Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
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By: Richard Taylor
# 41 [10 June 2010]
She was used to confined spaces but when in open air could not help but walk in to walls and trip over herself and her capabilities. She spent a lot of time clotted in bruised corners making work in the middle of sleeping and humming and spying.
"Consider the following case: She has been taught a use of the words "lighter" and "darker" (a practical use she, in the end, uses to decipher which stones belonged where...). She's been shown objects before of various colours and sizes and has been taught that one calls this a darker colour than that, trained to bring an object on being ordered "Bring something darker than this", and to describe the colour of an object by saying that it is darker or lighter than a certain sample, etc., etc. Now she is given the order to put down a series of objects, arranging them in the order of their darkness and size. She does this by laying out rows of books, writing down a series of names of animals, and by writing down five vowels in the order u, o, a, e, i. We ask her why she put down that latter series, she says, "Well, o is lighter than u, and e lighter than o". - We shall be astonished at this attitude, and at the same time admit that there is something in what she says. Perhaps we shall say: "But look, surely e isn't lighter than o in the way this book is lighter than the page we happen to be upon". But she may shrug her shoulders and say, "I don't know, but e is lighter than o, isn't it?""
"...in the path's of our of our garden one finds beautifully coloured smooth shaped pebbles, varying in size from two to eight centimetres. She cannot resist picking up these unusual stones, and little by little builds up quite a collection of them, which lies on the window-cill of my workroom. Unconsciously I begin to sort these out by size, obeying a lifelong fascination with the sizes of things, equivalent to the interest painters have in the weight of colour in its darkness and shades of light. By rejecting those pebbles whose difference in size was too small to be perceptible, she reduced my collection to a series of thirty-six whose size-difference amounted to 4% of the size of the stones (in the stream). It at once became apparent, however, that if the pebbles were spread out at random, they could be seen to belong to clearly different groups. One could start by picking out the largest ones, until a point came when none were left that belonged to that size. A smaller group, again of a same type of size, then revealed itself. In this way the pebbles sorted themselves out in to five groups, each of six or seven stones which one assessed to be the same sort of size."
# 42 [13 June 2010]
Unfinished acts, live shaving and completed avocado stones to polish and keep as our own
OR using a tool to make a fool I asked for a 'long stand'
Using a tool. Function: to mark out and measure to stop flow and keep straight. I would then to mask off his face, write off his vision to focus his view. Focus to draw. Focus to write a sentence or two. Discover other ways to behave and to keep straight, to keep straight; to mark out and to measure. I would then seek my own form of balance: re-setting the foreground or performing and re-writing the stage. Re-set, edit, copy, paste (paste, copy, edit re-set - start again). Re-set edit copy paste. Perform acts that should precede performance - but 'acts' in their own write non-the-less written.
Act: hanging up lanterns for soft light to play its resolute twirl of affection. Reason: the home is the object the studio and these objects do transfer and travel.
Act: revealing projections (a projection or two) of shared studio antics. Reason: to reveal process and to show character-intrigue. Projected on to board from laptops (one mine and one his) two different versions in the same resolution, in the same mode of focus, with the same time lapse and loop functions. Laptops seemed to be our lifelines and this is how we began, next to the plant and the tree and the chair the cushion the tea. And these were our portraits self-instructed through type, text exercises in description. Result: self-instructed portraits bringing studio endeavours - findings-out - in to the live act: in text in time in film in words. We would share the shoulders first and then the heads as we stood opposite each other as equals - each of our characters resistant yet to be revealed through the other.
Act: turn on the stage light to make the mould of dramatic effect - to focus again with light upon something soon to be a live act. Spot the chair, the line, and the 'tool' the stool prop for the fool: the drawn line 'drawn' out for full-spot centricity. Reason: to make shadows of meeting points (the barbers shop next door to Tesco near South Tottenham station, across the road from avocado superstore). We had it then, a masking of photographic-us - a performing power.
It is now that as I sit down in full light from three sources, after three acts and three reasons for doing so - the bringing of lantern light from home, the shared studio light and duality of projectors, and the stage light 'the reasoning of live act'. It is now that as I sit the masked-collaborator steps out from behind the curtain and follows masking tape along the floor towards me. Fellow creator and opposite, frame-setter, picture maker and 'record' button red presser. He crawls his way towards me down the steps, taking a sharp right and down to all fours, from the background and in to the set.
"...I sit unfinished... still. He reaches me and takes away my sight with a blind-fold hidden in the left breast pocket of his black shirt. I can no longer see the audience or their reaction, how are you meant to perform without feeding off their disinterest or avid-eyes? ...his sleeves rolled up he then pulls a pair of battery-powered clippers from his right breast pocket, takes them to my head shaped as an avocado. He shaves. Its like being sat back in Surrey Street in Sheffield, not being able to see my own reflection and too young to decide the direction of the blade. He makes a fucking hash of it. But then again we're all for a bit of flesh left over when peeling an avocado - its what we do with the stone afterwards. That's interesting. That's when we're more ...complete."
# 43 [28 June 2010]
I waited for half an hour after passing the friend I was supposed to meet on time in the street (we didn't see each other the first time). She had with her another extended friend in the burgeoning summer hazy heat. I had sweaty feet. We finally did meet half an hour later. We then walked to their Thai restaurant; we had not booked a table. They gave us a table for four for the three of us to sit at. But they gave us a time scale there to decipher order wait drink eat pay and leave. We had around an hour - so we were quick to it. We also had an hour to fit in all of the chat we had in us and to talk of things happening and things to happen... but how do you do this whilst munching away on over priced precious parcels of food depository?
I ordered a soup with things swimming in it. We were especially vermicelli and delicious and I couldn't use shops sticks for shit, so had to use the tips of my tired fingers to pluck noodles out of the broth. These noodles were then transferred to my mouth - these movements, these eating habits reflected my mind field of thoughts: thoughts that were digested in to words helped out by the accentuating veins managing the movement of my twiddling thumbs. The other two, they were used to their chops-tick action and had mastered the talking and eating effortlessly at the same time sort of thing.
I sat observant of this and ready to learn.
Chop/then/stick/then/MOUTH/and hand and 'cover' [...]whilst chewing whilst speaking - a dichotomy of acts well placed to put an idea here and there across the table using the side plate and ceramic spoon for transport. This all happened at once with wonderful red lanterns glistening in eyeball soups alongside dishes and salads and cucumber shavings. Next came the carrots and the bean sprouts and chillies - all tangled together to save from cacophony, wrapped in a suitcase for safe depositing in destination mouth.
It then became an interview whilst I copied their melodious napkin movements, an interview in table etiquette with good healthy side plated conversational interludes. An orchestra of vegetables, the odd bit of meat... who eats what and why and when and how - and how - how do words work alongside one other rather public function of the mouth?
"Chop then stick then mouth and hand and 'cover'..." That's how.
# 44 [29 June 2010]
When something is afoot it is also a foot that itches and keeps you awake at night. The window of my bedroom faces east so I get the sun in the morning before touching upon the cold light of the Kitchen where I watch the sunset every evening before bed. There I make myself a coffee with my extra super duper coffee machine and rush back in to my room to type. Then I remember my itchy foot something is afoot. For the first time in a long time I was awoken by the first light of dawn through my curtains too thin, I could see through half awake eyes the silhouette of my camera perched high upon the extended legs of my tripod.
The evening before after watching the last of the sun (I am sure we get longer evenings up here, more so than down there where the seasons very much mould in to one) I did indeed retreat to my room to find myself in "a room of one's own" - I was then reminded of conversations I had in and around feminism and what it means today, histories and how they make structures of contemporary meaning. Someone, another queer like me, mentioned 'equality' and how feminism should be called something other than the word that relates to women alone...
History museums and shapes and buildings and architectures of time and place: something is here afoot and takes a couple of feet and steps to get there and realise what the fuck is happening. Then you find a stuffed animal alluding to the jungle before civilisation, a grim object display next to an equally grim steward stood to the side of a cabinet of turning twisting designer plates in the gift shop next to the café . Next to where you can see and browse and buy posters: posters of things and events and artists and works that mean nothing but to have them on your wall where they mean nothing.
This is something here there everywhere afoot. I attained these two A1 pieces a few years ago in a building not so far from the museum that I now speak of. They relate to art, architecture, sculptural form, blocks of wood, doors corners beams and other related 'building' features. The work is particularly site specific to Halifax. The beam of light is like the morning sun. The focus is my eye's not being able to sleep as their lids are too much to do with the soles of my feet - here there's much ado about an itch or two.
# 45 [1 July 2010]
Theorems, disappearances-(appearances) and ways of winning
The start of Euclidean geometries for me is like taking something away, and then replacing it with something else - developing an axiom for change. You know, making use of something instead of just letting it sit, thinking of how it can be something other than itself. By any sort of means possible - a way of remaining ignorant of your disuse in the world I suppose. I recall this. My dad received a parcel in the post when I was around eight years old, it was a Saturday - my mother was working, he was washing the car, my brother burying his new plastic toy in the green house. I was looking in the parcel hidden behind the kitchen blind.
The parcel contained six wooden blocks that would make a puzzle if you knew how. I decided no one would ever know how so stole one of the pieces and burnt it. By this point my dad had left the hosepipe unattended on the front lawn and was readying himself to wax the car. I felt I had to do something to replace the act of taking away, I wanted to connect the happening some how, make something a little more complete so sneaked out the house to the top of the drive way, the car at the bottom my dad finding leather cloths in the garage. I took my chance in his position of ignorance ran to the end of the hose, turned the tap on, then ran to the other end. My dad was still busying himself over the cloths. The next moment I had inserted the end of the hosepipe in to the exhaust of the car to flood the engine with water. My task was complete. But my dad and his fury were one step ahead. The tap was turned off where he stood... from then on it was a race.
"They puzzled me - that's what I liked about them. They were my task towards absolution. They were a means for a race against someone who had gone before and my step ahead.
I was leant against this fire exit, preventing any means of escape. It was then I saw them, at first I saw them as fuel, but quickly refrained and took them for other uses instead."
Right now there's a simple spire standing across from the window. It gets looked at from time to time through the rain and the shine. And on occasion gets spied at, by me, through a slight gap in the curtain during the day. It remains stationary in its architectural grandeur - but I am sure if it knew it was being so observed, it would move. Before such concrete roving however I would like to climb it, scale it get to the bottom of its measure and decipher an accurate trajectory, from which to then reveal myself when ready. Of course - I would dress up as someone else for this.
When ready I would open the curtain at the right moment, at night, with the light on. It would see me and then disappear for good. From then on my purpose would be obsolete but to replace the spire with something of less interest - a flat or two alluding to the age of the plastic number - in the form of a Japanese bathhouse.
There's an axoim for this - the best things happen when you've reached a state of in-between-function - a status of chance, a chance for completion and definition. I came across four shelves upon a time when I was looking for 'something else' in form of fulfilment - they were discarded in a piss smelling side alley ridden with broken glass and moans from the gallery on the other side of the fire exit...
# 46 [6 July 2010]
We found ourselves on the top of a hill, in a town surrounded by ancient walls. There, after all elements of self-clarification we lost sight of everything.
"If you get as far as Rome you can go a little further in to the mountains."
Head inland and northeast towards L'Aquila and Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga. The road holds its magnificence in height, viaducts upon viaducts and tunnel after tunnel forever heading for peaks dressed in white. When you get so far you'll come across rows upon rows of tents on the outskirts of a departed city full of cranes - cranes that would look at home in any other landscape but they were out of place in this one. It's a sore history of dust and disaster, centuries of harmony with the land only to be crushed by landfall and the quaking earth beneath. More noticeable then is the engineering feat that is the road you drive on - slowly circulating the city of crushed rubble beneath, surrounded by green hills high in the Italian sun.
Roseto degli Abruzzi is a land where olive groves lay upon steepened hills hiding pizzerias, and gems of disguised gardens to sit and view the coastline below. Its a place for vineyards and secret courtyards, with blossoming sweet trees, a place where the dust of the road gets caught in the western sun as it sets hazy and red through evergreen trees passed towns and cities towering above. To the east is the dawn, and the Adriatic that covers outstretched horizons with deep green waters and blockades of rock and stone.
In the day we headed for mountain top towns, markets, fresh pastries, bell-towers and the clarification of coffee. We fought against dead animals festering in the sun, broken water fountains and closed wooden archways armed with cats basking their totality.
But on one particular day we managed to find the rain and then clarity. After following many a road west, higher and higher still we reached a valley of tall grass. We settled there for a while against the verge; I had time to take in the sincerity of the air that was in dept to the downpour yet to come. As the clouds loomed, the grass before me grew darker and darker still. We looked north towards the towering hills climbing higher to frame the town in front of us; a wall of stone set in the landscape centuries before. The heavens then opened and we were wet within the seconds it took to take shelter.
There were two dogs roaming, finding water and shelter in the corner of the courtyard to the left. To the right four nuns disappeared up a winding stair of stone, hands holding their hats and an umbrella shared between the two that smiled back at us. By the time we had all set foot on their side of the archway, they'd gone with a flash of black shoes upon their heels, around the corner, out of sight. I had foot wear ill fit for the climb and insufficient for the rainfall - by this point my feet were sodden. We decided to follow the dogs as their city was otherwise deserted. Finding a path to follow we entered in to the stone plateau heading for the rooftops above and eventually - the castle. But we had walls to attend to, stairs to climb and paths to find. The rain got worse with more height, and upon reaching the clouds our vision betrayed us...
# 47 [22 July 2010]
“After making this up in your mind, you get there and see that perspective has tricked you. Your body has no affect. Your bones would snap if there were to be but one slip, all you have are your toes for grip. With bare feet underneath you and crashing waters beyond there’s nothing but the idea of building your way back out again...”
If you take your time when passing the cooling towers of south Yorkshire you can also spot the storage yard that’s filled with bright red scaffolding poles capable of cranes. There, you can build a city arbitrary to reason as to previous architectural histories. With different extensions of different sizes you can amount to one third of the first history and then another third of that again – three fold. You can see it in terms of plinths, I suppose, and what you might use these for, to build ideas and built on top of them, again, concepts for construction: one is larger and flatter than the other, the other being more cuboidial in appearance, the third and final version is of the same area but decidedly more stretched like a post or pole. From here you can build absolutely anything imaginable to support your ideas.
If it gets too much you can find a bit of nature, but you’ll have to follow the right sort of path through over and out of industrial magnificence. Here’s how you do it.
Instruction one: Get yourself to the outskirts of the city, inner-city parks will not do, you need green belt, the corrugated iron of tramp houses, ivy and lost soles in farm land, paddocks with angry horses and sheep with dangling backsides. You need to smell the shit of manure and reclaim your ability to climb trees to acquire better vantage points. From here you can call upon a dog to sniff out the stream.
Instruction two: Follow the stream upwards as you need more height. Find or make yourself a hill to scale. Then on top of this spread some woodland to poke your head out of. Come across a river, a dale, and a meadow: a structure of lime stone, a valley, a crag a rock-upon-rock to muster and define and conquer.
Instruction three: now you need mountains – not just hills. You need more height than the low rolling overturns of Derbyshire, something steeper than the North York Moors: more variety or difference in repeated roads, minor roads bee roads moth roads dusty roads the great western road through Argyll and Bute. Boats across waters to secluded bird sanctuaries and havens of lost stone. Then you see snow and have thoughts that are cold to the bone and altogether different from anything you have ever needed or seen or had before.
Instruction four: “Settle for a rope swing” and swing back through the text. By retreating in instructions – from four to one – you’ll regress back into my childhood. Back to the swings of Chatsworth River: a deer or two staring you in the face, as you’re too chicken shit to take the plunge.
Now you’re older you should not be so chicken shit. But you’re heavier, longer, hairier and more cumbersome – more aware of the affect your body has and the strength you go without. Rope swings don’t really work. They just make your feet wet in the stream below. You laugh it off though and decide that the waterfall above is now manageable – the rain means nothing now and your oversized umbrella has this great balancing affect as you climb with bare feet. You get to the top steaming with sweat, drenched in bracken-flavoured dew, and ready to take the plunge...
# 48 [26 July 2010]
BELGIUM AVENUE AND ATOMIUM
"At this age one can tell that neon signs have another side to them: another meaning in three-dimensionality. More than signs, objects in fact, that die in time. So, you now have the choice of two images..."
One image has the blurred movement of a child driving a toy car around a track in Brussels. The other image is entirely different but also the same. But not exactly the same: there's enough difference there to tell the two apart - but this is where your eyes are tricked, and in trickles the illusion alluding to one image alone, with foreground and with background in Technicolor-terrific vision.
To the right of my picture now is a green bridge covered in cars and scaffolding. Below there's a river dark and fast flowing, hiding the activities of earthy stick and stone. Along walks a man dressed in high top hat and trainers; there's a fresh scar across his face running red and white and pink and blue down from his right ear through his top lip and ending against his chin. Between him and me is a pane of glass - he looks at me in frustration and moves his mouth whilst giving me a sign with his fingers.
Then there's bright candyfloss before the sugar revolution. Hats made of edible cacophony spun and shone and done and gone across stage plateau and influx of helicopter visitor: more Technicolor fuller this time with whites and pinks and blues. Men are dressed high in tops, off white against the red adorned seats and suits: a procession or fashion parade.
So what is this object of sculpture and sound and cart winding up to the top? You have a choice of just two colours, either canary yellow or blood-orange: you're then given a number "62" or 94 to take you along the river hovering your sites above the water along cables and wires. The underbelly is clarification and realisation, a definition of believability. Then there's this climbing structure resonant of cultural adoration - something that's new in its design, shiny in its affect - forward looking - and altogether celebratory of 1950's health and wealth.
Now there's scaffold upon scaffold, to understand urban renewal you have to understand the language of scaffold - it's a new form of public sculpture.
# 49 [28 July 2010]
Upon your departure yellowing the search
For one moment in time, as the colour of each awning matches a different part of another knight's crest, two definitions coincide.
"Our awning never did fit properly. It was toilsome in construction and collected water to the point of me being assigned with a stick, after every heavy downfall, to gently lift the puddle from underneath and rid the canvas roof from the water's weight."
If you're camping you are generally in a field as green as the next that contains cows, and as yellow as the underbelly of a dragon that buries itself deep under the canvas where you sit. In these fields and amongst these colours, caravans find a double meaning.
First off they're a tin place to sleep and develop a love for the sound of precipitation: a place to collect water in your stationary state, to drink from and wash in. When still they're a home delivery of pots and pans with jacks in land. Each has its own size in relation to familial growth. With solar panels attached to oversized extensions: awnings that look more and more like conservatories with each spring, summer and early autumn.
'CARAVAN' takes on another form in movement: a caravan of people in displacement, from one place to the next, through histories past in to futures yet to arrive. So whilst you're sat enjoying that rain in that field so green you hear the sound of ungulata hoof upon hoof - and each dog strapped to the front of each tow bar barks as another horse passes by. Then to you, your dog barks too and another caravan comes your way.
I walked out of the awning into the afternoon sun. The grass was as green as it had ever been drinking from the precipitous rain that rolls every morning off the hills to the west of Rosely: it was then that two points in time travelled in to one. A precession of brightly coloured knights on horses weaved their way through our encampment - dirt and track upon their boots and blood upon their brows. They were to climb again to the east, away from the hills and the rain - backs to the sun and facing the shadows before them.
# 50 [2 August 2010]
"He lent me his jacket and we took to the outside air to collect light that would otherwise be lost if not for the refracting glass of snow. Snow is soon then ice and all angles of thought are different from before. He sings and slips ahead in to the night. I have his jacket still - I wear it with such memories as below..."
A friend worthwhile for festivities: I was never allowed in his kitchen though for some reason - it was just this one room - one room that soon became two.
The first time I visited his flat was on a darkened icy December evening ridden with more snowfall - his belongings littered the close; you followed them up the stairs to his front door that was usually ajar with paraphernalia. When inside you made your way through curtains draped across collected junk - books piled in corners and framed photographs and drawings from artist friends decadent upon the walls. There was no central heating; only warmth from a small electric heater burning the smell of his floor and drapery, from elegant damp, into the dry comforting crisp of sheep's rug ash wood and oak recline. There was one curtain in the room that covered just one of two magnificent single glazed windows - the other was simply left bare. After watching the snow fall outside your eyes would follow shelf upon shelf of sheet music making their way to a grand piano crushed in the corner behind the door, through which you walked in. Upon greeting you he disappeared into the kitchen.
I took this absence for my collected observation. A low light dangles from the high ceiling above; reaching the coffee table in the middle of the room, save for a few hitches on the metric scale. The table is cluttered with half made Christmas decorations, glass spherical paperweights, broken ceramic pots and teacups accompanied by an ashtray containing change from the day's cigarettes.
I was presented with wine complete with a mug decorated with lights and birds and trees. He played the piano as I gazed around the ornaments that danced with every note he delicately placed upon each string.
Preceding the second visit, we met in a second hand bookshop that sold sheet music. A dusty old man who spend most of our visit on the phone to his younger lover - I was listening in - sold us a collection of Bach (1685 - 1750), some Czech composer, a neat bit of Debussy (1862 - 1918), and an almanac on Peruvian interior design.
We arrived back to his flat. Heater on, coffee table set he shuffled again to the piano. Heater pulled closer to my feet, coffee table redressed, I sat on the sofa again, busying myself fixing his broken ceramic objects. One ceramic container had the function of keeping the smaller - yet anything but negligible - pieces that would in the end complete each puzzle. The objects re-formed themselves by way of my fingers as his hands recited the sheet music in front of him. Several compositions later a teapot, a fish ornament, and a few cups and sauces lay in front of me.
I stood up, stretched, turned the low orange light on at the wire and swung it as a pendulum, then crossed to the other side of the coffee table to catch it. There I let the light go again, across the paperweights, dancing its way through each reflection, up in to the air to where I sat before. It was then I noticed a hint of another reflection. On the wall directly behind and above the sofa the light fashioned upon an inch of a mirror behind another large piece of material.
Piano sounding in my ears, notes seemingly louder with each step, I approached. I pulled at the cloth that then fell to the floor. And before me was a great reflective surface unleashed, revealing the room of activity, twice the volume it was before: in the bottom corner towards the frame - to me his back remained - the pianist had stopped.
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As a multi-disciplinary artist [self-diagnosed], I find myself thinking about works that need to be realised and how this can be done. A blog seems to be an apt medium to use and communicate with - in the mean time and inbetween time!