Magic Eye Manual

Priya's intermittent blog

Diary entry

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“And what is more dull than a discreet diary? One might as well have a discreet soul”.

I saw this quote on a BBC show called ‘Dear Diary’  last night – on famous diarists in the UK and  people whose diaries are records of their times and valuable as an index of history and so on. (The quote was by Sir Henry ‘Chips’ Channon, diarist, author and politician (1898-1958), who wrote extensively as a Member of Parliament, as did many after him.) The show talked about Samuel Pepys, whose detailed diaries, (from 1660 – 1669) have been invaluable ‘eyewitness’ accounts of the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London; it talked about The Mass Observation diaries – diaries of people recording their everyday lives in Britain from 1937  – because 3 friends were interested in ‘An Anthropology of Ourselves’ and hundreds and hundreds of people wrote about their lives for years; it talked about the diary of Sir Robert Scott who led a British expedition to the South Pole and never returned and his diary was found under his hand nine months after his body was discovered.

Somewhere else I read about the things that diary writing do not include.

” a good diary is not necessarily literature; for of its nature it must be free of most of the disciplines and tests of a work of art. Vision, imagination, passion, fancy, invention, scholarship, detachment and the steely constraints of form and design – none of these have a vital place in diary writing. ” [Quoted in Robert Fothergill’s ‘Private Chronicles: A Study of English Diaries’]

I decided I wouldn’t journal a couple of years ago. And when I read this list I think the reason is that journaling can’t be detached. Ofcourse one makes decisions to write in any which way – but there is something about diary writing that has to not decide. So when I write:

A few things happened on the way to Kings Grove:

On the 436 the other night –  the bendy bus from Paddington all the way to the top of my street – two men got into an argument where one of them said : I will fuck you up man, don’t talk to me! You don’t know me and I’m not having a good day.

I stared out the window, got off the bus where I had to, and walked really fast back to the house.

The young guy who works at the corner store said to me : Lekin yahaan life nahin hai. Mai soch raha hun ki mai Manchester shift ho jaoon ..

The store from 2 weeks and a new jacket ago, is being renovated and there’s no trace of it. I walked past it three times yesterday and it was like it had never existed.

I looked around me at Madame Jojo’s in a moment of perfect sync because I had never met the people I was with before, and the DJ said – you can breakdance to anything. She looked like Angela Davis.

There’s nothing worse than opportunistic people who are flaky.

Looking at all the art in ‘The Empire Strikes Back – Indian Art Today’ made me think of how looking at art requires an attention span of 20 seconds in such big, important art venues. How meaningless time is to big art. Exposition is everything.

I think I need different material and different textures. I think I should never diary again.

It sounds too much like how I would say it. And it feels discreet. I don’t want a discreet soul, even if I have one..

Should diaries only be read as chronicles? I was going through a booklet from the Mass Observation Archives and a few people’s diaries have been published and there was a kind of summary of what was in them. What is clear is that it is a subjective reading of a person’s life – and chronicles of what the reader would choose to find interesting.  And at the end of 12 such summaries, was a list of references to events, places, things, organizations.. So that if one were to look at war time accounts of peoples everyday lives – one would be likely to find..

Air-raid shelters: 5342, 5246 Amateur dramatics: 5246

Animals: cats: 5323 dogs: 5323, 5342 goats: 5434 poultry: 5434

Family businesses: garage: 5323 Gardening: 5342 Hampshire: TB sanatorium: 5269 Hoarding: 5 342

Mother’s help: 5434

Music: 5399,5246 Nanny: 5246

(I’m not sure I’m supposed to be putting this out – the numbers stand for the diarist, and the list is much much longer.)

The details in my grandfather’s diary of the most banal, the most repetitive and the most mundane – make me think of how he would write his diary twice a day, standing at his dresser. He used to be a policeman and I believe he dictated stories of his days in service for my cousin to write down when she insisted. He never wrote about them. He never mentions them except in passing reference to a place or a person. His diaries are crammed with details – of illnesses, of phone calls, of car repairs and plumbing, travel plans, documents, noise pollution and deaths in the extended family. He writes in bullet points almost. He doesn’t dwell. Once in a while he expresses a point of view.

‘Manish Sen and his wife came and gave me a magnifying sheet. Very good of them though it does not help to see better.’

He has a line he ends each entry with. In one of the dairies I have now, It says “the same”.

I am trying to find ways to read diaries.

Meanwhile, here’s where my studio is!


Written by Priya Sen

February 1, 2010 at 8:15 pm

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Ghevra, Delhi, Resettlement Colony since 2006

Written by Priya Sen

January 20, 2010 at 1:19 pm

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London Building Sites 1952-1962: Frank Auerbach

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London Building SItes

I saw an exhibition yesterday, called ‘London Building Sites’ – by Frank Auerbach, one of London’s most important post-war artists, who was fascinated by the reconstruction of London after World War II. Frank Auerbach was born in 1931 and has a studio in Camden where he works. The fourteen paintings in this this exhibition, were from 1952 – 1962. Also exhibited, were pages from his sketchbook, of the sketches he made of the sites that were being rebuilt. There were also smaller ‘studies’ – versions of the painting he would finally arrive at. His paintings were thick, layered, textured surfaces, where detail and the form of the built structures were almost obliterated. Sometimes they were an inch deep – reworked for months, and conveying the drama of the epic task of rebuilding London.

There were unexpected hints at forms in some – a rope, a worker, the scaffolding that melted into the canvas, a luminous excavation. The abstraction lay in the texture, the mapping and transcending at the same time, of space and architectural form. The thickness of the paintings, the layers into which detail disappeared, and the hues and tones that he used, gave a sense of unity  – of experiencing past, present and future cycles of devastation and renewal – in each work.

Written by Priya Sen

January 19, 2010 at 2:15 am

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“Vision: the aim of the Somerstown and North Southsea regeneration plan is the creation of a sustainable urban community. It will improve quality of life, foster local pride and act as a springboard for social and economic regeneration. This will be achieved by creating a safe, active and attractive environment with a new community heart." - Somerstown and North Southsea Regeneration Project Board and Regeneration Participation Group (RPG)

Written by Priya Sen

January 13, 2010 at 9:17 pm

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In a Lost Moleskine

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In a lost diary – a Moleskine –  belonging to me now, I read what appears to be  someone working out a scene (for a film? A play? ..)  between a man and a boy. There is a wallet involved, some SM play, some anxiety and possible isolation at the end. (The scene does not end but it is alluded to somewhere that isolation is a possibility.) There is a relationship of power being contemplated, both by the man in the scene and by the writer. The diary was given to me by a friend who picked it up from the street a few days ago.  I have excerpted parts of it below and I am not sure how I feel about having done that. It feels like a breach of faith almost, between strangers.

I tried to write into it– to work out what I sense is a contract we make with the things that are not ours. A contract between knowing a fragment of something and of not being able to piece things together because that wasn’t intended to happen. Between the unfinished, un-destined scene between the man and the boy, the writer, and me.


A mother sits there sewing and is talking away. Her son is cleaning the room for her, he comes in and out of the room doing various chores. Every time he comes in he can have a different top on to show time has passed. This should be continuous. NO edit.

This Moleskine was given to me on Sunday.

Writing as record/ how to differentiate/ record and deliberation/ description / structure/ emotional land/ to say the land is white and rushing past/speaking through time/contemporary/landscape/ this train going to the harbour/ forgotten how to write a scene/ motivation/ conflict/ where/ missing this/ who and when/

This technique can be applied to different scenes / moment, doesn’t have to be mother and son etc etc …

Crossing out. Hiding behind saying nothing.

p.2  SPRING:

I can convey the idea that to look through his wallet is irresistable – you know you shouldn’t and yet want to.

If I want the act of looking through the wallet as VIOLATION then I need to show a DANGER, A MENACE in the man. And the ‘Man’ should really be fascinated by the boy.

[Thoughts on Snow: A book to walk with]

[A History of Swimming]

p.3 – Explain the wallet scene – is this the point where the master wants to know the boy’s character if this is the case then introduce a bit to show the man really wants to know the boy.

Boy thinks the man is stealing so he stops the ‘play’

“I don’t really want to know”

Every single thing is filed/ did you really go through these files?/

Explain more in the beginning : this is boy’s first time and it is his fantasy.

Humanise master more


"do I need to be clear the boy will never see the man again?"

Written by Priya Sen

January 12, 2010 at 7:38 pm

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I am on a residency at Gasworks in London, for 3 months starting now.[] And more on the other two artists and me at:

My studio is on the second floor overlooking the street and other

I will post pictures of the studio as I go along.

For now it is empty.

Written by Priya Sen

January 12, 2010 at 6:43 pm

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Magic Eye Camera

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“A new development in the field of photography is the magic eye camera, capable of taking up to 64 pictures per second at shutter speeds of from 1/50 to 1/1000 second. This instrument was developed by Joseph A. Sprague and news cameramen and is now made by the National Cine Laboratories of New York.

In the photo coverage of sports, particularly, a special instrument has long been needed. The still camera, while it gives clear pictures which can be well reproduced, is too slow in operation to allow the photographer freedom in a fast-moving game like football or boxing. The still cameraman cannot be sure of getting the exact high moment in any action; he must moreover, change film or advance it to the next frame at a time when action may be important. The movie camera overcomes all of these difficulties, but does not usually have a shutter speed of more than 1/50 second. The frames of motion picture film give notoriously poor still images. ”

From ‘The Complete Photographer: An Encyclopedia of Photography’, Vol.7 – National Educational Alliance, NYC, 1949

Written by Priya Sen

January 12, 2010 at 4:03 pm

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