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 (http://www.eca.ac.uk/palermo/index.htm) 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 http://www.pores.bbk.ac.uk/4/philip.html . 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 (http://www.dcs.qmul.ac.uk/~graham/). I came across Graham via http://www.scitalk.org.uk/ - 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 (
http://www.deappel.nl/ ) 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 (www.sleeper1.com) 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.

1 comment:

Maljardin said...

Hello Tony, your blog is fantastic.
My name is Edi from Argentina and I'd like to talk a little about Lawrence Weiner works, I really love his art, his esthetic, but I don't understand so much the meaning of it.
Please, write me if you want:


Thanx and keep on blogin'