Thursday, 27 October 2011

Where I am where I am


A funny thing happened on the way to the newsagent. There I was wondering what collection of neural passages it was that led to a sense of feeling like I was where I am when I began telling myself that I could perhaps find ways of bringing a sense of the wonder I felt in the Swiss Alps to my South London proximity which might include enjoying the foliage in the local area, for example the vines growing on my neighbours boundary wall, when a leaf loomed in my field of vision and I found myself plucking a dense grape (perhaps a pinot noire) from the interwoven recesses and savouring the taste. The Lavaux vineyards are known for their pinot noire grapes and yet the Swiss, I am told, choose to find it uneconomical to export their wines.
You are probably thinking I think I’m being annoying on purpose to write in such a clumsily tangled fashion and whilst I admit there is a feint echo of my previous self that sought to prod the fleshy hard drives of liberal clever clogs’ I prefer to think of myself as the dog that actually did one day rip its own tail off after a heated pursuit.
What is it that allows us to feel we are where we are? This I asked my self, the Audi Quattro hugging the mountain corners as we climbed higher into the pre-Alps, and consulted my smart phones in built sat-nav, periodically enlarging then reducing in order to bring back the flashing blue arrow that represented where I was. After chewing the surprisingly sweet grape from my neighbours vine today, I realised that the window of a moving car was most probably a major obstruction to my grasping the sense that I really was in the heart of a landscape illustrating a certain archetypal vision of Switzerland, the like of which I had gazed at in awe as it glowed on my computer screen during my intense research sessions prior to the trip. It was effectively still glowing on a screen albeit in lower resolution and moving.
But now I want to share with you my sense of pride as I stood atop the very mountain that had been listed on the My Switzerland web site preparing to undertake my first descent in the tin toboggan. This was actually the same place that had once seemed like a distant halcyon realm accessible only too the most sagacious of mountain folk and here we were breathing the same air we had previously tried to suck through the flat screen monitor. I was close to feeling like I really was there as I gazed down the valley that I can only describe as a geography teacher’s dream. The light and space the air the rocks they all added up to me being somewhere real. Rocks are hard and real and words are thin like air but the air here was really real. Then my eldest son threw a snowball in my ear and my area of reality became more focussed. Being a hearing aid wearer I am not a fan of things that are really cold flying at high velocity into my lughole. Still. Be still.
video
 And now I am home and I long for the air the light the rocks the height. The adding up to something realness. The all at onceness. Here is a film of my second toboggan run just prior to the above-mentioned snowball incident.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

laughter in art

I've just got back from the exhibition called Quand l'art fait rire at the mcb-a in Lausanne. it was great to experience a darkened room of Bruce Nauman's clown torture although in not sure it was wholly responsible of me to drag my two sons into it. I was thinking they would find it funny but they both became visibly paler and i fear i may have clumsily provided them with a moment that will haunt then for life. Nauman's group of films do genuinely transcend the cliche of clown as demonic unlike the skull with a clowns nose in the other room. and what a treat the William Wegman films were! That man has real muscle both literally and creatively. Unlike nearly every artist at frieze this year he addresses the over awareness of our age with humanity and intelligence. He seems to approach video with the same sense of wonder that celluloid pioneers embodied (l'entracte par example.) "i should go" he says in one clip picking up the arm chair and standard lamp and leaving behind his suit case deposited upon arrival. this is A. very funny and B. a touching ode to the transience of an identity defined through possessions. another rib tickler was Yoshua Okon's canned laughter installation. A silly joke played out with conviction. we are shown a stack of various canned laughters (manly, evil, manic. ..) and an accompanying video takes US behind the scenes of the factory where hair netted workers amass like a communal choir to create the 57 varieties. tasty.
after the show we retired to LA Barbare for a cup of their legendary thick hit chocolate(the spoon stands up) and on the bus home discussed the contrasting reviving affects of chocolate and coffee. A superior hot chocolate, we agreed , makes one feel energised and calmer.
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Sunday, 23 October 2011

x factor

For the last few years I have made a conscious effort to avoid the above named program. Yes even mentioning its name might bring all manor of calamities upon my head. Having had my own brush with minor celebrity I was finding it`s visceral efficiency some how touched me where I didn´t want touching. In the pop world I get the feeling that once you`ve had your go you are expected to politely move aside and let some other young turk step up and take a swipe. My lingering on the edges of the playing field has become, I suspect a mild cause for embarassment" is that man still loitering?" There is something of the primal power of the mob about X Factor that disturbs me. (In an earlier blog I mentioned guilt over a radio shaped like a JPS racing car that my parents had bought when caught up in the whirl of a cheap market auction and the frenzied feeling that all of this is somehow of vital earth shattering importance not to be allowed to pass unacted upon permeates pores of this televisual beast.) But there is hope in the title itself. The X factor could be taken to imply an interest in the ineffable. The thing that Prisig spirals around in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanance. That magical ingredient that he calls "quality". Quality too is an almost unspeakable word. In its wake reason and rationality fall away and once uttered one has a feeling of nakedness, having somehow exposed the inner workings of the brain to be no more than a cluster of writhing worms of subjective longing . How often do we hear contestants say, "this is all I`ve ever dreamed of"?
But last night X factor took a giant leap into the realm of the imagination. It shredded the divide between reality and fictive psycho-drama. We all caught a whiff of the heady acrid bouquet of modern life except this felt like the modern world where Elizabeth Linley was yearning to escape when Gainsborough painted her as one with her beloved west country landscape. The houselights dim - Look there It's Frankie cock-o-the-town out on the prowl so lock up your daughters (or at least the ones Pete Doherty has left behind) and what's this? See yonder as the spotlight scorches through the back drop and reveals wicked Micha taunting the poor poor souls wracked with a level of self doubt she will never knoweth by dint of her nightly baths in the blood of castrati backing singers. Our torch bearers are the gods themselves sat atop mount Olympus selflessly shining a light into their own internal struggles. Hoping to somehow marry a selfless pursuit of those unfathomable essences that made them what they are with the need to reveal the putrid follies of human desire if left unchecked. So it seems the one genuine pop star on the program is to be cast as the wicked step sister and then perhaps to be redeemed as Cinderella once she has seen the error of her ways.
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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

the art cage

There is a form of ultra rationalist art that permeates institutions. This appears to me to be a facsimile of the creative process. artists are encouraged to move through everyday life and project it back in metaphorical power points rather like computers programmed to have personalities. It seems data is fed into the artist who then makes a rational manifestation of his or her processing of the information. This does have echoes of the mystery of creativity but so does a computer programmed with data. my thesis its that Duchamp is a scratch in or collective unconscious and we are stuck on that groove. in the same way that aristotle was not proposing dogmatic annihilation of intuition Duchamp was deliberately confronting the methodology of objective rationality whilst retaining the ineffable quality of individual process. We however have taken him at face value. If a work of art does not reflect the neurosi of modern culture. i.e. violence porn nihilism materialism then it is deemed whimsical. where is the soul in that?
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