The Vox Web project aims to create a decentralised learning web in the Vauxhall area of south London, Britain. Although not a completely precise geographical area, Vauxhall (in the London borough of Lambeth) stretches from the South Bank of the River Thames and Waterloo railway station down to the northern part of Brixton and Clapham.
Our idea is very simple: to help to connect teachers and learners in both cyberspace and public space. Our concept of teaching and learning is in the broadest possible sense, ranging across disciplines, subjects, languages, theories, practices, crafts and skills - from the Art of motorcycle maintenance to Zen, from the Art of cooking to Zoology, from the Art of Peace to Zephyrology , and everything in between.
We welcome collaborations with people and places in Vauxhall and links with people and places around the planet.
Image above left: the original London A-Z published by the Geographer's A-Z Map Company in 1938-9. Link from Stanfords.
Image below: detail from The Great Bear by Simon Patterson, 1992. The work is based on the schematic London Underground map, whose first incarnation was created by the Underground electrical draughtsman Harry Beck in 1933. In the Patterson work, Vauxhall station is represented by Paolo Uccello and Waterloo station by Soren Kierkegaard. An online history of the evolution of the London Underground map is here.
We are inspired by existing projects such as the K-Web, the flagship project of the James Burke Institute, the Long Now Foundation, the School of Everything which has been organised in collaboration with the Young Foundation, the Open University, the School of Life, the London Free School, Infed, the Workers' Educational Association, the University of the Third Age, the Paolo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy, the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, Education Otherwise and the Free University of the Airwaves created by Resonance FM.
We are also inspired by the visionary work of educators such as Ivan Illich, A.S.Neill, Maria Montessori, Pearl Jephcott, Ira Shor, John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, Matt Hern, Henry Giroux, Rudolph Steiner, Raymond Williams, and Paolo Freire and Nita Freire, as well as educational institutions in the past such as the Staatliches Bauhaus and movements such as the Arts and Crafts Movement.
In terms of local history, we are inspired by the example of the Lambeth Ragged Schools, the Doulton ceramics company, Octavia Hill (who helped to create Vauxhall Park and later co-founded the National Trust), William Blake, Charlie Chaplin, Vincent Van Gogh, Lilian Baylis and her aunt Emma Cons, the Tradescants and the Beaufoy Institute.
Image below: a pair of Doulton Lambeth stoneware ewers which were made c.1902 and hand decorated. Each is signed by the artist, one Maud Bowden and the other Rosina Harris. The link is from Sherwood Bazaar Antiques.
The stoneware ewers are the profile picture for the London Ceramics Facebook group. The sister site, Ceramics Worldwide, has the following image as its profile picture, which is a Chinese Ming dynasty jar with a Xuande mark and period (1426–1435) from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.
FROM VAUXHALL TO вокзал
Although perhaps apocryphal, several sources suggest that the Russian word for railway station (вокзал, or 'voksal') is derived from a visit by a Russian delegation to Vauxhall in the nineteenth century.
Image below: St.Petersburg railway station, Russia, 1910
To continue with the вокзал/voksal theme, the images below are different aspects of Waterloo railway station and its environs, past and present.
1) The Art Deco frontage of the Waterloo News Theatre, designed by Alistair G. MacDonald - a cinema at the end of the Waterloo concourse which showed newsreels. It opened in 1934 and closed in 1970. The image is from Dark Screens: The Lost Cinemas of South London. It would be superb to have a small and independent cinema on similar lines in the future (perhaps with an Art Deco frontage, perhaps not). The proposal forms part of the group Film VoX WeB.
4) An image of Waterloo station created by Terence Cuneo in 1967.
5) An image from the recent graffiti gentrification of a former Eurostar tunnel next to Waterloo station taken from the Flickr album of 'Stephenk1977'.
Images above and below: One of the many ways that peace can be made is through the art of caricature. Martin Smith of the Streatham and Brixton Chess Club points out the juxtaposition between Gilray's 1809 Plum Pudding in Danger (lampooning William Pitt and Napoleon Bonaparte, who are carving up the land and sea as if it is plum pudding) and the John Tenniel illustration of Lewis Carroll (Rev.Charles Dodgson)'s Alice in Wonderland in 1872 with a lion and unicorn acting as caricatured versions of Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone:
For some interesting chess links, please see the British Chess Foundation and the London Chess Centre, including a lecture by the former World Champion Garry Kasparov at the London Chess Centre from 8th January 2005. The London Chess League is here. The Streatham and Brixton Chess Club also have a fine set of links.
In terms of the art of caricature, one of the main Gilrays of today is Steve Bell. Examples of his political lampooning can be seen here. On a recent trip to the USA he also produced work of a more abstract variety, one of which is reproduced here:
FROM THE VAUXHALL BALLOON TO VAUXHALL PLEASURE GARDENS, VIA MONGOLIAN PHILATELY, MOSAICS AND MONDRIAN
Image below: the Royal Vauxhall balloon, guided by Charles Green, Robert Hollond and Thomas Monck Mason from London to Weilberg in Germany, 7th November 1836.
Image below: the Vauxhall balloon featuring on Mongolian stamps in 1982. Link from here.
Image below: The map of public locations in which the work of Southbank Mosaics can be seen.
Images below: copies of ancient Greek and Roman mosaics. The first is from the 1st century BC, depicting Roman street muisicians, and was signed by Dioskourides of Samos and found in the Villa of Cicero near Pompeii. The link to the image is from Corbis.
The second ancient mosaic image is a Roman floor mosaic from a villa in Corinth. The link is from Sacred Destinations.
Image below: a floor mosaic in San Marco cathedral, Venice, by Paolo Uccello (who represents Vauxhall station in Simon Patterson's "Great Bear" of 1992, at the top of this text). It features the shape of a small stellated dodecahedron, and the link to it comes from here.
An exhilarating twist on the mosaic theme is Flowzaic, an all female breakdancing crew, whose website is here. They can be reached at email@example.com. This is a picture of Sunanda from Flowzaic:
Both in form and composition, "Flying High" suggests a mixture of aerial and ground level views of an urban landscape, in some ways a reformulation of the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian's iconic views of New York. An example is shown below, with a reproduction of "Broadway Boogie Woogie" (1942-3). Link from the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Mondrian's view of New York bears similarities with early incarnations of the Sim City town planning simulation game. A screenshot of the Commodore Amiga version of the game is shown below. The link is from here.
The following picture is a screenshot from the latest incarnation of the classic game Railroad Tycoon by Sid Meier. This is the profile picture for the group Let's create an ethical and sustainable shopping and learning centre in Waterloo station. The former Eurostar termius at the station is now empty after it was transferred to St.Pancras station. The group proposes the creation of a centre based on ethical and sustainable businesses backed by microfinance.
Below are two images of the currently empty Eurostar terminus. It clearly has great potential.
The creator of Sim City, Will Wright, discussed generative systems with Brian Eno of the Long Now Foundation in 2006, as well as the next generation of gaming in the form of Spore. Video of their conversation can be seen at YouTube here. The image below is a screenshot of Brian Eno's 77 Million Paintings project. The image link is from here. An interview with Brian Eno discussing the project can be seen at YouTube here.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.
Rather than Flying High in balloons or above cities, time for something completely different - the newly created Vauxhall Chess Society Facebook group has an image of the classic Black Knight segment from "The Holy Grail" by Monty Python's Flying Circus, directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones in 1974 (below). There is a YouTube version of the Black Knight segment of the film here.
Back to Vauxhall Gardens, and an image of a flying performance in 1847 (the "Wonder of the World") by the Bedouin Arabs.
A TO Z: FROM ABACULUS TO ZIZZ
And finally to Archbishop's Park, where there is currently an opportunity to create and run a small cafe. The VoX WeB project proposes the creation of a community and cyber-owned cafe provisionally entitled ABACULUS Cafe. This would be created on a similar basis as the Ebbsfleet United football club experiment.
We have chosen the name 'Abaculus' because abaculus is an obscure word beginning with 'A' and therefore allows us to place it first in our A-Z list of linked organisations at the VoX WeB project. The word comes from the Latin diminutive of 'abacus' (which itself derives from the ancient Greek word ἄβαξ or abax, meaning 'board') and means a small tile of glass, marble or other substance, used in making ornamental patterns in mosaic pavements.
There is also a kind of octopus called the Octopus Abaculus which is found in the Philippines. The image below depicts an Octopus Abaculus and the link to it is from here.
The ABACULUS Cafe Facebook group is here. Please join it.
The microfinance and mutualised community/cyber ownership approach towards the Abaculus Cafe can also be extended across the local area, particularly towards buildings that are empty, abandoned, neglected and derelict, which is the idea behind the ZIZZ Vauxhall group.
ZIZZ Vauxhall aims to help to create sustainable activity that benefits the local community and the wider world and, as far as possible, owned on a cyber and local community basis and funded through microfinance initiatives. This would then, hopefully, help to create meaningful and long-term employment.
We have chosen to call this group "ZIZZ Vauxhall" purely because Zizz is an obscure word beginning with the letter 'Z' (and it sounds like Jazz). 'Zizz' is an underused word meaning vim or sparkle on the one hand (or a nap or sleep on the other. Some other obscure words beginning with Z are here.
The ZIZZ Vauxhall Facebook group is here. Please join it too.
The final image is "Victory Boogie Woogie" by Piet Mondrian, inspired by Jazz Age New York, and currently on display at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, Netherlands.