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In which John looks at a lot of art in London, England, and considers the relationship between the life we want to have, and the life we want to have documented. You can learn more about the Brazilian artist Lygia Pape and the gallery where I saw her work here: http://www.hauserwirth.com/exhibitions/2901/lygia-pape/view/



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Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday. I woke up in London a little bit jet lagged.

"Alright, let's go."

The East End was also sleepy. Tattoo parlors shuttered; the streets almost empty. On the walk to the Tube, there was lots of graffiti to enjoy. I made it to the station, stood on the right for a very fast escalator ride, which turned out to be timed perfectly, because there was the train, and then: boom, we were in Trafalgar Square.

There we found lots of tourists, and statues of kings, and dandy-lions, and fashion models. As well as this extraordinarily phallic 'thumbs-up sculpture.'

Mark was also filming all of this for the Art Assignment, by the way. So soon there will be an 'Art Trip London' video, that will be like this one, except much better.

Headed over to the National Portrait Gallery, where I saw Queen Elizabeth, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cramner, and many other people who didn't want you to know they had necks.

I was really impressed by the museum, and I found myself thinking that while portraits, are of course artworks, they are historical artifacts. Like even now with images so easy to take and store, the pictures we hold on to tell us something about who, and what, mattered to us.

Got a bit to eat then walked for a while and started playing a game called 'fancy-clock-has-the-time-wrong.' Eight minutes slow. Four minutes fast. Not even close.

We then made our way to the Royal Academy of the Arts, where an abstract expressionist show was brilliant, and also quite crowded. We then walked past cupid, and Shakespeare getting crapped on by a pigeon, to the Somerset House, which as London real estate goes, seems like a pretty nice house -aside from the army of spoons in the courtyard. We saw an astonishing number of masterpieces there, including this Seurat painting, and this Cezanne landscape -where you can start to see painting move toward abstraction. There was a very early Picasso, and this famous painting by Degas, made around the Prussian siege of Paris in 1871. Degas paid the model with a single hunk of meat, which according to the wall label, "She fell upon and devoured, raw." There was also Renoir and Pissaro, Van Gogh and Manet, fancy clocks telling the wrong time, a queen with her puppy, and this painting by Goya, featuring the first recorded incidence of 'man-spreading.'

After we left, I caught some Drowzees. London is lousy with Drowzees and masterpieces. Later that afternoon, we took the subway to a gallery featuring this work from the Brazilian artist Lygia Pape. The lines in this room, made by silver thread, appear and disappear as you walk around them, and its beautiful in a way that the camera can't capture. The lines float and intertwine, responding to the light, and also to you. The artist Ad Reinhardt once described his paintings as: "Unmarketable, unphotographable, and unreproducable." And that's how I felt in this room. I can't explain it to you, and I can't show it to you, because it's unreproducable.

These days our experiences almost don't feel real if you can't photograph them. At times it feels like documenting a meaningful experience is more important than having the experience. It's like 'pic-or-it-didn't-happen' has actually become true. And even more weirdly, it feels to me sometimes like maybe we do things for the pic. Like our choices are based on how well our lives will photograph, rather than how those lives actually make us feel. Like, to use a tangential example, it's hard for me to know if I love this famous Van Gogh self-portrait, or if I just feel excited seeing it in so called 'real life,' after having seen so many photographs and reproductions of it.

I guess I was thinking that looking at something isn't quite the same thing as looking at it through a lens. Of course, these aren't entirely new questions. For one thing, this installation was first made in 1977. But I think what I love so much about it is that you couldn't look at it through a lens, you had to be there. So after a while, I put down my camera, and I was just, there.

Hank, I'see see you on Friday.