This week I found myself in Paris attending a gathering of Cybersecurity specialists. We Cybersecurity types know a good thing when we see one, so when I was invited to this meeting at the British Ambassador's residence I jumped on Eurostar and headed across (under) the Channel.
The event itself was an interesting gathering organised by the Cybersecurity KTN Network, with attendees from across Europe and the USA trying to assess risks and responses to the rising global threats posed by cybercrime. It was sort of about keeping sharks at bay.
So it was kind of appropriate that the first picture I noticed as I wandered around the magnificant residence, poking my nose into various rooms, was Damian Hirst's "Pardaxin". It's not a "usual" Hirst (if such a thing exists) in that it wasn't an animal cut in half. It was a canvass with some coloured spots on it. 42 coloured spots to be exact. No two colours the same. Handpainted. I think it was art. Hmmmm....
On another wall was a work by Alex Pollard which was a bit more to my liking, being a closet geek. It is called "8-bit Landscape" (named after a computer game apparently) and consisted of a large canvass with a small eraser, pencil, button, nail and a few other bits positioned on it. I counted the bits and there weren't 8, which immediately threw my brain into a mass of confusion. Was that deliberate? Can't he count? Also it turned out the items were not actual erasers and pencils, but plaster casts of erasers and pencils, handpainted to look like real ones. Cunning, eh? Hmmmm....
Next to this was a piece of twisted flourescent lighting tube, made into a sentence that says "Time here becomes space/space here becomes time" by Wyn Evans. Across the way was another piece saying "Space here becomes time/time here becomes space". I had to read the card to help me on this one. The card explained "The two sentences call to each other providing a spatial commetary which both contradicts and complements". Head spinning, I felt it was time for a nice cup of tea and a sit down somewhere quite.
The Cybersecurity meeting was opened by Sir Peter Westmacott, Her Majesty's Ambassador to France. I was soooo hoping that a butler would appear with the Ferrero Rocher but it was not to be. It was a fascinating conference including memorable phrases like "a zero-knowledge proof of knowledge", but during the break I returned to my search for a work of art that I could understand.
It was lunchtime and whilst the setting was stunning and the lunch was delightful, I was slightly put off my lunch having just seen Gayle Chong Kwan's work Babel. She has constructed and photographed a scene of the tower of Babel out of raw, dried slices of meat. Oh, that reminds me, we had Steak and Kidney Pie for lunch.
The afternoon cybersecurity session was led by the American contingent. I do enjoy American security types. They just seem so, well, like American security types.
As the day drew to an end and we prepared to leave I strolled into a very grand room with massive paintings covering the walls and finally found the picture I was looking for. There it was. As tall as a building. Commanding. Confident. In control.
Now, THAT'S what I'm talking 'bout :)