Partial update, partial freeform rambling (sorry, in the psychogeographic/subconscious archeology context I should really call it ‘a mental derive’) I guess. Degree Show is rapidly encroaching, time appears to be folding in on itself and, while weeks are passing in the blink of an eye, the inevitable conclusion still feels decades away.
First of all, a little conjecture in progress, I’m working away on material for degree show and various forms applying to do a Masters degree and trying to obtain the funding to allow me to do it so am faced with the age old nightmare of trying to classify and categorise one’s work slightly more socially acceptably than ‘it’s just what I NEED to do to stop my universe from collapsing in on itself’, this afternoon whilst wandering the City Centre, the following thoughts came to me.
There is something of a ‘fashion’ in art at the moment for activism, the packaging and selling of ‘issues’ as a vehicle for social change (or something along these lines). It strikes me that the works I’m currently involved with can’t really be seen as trying to stop global warming, or the capitalists, or antisocial behaviour, or whatever other big things are currently making headlines but what I am attempting, is a form of micro-activism. By presenting the viewer (I always struggle to give people experiencing art a collective generic term but that’ll do for the time being), with my observations, I hope to instill their confidence, or open them up, to reappraising their own relationships with space, both the physical spaces they inhabit, and to give weight and reverence to the invisible kindgoms constructed of thought and memory and light which we all build within us. Whether utilising the mechanics of psychogeography or producing a physical manifestion of an emotional space through sound and/or visual art, giving people the opportunity to excavate space, to view it from a different perspective, by delving through the layers, of history, emotion, cause/effect, time, etc. helps people to become more sensitive to causes around them and to highlight the fact that we are all just parts of a much larger complex machine, but still equally important (you can read this as history, society or more abstracted views of continuous time if you wish). Giving the people the motive and means to explore and engage with space, internal or corporeal, with a view to wider social change.
As I say, it’s a concept in progress, happy to have any discussion on or around the subject. And so, to me slightly grumbling about academia for a little bit.
I’ve always had a bit of an issue with ‘research’ in the way that it’s dressed up within an academic art context, hell, I’m not going to try to start addressing the issues I have with art in an academic context but I digress. In supporting material which I’ve previously handed in for assessment purposes I’ve always made a clear point that, in my opinion, research is a constant and indefinable process, every drain cover, line of text, cloud, passing face, overheard conversation, film, book, wallpaper, etc. is a potential flashpoint for inspiration and it’s not something I tend to record and catalogue, things have a habit, especially on a subconscious level, of presenting themselves as the only obvious direction to take on a project. It slightly appalls me that in order to tick certain academic boxes, that people end up sitting googling every single other artist who has worked in a vaguely similar field or medium, a self defeating practice. When you start down that path, it doesn’t take long for self doubt to bite and you decide that ‘your’ idea has already been done a thousand times, far better than you were going to do.
So, that said, I’ve compiled a list of artists and works which I feel have some level of reference worthy note with respect to the collected works which will be exhibited as Crossing Point (this is the non-working title for my degree show as opposed to any previous iterations which may have appeared). This list is by no means exhaustive, hell I’m not even sure that it’s accurate but here you go, because boxes must be ticked (and I figure anyone googling for really cool people might end up here by accident) I present you with a big bunch of names of people and things which I deem influential to me as a practicing artist.
J.G. Ballard, Andrei Tarkovsky, Patrick Keiller, Will Self, Iain Sinclair, The Conet Project, D. Defoe, G. Debord, Xavier De Maistre, J.F. Lyotard, Bill Drummond, Peter J. Carroll, Aleister Crowley, Edwin Abbott, Franz Kafka, J.L. Borges, Herbert Ponting, Kurt Vonnengut, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, W.G. Sebald, Thomas Browne, Chris Petit, Paul Virilio, Italo Calvino, John Cage, William S. Burroughs, Jim Woodring, Chris Marker, Alvin Lucier, Edgard Varese, Torsten Lauschmann, Jim Jarmusch, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrik, Lars Von Trier, J.L. Goddard, Casper Noe, Tom Weir, Charles Avery, Throbbing Gristle, Coil, David Toop, Nietzsche, David Foster Wallace, Scarlet Thomas, NVA, Stewart Home, LPA, Leyland Kirby/The Caretaker, William Basinski, Jacob Kirkegaard
And here’s a list of slightly more specific works which I’d claim as a loose, very incomplete bibliography to the works which make up Crossing Point.
A Journey Round My Room – Xaver De maistre
London, Robinson in Space, Robinson in Ruins, The Robinson Institute – Patrick Keiller
Tlon, Uqbar – VL Borges
What I Believe – JG Ballard
Slaughterhouse V – Kurt Vonnengut
Lecture On Nothing – John Cage
The Invisibles, Doom Patrol, Supergods, et al. – Grant Morrison
From Hell, V for Vendetta, The Moon & Serpent Theatre of Marvels, Unearthing – Alan Moore
The Naked Lunch – WS Burroughs
The Inhuman – JF Lyotard
The Invisible City – Italo Calvino
Flatland – Edwin Abbott
17, $20,000, 45 – Bill Drummond
Rings of Saturn – WG Sebald
The Conet Project
The Book of The Law, The Book of Thoth – Aleister Crowley
London: City of Disappearances – Various, Ed. Iain Sinclair
London Orbital, Lights Out For The Empire, Orbital – Iain Sinclair
The Society Of The Spectacle – GE Debord
Restless Cities – Various, Eds. Beaumont & Dart
Assorted Works – Stewart Home/LPA East Section
A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland – Johnson & Boswell
Sculpting in Time – Andrei Tarkovsky
More or less the entire back catalogues of Coil, William Basinski, Arvo Part, Steve Reich and countless others.
The other thing which is incredibly difficult to put into a list like this is concepts/idioms/events “I REALLY like the aesthetics of crackly SW radio” just doesn’t feel like it fits, so it goes.
Ok, if you made it all the way down here, well done, I’m sorry, sometimes these things just have to happen, anyway, I had the absolute delight of seeing a quite scratchy 35mm print of the greatest film in the entire universe ever (Tarkovsky’s Stalker) last week and in tribute, made an audio piece in which I mentally revisited the train journey into the Zone. It’s called Schuhart’s Burden after the protagonist from Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers which the film is based around. You can download it if you like.
Degree show is coming along nicely, I’d say I’m about 60% installed or so, sorry I don’t have any pretty or interesting pictures for you in this post, they’ll be along soon.