Monday, February 4, 2013

Bicycle Diaries :: David Byrne


I predominately decided to read this book because of the heading 'Bicycle diaries', not because of David Byrne the lead singer of Talking Heads although that was interesting. I was expecting a book that details the day to day trips on a bicycle, touring.

What the book was about, was day trips from a hotel and observations, from all over the world. Any type of bicycle diary you usually get observations but Byrne has been to college and studied arty subjects, thus much was made of architecture, beauty, function etc. In many ways this type of observation was proportionally way more than I think the title of the book suggested. Some of the these observations were interesting but on the whole they seemed to be just ramblings.

On observation I found interesting when Byrnes was off peddling to another museum ::

Once upon a time it was considered radical to even show mass-produced objects in the same place as fine art - in museums with flattering lighting and little labels. Now, by implication and extension, Cup Noodle's containers presented next to more expensive design objects become equals. We're being asked to see the elegance or at least innovation and cleverness in banal everyday crap that for the most part is never given a second look. Living with this kind of stuff every day, day after day, we often don't even notice it anymore. We assume it just is - unremarkable, undistinguished- and we forget that it was at some point designed by someone and may in fact be elegant efficiently made, and even beautiful.

Maybe this is how we see ourselves in the sea of humanity, as opposed to how our maker -God- sees us.

I found the book just a bit unfocused, I'm not sure it was Byrnes fault; I'm pretty sure it was just a collection of notes that he put together over the years from journals and diaries. Maybe it was his editors who struggled to tighten things.

Rating 2/5


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