By some stroke of luck (and a bit of finagling on my own part), I don’t have class on Wednesdays or Fridays each week. In the interest of making the most of my time in London and staying on track with course work, I try to make full use of the day: the following is a poorly photographed but very honest depiction of a well-spent Wednesday, with equal parts work and play and a few riveting pics of me pretending to be the lead character in a movie about my life whilst on public transportation. Let’s start at:
9:30 am: RISE & SHINE
After quickly breakfasting, showering, & mentally planning out the day ahead, I snap a reassuring selfie for the sake of this blog, complete with Trendy London Filter & optimistic hand sign. My flat is about 20 minutes from campus, and with traffic, the commute can take up to 30 minutes, so it’s important that I start my day with good vibes and a clear head. Thus, I listen to THIS about five times before I walk out the door.
Just try it, and feel free to thank me later in the comments below!
10:00 am: SUCCESSFUL COMMUTE
I wanted to snap a photo from the bus ride to school, but alas, it was too cramped for a selfie to be anything other than painfully awkward for all parties involved. Instead, I’m going with this gloomily regal pic of UCL — it’s the first view of main campus that I get everyday as I stroll through the main gates, an architectural bastion of education that is as majestic as it is terrifying (the front steps are VERY steep). Peep that rotunda! The main courtyard is surrounded by trees, offers plenty of quality bench options, and generally has throngs of students milling about. It’s the only “quad”-like part of the school, and walking through it each morning is still something I’m getting used to after two years of greeting Gilman on the regular. But it’s a good change, it truly is.
10:10am-1pm: STUDY SPACE ACQUIRED
The UCL Main Library is a treasure. With a multitude of different reading rooms, large and small, all well-equipped with outlets and wood panels and natural light (and, you know, books), it gives the whole homeworking process a pleasant ambiance. Today I chose to squirrel away in the law reading room, which is nominally for law students and filled with law books but is actually inhabited by a bunch of plebeians like me who need an old academic vibe to get anything done. I wanted to snap this pic quickly so that I wasn’t seen as an annoying tourist, so alas, you have my unidentified pal in the corner & strange lighting. But you feel the effect, I hope! This is actually my third try: the first two were taken from my seat, and just really hit home for me that I am a failure of a millennial who canNOT take good iPhone photos. Amen. Here they are.
You see my point. Anyhow, there I sat for several hours, plowing away at my readings for Topics in Visual Representation on visual/material culture in the aftermath of 9/11. The essayists discussed everything from the fetishization of traumatic images in the media to the use of the about-to-die image, that pivotal moment just before the subject actually dies, which is used far more often in journalistic depictions of human tragedy than the actual action of dying or the gruesome aftermath. It was a heavy way to start the day, but well-worth it, considering my complete lack of experience in the field of visual studies and anthropology. One of the best feelings is the one you get when you sense your brain expanding with new info, especially when you’re in a sunlit reading room that was built eons ago & housed many other scholars before you. And, of course, here is my study set-up: simple, functional, caffeinated: Covergirl. All a gal needs!
1:30 pm: FIELD TRIP
At around 1, I decided I had done enough work for the day; I was getting peckish for food & the outside world, so I quickly grabbed some lunch and hopped on the tube to go to Whitechapel Gallery, a *free* contemporary art gallery in East London. Here is a haute mirror selfie featuring my two fun-loving fellow commuters. At that moment, I was probably listening to soul music and dreaming up imaginary scenarios about my life, but that’s just me! A walking cliche!
IMPORTANT NOTE: There was a small dog on the tube, and it looked at me. Truly a blessing: truly a good omen.
I got off at Aldgate East Station about fifteen minutes later and, to my surprise, the gallery was located right next to it. I really think I owe it all to the dog.
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm: FLESH VESSEL SEES ART
After taking a beat to ensure I was acquainted with the rules of the gallery (backpack or no? photography or no? shoes and shirt required, or no?), I took my time walking through each of the galleries within the Whitechapel building. For #frugalitypurposes, I didn’t check out the special exhibition, which required payment, but the other eight rooms more than made up for it. This picture is from inside Liam Gillick’s “Prototype Conference Room”, where he altered traditional meeting space with brightly colored upholstery in no particular pattern of distribution. I chose a bright red chair, and my homie towards the front chose a dark green one: What does this say about our psyches? No idea! On screen, they showed several different artists’ work, all of which had to do with the intersection of technology and the moving image. I snapped this mid-viewing Mateusz Sadowski’s “It Takes Time”.
Another favorite was Etel Adnan’s “Champs de Petrol (Petrol Fields)”, which was part of an exhibition from the Barjeel Art Foundation Collection on the second floor. I quite liked all of it, but for the sake of bringing this blog to a graceful close, here is just the one:
4:30pm: HOMEWARD BOUND
And finally, from the top of the double-decker bus, I snapped a triumphant pic of a glorious and full day. London traffic is a force to be reckoned with, so I had a full half hour to cruise at a higher altitude than usual & reflect on the many things I read, saw, and ate. Today was a good day, filled with well-chosen busyness and sub-par (but HONEST & AUTHENTIC) photography. Until the next jaunt!