Talking Art, Acid and Architecture with Filmmaker Jonathan Meades

Talking Art, Acid and Architecture with Filmmaker Jonathan Meades



the idea that there is something necessarily good about a person of faith is absolute bollocks so it's nonsense I think you know what's more probable bad person of faith is that they've got learning difficulties or there's delusional Jonathan Meads is a one-man rebuttal to the idea that TV documentaries need to spoon-feed their viewers his prickly research trench takes on everything from Belgium's obsessions with obscure museums to the occult Dobermans of the Third Reich are unyielding in their brilliance a style he calls heavy entertainment Meads has taken his persona of an iconoclast and a Blues Brothers suit from West Wales to the back of the Baltic lionizing forgotten figures reimagining our relationship with 60s futurism fast-food our mock Judah suburbs and the poetry of Scottish football results after two years of our screens he's about to return with a new film about architecture under Mussolini recently he's also turned his hand to digital art with the London exhibition titled eight forgets medication we went there to meet this intellectual King Kong and to ask him about his career our world and where exactly he left his beta-blockers who's this handsome fella over here haha so the technique of it is digital manipulation is us well there is a certain amount of digital manipulation in it but fate of digital art depresses me I mean people use it to can't do kitsch mostly yeh stuff which looks like videogames are you very computer literate no yeah I don't have Photoshop or anything if I had Photoshop would be like install check you know if you're telling you what to do and I wanted to do something which there's little control over you look at some of these works and you don't quite know what they're about I gave them titles to further confuse whoever was looking at them we've got a merry aborted the Son of God mutagenic waste in full color my wet fur froze and of course the favorite favorite Norman enjoys the funfair yes it's fairly full on fairly maximalist in and that's something that kind of it shares with my writing and with my television that it crams an awful lot in but I think minimalism is a way of kind of short changing people I'd rather disapprove of it it's so very very easy to do in terms of your over shall we say I think what you do a lot of the time is that you spit words out and there's a lot of ideas and stuff coming in and out of focus whereas when I look at ordinary TV documentaries it's so as someone you know and so answer that question we went to Genoa you're quite content to just make it all about the words yeah absolutely I don't like all that hands waving it yeah sort of whispering and sort of sight oh so exciting yeah I can't stand it I can't I can't actually watch it the place is an exercise in disorientation or plane away on vertical and horizontal become indistinguishable we still on earth life and afterlife for light you're quite content to just tell people what you've got to tell them not pander to them why tell people what they know already yeah I don't have any pedagogic purpose in mind I would prefer it to be entertaining and informative but if it comes over otherwise with Tom peeing at the heart of his more than 40 documentaries has always been his fascination with architecture what needs more technically calls place in his latest been building he returns once again to the architecture of totalitarian states the final piece in what is now a trilogy on the subject fascism is broadly the label to be attached to whatever anti-fascism disproves of fascist fascist fascist fascist scum fascist crypto-fascist the fascist Daily Mail racist fascist fascist races for cystic fascist fascists what's so wrong with being a fascist fascism ought to alarm us that the words of procreation by the mob devalues it atrocity is diluted normalized further fascist both now and add adjectives have been shorn of meaning by their ubiquity in Jerry building here saw nazi architecture as something like middlebrow and gentrified in joe building and I guess she talked about Soviet architecture as being no baron and kitsch you've got an upcoming program about Italian fascist architecture what's your take on that architecture can't really be fascist and Bibi building can be fascist that the architecture itself is not fascist and the thing is that Nazi architecture the majority of it was had nothing to do with Albert spare and that sort of grandiosity most of the building was kind of full Kish and was a architectural representation of the idea of blood and soil with starving you have a circus like kitsch of the huge Moscow for rock palaces and university buildings and so on Malini is completely different Muslim censored the press he censored films he said said theater but he didn't censor architecture at all and didn't seem to mind what style anything was built in so long it was built these weird conflicts between cubistic modernism and fast near baroque palaces being built right up to you know beginning of the war he had a kind of phenomenal gift for self mystification I think if no one knows what you're thinking it probably helps certainly keeps everyone on their toes yes what does this place tell us about fascism that fascism builds monuments to its great leader that sport is essentially a fascist activity the fascism is conditional upon Senna phobia that fascism builds infrastructure in the national interest or as a diversion your normal Pompey contains quiz eminent Crowe philia enemas and sexual abuse yes often to find us being impenetrable and you enjoy in some way being impactful well obviously the people who are taking those purposes aren't impenetrable being difficult is something which anything which is not cliched is accused of you know it's impenetrable someone's too bloody lazy to work out what's going on thick really well maybe thick oh this I think I think lazy is not more like it actually the main thing about writing novels is that the very word novel is just what the majority of novels aren't there's nothing novel about them at all they're absolutely institutionalized and they follow the same pattern over and over again I find this really embarrassing and what was so exciting about modernism was it broke with all that and and but we've now lapsed back into lazy we aren't postmodern we've got a pre-modern really in an encyclopedia of myself you begin with the admission that you were never abused as a child and what went wrong what went wrong I don't know I probably just didn't put out right now I think this was really not kind of covert criticism or not difficult criticism of misery memoirs where you have to be abused and I think obviously some people are but an awful lot of people aren't or exaggerate what what happened to them because that puts bums on seats it gets puts off shelves and you also talk about Hamlet's as yourself as a ten year old child did you always know you wanted to be clever I don't know my father had no intellectual pursuits whatsoever he liked books about fishing and books about the country the kind of things that interested me did not really interest him to his regret I think I quite like the countryside provide him a car and can look at it through a window I mean you have a view of the countryside that it is quite read into his employ you don't have a kind of a new college vision of the countryside I don't there's a painting in this show called Pig Night which that play by the latest new Wilson whose friend might and he and another friend of mine dusty Hughes adapted the play for cinema and snoo was actually outraged when the BFI wouldn't give money because the first scene shows a man a pig and he said you know perfectly reasonably that that's kind of thing they do in East Anglia it was a great screenplay and I thought Christ oh yes that's what it's like I'd never seen it as potential subject matter and this piece you know opened some kind of door and very soon thereafter I started writing the book which became filthy English which series of stories mostly set in the English countryside which also derive from my mother who taught in the New Forest during the war I mean in terms of that kind of Darkness the other formative influence from so from Salisbury was the Porton Down military research since there wasn't it yeah Salisbury has no place of tertiary education but the sort of university level people in Salisbury work were the scientists supporting down the scientists there took LSD long for Aldous Huxley yes how they actually got hold of that LSD is moot but it's quite interesting I didn't know this when I wrote the book but I learned subsequently that one of the scientists there during the Nuremberg trials he had interviewed Albert's pair about Germany's chemical weapons and the potential of these weapons and it seems quite probable that Germany knew about about acid which had been synthesized in Switzerland during the war they took of themselves and they experimented on various people and you yourself have experiments with LSD occasionally not for years yeah I liked it and it's the only interesting drug I thought I was it that was pleasing t.ri well it's to do with Isis to do with kind of visual stimuli being amended in front of you and that there's also again a moral thing about it but it's not something I'd ever take now and I mean you went then from provincial sorcery to bright lights big city and you ended up at RADA I guess maybe a lot people don't know so I assume you'd be an ox bridge type what was it the drove you to Ryder do you really want to become an actor I couldn't think what I wanted to do and no particular interest in it yeah I certainly wasn't that were drawn to the theater but I like cinema very much now that television very much was that the age when you started to hit takings situationist random bus journeys your house London yeah get on a bus for 20 minutes and get off and wait the next bus that comes along perhaps going in the other direction get off perhaps walk for half an earth some area which I had never seen before and so I got to know London in a very fairly comprehensive way but also rather piecemeal and that sort of fuel jaw your desire your your belief in the power of the Canadian and the banal these little corners that you dig out in your films you know the richness of London is phenomenal oh nothing is full of kind of most extraordinary anomalies I mean kind of hidden away places in your 2012 essay from post-modernism to ghost modernism you talked about how in the coalition and style of building trust rock recei and distrust of of state patronage was going to lead to an era of increasing banners even more than bleurgh era would you say that prophecy came true I'm not sure what that's right about blandness I think mediocrity but these really terrible buildings just cropping up here and there and they're not just in these little clusters everywhere there are towers of flats which are all pretty much the same I mean not this idea that London is beginning to look like to buy on tens I think it's wrong it's much more like kind of driving into st. Louie or into Minneapolis or Denver or some Midwestern town of no particular merit and that's really what it's like and I think thing is what what both Ken Livingstone Boris Johnson have demonstrated is that you can't rarely have a city which is predominantly low-rise with towers just dumped here there and everywhere I used to think he'll be great you know it would make London more modern I don't we've done anything of the sort I think it's made London more well there's more of a building site it's extraordinary fact there's so many parts of London you can't reach because something has been built and there's no calmness it does make London kind of unlivable in many areas there's nothing which is remotely sustainable about this and what someone should cause it's a moratorium on building or build on top what is there already right I mean you've spoken about written about this before you want to seem just people lumping little structures on top of pre-existing when your feelings absolutely how will that work well it gives you more space you go up you don't cut with it you don't have to knock down what's there you just put an extra story or two enjoy this one Wendy houses on top of the containers containers can tell me a future I mean we have box park just down the road yeah you're into box park know for years I've liked containers is it's Tony Blair still and animating animus for year yes absolutely yeah I winced the first time I ever saw this person oddly he remind me of Cliff Richard who turns out to be one of his great friends yes quite right about Cliff Richard so not the tall right about Tony Blair I foresee a future in which Tony Blair may come president of somewhere like Azerbaijan right and Boris Johnson president of Uzbekistan right I think they've got go somewhere when Jonathan means it's been fascinating anything in arch I think very much

29 Comments

  • Noe Berengena says:

    The increasing loss of livability of cities as mediocre buildings proliferate — Meades knows it to be very true. The idea of London more and more resembling forgettable Midwestern cities in America is regrettable. The loss of contextual considerations, of basic proportions and functional expression — all of these things have been subsumed by the preoccupation with return on investment. When economists start designing you can be sure that you are entering a particularly boring kind of HELL.

  • Jerreau Driessen says:

    the big question is. did black mirror plagerise the pig fucking from jonathan meades

  • Stan Dauphin says:

    these guys are dicks.

  • Hallie says:

    I can make all of this art on accident

  • Andy JS says:

    One of Jonathan Meades' first TV appearances in 1985 with an item on Barcelona:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lqo_fwbCr3E

  • Mark Haynes says:

    Another brilliantly insightful and at times hilarious interview conducted by Gavin here. we need more!!!!

  • Hector Romano says:

    Man why couldn't gavin interview someone else anyone else?

  • Jose Rogan says:

    Steve Bannon

  • Andrew McDonnell says:

    Haynes looks terrified.

  • Will Erokan says:

    I love Meades.

  • morgan richards says:

    "Haha my opponents are stupid and disabled".

    Terrible discourse, an embaressment to the atheist perspective.

  • Karlos Rene Ayala says:

    Interesting thing that Banon and Meades are never in the same place at the same time.

  • Alex Brooks says:

    Everyone here is comparing themselves to this guy. You can agree or disagree with this guy but why you hate him may be because there's something in yourselves that you're not happy with. He's pretentious because he gets to be and he's successful so who cares what everybody else thinks

  • Ambient Epicuros says:

    The painting at 1:59?

  • Brian HL says:

    the vice boi looks like a test tube baby.

  • edmund184 says:

    A thoroughly unpleasant individual. You only realize this when you hear him being interviewed and I did last night at the National Film Theatre. He's a pompous amoral bigot.

  • george macbeth says:

    Pompey is the best British novel of the last thirty years

  • David Swartz says:

    just another bullshitter.

  • Hubble Ohfour says:

    The young 'and I' interviews the old 'Withnail'

  • Marius M says:

    I think he is wonderful , important, a national treasure !!

  • Jon Gingell says:

    Hey snowflakes, Jonathan Meades is one of the greatest documentary makers in the history of the medium. His writing is superb, his architectural writing possibly second only to Ian Nairn. Like anyone of fearsome intelligence he can appear prickly, conceited, whatever. But the pile-on these comments is entirely undeserved! Check out his films, they are the work of a real pioneer.

  • Robert Cole says:

    Michelle Meads is missing Person alert

  • Robert Cole says:

    WHERE IS Michelle Meads from WATERLOO BELGIUM

  • Lark Turner says:

    Jonathan Meades does not come across well in this interview. Which is unfortunate because his documentaries are excellent. Even if you don't agree with him (which I often don't) his take is refreshing in its originality.

  • J Kilroy says:

    He even looks like he takes acid. HIS FACE IS MELTING

  • one word man says:

    I understand where you're coming from totally, but if this video makes you hate Meades, please watch his documentaries. You will completely change your opinion. They are the best things on television.

  • BeginPanicAttack says:

    hes … kind of insufferable
    his movies look interesting , but his attitudes about art are almost hollowly contrarian and faux intellectual

    thats sort of old british dudes in general though

  • Blaine Guffin says:

    I feel like the interviewer is attempting to, for lack of a better term, kissing the ass of the interviewee. The sad thing is that postmodernism eliminates certainty, allowing this man to spout whatever crap he wishes to express.

  • Thom says:

    Jonathan Meades is a truly great writer and, especially, documentary maker. I'm sure there are a lot of North American millennials here who haven't a clue who the fuck he is and are probably personally offended by his immediate dig at religion.

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