Archive | June 2013

The Barnsley Artwalk 2013 (Thursday 27th/Friday 28th June 2013)

Next week I will have works featured in an Open Northern Young Artists exhibition, Redbrook, as part of the Barnsley artwalk 2013, the first of its kind (to my knowledge) in the borough to date. A (art)bus service will transport visitors between Redbrook and Barnsley town centre. For more information visit http://www.alternativebarnsley.com/

Below is a map and list of places featured on the artwalk, which I have taken from the Alternative Barnsley site

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Key to Barnsley Art Walk 2013 Map

1 NUM Statue. 1993. Victoria Road

2 Barnsley College Art Show July 2nd to 5th Tel: 01226 216216; Email info@barnsley.ac.uk; www.barnsley.ac.uk Old Mill Lane.

3 Dickie Bird Statue. Artist Graham Ibbeson. 2009. Church Lane.

4 Tree Sculpture. Churchfields. Created by Bryan Proctor in 2010 using a diseased tree. Funded by Residents’ Association project.

5 Cooper Gallery 10am to 4.00pm for exhibitions. Tel: 01226 242905; Email coopergallery@barnsley.gov.uk. Church Street.

6 University Campus Barnsley 27/28 June 4 to 7pm Ceramics by Artist in Residence Steve Ellis, permanent exhibition Voices in the Stone with photographs by Chris Sedgwick. Tel: 01226 606262; Email barnsley@hud.ac.uk; www.hud.ac.uk/barnsley Church Street.

7 Experience Barnsley Museum. Tel 01226 773950; Email experiencebarnsley@barnsley.gov.uk. Barnsley Town Hall.

8 “Crossing (Vertical)” by Nigel Hall 2006. On loan from Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Town Hall community square and gardens.

9 Lamproom Theatre – Permanent exhibition in the bar area of theatrical posters and plates from years of productions. Tel: 01226 200075; Email enquiries@barnsleylamproom.com; http://www.barnsleylamproom.com. Westgate

10 The Civic Graduate Art Show (31 Degrees) 2013. Tel 01226 327000; Email enquiries@barnsleycivic.co.uk; http://www.barnsleycivic.co.uk. Hanson Street

11 “Create” project at Joseph Bramah 27/28 June – 4 to 7pm. Come and get involved and add your ideas to the mural, all ages welcome. Market Hill.

12 Barnsley Building Society 150th Anniversary – Graham Ibbeson relief sculpture 2003. Cheapside.

13 Graffiti Wall 2013. Albert Street

14 Child sculpture. Kenny Hunter 2012. 6m high. Symbolising the past and future of the town. The column represents the Barnsley coal seam. Interchange.

15 Digital Media Centre. 01226 720700; Email dmc@oxin.co.uk; www.barnsleydmc.co.uk County Way.

16 27/28 June – Art Bus to Northern Young Artists exhibition at Redbrook Business Park. Departs every 30 minutes from 4.00pm, last buses 6.30pm from College, 7.00pm return. Huddersfield Road”

London 18/19th June 2013: a quick recuperation of points of interest (and lack of)

I get it, but always forget it.

2:30pm, New Cross, 18/6/13. Back in South East London. But it doesn’t feel like I’m back in London. Yes, South East London’s atmosphere, look and attitude seem far removed from the areas seen as quintessentially London (North and West London), and New Cross often feels more familiar to those raised near Northern English cities, because it has a look of industrial decline to it. But this doesn’t account for why it doesn’t feel I’ve arrived 200 miles south of where I live! 

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It’s interesting to observe, when you return to a place that you once spent a certain time-span in, how we experience time in a very non-linear way; that, when you return to a given place after a lengthy gap, all periods of this reality seem to merge together seamlessly, as if every geographical space was instead a reality that you can just simply walk back into. Like time/space can be moved around, cut and pasted with a simplicity of editing tracks on a modern sound recording computer program.

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London, and especially New Cross now feels like one of a number of stage sets that make up the entirety of my mind, as if it were a building with different apartments/levels in. I don’t really mean ‘stage set’ in a sense that it feels like a simulation, that is, a place made Hyperreal; what I actually mean is that my mind is made of the many places, social and geographical spaces, that I can seemingly moved in and out of without really moving through time and space. Stage set as in the scene ends abruptly once I step out of the familiar zone.

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This sensation can often be quite discomforting, as it makes that task of keeping a grip on a reality that we know we must understand and abide by survive feel like trying to walk in a straight line whilst very intoxicated. 4pm, 18/6/2013, New Cross, the A2 trunk road. There’s noise volume and there’s noise volume. When I say that a road is noisy in Yorkshire, and that I can frequently hear Emergency service sirens, the words have much less weight to them than if I was to say the same whilst sat outside a cafe next to this section of the A2 trunk road that connects London to Dover.

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.The intensity of the noise volume here may be comparable to putting your ears next to a functioning pneumatic drill. The city is itself one big factory, even just through the likelihood that the noise volume damages one’s hearing like the old steel and cotton mills used to, before this world left the shores of these Islands in search for workers who could be paid less. Is it just a fitting analogy to conclude that with the internalisation of power during the final 3rd of the past 100 years (so that obedience to the designs placed on us by the system appear to emanate from ourselves), work itself has externalised/deteritorialised and spread itself onto everything, as public space (with the aid of the gradual increase of road traffic during the same period) has diminished under neoliberal privatisation logic? Thus the road is the factory; as are we.
7pm, Deptford. It often feels like London has stolen the Lion’s share of young adults (roughly aged between 20 to 35 years) from the rest of country (and other countries), leaving the remaining young adults to be massively outnumbered by other age groups, like Robinson Crusoes, shipwrecked, waiting to be rescued by a crew made up of people their own age.
And what exactly does London do to these people, once they enter this over-active stomach of humanity? Well, it seems to suck these ‘best years’ out of many, using up their youthful energies to fuel the ever increasingly flow of capital, that thrives on young naive juices; spitting them out, withered, pessimistic, faces old before their time (not the bodies; these are dutifully kept in trim), from where they discard themselves (like intelligent used crisp packets) on their home towns, settle down into the type of anti-social, middle England quagmire that breeds conservative thinking, and Fleet street Newspapers. …Just a thought, mind.

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10am, Crossing London Bridge, 19/6/13. I don’t dream any more. I have no investment in a graceful coming into being, I just get pissed up. It wouldn’t be so bad if drink didn’t act like chloroform on my constructive anger and scrutinising; the only things left for one who no longer dreams.

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10:30pm Central London, walking towards St Paul’s, 19/6/13. Seen as much discussion yesterday was over the internalisation of power (meaning systematic means for dominance work at a ‘neurophysical’ level), debating whether this is what the philosopher Michel Foucault specifically saw as biopower, I was now observing the more manicured, sleek/toned human being of the busy city districts through a biopolitical lens. There’s seemingly a connection between the importance of a geographical area to capital flows/their semiotic gravitational pull (as in their importance in the network of signs/information saturating society with capitalist dreams) and the pressure placed on human beings synchronised to these spaces to be ‘physically perfect’, because you cannot have success without being so within this current stage of capitalism.
As if a military fitness instructor is buried inside of me, out of view, I respond to the sight of seeing others who, to my eyes, are signifiers of ‘the beautiful people’, by tensing my muscles, grinding my stomach muscles, unconsciously trying to adapt, not the ‘the norm’, but to the expected/the accepted. Yes, this is an idiosyncratic reaction, but it has its cause in a culture-wide phenomenon.

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The internalisation of power doesn’t just mean that we are obeying codes to the benefit of the reproduction of capitalist relations the other side of our skin, it also means the automatic obeying of codes to the benefit of capitalist relations this side (I prod my stomach) of our skin; the ideal body, lifestyle, fashion, to adapt to social groups that are beneficial to this reproduction.

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Last Saturday I went to see a collaborative sound and video performance (two of the musicians were friends of mine) in Sheffield. The music was pure noise, machine-like, industrial and post-industrial. Picture then how this was juxtaposed with fitness videos, all VHS videos from the exuberant ‘new economy’ geist of the 1990’s. In the context of sounds that had a sinister tone, certainly a world away from the music from ITV’s Good Morning Television, the infamous fitness classes by ITV’S Mr Motivator look, if anything, totalitarian. Figures on our screens demanding that we follow their lead, and keep ourselves trim and healthy, a visual that here began to look scarily like the compulsory exercises 1984’s protagonist Winston Smith, and all the other constantly surveilled population of Airstrip 1 do every morning, whilst the gym teacher watches them on an all-seeing screen (1984, George Orwell).

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For whom are we keeping ourselves as ‘perfect specimens’ for? For power, for it’s reproduction of course. Power in Orwell’s 1984 and power in Mr Motivator’s (I’m using him as an exemplar) world function quite differently. Mr Motivator doesn’t make us do exercises through the promise of punishment if we don’t (Winston Smith is literally forced to join in with the exercise). Yes, Orwell’s 1984 did pick on power’s ability to invade our minds to control how we think, and although this was already occurring to some extent with the rise of nation state power in the early 20th century, 1984 was still ahead of its time. However, it was also a product of its time, and largely deals with the power’s dominant form in the first two thirds of the last century: external dominance, what Foucault called the ‘Discipline and Punishment’ society, where, using the architectural example of the panopticon (a structure built to allow total surveillance over the ‘inmate’s  to maintain order and control) showed how obedience to the codes beneficial to social reproduction worked.

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Mr Motivator, and his gang of flexible and toned young female adults, aren’t literally forcing us to to join his exercise regime, but we have, instead, an anxious feeling informing us that we really should do so! That, if we don’t join Mr Motivator, we should at least do something else to help us maintain a socially accepted human body. What was so scary whilst watching these videos under dark electronic noise waves, was realising the finesse of a totalitarian force that doesn’t need to shout at us and tell us what it will do to us if we don’t comply, because it’s already inside of us; it is part of us. Despite the increase of state/corporate surveillance in society, we don’t need to be watched to comply with the codes.

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But with 24 hour media making examples of the ‘best choices’ of how to live our lives (which are then internally digested into orders), thus bombarding us with a world of people, moving so fast that they begin to look like they aren’t moving, but are static/solidified into perfection, well isn’t it obvious why cases of psychological disorders relating to the body and obsessive compulsive disorders continue to rise? Isn’t this the malfunction of the human, unable to keep up with (or figure out) biopower’s ‘requirements’ of them?

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11:am, walk past St Paul’s Cathedral 19/6/13. “So What?!” I thought. I initially feel like a bit of a dead soul after I think this, because it is a self-defence mechanism against a discomfort due to being unable to find any emotional investment/intrigue in places deemed to be very important/iconic/”must see!” places. Whether it’s Victorian, Medieval, Roman or Dinosaur bone, it all leaves me with one overriding sensation; the awareness of my general indifference.

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But I have seen these buildings and famous streets countless times on Newspapers, Television and cinemas and train station billboards so many times that by the time I am stood in a place where I can view them with my own eyes, they don’t even seem real, and certainly don’t seem more important than another photograph of the place. It remains a picture, yet a picture my culture expects me to be moved by far more than any of the other pictures (this is why I have so little energy for traveling to destinations). I remember going past the Houses of Parliament on a bus last year and observing our unreal they looked; like I was looking at a photo or a model of the building, seeming no more of a genuine article than the photo masks of Kate Middleton in the tourist shop across the road.

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Of course, this is this hyperreal, where references to the original become more than the original, which ceases to exist because it is seen as just another reference to itself.  The philosopher Jean Baudrillard has already brought the concept of Hyperreal, but it is a process that still needs our full attention today because there is a continual process underway erasing the original ‘real world’ from which replicas must draw on. 30 minutes later I was walking past Westminster Cathedral, traffic islands were full of tourists with cameras taking more images. I just thought, “oh dear, the world is being made less real by the second” Every photo pumps a little more of the residues of an original away from its origin, until nothing but references to references can exist.

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Tourism and holidays often seem all so worthless to me, a feeling I struggle to ignore when ever I do these things. I’m no ‘killjoy’; I want to be happy, be fulfilled without the usual substitute for satisfaction, alcohol (or intense scrutinising/analysing of things – which usually tires one out, leading them again to a slight need for drink). But I just struggle to experience. I struggle to be convinced that others do when they tell me they do; often wondering whether in our times we just instantaneously reference the feelings of joy and satisfaction, rather than actually experiencing them. Is it not the most uncomfortable feeling when something truly upsetting has happened involving yourself and all you can think is that you’re referring a tragedy or series of tragedies you’ve seen references to before?

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11:20 am. Look out onto the Thames. There seems to be a crazy amount of skyscraper development along the Thames right now. Yes, buildings are always doomed to be in a cycle of construction and demolition, but the amount of concrete skeletons and cranes occupying the London skyline right now must surely not have been since the postwar construction boom. I can’t help thinking about something I heard once about how civilisations/or ruling system’s build some of their most pompously grand and powerful-looking architecture on the brink on their collapse. Is this a view one of extreme cultural denial then? That the dominant ideology is doing what most of us are individually doing; trying to cancel out the doubt that this whole way of life and the dreams that sustain it are about to collapse in on themselves, by believing in those dreams and this way of life more defiantly.