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Saturday, October 15, 2016

After Glasgow

I went to Glasgow to curate an exhibition at the Lighthouse, Scotland's centre of Design and Architecture which was an enormously rewarding experience (though also challenging).  It was called Design & the Concrete Poem and was part of a Poetry Festival called Outside In Inside Out - which had some major speakers including Jerome Rothenberg, who was even nicer in person than his reputation had promised.  His wife Diane, who is/was an anthropologist who did her PhD research on the meeting point between Native American culture and the invasive Quaker met Jerome when she was 13 or 14 - and they seem sealed at the hip, a perfect complement to each other, smoking away at cigarettes on the front step of the high Glagow hotel, which laid on peanut butter bagels for breakfast.  I am sure if that is usual or was specially for the many guests who seemed to be from North America including Charles Bernstein and Pierre Joris and Nicole Peyrafitte.  At the Glasgow Womens Library on the Friday, Liliane Lijn made a moving presentation about her work and that of 'other outsider poets' she has known not least Nazli Nour, whose poetry (with permission) Liliane cut up for her earliest experiments with moving poem machines; she followed on from a similarly great presentation by Michael Parsons (composer and co-founder of the Scratch Orchestra) about the poet. performer and visual artist Lily Greenham, whose computer-generated images from early 1982 were among those I was able to show in the Lighthouse Gallery.  This was probably the biggest exhibition I have done yet and it was a great pleasure to do it in Scotland where awareness of concrete poetry and its various lineages and legacies seems even higher than London - I managed to get together some fab material through generous loans from friends and colleagues in Berlin, Canterbury and (mostly north) London which included some original Noigandres material from 1958 and copies (very rarely seen) of the journal spirale which was co-edited by Eugen Gomringer and Marcel Wyss.  I also showed five of Stephen Bann's gorgeous Amber Sand constructs (which were made for the Brighton Festival of Concrete Poetry in 1967 in collaboration with Kenelm Cox) and eight works from Bob Cobbing's collection including a work called Spontaneous Appeal in Air (after Apollinaire) which somehow seemed to catch the whole mood of the Festival.   One of the posters borrowed from Bob's grandson Will related to the Festival of Sound and Syntax held at The Third Eye Centre Glasgow in 1974 which listed among its performers Jerome Rothenberg, who referenced his last appearance 'forty years ago' in an incantatory opening speech for the current festival at the CCA in Sauchiehall Street, which was formerly The Third Eye.

 It is now back to London and back to porridge, not tasting as good as it did up in Scotland which seemed freer somehow of the pre-Brexit nastiness that now pervades all public life down south. We're ekeing out the days before the next Ides of March when *seemingly* all will decided. It is my birthday that day alas.  I should probably plan a party and buy a round the world ticket. Meantime I'm beginning my long awaited period of doctoral study this month at Birkbeck College in London, researching the work of Hansjörg Mayer and the 1960s 'typoetical revolution'. I'm deep in writing the book about Mayer also which will be published we hope by König early next year in time for his retrospective exhibition at the ZKM in Karlsrühe.  The book's title The Smell of Ink and Soil: the story of edition hansjörg mayer - and the exhibition is likely to be called The Smell of Ink. Perhaps 2017 will bring some revelations, some  respite from land brexit.  I'm hoping to spend some time also back in Ireland, enjoying the spectacular intensities which will hover around and over the border: a place in between if ever there was one, a place both inside and out.  

4:07 pm edt 

Friday, July 1, 2016

The algorithms are out of joint

It's been a week and a half since the Day of Referendum in the 'UK', soon to be no more, save by some miracle.  I have sought to cheer myself up by buying the domains and but there is no cheer in it.  I have been noticing how people on buses in South London are staring at their shoes rather forlornly.  The only cheerful faces and voices are those of very small children who are looking closely around them holding up their teddy bears and pointing at people like me to get attention then holding our eyes for minutes on end, like they are wordlessly wondering.......On the no 3 bus this morning I see a smartly dressed older man clutching the Daily Telegraph as if for grim life (with the vainglorious figure of Boris on its cover) then folding it neatly into eight pieces, then doing the crossword, muttering to himself loudly as we wend our way to Brixton. 

In Hackney there is an indecipherable tang of pain in the air; as racist 'incidents' rise, London's equanimity is shifting, people no longer know if the person next to them is friendly.  The vegan cafe is crowded though it is still a weekday and they've turned the wifi off to deter the kind of customers who do not move but sit tightly adhered for hours to their laptops like barnacles.  I get a bus to Wapping that goes through Whitechapel and wander along by street stalls packed with over ripe avocadoes and dimly lit shops heaving with bright saris.  The paper tells us that house prices are already falling -- in Whitechapel a high rise apartment has dropped in a week from over a million to £850,000. On the ground you can buy glittering shoes for less than a fiver. There's a soft hush on the Overground to Crystal Palace.   People are counting the minutes of safety before the next catastrophe; politicians fall like Icarus but we are starting not to care; the algorithms are out of joint and the codes are disassembling. 

1:50 pm edt 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The green and the black

It is epitomised by the guy, who edges elbows past you when you enter into the final staging post (called Gate 413) of the Queasy Jet Departure Lounge, who is eating a chocolate ice, carrying a bicycle helmet and a holdall, wearing flipflops and large arm tattoos. At this moment, you recall that you are about to go back to the aptly named Gross Britannia. There is a curious hush over those assembled who are, perhaps, like me, subdued with terror at a return to Pre-Brexitland where tidy Tories and rabid Farageans are closely in collusion and the whiff of Little England is in the air.

 I’m recalling James Lovelock on the radio a few years ago being asked for his views on what to do about climate change and his main answer is to argue for the UK building up its coastal ramparts against the encroaching tide.  Oh, how it has grown since! Fear is everywhere!!

Stuttgart on a Sunday morning still smells of Saturday night; this is a city that has stayed up late. I watch a man relieve himself into a recycling bin.

 In Baden-Württemberg, where I have been spending the last few days, an uneasy coalition is now forming between two parties which are popularly described as “green” and “black”. I think chocolate – but this is potentially not sweet.

There are two works made from chocolate among the six works by artist Dieter Rot in the exhibition of Performance & Video Art at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart which I visit during my visit; it is the Long Night of the Museums. They fill the room with their atmosphere.  Having viewed numerous other works elsewhere in the museum before finding the room of Rot, I find myself finally conceding to his greatness.  This is post-expressionistic, pre-everything we are now awakening to in the twenty first century, like hearing the breaking of a branch before it happens. The silent crack in the air.

Young people crowd into the room forming queues to read the description of rot’s rotten cheese and to stare at it, alongside the chocolate – both at just one remove.

 We are all waiting now.  I head to join the individuals who (take their time) lingering in the departure lounge before boarding their queasyjet plane and watch those who have been called on before holding their childrens’ hands, warning them to cling tightly, as if in a storm. 

When the change comes, it will come at once. It is the build-up that comes slowly, but for months now I have been feeling this sense of nervousness. There is no time for remembrance. This is a new space and a new time. The constancy of a European vision is fading. Gather your friends, for this is no time for celebration.

On the bus which brings those of us departing the short distance to the plane a child swings shyly around, her large eyes looking quizzically out at a disappearing horizon.

 On board beside me a man says “the magic of flying has gone”. The book he is reading is called “Down All the Way”.

5:33 pm edt 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The significance of the broken

For the past few months I've been working with three brilliant young researcers at the Cavendish Lab in Cambridge who are doing their doctoral research on various aspects of nano-technology - eg looking at light at quantum scale and working on organic solar cells which if they could be robust enough could offer a way forward in relation to energy and sustainability (beyond our current extravagent dependencies).  Along with some visual artists whose practices do or could engage with nano-scientific themes and issues, I was invited - as an interdisciplinary curator - to explore the potential for collaboration between what I do and what the researchers do or could do, to make their explorations at quantum levels, a little more visible.

The progress of our work together was hampered greatly by my broken arm last autumn but I did manage during that period to organise a visit by the three researchers to the studio of the wonderful artist Liliane Lijn whose readiness to engage in deep and multilevelled discussion about the intersections between art and science in her work was mutually inspiring and enlightening.  A week or two ago I managed to get back to Cambridge to meet up again with the researchers who had meantime been coming up with their own ideas about how to connect their work to the images I had sent them of concrete poetry from the early 1960s - which seemed to me to offer fabulous scope for reinterpretation using the nano technological insights and tools of the quantum period we live in.  I was excited by the concepts and ideas which this dialogue seemed to have produced - and tomorrow we'll visit the new Maxwell Building in Cambridge where, potentially, some of the results of our still evolving collaboration will be displayed for feedback and development of further understanding (and research/public engagement ideas) following the opening of the building in early April.  To find that the concrete and the quantum can be combined together almost effortlessly has been truly inspiring.  Here's an example of the one of the diagrams/images produced for me by one of the researchers after I briefly showed her a picture of a Typoaktionen poem by Hansjörg Mayer which was printed on the front of the TLS in 1967 and described then (by John Willetts) as a 'random superimposition".  Apparently superimpositions are big things in nano-science - along with the superfluorescent  - and broken symmetaries which it seems reveal the quantum. 

4:54 pm est 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sunday in Berlin

I am walking by the cemetery which Bertolt Brecht looked at through the window of his study in the final years of his life.  I can see the door to the house and archive next door is open. I have tried to visit before but have never been lucky.  As the grey afternoon in the city melds into night, I am told I can have access on the last tour of the day – I am the sole visitor.  They say he took this house particularly for its view of the grave of Hegel whose works were among the few he was able to carry with him on his long exile outside Berlin.  In the bedroom in which he died there is a poem on a Chinese scroll about doubt.  In the small private study where he kept most of his books a poem called Snow by Chairman Mao hangs to the left of the small window and a picture of Trotsky sits on a bookcase nearby.

 I can imagine him striding around in the larger of the two studios and writing on each of the two typewriters which he kept in his study – on the newer, still shiny one, an Olivetti from Italy which he acquired in the ‘fifties in Berlin and an older one, a compellingly vintage one with German keys that he had brought on his travels. He was working of course in the midst of the development of  typewriting and took to this as readily as he did to fast cars.  Rumour has it he would drive even the smallest distances – such was his love of being behind the wheel.

 His studio still has the feel of a working studio. The ashtrays may lie empty now but they carry the atmosphere of memory.  On the top two rows of the bookshelf beside a large sociable table are a stack of American crime fiction paperback (“chocolate for the mind” the guide tells me).  Everything in this house has the imprint of personality (the blue and white porcelain in the garden room and kitchen collected by his wife and the Austrian water basin that reminded her of her childhood in Vienna; the cactus plants she cultivated – still growing now years after her death – and (most poignantly) by her bed her well worn slippers and a handbag draped across the bed-stead, as you would do were you living.

12:22 pm est 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

City Light
I've been recovering slowly from a fall on a Croatian beach after visiting the siva zona grey) (area gallery on the island of Korsula and giving a talk about concrete poetry. Having delivered a presentation and had a great series of conversations afterwards with Darko Fritz about a new materialism and how this reconfigures our view of early media work from the '60s (from Brazil to Zagreb and beyond) I found a book on the Hague War Crimes trials and set off for a day of rest on Mjlet, an island which is also a national park. There I broke my arm. Its taken two months and four casts so far to get some malleability back into the fingers of my rightarm. Luckily being lefthanded I have been surviving online writing messages of limited length and, most fortunately, delivering some radio programmes and live talks where the lack of dexterity has not been a big issue. This week I was delighted to present a programme for Resonancefm on sound poetry from the 'sixties and 'seventies which can be heard again at: and i'm also working on an exhibition about Brazilian concrete poetry from the same period fifty years back which will open at the Brazilian Embassy in centre of London on 19th November.  
2:10 pm est 

Monday, July 13, 2015

On the overground east to Hackney

I'm heading north in order to go east to Hackney. I decide to start at West Hampstead and grab a coffee where I almost immediately meet Bill Nighy who nods and lets me go first. I try not to stare but he does look chic.  On the overground train I am compelled to listen to a woman opposite who talks loudly into her mobile phone about how she is now better and wishes to appeal "the decision'. She catalogues the reasons why she is better - how her mother is no longer with her - and her child is happier and emotional abuse is no longer the problem - and she doesn't understand why they want to take her from her. She requests social services to reconsider and explains to them over and over, as we all try not listen, that depression and paranoia are no longer such a problem. A young man next to me opens the Metro and tears out some McDonalds vouchers and then opens another copy and does the same thing again and again to another.  I exit the train at Hackney Wick and walk by the intensely graffiti covered walls that line the streets between the station and Fish Island where bottles from yesterday's cider festival are strewn loosely. In Olympic Park as I cross the silted canal the scent of well-planted wildflowers hits my nose distracting me from noticing the perfectly placed hoardings that mark the territory of new shops to come, opposite the sign that says Putting a New Face on Construction.

I have come here to visit an arts project, devised by ZU-UK:  they have placed three Brazilian phone boxes, brought to London from Rio, in three locations, within the park.  Though they should by any reckoning look out of place, the installations seem to fit in as easily as any other element in this eerily constructed landscape: where hollyhocks, white foxgloves, honesty pods, long water reeds and many kinds of herbs and other flowers have been seeded and are now in full bloom. I see dislocated snails wandering across recently finished paths and birds as well as schoolchildren are cavorting and cartwheeling. Not far to the left Anish Kapoor's Mittel-funded Orbitel like a burst of dark red ugliness seeks to grab the grey sky.  I like the phone hack experience: especially the second one where I get to stand close to the water's edge, at the park's edge, a liminal zone, a boundary zone, a space between the spaces between. And the voice I am listening to is a like a voice in my own head except that I am in advance of it: having turned to look at the water I am being asked then to look at the water. What comes first: the anticipation or the record?


8:38 pm edt 

Monday, April 27, 2015

I have been deeply immersed in writing and editing over the past few weeks. Everything I am working on seems to be  connected to the subject of light.  Carla Rapoport the CEO and Founder of the Lumen Digital Art Prize invited me to edit the catalogue for the 2014 Prize exhibition which will be launched at The Crypt Gallery in London on 14th May and on 16th May, at Watermans Arts Centre, the new book/catalogue Art That Makes Itself: Brown & Son, Purveyors of Digital Images since 1968 which I have also been editing will also be launched. It's been fun and a privilege to be working with and for Danny and Paul Brown whose art made with software is luminous and elegant and sublime and the texts/essays we're publishing from Golan Levin, Grant D. Taylor, Maria X, Jim Boulton and Peter Fowler convey in some detail the various aspects of computer art and generative systems which underpin the Brown & Son ethos. I also just wrote a catalogue essay for a new show of Liliane Lijn's work which will take place in St Germain in Paris, opening on 4th June.  The title of the essay is La Lumiere Retourne a sa Source, a line I have borrowed from a poem written by a surrealist for Lijn in when she had her first solo exhibition also in St Germain in Paris in 1963: in the text I end by describing how language in Lijn's cyclical and kinetic works hovers between going back and moving forward, a bit like the stray kitten who I happened upon in my kitchen earlier this week who now seems to have moved in,  while I search without success for where it might have come from.  Meantime its green eyes are beginning again to gleam. 
6:34 pm edt 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Reading Felipe Fonseca's Repair Culture text I experienced an overdue phenomenon of recognition that here was someone brave enough to confront the cosy all embracing 'hug' of making and to say, hang on a second there,  what is this all for?  I found it particularly compelling having worked on a series of radio programmes in October and November last year which had the title of Making Conversations and were, in summary, conversations about how making in various forms has permeated and infiltrated most forms of cultural expression these days and as we all know so well, once something that had been important and peripheral becomes locked into a mainstream hype bubble, there is a tension that arises and often a series of negative effects (as has happened with the 'creative' word and Bless us the 'digital' word and so on)I expect the same thing now to soon happen with generative - it has been creeping into all kinds of places from niche zones and sooner or later I expect to hear it used casually on the bus, which (who knows?) might be a good thing - I can't help laughing at how some words stick like bubblegum under tongues and travel widely like spores in the air.  Will Repair Culture take on a life of its own?  I sense that it may well do. Qyute what is being repaired is not clear. Over the past two days we have had a massive splurgefest of 'creativity' here in London. Run by Nesta which has been the filter for European monies to none other than Jaromil recently, he joined the stellar if eclectic list of people speaking at FutureFest a kind of smorgsmabord of hip and trendy tech meets culture where, between Dame Vivienne Westwood's paen to our dying environment delivered wearing nine inch red shoes and the transcendent figure of Edward Snowden brought by skype to comfort us who have been feeling there is no conscience left in the world, we were encouraged to participate in a  
11:43 am edt 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Visual Poetry & the Properties of Space

Like worms under ice for the past couple of months my energies have been hyperactively preparing and installing and developing the Graphic Constellations: Visual Poetry and the Properties of Space exhibition at Anglia Ruskin's Ruskin Gallery which has now risen to the surface and had its Private View, successfully, on Thursday night in Cambridge. We listened to wonderfully judged presentations from Philip Steadman, one of the organisers of the first exhibition of concrete, kinetic and phonic poetry in 1964, which this series of activities is marking if not celebrating and also from exhibiting artist Liliane Lijn whose beautiful Fire-Drawings, Material Alphabet and letraset collages from the 1960s and rarely seen are on display and graphic designer Ann Noel who has come from Berlin for a week during which she will offer letterpress and book making workshops to local students and artists.  It has been a period of totally intensive activity for me having also created in parallel another show - a token of concrete affection - drawn from Stephen Bann's collection of material relating to Brazilian concrete and process poets which is also currently on at the Centre of Latin American Studies in the Alison Richard Building at Cambridge University's Sidgwick site.  Arts Council England has provided some funding to create events and marketing around the various activities and this has now been gratefully received.

So we are holding along with Kettle's Yard a symposium next weekend that will consider the role and position of concrete poetry and its international networks during the late 1950s and 1960s. Speakers are coming from US, Austria, Edinburgh and Canterbury as well as Cambridge itself and the day will offer a chance to visit the Ian Hamilton Finlay exhibition at Kettle's Yard as well as the show in the Alison Richard building where the symposium will be held.

On Sunday 15 February we are organising a workshop with lettercutter Eric Marland to learn how to carve letters in stone at the Ascension Burial Ground, All Soul's Lane in Cambridge where the great philospher of language, Ludwig Wittgenstein is buried.  It is great to be sharing some of these processes and ideas at last in and with the public after a couple of years of preparatory work as outlined at the website - where I will be continuing to post documentation and an overview narrative about all that is going on as the days of putting language at the centre of enquiry continue to unfold. 



9:27 am est 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Into the Green Cocoon

When you live in a large, dense city it is sometimes like being in a commercialised swamp (when you long for the edges, for the sea).  Today though (the second anniversary of my Mother's death) I was offered the chance by my inspirational friend Michael DaCosta Babb to experience an installation called 'mycoocoon' right in the middle of a shopping centre in London's Financial District, right by the Thames, that allows one person to select the colour which most fits her mood on a particular day and to then climb under a sheltering awning wearing headphones emitting tactile sounds - based on Tibetan bells and other acoustic activators. The culmulative experience is a healing one: my colour today and therefore my cocoon were green and I lay under as in a lime-green bower, feeling like a plant being allowed to grow smoothly. The fact that this lime-green bower was in the foyer of an office on the 39th Floor of 1 Canada Square in London's Canary Wharf only added to the wonderful sense of contradiction: the office is also an 'incubator' for 21st c 'creative thinking' and has spaces for meeting, eating and thinking. Someone wise has been collecting the art that decorates the in- between spaces of corridors and foyers. Other than the mycoocoon installation which will seemingly stay well into the New Year, there are several kinetic works like 'Dancing Forms' and 'Rainbow' pictured right, that speak loudly in this the darkest time of the year, the Winter Solstice. 

6:51 pm est 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Post Concrete

 A fabulous turnout last night for a token of concrete affection exhibition launch and charming speeches from Stephen Bann and Philip Steadman two of the organisers of the 1964 exhibition which we were marking and celebrating on a day which also turned out to be William Blake's Birthday and in a box of rarely viewed poem constructs by Augusto de Campos made with Julio Plaza in the early seventies we happened upon a work called A Rosa Doente by de Campos after of course A Sick Rose by Blake.  Poetry has a way of transcending time and being wholly in tune with all that matters. 

9:46 am est 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Token of Concrete Affection
The last few weeks have been preoccupied by preparing information and materials for a small but I hope beautiful forthcoming exhibition at the Centre of Latin American Studies at University of Cambridge which is called A Token of Concrete Affection and relates to close exchanges between Brasilian poets and curators/editors living in Cambridge in the mid-late 1960's. I have been working in partnership with one of those curators, Professor Stephen Bann who has kindly agreed to make available for public viewing aspects of his personal collection of documents, books and correspondence from which the title of the show (from a letter to Bann by Pedro Xisto in 1967) the exhibition title has been drawn.  The timing has been selected to mark the event in November 1964 of the First International Exhibition of Concrete, Kinetic and Phonic Poetry which Bann and three colleagues then researching or studying at Cambridge brought together - with ninety works arriving from various countries in November 1964 for a week's display which appears to have been ever so slightly brico-style: two of the organisers, Mike Weaver - the main mover and shaker - and Phil Steadman remember wheeling a trolley laden of (what is now very valuable) material down King's Parade from their college to the venue. How do we revisit exhibitions which have faded back into history? When no images exist of what they looked like and no reviews exist, we rely on lists of works prepared for the short 'catalogue' days before some of which like Steadman's Mobile which he says did not work so was never shown.  The path of art history is not a solid one: things fall away and become ephemeral in mind, but can we stand the reimagining?  In remembering a series of activities from half a century before, one is forced to question what has changed in the gap in between? From my perspective, the value of the action now is in exploring the life of these works - small, fragile bits of paper with typed or hand-written texts and coded poetic statements that stand as a physical testimony to an increasingly precious context before the digitally driven information revolution when everything is everywhere, and disguised as open. More at:
10:39 am est 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Live Coding in Cheltenham
Cheltenham Spa, the town where GCHQ is based, is the perfect place to bring a live coding experiment into the heart of the English Literary Establishment, via the annual Cheltenham Literature Festival which just ended today. Professor Andrew Prescott, Research Fellow for the AHRC's Digital Transformations programme, programmed a series of events within the Festival including The Book Reborn panel yesterday which I took part in with Jon Rogers from Dundee and Paul Sohi of Makervarsity - who brought a 3D printer down from London to show Festival audiences how to make a letter A in the space of an hour's discussion. I showed off images of Russian futurist books and talked about how Jan Tschichold graphic designer associated with a New Typography in the 1920s had been subject to house arrest by Hitler for modernist 'decadent' tendencies and of how McLuhan as he was with many things correct when he wrote of how new media developments elevate trends which immediately preceded into artforms and so we are living in a period of reevaluation of highly specialised typography - with concrete poetry books from the early-mid 1960s now fetching high prices and crafted books often becoming desirable objects, in counter flow perhaps to the saturation point we now can so easily experience of information in fluid media form cascading around is. The live coding experiment with Alex Mclean and Dave Griffiths brought yet another dimension to the discussion - where their collective focus and concentration seemed to breathe into and with the typing process, forming visual flux, liquid letters, scattering immediately almost before forming, leaving no trace. 
7:29 pm edt 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Books in Chains

There is a programme organised by the Public Engagement Team at University of Cambridge annually which enables members of the public to visit over two days normally closed environments and spaces within colleges and public buildings. I happened to be in town for this yesterday and was able to join a small group visiting the Trinity Hall Old Library which was endowed back in the 14thc by a bishop and opened in the same building we visited today in the 16thc with glass in the windows and boards on the floor dating from those days, as well as books such as the Nuremberg Chronicle and texts by Erasmus and Boethius, first edition of Paradise Lost by Milton and a hand written letter by Charles Dickens to his son Henry warning him that whatever trouble he might find himself as a student, as long as he was manly and truthful, he could come to his father anytime and moreover enclosing six bottles of brandy for his boy's fortification.  It was a touching thought.  The library still has its original shelves and shows off how books used to be kept in chains to avoid roguery. Today I went into the Queens' College Old Library where the kindly librarian displayed how the wooden book bindings had holes through them so the chains could go through but that apart from this the bindings are as strong as ever and may 'last forever' the librarian thought, reminding me of how Burroughs described us as time-binding creatures. The power of books is that they bind time in memory unlike Twitter which I have been experimenting with recently and which performs like an ever exhaustible exhausting flux or flow of time in mind once seen then forgotten and never for binding. (@floatingstones).


5:37 pm edt 

Sunday, August 31, 2014


William Burroughs used to try to project himself out of his body so it is spookily funny to see him as a very lifelike projection in an exhibition which opened this week in Redchurch Street in London's Shoreditch entitled Animals in The Wall, related seemingly to Burrough's apparent tendency as a child to see creatures in the walls of his bedroom.  This spoke loudly to me as I had my first adult sleepwalking experience the night before visiting the exhibition finding myself wandering from room to room in my house touching doors and walls not recognising the place for what it was and indeed in my head admiring the fireplace in my living room like a stranger would do.  I hadn't at that point looked into the Brion Gysin/Ian Sommerville Dreamachine which is on display as part of the Animals in the Walls show but I had been looking at one of Frank J Malina's luminodyne works called Spring 2 which had been delivered to my house in the early hours of the morning in anticipation of an exhibition in Cambridge early next year. It could be that this and disassociated sleepwalk were strangely associated.  I had earlier in the week come tentatively close to a youthful deer wandering along a sleepy path off the beaten track of a Salzburg mountainside which seemingly undisturbed or unaware of my proximity continued rummaging softly for berries. A few hours before this I had viewed some rather compelling images of natural creatures by Andy Warhol, who seems to have brought the same capacity he brought to depicting sophisticated urban human beings to sketching four legged creatures and in minimal lines capturing some kind of individual personality, Today in N London on a studio visit to Liliane Lijn to interview her for the new 'Creative Disturbance' Pioneers and Pathbreakers radio podcasts, being generated by Roger Malina and his team of students at UT Texas in Dallas, we were interrupted by the intervention of a fox skooting noisily around her garden seeking a way out having broken somehow through or over or under the high walls of her poetic garden. 

1:39 pm edt 

Monday, August 18, 2014

'Oh the mind has mountains'

The subtitle to a talk I did at Goldsmiths at the 'Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism' conference in May - which I now need to turn into a chapter for the ensuing book - was 'From Trepanation to Brain-Fracking: What became of the Dream-Machine' and it suddenly made sense to me today at the Alpbach European Forum, during the opening session of the Health Symposium, called 'Abstracting and Synthesising Human Nature' when one of the three speakers was called Richard Frackowiak of the Human Brain Project.  Frackowiak is a self confessed disbeliever in any notions of mind or the 'psychic' existing beyond the brain and indeed refused to pay respect to Sigmund Freud declaring in response to a questioner from the Viennese Psychoanalytical Society that 'philosophy was all that biology had not yet been able to discover'. The Forum was founded in 1946 in a bruised Austria emerging from a devastating war, to allow free space for difficult and important questions.  Frackowiak didn't mention that in July the EU Human Brain Project had been criitqued and from within the fields of cognitive and neuroscience as the Guardian reported: But interesting to see that the Human Brain Project recently issued a call for artworks to do with the brain for a new magazine; one must hope it will welcome editorially works that might challenge and negotiate this declared bias from one of its leading researchers. The often contested, divergent nature of views and perspectives that coexist along the art and science spectrum is one of its most appealing aspects to those of us who operate in these interstices and on these boundaries. Later this week, after having hopefully metaphorically communed with the lustrous surrounding mountains, I'll be part of a panel with Piero Scaruffi founder of Leonardo LASER series and Dr Curtis Frank of Standford University about Innovation at the Art and Science Interface - and meantime I am reading slowly a text about Freud and technics by Bernard Stiegler which pinpoints by chance in citing Simondon the real challenge of being here at Alpbach with its fantastic array of stimulating speakers threatening to overload brain, mind and body, 'there is no longer any possibility of preventing the mental apparatus from being flooded with large amounts of stimulus, and another problem arises instead - the problem of mastering the amounts of stimulus which have broken in, and of binding them, in the psychical sense, so that they can then be disposed of'.

4:12 pm edt 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wild Birds of India

Near where I live is the South London Botanical Institute dedicated to the growth and study of plants, ecology and conservation, founded in 1910, by Allan Octavian Hume who spent 45 years in India working on agricultural reforms and after his retirement, helping to initiate the Indian National Congress. Hume was a keen ornithologist and travelled around the Indian subcontinent ostensibly making official visits and inspections for eg of lighthouses whilst (under the radar) gathering information and knowledge about Indian birds which had never been surveyed or scientifically documented,  Back in London he dedicated himself to the study of plants, doing an intensive survey of British flora and founded the institute to make horticulture and botany more accessible to working class people living in and around Norwood, Brixton etc.  He had been one of a group of pioneering naturalists who ended up serving in various British colonial outposts a tale told with great charm last night at the SLBI by Shyamal Lakshminarayanan who is an extraordinary independent researcher visiting London from India for a Wikipedia gathering and who had proposed doing this talk to the Institute;  entitled 'The Exploration of Wild India in the 1800s'.  Back in India Shyamal has been running workshops and events with titles like 'Wikipedia and the Indian wilderness' where he makes strong connections between how multiple contributors with local smallscale knowledge of birds had created what we think of as natural history, sharing specimens freely, etc. What was most disturbing about Shyamal's talk was the last slide which he showed hurriedly having been admonished by the redoubtable SLBI chair for overrunning his time slot by more than half an hour (and hence delaying tea)  which showed the rapid destruction of Indian forests, the disappearance of wildlife, the lack of political will to value what is being lost. Several of Shyamal's illustrations were taken from books seemingly placed in the British Library in the 19th c and which form a repository the equivalent of which does not exist in India where Shyamal reminded us more than once 'there are no public libraries'. His own approach to dissemination of information is to avoid 'the elitism of books and learned societies' back in India and to use the web and especially Wikipedia to share as many people over centuries shared small bits of information with each other about birds; he is also posting multiple amazing images which can be seen at - and also at his blog:

3:01 pm edt 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Generational Memory

I'm currently working on some events and exhibitions which will take place in Cambridge later this year and early next.  It was a pleasure earlier this week to meet John Dunbar, who is famous at least among those who know, for opening with Barry Miles in 1965 the now infamous Indica Gallery (where John met Yoko) in London's Mayfair. A friend of both of them he has signed up to speak at the White Heat: Art, Science and Social Responsibility conference on 26th July which is being organised by Kettle's Yard and on the panel which I'll chair, along with two other fascinating speakers, David Gale and Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon who were both close friends of the late and great Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, a band with deep roots in Cambridge and its 60's milieu.  The panel will be called The Experimental Generation: Art, Light and the Psychology of the 'Sixties and will touch, among other things, on the anti-psychiatry movement which David Gale has written about and which like many other countercultural movements had its origins in London during 'the hallucinogenic moment' before 1968 and all that came after. The 1964-1968 period is also the focus of two exhibitions which I am working on that will mark the half century since the first International Exhibition of Concrete, Kinetic and Phonic Poetry that took place also in Cambridge in 1964. With Professor Stephen Bann, we are curating a show at the Centre for Latin American Studies on the Cambridge Sidgwick site that will allow for display of archival material including correspondence, previously unseen, which Stephen Bann had with the Noigandres Poets in Brazil - and an accompanying symposium, provisionally scheduled for 14th February next year, will help to turn over some stones with respect to understanding the network of relations internationally which helped drive the exchange of works and ideas between those exploring and experimenting with typography, poetry and graphic design in Latin America, Europe and the UK.  A second exhibition called Graphic Constellations: Visual Poetry and the Properties of Space will be held at Anglia Ruskin opening on 22 January 2015 and among the artists whose work will be shown are Liliane Lijn, Frank Malina, Hansjoerg Mayer, Ann Noel and Edward Wright. Opening the week of Eugen Gomringer's 90th birthday, this promises to be a constellation of poetic stars. I also visited The Digital Revolution exhibition this week at London's The Barbican which has some fabulous digital archaeological displays including a fancy dial up telephone probably from the Sixties attracting lots of teenage attention!

12:55 pm edt 

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Time in the North
I was invited to take part as a 'cultural expert' in a public consultation in Belfast organised by OPM (design by dialogue specialists) on the subject of leap seconds v atomic time, a fascinating session at which I learnt a lot,not least about how irreverent and demanding of any authority the Northern Irish sense of humour at its best can be.   The various arguments and proposals for and against change are summarised at:; it seems the UK is the only country to have devised a public consultation with respect to this proposal which is being brought in 2015 to the ITU for decision.  The US viewpoint (for atomic time) is opposed by the Russians and currently the UK is also against, with China at least for the moment sitting on the fence. The conclusion reached by the particular group of people who had been assembled in Belfast, expressed best by someone in the room called Joe (who was elected as 'Joe Public') was that there was no convincing argument to break the millennial old links with solar time or 'nature' as they wanted to call it and indeed it was suggested that the Northern Irish themselves are leap second kind of people, keen on the glitches and the errors which somehow correct.  A day later, I went down to the coast with the sun wraithing the Mourne Mountains and dipped my feet into the Gulfstream warmed sea.  Back in London today,with the temperature rising to 28 degrees, it was a joy and pleasure to come across a recently installed bench, one of a series of book related installations in public parks, and recognise wonderfully wintry images from Narnia, by C S Lewis, who had the most perfect sense of ethereal timing. 
5:28 pm edt 


Random Superimposition of Zeros and Ones (Jasmine Rivett)

Fro "typoaktionen" Hansjörg Mayer

From "typoaktionen" Hansjörg Mayer (1967)

Karen Eliot (by Stewart Home)

Zecora Ura installation in QEPark Stratford
from exhibition at Brazilian Embassy (Augusto de Campos/William Blake)
Grave of Wittgenstein
James Acord - Nuclear Wind Turbine

HeHe: 'Is there a horizon in the deep water?'

HeHe: Deep Water Horizon
18.12.2010 S London
Cloud: Yellow Lining series. Artist: Helen Couchman
Softday 'Lovely Weather' Residency
David Rosenberg outside Jewish Synagogue Whitechapel London (picture Bronac Ferran)
Senate House, London
Coal Store China - two power plants every week
Full Dome Festival UK (programmed by Gaianova and I-DAT)
Stephen Wilson 'Art and Science NowThames & Hudson
'How scientific research & technological innovation are becoming key to 21stc
Robert Hooke - Micrographia
Eunju Han - Telecommunicative Weather-Map
Eduardo Kac: From 'Lagoglyphs', 2007
Elvira, Philosopher from Barcelona, Alicia, Bronac and Yukiko
Jorgen Leth
Thomas Heatherwick's Seed Cathedral - Seeds
In through the looking glass?
Photo: Giselle Beiguelman

Next Nature - Koert Van Mensvoort

photo: Tiego Rodriguez
Photo: Tiego Rodriguez

Photo: Tigeo Rodriguez

Fibonacci Patterns
Suely Rolnik and Felix Guattari, Molecular Revolution in Brazil
London Calling: by Barry Miles
The front of Maggs Rare Books 50 Berkeley Square
Maggs has some resident ghosts.....
From Memory Cloud
New book by Sarah Cook & Beryl Graham

The Heraclitus
More at:

Images from Paralelo workshop led by Conditional Design
Wapke Feenstra & My Villages/Former Farmland
Landelion (The Kitchen Budapest)
Edward Ihnatowicz work at Kinetica
Nadav Kander. Construction Mound, Chongqing, 2006. Nominated for Yangtze, The Long River Series, 200
(c) Nadav Kander - Mountains and Mist, from 'Yangtze the Long River'
Henry S. Rzepa
Liliane Lijn's party installation
Station House Opera - A Split Second of Paradise
Station House Opera at Salisbury Festival

Kohi Village at Night, credit Allan Kasin)


Ancestral Objects - composition, credit Juan Nieves;

Mamo Luis - Credit Allan Kasin

Tairona Mascaras


Hiperface Panorama


Greenland credit London Fieldworks


Plans for Outlandia treehouses - London Fieldworks

Fernando Rabelo
Low Tech VJ Control
Magnetic Field
Berenice Abbott
Mapping Digital Culture in Brazil
Infinite Cube - Rejane Cantoni & Leonardo Crescentti

Jose Garcia - IDE at RCA, final show


One of the amazing outdoor works by Usman Haque


Minimaforms: MemoryCloud

Kohnen Base with Diamond Dust (Hannes Grobe, AWI)
INFECTIOUS - STAY AWAY Dublin Science Gallery





Stephane Mallarme
...dissolving form.....pretext hypertext

Edouard Manet - Le Corbeau
Dan Graham, «Poem Schema», 1966 1969 Schema (March, 1966) | © Dan Graham


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