUNITY ACTION REVIEWS SEX
EDITORIAL TEAM Head editor RACHEL GRAHAM Deputy Editor SARAH MOREL Art ANNA BELITSKAYA fashion FIONNUALA EGAN LOUISE HYNES FILM LEE JONES OISIN MCELHINNEY FOOD Roise Ni Mhaonaigh GAMES & TECH CAHAL SWEENEY LITERATURE MICHAEL MULLOOLY SARAH UPTON music DARRAGH KELLY KEVIN BIRD THEATRE AMELIA MCCONVILLE AMYROSE FORDER tv SORCHA NI CHEALLAIGH DESIGN & layout by una harty, EOIN MOORE & Rachel graham copy-edited by AOIFE BRADSHAW & ELLEN ORCHARD cover art by CHOY-PING CLARKE-NG PRINTED BY GREHAN PRINTERS
MUSIC: COMPOSING THE FEMINISTS
WHY DONâ€™T THEY WORK? 14 PHOTO ESSAY: EVOLVE PAINT JAM
ART: ROBOT PORTRAITURE
20 FASHION: DUBLIN FASHION FESTIVAL 23
ART Art On Campus: Louis Le Brocquy
WORDS BY ANNA BELITSKAYA
Louis le Brocquy is one of Ireland’s most prized exports in the field of modern art. TCD owns a number of his artworks, but a particularly intriguing one is Being, a painting from 1962. Having hung on a display panel in the Arts Block foyer for the past academic year, it has recently been moved to a less visible location; on a staircase in the West Theatre office of the Exam Hall. Le Brocquy’s Being closely echoes his Isolated Being of the same year, which is on permanent display at the Hugh Lane Gallery. Both of the paintings emit a profound feeling of isolation. In Being, the striking white figure on a deep red background screams out a heavy set of emotions to its viewer, while Isolated Being is an ethereal silhouette of psychological solitude. Viewed side by side, these images comprise a pleasingly balanced pair, the positions of the figures mirror each other, but radiate contrasting sensations. In both, le Brocquy uses the impasto technique. The layered white paint gathers in the centre of the silhouette, giving its spine a certain solidity, and fades out around the edges of the figure, creating a sense of uncertainty and vulnerability - two constants of the human condition. Being was purchased from The Arts Council, and has been owned by The Trinity College Dublin Art Collections since 1976.
FILM Defining the Decade - 1920s: The Kid The silent era of film is one that many actively try to avoid. These films are often seen as simplistic in plot and characterisation, and too heavily reliant on physical comedy. With this in mind, I chose The Kid as our Decade Defining Film of the 1920’s because it demonstrates how these features are not necessarily uninviting. The Kid’s premise is plain and familiar to the audience: a poor single mother abandons her baby in the back of an expensive car and through a series of mishaps, he ends up in the hands of Charlie Chaplin’s character. The film then flashes forward five years, and we witness the pair’s mischievous antics in small-town America. One of the most iconic figures in cinematic history, Charlie Chaplin does not disappoint in his first feature. His persona, the affectionately named Tramp, is let loose in full force, relying on a blend of dramatic body language, subtle facial expressions and Chaplin’s natural charm. Conveying
emotion in the absence of dialogue is ostensibly difficult to master in film, yet The Kid, through its focus on the heartwarming relationship between orphaned boy and man, manages to achieve this. The Kid proves that the ear of silent film is one that cannot be disregarded. Between moments of true hilarity (mostly accredited to the bumbling Chaplin), there are quiet moments of poignancy that sit heavy in the back of the audience’s mind even after the credits begin to roll. The Kid is this month’s Decade Defining Film because it showcases the unique ability of the silent film to blend comedy and drama, happiness and sadness, without a word being uttered.
WORDS BY LEE JONES
FOOD Food for Thought: Go Nuts for Brain Food Eating well plays a large role in keeping a healthy mind and nuts are the perfect brain food to keep you at peak performance. The best part? No preparation required, just munching. Although not all nuts are created equal, there are a vast range of brain boosting health benefits to be found in different types of nuts. Resembling tiny human brains, Walnuts are the undisputed champion of nutrition. Rich in DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid which improves cognitive function, memory retention and reduces brain inflammation, these guys are a welcome addition 4
to any banana bread. Walnuts, as well as peanuts and pecans, contain choline, a key part of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which allows your brain to process and store information much faster. Almonds and hazelnuts are richest in the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, which is proven to delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Munching on cashews will ensure your iron and zinc levels are up to scratch, helping deliver oxygen to your cells. Cashew nuts are also a fantastic source of magnesium which has a dramatic effect on improving memory and learning ability.
What’s even better is you can get any of the above brain boosters in the form of a delicious nut butter, the serious snacker’s best friend. There are a plethora to choose from but a personal favourite is Meridian’s Coconut & Almond Butter, perfect to dollop on apple slices for a satisfying snack. WORDS BY ROISE NI MHAONAIGH
GAMES Nerdy News: Titan Con TitanCon is taking place on the first weekend of October. Based in Belfast since 2010, this fan-driven convention began as a celebration of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire but has expanded to incorporate fantasy, sci-fi and young adult fiction. This year features an excellent lineup of guest speakers, such as Peter F. Hamilton (Commonwealth saga, Chronicle of the Fallers duology) and Ian McDonald (Everness series). TitanCon aims to give a voice to up-and-coming writers, and Jo Zabadee (Inheritance trilogy) and local talent R.B. Kelly (Edge of Heaven) will also be there. All authors will participate in a literary reading on the Friday night. Several cast members of the HBO adaptation Game of Thrones have accepted invitations, including Roger Ashton-Griffiths (Mace Tyrell), Dominic Carter (Janos Slynt), and Kerry Ingrim (Shireen Baratheon) and will be offering autographs and meet-and-greets. In addition to the plethora of guests, TitanCon has several themed events from the world of Ice and Fire, including an interpretive ballet, a medieval combat workshop, a cosplay competition, and a ‘Lovely Beard’ competition. The full package includes a tour to various filming sites, which promises to give a peek into how Westeros has been created for the show. TitanCon promises to be an interesting weekend away for anyone with even a passing interest in A Song of Ice and Fire, the filming behind Game of Thrones, or creative writing.
WORDS BY CAHAL SWEENEY
Convention tickets 25 | Combined convention & coach tour 68.
LIT Books From Around the World: The Three-Body Problem
The Three-Body Problem is one of few Chinese science fiction novels to be translated into English, and the first to win the Hugo Award, with Ken Liu’s translation in 2015. While the book is undoubtedly hard science fiction, this should not discourage the uninitiated. At the heart of the novel is a game that simulates the planet Trisolaris, a world terrorized by its three suns. The game is played by protagonist Wang Miao who detects, under its illusory and simplistic surface, an “enormous information content… hidden deep”. This is how the book itself should be considered. The novel posits an elaborate but satisfying blend of real physics and the fantastical, while the plot traverses Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution of 1967, modern day China and an alien world hell-bent on colonizing Earth. This is science fiction that should keep any Gene Wolfe or H. G. Wells fan happy. A few chapters in, however, blunt realism and analogy combine to create a novel that is as profound as it is epic in scope. The reader is immersed in everything from nanoscience to world history. The hilarity of Isaac Newton building a human computer for Qin Shi Huang, for example, is punctured by a meditation on the human cost of technological progress. Ken Liu’s prose is stunning, without compromising the idiomatic charm of Liu Cixin’s original. Translator’s notes aid those unfamiliar with Chinese history and scientific scholarship. While the physics can be a bit elaborate for those of us without a mathematical brain, a cast of complex and endearing characters is more than enough to maintain momentum and see the reader to the end of what is one of the finest science fiction novels from the last decade, in any language. WORDS BY SARAH UPTON
FASHION Front Square Fashion: David Donovan David Donovan is a Junior Sophister English student whose eye for style is quite literally as sharp as his jawline. Take note kids, this outfit is a masterclass in the art of sartorial strategy. By coupling a nonchalant black cotton, polo neck with a barely-there grey jacket, this outfit surrenders all of its power to those audacious emerald velvet bell-bottoms. And rightly so. The drama provided by cascading reams of heavy velvet brings a gratifying disruption to a minimalist upper half. As the ensemble is obediently contained within a muted colour palette, and wholly devoid of pattern, the playful contrast between its relaxed fit and angular edges does all of the work. It helps that David caps his look with a pair of scuffed leather brogues and thick rimmed glasses, automatically earning himself the highly coveted Arts Block stamp of approval. Part collegiate, part Sonny and Cher, this look is a total triumph. When pressed about his style icon, David cites his sister, Caroline, because he envies her ability to pull off leather trousers. To that I say: Emerald. Velvet. Bell-Bottoms. WORDS BY LOUISE HYNES PHOTOS BY ROIS í N DENNIS
Name: Harry Hutchinson. Studying: Art History. Age: 32. Spotify user name: Harry Hutchinson. Best playlist: Mostly Girls. If you were a song: Unison by Björk. If Trinity were a song: So Many Men, So Little Time by Miquel Brown. Song for Freshers: Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac. Song that no one has heard: My mother is a mezzo-soprano back home, but no one has ever heard music that she wrote herself. Last time I was home she sang for me, my dad and my sister, and played the piano. It was a love song to my dad called Free. WORDS & PHOTO BY DARRAGH KELLY
THEATRE TCD Graduate Spotlight: The Fast Food Collective
MADE UP, written by Aoife Leonard and produced by the Fast Food Collective, completed its most recent performance at Electric Picnic this summer, after being performed at a number of different festivals in Ireland over the past few years. The show first debuted at Players Theatre in 2014 before travelling to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer where it was performed at Underbelly Theatre, after raising money via Fundit and receiving a grant from the Trinity College Alumni Fund, one of the first shows to be supported by this grant. MADE UP combines spoken word, comedy and physical theatre to tell four interwoven accounts of one eventful night out in Dublin, and draws its influence from playback theatre, the Dublin spoken word scene and real experiences of Dublin’s nightlife. The show has adapted and reconfigured itself to suit all manner of audiences from students to critics to festival-goers, and is performed each time with an irresistible energy and boldness that has carried it successfully through the past two years of its various runs.
TV Netflix Picks Vol. 1: How to Procrastinate Your First Term At College SHOWS BoJack Horseman. When college work is looming, sometimes all you need is a sociopathic horse to tell you how hilariously terrible everything is. Conall Monaghan Lovesick (AKA: it’s infinitely better former title Scrotal Recall). This British sitcom plays on our worst fears about STDs, but is also somehow hilariously charming. David Donovan It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This show will makes you feel great about yourself. Emma Mangan STRANGER THINGS. Just watch it. Emma Mangan H2O: Just Add Water. You know you want to. No reason required. Doireann Duffy FILMS Jeff, Who Lives at Home is surprisingly excellent from what I remember. The whole film is basically about going with the flow. It’ll all be OK in the end. A proper feel good movie to get you through those first term blues. Gary Munnelly Fargo. Creepy, hilarious and a gripping storyline. It’s one of those films everyone should be made watch at least once in their lifetime. Úna Harty Requiem for a Dream. Watch this if you want to attone for all the work you’ve ignored. The opposite of a cosy night in. Surprisingly, there are no lovely dreams in the film. Jared Leto’s in it though. Katie O’Brien COMPILED BY SORCHA N í CHEALLAIGH 6
WORDS BY AMELIA McConville
MUSIC Sounds of Front Square
marching marching forward forward With the 5th March for Choice fast approaching, it’s impossible to ignore the ripples being caused by the abortion debate in the media, the local community and on campus. While the debate has been a live issue in Irish politics for the last few years, a recent swell in highly visible projects such as the Repeal Project clothing line and Maser’s controversial mural at the Project Arts Centre have escalated the discussion, especially amongst young people. Students may often be criticised for being unengaged, but this is one issue where they are passionate, active and involved. I spoke to two members of the Trinity Students’ Union Repeal the 8th Campaign, Kalianne Farren (European Studies) and Kieran McNulty (TCDSU President), about why they think this is fundamentally a student issue.
Why did you get involved in the campaign?
My getting involved in the campaign was the result of the feminist influence of some now very close female friends, whilst living abroad in Russia. On my return to Ireland, I became disillusioned with the dominance of traditional Catholic values and the subsequent distrust of women and their sexuality in our country. Until women have complete control over their bodies and their reproduction, women cannot be viewed as equals in Irish society. Kalianne
Do you think this is fundamentally a student issue?
Yes, due to its inescapable ageist and classist consequences. The fact that people with wombs have to travel for abortions disproportionately affects students, who are often not financially independent, and may live at home with family who would quickly notice their absence. Trinity, especially, is home to many international students who, along with refugees and asylum seekers, may not be free to travel abroad. Kalianne The campaign last year had a strong reaction from the student body, and I hope it can do so this year. Organisations such as the Repeal Coalition and ARC are doing sterling work in the wider community, but it’s important that students feel there is a place to go to to support these movements, and to build support for a campaign within our campus. Kieran
TCDSU is mandated to campaign for the repeal of the 8th amendment specifically. Why this focus?
Our constitution is a strong one, and the courts stick to it rigidly. It’s hugely important to repeal the Eighth Amendment [which guarantees equal rights of protection to the life of the mother and the unborn] because nothing can be done for abortion rights in our laws until it is. I must be clear that our stance and campaign is the mandated one we have, and I’m happy to facilitate a space for students who may feel isolated by this. It’s important to note that our campaigns are separate from the welfare and support work we do. For those who are undecided, we are tailoring our campaign to make sure that we articulate the SU’s stance on the issue clearly and have spaces to ask questions on the subject. Kieran
What progress do you think the campaign has made so far?
We had a great meeting last week and I’m excited to build the campaign further. We have requested as an SU to present to the Citizens’ Convention as well. Kieran
In my opinion, conversations about abortion have become more socially acceptable in the past year, which is hugely positive. This is mainly thanks to brave women sharing their stories, but also to cultural movements like HunReal Issues pushing the issue to the fore. Repeal the 8th is now firmly part of the Zeitgeist, and we need to capitalise on that by encouraging people who would not necessarily have had the impetus to be actively involved before, to become so. Kalianne
How can other students get involved?
The TCDSU Committee to Repeal The 8th welcomes everyone with open arms. You can find us on facebook for details of our next meeting. The Union of Students in Ireland is also hosting a get-together in Trinity before the march this Saturday, which would be a great opportunity to meet people involved in the campaign. Kalianne The March for Choice, organised by Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) takes place on Saturday 24th September, at 2pm, at the Garden of Remembrance. The Union of Students in Ireland, including a cohort from TCDSU, will be meeting for tea and coffee inside the Front Arch at 12:30pm. All are welcome to join them before the march. WORDS BY RACHEL GRAHAM image courtesy of abortion rights campaign
COMPOSINGTHE FEMINISTS The National Concert Hall’s major concert series, Composing the Island, aims to celebrate a century of Irish composition. Darragh Kelly asks what the programme’s lack of diversity says about the establishment vision of the future of music in Ireland. 8
hen the Waking the Feminists movement emerged last November, a watershed moment in gender equality in the arts in Ireland seemed to have arrived. Conversations women had been having for decades about the unfair working situations they had been putting up with could no longer be ignored. Feminists mobilised en masse and demanded change. Such was the current of righteous indignation, that arts organisations guilty of sustaining inequality couldn’t help but be carried along with it. The director of the Abbey Theatre, Fiach Mac Conghail, expressed contrition for his oversights and listened - really listened (eventually) - to the women involved. The National Concert Hall announced their Composing the Island series of concerts in May, just six months after that milestone movement for women in Ireland gained worldwide recognition
and admiration. Billed as a centenary project, taking place from September 7th to 25th 2016, its stated aim was to celebrate classical music by Irish composers written from 1916-2016. Almost 200 works were to be performed, by over 90 composers, with a programme of 27 concerts, spanning three weeks. It promised to reveal “how [Irish] individuals struggled to have their music heard at all” and how “that hostile environment began to change” with the growth of RTE and bodies like the NCH. Arts minister Heather Humphreys (who has continued the Government’s noncommittal approach to raising Irish arts spending to even half that of the European average) proclaimed it would tell us “what to expect in the future”. If the future for Irish theatre is one of checking privilege and artistic and economic parity, this goal seems to have elided the NCH and the Irish classical music establishment. Of the 27 concerts in the Composing the Island brochure, 11 feature no female composers, and another 11 feature just one (averaging at just under 25% representation in those 11). A mere five concerts feature more than one female composer, yet these still average out at just over 25% female representation. Only two concerts surpass 30% representation of female composers. If Humphreys’ prophecy is anything to go by, the future of Irish art music will be exceptionally male. In June, several female Irish composers - notably, Siobhán Cleary (whose work was included in the programme) and Jane Deasy voiced a critique of the series upon undertaking a gender audit of its overall content. The group united under the title Composing the Feminists to communicate their dissatisfaction. Highlighting the disparity evinced in having 135 pieces by male composers and only 23 by female composers (or 76 to 17 when only living composers are considered) they were met with indifference by the NCH. The NCH deemed these female composers’ anger premature and unwarranted. “Happily, due to the huge strides being made addressing gender imbalance, a retrospective of the 21st century will look very different”, they reassured in a Facebook post to Siobhán Cleary, saying that they could not “rewrite history”. So, according to the NCH, because of the self-proclaimed efforts by the NCH and others to achieve gender equality (a claim not supported by the facts presented to them by Deasy and Cleary), it will just be another hundred years before we can appreciate them. One has to ask whether these huge strides include the fact that all five commissions for Composing the Island are from male composers. The NCH’s position represents one strand of musicological thinking. Four Centuries of Music in Ireland, a volume of short essays edited by Brian Boydell in 1979, features in four Composing the Island concert programmes. The essays are by an exclusively male cohort of writers, and fail to mention a single female composer that lived during this period. Jennifer O’Connor of NUIM, however, has noted that “the loss of female composers from the pages of Irish history books is perhaps more to do with inequalities in the rediscovery of Irish composers and their works at the end of the twentieth century, than it has to do with inequalities in how easily they were discarded”, citing dozens of female composers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century who faded into obscurity, like many of their male counterparts. For the NCH to claim that history is written and they are merely reading it, misses the point. They are engaged in the act of writing history, and by viewing their
“If the future for Irish theatre is one of checking privilege and artistic and economic parity, this goal seems to have elided the NCH and the Irish classical music establishment.” own teleological projections through a retrospective lens, history’s contingency is denied. More regretful, still, is the perpetuation of this flatly singular approach to programming once the chronologically linear series reaches the 1970s. As Jane O’Leary (the founder and artistic director of Concorde Ensemble) has recounted, there was a significant rise in female composers in Ireland from her arrival in the early 1970s through to the 1990s. While indicating there was “effectively nobody else” forty years ago, upon joining the International League of Women Composers in 1979, O’Leary found a community. It also provoked the thought that perhaps her gender had contributed to her exclusion from the developing Irish scene (an Irish Times music critic active from 1956-87, Charles Acton, had previously advised her to be quiet and observe). O’Leary’s absence from the Visions of Irish Modernism programme is striking, considering that her early work provides some of the scant examples of Serialism from Ireland at the time - the predominant method of modernist composition in the US and mainland Europe for the previous forty years. Amid further coverage of the series’ gender inequality, the NCH sought to appease their critics in July by announcing a recital by Isabelle O’Connell of female-only piano works, after the pianist’s own objections. The NCH’s afterthought of presenting these female composers’ works, sequestered from the (still) overwhelmingly male original programming, has not allayed the misgivings of Composing the Feminists. Jennifer Walshe, whose composition will be featured in O’Connell’s concert, has lamented the debacle for contributing to an arts scene that repeatedly tells an entire generation of girls that they “do not belong”. “That’s when the true history is written, as a generation of girls don’t pursue their dreams because they are constantly getting the message, whether subconsciously or consciously, that their music is not valued as much as music by boys”, Walshe says. The issue of O’Connell’s recital creating an “atmosphere of gender ghettoisation” could have been avoided too, Walshe tells me. She also mentions that persistent economic inequality is further underlined by O’Connell’s piano recital, as larger scale, orchestral works by women still make up less than 15% of the total. “These larger scale works are the ones 9
“One would hope that it doesn’t take another hundred years for those in power to realise they acted too late to affect the change they claim to desire.”
which will generate the most press and most definitely generate the largest royalty payouts of the festival”, Walshe explains. Any substantial undertaking like Composing the Island is bound to not please everyone and commit some oversights - it would be unrealistic to expect otherwise. However, the aforementioned issues extensively detailed by the Composing the Feminists group are tantamount to state-funded neglect and injustice. The group are equally eager to point out that, despite their wish not to carry out the debate in binary terms, a need to do so has contributed further to a perpetuation of establishment neglect of trans and gender fluid people. The issue of representation of people of colour and other minorities is not to be forgotten either. With a scant four pieces included by composers under 30, the festival’s encouragement of young, developing compositional talent that will hopefully constitute the future of Irish art music is apparently not a priority. One would hope that it doesn’t take another hundred years for those in power to realise they acted too late to affect the change they claim to desire. Isabell O’Connell’s recital will run as part of Composing the Island on September 21 at 6:30pm at the NCH.
WORDS BY DARRAGH KELLY PHOTOGRAPH OF JENNIFER WALSH BY BLACKIE BOUFFANT 10
BEAUTY IN THE DARKNESS Can you give us an overview of what Kaperlak is about and what form the show takes?
Amelia McConville speaks with Jane Deasy, director & composer of Kaperlak, which ran in the Pearse Centre as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Theatre Festival last week.
The first part of the show is a prologue which is performed as a radio piece, very inspired by Lars Von Trier. I’m also using text and documentary clips from David Attenborough. He says things about humanity and animals that just jump out at you. Things like “the animals in this great wilderness may live and die without ever coming into contact with humanity”. Sentences like that are just amazing. After the prologue there’s the act, which I perform in. The concept is kind of like a bell jar. There isn’t a bell jar on stage, but there is a circle. Basically the prologue sets up a scenario in which the world has ended due to our mistreatment of the earth. The act itself takes place in a version of the world which has been effectively ended. So it’s an individual’s view of the world ending or the having ended - looking back and asking what has happened. The music in the second half creates the landscape. Music and theatre are the two mediums that I explore concepts and ideas through, and the soundworld of this piece is a way of exploring its concept. Working with two forms of performance-based mediums is very challenging and interesting because you get to explore where the two meet and work as one thing, and this is where Kaperlak fits in. What I aim for is creating a performance that is something, rather than just about something. I suppose that’s what we are starting to call music theatre nowadays - it’s a very interesting movement that came out of 11
“It felt like a conversation with Plath and Woolf - like they were telling me to use those lines.” Europe, and I’m very influenced by it. Especially Heiner Goebbels, who writes about postdramatic theatre and the opportunities that come out of it to create a space for experiencing ideas and concepts.
Did you start with the music or the texts when assembling the piece? It’s like having one fully formed idea in your head - you know where you want to get to, but you still have to go through a lot to get there. I don’t actually know where I begin - I know what the sounds are that I want to make, I know what I want to hear and see. It’s about finding the most interesting things to put in there. I was really inspired by Plath’s The Bell Jar and Woolf ’s The Waves. They both communicated something to me that I had felt strongly before reading them. Plath’s language and descriptions really resonated with me - the way she would describe something as simple as walking down the road, and then finish the paragraph with something like “I felt like a hole in the ground”. A really short sentence, banal language, but it’s extremely cutting. You realise that feeling like that wasn’t a big deal for her, even though it’s a traumatic thing to say about yourself.
Is that feeling something that you tried to represent in the piece? For example - the way Irish musician Benjamin Dwyer recorded an album influenced by Ted Hughes’ Crow poems? Not exactly - there are elements like that that kind of come about naturally, and they can be really disturbing and dark and uncomfortable, but there are parts of the score that are really harmonic and nice too. It’s not too inaccessible! I actually know Ben Dwyer - our pieces are similar only in the sense of finding a sort of beauty in the darkness.
How did you select the words for this piece? There were certain lines in both texts that just seemed to say “use me!”. It felt like a conversation with Plath and Woolf - like they were telling me to use these lines. I love the idea of a collage. I think I approach theatre like a composer - everything has to be written down in fine detail about how it will all work. But in rehearsals you have to have changes and shifting because of cues and stuff, so there I approach the score more like a theatre piece. Finding a way of putting it together and directing it is really challenging, but it’s great.
Can you talk a bit more about the Woolf influence? I was mainly influenced by how Woolf interacts with nature in the novel - her descriptions of the earth and the trees and the waves and the sky and sun. In first line of the book it says “the sun had not yet risen” - and ‘Kaperlak’ means “time of darkness”. It’s a season in Greenland when the sun doesn’t rise, so they live in darkness for half the year.
Did Greenland influence the piece much? Have you been there? No, I actually haven’t! There’s another element to the show influenced by Greenland - which is nature documentaries. I’m obsessed with them. There’s one called The Village at the End of the Earth, about the village Niaqornat in Greenland. It has a population of 59 people, and they mostly
“I use graphic scores. We don’t use bar lines and we don’t use time signatures - I hate bar lines! So it’s a very visual kind of writing.”
still live by ancient inuit tradition. This documentary focused a lot on younger people living there who have things like Facebook - this place only got electricity in the eighties! They talk about “kaperlak” in it - and the the expression “time of darkness” really stuck out to me as being so powerful and simple. So I thought there has to be something I can create about a human darkness as well. That’s where Plath and Woolf came in. The Bell Jar is traumatic but it’s one of my favourite books ever. And in The Waves the nature language stuck out to me so much - I wanted to use that kind of language. And I wanted to explore the disconnect between us and our natural environment.
piece, and are so willing and open, and have been amazing to work with. There’s also a bass drum in the piece, a vibraphone, and crotales. I use graphic scores, we don’t use bar lines and we don’t use time signatures - I hate bar lines! So it’s a very visual kind of writing. The musicians have to read from a full score and not from the part so they can all follow each other and there is no conductor, the ensemble just work with each other by looking at each other. The extended techniques come into play and are written in the score - there are effects like growling and throat singing, and scratch tones too. It’s a graphic array of music, I write a score so it looks like what it should sound like.
Is there a longing then in this piece to feel connected with nature?
What sort of space is Kaperlak going to take place in?
Definitely. It’s something I believe we really miss in our lives. I need to be in nature. I love cities but there’s something meaningless about them friends and work are the things you latch onto in cities.
How many performers are in the show? How was it working with them? Three musicians, and one actor. I use extended techniques as well as conventional playing techniques, but mostly we don’t use what you’d usually hear from an instrument. So you take a violin and you explore the different ways of playing it, that aren’t going to produce just a note. Eanna Brennan, the violinist, is an amazing musician - she makes a really good sound, and it’s one that I want all the time, so I’ve worked with her lots before. Emma O’Reilly is our singer who is a dream and just so giving. We all know each other from studying music at Trinity. Alex Peck is our percussionist who is such a superstar - I just emailed him because I knew he was interested in playing contemporary music, which can be hard to find sometimes. All of them care so much about the overall sound of the
It’s going to be on here in the Pearse Centre, where I have a residency there’s a theatre in the back here, which is one of Dublin’s best kept secrets. It’s a great spot - a small basic black box theatre. I was so excited when they brought me in there first, to have my own space. We’re going to transform it a bit - we’re halving the audience capacity so we can use both the stage and the floor space - we need that much space to perform it properly.
Do you think you will record Kaperlak? It’s a big question - I don’t know! It’s a live thing. I think you would lose something in a recording. The radio piece from the prologue could stand alone as a piece of music. But you wouldn’t be getting the effect of the musicians walking onstage in their costumes, and being these weird creatures from the future. It could stand alone - but you would definitely be missing something from the overall effect.
WORDS BY AMELIA MCCONVILLE PHOTOGRAPHS BY SEAN FINNAN
stages of shite Cahal Sweeney wonders why, in this age of technical wizardry, nobody is making games that actually work?
ecently I came across a second hand PC copy of Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup in a charity shop. The game had formed an integral part of my childhood, so I spent three euro for old times’ sake. What struck me when I loaded it that evening was how it just... functioned. It took less than a minute to install. There was no hefty, day-one patch to download. There was no online multiplayer to try and set up through a frequently crashing server. There were no visible glitches or bugs to speak of. There was no lag. The game worked perfectly. How many releases on new generation consoles can say the same? Granted, games have advanced a long way since the days when we looked at a shifting mass of blocks and saw a crowded stadium, but the gaming production process seems not to have advanced with it. It used to be that you would
take the game home after it was released and play it. End of story. These days several new steps have been slotted in. Let’s go through them. The first one I will call ‘the purchasing phase’. This is when we see adverts up in most game stores, both online and offline, guaranteeing the game on its release date in exchange for paying an extra fiver, usually with some non-descript in-game extra thrown in. Where’s the incentive to do that? Often, getting the game on the first day is a redundant exercise. At least some of the features tend not to work due to various problems, like the frequent server crashes that plagued the release of GTA V in 2013. In some cases, the game itself may not work - look no further than Ubisoft’s interactive heartache, Assassin’s Creed Unity or the still infamous PC
“The real issue is that there is no widespread consensus among the community that anything is wrong. People buy games every year which have the same problems and say nothing about it. With no sign of a boycott risk, game companies have no motivation to improve their standards.” version of Batman: Arkham Knight. Assuming you do go to the effort, and the thing actually starts, you’re sure to be interrupted a few hours in, probably right after you killed that unkillable boss but before your progress has saved, to inform you the game needs an update. These “dayone patches” range from less than 100 Megabytes to the whopping 9.6 Gigabytes of Halo 5’s patch last year. Generally about a fifth of the size of the game, the day-one patch serves to clear up all the wonky stuff that was “missed” in development. It is questionable why games companies are able to rush to meet such stringent deadlines but can’t afford to deal with this stuff while it’s, y’know, being developed. I call the second phase ‘the disappointment phase’. This is when that great looking season pass with all the awesome downloadable content starts being advertised, and you realise you haven’t gotten anything nearly resembling the entire game for the purchase price. Take Arkham Knight, which was marketed at €60 in most games stores and online. Its season pass cost an additional €40. €100 is a lot to pay for a game. Especially when you discover - AFTER buying the pass - that it largely consists of additional suits, Batmobile racetracks and bits that supposedly add to the story but only last about thirty minutes each. Fallout 4’s season pass, originally marketed for €30 but then increased to €50 (for no stated reason), featured two moderately expansive story additions and a bunch of new options for the already ridiculously daunting crafting system. It was a far cry from the expansion packs for Bethesda’s last generation games, all of which added at least 20 hours of new gameplay. Then, of course, we have more pesky updates that don’t seem to add much of anything but are mandatory (my personal favourite in this regard was the defunct camera mode addition for Arkham Knight that took up 5 GB). We have the microtransactions that have plagued Destiny since its release and are steadily getting worse. The game functions as a node in a messy online network of consoles, PCs and apps, which work properly... occasionally. With bad review after bad review hurled at season pass content, there’s no sign of these valid criticisms being taken onboard. And for what? Sure, new generation games look stunning but this isn’t an effect that lasts forever. Unity’s Paris would be among the most beautiful locations ever captured in a videogame but once we get past the gorgeous visuals and technically abhorrent first few months postrelease, we find a game that is distinctly average. A beautifully rendered depiction of the City of Light simply couldn’t mask the fact that it
wasn’t all that fun to play around in. Ironically, Assassin’s Creed Rogue (released alongside Unity for last generation) had no PC release, little pre-release publicity, no season pass and no particular attention. And it was arguably one of the most entertaining games released in 2014, with no significant bugs or technical issues to boot. Similarly, Arkham Knight looks fantastic visually and is by no means a bad game, but for all that it doesn’t nearly live up to the tour de force that was Arkham City. The real issue is that there seems to be no widespread consensus among the gaming community that anything is wrong. People buy games every year which have the same problems and say nothing about it. With no sign of a boycott risk or any sort of widespread discontent, game companies have no motivation to improve their standards. I say different. I say we, as consumers, deserve more than half-finished products being put on the market. We should know what we’re getting. When we pay full price for what we think is a full game, it’s unfair for a third of the content to come out in subsequent DLCs. Above all else, the game should work. Games should not need a yearly deadline to make the Christmas rush. If we wait an extra few months and get a better game and a better release, I would consider it a fair trade off. There are a few signs that things may be looking up. Last year’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was the best in the series in years. It featured a great story, two deeply sympathetic protagonists, enjoyable missions, a beautiful city to play around in and a remarkably small day-one patch - we could be describing one of the original Assassin’s Creed games. The recently released No Man’s Sky, while a sort of disturbing crossover between Destiny and a Magic School Bus point-and-click from the 90s, has managed to avoid the catastrophic server crashes and hideous microtransactions that typically ruin otherwise excellent MMOs. Project CD Rekt released the final DLC for their masterpiece, The Witcher 3, in May. It lasted 25 hours and could be a stand alone game. If other companies were to follow their lead, we could return to a culture of gaming that is as relaxing, simple and as fun as loading up Quidditch World Cup for some childhood nostalgia. I hope they do. It’s not too late.
WORDS BY CAHAL SWEENEY ILLUSTRATION BY DANIEL TATLOW-DEVALLY 15
EVOLVE PAINT JAM 5 THE BERNARD SHAW 10 SEPTEMBER 2016
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CAROLINE DORGAN
Algorithms, Steel Bolts and a Biro After visiting the Science Gallery to have her portrait drawn by a robotic artist, Sarah Morel ponders the future of art in a technologydominated world.
recently had my portrait drawn, and for the first time in many years, I remembered the strange feeling that accompanies gazing upon one’s own likeness as executed by another hand. I have a collection of three from this particular sitting - all individual in their own right, yet with the same scratchy, jagged, black and white lines. Each portrait is impeccable, capturing my features exactly as they were on the day. This is a distinction which perhaps derives from the fact that they were not created by human hands, but rather by a collection of codes and algorithms stored inside a computer, connected to a webcam and a rudimentary ‘arm’ controlling a black biro. The artist, or should I say artists, were a trio of robots, all named Paul. The creation of Patrick Tresset, 3RNP (Three Robots Named Paul) is an art piece in itself, intended to explore how a soulless collaboration of metal and code explores and perceives the organic. In one sense, it does so by emulating its subject matter - that being the illogical, emotional human being, complete with all its flaws and shortfalls. However, it was difficult to ignore all the rather convincing quirks displayed by the three robots, which served to create the atmosphere of a real drawing class populated by imperfect students. The most obvious human-like quirk was the tendency of all three robots to periodically pause at their work in order to gaze up at the model, before hurrying back to their nervous scratching and scribbling. Each of the robots worked at different speeds, and I was informed by the attendant that drawing sessions often developed into a race between two of the Pauls, while the third adopted a more meticulous approach. It was easy
to forget that these personalities were pre-programmed, a set of perfectly calculated imperfections. Both the experience and the end result were unsettling. The portraits were utterly flawless underneath the various ‘mistakes’ made by the Pauls. It might seem easy to set up a webcam attached to a mechanical arm, but it is another story to make the end result resemble the result of human production. The likeness that was achieved, was a result of the masterful mimicry of human error. Despite this, the portraits look like empty husks. Perhaps the success of a portrait lies in the ability of the creator to understand the subject as more than a superficial image. A portrait that goes beyond the depiction of the subject’s physical likeness, and tells a wider story, could be considered the ‘ideal’ portrait. Here I am reminded of Frida Kahlo’s vast oeuvre, which consists almost completely of incredibly insightful and deeply emotional self-portraits, portraits which are as dependent on the depiction of the artist’s thoughts and feelings as they are on portrayals of her physical likeness. Kahlo’s paintings are a bold example, but even still, many, if not most of the great portrait artists have taken a similar, if more subtle, approach to portrait painting. Rembrandt with his brash and heavy brushstrokes, which only became brasher and heavier as he aged and suffered hardship after hardship; Van Gogh and Kirchner with their symbolically loaded color palettes; and even Vermeer, who employed an extensive iconography in order to tell the stories of his sitters. All followed a similar route to Kahlo in their portrait portfolios.
Many art historians have determined the ultimate purpose of portraits to be the immortalization of the subject at a certain moment in time. We are constantly engrossed by our own mortality, and the creation of and preservation of our legacies. What makes 3RNP so ironic is the fact that the robotic artist cannot know the underlying and constant threat of mortality, arguably the ultimate reason that humans create portraits in the first place. If 3RNP breaks, it can be repaired or reproduced exactly as it was before. Its human subject matter faces a different fate, one that nuts and bolts will never be able to comprehend. With this in mind, is it possible for robots to become great portrait artists? Is art as we know it under threat by modern technology? Could it be that everything - from the ‘selfie’ to a class of robot artists - is threatening to dissolve portraits, and art as we know it, into something much more superficial? In a world where technology appears to be advancing without limit, permeating every aspect of contemporary life, it would be nigh on impossible for art and artists to remain untouched. On some occasions, art and technology come into conflict, but mostly, particularly in recent years, the two work alongside one another, if not with each other. However, rarely has technology become the artist itself, separating itself almost entirely from human intervention, as is the case with 3RNP. Indeed, with Paul’s creation, Patrick Tresset has thrown into question what it truly means to be an artist, asking what qualities are needed to create ‘good’ art beyond raw artistic skill. It is generally agreed that a certain degree of artistic skill and a strong concept forms the basis of “good” art. However, across the huge array of what gets considered good art, there appears to be an inherent human aspect. It is hard to imagine that artificial intelligence will be able to carry on the proverbial torch, as it has in so many other area of contemporary
“It was easy to forget that these quirks and personalities were all pre-programmed, a set of perfectly calculated imperfections.” life. I would argue that technology is limited to making beautiful images, lacking any real conceptual substance. During my sitting, I recalled the 2015 Alex Garland film, Ex Machina, which explores the human fear of Artificial Intelligence. The film frequently used the example of art to illustrate both the differences and similarities between AI and humankind. The most interesting comparison drawn was between the pre-calculated, deliberate, yet flawless observational drawings of the robot Ava, and one of Jackson Pollock’s ‘drip paintings’. According to Oscar Isaac’s character, the Jackon Pollock would have never come about had a complete thought process come before the execution of the painting. Instead, the painting is a product of Pollock’s human nature, as natural an action as it is to feel desire, to breathe and to talk.
“Across the huge array of what is considered ‘good’ art, there appears to be an inherent human aspect.” If a Pollock painting is the purest artistic expression of humanity, then perhaps robot-produced art occupies an entirely separate stratum, one that should only be judged based on what the robot is capable of, that is to create something the quality of which relies purely the superficial beauty of the finished result. That being said, for the moment it is quite impossible to avoid comparing robot-made art with human-made art, simply because there is so little robot-art in production at the moment. This is a fact that is almost certain to change in the near future. The fact is that today’s artificial intelligence is incapable of deep contemplation or forging emotional connections and relationships with humans and animals. Indeed, it is a simple task to confirm whether another’s intelligence is human or artificial, and so it would be unreasonable to expect AI to be capable of creating the same type of art that humans have been creating for the past thousands of years. Instead, the end product of their labor may only be expected to be an object of pleasure, a picture that does not require vigorous contemplation, but solely serves to please the eye. If the ‘selfie’ is indeed the next development in the long tradition of immortalizing oneself within the confines of an image, then perhaps this spells the beginning of technology taking over the world of art. If today’s artificial intelligence is anything to go by, then tomorrow’s post-human art will be simply keen observations and beautiful colors, with no underlying substance.
3RNP, who will create an art merely to provide visual pleasure for the human observer. However, I would doubt that they would ever take over completely. Instead, these robot artists - immortal, unfeeling, and unaware as they are -will probably occupy a separate stratum of artistic practice, while humans continue to use art as they have since before the dawn of time. Indeed, though 3RNP is an indicator of where leisure technology may be headed, I am confident that art, in all of its various styles, will continue to be inherently human. The future may be uncertain, but one should be confident that art will continue to tell the story of humanity past, present and future.
However, it may not be so simple for technology to take over this particular facet of human society, for art, in all its purposes and forms is a product of humanity. For thousands of years, humans have used art as a tool to record, contemplate, nurture and explore seemingly all aspects of our existence. Indeed, from the ancient cave drawings of the Chauvet Cave in France to Renoir’s bourgeoisie boat parties, art has retained an inherently human aspect throughout its history. Given how much a part art is of human culture, it is highly unlikely technology will be able to take over and develop a firmly post-human art in place of the ‘old’. In the end, even in the midst of an increasingly technology-reliant society, art will need us as much as we need it. What does this mean for the likes of 3RNP? For now, the three robots exist simply as a unique novelty for the hordes of human subjects like me, whose curiosity fueled the desire to have their portrait drawn. That same need, for now anyway, is more often than not satiated via our front-facing cameras, as opposed to a skilled artist or photographer. However, as technology develops further, it isn’t unlikely that we will be seeing more robots like 22
WORDS BY SARAH MOREL PHOTOGRAPH COURTESTY OF SCIENCE GALLERY ILLUSTRATIONS BY 3 ROBOTS CALLED PAUL
F R E S H T A L E N T A Celebration of Style at Dublin Fashion Festival
ver 250 retailers, restaurants, bars and hotels took part in Dublin Fashion Festival, which ran from the 5th to the 11th of September. The citywide festival is organised by DublinTown, a not-for-profit organisation that are also behind popular festivals Dine in Dublin and Dublin at Christmas. The organisation acts as a collective of 2,500 businesses in the city centre, working to create an attractive, welcoming, vibrant and economic successful space for Dublin city, and the Dublin Fashion Festival is a key element in reaching this goal. Now in its seventh year, the festival celebrates all things fashion and brings a real sense of excitement and theatre into shopping and socializing in Dublin. This year’s programme included in-store events, exhibitions, on-street catwalk shows and glam-stations. The most anticipated events, however, were the night-time runway spectaculars taking place in iconic locations around the city.
super-chunky merino wool jumper in warm yellow, hand-knitted with size 16 needles, paired with warm honey-yellow wool culottes with neoprene panels and a detachable apron pocket which could also be used as a bag. She credits her theoretical studies exploring the relationship between storytelling and fashion as her inspiration for this piece. Duff focused on emotional and psychological storytelling, particularly the confessional poetry of Sylvia Plath. She was drawn to the “dreamy, surreal imagery of honey, bee hives and sweets” and wanted to toy with the idea of “young, feminine vulnerability” by using off-whites, candy pinks and warm yellows. The power of controlling and harnessing these emotions are important to her work. Duff is hoping to change popular perceptions of knitwear, to present it as something “which can be unexpected and bold and cool”. She would like to do a MSc in knitwear and gain hands-on experience with designers. The ultimate goal is to have her own brand.
On Wednesday 7th, Bank of Ireland College Green was lit up in a soft purple, wrapped in furls of smoke and transformed into a sanctuary of style. Hundreds of fashionistas descended upon the striking columned building for the fourth annual Young Designer of the Year fashion show. Twelve hopefuls for the title of Young Designer of the Year 2016 presented their looks. Six of the competitors hailed from NCAD (Nino Sanaia, Grainne Walley, Karla Bowden, Aisling Duff, JJ Donnelly, Ailbhe Griffin) and three from Ulster University (Jordan Robinson, Hannah Vail, Laura Ward) with the remaining designers coming from Limerick School of Art and Design (Jack Roche), Griffith College (Sarah Murphy) and the Grafton Academy of Dress Design (Naomi Ajetunmobi). Guests included Exposé presenter, Glenda Gilson, stylists Irene O’Brien and Lorna Weightman and Men’s Fashion Ireland founder, Adam Gaffey. Models from 1st Option Management sported a daring swoop of under-eye liner by No7 makeup that extended far beyond the lash-line. Hairstyling was courtesy of Toni & Guy, who gave the models twisted top-knots placed, very literally, at the very top of their heads.
For young designer Karla Bowden, 26, the show was an exciting highlight in her burgeoning career. Her piece, a structural white neoprene and leatherette full-length dress, was bold, yet clean and minimalistic. She aimed to reflect simplicity across her collection, explaining that she wanted the clothing to frame the body, while allowing the wearer a sense of freedom. Bowden’s inspiration was grounded in the American artist Sol LeWitt, famous for his conceptual wall-drawings and the “spontaneous creativity” of Dutch label Viktor & Rolf. Bowden has just finished studying Fashion Design in NCAD, following a year in the Drogheda Institute of Further Education where she completed her portfolio. In an email to Tn2, Bowden says she is hoping to immerse herself in Dutch fashion and culture in Holland and would love to work for Viktor & Rolf.
The show was hosted by Sonya Lennon and Brendan Courtney. Their label, Lennon Courtney, is five years old and the show included six looks from their Dunnes Stores collection. This year’s Face of the Festival, Darren Kennedy, was also in attendance. It is the first year that Dublin Fashion Festival has selected a man to be Face of the Festival, with previous titleholders including Pippa O’Connor and Angela Scanlon. On the night, Kennedy told the crowd that the show was “an amazing platform” for the young designers to demonstrate what they’re capable of in front of an esteemed judging panel, which consisted of fashion photographer Barry McCall; TV3 Xposé producer, Debbie O’ Donnell; owner of The Design Centre, Ashling Kilduf; head of personal and private shopping at Brown Thomas, Caroline Hanratty; and head of personal and private shopping at Arnotts, Clara Halpin. The head judge was Bairbre Power, fashion editor at the Irish Independent. JJ Donnelly was crowned the winner. Donnelly, who studied at NCAD, was awarded a €2000 bursary from West Coast Cooler and the opportunity to shoot a portfolio with judge Barry McCall. This opportunity is massive, as McCall is one of Ireland’s most influential photographers with work appearing in Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and Tatler. Donnelly was certainly a deserving winner, with an incredibly polished outfit. Careful consideration had clearly been given to the cut, construction and fabric of her look. It consisted of a long, straight-cut charcoal grey coat with a soft fur trim wrapped around the upper arms, a light grey knit turtleneck with a sleek black pleated midi skirt. Donnelly teamed this with black high heeled ankle boots and accessorised the look with a plain black bag clipped on with a silver belt at the waist. When photographed by Emily Quinn of Distinct Model Management, the look also included a bold colourful necklace. Aisling Duff, recent Fashion Design and History of Art and Design graduate from NCAD, told me “it’s been incredible meeting so many people in the industry and getting my work and ideas out there. It’s something I’ll never forget and definitely don’t take for granted”. Duff ’s look was an oversized, 24
Also present on the night was last year’s Young Designer of the Year, Katie Donoghue. Donoghue, who studied at Griffith College, describes winning the award as “every young designer’s dream” and credits it with giving her the confidence she needed to advance in her career. Her design, a soft, sumptuous and textured look inspired by the Wicklow Mountains, was used as the image for this year’s Fashion Festival. Donoghue’s graduate collection will be stocked by Om Diva, a small boutique on Drury Street. All speakers on the night stressed the importance of nurturing homegrown talent. Face of the Festival, Darren Kennedy drew attention to the “amazing affinity with textiles” that Irish designers have. This was certainly visible at the Young Designer show, which Kennedy said “puts a lot of the bigger shows to shame”. Another much anticipated event, the Creative Quarter Fashion Show, took place on Friday night. The so-called Creative Quarter, which stretches from South William St to George’s St, plays host to chic independent boutiques and unique fashion retailers. The show was held in the Powerscourt Centre and hosted by Darren Kennedy. Styled by Jules Fallon, managing director at 1st Options Models, the show promoted the diverse offerings from the area’s retailers. Models such as Irma Mali and Teo Sutra showcased the fashions of Om Diva, The Design Centre and designer Jennifer Rothwell. This varied selection of looks began with children’s wear. This was followed by a selection of bold formal looks, including a V-neck fuchsia jumpsuit with three-quarter-length sleeves and an off the shoulder silk floor-length gown in a striking geometric print. Monochromatic looks, including a sheer black ruffled blouse tucked into loose white trousers, and a black dress with a fluffy white bolero jacket and pointed stilettos, also turned heads. The sleek hair was styled by Davey Davey hair salon, while No. 7 gave the models a glamorous and sophisticated look, with bold lipstick and a soft smoky eye. Bridal wear, sequined gowns and men’s suits also made an appearance. The diverse show provided a fitting end to the festival, leaving no doubt about the variety and quality of fashion on offer in this small city.
WORDS BY FIONNUALA EGAN PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDRES PROVEDA
Karla Bowden’s look at the Young Designer of the Year show
Aisling Duff ’s merino jumper at the Young Designer of the Year Show
REVIEWS HALF LIGHT
Dublin Fringe Theatre Festival ●●●●○
Half Light has evidently been designed for a larger space. The New Theatre, hidden in the back of The Connolly Bookshop in Temple Bar, is a very small playing space for a show that features journeying through forests, climbing mountains, dancing, and even an impromptu flight upon a crow’s back. However, the inventiveness and irresistible energy with which it is staged and performed blows this constrained space wide open within minutes. Sound effects are skillfully used by the ensemble to accompany
traditional storybook ending, it is nevertheless a warm and genuine conclusion that gently lets some light in. This is a heartfelt reminder of the power of resilience during difficult times. A beautiful, engaging, and moving piece, Half Light has something to say to the adults and children of today alike. This is a show for all ages and one of this age.
Half Light is an endearingly funny show that proves to be equally profound. Mollie Molumby and her cast employ the nostalgia of childhood storybooks to present ten-year-old Robin’s concerned perspective on his dad’s self doubt following the loss of his job. References to the recession grant the piece context, but are almost unnecessary as the theme proves readily familiar with audiences. Well-timed jokes and moments of audience participation are cleverly incorporated throughout to balance the darker moments of the show.
earnest young Robin’s scrambling journey from his bed to his dad’s shed. In all, Half Light’s script proves beautifully transportive. Words have been chosen with a true storyteller’s skill. There are bright and powerful sentences that invite the imagination to play an equal part to the staging itself. Costumes are bright without being gaudy. The set is dressed without being busy. The overall look of the piece is one that fits its tone perfectly; a careful balance of fun and profundity with coloured balloons tied amongst the fir trees. All of this contributes to the distinct and irresistible feel of the world of Half Light. The most beautiful asset of the show is music. It doesn’t attempt to do more or be more than it needs to. Song is used throughout to brighten the mood with a loose folky style. Instrumental pieces accentuate scenes without distracting while accompaniment develops for the more nuanced numbers. Bittersweet melodies endure with a subtle distinctiveness. The music proves thoughtful and the songs unpretentiously profound. Each of the eclectic instruments present are played and pieces are performed by the ensemble together with a practised ease. Polyphony and harmonies are negotiated effortlessly with highlights including a passionate kazoo solo amongst the beautifully rendered melodies. Half Light breathes life into familiar analogies and metaphors, and is staged with an inventiveness and charm that utterly delights on multiple levels. It closes on a hopeful note, unfettered by saccharinity, and though not a
WORDS BY AMELIA McCONVILLE
Dublin Fringe Theatre Festival ●●●●●
Kaperlak hovers between mediums, categorising itself as a music theatre piece - it is all at once theatre, soundscape, and performance art. There is the sense that Jane Deasy has taken elements from different disciplines to create something that attempts to transcend them all in its execution. A graduate of Music and Drama at Trinity, Deasy has a residency at the Pearse Centre, where Kaperlak was performed as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Theatre Festival. The initial tableau is immediately arresting. A prone form lies inscribed in a circle of sand beside an old radio and half-buried piece of bone, with its back to audience, silent and still for the entire prologue. Filtered blue and green lighting cues lend an alien air to this strange space. The musicians negotiate their small environment via sound, exploring the various effects that can be achieved without instruments by tapping, scraping and drawing their hands and nails across various implements, eliciting noises that usher the audience into a richly 26
textured sonic environment that is at once postapocalyptic and unsettlingly familiar. The music itself is beautifully euphonic despite its dissonance, intensely contemporary and irresistibly fascinating. Unconventional techniques such as scratch tones and throat singing are used, which give the piece an immense power. It is sometimes surprising to remember that it is being performed live, and the sounds heard are being created by human hands and voices and not some ghostly figures from after the world has ended. Kaperlak has the feel of Beckett’s later abstract pieces, with the unmoving form inscribed
in a circle for the prologue, then waking and delivering a monologue during the act. The monologue alternates between painful vulnerability and disdainful aloofness - sharp sentences delivered with a simmering anger. The soundscape continues unrelenting, a dense field of sound that holds the audience captive. Kaperlak is best described as an experience rather than merely a play or piece of music aligning the end of the world with the feeling of personal apocalypse when suffering acute mental trauma. Its soundworld is lush and wholly distinctive, and its performers are seamless in their execution of this challenging and rewarding piece of music. WORDS BY AMELIA McCONVILLE
Blackmill Games ●●●●○
Verdun claims to be the first ever WWI firstperson shooter, and one can’t help but wonder if there is a reason studios have steered clear of the period until now. A conflict famous not only for its horrifying brutality, but also for its futility, hardly seems like the ideal setting for a squadbased FPS. I was initially suspicious that any remotely accurate WWI shooter would quickly descend into the kind of drawn out stalemate that you read about in history books - wide open battlefields with no cover, with zero opportunity for tactical play. In fact, M2H and Blackmill Games have created an engrossing, tactical game that manages to stay true to its setting while also providing endless memorable moments of play. Though a large scale game (32 players per match in the standard game mode), with a focus on broad strategic goals, Verdun is very much a claustrophobic experience. One might find oneself defending a particular corner in a trench with several teammates for an extended period, bitterly fighting over a small, cratered patch of no man’s land, or spending minutes slowly crawling through the undergrowth to spring a surprise attack. Despite this feature of the gameplay, there remains a definite sense of contributing to the overall movement of the match. This balance between the incredible scale of the wider conflict and the utter smallness felt by each person in it is not only a great deal of fun, but undoubtedly important to capturing the essence of trench warfare.
The constant tit-for-tat pattern of rounds keeps things interesting. The maps are split into several areas, usually following the line of a trench or fortification. Teams take turns attacking each other’s territory, and the winner is the team who advances the most by the end of the game. In practice, a well dug-in team can be hard to dislodge, and matches often end in draws, but the definite structure this provides makes the game much more tactical than more fluid shooters, which tend to be chaotic. You’re afforded the opportunity to work as a team and actually strategise. The game takes steps to incentivise teamwork. Teams are split into squads of four, with each player given a special role - commanding officer, sniper, flamethrower guy, etc. You’re able to respawn alongside your squad wherever they are, and points bonuses are given to squadmates who capture positions and kill enemies together. You’re invited to take ownership of your squad, and by voting within the squad you get to choose such things as the unit name and the type of loadout you collectively use.
intimidating at first. It’s rewarding if you persist, but gets frustrating when you keep getting shot from 500 metres off because you can’t find the prone button. Some people might get a kick out of this intensity, but it could drive away less patient players. Ten hours in, I still find myself playing the game of “is that mustard gas or just fog?”, but I suppose that’s the point. Thirty two players is a lot for an online FPS game, but given that the maps are very large, sometimes it feels like it’s December 1918 and everyone else has packed up and gone home. This isn’t an issue when you’re entirely focused on covering just one passageway with your machine gun, but at times when you get a view over the battlefield from a it feels a little empty. Perhaps this is what it was like to look out over no man’s land. Either way, it’s eerie. Overall, Verdun is a gem. Two indie studios have pulled off what many AAA producers still struggle to do; produced a truly original shooter. WORDS BY JACK KENNEDY
All that said, Verdun is not without its flaws. While the controls and course of play are relatively intuitive, the learning curve is steep. There isn’t so much as a help pop-up, let alone a full blown tutorial. You get stuck straight into a trench and you have to find your feet among the falling shells and general chaos. As historically accurate as that might be, it is a little 27
I had only ordered pizza on Deliveroo from this up and coming establishment based in Stoneybatter, so I was eager to discover what it was like to sit-in. Lunch was my meal of choice and frankly, I wish I hadn’t ruined my high opinion of this cafe/restaurant spot. The interior is typical of a post-2010 cafe. Trying too hard to be clean-cut and fresh, the result is unimaginative, with its bland decor.
My options on the menu were limited due to dietary restrictions, so I decided upon the Lebanese flatbread bulgar wheat salad with figs, and an Americano. The presentation of the salad was simply gorgeous. It was a large pickn-mix portion of pomegranate seeds, figs, red pepper, tomato, lettuce, cucumber, poppy seeds, hummus and sour cream all served on a large flatbread - very colourful and a delight to look at. Unfortunately the flavour of the dish was quite basic. The pomegranate seeds were a nice treat, when one happened to come across one, but the other ingredients were nothing to rave about.
The flatbread wasn’t very fresh, despite the fact that we were the first to order from the lunch menu. It was refreshing and light, as a salad should be, but it didn’t deliver on flavour and I found myself leaving half of it behind. The coffee was good, answerable to the fact that it was Cloud Picker. Overall, it was good value for money. The meal came to €8.40 - a decent price for a reasonably average experience. Cotto do wood fired pizza very well, but I wouldn’t hop on the next 39a to Stoneybatter for a salad that Chopped would probably do better. WORDS & PHOTO BY UNA HARTY
food About ten minutes later our dishes arrived, with none of the frills that I was somehow expecting. The eggs, however, were poached to perfection. I enjoyed the sweet yet tangy flavour that the relish left in my mouth. The combination was unusual but complementary. The sourdough bread, however, seemed to have missed the memo as it was no more than a stale, overly toasted slice. The portion was decent, but not huge, so I ordered a gluten-free brownie to have with the last of my 3fe coffee. Surprisingly it contained coconut and alcohol, which I didn’t complain about. For a very basic meal, it set me 28back around €10. That said, I would definitely come again. 28
TWO BOYS BREW Phibsboro ●●●●○
WORDS & PHOTO BY UNA HARTY
Two Boys Brew is a new cafe on the North Circular Road, located on the Mater hospital side of Phibsboro. The decor is classic hipster cafe, but good quality. Once a hall, now apparently transformed by sturdy, light, hardwood tables and walls painted in various shades of grey. The menu displayed a generous selection of breakfast, brunch and lunch options. I settled upon a very standard item from the breakfast menu - poached eggs on sourdough bread with a chilli and tomato relish - along with my usual Americano.
Dublin Fashion Festival ●●●●●
From the Brutalist confinements of a car park on Drury Street, out walked Dylan Moran, one of Ireland’s most exciting modelling talents, wearing only a white suit jacket and trousers, styled with a white choker. Welcome to Sector 9, a menswear show presented by Men’s Fashion Ireland as part of the annual Dublin Fashion Festival. The irreverence of this opening look alone signifies a new era for the Irish menswear industry. Try not to judge the hyperbolic undertones of that statement too harshly. Seeing an effeminate interpretation of a traditional silhouette juxtaposed against an aggressively masculine space ought to be deemed considerably progressive, especially for an industry that has been historically stagnant in Ireland. Men’s Fashion Ireland is the online, print and TV media brainchild of Adam Gaffey. Gaffey’s first hand experience of the international fashion industry combined with his innate sensibility towards the Irish consumer, provides the foundations for the quarterly print magazine and indeed, the Autumn/Winter 2016 show. The show is divided into three scenes; ‘Formal Wear’, ‘Texture’ and ‘Military’. MFI aims to present trends familiar to its consumer. However, by undermining the expectations of blanket masculinity associated with these ideas, MFI posited an exploratory collection
that feels entirely fresh. At once a celebration of masculine themes and a questioning of what they might look like in 2016. This gestures to one of the most intriguing conversations currently surrounding menswear at a macro level. Think Saint Laurent, or even Gucci but if you mentally arrived at Jaden Smith you’ve gone too far. MFI is adamant in appealing to a specific Irish consumer who perhaps isn’t entirely ready for that level of eccentricity. However, it is this connection to a distinctly Irish identity that elevates Sector 9 from the trivial to the authentic. Collectively, the production ran seamlessly. From hair and makeup to sound, the professional execution of the event reinforced MFI’s decidedly earnest offering to the Irish fashion industry. Still, it is apparent that their M.V.P. is stylist Brian Conway. Having compiled forty looks using fashions available in Dublin, Conway’s runway managed to remain consistent while operating within a satisfyingly controlled colour story. ‘Formal Wear’ proved to be a perfect summary of the democratic nature of this show. A series of white high tops from Primark paired with technically sophisticated Magee suits illustrated Conway’s seemingly effortless ability to team high street labels with designer brands.
international collections, came next. Pairing Topman Design’s brown velvet trousers with a floral print shirt paid tribute to Dries Van Noten and Gucci. The heavy use of check and houndstooth was reminiscent of Fendi, Lou Dalton and Dior Homme. However, it was the closing sequence of ‘Military’ that saw Conway truly flex his creative muscle. Jumpers beneath utility jackets beneath trench coats. Bags and dog tags, loafers, flatforms and desert boots. This dynamism made ‘Military’ the most stylised scene of all; a paradoxical combination of individualism and uniformity. ‘Military’ provided a thought provoking finale to an already contemplative show.
By remaining considerate of the Irish consumer’s identity, while simultaneously locating them within international fashion movements, MFI succeeded in presenting ideas that are palatable, yet inspired. So what does Autumn/ Winter 2016 look like for men? According to the team at Men’s Fashion Ireland, this season is utilitarian, layered and fitted. Above all, the season challenges you to rethink the everyday perceptions of masculinity in your wardrobe. While the show doesn’t radicalise the concept of masculinity, there was strength in it’s subtlety, leaving us with a show that reflected The ‘Texture’ scene, brimming with nods to the evolving state of Dublin’s menswear scene. WORDS BY LOUISE HYNES PHOTO COURTESY OF MEN’S FASHION IRELAND.IE
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Matt Ross ●●●●●
While skimming through the cinema listings, one could be forgiven for dismissing Captain Fantastic as the latest in a seemingly endless onslaught of superhero films. Don’t be fooled, as Captain Fantastic is the antithesis of Captain America and its ilk. The film focuses on Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) as he raises his six children in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. Removed from society, they are home-schooled, flourishing intellectually and physically. The establishing shots introduce a verdant landscape full with the sound of birdsong. Early scenes are visually resplendent, and credit must go to the set and costume designers for their part in bringing this idyllic vision to life. From these initial scenes, one might expect Captain Fantastic to be a homage to the beauty of nature and isolation. However, Captain Fantastic is a film with its focus firmly on human society. Here, “fantastic” refers to the incredible capacities of an ordinary person - no superpowers required - and the film’s premise provides an apt stage for an exploration of the human condition. The message seems clear: the human capacity for greatness is enormous, but so is contemporary society’s ability to hinder it. Creative licence is taken to depict the Cash family’s lifestyle as
WORDS BY OISIN McMANUS borderline utopian, as they not only survive but thrive in what surely must be a harsher environment than the film implies. As the family become drawn into the realms of “civilised” society, director Matt Ross pitches the opposing lifestyles against each other to offer a sharp social commentary. The criticism is directed nominally at America, but could be applied to wealthy Western countries in general. Consumerist culture, obesity and a generation’s obsession with video games and smartphones are all lambasted. As the film progresses, however, it is Mortensen’s Ben Cash and the world he has created that comes in for increasing criticism. The subject matter affords plenty of room for quirkiness in what is ultimately a very funny film. From children discussing M-theory around a campfire to a full-frontal nude Mortensen outside a camper van, Captain Fantastic isn’t short of laugh-out-loud moments. Between these scenes, Ross focuses on conveying the forest lifestyle and how it teeters between absurdity and normality, between a dangerous, unforgiving existence and an admirable one. The frank dialogue of the Cash children is striking. Their irreverent take on a whole host of societal issues is brought about through characters which are simultaneously highly intelligent and incredibly naive. Of yet greater note is their
emotional maturity. They are as capable of embracing pain as they are of overcoming it. In particular, George McKay excels as *adjective to make this flow* Bodevan, the eldest of the Cash siblings. But collectively, all the young actors bring an acute awareness and emotional reverence to *their* every scene they are a part of. Captain Fantastic sparkles with life and vibrancy. Days after seeing the film, I still catch myself thinking about the questions it raised. There is no shortage of material for discussion on the way home from the cinema and beyond. What more could you ask of a film really? We are left to ponder whether Ben Cash really is, in fact, ‘Captain Fantastic’. No matter the answer, there is little doubt the film on the whole, is worthy of that superlative.
James Vincent McMorrow ●●●○○
Considered alongside the Dubliner’s debut album, Early In The Morning, We Move seems a foreign country, with its RnB and electronic soundscape. Though it was evident that McMorrow was moving away from the wellestablished territory of Irish Indie-folk with Post Tropical’s intricate blend of folk and RnB, We Move finds McMorrow completely abandoning any trace of the sound he started off with. McMorrow’s trademark falsetto voice, which has always been his biggest asset, emerges here as far more dominating and versatile than before. In line with the prominence of electronics on We Move, his voice is manipulated to the point where it becomes an instrument itself. The use of vocal sampling, double-tracking and backing vocals furthers his position as an RnB musician, to the point where he almost sounds akin to an early Kanye West. Such vocal techniques can be credited to the producers Nineteen85 and Frank Dukes, who have previously worked alongside the likes of Drake, Kanye West and Rihanna. In
fact, McMorrow himself contributed vocals to the Drake track Hype. It seems, then, that McMorrow is heading in the direction of more mainstream recognition. The opening track Rising Water is a perfect example of a radio-friendly track, with McMorrow’s usually downbeat and melancholic tone replaced by an upbeat flow and a more confident delivery.
McMorrow is surely to be commended for taking such a bold leap in a new musical direction and abandoning the safe territory of Indie-folk. However, what had made McMorrow’s music so resonating, its multi-faceted frailty, has now largely disappeared. In its place is something far more sanguine, which has ultimately lost what made his sound so unique. WORDS BY KEVIN BIRD
notable previous modulation (in the choruses of 2008’s “Paparazzi”) being done via a rather clever use of an established classical music theory transition. Signalled with a crescendo here, this key change makes no qualms about its indiscriminate cranking up of an already piercing melody.
and deceit is preconditional. Such an illusory wholeness and smoothed-over synthesis, arguably what Gaga’s career has been built upon (a seamless amalgamation of pop music, fashion, high art etc), can only go so far. Gaga’s critical relationship towards such utterly second-hand tools as the brazen key change on display here see her proving that a more true unity can only be achieved through disjunction, not in spite of it.
PERFECT ILLUSION Lady Gaga ●●●●○
Lady Gaga’s return after a three year hiatus possesses all the drive and restlessness of 2015’s gynocentric Mad Max: Fury Road. Assisted by Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, Mark Ronson, and BloodPop, much like Fury Road, Gaga goes high-octane fast and doesn’t relent on this track, her untreated voice backed by disco-rock guitars with synth and a thundering four-on-the-floor drum beat. Gaga’s minor key hollering about mistaking something for love and the realisation of its illusory quality, meanwhile, correspond with the Schiller’s aesthetic concept of Schein. Often translated as “semblance”, it has embodied a dialectic of deception in contrast to revelation. It is precisely Gaga’s redemption of both the aesthetic and lived illusion (“I still feel the blow but at least now I know…”) in “Perfect Illusion” which sustains this dialectic. The aesthetic illusion’s redemption finds its climax in Gaga’s first ever outright key change at the 1:50 mark. This shift (up a major second) is unprecedented in her work, with the most
If extreme integration is illusion pushed to the extreme, “Perfect Illusion” asserts that in artworks, as in life, an element of disintegration
WORDS BY DARRAGH KELLY
STAGE SCHOOL E4
buried beneath the cremated remains of such E4 “classics” as Desperate Scousewives and Party House, never to see light again.
Like Roger Ebert in his review of The Human Centipede, I find myself unable to award E4’s Stage School a star rating. It’s not just because such a system is “unsuited” to this show. This show is so goddam awful that it should be
E4 has marketed this “glitzy” new reality show, which follows the students and teachers at a performing arts school in London, as “The Only Way is Essex meets Glee”. Such low standards and, still, I advise you not to hold your breath. Generation Z-ers are shown to be bereft of any talent whatsoever, even when lipsyncing. We are blessed with two musical numbers per
episode where singers aptly illustrate that autotune can’t fix everyone. Dancing is reduced to awkwardly walking around while clicking your fingers. Between these moments, viewers can be enthralled by the personal lives of the young and beautiful. Or, as they like to call each other, the “X-Factor rejects” and “nobody bitches”. Stage School succeeds in completely distorting arts training beyond recognition. I can offer one positive. It has become a guilty pleasure of mine. I’ve watched nine episodes and await the next twenty-one. I recommend watching when you require an even more mindless fix than Made In Chelsea or Geordie Shore. It’s also the only show on TV that reminds me how good my acting skills are, although they only come into effect at times of need (like when mam buys me the wrong socks for Christmas or when I told my first boyfriend I loved him that one time).
The only way to describe this show is in the words of Ebert himself: “Is this show good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the [talentless] stars don’t shine.” WORDS BY SORCHA NÍ CHEALLAIGH
THE GET DOWN Netflix ●●●●○
In a time when cats were cool, turkeys were jive and people did each other “solids”; a new genre of music was being discovered in America. The Get Down is Baz Luhrman’s highly stylized and largely fictional account of the birth of hip-hop in the South Bronx in the late 1970s. The series focuses on two characters: Ezekiel, a gifted poet who lacks direction, and Mylene, a gospel singer who dreams of being a disco star. With the support of their friends, both must overcome various obstacles as they pursue their dreams and, ultimately, their love. The plot is a little formulaic, but what makes The Get Down unique is the music; a mixture of disco, gospel and, of course, hip-hop. Industry legend Nas is present as narrator, and the show is undeniably at its best when the leads are performing in their respective genres. Actors Justice Smith (Ezekiel) and Herizen F. Guardiola (Mylene) are passionate about their art and the show’s original compositions give them ample opportunity to showcase their talents. Yet in its approach to the grittier elements of the Bronx of the 1970s, The Get Down falters. Veracious dangers faced daily by Ezekiel and 32
Mylene are brushed off a little too quickly and make little impact on the show’s generally light tone. Sadly, there are rarely more than one or two scenes given to exploring the true effects of the violence and poverty the kids endure.
watch. The characters are likable and the musical talent on display is extremely impressive. This is a feel-good series well worth considering if you aren’t sure what to binge on next.
While it does have its flaws, The Get Down has many positive elements. It’s enjoyable and easy to
WORDS BY GARY MUNNELLY
While Ross remains very much front and centre as always, A Game of Throw-ins feels more like an ensemble story than the last few instalments. With his old friends absent for the majority of the novel, the focus falls on his immediate family. His daughter Honour becomes infatuated at the tender age of seven with a Justin Bieber lookalike. The resulting hilarious storyline involves alcoholism, head-locks and entrapment. His father Charles discovers a wig in his attic and slowly transforms into Dennis O’Brien. Meanwhile, his old dear – “the focking fish” – becomes engaged to a multi-billionaire, senile American in his nineties. Their marriage in a boat off the coast of Dalkey is one of the highlights of the book, and the development of Ross and his mother’s relationship from their usual passive- aggressive hatred into something more nuanced is yet another example of these characters genuinely growing and changing as time goes by.
A GAME OF THROWINS Paul Howard ●●●○○
A Game of Throw-ins is the sixteenth episode in Paul Howard’s chronicle of everybody’s favourite moron in a pair of dubes: Ross O’CarrollKelly. When comparing it to the first book in the series, what’s staggering is that there is as much here that’s completely new to long time readers as there are things that are familiar. The landscape, and indeed times, that Ross inhabits have changed dramatically. That will always remain to me the most impressive element of the seemingly immortal Ross O’ Carroll-Kelly saga - its adaptability. Considering this is a series based around a one-dimensional gimmick – affluent 90’s kids playing rugby – not only has it survived the recession, it has actually mutated and thrived. The recession forced Ross out of his comfort zone, shaking up his Groundhog Day existence, where nothing ever changed and every page in each new book was about rugby, girls or alcohol. Ever since NAMA Mia! in 2011, the adventures of Ross have felt more awake, and the world he explores is a far more exciting and varied one. This latest title in the series, A Game of Throw-ins, might just take the cake in terms of exoticism, when the Rossmeister finds himself playing division 2B rugby for Seapoint “in – let’s be honest – Ballybrack”.
Without a doubt, however, Ross’ son Ronan is the standout support character in A Game of Throw-ins. Despite having to study for the Leaving Cert, he starts a Love/Hate bus tour with his friends Nudger and Buckets of Blood. Things rapidly escalate when his tour clashes with another Love/Hate tour run by the appropriately named Scum. The feud’s increasingly violent set of retaliations fuels Ronan’s paranoia and North-side accent until he eventually becomes the embodiment of Nidge, shaven head and all. As Ronan’s character becomes more and more fleshed out and charismatic, it’s not impossible to imagine a novel in the saga eventually being told from his perspective. He may even become the flagship character, succeeding Ross and his ever-expanding belly.
A Game of Throw-ins is not the best title in the series, but it’s a solid entry nonetheless. The overarching themes of time, change and broken families are balanced perfectly against the hilarious antics of Ross and his lunatic family. The older Ross becomes, the more interesting and nuanced a character he’s proving to be. This novel however, belongs to the people he loves more than to him. Here’s hoping that in the next novel Sorcha finally gets an interesting storyline of her own. WORDS BY MICHAEL MULLOOLY
sex. Last week I visited the New York Museum of Sex. As someone with a love for museums and an undying interest in all things sexually deviant, I was completely willing to hand over almost 20 dollars on my way in. The exhibits promised to educate me on “the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality” and also included a bouncy-castle full of rubber tits. The gift shop was the first section. Overpriced vibrators lined the walls, alongside the usual tacky sex-shop stuff. Pornographic pictures littered around the room were an indication of what was to come, and provided squeamish visitors with enough to scare them away from the X-rated experience of the museum. First up was an exhibit entitled simply Hard-core. Its name proved fitting, as visitors are bombarded with grainy, black and white, vintage pornography from every angle. Each movie came with a written description contextualising what was happening, and detailing where the film was first shown. During one particularly surreal moment, myself and an elderly couple huddled around a small plaque, struggling to read information about Linda Lovelace’s infamous Deep Throat, which was playing on a huge screen right next to us. It felt like my grandparents had just walked in on me masturbating. At some point between the Sex in the Animal Kingdom exhibit and the museum’s vast collection of sex-related artefacts, I realised that I wasn’t feeling how I had expected. I thought I would revel in the sense of liberation that comes with an open discussion of sex and sexuality, to lap up the lewd and explicit. However, I began to feel horrendously inexperienced, and almost left out. Despite having gone to bed with what I’d consider a healthy amount of people, the number of times that I’ve had penetrative sex is embarrassingly low, and none of those times were particularly spectacular either. I long to be the type of person that can have fantastic sex on a one night stand and feel totally free and proud. At times it feels as though all my single friends are enjoying the promiscuous life, when I’d rather just fall asleep. I started to question my relationship with sex at the start of this year. Having dated a guy that I got on well with, I wasn’t sure if I was actually attracted to him. No matter what we tried, from foreplay to different positions, I was completely unable to climax. This summer, after chatting online to a guy I met on Tinder for the best part of a month, our eventual meeting was a disappointment. This time around it was more humiliating, as it involved over an hour of sitting naked in the back of his car, unable to get an erection, before finally half-heartedly going at it for less than a minute until I ran out of steam. I couldn’t even blame it on alcohol, as for once it was a totally sober encounter. I know that I definitely don’t have any kind of erectile dysfunction, as getting erect during masturbation or if I’m really into someone has never been an issue. I’ve started to believe that it’s down to who I am as a person. I think I genuinely have to have some sort of connection or emotional bond with somebody before I can be attracted to them. It wasn’t until I came across the term “demisexual” a few months back that I felt like I had a right to feel this way. The idea of demisexuality is something that a lot of people have never come across before. The idea is that there is a spectrum of asexuality, and in between the two poles [asexual and non-asexual] are people that consider themselves to be demisexual, requiring a bond with their partner before feeling attracted toward them. As far back as I can remember, I’ve never felt any attraction toward any famous people. Although I can recognise good looking celebrities and strangers, it’s rare that I’ve ever felt anything for someone whom I’ve never spoken to. I can count on one hand everyone who I’ve had crushes on and they’ve all been people that I’ve kissed whilst being friends with them previously, or gotten to know while dating. Although I’ve gotten a few dismissive eye rolls while trying to explain the validity of my sexuality to friends, knowledge of this label has made me more comfortable and aware of myself. Despite wanting to have hook-ups and great sex, I’ve accepted that it’s going to take some work first. I now plan to go about my sex life with a new approach and mindset, accepting the fact that maybe I’ll have to try a little harder than most to get a little more fulfilment. Hopefully if I ever return to a sex museum, I’ll do so with plenty of great stories of my own. ANONYMOUS
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