Archive for September, 2009


Well it’s been a long time; long time now, since I’ve seen your smile’-beruit

I always bang on and on about how I never blog and how fucking long it’s been-cause it’s true.  I have been absolutely rubbish lately at keeping this thing up to date and it’s not cause of sheer laziness, but because I am busy.

Really I should be more on top of it; it’s good practice and a reflexive method.  So with that in mind, what do I have in store for you today, what am I thinking about?

Since I saw the National, I have sort of been focusing on the good things, the little things.  For so long I have been putting the idea and the notion of the ineffable on a pedestal treating it like a girlfriend I don’t want to upset, but that’s pretty stupid.  The whole point is that I am here to batter it around and find out what makes it tick. In some way it’s about a sense of respect, I respect the ineffable because I can’t break it or twist it to far.  As a notion and a theoretical idea it sort of defies that kind of thinking, but why should I be so gentle with it?  I am not gentle with my listeners or my viewers or purpose.  I am here to put them through their paces, why not the very concept that started it all off then?

So back to the good things, the little things-what are they are, and what do they mean to me?  In some way I feel as if this research has created an uncomfortable kind of tunnel vision within my thinking and my approach; it’s a natural extension of research to narrow your focus, but as an artist you want keep your eyes wide open and try and take as much in as possible.  So in some ways (let’s be honest, not even some) research of one’s own practice is counterintuitive.  It almost defeats the purpose of the making.  The making is about the exploration, the need to find things out through success and failure, and I feel because research is so goal orientated that sometimes I lose sight of the small stuff.

What is this small stuff you speak of Alex, stop playing around and lay it out.  Well I guess what I am trying to unpick and rescue is the way I used to look at things: art, the sky, people on the street, you know the way the sun hits the wall as I lay on the sofa.  Now, when I look, I try and impose my idea of the ineffable on to the situation-where as before I looked for the ineffable within the situation (remember those three kinds of ineffable).  I was in Ibiza this weekend for a mate’s birthday and Monday we were sitting on Salinas Beach, which is tucked away and not full of full on banging ravers and in hindsight it was such a great chilled out experience that in it’s self was ineffable.  I’m sitting there, the sea gently rolling in and breaking, wet sand beneath your fingers, sun coming down, amazing tunes on the sound system and all this natural beauty just laid out in front of me.  It’s easy to attach one’s idea of the ineffable to the amazing pink sunset that we saw as we were leaving, but that was icing on the cake compared to the rest.  There was sense of peace and harmony and THAT’S what made it ineffable.  All of those aspects are merely components but when combined they came together and formed something greater.

As I was sitting on the plane coming home Tuesday night I started to unpack all the things that work, and have worked in the 5 years I have been conducting this research.  At various points if you read the earlier entries I touch on so many different variables: drugs, circumstance, music, atmosphere, context, and on and on and on.  I have been saying all along that it’s subjective.  My construction and ideas and my ideal of the ineffable are based on what works for me, I make changes and tweaks to the work based on the critical feedback that I have received since I started but at the end of the day the gestation of the idea is about what gets me off. To say anything else would be false to a certain degree because I have learned that I can’t make work based on the idea of what might work for someone else, I have to make work based on what works for me and hope that there is enough general crossover to reach someone else.

So how do the small things come back into play, what am I missing?  I suppose to some degree I have been hung up on things that aren’t actually important.  Having to stop and slow down, I realised that considering the small things is as ineffable as sitting in an installation I have created, it’s the small things that inform the big things.  It’s the way that a cold glass of sparkling water tastes on a hot day.  At the end I am chasing that fleeting moment-it’s there and gone before you know it.  That water is ineffable for moments not minutes, but to try to catch it would be like catching lightening in a bottle.  The fact that it’s fleeting is what makes it powerful.

I used to be a collector of the fleeting moments, carrying a camera around and trying to document the things that made sense to me and the things that didn’t, same with my mini sound recorder.  But as my ideas and installations get grander I have tailed off and sort of forgotten to continue, but has the loss of this act hindered the work?  Is my lack of looking doing me a disservice?

I guess what I am trying to come to is how important those fleeting things are, they are as informative as reading a shit ton of Merleau-Ponty.  In fact you need both one alone will not suffice.

Yeah, so what does it all mean?  How does it relate, where am I going with this?  When I was practising yoga this morning it sort of hit me.  I found my breath.  In yoga this is king, without the breath it’s just exercise, but with the breath it’s moving meditation.  Suddenly I am not Alex moving about on a piece of rubber, but I am Alex moving with purpose and determination.  I am not thinking about my movements rather I am focusing on breathing and my gazing point.  Everything else just falls away the movements become natural and guide themselves.  It’s all you can ask for in Yoga, I may not be able to do certain things but finding my breath is the one thing that will guide me.

It’s been a question this: my yoga practice and my research?  How does it fit, what am I using my yoga for? I suppose when I started, my answers were unclear because I didn’t know.  I knew that I was using my meditation and yoga practices for a reason but I just didn’t know why.  I am not using them in the physical first person sense, I am not asking my viewers to do Ashtanga with me rather I am using my practice to create a rhythm for myself.  As an example when I practice I do 5 Sun Salutation A’s and 5 Sun Salutation B postures to build heat within my body but also to form a rhythm with my breathing.  And I realise in a certain way I have subtly, and unconsciously shifted and changed my way of making things artistically to more closely resemble the way I practise yoga.  When I do yoga the movements are set and in a particular order, in some ways I have created this aspect within the work: how it’s approached, how one enters, when the sound comes one, what the circumstances are etc.

The use of yoga is purely for me, it’s about helping me shape and form the installation, and the crucial thing about yoga is the small stuff.  Some days I go and practice and bang through it because I want the physicality, I want to punish and cleanse myself.  But some days like this morning I relish stretching that much further, I relish allowing the breath to help me go one step more, a step further that sheer strength couldn’t get to, and it’s like yeah how does that translate if I am not making people actually move? But it’s not about making them move it’s about making me use what I know from yoga to be truth and trying to create my own truths with the installation.  Every aspect has been considered, I admit when I did the first and the second ones there were elements/factors that I let slide by the wayside and I firmly believe you’re only as good as your smallest mistake and believe me, people remember the mistakes because they are the easy things to comprehend.  In yoga it’s not about your mistakes, it’s not competitive but I remember my ‘victories’.  Like the first time I did a solo shoulder stand, I remember the joy of the success cause it’s easy, but what I remember most is what was working differently within my own body, how I had used my breathing and bandhas.  Yoga has allowed me to be attuned to my artistic practice in a different way, because now I listen to it.  It’s almost as if I have implanted the Primary Series as an invisible template to my way of making.

I think this is one of those entries and topics that requires further investigation.  But I know now more than I did, and what I do know with out question is that I don’t know ‘the ineffable’. I only know Alex Spaulding’s ineffable experiences and that’s also been playing games and tricks in my head.

(this is a bit all over, but it’s my blog and this style works for me)

Alongside of noticing the influence of the small stuff and yoga on my practice, I also realise how shit scared I am.  The first installation was a doddle as they say here.  It was almost done for me, all I had to do was recreate what was already there, granted it’s there in Eden NY, but the layout of the room, the light, all that was given to me by circumstance and previous experience.  All I did was recreate it and hope that by showing people the way that I saw/see and heard/hear things in that context, that they would be able to climb into my head a bit more.  The second installation was about the delivery of sound, which mode worked better: headphones or speakers (50-50 split for those keeping score).  My imposition of an aesthetic experience as well was secondary to the cause.

But this installation, this time it’s real.  I can’t fall back on childhood memories or hide behind the notion of testing modes of listening.  For the first time the artistic shackles are off and it’s about the experience, the atmosphere, how good is Alex at making the magic?  When I realised why I was so paralysed it was both freeing and more concerning.  Do I have the stuff to make it work are my ideas strong enough?  This installation is big and encompassing of so many factors-is it gonna work?  I suppose this is it, this is where I discover if I have what it takes or am I the great pretender?  The installation itself deserves it’s own entry and I promise to be on it. But yeah, could my momentary inability to notice the small things be a factor in this work not being successful?  And what is the measure of success-within the PhD it’s one thing, within the context of my career it’s another, but within the context of Alex is getting it up and installed simply enough? Has the ferocity of the process broken me down beyond the point of caring?  As a paper artist I come up with the ideas and make the crappy funny looking sketches, then I hand them it over to fabricators and they make my ideas come to life, I just hope that nothing gets lost in translation and maybe it’s finding out what ‘nothing’ refers to that is the breakthrough, but in what context?

That’s not to say I don’t believe in the work-that’s not true.  I believe in this work because I have to do.  I believe in this work because in the darkest part of night I know it’s going to work.  I have to trust the idea and myself, so maybe as an artist the most ineffable part is the let go, it’s the finding of my ‘artistic breath’, like when yoga ceases to be exercise and becomes moving meditation.  But I need to highlight and draw attention to that shift cause it’s key.

Here are some images of the steel frame of the work; I am also attaching some youtubes of yoga so that you can see what I am talking about.

As well I think that you should all run out and get the xx cd.


The xx


Images of the Steel Cage frame for the Room