Monday, 23 March 2015

Face to face

Face to face

Dogs are like human beings
That is why after centuries
They have been selected
As man’s best friend
Er that’s what we do
We see ourselves as the default
The building block
Projecting tech
The electrical circuit 
Cog or dog
Dog cog cog dog
What am I responsible for?
Don’t forget to take all your belongings with you
Evolutionary approach
The mathematical theory of information
Informational process
Sudden emergence of language
Biology to language
The web exploits means
We’re entering a new age of transparency
Oh my god
Ludwig Mies van der Blair’s revenge
Or what?

Thursday, 19 March 2015


Tomorrow there will be an eclipse
An eclipse that is almost sure to be total
But not quite
The only way to look will be up

But not directly at the nearest star
Which by happy coincidence
Is exactly four hundred times further away
Than the nearest satellite
Which is four hundred times smaller
I say happy because tomorrow
I also international happiness day

The man from that band who flogged new labour
The only way is up
(or was it things can only get better?)
He said that he saw an eclipse in 2009
In Indian. In India.
And it made him feel like he was on a planet
It revealed the mechanics of the universe
Is this like someone lifted up the bonnet?
He said we should listen to starman
By David Bowie
I could imagine him smiling as he said this.

Once upon a time I was falling in love.
Moon, sun, sun, moon.
Once upon a time I was falling in love.
Moon, sun, sun, moon.

repeat to fade

Sunday, 15 March 2015

History is Now @ The Hayward - ABSENCE

A short way into the History is Now Exhibition at the Hayward Gallery there is some work by Lucia Nogueira which the labelling describes as having a “preternatural potency”. I like this. But due to the context and positioning (stuck in a corner) the chances of you feeling this effect in the gallery are pretty slim. But hey it says it on the label so that’s ok. This is not to say that the original work does not have this preternatural potency but in this context it is there as a signifier of the actual work. Which is a pretty amazing stunt to pull off, you know having the original thing as a symbol of itself. Nogueira’s work is not about metaphor because it is metaphor and both inhabits and creates a realm free of the “mind forged manacles” of the Newtonian occident. In case you were wondering (and I certainly was) preternatural is like supernatural but having an earthly although extremely unlikely explanation – freak of nature. So this work serves as a reminder of what we are missing which is the language to either explain our problems or find a solution to them. Amresh Sinha wrote a fantastic essay about Adorno’s Aesthetic theory, which clarifies this whole thing about how art is “of itself” – it is not an equivalent of another form of expression.
This is what he says,
“Art as a medium of language is no longer an expression of itself, but loses its character and is subordinated to meaning which poses a threat to its identity”.
So ironically the show at the Hayward is a manifestation of this endangered state that art is currently in. It’s all about the absence of what art really can be i.e. a way of looking at and talking about that which cannot be expressed in any other way. The show really is like that part of a science fiction film where they gain a skewed insight to an arcane civilisation by what the artefacts infer.
This uncanny aura of “the combine” that permeates the show is, in my opinion, not wholly intentional but does demonstrate that art is a powerful force and will ultimately find a way of expressing itself. Someone at the Hayward has noted this atmosphere of dystopian data overload and in the gift shop there are copies of Richard Littler’s disturbing book Discovering Scarfolk which can only be taken as a nod and a wink to the overblown sense of doom in Roger Hiorns’ BSE installation which offers no lateral insight to the material beyond making you feel you’ve travelled in time to a soviet era science museum. But perhaps that is the point – that we have become a culture obsessed by data analysis and an early modernist FAITH in technology to save us.
Did I say? This exhibition is all about the absence of what art can be? Of the absence of metaphor in out culture? We brits were the most zealous adopters of sms and it feels like, more than any other western culture we have allowed this virtual binary experience to shape us. The first space you come to in the show sums this up fantastically well. Simon Fujiwara has a digital David Hockney drawing at the apex of his installation of artefacts. These drawings were at the point in Hockney’s own Royal Academy show when you thought OMG I liked the paintings but please no these are just the intangible skid marks of your love affair with technology whilst you then skip screaming back to the painting of The Sermon on The Mount to regain your love of humanity. My point being that this digital image, as I think Fugiwara was intending to point out, is equivalence. We have somehow allowed exchange language to replace experience. He also includes some brooms from the clear up after the riots in 2011 when the tweeting of the photo of said sweeping devises being held aloft was an act of exhilarating optimism. I like sweeping because it’s an action that really feels like doing something. Not to be confused with tweeting.
Now this absence thing is more interesting than I initially thought because it feels like Derrida’s ghost has come back with a vengeance. How ironic is that hauntology fans!? Jacques Derrida was very interested in the “trace” which imbues every element of communication, which let’s be honest is everything we can see these days such is our level of choreographed awareness.
"mark of the absence of a presence, an always-already absent present" .

It takes Richard Wentworth to rekindle a flicker of spirit from the ashes of  the previous post-promethean take on British culture. He reminds us of the nobility of our creative aspirations after the war. Henry Moore and Paul Nash who he has chosen to feature both fused life and art. They made culture that was of the landscape from which it emerged. The paradigm that has caused the catastrophic tip away from metaphor is obvious really. It has its roots in Clement Greenberg’s hope that we artists should develop a system of critical analysis and this is now soundly fused to the system of funding application that has seeped through the art world making it almost impossible for an artist to think via the work itself. They must know what they are going to do before and then make an equivalent of those ideas. This means that we end up with only the least metaphorical kind of art where clarity of intention is the remaining vestige of the sacred act of creating. Wentworths contribution is not like a dystopian science-fiction narrative rather it is like opening a tomb and weeping at the discovery of the profound and sadly unassailable poetry of a lost culture. Go see.

Monday, 2 March 2015

be afraid, be very afraid

So the debate goes like this
We had the scaremongers about the industrial revolution
But we got through that didn’t we!?
So this hollowing out of the middle class
Is nothing to worry about
We’ll all still have things to do
When the jobs of educators are digitally outsourced
Drones can drone and clones can clone
That’s how the argument goes
Holy shitting fuck
We are still stuck on the riff that we are complex machines
Mechanisms – cause and effect
The A grade students
The quiet reasonably hard working ones
Who are good at the secretarial skills
Get bumped up the ladder

Then we go
Ooh oh noo look people are alienated and doing very bad things
Better do a survey
Better collate data
Then process the data and carry on believing in the plan
We’ll all still have things to do
When life is a series of abstract decimalised codes
The cynics can still find time to guffaw
At believers in the ineffable serendipity of love
Yes so you see we got through the industrial revolution
We can get through this hollowing out
We no longer need to have a place for complex stories
We’ll get through this
And emerge and you know what
We’re all in this together.