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“GD Security”, Kensington: mystery bulldog from 1984

GD Security burglar alarm"GD Security" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea, 2005 • Another smart royal blue silhouette, another Conservative borough: namely affluent Kensington, home to some of the most expensive property in the world, and where Madonna was burgled twice, despite having a burglar alarm. The initials are unexplained, but by having a fairly recognisable bulldog image above them, we're invited to surmise that GD stands for Guard Dog, though it could be Good Defence, General Dynamics, Gold Digger, God, or whatever you fancy. Google research suggests it doesn't actually stand for anything, but the firm was formed in 1984 – an excellent year for surveillance. • Spotted: Gloucester Road, Kensington and Chelsea, London SW7, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington GD Security burglar alarm
“GD Security”, Kensington: mystery bulldog from 1984

“Warren Bannister”, Derby: Ena Sharples meets bulldog

"Warren Bannister Partnership Gloucester" burglar alarm, Cirencester, 2007 • Printed on what appears to be a photocopy, this label is peeling from an elderly alarm in the West Country, where life moves slowly. Thus, rather than snarling, this decaying bulldog has an expression of quizzical disapproval; he looks less likely to take anti-burglar action than to harrumph and go back to reading his Daily Telegraph (or maybe it's a she: add a hairnet and you've got a dead ringer for Ena Sharples). Design-wise, it's a rare example of a black alarm, and features enjoyably retro 1970s disco typography. Closer inspection shows that the doughty mastiff has the initials WBP emblazoned on his collar. It's meant to honour his ambiguously-named organisation, the Warren Bannister Partnership (one person? Two? A spy ring perhaps?) – but it's also just a slip of the tongue away from the acronym for waste paper basket. Which is where this old dog looks like he's heading next. • Spotted: Town centre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cotswolds
“Warren Bannister”, Derby: Ena Sharples meets bulldog

Nathan Barlex, Liverpool: a “fearful” art alarm

Allotrope of pyrolysis, 2010, by Nathan Barlex"Allotrope of Pyrolysis", 2010, by Nathan Barlex • My first alarm is in a category all of its own: an art alarm. It's a sculpture by recent RCA graduate Nathan Barlex, which I came across at this year's Bloomberg New Contemporaries (an influential yearly show of up-and-coming artists). Most of his current work is painting, but he also uses appropriated materials, though whether his name – which bears an uncanny resemblance to Charlie Brooker's hopeless Hoxton hipster Nathan Barley – is also appropriated, I have no idea. Speaking to Lydia Corry in Artvehicle 47, Barlex echoed my own thoughts on burglar alarms (though slightly more apocalyptically): "The alarm box is a ubiquitous object – it is everywhere. Alarm boxes have formed into a mini-culture of their own with a set of signifiers. There’s what’s printed on them; sometimes it can be an image of a dangerous animal, or a word like ‘thorn’. The shapes vary but they often use fearful geometric symmetry to imply an unnatural or even super-power. The icing on the cake is that many alarm boxes are just decoys, an empty promise filled with paranoia. They are the dubious uncle to the already malignant CCTV camera." You can see his work at New Contemporaries at the ICA, London till Jan 23 2011, or visit the artist's own Nathan Barlex website, where there's another burglar alarm dipped in sand. • Spotted: Bloomberg New Contemporaries, A Foundation, Greenland Street, Liverpool L1, England, 2010 • Details: alarm box, spray paint, crushed charcoal, approx 30 x 30 x 10cm Allotrope of pyrolysis, 2010, by Nathan Barlex
Nathan Barlex, Liverpool: a “fearful” art alarm