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Barcelona : Day 1

Day 1 Barcelona Air BnB Trip

Deposited at terminal C and found ourselves wandering off towards a distant train station in a gradually dwindling group. Soon lost and in building works we shared views and I found myself leading the party the length of the airport from terminals C, through B towards A.

Starting to realise the length of the walk and realising that the bus parked by Terminal B was headed for Placa de Catalunya near to our final destination I opted for that. Having only ever got the train into town this was a departure for me, that left a few who were on my trail temporarily bewildered.

Having arrived 30 minutes late I now fear I have badly misjudged our arrival at our Air BnB. My phone plays up too, being full, apps don’t load, I miss messages and end up relying on phone calls. All calls from our host give no identity which starts to bug me. At last we speak and we get the full address. One letter error and we are delayed again and now someone else will meet us there. Once resolved we find ourselves at a door to a late 19th century or early 20th six storey mansion block. Reminiscent of Paris but corridors somewhat narrower and darker, winding steps up steeper and the paintwork more chipped.

The small flat is all that we expect and could wish for. Two bedrooms (double and single), a modest dining/sitting room area off a kitchenette and a bathroom with a large shower. We are two storeys up, on the corner with views up, down and along a typical Barcelona street.

Lonely Planet is our guide. That and Google Maps and happy that we can do most of our trips on foot we are quickly out of the door.

Centre d’Arta Santa Monica

The Arts Santa Monica presents itself as the entrance to an international corporation. It is both imposing, and deserted but for a couple of receptionists at different desks. We find ourselves under a collection of huge paper drapes hanging from the ceiling with haunting folk music playing in support of a video installation. Its an ominous start in an obscure gallery we stumbled across simply was we walked from the Rambla del Raval to the marina.

A parallel world of exhibitions exploiting Google Street View

Twelve artist/photographers are featured. One of the most engaging is by the Cuban artist and photographer Ruben Torras Llorca. In his series ‘Road Movie’ he revisits famous movie locations using Google Street view and superimposes a mashed-up shot from the film. Off hand I remember: Easy Rider, Paris Texas, Zardoz and James Bond.

Google Street View and James Bond mash-up by Ruben Torras Llorca
Google Street View and Easy Rider mash-up by Ruben Torras Llorca

The most relevant and practical series Beagle 2.0 by Roger Grasas took excerpts from ‘A Naturalist’s Voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin and revisited the spots now urbanised and too often piled with litter.

Beagle 2.0 by Roger Grasas

I’ve been doing the same with the First World War and the Western Front using Google Street view for the three volume 1938 publication ‘Then and Now’ to revisit the original pilgrimage to the Western Front 1914-1918 to 1924-1928 with a visit made by ‘The Camera Returns’ between 1982 and the present day’ and Google Street View 2014-2018.

With some cajoling, rather than heading for any of our hit list visits on our first afternoon, I got us in to the Museu Marítim. The vast and empty hall and ticket office suggests it is not a visitor to Barcelona’s priority.

This 14th century shipyard, come armaments factory was brought back to life in the early 1970s with a modern refit in the last decade. It is an impressive space that blends the gothic architecture of the original shipyard with a 21st century museum space.

Various histories are told, from the development of the shipyard and maritime trade as part of the history of Barcelona. The most revealing and shocking is to contemplate the lot of a man shackled to a bench to work out his life as a galley-slave.

There are numerous cleverly designed and revealing interest points, multi-media stations and short drama-reconstruction films.

Tired from an early start in England we ate at a very British time at a vegan choice, Rasoterra, found in Lonely Planet

Image by Rasoterra featured in Tripadvisor

It was awkward to be put next to the only couple in the place, also English. We avoided any excuse to introduce ourselves. Efforts to have us go for the tasting menu fell on deaf ears.

It was a memorable, freshly prepared meal of lovely surprises, from Seaweed Tartare, to croquettes of spinach and bao with asparagus.

The limiting experience of the museum visit unleashed

A lifelong love in art galleries yet I still feel unmoved by galleries and museums, possibly because I expect the gentle, guiding voice of my late mother at my shoulder (artist, art historian, Mum).

What could be a more personalised visit than to have someone who knows you so well point things out, guide you to things that will interest or irritate, then offer an insight – invariably linked to ‘what do you do next?’ i.e. look, learn then apply.

 

Information Overload or Cognitive Overload which is the problem?

Fig.1 Exhibit A. Vital to any museum. A place to crash, reflect, nod off … then pick yourself up to do some more.

This is going to read like an excuse to visit yet more museums.

As I reach the end of my Open University learning journey my final task is to write an EMA in which I propose a piece of research on e-learning. My inclination, with 12 days to go, is to look at the use of mobile devices in museums and how the visit experience can be enhanced by personalising the physical journey. It appears the the two problems to deal with are information overload and cognitive overload. There is too much of everything. Whilst I will always applaud serendipity there needs to be a balance between the stuff that you want to stick and the stuff that can be ignored or discarded.

Too many museum visits earlier this week has me wishing I had electric wheels and a pair of Google Glass that could take it in and edit.

  • Museum of Contemporary Art – Barcelona
  • Picasso Museum – Barcelona
  • National Museum of Catalonia – Barcelona
  • Joan Miro Foundation – Barcelona

As I prepare this assignment I plant to queue to get into the Bowie at V&A and try Google WebLab at the Science Museum and possibly the RA and Design Museums too. At least I’m within an hour of London.

My interest is, as I take teenagers to these things, to wish I could get them to that artefact or story about the artifacts creations, or the artist/creative that it will so intrigue them that they are inspired to put some heart into their art or DT.

Two years ago my late mother took her granddaughters around the RA when the Van Gogh exhibition was on. My daughter was treated to my mother, gentle and informed, guiding her then 14 year old granddaughter from quite specific letters, paintings and sketches – pointing things out, talking about technique and the thinking behind it. This was as personalised and as intimate as it gets.

I can understand how Picasso, showing interest and talent, must have been guided by his father who taught art at undergraduate level.

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