Tag Archive | apathy

Cynicism Has Had Its Day

A General disappointment with Charlie Brooker’s Yearly Roundup

For somebody who highly values Charlie Brooker’s contributions to a post-millennial-television-palette in continual-deterioration (and as somebody who tunes into his television programmes with an unexamined ritualism you’d expect in well-trained church goers) I have slowly had to face the truth that his weekly and yearly Screenwipes have become incredibly uninspiring. It left me thinking that cynicism about absolutely everything is the opposite of what we need or want right now, and I think this is why I found it so difficult to watch. When cynicism is the only response it quickly becomes very unintelligent, becoming no different from the rest of contemporary Television (which is the original reason so many viewers turn to the Screenwipe format for solace).

Maybe in the pre-2008-crash age, cynicism for its own sake had greater appeal. However, it now feels like a very poor joke that’s arrived way too late in the day – the same feeling that the arrival of a new white boy indie-rock band in the midst of ‘Cameron’s Britain’ (to quote Brooker) gives us. But am I guilty of cynicism? Of course I am – in many social environments where openly critical debate about the current state of affairs is implicitly frowned upon, cynicism is the only tool left in the bag.

The cynicism of the Yearly and Weekly Wipes has slowly eclipsed the subversive nature they once offered to the disenchanted media-frazzled subject. Of course, such a subject still tunes in – after all, the still-dominant position the Television Screens that Brooker still promises to wipe for us take in our living spaces means we still resort to them as surrogate guides at points of damaged self-awareness (such as around Christmas). But the feeling of relief that “someone actually sees things like I do” that Brooker’s dissections of television used to give us has vanished, it has for me anyway. I can can stand outside a pub at 11 o’clock with the marginalised smokers if all I want is somebody convincing me that “the world’s fucked, and there’s nothing you can do to change that”.

I thought the part given over to documentary-maker Adam Curtis was genuine food for thought. This section seemed to be on such a different wavelength that it seemed to belong to an entirely different type of program. Curtis speaks of a new form of political control systems emerging across globe with the intention “to undermine people’s perception of the world, so we never really know what is happening… a strategy of power that keeps any opposition confused. A ceaseless shape-shifting that is unstoppable because it is indefinable” (making George Orwell’s ideas of double-think look both prophetic and weak in comparison) meaning that “we as individuals feel powerless to change anything because we live in a state of confusion and uncertainty” Curtis’s conclusion is arguably just a different take on Gilles Deleuze’s conclusion on the emergence of Control Societies or even Sheldon Wolin’s notion of Inverted Totalitarianism, and it is certainly a pessimistic conclusion. But it didn’t just leave the viewer feeling “what’s the fucking point…?”. I’d argue it engaged the viewer in a way that makes them want to question and delve further more into the fabric of contemporary life, but the rest of the show seem to promote the very “oh dearism” that Adam Curtis was gravely warning us is the intended outcome for those subjected to this political control system he describes. In this light Screenwipe just became an example of what Curtis was diagnosing.

There is a growing social pool of discontent that turns to Screenwipe, hoping for populist coherent sense, that isn’t just wanting cynicism. It craves that which was present in his brilliant series How TV Ruined Your Life, and was maybe present in a Screewipe format that corresponded with a only-slightly-less fucked up Blair/Brown era. Thousands of (mainly) 18 – 30 year olds have found themselves, financially and existentially, with no option but to become politicised and both mentally and socially engaged in wrangling over how the world doesn’t (and shouldn’t) have to be the way it is. The yearly wipes dismiss this by ignoring this hidden-away labouring of collective souls, and instead gives us the fading-of-novelty-acts Philomena Cunk and Barry Shitpeas, who’s comedy-act-stupidity and naivety over current affairs, accidentally-on-purpose stumbles onto the faux-intellectual cynical-apathetic position – Screenwipe’s default position.

For example, the bringing down of Russell Brand with cynical-outlook–posed-as-stupidity opinions seemed utterly pointless, and showed a lack of will to engage with the important issues he at least brings to the limelight. Not everybody likes Russell Brand, but even those who charged him with the most heretical of sins of the opinionated – hypocrisy – cannot deny the energy he puts into his arguments for change in the world. Maybe this shouldn’t be expected, maybe the “everything’s just a mess, lets at least sit back and accept it” logic is the limit of this program. But, despite the possibility of Brooker merely ‘playing it safe’ within the increasingly restrictive and conservative cannon of the BBC, many people have come to expect more from him. This is because he has been genuinely subversive at times, and has also proved himself a brilliant social pulse-finder in certain comedy and drama show’s he’s helped create.

In a recent New Statesmen article, Will Self writes about the prophetic vision of the Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris co-creation, Nathan Barley: a brilliantly done satire on the rise of the hipster in the more fashionable alleyways of postmodern society, brilliantly summarised in the introductory prose ‘The Rise of The Idiots’. Even though Nathan Barley was made ten years ago, any suggestion that he is past it is completely debunked by the frighteningly contemporaneous dystopic comedy-drama Black Mirror. Nothing on television gets as close to visualising the dystopian tendencies of the present than this does. Perhaps this is the problem, Charlie Brooker has proven himself too intelligent and too disconcerted with the current state of affairs to be able to put out shows such as the 2014 editions of Screenwipe without causing mass, and deep-seated disappointment.

But, there again I am not critical of the man himself. I like him, and using the common logic of how things work in the era of Nigel Farage, I’d quite like to have a pint with him. I just that I don’t think the Screenwipe format has any real function anymore in a world saturated by clever cynicism, when what we need in the limelight is, dare I say it, hope, ‘or at least something to galvanise people. For example, I find Charlie Brooker far far funnier than Russell Brand will ever be, but as in the only bit worth watching from the Yearly Wipe – Adam Curtis’s conclusions on the apparatus’s of social control – we cannot deny the “long-night of humanity” that 2015 seems to heading further into, and detached armchair cynicism (which Screenwipe makes look desirable, as long as it’s done with ‘intelligent’ wit) seems utterly without pleasure never mind unhelpful. After-all, armchairs may soon be a ‘luxury’ of the past for many of us in the race-to-the-bottom-reality neoliberal fanaticism is putting us through.

However, I also know that it’s massively misguided to ask too much of an individual, and he (Charlie Brooker) knows this, and there have been times when this knowledge has resulted in brilliant television rather than mere cynicism. For me, the most intelligent summarising of both our current social reality and his own limitations as a mere human caught in the media machine is the Black Mirror episode he wrote called ’15 Million Credits. In a blog I wrote almost exactly a year ago, consisting of a similar foreboding for the then coming 2014, I said how it was “clear that the episode’s protagonist is a cipher for Charlie Brooker himself” – I believe this episode to be a sort of fictional autobiography “In ’15 Million Credits’ After the girl of the protagonist’s dreams has her soul destroyed in front of an X-factor-like-show panel (the crucible of the entire society – where the panellists begin to represent the judges in Stalinist-like show-trials) when they crush her hopes of being a singing and more or less force her into a choice between being a hardcore pornstar or having a miserable end to her days, the protagonist gets himself up in front of an entire population of a eerily-familiar dystopian society, to tell the X-Factor-like judges, and the rest of society, that it is all fucked up, and they are all fucked up, and fuck you all, whilst holding a shard of glass to the main vein in his neck. The judges outcome being: “this is surely the most heartfelt performance I’ve seen on here since Hotshot began! [to which to crowd goes wild]” and the protagonist ends up having a weekly televised slot shouting about how everything is fucked up, whilst living quite comfortably. This is obviously how Charlie Brooker sees himself; that his despair, and abjection, tinted with great wit, over the state of society, is destined to be merely another form of entertainment.”

I then wrote that “The thing is, as much as I enjoy and value Charlie Brooker’s contribution to popular culture, there are a hell of a lot of people who feel exactly the same way about society (hence his popularity), who aren’t sitting as comfortably as him; I.e. he’s one of the few of us fortunate enough to make a decent living for himself out his feelings of hopelessness and despair. This isn’t a criticism of him, by any means, it’s just observing that this escape route isn’t an option for the rest of us, and in 2013 [now 2015] it’s increasingly evident on peoples’ faces that their options are running out full stop.” .

I suppose the problem with Charlie Brooker in relation to the viewer is analogous to the problem of the Screenwipe derision of Russell Brand. The media/or the spectacle performs reality/the truth for us. We, as mere minions, are compelled to crave a voice that represents/and guides us within the high echelons of the media/spectacle. And rightfully so; because I am sure that within the current social reality, ‘going underground’, as in attempting to ignore the omnipotent media/spectacle, is impossible and thus a waste of increasingly valuable time. As theorist Mark Fisher argues in his K-Punk essay ‘Going Overground‘, the essential task is to try to take it back ‘genuine’ popular culture; saying that this platform in such a world cannot be dismissed, and should be treat as a crucial platform for politics (as his convincing arguments in his recent essay-filled book Ghosts of My Life convincingly argue). This is why, whether you like Russell Brand or not, as a person/TV show that has without doubt become a guide for the ‘against the grain’ need most of us have, for Charlie Brooker/Screenwipe to merely mock Russell Brand does nobody any good. Cynicism has had its day.

The Parasites of Pessimism

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Due to recent thoughts I felt the need to both reference and praise the artist/documentary-maker Patrick Keiller’s 1994 film London; a filmed about a journey through London, which forms a beautiful protest and desire for Justice in a time of loss of belief in a future

Patrick Keiller’s London

Although it should be a suggested alternative watch to Mind The Gap: London vs The Rest, the ‘documentary I criticised on here a week back, I am referring to it here largely due to recent concerns I have been sharing with friends that the Tories may somehow be reelected. This current government [the coalition by name, an unelected Tory coup by nature) thrive off apathy, our sense that there’s nothing we can do.The more apathetic we become, the more powerful they. They are parasites of pessimism.

I reject the idea that I am a pessimist: I am incensed with the injustice in the world/forced to look at what is happening to the world because I cannot stop caring. Pessimism is when you don’t care any more. I may focus on the what’s going wrong, rather than how things could be better, but this isn’t because I don’t care or desire for things to be better. My heart often feels like it is slowly turning to stone, but yet there still remains a utopianism within me.

Of those I’ve been speaking to we know our society well enough to understand why it may support something that can only maintain/enhance the silent miseries and frustrations; a resignation to all outside our family units and a bizarre fearful distrust in anything that could promise to make life better for us. Yet it remains baffling and relatively impossible to articulate why this happens. Yet this film uses a journey through London to almost map out a diagnosis of the illness stunting society. The real-felt consequences of the re-election of the Conservatives is well illustrated by the worried anticipations of the narrator and Robinson (whose life the art-documentary is based around) on the days surrounding the 1992 Tory reelection. Furthermore, I feel this description  that I have used below must be familiar to most of us in contemporary Britain, if we are honest with ourselves, regardless of how 2014 compares to 1992.

[pre-election] “I expected the [Tory] government would be narrowly defeated, but Robinson did not trust the opinion polls, which were in any case showing a last minute drift away from Labour…[post election]. It seemed there was no longer anything a Conservative government could do to vote it out of office. …[T]he middle class in England had continued to vote Conservative because in their miserable hearts they still believed it was in there interest to do so.”

[The expected consequences] “His [Robinson’s] flat would continue to deteriorate, and his rent increase; he would be intimidated by vandalism and petty crime; the bus service would get worse; there would be more traffic and noise pollution, and an increased risk in getting knocked down crossing the road; there would be more drunks, pissing in the street when he looked out of the window, and more children taking drugs on the stairs as he came home at night; his job we be at risk, and subjected to interference; his income would decrease; he would drink more, and less well; he would be ill more often; HE WOULD DIE SOONER” (London, Patrick Keiller, 1994)

I’m no defender of New Labour (I hate the small-minded arguments that try to pit the two parties together as being the full scope of possibilities of how our society could function), but I have definitely noticed many changes since 2010 (since the Tories got back into power), in the news, in the street, in my friends’ lives, in my life, that chime with the description above. The increase in cars on the road – as if somehow the increased psychological pressure of a more harsh, unforgiving, yet deliberately imposed reality onto people, has pushed us into using the form of transport most naturally at home with self-centredness – a pessimism reinforcing itself; as we no longer even dare contemplate the environmental consequences of this anymore. I am always expecting violence, self-inflicted and aimed at others; the nearby city of Sheffield seems to have had an increase of both homeless individuals; in my home town Barnsley, individuals evidentially being crushed by this imposed reality, due to the often-seen inability for rage to be controlled, whether it is aimed at others, or at themselves. I sometimes wonder whether we are a society of taught masochists wanting pain from the public school boy sadist-rulers. But there again, anybody who hasn’t become the ideal-functioning man-capital, must be wondering how much more they can hide from, and whether they will be in-front of the crusher sometime soon. How much can a “miserable heart” take, before it retaliates?

At ease, and uneasy about it

There’s certainly something that makes me feel very uneasy about being at ease with things in the year 2012, like I’ve accidentally pressed the snooze button on my wake-up-gotta-help-change-the-world alarm clock. With so much at stake, I’m walking around, still boozy from the previous night, too calm, way too calm, already in the storm and not even noticing it!

A weekly requirement has started to reveal its strange and disconcerting motives. An requirement that so many share, but which is so often not due to an addiction to alcohol. I can’t get through a week without heading out somewhere to intoxicate/semi-intoxicate myself at least once. But it isn’t so much the enjoyment of being drunk; there’s something more which this whole ‘heading out and getting drunk’ polava provides. Around the socially-dictated high point of the week (Friday evening to Saturday night), if I realise that I’m going to be stuck in on my own I feel massively discontent, no matter how little I want to go sit in a town centre Weatherspoons or Lloyds Bar. The weighty cultural suggestions around me send me into a text messaging frenzy, in aide of finding someone who’ll accompany me on a mission to relieve myself of this tension.

A few months ago I was partaking in an event (or more happening) in Sheffield which had links, due to a cohesion of objectives, with lots of other events going on around the same period. It was all very promising: the happening I was part of, named Pandemic (as in something all-inclusive, and something that can re-emerge at any time), is the antithesis of ‘the event’ as climatic conclusion of all previous hype. However, despite what was, or could be achieved, a day of such promising events never ever seemed to be fulfilled without the conclusive ‘mission complete’ feeling that a few (or many) drinks at the end of the day could provide (perhaps for myself more so). I was looking through photographs on Facebook of one of the linked events I couldn’t get to. The event sounded very interesting, yet most of the photo’s shown seemed to be of the ending part when people were drunk. Why do we need to have a certain degree of intoxication to feel that a day, which feels like it should be eventful, has been concluded?

Back to today, as I walk around a city centre after a reasonably heavy night, I feel relatively over-relaxed about things; I am not half as concerned about getting things done that I was so adamant about getting done the day before. I’ll just go go home, eat heartily, piss around on the Internet and then go to sleep. Now, this in itself is by no means a sin, but it is state of being that is poles apart from the me of yesterday who was so much in tune with his concerns. However, it was also true that yesterday I was certainly anticipating heading out to give myself an half-decent blasting with alcohol in the evening. A drug providing one with a conclusive feeling to a day that has supposed to have been (or suggested to you that it ought to be) eventful.

Whilst participating in this series of happenings in Sheffield, I mentioned about these photos from this other happening to a friend (and co-organiser of Pandemic). Not at all to be critical of the way it turned into a drunken occasion, but precisely putting the question to both of us as to why events seem to need this end from the participators. We more or less suggested that this conclusive feeling, the feeling that confirms to oneself that “things are now complete now I am drunk, I can go to sleep now, satisfied”, is a compensation for the inconclusiveness of events that are suggested to be the ends for the means themselves, and also, and more fundamentally, it is a compensation for the inconclusive and often seemingly meaningless end to a day in one’s life.

I will continue to argue that we live under a social system that has exacerbated so many social issues to the point of being critical, and I’d argue that this odd problem is ever-more critical in our present times when everything is hyped up to the extent that so much never feels adequate, like it neither ever fulfils nor even arrives. But when one lives in a time when they are encouraged, by the language of advertising and neoliberal society on a whole, to feel that they are supposed to be having fun or experiencing something (or at least making plans to do so) all the time, days can very quickly feel incomplete/inconclusive meanders, making them seem so meaningless and empty when they aren’t packed with life-affirmation. Does this have some relation to the so called “binge drinking” culture, we are suppose to be suffering with in Britain? Well, yes, completely: the intoxication brings a feeling of finalisation and conclusion to our days which demand this of us ever more. Perhaps binge drinking culture isn’t the right term though? maybe a conclusion-searching culture, a satisfaction-needy culture, or, more to the point, a desperately-grasping-for-meaning culture?

Once we have undergone this process, the sense of a finalisation to something comes over us, that is physically powerful enough to give a feeling of completion to the week that’s been (perhaps?.) This gives us a needed satisfaction; a sense of meaning, and allows us to make ‘new weeks’ resolutions’ (yes, the weekend is a smaller model of the Christmas/New Year period) to do exactly the same again, once we climb out of bed on Monday morning and become (re)drenched in the social system’s asks of us.

The alcohol-made satisfaction, and the hazy and tired feeling the day after, makes for citizens who don’t want for much, and don’t care for much but some at-hand comforts such as hearty food and easy-watching television. One becomes as close to being ‘zombiefied’ as they can get. Nothing stirs you as much as it should: News that private security firms are being invited to take on roles that the police usually do is an ‘alarm bell’ of a story for sure, but my alarms are muffled by the lethargy induced by the drink.; then there’s the news about Police and Security ‘services’ blacklisting individuals involved in industrial action against the government’s Draconian measures (although this information may have been purposefully disclosed, but made to look accidental, to scare people away from taking action against government measures in fear of losing all hope of finding work, thus It’s likely I ought to remain passive to this news!)

This is one of the few weekends I have had free for a while. I wanted to write a blog about how climate change has dangerously slipped from the public imagination, and that the belief that it isn’t happening (or at least that humanity isn’t causing it) has risen. But I’m here walking around a Late capitalist backpack destination (a large art gallery) finding much to feel secure and satisfied about (again, not sins in themselves). I know climate change is still the mother of all issues, but for some reason my alarm bell reserved solely for this issue seems to be ringing much quieter than usual. I hope I haven’t fallen for the general cultural lethargy towards this issue. This is why the weekly alcoholic anaesthetising is but a player within the larger societal structure that’s always doing its best to numb us to anything that doesn’t ring its loudest alarm bells. The economy? Yes. Growth? Yes Consumer Spending? Yes. But the gigantic monster awoken by capitalism (Climate Change)? No, forget it – not now people can’t afford to shop ‘greener’.

Too calm, way too calm!

I confidently reckon that Michael Stipe of R.E.M was alcoholically anaesthetised when he first wrote down his famous lyrics “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine”: something really bad is likely unfolding, is probably unfolding, but I feel way too snug to move and do anything about it. The threat of climate change isn’t directly linked to alcoholic anaesthetising, but as I say above it’s a player in a societal pressure on us to forget about anything outside the immediate gaze.

Wait, this is serious

With initially morbid consequences, climate change (climatic chaos) needs to be put back into the public imagination in the ominously sounding 2012. It needs to be seen as the bed fellow to capitalism, to show how much we need rid of both; a continuous connecting of the two, like the other unwanted coalition we have been forced into a battle to stop; the Con-Dem’s. With so much that demands critical and thorough thought and debate from many of us (if the 21st century isn’t going to be a more action packed and gory sequel to the 20Th century horror show), here in the UK we have a government with a brutally simplistic world-view (allowed for by the, as of yet, mega pampered ride upon this earth that most of them have had) whose stampede against democracy, and everything that requires consideration, reflects this. We have a ‘leader’ here in the UK who has come out against what he called “anti-business snobbery” seeping into national debate (which roughly translates as “people who are critical of capitalism being put before the needs of human beings”) saying with sheer fucking stupidity that business “is the most powerful force for social progress the world has ever known”.

But as stupid as this is and as anti-capitalist as I am, I wouldn’t try to deny it that capitalism has also enabled technology to advance at a pace unknowable before its appearance, and we need highly advanced technology to try to prevent the environmental crisis we have started from killing most of us off. Yet, I think we can still see the moon landings from over 40 years ago as the pinnacle of technological progress, and they are certainly the icon of that peak. I don’t mean by this that technology itself hasn’t advanced since then, but that the more ruthless (neoliberal/free market) capitalism pushed its way through during the decade following 1969, only to reel in more ambitious, and also more socially progressive ideas for technological use, into the palms of the global market, for pure commercial benefit, to which any claim that the resources and funds weren’t there for better usage can be refuted due to the rapid shift of resources/money into fewer and fewer hands during this period (and what a waste!) The technology is there to build a better world; capitalism may have helped it along, but the better world and capitalism cannot co-exist.

Yet we are still at a stage where the governments and mainstream media (those who get their words heard by majority more than anyone else) do everything within their means to convince us that anything but the continuation of capitalism is impossible. So, instead of getting started on tackling the issues that really matter, such as addressing increasing poverty (in all areas of the world), addressing increasing discontent (in all areas of the world), and addressing the huge environmental issues (in all areas of the world), all that is showered down on us is the need to get the economy (capitalism) growing again. We are kept passive to the other issues; even if in some cases we are already experiencing them ourselves, they still aren’t a big issue because the panic buttons in society aren’t going.

But it’s fast approaching a stage where it is taking everything and leaving nothing. This simplistic idea that “capitalism gives us things, that it provides us with decent lives” may have had some truth at the peak of its compromise with the welfare state, but it’s validity as a statement has been fading away since. But now it’s also close to taking a liveable planet away. Everything being taken away needs to be woven together into a cohesive rejection of capitalism, because bagaining with it to leave us at least something behind is very unlikely to work. Perhaps the crucial factor about the aforementioned news above about Police and Security ‘Services’ blacklisting workers involved in industrial action is that the government aim is to fragment groups, so as to pick them off one by one. It just made me think of how if the system reduces everything down to isolated incidents, which allows it (the system) be too massive to be in line for accusation, and how the reverse needs to be done to succesfully accuse it: weeving all the carnage left behind by it into one cohesive message saying “no more”.

Globalsapiens – a virtual tour

This was an exhibition buzzing with ideas. Hopefully will get to return to some of them again one day.
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GLOBALSAPIENS

Globalsapiens: an introduction to Parallel Paranoia, Humans In Cages and Silently Chained – the respective alternate names for artistic collective Mikk Murray, John Ledger and Jade Morris. Each artist has, at some point in life, stumbled across these titles and found them poetically fitting descriptions of their own predicament as young adults in the 21st century: tied to lifestyles that they know are destructive to the planet and most often self-destructive; struggling forwards from this, trying to find cracks in a hegemonic social landscape that drags humans toward an ultimate battle with nature that we are certain to lose.

Thus this show cannot be a means to an end for Globalsapiens: it has to be the start not the end; one of many ‘atoms for peace’, clustering together, always growing never standing still, until their shout is big enough to make one final stand against a world ruled by money. This exhibition aims to resonate with all those who care but feel trapped and helpless to make a change, and possibly then inspire them to believe that they need not feel trapped and helpless.

WHY GLOBALSAPIEN?

As a society, our actions, our expressions, our reactions, all show signs that we are aware of living in end times. Make no bones about it; no matter how much we talk about getting married, getting a house, settling down, we reek of a dying civilisation.

This exhaustion of everything in our merry-go-round swap between being the exploiter to the exploited has to end. Nobody can predict what ‘end’ we can expect, but we can guess what the prolongation of this current manmade nightmare will lead to. But we can also guess and hope; to hope that “surely this can’t be the end of the human story just yet…!” Grim resignation is dangerous; hope generates possibilities – but hope is sometimes hard for one to maintain.

Globalsapiens are artist’s who are desperately trying to find a way forward into a future worth living in. Our instinct is to express – we may not be the most pragmatic/practical people, but our contribution is a desperate attempt to realise a new way of living for the sake of the human race (sound self righteous? No: all species battle to maintain their existence). The time is right. Artists have no future in this old world, they must end their post idealist malaise/capitulation to the business mentality and join the cause to act now to make a future worth living in.

We felt aligned by a feeling that our artwork seems too driven, and too realmerely to be for exhibitions only – which often seem to just castrate it and make it nothing but mere consumer spectacle. This is a pressing concern that is played out within the show: we know that this is all our works may be, but we are still often driven by a powerful dream-boat of blind optimism that refers to the opposite, and seems to be generated by the ideological coding of the very system we are trying to help unwire. We want to help pave a way out of this bleak place our species (and the planet it has dragged down with it) has stumbled into, but we too often get too trapped in our minds to be/or do anything but what the system would happily have us be/doing – what keeps it thriving off human day-dreams and desires.

Nobody is in any place to preach. To resonate with others to generate in others. To alienate is to disintegrate. Let’s take the No Them, Only Us belief seriously again.

Human beings offer fundamentally special qualities to life on planet earth, and wherever else life may flourish. However, we are not better than the rest of life; if we were better we wouldn’t need it; but strip the life away from under our feet and we’d be dead before you could say the words ‘Easter Island’. Nevertheless, this is what out species is currently doing. But to say that we are a species of existential contradictions is to give up without even trying, and to let the idea of perpetual profiteering drag our eyes to the grey floor, where we watch our feet take one step at a time, in a potentially lethal small-world view. This exhibition wishes to contribute to the voices of reason in this time of collective insanity.

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Inside Humans In Cages’ isolated cell

Humans In Cages is feeling a little trapped, and without a vision of the future at present.”“The weekly ASDA shop likes this”

“The capitalist system still advances across the face of the planet, destroying the world that we depend on to survive, and pressing the boot further and further into our faces, as freedom/democracy become obstacles stood in the way which must also be destroyed. But here I languish; informed but passive; not knowing which foot to put in front of the other; so letting faint hopes of something better do the walking for me.

Here in my cell there will constantly remain the doubt that my artworks/artist shows may end up as nothing more than self-profiling within the capitalist dictatorship of individualism; the fetishisation of the self in the forced-competition of status advancement, based on the ultimatum of prosperity and a terror of failure. Thus, everything I have done within my isolated little world sometimes feels so counterproductive: that the truth may be that I am simply bolstering the realism of a system my work fundamentally opposes in its messages, by seeking recognition, and respect from it, for my individual endeavours.

 The cell contains the informed but passive self, critical but tangled in a knot of unwillingness and inability to step out of the capitalist version of reality. Most of the time I see no light at the end of the tunnel, and it has been said by many contemporary thinkers that ‘it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is the end of capitalism’. But, now and again, there is a glimmer of something outside the cell; a crack through the screen of this ever-deteriorating normality.
 
Outside the cell, you will find traces of both what once was but was sectioned and boxed away, and what still just might have a possibility of re-emerging. A creativity that has no means to an end, but is perpetual/part of something moving. Even the creation of the videos in this exhibition reminded me of the act of being healthily spontaneously creative before the pressures of business objectives, and wage necessities in the latter and post-education years constrained me to (if I’m not careful) an ever-tightening ‘specialisation’, which could be described as an alienated endeavour, with the opinion of how the world will rate me amongst others always harpooning genuine concerns in my mind.
 
But this is only one side of the truth. The other side being that making these art works has been the most accessible and direct way of expressing concerns and wants for something massively more than just a hand up the status ladder, for years now, and is, actually possibly the only bringer of confidence to my self which has allowed this voice to be heard at all in the first place. It is the most accessible and direct way of expressing them. So, as well as this critical distance to the possible futility of making works for show in a late capitalist society, I still have hope that the messages in them can help change things, if not, I lose my only present voice.

I’ll do my best, but it’s hard trying to stop an exhibition become a means to an end from whereworking towards one final goal, (as anyone who as put on a major show will resonate with) leads to anti-climax, depression and a defeated-slump straight back into the realism of capitalism – to start right back at the beginning, but with less time than before.”

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Achieving And Getting Things Done (installation)

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I Want None of This (2147x4000)

Inside Silently Chained’s isolated cell

They all smiled gingerly and meekly.
Had they simply forgotten, or had they never known anyway? I guess it is neither.
They’re neither alive nor gone.
Not until the hour of the moon crosses the path of the sun.
Then they will know, and they will realise, what they had known all along.
But for now, it is too late. Too late. Too late?

Inside Parallel Paranoia’s isolated cell

This painting (above) is from a series of works called Where have all the bees gone? Where a parallel universe was created to highlight the importance of bees to the ecosystem and our food supply. Without the bees that pollinate roughly a third of our food crops there would be less food around. The chain reaction could be devastating to the human race and all life on Earth. The disappearance and death of bees or Colony Collapse Dissorder (CCD) as it is somethimes known is puzzling scientists and researchers still with mites and pesticides being the main concerns.

In the parallel universe the bees have been lured into a lab by a mad scientist and experiments have taken place. For some reason the scientist becomes psychically connect to the bees and finds they will do as he wishes. The scientist sets about creating his own Utopian vision. Using the soldier bees to hold the planet under siege and turn things around. Food, shelter and equality for all. Harmony with all living creatures and the landscape the ultimate goal. Organic produce, waste reduction, ocean cleanups, knowledge and wisdom passed on to all. The trouble was the scientist did such a great job that he became some sort of a celebrity. A leader and ultimately was devoured by power and greed. Alan is a dog and he spends most of his time walking around in his horse suit. Alan is the mad scientist’s best friend. The horse suit is an extension of Alan and his status/power and also the scientist’s eccentricity. The portrait of Alan was painted by Mikk for the Scientist in 2027. “I didn’t have a choice!” he said.

Outside the cells. What’s happening out here?

Many of our endeavours are maintained by reliance on oil. Many of our endeavours are purely narcissistic – taught by the system to be so. Reflecting on this can sometimes make one see their own ‘achievements’ in a very different light. And is it really that precious? (this piece was once used in a Seawhite Of Brighton arts suppliers brochure, not black gooey paint, with a look of oil about it, drips down it).

Parallel Paranioa is in the process of filling up a paddling pool with needless consumer plastic waste. In another water filled area (The Pacific Ocean) a floating island of plastic trash twice the size of Texas is currently existing.

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Pandemic-Sheffield! Plague breaks out!!!

Note from self outside the cell to self inside the cell…

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The Bretton Woods conference 2011
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In the summer of 1944 delegates from 44 countries met in the midst of World War 2 to reshape the world’s financial system. The location of the meeting – in rural Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA – was designed to ensure that the delegates would have no distractions, and no pressure from lobbyists or congressmen, as they worked on their plans for post-war reconstruction. The New Hampshire Bretton Woods is part of a land grant made in 1772 by royal governor John Wentworth, which he named after his ancestral home (West) Bretton, in Yorkshire, England.

In the summer of 2011, Globalsapiens met in the midst of a global meltdown (financially, environmentally and socially) to throw around their own ideas of making a better world, with changes being needed now more than ever – A HUGE ALTERATION IS NEEDED. The location of the meeting – In rural Bretton woods in West Bretton, Yorkshire, England – is a symbolic gesture: the USA Bretton woods conference reshaped the world after the war, to prevent the problems (financial crisis’s for example) which led to the war; shaping the world for the past 60+ years, and beginning global capitalism as we know it today.

We need a Bretton woods conference now! Not to reinstate capitalism but to figure out how we can move beyond it. The sources of power whom we would usually assign these tasks to have gone insane; a systemic press-ganging on anything which tries to halt the forces of big business – which leaves this conference to people assumed-powerless like us (Globalsapiens). In this mock-version of an all-important conference, we will speak about, and demand a better world; suggesting, through the thoughts and words they never speak, both what these all-important meetings should really be about, and also emphasising what is more important; assigning the decision making to the assumed-powerless.

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Waking up and staying awake has never been easy….
dead end…

what next?…………