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Liverpool

Saturn Protection, Liverpool: space probe

Saturn "Saturn Protection" burglar alarm, Liverpool • On the mythology front, Saturn was an ancient and rather complex Roman god. However this design concentrates entirely on outer space, quite a lot of which has been crammed in: a magnificent section of ring-swirled Saturn, with a jaunty space probe bearing a tiny "S" logo circling it. It's possibly Pioneer 11, the first probe to Saturn. Excellent! • Spotted: Town centre, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside
Saturn Protection, Liverpool: space probe

MAS, Liverpool: cathedral

MAS Formby "MAS Formby" burglar alarm, Liverpool • This is on Liverpool Cathedral (the C of E one) - there's a distance shot of it here. Given it nearly reads Mass,  the Catholic one might have been more apt. • Spotted: Town centre, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside
MAS, Liverpool: cathedral

“Ultra”, Liverpool: verily

Ultra "Ultra" burglar alarm, Liverpool • More Latin, though this just means very very very very. Which is, verily, quite an avant-garde name for a burglar alarm. • Spotted: Stanley Dock area, Liverpool, Merseyside, L3, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside
“Ultra”, Liverpool: verily

“Falcon World Class Security”, Liverpool: stunted

"Falcon World Class Security" burglar alarm, Liverpool • I reckon this is a relative of the Liverpool falcon in a circular niche featured here, athough it's a slightly different design. "World Class Security" – I like the grandiloquence of such ambition. And it purports to be a registered trademark, too! Because there must be loads of security firms keen to rip off a logo that looks like a stunted griffin. • Spotted: Town centre, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside
“Falcon World Class Security”, Liverpool: stunted

“Gemini Security Systems”, Liverpool: boring twins

"Gemini Security Systems" burglar alarm, Liverpool • Apart from the name, this is supremely boring – it could at least have included a picture of some twins. Astronomically, Gemini is one of the oldest-named constellations, dating far back into the Bronze Age and called "The Great Twins" by the Babylonians. To the Greeks they were the talented horsemen Castor and Pollux, who despite being twin brothers had different dads, meaning only Pollux was immortal; when Castor died, Zeus allowed him to share Pollux's immortality, bonding them together in heaven as the constellation the Romans called Gemini. Astrologically, it's the versatile third sign of the zodiac, ruled by fleet-footed messenger god Mercury. Gemini types are meant to be lively, inquisitive, communicative, inconsistent, and a bit unreliable – not all of which are useful traits for security firms. My theory for why Gemini is one of the few signs represented on burglar alarms, and a popular business name in general, is that Geminis are inordinately proud of their dual-natured and slightly annoying star sign characteristics. And, to prove my point, there will be another one along tomorrow... • Spotted: Town centre, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside Above: the not-very-twinlike constellation of Gemini as it is usually depicted, from the digital sky images at www.allthesky.com.
“Gemini Security Systems”, Liverpool: boring twins

“MAS” burglar alarm, Liverpool: dirty great pile

"MAS Formby" burglar alarm, Liverpool • This carefully-placed burglar alarm is affixed to the great and grubby neo-gothic pile of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, one of two such religious edifices piously dominating the city's skyline, bookending the aptly-named Hope Street. It's the cathedral that doesn't look like a flying saucer: the one that does is for Roman Catholics. The reason it doesn't look like a flying saucer is because it was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, grandson of high Victorian goth Sir George Gilbert Scott (there's an alarm on one of his churches here); and although responsible for the magnificently monolithic Battersea Power Station and its modernist ex-power station sibling Tate Modern, Sir Giles wasn't into sci-fi-related structures – unless you count the red K6 telephone box. The hulking monstrosity of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is not, in my opinion, amongst his finest works: perhaps because he was born a Roman Catholic. (I couldn't find an alarm on the RC Metropolitan Cathedral, by the way, though I had a good look.) • Spotted: Liverpool Cathedral, Cathedral Close, Liverpool, L1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside
“MAS” burglar alarm, Liverpool: dirty great pile

“Falcon Security”, Liverpool: tatty bird, nice niche

"Falcon Security" burglar alarm, Liverpool • I always enjoy burglar alarms' varied architectural settings: some languish in obscure corners amidst layers of grimy urban decay, whilst others are proudly placed and neatly painted around. Some are even fortunate enough to have their own dedicated niches, and it is to these that I turn this week. Having just finished a fortnight of random burglar alarm birds, my first niche is home to a rather tatty falcon (a species be covered more fully in a later series on hawkish alarm birds). This circular brickwork detail decorates a 19th-century warehouse near Tate Liverpool, now given over to that booming 21st-century descendant of warehousing, self-storage. • Spotted: Norfolk Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside
“Falcon Security”, Liverpool: tatty bird, nice niche

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