Archive | July 2009

Shock and Awe

Watching the 1980’s film Threads generated a strikingly similar shock and awe affect on me as witnessing the 9/11 televised events did, at the beginning of this decade. I have only just managed to confirm this in my head whilst in the middle of reading Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, realising what shock and awe do to the seeming stability and security of everything we see around us.

The reaction I had to Threads had in no way the kind of affect on me as witnessing the televised 9/11 events did in my late teens, as this spectacle completely shattered all that I had grown up knowing to be stable and ‘true’. Although in the following 8 years I have learned a lot more about why this happened, and why the changes in society which followed were allowed to happen, this can in no way undermine the impact it had on me and the way in which I would go on to see life.

However, the manner in which I responded to both Threads and the events of 9/11 did have remarkable similarities. I felt disorientated by what I had seen. It was like a thorn had been pushed into my mind, making me compelled to insert the subject into every conversation I had (which wasn’t many in my shy late-teen state), in the hope that someone or something might put an anchor down to calm my disorientation.

If anybody hasn’t seen Threads I am still eager to try and describe it. The film is set in early 1980’s Sheffield, less than 20 miles from where I live. It was produced in a period of history when the Cold War was still at its height. But in this film the Cold War escalates in hot war. Sheffield is a prime target because of its steel industry, the then nearby airbase at Doncaster, and the fact that it is situated in the very centre of the UK. The Soviets (The capitalist West’s enemy in the Cold War) wait until the American President is most likely to be getting some sleep, which is noon time in the UK, to drop Nuclear bombs on the nearest target – The UK.

bomb

Two bombs are dropped on Sheffield, with the terrifying scene of utter panic on The Moor (a shopping street I am very familiar with) resulting in the strangely uncomfortably-realist scene of a woman pissing herself as she looks up at a mushroom cloud rising above the city – I would describe this scene (although fictional) similar in its shock and awe factor to the very real TV footage of a man jumping from one of the burning World Trade Centre towers on September 11 2001. It’s close-to-home nature certainly made it more frightening; South Yorkshire accents screaming at the sight of the mushroom cloud is chilling to say the least.

The film then shows the utterly catastrophic outcome of the nuclear destruction, as society and law and order collapse in the most grimly-imagined way; over-time reducing the UK to a land of less than 11 million people, more like dark ages Britain than today’s. It is a truly shocking film – whether it is of any benefit to be seen is another story. Bringing the message home in this manner certainly gets the point across.

Of course, ‘bringing the message home’ is precisely what 9/11 did. the effects (as explained in The Shock Doctrine), although vastly exaggerated by Western governments and the media for their own gain, sent a message to every seemingly comfortable western nation saying ‘you aren’t safe – there are people who want to destroy you, your families and the places where you live’ (I remember that, around the time of immediate aftermath, my dad talked of a recurring dream a tankers full of explosives being driven into buildings in an unknown city centre).

Of course, this message was used by our government to eventually increase the amount of control the corporate state had over citizens, i.e more CCTV cameras, more security paranoia etc. We inhabitants of the post 9/11 world we forced to accept greater state interference and further restrictions to our liberties as a compromise against the perceived greater threat of ‘you’ or ‘your loved ones’ being killed by terrorism.

9/11 certainly shattered so many of my foundations at the beginning of this decade – it certainly erased my childhood sentiments. I was only 17 at the time. This event would eventually prove to profoundly shape the person I have become. Now, as the decade comes to an end, and these earlier events have helped make me who I am, I feel that everything is beginning to come full circle, as I come to realise that the disaster capitalists (Milton Friedman for example) wanted these feelings of disorientation to happen to people like myself. Along with other events in my life I have slowly begun to realise who/what has done the most damage to my person.

29.07.2009

Re-joining social-networking sites

Re-joining social-networking sites

Last week I had a moment of weakness from my values and principles, and I briefly re-joined the social networking site ‘Facebook’. I believe the weakness was born out of a realization that I was about to start full time work again, after having 2 months off (exhibition swap around). In these months I missed so many opportunities to socialize and meet people, and I had the glum feeling that I had missed my chances, now work was about to take up my time, I was waving goodbye to yet another year from the solitary confinements of gallery 4. I wanted a quick fix to ease the feeling of a block period of solitude.
This need brushed my logic aside, that beliefs that social networking sites are in fact a major cause of 21st century solitude, among 18-30’s, and never a cure to it, and I re-joined in order to have some social interaction, as at that moment I felt that even digital socialising was better than no socialising.

To my surprise, and especially to my concerns, as soon as I entered my old password into the box, my old profile, that I thought I’d erased from history in September 2008, re-opened on the monitor screen, untouched, unchanged, as if nothing had ever happened. When I left Facebook, it was as if I had never existed, now I’d re-joined it was like I had never left, as if I had been enjoying the ‘facebook party’ all though the past 9 months!. The past was being altered around me. For an instant Facebook seemed to posses the power to alter my past and present, It wielded a power frighteningly similar to that of O’Brien in Orwell’s 1984. In Cyber space we live by clocks and dates, but there is no past present or future, everything is now, or it is never.

I had a quick check of my mates’ profiles, I had to, it was so tempting. Then suddenly I found me again. I realised how much I didn’t want to be part of this place. So, as fast as my fingers could run, I scrolled across the options until I found ‘de-activate account’.

To my surprise and ever more concern, I found that when I was on my facebook ‘Bonn Voyage’ screen, there was pictures of many of those cyber friends I’d made back into 2008, their profile photo’s had changed. They now featured images of myself – photos they had which featured me in their digital album collection – above messages saying “we’ll miss you john!”.
For a brief moment I was caught, I forgot to question how they could have possibly known I was back for all of those 3 minutes, and facebook had hold of the strings of my heart, and got me thinking “these people remember me!, I’m remembered!!”.

Thankfully I ‘woke up’ in time from my lapse into the trap. This site was using ’emotional persuasion’ to try and prevent me from leaving its captive audience of members. This time, thankfully, It didn’t work (If you think I am making this up, go and try to quit, and I promise this screen will come up before you).

Emotional persuasion, is the name of the game with social networking sites, you can be a member and not play that game, but I am a man with both an habitual and socially discontent personality, and emotions can talk louder that logic when one is glum. so quiting was my best option.

(print screen, of emotional persuasion when trying to leave the site, you’ll need to open it in another window to view properly. Sorry if you have appeared on this Facebook screen, it was them who made up the story that you’d miss me, so blame them!)

My most recent piece of work ‘the alpha Forest’ was largely inspired by my experiences of both MySpace and Facebook. Places in which people are screaming “me, me me, look at me I’m special!!!”. 200 million people all using one site with a limited option of page layouts, all believing in their true individuality.

“Today, the 17th july at 9pm, John Ledger walked back to Facebook for good. He knew it, he finally loved facebook”

The Alpha forest (image 1)

Is life’s intended route towards the Anthropecene?

unca 
Is ‘man’ life’s equivalent of a stars ‘white dwarf’ stage?

If one finds solidarity and truth in the theories of the existence of life, as put for forward by James Lovelock in The Gaia Theory, and by Lynn Margulis in The Symbiotic Planet, which see life as a complete system, just like the one of the sun or the solar system, self regulating, a super organism ….rather than just lots of separate species’, I have have started wondering if man (the intelligent being) is the self destructing stage of life, like a white dwarf is the signifier of a stars end.
I have wondered if it plausible to see humanity as the final process in the life of life itself, like the white dwarf is the final process in the life of a star. To make this clearer, a star goes though a life process and the last stage of this process is a white dwarf, maybe life is a similar functioning system?, but by using different dynamics.

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The success of life on earth as largely been down to the process of survival of the fittest However, in a system that ensures the more adaptable will survive above others – as long as no catastrophe knocks this process back, as in the case of the Dinosaurs – a species will surely evolve which is too clever, and breaks free and disrupts the systems that hold everything else together, eventually to an extent that everything collapses – this is mankind now.

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Perhaps when this system, which we know as life, is ready for popping its clogs, it has reach a stage where it develops a creature within, which finally kills it off. This, to us is know as the – anthropocene – as mankind becomes so dominant it kills off everything, upon which he too depends on, bringing about the death of life on planet Earth. Just like a star, when the system of life has used up its lifespan, it changes into its death clothes.
I really hope this isn’t true, I quite like this thing we call ‘life’ and green is most certainly the nicest of colours!

More ideas on life’s intended route to Anthropecence

Was the planet Venus (the ‘second’ rock from the sun) now with an atmosphere of 96 per cent carbon dioxide, makings it’s average temperature 500 degrees Celsius, the previous home of life in the solar system? Before it moved on to Earth? Does life -if one sees life’s ‘life’ as a complete system in the same way that a stars life is – jump from planet to planet in search of hospitable places to keep itself going?
Due to the order of the system of life, which ensures the survival of the fittest, there must, at some point, develop a species that is so advanced that it cannot be contained in the symbiotic systems which hold the whole of life together, and it starts to undo everything. This life form on Earth is us. Maybe there was once a species, much like us, which made Venus inhospitable, killing itself off in the process, but before it did so, it sent the seeds of life into space to colonize somewhere else, maybe that somewhere was Earth.
Maybe this is a process built into the system of life -spreading its seed from a doomed existence on one planet to another – to keep itself going, in the Universe, for as long as possible, possibly for eternity. The development of a species that cannot help but undo life on one planet is inevitable, therefore it must spread its seed to another place and the process starts again, keeping life going. Life may be a parasite upon the Universe.
So then, one may ask ‘why bother to spread the seeds of life to another place, if life is nothing more than a planetary parasite?’ The reason why is because ‘we are life’. We are instinctively built to make sure it carries on, and not just the carrying on of humans, but our larger body; life itself. We will do this, if and when the time comes.
By this I do not mean that I care any less for humanities plight upon Earth right now, nor do I believe it is our sworn destiny to wipe both us and all other species of life from this planet. I think we have two choices; we let ourselves proceed in ruining our Earth, at a time when we do not have the technology to find a new home, or we do our best now, to make Earth sustainable for us, for a much greater period of time, giving us more time to figure out who we are and where we go next.

An intelligent species that finds itself no longer content and able in life’s symbiotic order, is surely an inevitable development in system of life. Life’s ruthless development process, which ensures the survival of the fittest, must surely guarantee (as long as no catastrophe, such as the one that wiped out the Dinosaurs out, occurs) the development of a living being, that is fully aware of its own existence and is capable of asking questions. As I have said earlier, I am just worried that this is the ‘last stop’ for life, in its journey on a planet.
‘Surely not’ you may ask ‘why would nature create a species which is capable of creating beautiful music, visual art and literature only for it to be engulfed back into the void of existence?’. Well, I suppose …the arts and the technologies are the inevitable products of a living creature which finds itself no longer part of the harmonious process of life, which he/she sees passing by every day of their lives. Perhaps ‘the arts’ are a by-product of the tail end of life, in its unstoppable quest to bring the curtains down on itself, almost as if it were applauding its own qualities at the end of its stay on earth. The creation of the arts coincides with the breaking of the symbiotic chain.

14.07.2009 (2)

Here comes everybody, the final push!

I cannot remember exactly where I the title ‘Here comes everybody’ comes from, but when I first came into contact with the title, I was under the impression that it was referring to the sheer mass of ‘creative’ s’ out there In western countries ‘trying to be noticed’ via networking sites on the World Wide web. Millions upon millions trying to bring the attention of the World to their creative talents, a surge of ideas and opinions, a blitz of colourful expressions, and for this, I am one of those many millions, I suppose.

Referring back to my fears of an inevitable anthropecene, bringing us closer to the rim of the bowl of civisilation and then the end of life on Earth, it feels as if we (well, a great deal of of us) are getting the chance to express what it feels like to be a human. It is like we are all part one giant wave of creativity, as if life is showing off what it can do , just before the curtains close on its show. Like a star, that becomes a supernova – we will flash with colours of excellence, displaying everything nature as taught us, before we, and rest of life disappear.

05.07.2009 (3)

Emergence: Barnsley Town Centre Exhibition

emergence

Emergence

10.08.09 – 05.09.09

Various sites around Barnsley centre

Entry free


Artists – Stacey Allen, Daniel Hird, Katherine Johnson, Sophie Kemp, Emily Langdon, Ronnie Lee, John Ledger, David Morris, Kathryn Outbridge, Frances Pinches

BOOM,BUST,BNP

I don’t want to get in trouble with Redwatch, you know, i am not a trouble causer in fact i tremble when confronted. However the recent rise of the far right, especially in my home town, is a grave concern to me.

BOOM

BUST

Everything Has Become a Little Too Serious Here

Everything has become a little too serious here in my head, in fact my whole life has about as much vigor as a car insurance advert, and as much scope for something more than this as my drawings portray. A 25 year old in 2009 isn’t likely to have the jollity of a 22 year in the boom days of 2006, but still, this is pure cardboard. I was sat behind an old man on the bus, who was bitter and angry at everything and everyone. My god, I  thought, I cannot let myself become him – what a nasty old man, he could have played Hitler if he was but a little younger and leaner. But at that moment I saw in myself how such bitterness to life emerges (it creeps up without warning).
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Anyway another serious storyboard…
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