Archive Page 2

24
Sep
09

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.

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The xx

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Images of the Steel Cage frame for the Room

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11
Aug
09

today you were far away, and i didn’t ask you why, what could i say?-The National

Duuuuuuude!  Where the hell have you been?

I know, it’s a really good question, where have I been and what have I been doing? It’s fairly obvious, not blogging.

I could bore you with trivial tales about this and that, and that’s what I had planned to do up until last night. But….

Last night, I saw one of my favourite bands The National play at the Royal Festival Hall in London and it knocked me sideways (in a good way).

This was not from the gig last night, but youtube can’t produce everytime.

If you have never seen them perform, I command thee to do as soon as possible, they make great music and are committed to playing their songs with force and dedication, it’s as if there is no wall between the band and the audience, everything melts away and it’s just one group of people sharing in this ‘thing’, and it’s this ‘thing’ that’s so important to talk about.

As I have mentioned in previous blog entries I hold Andrea Fraser’s Why Does Fred Sandbeck’s Work Make Me Cry as a key text for me, and in a way I suppose I held her reaction to Sandbeck’s work as the penultimate response.  If you have people crying then it works, it’s so great that it’s beyond words and the only reaction is to cry.  But as the research has progressed my thinking on this is progressing as well.  I am not saying that crying is right or wrong, what it is, is one particular individual’s response to a particular piece of work in a particular setting:yeah, context-it’s everything.

During the set I was standing there singing along, doing that strange indie white person’s dance and really feeling it. As the band’s set grew and their relationship to the audience developed and it was almost as if there was a swell, a combination of the audience being so caught up in their performance and the band being caught up in our adulation.

Aside from that something began to happen to me, as I stood there as they played Slow Show, there seemed to be this expansion in my chest, it was amazing.  Suddenly I was filled with feelings so good I would like to find the drug that equals what I felt, I mean it was as if my heart and my chest might burst at any time because I felt so moved.  It was a multitude of things, I was drawn deeper and deeper into the tunes, I felt this incredible sense of love for certain people in my life, and I honestly believed as I was standing there that I was in the presence of something that couldn’t ever be put into words.  At that moment I have never felt better.I actually sent this email to myself in the middle of one of their songs because it was so important for me to remember this:

What if it’s about trying to create a physical being, why can’t we believe in thing we can’t see? What does it mean?

Slow Show

Dude, I know, we’re getting close to the G O D word, but maybe that is what it is about.  I mean the whole thing is that I don’t know anything for certain, but as I stood there with my chest bursting and my head expanding because I couldn’t comprehend or define how amazing I felt-I thought, maybe this is how people feel about God.  I am not going to tackle the God thing here because it’s not what my research is about, but part of me was thinking is this how we deal and experience the ineffable?  In fleeting moments where the mediums we can grasp come together in the right way and suddenly we’re thrown into this feeling, this place, this experience that is big, so grand you just think-fuck me.  What just happened?

What this is beginning to expand for me is how much I relate to the ineffable as a malleable idea/experience rather than a thing or object. It doesn’t mean that I don’t think these things can be ineffable, but for me, and my work, objects et. al are the sum of the parts of the thing.

I mean as I sit here recollecting what it is was I thinking it was that I was in the midst of an ineffable moment and I wondered if the band’s music is simply an instrument or a portal to make such an experience physical.  In hindsight what is also interesting for me about that is that I was actively being self conscious and aware, yet the experience wasn’t dampened or destroyed, something I had previously thought would happen the minute one perceived themselves perceiving.

It’s so hard to try and decipher and as I sit here trying to put the ‘unutterable’ into words I laugh.  To try is futile, so what is my research going to do?  What am I trying to prove?

This is a bit of email I wrote someone this morning about the gig… it fits.

I have seen the National about 6 times already and every time it’s always been amazing and restorative, like I leave the gig thinking and feeling more whole.  But last night’s gig was amazing, it’s been a while since I have gone to a gig solo-it’s has a sensation of loneliness but also complete freedom.  I drank only water and was literally blown away by them.  At one point I felt as if my heart was going to explode out of my chest because I felt so good.  It deepened my love for people I love, you included and I just wish you could have seen it.  I sent myself a lot of mini essays during the gig, as it’s really research related. But I get God now, like I get this thing, this sensation and I wonder if because the belief in that which can’t be seen is hard is everything we do a way to personalise that relationship and bring it to our own level?  Is that what I am trying to do with my work?  I don’t know, but I suppose this is my job.  It was simply amazing.  I really wish you could have been there, but I will make sure you get to see them either here or in the NYC.

And this song closed it out, although this was shot in Vienna.

11
Aug
09

been to long…..

(I wrote this a month ago when I was in NYC on 1 July)

It often starts with the tossing and the turning, searching for the cool spot on the pillow.  Most people find it and fall back asleep. Me, I never find the cool spot.

I am sitting here, looking out over New York City as the sun rises and lazily tries to break through the low-hanging haze that seems to be a permanent fixture on the skyline. When I leave my cocoon of air conditioning and sound-proofed windows, not only will I be immersed in the city but also in the haze and the humidity.

So, why start like this, why bring us into it? you ask. It’s simple: it’s about work and ways of being and thinking. I know this is a shared blog and in general the policy is that I don’t really write on my own work things in the specific, but I feel that this is a worthwhile endeavour, so here we go:

WHAT DRIVES YOU TO MAKE THE WORK?

I am asking this, because this morning I woke up wrecked with anxiety, an anxiety that makes me want to hide from everything: my work, the PhD, and life in general. It’s not as if it’s too much, or as if there’s something that I can’t manage, but it’s like the haze outside my window: it envelopes you like a blanket, and right now it feels too heavy for me to move myself.

As I am about to embark on another installation I think about this state of mind and who I am, and which aspects of it are present within my work. It’s not like I have come to some sort of light-bulb-like conclusion: ‘Oh anxiety, that’s what it should be about’. It simply seeps in.

So what and why and how is this in any way relevant to this blog and the working relationship I have with G? The reason is that it’s about the base for everything I do: in some way every work I have made has in some aspect tried to address this issue. I suppose it comes down to the question of ‘what kind of experience am I trying to create?’

It’s such a vital and important question, and in a way I haven’t answered it or even asked it directly. My father came over to Glasgow after the second installation in my PhD research was completed, and we did a brain-storming session, I have never worked with my father like that before on a project.  For the most part my parents don’t participate in that way. But working with someone outside of my contextual framework was amazing. I had to have answers and I had to know, as he was asking questions out of curiosity, not malice. It made me realise how little I did know about what it is that I want. To some degree working within the structure of practice-led research creates some kind of tunnel vision. I was going full steam ahead on the work, with in some way letting my instinct and gut feeling take over when it came to the nature of the experience. But I never directly addressed what that experience was to be or what I wanted it to be. A bit cart before the horse. Now I have the chance to rectify that process, can I change that with the third installation?

So back to the nature of experience: what is it that I want? The best way of doing this is to look at work that I have seen lately, and to give you a peak at the thinking inside my head.

When G and I were in Basel there weren’t any immersive installations per se, but there was a lot of work that was immersive in some way. Lots of glossy black plexi, in which you’re reflected, but not forever like in a mirror, but in a rather flat 2D way. I have never enjoyed seeing myself in artwork, because it break the fantasy: I am real but the artwork is producing this thing beyond myself and then bam, there I am. In some way that inclusion of the self is vitally important.  It’s jarring in the sense that for the most part we have an idea of how we look, but sometimes our reflection is not the same as the internal image we have created of ourselves. That’s where the black plexi and the mirrors come in.

I had been deliberating for months, or rather the past year, that Room 3 would involve a pool. I had seen it done in Basel several years ago, and besides the sheer coolness of it, being in a pool was something so ineffable within the context of it being a work of art. The work came alive when it was engaged with by the viewers, and it contained an ultimate sense of immersion.  But as I have neither the funds nor the physical space to create the work that I want to create, the questions is how do you substitute that and what do you do to keep moving?

In glimpsing all of this black Perspex in Basel and seeing some mirrored pieces, it became apparent that I wouldn’t need water to generate the effect that I am after. I can create an environment about immersion without having people actually physically immersive people within the work.

Within the last two installations, the work has had a high aesthetic sensibility while I am also cultivating and actively generating a sense of dread or doom. There is something about the work that makes people uncomfortable. I like that, and I want that as that is my way of allowing people in, to give them a sense of certain things that I feel at particular moments, if only for a short time. I am not just immersing people into this aesthetic visual world, but I am using the music that I create to integrate the visual and the aural, to make something that is more than the sum of its parts.

So back to what it is that I want, what kind of experience I am after. What is the purpose of Room 3? Simply put, I want Room 3 to be the integrated accumulation of all that I have been working towards. This is my chance to really show not only my aesthetic sensibility, but to also highlight what that sense of aesthetics means to the work as a whole. I want the experience to incorporate aspects of calm but ultimately to have people leave feeling unsettled. I want the hair on the back of your neck to stand up and for you to feel a mental itch. If the work were to be realised right now, I would say that the purpose of the work is to drown you in my anxieties and to allow someone else to feel them, to truly know the level and depth of someone else’s fears. And I want it to look good.
For the moment I feel pretty I have said everything there is to say. The sun has broken through the haze, so it’s time for me to frolic.

aps

03
Jun
09

when you take everything away, the only thing left is imperfection

Documentation of Room 2 installation on Flickr. Go now, no seriously go. What the hell are you still doing here?

03
Jun
09

it’s not you, it’s me. no really, it’s me…

No I am not breaking up with my blog, although sometimes I would like to. Frankly, sometimes I would like to dump the whole PhD and go sell boxed-wine in the Mid-West. Actually that idea looked better in my head than on paper, but you get the gist.

So what have I been up to? Well, a lot and nothing all at the same time. The last couple of weeks have been either busy as all hell, or standing still, watching everyone run past me. On the 17th of May Room 2, or when you take everything away, the only thing left is imperfection, was deinstalled and then the thinking began. Now that we’ve done two rooms what have we learnt? What do we want to achieve with the third room, and why is this idiot referring to herself in the third person?

Let’s answer these questions in reverse order. As to my referencing myself in the third person: ‘cause I can. Hate me now, hate me later. It’s funny and in a way prophetic, because it’s not just Alex the artist, or Alex the researcher who asks these questions, but a combination of the two, but, mostly, because it’s ironic and annoying.

What do we want to achieve in the third room? This is a good question because it’s complicated. I think that I did myself a bit of disservice: a few years ago I saw this installation at the Basel art fair by Hélio Oiticica, which was a collaboration with another artist.

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Oiticica’s contribution was to create a swimming pool, like a real- life pool that all types of arty people, and those who love them, could swim in. And as I was sitting there with G watching all these people either eying the pool with trepidation or shedding their clothes and jumping in with abandon I thought ole’ Hélio was on to something. It was ‘immersive art’, at its most basic, ‘cause you actually became immersed. In a way it was simplicity that’s so simple it’s almost dumb. When I got back to Glasgow I began to dream about this pool, not the pool I saw in Basel, but the idea of a pool, the idea of immersion and engaging with work in a way that breaks the normal conventions and stereotypes of work. My dreams steam-rolled into research, which led me to James Turrell’s Heavy Water a pool that he created in 1991 in France, for which people put on special swimming costumes and literally swam into a light installation of Turrell’s in the middle of the pool.

James Turrell's Heavy Water

James Turrell's Heavy Water

By now I think I forgot something that is crucial to my work, so what the fuck was I doing with this pool? As I was sitting on the tube today I realised I am not sure I ever knew what I was doing with my idea of the pool, because I didn’t really have an idea to back it up, instead of focusing on content I became caught up in context. Now I am sure I can spin some old bullshit and school you as to what it is I am doing or want to be doing with this pool, but as I sit here writing I know I would be lying. I like the idea of the pool, I like the idea of water and how it would integrate itself into my aesthetic but I am not sure what purpose it would serve within the context of my research and my practice as it currently stands.

But Alex, you still haven’t answered your own question, what do you want to achieve with room 3? … That silence is me looking at the screen a bit dumbly, thinking ‘well fuck me, I never got that far’. But let’s attempt to answer it, because I need to know, and I need to know now. Room 1

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(this is how i want you to remember it) was about establishing a context for my viewers, and myself, both aurally and visually. I was using the memory of an experience from my own childhood to shape and provide a perspective for how I want people to look and listen. Essentially I was creating the same conditions from which I learnt to look and listen, and it was my hope that people would be able to start to see and hear from my perspective, both then and now. What I learnt from Room 1 was that memory is a slippery thing, and its slippery qualities are both positive and negative. It’s positive because it can be evocative and allow people to remember things of their own, and it can also colour something too strongly. Some of the feedback that came back was the high sense of theatre: the more distance I have from the work the more I am able to understand that the use of memory is about balance, and getting that balance right is controlling the theatrical element. Too little and there is nothing to fall into, too much and you’re steering.

Room 2 was tricky because I knew what its purpose was practically within the research context, but I didn’t know what it was that I wanted artistically. I have addressed my way of working throughout this blog in other entries but what was most problematic about this work, even though I knew what we were building, I had no idea about how it was supposed to be, if that makes sense. I didn’t know what the personality of the work was supposed to be, in the end it worked because I was trusting my ability to push for an experience: to run with a sense of supposed intuition, even though I didn’t know what that was going to produce. The issue with this is when you have no gut feeling to lead you, there is a sense that it’s not just going to fail, but that it’s going to fail without you having any idea why it did. The main impetus was to test the difference in ways of listening, but after what I had established in Room 1, I didn’t want to plonk people down into two boring rooms and say ‘well go for it kids’. I knew that I had to fight for the things that I had established: my aesthetic, a sense of the sculptural, and the need to know that every last detail was thought out. I honestly believe it would not have been successful if I had put in two chairs either IKEA or Eames, some record players and some white lights. Details are details and I if I know anything intuitively I know that I need to stick by absolute conviction to adhere to the details. However, when you create a minimal environment, then you’re only as good as your smallest mistake, whatever that may be.

What I learnt from these two spaces is that I my need to create an entirely new context is imperative to this research and this practice. My work, works when it becomes its own thing, and, within the context of that thing, there must be a friction or a palpable sense of tension. Some of the most common feedback from the last two installations has been my desire to create a beautiful, yet disturbing environment: something that both invites you to fall in but at the same time, as you stand at the metaphorical precipice, there is a sense of dread. In a way I take a lot from Bruce Naumen

Bruce Nauman, Green Light Corridor, 1970

Photo©Giorgio Colombo,Milano

in this regard. If you look to his corridor pieces where there is a monitor at the end of a purpose-built corridor that gets narrower and narrower, never allowing you to reach your destination: you’re frustrated by the inability to get to the thing you think you’re supposed to get to, and you’re made to feel uncomfortable by the way that the corridor physically restricts you, and vice versa. Think the feeling of potentially dying when walking through Richard Serra’s

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or for those that need something a bit more illustrative standing on the edge of Heizer’s North, South, East, West installation at the Dia Beacon, which consists of these large shapes cut into the concrete floor and you know that if you fall in, you might never get out.

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So it’s this kind of sensation that’s important to me. I know that thus far I have been heralding Turrell and Irwin and for the most part their work doesn’t have that kind of friction. Turrell’s can often be too beautiful, its beauty rendering it simple and nullifying its questions. Unlike Turrell’s, the major factor in my work that creates this friction is largely produced by the aural aspects. I am not unaware of the psychological impact of my music: in a way it’s the one medium that I feel that I can be most honest in, and it gives me the freedom to ask questions relating to the darker conditional elements of the sublime or the transcendental. It’s really only since I stopped being so self-conscious about my technical abilities with my tunes that I realised how much ability I had, and how I could let myself say the things I need to say.

Sooooo, what is it that you want out of Room 3? This is the thing: I want to create a space that allows me to explore both the issue of aesthetics and the friction, which is caused by the unasked question in the previous two installations that I have been exploring, both within my practice and in my personal life (without wanting to be too specific). When I go out dancing and I am sweaty and falling about with 500 other people I want to engage in that sense of the present. It’s about trying to engage in a fleeting sense of presence, to truly be engaged in the here and now, even if only for a moment. There is this thing that happens, the best example I can come up with – other than dancing, sex, drugs, which are all ways to escape, but also ways to engage with the here and now – is when you stub your toe: that sharp pain and instant ache brings you clarity and locks you into the moment, the moment of NOW, of it happening. It doesn’t matter what happens in the future or what happened in the past, but what is happening right now is the focal point. I want to create a room and an album that places you in that space. In order to do that I need to look at the situations and experiences that inform this: how to be present in a time when it’s all about the next thing? How to create that sense of the present when I can barely focus most of the time?

30
Apr
09

movement doesn’t always mean progress

I have come around to understanding a bit about my own thinking and process looking through the last couple of entries on the blog here. Basically it’s hard as hell for me to start. The blank abstract surface of the Word Document on my screen is absolutely petrifying. For one mark is an automatic blemish yet a few simple keystrokes destroy it’s footprint and give a false sense of security as if you never wrote something crap in the first place. But the point should be that I did write something crappy, it should stay there, to remind me, to give me a place to start. Infinity for me can sometimes be represented by the vast whiteness that is a blank document, but it doesn’t make it good, I am not enticed by this infinite canvas, I am freaking out.

It’s all the same: writing, making music, drawing etc., this hesitation or feeling of being handicapped when it comes to starting. It’s the first mark that I am afraid to make, but once I get stuck in I am golden. I can just move and navigate, but I am positively useless until I make that first mark that resonates with me.

None of this excuses the lack of blog entries, and I owe this corner of the interwebs that I have made my own a whole load of entries, which when I have a moment to breath will make their way on to the interwebs for you to read.

At the moment I am sort of in an odd place. this is how i want you to remember it was a really successful art piece, and it provided a lot of material for data and research. But I think I sort of shot myself in the foot a bit when it came to my methods and my methodology. I am going to lay it all out the table, I am not sure what the hell it is I am supposed to be doing with this data. I mean I am researching the ineffable experience hopefully produced by immersive aural installation art. A mouthful in own right, but what in the hell does that mean? Am I researching the ineffable as an entity? No, because in some way that is impossible. The ineffable is singular and unique to the person having the experience. There maybe aspects or facets of each person’s experience that are similar but at the end of the day there is no definitive way for two people to ‘know’ that they had the exact same experience. Secondly I am not trying to redefine the ineffable, I mean in a sense it’s not even about the word even though it is. The word ineffable defines it self in the sense that is the definition of the ‘thing’ of which we cannot speak, I know…. So I am not breaking radical ground in that department, well what is it then that I am trying to do? Ascertaining that people have had an ineffable experience is simply not good enough, it’s not new knowledge, it doesn’t tell me or anyone who is interested anything important other than the fact that something greater than words happened to them. So what the hell, what is it that I am supposed to be collecting data to prove or uncover? In a sense research is a bit like a dog chasing his tail. The dog knows it has a tail and physically where it is, but running around in a circle sure is fun. I almost feel as if in some way I am supposed to know what this mythical aspect of new knowledge is that I am going to be defending and all of this work is merely to support what I already know, but the bastard of it is that I don’t know.

A bit late in the game, I know, and if my supervisors have been reading along sorry. I am not dim, I just don’t know. I mean a six page questionnaire-what does it prove, what is the purpose? Theoretically, I have no problem with the chosen methods or the methodology but I don’t know what it’s supposed to be helping me do. I might as well just get my mate to write it up for me when were down at the pub.

So with all of this around my neck like a proverbial albatross I sit madly working away on 20 different parts of the next installation when you take everything away, the only thing left is imperfection, it’s such a difficult work. It’s probably complicated because the actually making is spread out as we have chosen to farm out a lot of the work, which you would think would be fab: me sitting back rocking a smoke and a pancake but it’s been a nightmare. When things are happening in 6 different places someone has to manage those 6 different places. I just feel unorganised and distant from this particular piece. It’s emotionally tricky because there was such a personal tie and investment in the first installation. It comes out of my childhood, and while this new work comes out of me-it serves a much more technical purpose, so the artistic aspects are relegated a bit to the back. I have been struggling with this and found ways to make the balance more even but still it’s not necessarily about it being this amazing piece of art, but it being a way to suss out a very particular issue. When you take your practice and contextualise it in this way it gets hard because it stops being something that’s yours. As well because it’s such a technical nightmare I unconsciously relinquished a lot of control to my assistant and that only adds to the sense of disconnect. At the end of the day I need to remember it’s not just my work but also my research and it all comes back to me, I am the one responsible. But when you feel disconnected from the work emotionally it gets a bit casual, you allow yourself to drift because the investment is less, even though in reality it’s actually more.

Last point for today, I also learned a little bit about my own motivations, and myself during the installation of the last show I was going through some personal emotional stuff, and it was fuel. I remained single minded and focused because any slip would send me on a three-day bender of epic proportions, it also fuelled this last record, but since I have righted my self I am almost a bit inept. I am not going to change anything though but I find the aspect of work coming from turmoil and angst to be so true that even I can’t laugh at the irony. But now there’s a hunger to explore my own personal dimensions in a different way, but there has to be a way of exploring your dark side without having a meltdown once a day. You can dark and happy at the same time, right?

I always promise to be like on top of this, so I am not going to this time and see how reverse psychology works for a bit…

Ps. Go out and by these two albums besides my own which will drop soon. The new The Blank Dog, and the first Burial album, which has just been rereleased on vinyl, my album can be found at Monorail, Avalanche, and Aye Aye Books all in Glasgow-go on fund my habit, you know you want to.

17
Mar
09

you know i dreamed about you for 29 years before i saw you-the national

Installation Images.  Much better quality than before kids.