Monday, 1 July 2019

The bell ringers

It rings a bell
the campanologists are competing
Although at this stage I don't know this
Their sonority has yet to reach my timpanis membrane
As I negotiate the mini roundabout on foot
At the heart valve of the village
Having sat the last hundred yards in silence
After rebuking my wife
For almost taking a wrong turning.
It's all about the particulars see.
You are to be found around the back of the Sussex Oak
And suddenly the bells clang into focus
The air is jubilant and expectant.
Although I sense this is a rehearsal
It isn't for the campanologists.
Life is not a rehearsal they chime.
Each pull is a meaningful yank
(hear a clang across the pond)
on the placenta of heaven's womb
One false move and blood will rain.
but until then here is a medley of events
From the radiant to the apocalyptic
Through the funereal via the every-day come hither cycle of the Sunday service.
We sit supping our pints in a session
And you roll an ex-smoker a fat one that will take a few days to wear off.
(or at least for my irritability to pass)
That's the funeral sound you say
And our heads cock to the single repeated tone.
the judges must all retire to a nearby field
Where they sit unaware of the order of the campanologists
You relate how one such competition came to tangled blows (after pulls).
I wonder what the Beano drawing of scrapping bell ringers would look like?
This stuff draws itself.
Here in the pub garden
Around the back
All these events cycle past
The wedding of the full-faced post office counter server.
Clingy clangy dingle dongle jingle spangle
the burial of her father the bookkeeper
Dang dang dang ang dang dad
The end of the world
Ding dang ding dang
The start of the evacuation
Ding dang ding dang ding dang
The celebration of the beginning
Ding dong ding dong
My Love lasts long
Here we are three friends
Three would be campanologists
Ready to tangle with the best of them
Ready to rise up the belfry
In our cassocks
The vicar's daughter half averting her gaze
From our manly clappers swinging freely
Ding dong ding dong
We shall stumble and slip slide home
Through the rain-slicked hard compacted earth pathways
Giggling like a babbling brook chiming in the distance
As we reminisce over old ground
And set the world to rights
We three would be campanologists
It rings a bell.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

No message

This artwork questions the idea of art as a form of interrogation of habitual patterns.
 Art is not a mode of questioning. To make it so is to rob it of its status as otherworldly form within the worldliness of things. You wouldn’t greet an indigenous culture with hello and thanks for your role as questioning my habitual patterns of living. It may have that effect on you but to introduce the culture within this hierarchical framework is literally madness. I’m not sure art has a role or a message. This is how it frees us from the hegemony of habitual patterns and traumas of thingness accelerated by digital cultures effective dissemination of pure functionality.

Digital culture can be used effectively e.g. showing patterns of bowling deliveries in a test match but its rather less wholesome when defining identity. Unclasping from linguistic meaning is what art does best. This functions by leaving a vestige of the linguistic striation and offering a simultaneous nomadic freedom from its fixity. By operating on an aesthetic level at the same time as literal we are kept in touch with our sacred ability to imagine and feel meaning. This occurred to me, when after a longer break than I would have liked I went on an artists date. This is when you put aside time to become unencumbered and visit something. I tend to visit galleries but it doesn’t have to be. I realised in the early stages of committing to this process that I was feeling a sense of elation at the end of it. Well actually even at the beginning of the process.

Today I realised this was because I had allowed myself to enter life on the frequency of affect or aesthetic. Everything around me becomes imbued with meaning precisely because the habitual process of “reading” the world is interrupted. The signs and labels that usually hover over my visual experience are banished as a felt experience takes over. Meaning in this sense is everywhere if the linguistic or cognitive meaning is filtered out of perhaps turned down to a background level instead of being at the forefront of my engagement. This cognitive labelling seems to me to be the default setting for modern life and at the heart of segregation and reductionism. Countries, religions ideologies are all subject to the egos reliance on these forms, which tidy life into a state of things because things are far more effectively controlled than ambiguous drops of experience.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Let's be Natural

In making a doctoral proposal there is a certain amount of casting forwards. There is a required intuition that what you chose to research will be compatible with the practical process of researching. This is not a problem for an artist who works outside of linear time but in the realm of academic research the framework is still outwardly representational. The representational world is one of cause and effect i.e. I decide to research this and I make work with the theme of my research. Art has its origins in magical thinking and doesn’t really work as an illustration of ideas. Even as an illustrator I realised that illustration works better when you don’t just illustrate the meaning of the words on the page. Perhaps this is why I am aware of the pitfalls of art becoming illustration. An artwork can have an outwardly illustrative form but this is not where the meaning resides even if the artist themselves declares that it is. 

This is my first performance of Blackberries - Blood and Brambles - clearly about this desire to seek a coalescence with nature through the intermingling of blood and brambles.

So in my case I cast forward the idea of the “vision of the absurd”. Early on in my research, I discovered Camus’ “if I were a cat in the world of animals, this life would have a meaning…” quote. In an overly simple way this can be taken as describing the separation of humans from nature. This, again in overly simple terms, is where the Absurd resides. This is what Whitehead calls the “myth of separation”, which he traces back to the paradigm of bifurcation underlying modern life. Our genius for conceptual cognition rests upon the idea of primary materials, which are abstract and non-physical and secondary materials, which are the physical and subjective response to the primary materials. Aristotle too conceived of primary materials, which are fixed and eternal and the secondary fluctuating or ephemeral responses. Whitehead asks that we try to acknowledge the artifice of this framework and instead recognise objects as events. In this way, instead of being a separate and arbitrary element, subjective purposiveness is entangled within the framework of the cosmos. I believe this is close to Deleuze’s idea of flat space as a non-hierarchical scrim of experience. This clearly has massive repercussions for notions of meaning, which continues to be largely linguistic and abstract even in the art world.

Deleuze via Whitehead offers us a chance to unclasp our experience of relating and creating from the striated categories of the occident. Nature and our relationship with it seems to be an unavoidable realm to anyone addressing this. I’m thinking here of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, where Marlow voyages deeper and deeper into the fetid mysteries of the subcontinent. What Conrad presents is not just the separation into things caused by the West's obsession with profit and finance but in Marlow’s case the quest for enlightened truth. This quest for a particular Western conceptual truth is perhaps more damaging and dehumanising than the quest for profit. Truth as such is built upon the myth of separation and a bifurcated objectivity. I mention this because without my intentionally doing so all my recent aesthetic machines have engaged with nature. The nonbifurcatedman post-rationally hurtles back into nature. Roger Scruton illustrates just how little we have engaged with Whitehead’s ideas in the century since he started his explorations. In his book The Soul of the World, Scruton argues that we should reconcile our need to find meaning with our need to open things up and see how they work. He seems to want to keep these two siblings separate “now now children play nicely”. This appears to present a continued bifurcated state despite our technological leaps forward. Whilst, in liberal theoretical terms, this still allows for personal epiphany, it also places actual occasioned meaning in grave danger of total extinction. Because the how things work and the how they are experienced is a undivided event. I can't truly explain how something works outside of the occasion of it working. Cognitive conceptual thought insists upon total separation, hence I am not a humanoid in the cosmos of other experiential entities but a human around which the universe revolves.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Hobbesian Visual Bias

My Sowl is not the wisest part of me or
Even as I grow older and knowledge recedes
Can I cede that the sagacity I once yearned for
Is over the hill where yonder learned man bleeds.

Essentially is my sowl or essential-self present in my nonhuman qualities? 
Or am I an amalgam of perceived human cognitive concepts?
The idea that humans are selfish, mechanistisic individuals who must be governed is essentially a view created and reinforced by the mechanistic media (rooted in the visual bias), the proprietors of which benefit from this mechanised system being maintained (it is not a conspiracy but a self-maintaining system). To compensate for our misgivings and to quell any longings various periodical mechanisms are used to give us of a transient soothing sense of a surrogate connection to altruistic acts of shared imagination.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Entangled Occasion with Eyelets #1

Entangled Occasion with Eyelets #1

The Sun is bright I wake up early
I take a photo of the shadow on the dining room wall
For centuries painting as gnawed at its arm in the hope of escaping the shackles of its own essential thingness (see Michaelangelo self-portrait as the flayed Saint Bartholemew) or in the hazy hope of jumping the train from Giotto at a station that is not designanted (see Phillip K. Dick The Commuter) where the soul resides. Self-harm (Fontana) anatomical dissection and denial (Kippenberger Heavy Guy) have not greatly helped in the quest for meaning, which has become a shameful joke often accompanied by a rueful shake of the head. Data and sensory input have no meaning in themselves and yet... and yet there is something there through the unremembered gate. A misunderstanding of Artistotle’s essence as inert object has led to the erroneous certainty (all certainties are erroneous repeat to fade) that by standing very still (see Ucello the Battle of San Romano) everything will line up and fall into perfect perspective. When it doesn't painters often feel like smashing things up.

A. N. Whitehead (mathmetician turned adventurer in philosophy) suggests that we try to reconfigure ourselves in a non-bifurcated mode of self-awareness. Tricky really as the very thing that gives us awareness (cognitive language) leads to bifurcation – mind/body, science/nature, good/bad, thought/words. Classic(al) ontology subjects change to the rule of fixed substances. Whitehead perhaps makes a simple reversal by seeing change as essential rather than an accidental adjunct to the timelessness of permanent substances (the universe as lego building blocks). To enter Whitehead's non-bifurcated realm is to rediscover essence as event rather than object. This state of becoming is perhaps what all entangled (bad) paintings seek to manifest (see Titian the Death of Acteon) and to do so with all the open trust that leaping onto the cosmic dancefloor entails. Perhaps this helps complete the puzzle of authenticity gifted us by Jean Paul Satre. The idea that we are essentially the projects we act as individuals and not a flawed projection of an idealised abstraction of ourselves. The problem of this particular puzzle is that we are trying to complete it in a representational mode, which can only conclude in certain death, the soul's tracing paper instruction leaflet having flitted away as we opened the box. This leaves us with only the representation on the box and in this mode of presentational immediacy we display reality in a "way amenable to analysis, showing only the more or less clear and distinct surfaces of the world..." Whitehead asks us to account for the no less real causal efficacy unfolding behind the scenes in reality's unrepresentable depths from which half glimpsed emotional particles coalesce.

We live in a realm that favours presentational immediacy because this works well with representational analysis (see "how would you describe your race?" tick box). The given of the subject and object are not essentially more real but they serve as a means of making analysis make sense of itself. The soul makes no sense what so ever within the realm of representational analysis and yet blood continues to be shed in the name of insisting that it can be made sense of in this mode -
such is the drive to convince ourselves that the representational mode is the correct and definitive version of perceptual reality. Whitehead's process philosophy presents an effort to retune the wireless to other stations (remember how gloriously enticing white noise permeated by brief snatches of foreign voices once sounded on the shortwave radio?)

I’m afraid of being alone Turning to stone (repeat to end)

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Art and the corrupting power of the market

Reading about Hito Steyerl I found the desire to reclaim the experience of art exciting but I began to recollect a discussion I had attended about theory communiste, which advocates the creation of instantaneous revolution rather than the production of preparatory propaganda for a revolution of the future. The power of the institution is upheld by direct protest art like the songs of the proles. This is what Orwell revealed when Winston and Julia betray Love in 1984. It's what one might call fucking self-neutering art. Art belongs to a realm beyond and outside of the institution accessed from the gaps in the fabric of its all enveloping mesh. Art understands the language of the soul or perhaps it is that but only by virtue of appearing in the gaps in the living society. The problem is that much time and effort is spent reacting against the patriarchal institution and yet much of this this effort by attempting to adopt a cynical or aggressive stance, rejects the soul in equal measure thus only serves to maintain the equilibrium of the institution's power.

Trying to force people to see the cracked mirror of the toxic nature of the institution via critique or detournement will only ever result in the institutions continued power. We can decide to move towards what we might do if this were not the case. To make a non-bifurcated art that refuses the institutional divisions of mind and body - science and nature - reason and poetry - emotion and thinking. Rather than make art "about" these things one can only make art that embodies this and make it visible in such a way that encourages a multi-modal way of engaging.

Dandelion Visions – William Blake and A. N. Whitehead

This is a multi-media interactive exhibition seeking through art and poetry to create a situation of entangled engagement between artists and the public. To organically disrupt the idea that art delivers a message rather than occurs within a living society. The exhibition seeks to grow beyond the walls of the conventional split of subject and object or mind and body and tries to offer a multi-modal way of being.
Inspired by William Blake the exhibition attempts to marry his fourfold vision with A N Whitehead’s idea of non-bifurcated thinking or “process reality”. Blake’s image of Newton is a vision of the fixed detachment of Enlightened frameworks, which fossilise or abstract the process of culture and life that it may be analysed. This state of stasis (essential to data processing) has the affect of not only alienating the public from art but each other too.

The exhibition is more of an on going occasion into which artists and public alike enter, reporting back on epiphanies and discoveries. It seeks to explore Blake’s idea that we imagine our realities outwards and workshops of poetry and object making add to a blurring of the distinction between the viewer and the creator. Consisting of work from all over the world the exhibition gathers around a central installation, The Nonbifurcatedman, propelling us via hyper-drive back into nature. As well as guiding the visitor into the space the central motif of the dandelion seed is used as an emblem for the spread of a collective creative imagination – so vital to a shared sense of connectedness.

The role of an artist is in some respects not to create a framework but to reveal it and in doing so offer what Duchamp refers to as a “way out through a clearing”. As Einstein joined time and space, A. N. Whitehead took the idea of relativity and asked us to reframe objects as events not static abstractions. This living state is underpinned by the concept of the soul for both Blake and Whitehead. The soul, so superfluous in an age of data and meaningless detachment, is the only thing that makes the equations of entanglement add up.

Debbie Kennard, Cabinet Member for Stronger and Safer Communities attended a recent event based around the idea and commented “I think if it doesn’t touch your soul, there’s no point, and that did. I think it’s fantastic having it [the exhibition] here in the library, it makes it accessible. Art and poetry, it’s for everyone, isn’t it. Here at the library it’s open doors, open dreams, open boxes of dreams and aspirations.”
I am not an illusion by Arzu Kiraner at Bognor Regis Library Sep 2017

the nonbifurcatedman Bognor Regis Library September 2017