December 27, 2006


0. Among equals every friendship asymptote leans heavily
towards any closeness order we like tenderness by suitable
choice of vocabulary: fused groups collected together as
stable alloys, our description not sensitive to a starting
time will have constant energy. You do find people have
phenomenal capacity, deeply intersecting an infinite
number of times. Less serial, this small fusion supporting
even when they lose – limbic symmetry of everyone's
relations to each other, neither one contains the other.
Abelian and free. Performed formants thus permitting
longer musical notes to be sustained often over huge
distances and times, the more precise the delight we feel
in its frequency. Individuals touching intimately feel its
vibrations, celebrate the humour of unexpected beats, art
and exchange conducive to simply connected space, two
points can be continuously transformed into every other,
conformally and bijectively mapped emotions good
despite rules that the proposition adds nothing: 1

December 21, 2006

Site Visits

I had the great pleasure of spending the weekend doing site visits with Alan Johnston and Masayuki Yasuhara ( . Pictured in the cold and damp beside an Ulrich Ruckriem stone at Outwood Country Park, Radcliffe. They will be doing a collaborative installation in the same park.

December 07, 2006


0. Speaking of Text Has Spoken of the hottest day, ice cold
cider competing with the sun, the heat and cold of bodily
effects; Suppose a thing is sitting on the edge of a table,
how did it not go backwards from the floor, to a still-life,
an old clock ticking, opening the controlled shipment
[language] adds a fresh embarrassment, fresh flowers
appointed explosive to a moving/shifting interference
containing enough resources to describe that situation.
His lyric cul-de-sac, friendly to nature, bucolic idyls
devoutly promoted over other plant species must be
effected. Condensation decoheres a droplet about to slip
down. Boolean, the text past pain replaces memory,
pseudogenic decomposed into modules, decomposition
matters to text's comprehensibility and maintainability.
Grass appears blue, the sky appears green immediate
knowledge and its object, effective coupling, measures
how much extra perturbation, a given perturbation
generates, awards, dialects, compromises, obsequies sung
or silent: 1

November 24, 2006

two top people

I've been a bit preoccupied with creating a new work for the Arts Council, which is now near enough done bar the final production. Anyway, in the meantime, this week I heard from two top people so thought I'd point you to have a look at them.

Carolyn Thompson was one of the discoveries of the Text Festival - the subtly of her work I have a lot of time for.

The other person worth checking out is Stefan Gec. I was pleased to hear from Stefan after a bit of a gap.

November 11, 2006

The Eighth Square

Also from Koln:
I don’t usually bother mentioning exhibitions I’ve seen unless they are worth the mention – there is so much bad art in the world you could be overwhelmed if you wasted time thinking about them – but the current show at the Ludwig Köln is worth of special attention because it is surely the stinker of the year.

Not only is the ‘art’ jaw-droppingly laugh-out-loud terrible but the curating and display is at the level of a cross between a high school parents evening and a trade fair. Whoever laid this out has no understanding of light, space or aesthetic experience – or they had been lumbered with this joke art and was attempting to show what they felt by magnifying the badness.

Back from Köln Again

All been happening recently: back from the Douglas Gordon in Edinburgh and off to Köln with a new commission from the Arts Council in the bag. As usual I stayed with Ulrich Rückriem (and Tessa Howe) and got loads of new writing done. Ulrich was on good form with more than 20 commissions/exhibitions this year! Frustratingly he doesn’t take any notice of the Net so I can’t really point you to links to see any of them – I suppose they are findable somewhere.

Exciting development: Ulrich has handed me the programming of artists residencies and research exhibitions Red House and Barn in Ireland. So here's a picture of Ulrich's installation:

I'll start in the New Year.

November 01, 2006

Sorry for this laziness

Since returning from Japan, I have been very lazy about updating this blog. As Sartre said you have to decide whether to tell or to do, so I have been doing - mainly the ongoing 50 Heads project. One of which is below. At present I am in Edinburgh for the Douglas Gordon shows (of which more when I have seen them without the preview crowds).


0. what it is for the "given" to be "taken"; Who I was What

was I When was it Where was I an event whose
probability is not 0. The absolute future may not be well
-defined for every inability to develop its own knowledge
-intensive growth has not had immediate negative effects
on aggregate measures of prosperity. Or as fools once
said: building a new formation for common space
omitting the fundamental importance of ISBN. 0: doesn’t
bode well and compromised truth measures the lower
threshold described as ‘no more than one at or below
lower threshold.’ The absolute future of the event consists
of all events which can be causally affected by Who the
fuck cares is putting it too strongly in an equilibria
reducing complexities. Note no upper threshold definition
– normality must always be paid for, by proxy
compromising with quiescence, stupidity, criminality,
inertia, certainty. To compromise, to accept barbarous
dissolution, inevitably the worst thing that happened was
the passing of the short Age of the Counter Tenor.
Struggle against torpor, the evanescence and
disappearance of that which seems worthwhile to be
pursued, tracked, gathered, against a choice of mildnesses: 1

September 29, 2006

Japan visits

I'm back in the UK now, so will get back to writing rather than holidays snaps!

September 12, 2006

September 03, 2006


Next week I am off to Japan for 3 weeks, attending while I am there the Metronome Think-Tank at the Mori Museum. Here are the questions we will be talking about:

"Firstly, mobility (impermanence and variability) within new types of institutional structure that connect art and education; and secondly, mobility in the movement of ideas, transported by artists and art practice that will affect the future definition of faculties of knowledge.

First session: Offering a distillation of key characteristics that define the conceptual and organisational make-up of new small-scale associations, these presentations will encourage discussion on mobility and impermanency within the actual structure of new forms of institution.

a) Can knowledge be mobile? What forms of knowledge travel, who shifts them from one place to another, and how does their content alter? What forms of knowledge do not travel or translate and why?

b) Why are artists coming back to the question of education and under what conditions can art colleges and universities generate autonomous dynamics of research and production? How do we assess the artist’s articulation of a combination of activities that include private gallery shows, large-scale global events and ‘activist’ education?

3. How do we articulate differences in concepts of research and in the methods of acquiring knowledge? Moving schools: is this classical romanticism (e.g., the peripatetic thinker and artist), and if not what it required to make itinerant academies into a reality? "

Invited for initial thoughts, I have written this:

The inverse geometry of contradiction is the dominant direction of travel, by-passing the demand that maps (originally concentric) serve as aids for accurate measurement.

Place (as a continuous function) and Placing matter little and. Geography, landscape, location, the quaint, the steppe and desert surpassed; for clarity, for mobility, for certainty, the heresy lays inside dedication to the vertical axis.

In April 2002 the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) attacked the city of Nablus. The assault was ‘inverse geometry…the reorganization of the urban syntax by means of a series of micro-tactical actions’. Troops moved across the city though hundreds of metres of ‘overground tunnels’ carved out of the dense and contiguous urban structure, using none of the city’s streets, roads, alleys or courtyards, but moved horizontally through walls and vertically through holes blasted in ceilings and floors. This form of movement, described by the military as ‘infestation’, redefines inside as outside, and Euclidean structure as thoroughfare.

‘Walking through walls’ revels in a conception of the city as not just the site but also the medium of passage – a freeform, axial medium that is contingent to intent and in flux. Extending to the hierarchy of mediations which is the urban global network, infected with the conditions of production (the default category of the room), the artist-poet-curator, radiating their Hill sphere, can be a Glass Bead Game player, within intervening quasicrystalline space, inventing language and (wearing protective clothing) institutions.

Fluents, freeform and homotopic within the actual structure of oldnew forms of institution operate in phase-space/action. Phase-space/action as knowledge. In a language of situations, fluents (propositional pseudogenes within situations) and actions (labelled transitions between situations), we are not told about the fate of fluents not affected by actions. A relation between situations allows you to say how close they are to each other; the result of an action is closest to the starting situation plus an extra ingredient: closeness measured by how many fluents change. Ramification is the problem of dealing, not just with the direct effects of an action, but also with the educational cascade of changes brought about by events triggered by the direct effects.

An artistic paradigm retaining renormalization processes but based on differential calculus, “which is concerned with the instantaneous rate of change of quantities with respect to other quantities, or more precisely, the local behaviour of functions”. To this education will be an integral calculus, “which studies the accumulation of quantities, such as areas under a curve, linear distance travelled, or volume displaced.”

August 31, 2006

New Scientist Poetry

On my way back from Düsseldorf, I indulged myself with my new addiction: New Scientist magazine. Imagine my shock when fuck me if there isn’t an article by Simon Armitage about the relationship between science and poetry. It stands out immediately because every other article is characterised by depth analysis whereas this reads like it has slipped in by accident and should have been in the Reader’s Digest. “Science by another name” as it is called, despite claiming to explore the links, starts out with a first column of personal anecdote demonstrating that poets really are as disconnected from scientific thinking as their stereotype. He concludes with a short poem:

“Being more in tune with the feel of things than science and facts, we knew that the tyre had travelled too fast for its size and mass, and broken through some barrier of speed, outrun the act of being driven, steered, and at that moment gone beyond itself towards some other sphere, and disappeared.”

(I took the liberty of removing the poem’s line endings just show it is not a poem at all, just a sentence, with no distinguishing poetic artifice). Putting aside the formal, it has no trace of relevance to a discussion of science and poetry, and in combination with what went before only confirms the stereotypes ‘science’ readers will probably have of poets. Armitage compounds the situation by summing up with observations about the relationship. Apparently “Science is besotted with perfection. [whereas] Poetry …goes out of its way to describe every occasion in a new and fresh and surprising way.” The example he included failed that criteria then. “A successful poem brings a kind of animal comprehension [yes this is supposed to be someone able to fashion language art!]…from a common pool of experience.” Animal comprehension being a pretty daft idea to offer up in a discussion with science, but Science (and poetry) are then summed up as dealing with ‘likeness, similitude and equivalence” As a poet I’d say that is definitely not what poetry deals with, and I expect scientists would question this from their perspective. I work regularly with scientific language and have worked in science collaborations and I would say that there is a surjective (so use a mathematical term) relationship between poetry and science, which is in language, usefulness and enquiry. Putting Armitage (and the other British establishment ‘poets’) aside as historically marginal (though damagingly hegemonic), the congruence of 21st Century poetry to science is in theoretical speculation, experimental enquiry and the creation of formal and linguistic tools that make these investigations useful (not for animal comprehension) for thinking, growing, and resisting.

August 18, 2006

More Madness

Just stumbled on this:

Apparently evolution is least accepted in Turkey closely followed by ... America. Coincidentally to my good impressions of my visit, Iceland comes top on rationality too.

Visiting America?

The 'security alert' only delayed my flight to Reykjavik by a few hours - arriving at 3am in the end. But the madness of travelling to America is played out each day on the TV. So I have to ask: why continue to visit America? The question is actually academic for me because I decided when Bush bombed Iraq that enough was enough and adopted a personal boycott. I don't expect this effected the Evil Empire but made me feel better. Recall we all enthusiastically boycotted South Africa. I have been interested for a while in the debates that took place in Germany before the Second World War among artist and writers around whether it was better to stay in the country to resist the rise of Nazism or go into exile. Ultimately most of those who stayed were either dead or compromised. After Bush's last election 'win', there was a brief period of talk about liberal Americans emigrating. Whether they did or not isnt my question. Even if my decision is silly to other people, putting aside the political reason for not visiting, the question is: given the immediate definition of criminalisation of any visitor (except Saudis, maybe), the scans, the visas, the body searches, the massive delays, the stupidity of border guards, the laughable panicks, why are people not voting with their feet?

August 17, 2006

Back from Reykjavik

Back from Reykjavik. I can’t recommend this trip too highly; I guess it is just like you’ve seen it on TV – geysers, mountain ranges, glaciers, wild Martian landscapes – though, as a city boy I steered clear of all this outdoor Romanticism. Reykjavik itself: It is an unusual city, low-rise, sprawling, reminiscent of a cross between Douglas and Ramsay (in the Isle of Man. There was a great feeling. Lindsey Gordon from Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen recounted from someone else the Icelanders are like the Irish would have been if they had not lived under the English. But the commitment and understanding of contemporary art was marvelous. The reason for my trip was to see Alan Johnston’s show at Safn Museum – which I had, in my slapdash way not researched so it turned out to be a 3 person exhibition with Séan Shanahan and Ragna Rόbertsdόttir.

Alan Johnston works are almost invisible. His wall drawings are made of short, irregular pencil marks, closely woven to form recognizable geometric shapes. The Irish artist, Shanahan had some of his ‘trademark’ monochrome paintings on MDF on show which were particularly engaging through the thickness of their presence, but the high point was his steel rod drawing. This consisted of a steel rod passing through the space of all three floors of the gallery. A brilliant exhilarating piece. Ragna had worked directly with the walls, covering one with a square-form of tangerine-brown lava-mud, and a ‘landscape’ of lava chips between glass sheets.

If you have followed that link you will begin to see how important Safn is. Created by Petur Arason since the seventies, the collection is amazing, displayed in a pure white minimal spaces of a converted house with shop front, it features pretty much everybody you would want from Weiner, Long, Graham, Flavin, Buren, Fulton, Horn, Judd, Kawara, Andre, (etc) plus Icelanders such as Rόbertsdόttir, Arnarsson, Eliasson, who I should have known better. There was talk that the future of Safn is uncertain, which is staggering, as I am racking my brains to think of anywhere I like better. Iceland has an international treasure here far more interesting than geysers and glaciers.

I also managed to see a small show of Salvo paintings in the Corridor Gallery. I didn’t know Salvo’s work (though apparently he is really well known especially in Italy – I must get out more) and this gallery is actually someone’s flat. Quite a strange gallery experience.

Petru introduced me to Hafþόr Ybgvason, Director of the Reykjavik Art Museum. Hafþόr had a good chat as he showed me round again exciting if sometimes challenging spaces and we agreed that there were joint projects crying out for us to pursue.
I visited the National Art Gallery which was a nice set of spaces but little artistic merit on show.

It goes without saying that I also began to note for a Reykjavik poem.

August 09, 2006

Sartre on Genocide

The stream of images and reports of the continued American-back Israeli evils triggered my return to Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1967 article Vietnam: Imperialism and Genocide, written in his capacity as President of the International War Crimes Tribunal.
It is not surprising that a search of American websites, even/especially academic philosophy ones, that there is remarkable vitriol aimed at Sartre (one of my heroes). As this tends to be at the level generalised dismissal, I guess it is as much based on fear and hate of someone who got them bang to rights. Anyway, the striking thing about re-reading the essay is that simply replacing the Vietnam references with Iraq/Lebanon and America with Israel/America you get a pretty trenchant and accurate indictment of the current practice of genocide. As I write this, an Israeli on the TV has just said that as far as he is concerned for every Israeli who is killed 1000 Lebanese should die. As it is, they are only managing a ratio of 10:1 at present but they haven’t actually invaded properly yet. Add to this 3000 wounded, the million displaced, and the environmental disaster of the oil slick caused when they bombed Jeih power plant. It is generally felt that 45% of casualties being children is indictable also. Although personally I don’t subscribe to this equation that makes a child death more meaningful; in the seventeenth century it was felt that a child death was less significant because they were less aware of what they were losing. Call me old-fashioned! Either way, there’s genocide (by definition intentional) going on.

To add further outrage the ‘solution’ being pushed by Blair is the proxy international army to be a ‘mandated’ contracted-out Israeli army. Blair’s been looking for his ‘legacy’ before he fucks off to some highly paid international statesman-troubleshooter. He’s not actually said yet whether he is putting British troops in. Not much has been made of the fact that he already holds the record for sending the Army into more conflicts in British History so maybe one more won’t matter. Except to the dead.

Anyway this is a text for the "50 Heads" project, I have been working on during this period of darkness:

0. With epiphanous sigh save your rapture and replace it;
domination is not prostitution penetration is safe
temporary customer care from punishment as long as
there's no permanent damage – spread over time autism:
ceasefires and resolutions (surpassed): an enforced
homosexual encounter until it is too late. I close my eyes.
It would be good for the musicality if you opened the door
without saying unwritten rules, assumptions stroke
expectations govern an employee's working relationship
with the employer to the length of flowers bound
appropriate for subsequent use. Repulsed GUERNICA
(veiled in a blue): under your gaze, with semen dripping
from my face, masturbate on my knees the horrible noise
of extractor fans vows to thee my country – a cruel rather
than vicious 'mistress', highly skilled, the mechanical
aspect of their gestures calculated rather than frenzied,
offer no resistance, use my labour to please eager and
committed rather than virginally tentative, derogated
effectiveness astray as gestures of consolation from
interference patterns of net and skin. To compromise, or
accept barbarous dissolution, endless war denotes
‘reorganization of the urban syntax by means of a series of
micro-tactical actions’ and a future that looked bleak for
vertebrates: 1

August 02, 2006


"interrupted pendulum" with equal probability finding grains spinning up or down, some part which cannot be assessed, only non-zero within ourselves, and the amount of each does not depend on the presence of the other, fundamentally non-local fields are to accelerations as falling is to shopping, tales of passing vicariance, conserved so long as the masses did not interact; preyed on and preying, fearful of collision preyed on and preying between them. Prognosis varies from hope here to fear there and fear here and hope there. Senescent memory loss, language deterioration, poor judgment appearing first as function. Under the continuous symmetry of time translation symptoms continue as a daily torment and will do, despite all our bijective vinculum to someone non-local; conjugate variables appear separated, that old couple can only cleave together until they are cleaved apart, the system of fear to curl up with cumulative mistakes, a smell like tobacco, tired leather and urine and loss: you can't remember the end all the time. So ending matters only in its manner, it’s martyrdom iff lives are ultraparallel: 1

July 28, 2006

Continuing Heatwaves and bombing

Amid the continuing heatwave here, I had cause to re-visit Bury and found the above addition to the little park smack in the middle of the town, opposite the art gallery. The Fusilier's Regiment plans to open a museum beside the park so this is part of that campaign. In the sunshine, with the young family picnicking behind it, the horror of our support (deferential to the US) of Israeli warcrimes struck home particularly hard. For anyone who wants to know what is really going on (which you have no chance of knowing from the mainstream media), I think these are good sites:

July 18, 2006

Philip Davenport and Ian Hamilton Finlay

Trumpeted here a few posts back, Philip's IHF show has opened to rave reviews:

July 06, 2006

Helmut Lemke at the Cornerhouse

I don’t often mention Galleries in Manchester, though I visit them frequently, mainly because most of the programmes in the city are so dismal that I find it difficult to raise the interest even to be critical. Helmut Lemke’s site specific installation Klangeln VIII at the Cornerhouse ( is a welcome relief. Originally from Germany, Helmut is a Research Fellow in Interactive Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University and is on Fellowship at the University of Salford. According to the exhibition hand-out:
“Lemke’s work customises everyday objects, making them surprising components within installations…his work has an important visual dimension, drawing attention to the environment it is constructed for….”
As you can see, thankfully this is not a sound work that requires the use of headphones. To continue using their description of the piece: “Klangeln VIII features oversized bows that play a number of strings criss-crossed above the heads of visitors. The Klangeln are set in motion by opening the books on the tables. Each book operates two different Klangeln, making it possible for visitors to act as composers and musicians.” The music is decidedly Stockhausen-esque but the world is sorrier place for the lack of Stockhausen regularly heard – (or maybe it was the way I composed) “Klangeln are intriguing instruments that have been used by Lemke in various installations and performances since 1998. A play on the German words for sound, klang, and fishing, Angeln, Klangeln are created from fishing rods manipulated to behave as string instruments.” As a city-dweller, I’m not sure that I would class fishing rods as “everyday objects”, but maybe books are. The work itself is remarkable, subtle and spatially spare. The minimal physical presence of the book tables/shelves and the camouflaged location of the sound-making apparatus amongst the brutal structures of the gallery ceiling magnify a plenary emptiness. Apparently making up the eleven dimensions (ten plus time) of the Universe is one, which if we could apprehend it, would appear to be an infinitely long strip only a couple of millimetres wide but with no measurable thickness. Your action in the sound creation (opening and closing the books) and the palpable thinness of Lemke’s generated sound dimension extend your perception with the addition/analogy of that other geometry to the four dimensions we otherwise mundanely experience

July 03, 2006

Mercury Hymn

M e r c u r y h y m n
ian hamilton finlay is dead
works by ian hamilton finlay
and philip davenport
preview 14 July 2006 7pm
H e a r t F i n e A r t L t d
Third Floor 6 Waterloo Place
Edinburgh EH1 3EF Scotland
0131 556 2289
exhibition 15 July - 1 August
gallery open Friday to Monday 2pm-6pm
or ring 07973988471 for an appointment

June 26, 2006


A few people have mentioned in passing reading what I put here, which is a little embarrassing just now because I haven’t put anything here for a while. So a quick update is in order to show it is still live – I promise something more theoretically interesting soon.

I’m just back from Amsterdam/Delft where I had a pleasant meeting with Martita Slewe of the Slewe Gallery ( ) and saw Alan Johnston’s installation – sorry I didn’t take any photos but it was really too subtle for do justice photographically and I expect some will appear on the website if they are not there already. I also did a load of research on the follow-up to Vertigo, which before I went had the working title ‘amsterdam’ but has a different name now. In the meantime, I have finished another of the “50 Heads”, so here it is:


0. Iff means testing is a system of inertia by proxy of that

excluded middle. Iff they would sell the people’s park,

pulling the ladder up to test behind us. (Obsequious

masses arose) iff law asserts an equivalent negation,

aspiring to dutchness, (practical and living) one should

never cross an e-picket. Iff it is false, then that thing is

surely true. (No more deluded by reaction, able to deny,

subtracting a firming aspect from the law, demanding that

a definite construct “Icouldhaveenjoyedmy50years",

retrodicted darkness generated inexorable artificial active

authors find their way in hope of a framework of grace and means,
aspiring to an overview of all the texts submitted and even

authority to help run it and its Inquisition. (To sacrifice us

to their pride) iff dreams be responsible, external drivers

affect workforce planning, (they'll break ranks and fight no

more), its segmentation into minutes, morning product of

industrial discipline; where each tyranny fixes his sign. Iff a

passage leading to the author where he began: (the

People’s Flag) alone with his own text, ignorant of the

requirements the text must meet. (selflessly immemorial

after us, stand within Her sweeping redness) Iff: 1

As usual here, the layout is not quite right, but the line endings are. As the mathematicians amongst you will know, iff is a mathematical/logical term meaning "if and only if".

May 28, 2006

Liverpool Edinburgh

Sorry for the long gap in updates: been busy. About 50 attended the Walker Art Gallery gig, at which I read: extracts from Vertigo, On Naming of Shadows, Zufrieden, and the last stanza of a new poem in response to Rückriem. I was also able to insert a temporary text in the Rembrandt room:

Pictured above it says:

"since this room is the best of all possible rooms there might be no such best room if the series of possible rooms formed a continuum of increasingly good rooms ad infinitum and if there were no such best room we cannot fault art for failing to create the best since to do so is as impossible as say naming the highest number point in the picture represents an event a point in space at a single moment, an orchestrated reduction, a room full of air equals the number of phase-space dimensions is 10 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 things"

Following this, I have been back up in Edinburgh, which I am more and more impressed with. On Friday I did a talk about the Vertigo exhibition to an audience of about 25.

May 12, 2006

Walker Gallery Reading

I am reading with Phil Davenport and sound artist Ben Gwilliam at the Walker Art Gallery Liverpool on Saturday from 2pm. I'll also be creating some temporary text installations in the galleries. Free entry - come along.

May 10, 2006

Finally I have images of the Sleeper installation; if you go to you can see more and download the poem VERTIGO.

April 24, 2006


Off to Edinburgh to install my exhibition at the Sleeper Gallery ( The show previews on Friday 28 April 6pm – 8pm, then runs for a month – have a look and let me know what you think. It is accompanied by a long-ish poem, like the show, called Vertigo (ISBN 1 904443 10 9) which you will be able to get via Sleeper. On my first visit to the space I was struck by its incredible white-cubeness. This seemed to be the ‘traditional’ contemporary gallery space we are all used to, carried to almost abstraction. Going from the Gallery to the yard outside (which in Scotland is called ‘an area’); I got to wondering what is the relationship between the experience of a real space and an abstract space and also the notion of Space itself. Following discussions with Professor Graham White of London University, (www., the poem was written in Köln and Delft in Holland. The show carries the linguistic investigation into the multi-dimensions of the Sleeper space adding a further question: how can spatialised text work homotopically?

April 23, 2006

The Golden Rule,,1696083,00.html

The poet laureate, Andrew Motion, and the master of the Queen's music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, have written a work together to mark the monarch's 80th birthday. Davies has set a poem called The Golden Rule, written for the occasion by Motion. The poem “tackles”, at the suggestion of Maxwell Davies, "changes in the natural world, and people accelerating those changes, sometimes positively, sometimes not. And through those changes and in and among them, the Queen remains the same". The piece was performed at a service at St George's Chapel, Windsor, today and at Windsor festival in September. Sir Peter described Motion as "very sympathetic and professional - he knows exactly what he's about". That’s as may be and as a anti-monarchist you’d think I won’t care, but demonstrating the dire state of British Official Verse Culture, he certainly knows exactly nothing about writing poetry in the 21st Century. I won’t glorify the poem more than it deserves by reproducing it here, as it is so bad that it really shouldn’t have seen the light of any day. The format – form is term with more gravitas than it can claim – is four stanzas each line beginning with ‘The…’. Each stanza = one sentence, grammatically unchallenging and leaden; each concluding with (hold onto your stomachs) "The golden rule, your constancy, survives." Ok why should I suffer alone? Here’s how it opens:

The waves unfurl and change the shape of coasts,
The shrinking woods fall backwards through their leaves,
The night-horizons twist in chains of light:
The golden rule, your constancy, survives.

This repetition at the end of the sentence doesn’t make it poetry it is the device of rhetorical politicians. I know he’s the poet laureate and keenly pushes the poetic clock back pre-modernism but the celebration of monarchical divinity is vile.

Ideas are in the pipeline for a joint piece to mark Prince Charles's 60th birthday in 2008 – o fuck.

April 18, 2006

Palermo Restored

My poem in response to Blinky Palermo's Edinburgh Art College 1970 installation ( has now been published by Greville Worthington as a limited edition card. The layout means I can't really represent it here, but I'm happy to post it out to anyone who requests one - while stocks last!

April 09, 2006

Back from Koln

Just returned from spending time with Ulrich Ruckriem in Köln, Germany. For those who don’t know his work, here’s a quick introduction:

A couple of sites featuring gallery installations:

A couple of sites public art works:
This one shows the projects that I commissioned in Radcliffe
This one is the piece currently showing at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Anyway, I had a great time working in his studio and managed to finish the publication which accompanies my show in Edinburgh in May. And in long conversations got an insight into where Ulrich’s work has moved to. In most people’s mind his work is characterised by huge stone installations (of which there are still 12 commissions still in the pipeline in the next 2 years) but the latest works feature a remarkable departure – dematerialising the object completely in favour of geometric projects of its absence accompanied by a massive output of drawings. The only site you can see an example that I know of is from the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford.

February 28, 2006


Following a line of research I came across Everlandia today (at the ICA, I think). "Everlandia is a journey of a special/personal kind. It playfully confronts an individual with their fantasies, needs and desires. It challenges the imagination to pick and compose from those landscapes, plants and animals, which most accurate express the image of the individual's dreamland. Their Everlandia. The invented land remains the property of its creator and is saved on the web page. The visitor will be able to send it from the gallery as a postcard and of course keep it in their heart."

What is striking when you look at the actual products is how the construct actually limits rather than challenges the imagination of the user. In the end it is more the idea that you could fantasise about your ideal landscape rather than create it through this project. As you will find if you have a go, you have a limited number of landscapes, most of which I for one would only want to see through the window of a plane to somewhere more interesting. In addition paradise would only seem to be populated by gorillas, foxes, penquins and foxes, with the only food being pineapples. Everlandia is a project to create your own stereotype, while Paradise for me would be a cross between Berlin, Venice, Manchester, etc. People, noise, excitement, food, culture.

February 25, 2006

More bad things happen?

Anyone who has talked to me for any length of time will have the impression that I have a scary certainty about the impending doom of the bird flu pandemic; as mentioned previously here, this fear and accrued knowledge stretches back to reading of the death of the Austrian artist Egon Schiele. I have been confidently warning anyone who will listen for about two years that the pandemic is imminent. The world-wide news services are not helping to clarify the danger – although bird to human infection is pretty deadly – realistically how often do you come into contact with a live bird? The real pandemic will come as the disease mutates to be contagious human to human; then we are in big trouble; find out more at and . I have written to my member of parliament about it and used the Freedom of Information Act to examine the preparations of my local authorities. While you still could, I bought my Tamiflu and high-spec medical face masks. Watching the progress of the flu in birds spread inexorably from the east, while I was in Holland the virus reached France this week I have been struck by an odd impression given out by the governmental authorities. As my own MP vouchsafed – every thing that can be done is being done. The usual mantra ‘our xxx is the best in the world’ (substitute pandemic preparations with police, medical services, education, army, etc.). Surprise surprise, I return to the UK to find the local newspaper headlines – MANCHESTER UNPREPARED FOR BIRD FLU. The reassurances of government officials did not put my mind at rest – or many of the scientists in the field. It would be great for this to be one of those empty scares but everyone from the World Health Organisation down says it is a question of when it hits rather than if. And the WHO’s own flu expert (before he was told to shut up) was openly talking about 150 million deaths (the 1918 outbreak killed around 50 million). In many of the projections of this thing which WILL happen we are looking at deaths on a biblical scale – in 1918 people really wondered whether civilisation itself could survive. The scary thing beyond this scary thing is that very ‘biblical’ epithet: inevitably Christian fascism and Dark Age Islamism will appropriate it as ‘god’s judgement’; but that will be after and maybe I won’t be here to worry about it. In considering the disaster’s approach, I am reminded of Jared Diamond’s essay (you’ll find it on the web if you search):


This starts with the intriguing question: what did the Easter Islanders say as they were cutting down the last palm tree? Were they saying, think of our jobs as loggers, not these trees? Were they saying, respect my private property rights? Surely the Easter Islanders, of all people, must have realized the consequences to them of destroying their own forest. It wasn't a subtle mistake. The Easter Islanders gradually chopped down that forest to use the wood for canoes, firewood, transporting statues, raising statues, and carving and also to protect against soil erosion. Eventually they chopped down all the forests to the point where all the tree species were extinct, which meant that they ran out of canoes, they could no longer erect statues, there were no longer trees to protect the topsoil against erosion, and their society collapsed in an epidemic of cannibalism that left 90 percent of the islanders dead. how on Earth could a society make such an obviously disastrous decision as to cut down all the trees on which they depended? He goes on to look at other infamous disastrous decisions by various civilisations through history to find common factors. He comes up with four categories:

“human societies and smaller groups may make disastrous decisions for a whole sequence of reasons: failure to anticipate a problem, failure to perceive it once it has arisen, failure to attempt to solve it after it has been perceived, and failure to succeed in attempts to solve it. All this may sound pessimistic, as if failure is the rule in human decision-making. In fact, of course that is not the case, in the environmental area as in business, academia, and other groups. Many human societies have anticipated, perceived, tried to solve, or succeeded in solving their environmental problems. … Thus, my reason for discussing failures of human decision-making is not my desire to depress you. Instead, I hope that, by recognizing the sign posts of failed decision making, we may become more consciously aware of how others have failed, and of what we need to do in order to get it right.”

These words have been in my mind while observing approaching disaster, especially as I was in Holland, within the article Jared Diamond considers the Dutch experience. “Failure to solve perceived problems because of conflicts of interest between the elite and the rest of society are much less likely in societies where the elite cannot insulate themselves from the consequences of their actions. For example, the modern country of which the highest proportions of its citizens belong to environmental organizations is the Netherlands. I never understood why until I was visiting the Netherlands a few years ago and raised this question to my Dutch colleagues as were driving through the countryside. My Dutch friends answered, "Just look around you and you will see the reason. The land where we are now is 22 feet below sea level. Like much of the area of Holland it was once a shallow bay of the sea that we Dutch people surrounded by dikes and then drained with pumps to create low-lying land. We have pumps to pump out the water that is continually leaking through the dikes. If the dikes burst, of course people drown. But it is not the case that the rich Dutch live on top of the dikes, while the poor Dutch are living down below. If the dikes burst, everybody drowns, regardless of whether they are rich or poor. That was what happened in the terrible floods of February 1, 1953, when high tides and storms drove water inland in Zeeland Province and nearly 2000 Dutch people drowned. After that disaster, we all swore, 'Never again!' and spent billions of dollars building reinforced barriers against the water. In the Netherlands the decision-makers know that they cannot insulate themselves from their mistakes, and that they have to make compromise decisions that will be good for as many people as possible."

In the public (and personal) responses to the threat I am struck by the failure of decision makers to appreciate the problem. When it comes to the flu, decision makers including my local MP and local government officials seem to have the equivalent of believing that they can breath underwater.

There is an almost hysterical international standby strategy to attempt to isolate the initial outbreak of the disease wherever that finally comes, when you think that bird flu has already made it to Iraq. I can’t be the only one for whom two concurrent disasters contributing to an even bigger calamity rings bells for.

February 10, 2006

Seen and Heard

As On Kawara would say “I am still alive” and so thankfully is my dad after his emergency triple bypass operation. The Venice trip was a good way to start the year: January is definitely the best time to see Venice – the weather is pleasantly spring-like and there are hardly any tourists so most of the galleries and fabulous churches were empty. The poem I went to write – responding to the Blinky Palermo installation at Edinburgh College of Art ( is being published as a limited edition by Greville Worthington and should be available shortly. With little structure to my time now I am writing the last weeks have been punctuated with what I have seen and heard. The British Art Show is in Manchester at the moment but there is nothing to distinguish from it. It’s one of those shows that don’t make you angry with how bad it is, more it provokes a sense of melancholy that the banality of the work (supposedly surveying what is going on in British Art) is not even bad enough to generate a negative emotion.

It is going to sound like I am in grumpy mood but I have nothing good to say either about the much lauded gay cowboy movie “Brokeback Mountain”. It is generally hailed as an iconoclastic triumph but I had to leave before the end. Not because of the homosexuality at the core of the plot but because the tedious romanticism of the American landscape and rural culture. I heard one reviewer comment that while the key relationship is challenging to the mainstream for obvious reasons, the film could be seen as an investigation of the general inability of men to communicate. In one scene one of the cowboys says a single sentence to which his companion observes that that is the most he has said since they met. The cowboy replies that it is the most he has said all year. The problem for these people is not their inability to communicate; it is that they have nothing to communicate. If I was in that environment I think I’d be more worried about my sanity than my sexuality - No wonder the majority of us have moved to cities!

Musically I have finally had the time to really get into Webern, Berg and Charles Ives and feel better for it. Poetically, I am pleased to have just received the sound-works CD “Constellations of Luminous Details” from Phil Davenport. Phil does have much of a web presence but you can see something at . Phil has generated about 20 texts which are then read by a variety ordinary (often stumbling, often poignantly hospitalised) readers which have then been manipulated in collaboration with a couple of sound-artists. The high point for me is a text read by a clearly infirm old lady, a truly moving piece. I highly recommend it.

In London I met up with Carol Watts from Birkbeck and the brilliant text artist Carolyn Thompson, and Professor Graham White ( I came across Graham via - a website dedicated to bringing writers and scientists together. We had a good first meeting, which fascinatingly attempted to navigate the translation of our different languages to some sort of common understanding. Have a read of some of Graham’s papers – the use of mathematical language attempting to describe the act of reasoning about action is intense challenging stuff. I saw THE GRAVITY IN ART show curated by Theo Tegelaers at deAppel in Amsterdam ( ) before Christmas which really showed up a divide between the rigour of scientific questioning and artistic. The high point of the show actually being an article in the catalogue by Martijn van Calmhout, head of science for de Volkskrant who by the second paragraph wrote: “it remains an obvious question, what is gravity?” (if you are interested in the answer it is: “Mass exerts a pressure on its surroundings because it warps the space-time continuum around it” and “Gravity is a deformation of the matter that constitutes the universe as a whole, a deformation of space and time.”) Without exception however the artworks did not engage with this at all, instead coming up with the earth-shattering revelation that gravity makes things fall over.

Meantime my other science oriented partnership – the biodiversity collaboration with Kerry Morrison and Professor Alicia Prowse continues to bear fruit. Here is the most recent poem:


0. A SSS( & Artistic)I the (xenodiverse) first (macrofouled)
shall (fear) be (choking) last (menace) outstanding areas of
Natural beauty (it) is a small happiness of Nausea:
(rapacious) otherwise lawful activity (it) spreads at the
bottom of the viscous puddle, at the bottom of (time)
under (see below) the wildlife act (1981) the Nausea is not
inside me "identifies/measures" for (its) protection of
(danger) – so: ignore the gaps between cities is the best
(the (so-called) "Habitats Directive) policy/ies plants
prohibits the (unauthorised) intentional uprooting
(nature’s way of cleansing) species – restless – restless –
restless picking, uprooting or inherited into everything
(decaying) pieces of carpet and rotting (from maladaptive)
shoes and an abundance of non biodegradable items
particularly vinyl records (or) (seemingly) incidental
(Shisho) actions that are an unavoidable result of
steganography a/the inlet pipe industrial fly tipping
(abhors ellipsis) is obvious (undersocialized) work strives
for authenticity: 1

Next I have to do a text for some stainless steel signs that Kerry has designed for a public art project in Radcliffe (near Manchester). I’m also working on the Sleeper Show ( which will open on 28 April. To focus on this I am off again: first to various places in Holland (hosted by my friend artist Mark Jalland) and then on for a visit to Ulrich Rückriem in Köln. More news when I get back.

January 05, 2006

Next stop Venice

Happily, I have left the Bury set up for 12 months travel, writing and research. Next stop Venice: reports when I get back.