Tag Archive | sheffield

Final Day – 2016

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December 30 2016. I sit in The Retro Bar at The End of The Universe, this time in Sheffield.- it’s focal point the kind of jukebox that gives you performance anxiety (nobody dare choose the ‘wrong song’ at the end of known world). Iconic rave-era track Voodoo Ray plays out, followed by The Buzzcocks’ Ever Fallen in Love. Apparitions of a sunshine, of a world alive, in the deep autumn of our social reality, our civilisation…our world.

2017 looms like a year that threatens to make us remember it. After all, the consistency of 2016 has been akin to a pea soup (a liquid mush aided by smart-tech dependency) with no taste left to it at all. Yet it was the only meal left on the menu.

2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, and who could argue that this moment hasn’t shaped and scarred all imagine futures more than any other? If you can still dream whilst a 20th century deja vu affect haunts every move you make, then you may well be able to help us out of this mess.”

“For if it’s the end of history. It’s frozen and still. There is no other pill to take……”.

After the slow unravelling of the symbolic structure in 2016, will 2017 see a violent regurgitation of the pill ‘….that made us ill’?

I actually smirked when George Michael died. Not a ‘lol’, but a wankerish and smug ‘I told you so’ kind of grin. And before an emotional cyber-lynch mob hunt me down, let me stress that the smirk over his Xmas day death wasn’t because a human being had died, but was due to the fact that this day is usually one for ignoring the pain of the present and indulging in a day that is supposed to remain immune from history – acting out of time. Yet this year there was too much to remind us of the permanent ebb of the present.

And it’s not coming back…

As harsh as this will sound, maybe what is really upsetting us isn’t that too many celebrities have died in 2016, but that too few celebrities died? We want to end this terminal illness that defines these times, and maybe that can only happen when all the remaining figureheads of our 100 year old love affair with the consumer spectacle die? Perhaps we subconsciously want queen Elizabeth to pop her cloggs before the year is out; for Ringo and Paul to go, leaving no more heartbeats in the Beatles?

Or if that is an overly audacious expectation/wish (a wish for all to be longing for an end point to this decaying culture),  I wonder whether we at some level are surprised that the figureheads we lost in 2016 were still actually bloody alive in this body-wastage-stage of late capitalism! As we seem to have noted their passing in the way we would note the dying out of a family lineage, surprised that some old relative is still alive. And this is for good reason.

A recent article by George Monbiot talks about how celebrity serves as the familiar human face to an impersonal and rapacious machine. These familiar famous faces both distract us from our deep-seated alienation, and lessen the pain it causes. Now, these postwar icons may have been a challenge to the paradigms of the status quo’s of yesteryear, but they were still always components of the ideological superstructure. This isn’t to discredit their art,  and the shimmers of potential futures that may have laid within it, but is to basically say that you can’t be both famous and remain outside the consumer spectacle.

But they are not being replaced!

Monbiot I sense, had in mind more the present day figureheads. All the ‘new’ celebrities are not new at all; they are so flat that they may as well be holograms of those from the 20th century. Perhaps the dying off of the iconic figurehads is so sore because we are losing any trace of the familiar beyond our own online avitars, and nothing to alleviate the effects of deep-seated alienation.

Left with nothing but our own reflections

We lost our MEMES this year!” reads a text message, sent from John Wright, jestfully summing up the year that’s been.

Sat in the pub, I am joined by friends Bek and Ben. We discuss MEMES. Partly because we ask ourselves what is funny in 2016? Ben talks of how comedy has actually been replaced by the MEMES that crop up on feeds we access in loneliness. Their focus on the situational, Ben suggests, give us a connection point with other people seeing them in loneliness. We ‘lol’ due to thinking others are ‘lolling’ at the same time – as MEMES aren’t really that funny at all.

The meme quotes are so 21st-century-everyday that we can all relate to them. They largely use imagery from film and TV from another time. Most important is that memes are dead objects – all we have for comedy and icons is dead objects. The evident break up of global political certainty, and the continuation of dreadful situations around the Middle East and the Mediterranean, is felt more sorely because all we have is the past. Perhaps within the passing of these figureheads, we feel the anguish of lacking the tools to act on the present.

I repeat that, within the symbolic power of the death of icons that represented a century, there may appear the space for something new. But although we have nothing to lose from the dead world, the potential nightmares that may well be unfolding onto it threaten to make life unbearable.

But when the figureheads abandon us to a godless barbarism of a capitalism doing its best to survive by any means, how much longer can we inhale the air of a zeitgeist of disbelief  (a term I came up with to describe a present day that was brilliantly pieced tougether in Adam Curtis’s recent documentary Hypernormalisation)? My depressed idealism scours the landscape for signs that a social spirit, so dejected and broken up, reacts violently against that process.

Violence being the important word, as I don’t want to imagine that a major revolt can only occur when the economic and political circumstances become that desperate for the majority they no longer have a choice but for violent revolt – as history has shown us that such circumstances usually create oppressors our of the liberators.

But history is now the important word. As the sheer bulk of historical awareness, even if in soundbite form, that rests on today’s hyperconnected generations, does sometimes appear to be not only what is making us feel so “stuck”, but is also making us unwilling to undertake acts that could ape the acts of historical violence that many of us are reminded of daily on our news feeds.

Enough people are already suffering (the army of homeless is proliferating on the streets of the cities of this so-called ‘developed’ country). enough people lack any clear idea of a future, and, although all are connected, enough people are mentally sick of the state of affairs that there is surely still room for optimism for imminent forces for change? Maybe there is room for optimism, even under Trump’s cock waving nuclear threats, that a transition can be made to something beyond the capitalist scarcity model, without a decimated global population? History in the 21st century has locked us in a depressive view of ‘human nature’ but it has also made us acutely aware of that which we should never let happen again. But what we still lack is what to do next…

 

JD Taylor – Island Story: Journeys Through Unfamiliar Britain

 

I’ve finally finished reading JD Taylor’s brick of a book ‘Island Story: Journeys Through Unfamiliar Britain’ published by Repeater Books. Admittedly I missed most of the section on Scotland, due to a large pen leak defacing most of the section – but there again, being a visual artist, who carries everything he needs even when he makes a short journey means rucksack spillages happen against best intentions. But I read most of this 450 page brick (although it’s probably more fitting to liken it to a piece of sedimentary stone, carbon dated to the British Isles in the second decade of the 21st century), and although it’s a large book, it’s pleasurable reading.

I started following JD Taylor’s blog after taking an interest reading his 2012 book ‘Negative Capitalism’, published by Zero Books. In 2014 I realised he’d been undertaking the sort of project that had become close to my heart in the last few years: assessing the social spirit of the times by traveling the land, and getting close as possible sense of what it feels like to live in the towns and cities of this country. I caught up with the blog literally just after he had posted about traveling through the area from where I was reading the post! And I was intrigued by what he was saying from then onwards.

JD Taylor didn’t go around the Island telling folk what was and wasn’t, he actually listened to what they had to say. Listening isn’t an easy thing to do, and I’m as bad as the next person for making interruptions before somebody has finished a sentence.  I don’t think it’s ever been easy to sit down and let somebody else explain how they see and feel about the world, but certainly not in times where there is an intense social pressure to compete against each other for economic survival. Listening thus requires our want for empathy to win over our gut feelings to get our opinion over before others can. But for those wishing for a future beyond the current inertia, telling rather than listening possibly entrenches the necessary one-upmanship of a social model based around scarcity.

I asked JD Taylor to come speak at a recent art and film project I was involved in undertaking. ‘Fighting For Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain)’ was somewhat a response to being asked to show my artwork in the Wakefield Labour Club (commonly known as ‘The Redshed’) as part of its 50th anniversary events. I’m not in the habit of carelessly flinging works up on walls, and I was keen to do something that spoke of the political mood and social spirit of these times, to contrast with what my friend, and Redshed stalwart, Sandra Huthinson, said was the spirit of 1966; one of political optimism, in spite of the troubles in the world. Taylor seemed not only to speak for the same generation as my own, but I thought his findings upon the roads of this island were closely in tune with the aims of our project. I’ve never asked a writer to speak at an event before so it was an initially daunting task, but thankfully Taylor seemed more than happy to take part, and it became part of a larger tour promoting his book.

Within the island-round journey taken his book unearths forgotten uprisings to challenge the assumption that our collective story is one of putting up and shutting up. There’s a disconnect between Here and There, that seems to become an Us and Them. As a northerner there’s a tendency think we are the worst treat by the powers that be, with the locus being London. This isn’t an unreasonable feeling, especially when looking at the half-century’s worth of diabolical infrastructural neglect over this region. But it’s not necessarily true, and Taylor’s accounts of Kent, as he comes to the end of his travels, leave me quite moved. As it seems that many of the people populating a county most think of as England’s green and pleasant land are as struggling and confused as anywhere else on the island – possibly even more so due to lacking a strength through identity that still gives many in other regions spoons full of spirit every now and then.

The overall conclusion in Island Story is a sense of confusion but mostly defeat. I think he’s on the pulse when saying “young people are worst affected by the peculiar “nowhereness” of the moment” – I’ve heard this misdirected into a sense of personal failure in many who were traveling through their teens and twenties especially since the financial crash. However, the conclusion is not one of eternal defeat.  Aren’t many of us more punch-drunk optimists than pessimists? One section of his conclusion particularly stirs my damaged optimism. Taylor says that

“this sense of inertia and in-betweeness suggests the accruement of desiring energies around the block. Gathering force yet unable to release, time is slowing into one interminable moment before the extraordinary happens, what few considered possible even a few moments before.”

Whether this is a good sum up of this great book, or more of a means of thanking  JD Taylor for speaking at our Fighting For Crumbs event, I’d strongly recommend this book to both my like-minded friends, and my not-so-like-minded friends – after all, the conclusion I hope the book gives you is that wherever we are we all more or less desire and worry about the same things in life.

 

 

Fighting for Crumbs (Art in the Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) – Video Documentary.

This is our video documentary, crafted and produced by Connor Matheson/DEADIDEA Productions. It accompanied our recent exhibition. Please take a look.

Thank you for everybody who contributed to our crowdfunder earlier in the year.

12.08.2016. Performance and poetry@Fighting For Crumbs

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On Friday 12 Aug from 6:30pm on-wards we’ll be having a performance and poetry event, alongside a last chance to see The Fighting For Crumbs exhibition

Nick Kilby

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Artist Nick Kilby will be breaking his two year performance fast to put something together for the Fighting For Crumbs event on August 12th at the Gage Gallery in Sheffield, located inside KIAC, Sheffield, S3 8DB. 6:30 – 9pm

‘”To the 330’ is a noise/aktion blood hex against an occupying administration. Be fun to see some of y’all. There will be no milk x”

 

Jeff Jethro Platts

Jeff is a singer with Parson’s Lot and CAMBODiA, a writer, performer, activist, campaigner, ex miner, ex many things.

 

follow our events page on facebook to keep up to date. https://www.facebook.com/events/1766943633588740/permalink/1777196522563451

6:30-9pm, Gage Gallery. The Lions Works, 40 Ball St, Sheffield S3 8DB

 

 

Friday 12 August. Fighting For Crumbs – Poetry and performance night

On Friday 12 August as part of Fighting For Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) there will be performance and poetry within our exhibition at Gage Gallery, Sheffield, starting at 6:30 and running until 9pm.

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Artist Nick Kilby will be breaking his two year performance fast to put something together for the Fighting For Crumbs event on August 12th at the Gage Gallery in Sheffield, located inside KIAC, Sheffield, S3 8DB. 6:30 – 9pm

‘”To the 330’ is a noise/aktion blood hex against an occupying administration. Be fun to see some of y’all. There will be no milk x”

Our poets and poetry readings are yet to be confirmed, but follow our events page on facebook to keep up to date. https://www.facebook.com/events/1766943633588740/permalink/1777196522563451/

A Grief That’s Been Gagged and Buried (2016)

A Grief That’s Been Gagged and Buried (2016, mixed media on A3)

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I don’t know when you could say such a time began (maybe at some point during the past decade or even earlier?), but I sense we are overdue some grieving time. And that’s because our civilisation (specifically our faith in a capitalist model – one based on exponential growth – to bring well-being and prosperity) has died. Grief is a natural process in order that we can rehabilitate so as to move on to the next stage of life, but it has been emphatically denied us. Its existence has been denied, and the denial has been played out in a turbo-charging forwards with the persistence of now-dead beliefs. And look at the pain that it is causing; to be forced to work harder for something deep down we know is not only going nowhere, but is in a process of perpetual deterioration. It has made knowing-zombies out us, an anxious-undead, clutching our Iphones, trying to climb out of the daily dread. But it has to give-way at some point. More and more of us are suffering under the psychological strain of knowing we will have to work harder and harder for diminishing returns from a dead/dying system, and all around you can see people cracking up. Nobody knows what this outcome will finally lead to, but there is potential for a rebuilding, not so much physically, but culturally. However, right now we are in need of an healing process.

This work will feature in the Wakefield Redshed section of Fighting For Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain

Fighting For Crumbs (Art in the Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) is a group of artists from Yorkshire working amidst the after-effects of Austerity Britain 2.0.

The project was inspired by the film ‘Invisible Britain’ (based on the work of Sleaford Mods) that looks at overlooked UK towns and cities, and motivated by a request to contribute to the 50th anniversary celebrations of ‘The RedShed’ (Wakefield Labour Club). The event is based in Sheffield and Wakefield and explores the position of art, and artists, in a period when we are all being pressured to ‘strive’ for crumbs – a time when wages are low, and the market dictates creativity

Gage Gallery, Ball Street, Sheffield, S3 8DB

Monday 8 August: Opening night. 6:30 – 9pm
Friday 12 August. Music and poetry night. 6:30 – 9 pm
11-4pm

The Redshed, 18 Vicarage St S, Wakefield WF1 1QX

Saturday 13 August. 1Pm onwards. Film-viewing, and talk by JD Taylor
Normal gallery opening times: 8 August – 13 August, 7-11pm (call 01924215626 to check room is not in use).

YOUR Freedom (2016)

YOUR Freedom (95X125cm, mixed media on paper, 2016)

‘YOUR Freedom’ is my latest work, and will feature in the Wakefield Redshed part of the group show Fighting For Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain).

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Fighting For Crumbs (Art in the Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) is a group of artists from Yorkshire working amidst the after-effects of Austerity Britain 2.0.

The project was inspired by the film ‘Invisible Britain’ (based on the work of Sleaford Mods) that looks at overlooked UK towns and cities, and motivated by a request to contribute to the 50th anniversary celebrations of ‘The RedShed’ (Wakefield Labour Club). The event is based in Sheffield and Wakefield and explores the position of art, and artists, in a period when we are all being pressured to ‘strive’ for crumbs – a time when wages are low, and the market dictates creativity

Gage Gallery, Ball Street, Sheffield, S3 8DB

Monday 8 August: Opening night. 6:30 – 9pm
Friday 12 August. Music and poetry night. 6:30 – 9 pm
11-4pm

The Redshed, 18 Vicarage St S, Wakefield WF1 1QX

Saturday 13 August. 1Pm onwards. Film-viewing, and talk by JD Taylor
Normal gallery opening times: 8 August – 13 August, 7-11pm (call 01924215626 to check room is not in use).

Fighting For Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain)

13439091_1351546641527196_560300827880526063_nFighting For Crumbs (Art in the Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) is a group of artists from Yorkshire working amidst the after-effects of Austerity Britain 2.0.

The project was inspired by the film ‘Invisible Britain’ (based on the work of Sleaford Mods) that looks at overlooked UK towns and cities, and motivated by a request to contribute to the 50th anniversary celebrations of ‘The RedShed’ (Wakefield Labour Club). The event is based in Sheffield and Wakefield and explores the position of art, and artists, in a period when we are all being pressured to ‘strive’ for crumbs – a time when wages are low, and the market dictates creativity

Gage Gallery, Ball Street, Sheffield, S3 8DB

Monday 8 August: Opening night. 6:30 – 9pm
Friday 12 August. Music and poetry night. 6:30 – 9 pm
11-4pm

The Redshed, 18 Vicarage St S, Wakefield WF1 1QX

Saturday 13 August. 1Pm onwards. Film-viewing, and talk by JD Taylor
Normal gallery opening times: 8 August – 13 August, 7-11pm (call 01924215626 to check room is not in use).

6 Days Left to Support Our Crowdfunder Campaign!

6 days left to help support Fighting For Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain)! Once the crowdfunder is complete, we will begin to promote the event, that will be held in both Sheffield and Wakefield, including an exhibition our the artists’ works, the showing of our video documentary, talks, films and much more. Ta.

the imposition of conformity

So this year has begun with me working with a group of artists on anexciting project which, at least in my life, promises to be something quite special.

Fighting For Crumbs (Art in Shadow of Neoliberal Britain)will be taking place at the Wakefield Redshed, and the Sheffield-based Gage gallery between 8-14 August 2016. A event centering around a film and an exhibition, it will also include talks and performances at both venues.

We need all the support you have to make this project be as special as it promises to be!

Please find the Crowdfunder located below.

https://www.indiegogo.com/project/fighting-for-crumbs-fundraiser/embedded

Here’s a little about what Fighting For Crumbs is all about…

In November of 2015, the group the Sleaford Mods starred in an independent film examining the lives and homes of the majority that were being systemically ignored in this brutally austere but paradoxically aspirational age of David Cameron. Invisible Britain’ was screened nationally, yet it seemed to focus much of its energy on towns once at the centre of the Yorkshire mining heartlands.

2016 marks the 50th birthday of The Redshed, also known as The Labour club. Situated in the heart of the Yorkshire city of Wakefield, the place is somewhat unique, and has defiantly resisted the capitalist forces that have penetrated nearly everything else around it. A year-long line-up of events are now marking this anniversary.

Sandra Hutchinson, a lifelong supporter of the club, spoke of how The Redshed began at the height of the social and political changes happening in the 1960’s. In-spite of the seismic troubles around the world, it was an age of political optimism, and there was a strong belief that things could be and would be changed.

“THERE IS A PREVAILING SENSE OF PARALYSIS AND DEFEAT ALL ACROSS EX-INDUSTRIAL BRITAIN. AND THIS PARTICULARLY EFFECTS THE YOUNG WHO HAVE NOT KNOWN ANYTHING ELSE” JD TAYLOR

The Invisible Britain documentary addresses this political climate; an age of deep political pessimism. A sense of defeat clings to the streets of our congealed conurbations. A depressed, and broken spirit hangs over us, instructing us to abandon the world we live in and find happiness in loneliness.

The huge support that propelled Jeremy Corbyn from relative obscurity to leader of the Labour Party, seemed to be more a WILLING for a return of a political optimism. Wanting it, because it’s not here.

Five MORE Years... (2015)

Fighting for Crumbs (Art in the Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) is the stories of artists who are striving for nothing but raw artistic expression at a time when we’re all being forced to strive for ‘crumbs, where wages are low, and the market dictates creativity.

It’s not so much stories of poverty-stricken artists. It’s about artists working within the crumbling remains of the Britain’s post-settlement optimism.

Under the “keep calm and carry on” mantra of Tory rule, more and more artists are feeling pressured to head into more craft-based activities.

Although this is not a critique of the crafts itself, how can an art SAY when it’s trying so hard to SELL?

What value does the truth of artistic expression have in such times? Have we been reduced to fighting for crumbs?

BROKEN BRITAIN IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT. IT’S ABSOLUTELY SMASHED TO PIECES” INVISIBLE BRITAIN, 2O15

 

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fighting-for-crumbs-fundraiser/x/13528122#/

A Visit To ‘Sheffield and The Nuclear Winter’ Exhibition, and a Whole Lot More…

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So today I walked into Sheffield Central library, and in the remaining 30 minutes before the exhibition ‘Sheffield and The Nuclear Winter‘ closed, I found myself facing a certain series of reality prospects that had been somewhat buried under an half-decade of an unwanted montage of self-consumed anxieties, based on age-based frustration, the unending demands for identity (re)construction in our ‘always on’ [no]times, and the entrenched sense of competition in life caused by this phony-austerity agenda.

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Nuclear War?! There Goes My Career! – Mark Vallen

“Under the general weight of it all.”… and trying to maintain a sense of dignity (the Self[ie] under siege!], I have literally thrown myself into my art-making. And it’s stronger than it’s been for years. But I’m not quite sure why I’m doing this; because I don’t think I have it as ‘career’ in my mind (I can’t picture a beyond point) it’s more of a final push; a “fierce last stand of all I am”, to quote a line from a track by The Smiths. I often wonder if it has become pure drive.

I’ve somewhat lost my way; adrift, with no idea how to get out, and it’s been like this for a good few years, whilst social pressures seem become claustrophobically close.

“Give it all you’ve got now”

I daren’t be too open about my doubts over the reasons behind why I make work in this way, when ‘selling oneself’ is so mandatory to contemporary life, which ‘could result in a damaged reputation for my product’ {type bollox]. Creative expression is crucial to my very being, it finds a way out whether I plan it or not, but my way of working on things thereon-after has been so caught up in a destructive cycle that’s spun like a hula hoop around my adult body, that often I just want to be able to relax, not be so PUMPED UP, but, then I get stuck: “relax into what, exactly?”

How to be at ease in this world has always evaded me. But today I have looked back to when I began an introspection into why. I somewhat want to get back to that future.

But it was only a fantasy
The wall was too high as you can see
No matter how he tried he could not break free
And the worms ate into his brain.

So the day after I put on an exhibition, I hit a comedown, and I recoiled and slumped into the thoughts and feelings of my 24 year old self. Waiting for a train in Wakefield, I began listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and with Grayson Perry’s great documentary All Man about the impact of masculinity on individuals and society alike on my mind, I began thinking about what path The Wall partly guided me onto back in autumn 2008.

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Untitled, 2009

Not only did I think it was time to understand why I’d been such an emotionally bottled up/screwed up young man until that point, but I wanted to [try to] understand the world I was living in –  after all, the financial crash was an event still fresh from the oven, and it occurred to me that I needed to know a little more about the structures of this world especially if life was going to get tougher.

I buried myself into books, defying the self-told-story-thus-far about me not being able to read properly. So, imagine The Wall helping me deconstruct why a prison wall was emotionally starving me, whilst reading James Lovelock’s Doomed-Gaia hypotheses, and then, erm, doing my back in, staying in over Christmas and watching Threads – the film based on a possible nuclear attack on Sheffield/South Yorkshire amidst a 1980’s tension point in the Cold War…

You only need to watch Threads once. If you’re sensitive enough to the realism of it, or from a nearby area and literally know the streets the terror is played out on, it is artistic shock value taken to its logical extreme: it’s traumatising.

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Taking from South Yorkshire and Nuclear War – Information For The Public in South Yorkshire. (a book which advocated the sharing of its text/imagery

Threads hit me so hard I literally smiled when I visited Sheffield a week later, realising it was still there and standing. And foolishly misleading as emotions are: as anything so big would’ve taken out where I live in an instant too, as this story based on a likely scenario if Sheffield was hit by a nuclear blast explains –  chillingly so, if you are closely affiliated with the former mining area-cum-sleepy dormitory suburb that is Darton, or home.

“Jim is in his farmyard near Darton, Barnsley. Suddenly a brilliant flash of light temporarily blinds him. A wave of heat from the explosion scorches his face. Seconds later, he hears the explosion. Windows crack and tiles fall from the roof. Numb with shock he feels his way back into the kitchen….The house provides little protection from fallout. Like four out of five people in the Barnsley area, Jim dies.”

The above text and the accompanying diagrams were taken from the documents on display that made up the one day event Sheffield and The Nuclear Winter. I didn’t get to absorb that much, but in 30 minutes left I was sobered out enough to realise how increasingly streamed out I am from becoming more and more tied to my ‘Always on’ (or Wi Fi-seeker!) devices, and how my core being (or core sense of what it is to be fucking human or something) demands I COME UP FOR AIR!

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“There is no pain you are receiving. … your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying!

It seems that Pink Floyd’s The Wall follows me when I think about such things. Perhaps it’s the quintessential Cold War-period album? Perhaps The Wall, like Grayson Perry argues in All Man, is about how damaging masculinity can be on an individual and geopolitical level, when it becomes a used for emotional repression in a society.

It seemed that I was able to reflect on both these things today, for the first time in ages.

There’s nothing like ‘a near miss’ of a potential apocalypse in global affairs, centred on the annihilation the place you’ve seen the world from, to momentarily drag you out of the stream/our never ending cyberspace commutes, to take a look at something we don’t usually feel is real enough to care about.

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This is because the nuclear threat usually doesn’t feel real anymore. Not only have we been misguided into thinking all those threats died away when the main adversary to USA-centered power, the Soviet Union, collapsed in the early 1990s, but I think the ‘disappearance’ of the big threats is mainly down to the type of world that was just emerging from the Cold War and Post War settlements like some freak creation.

In the early 1980’s the neoliberal project, which forces our 21st century ‘online’ selves into being endless entrepreneurs of ourselves, was in its infancy in the UK. The technologies that push us into committing to self promotion (in whatever form it takes) 24/7 in 2016 were years away, and the social bonds, communities that gave the otherwise politically disfranchised ‘the capacity to care’ hadn’t yet been fully desecrated by neoliberal policies.

In 2016, we are equally bored and anxious – although we are a pains to openly admit this ‘public secret’.  Internet memes and lifestyle gurus promote the wonders of the world – exciting tastes, views, diets, experience -whilst the language is one of community, friendship and good times. Yet what we have been more or less pushed towards in the past 15 years is a way of life that makes us anxious and bored in equal measure. Anxious because life is becoming tighter, more brutal, competitive between one  another, just for crumbs. Boring, because we are glued to devices that stream pics and texts into us at such speed that everything becomes insignificant. Much of the content itself has the potential to really make an impact on our perceptions, but under digital rain, nothing new can enter – you have to consciously push yourself to find anything significant that doesn’t directly concern your lonely, cyber-commuting-self.

The compounding sense I, at least, have had during the past 6 years, when cyberspace dependency has skyrocketed, is one of being in an eternal now. It’s not that I don’t feel like I‘m getting older, or anything; on the contrary, it possibly impounds a sense of ageing, as digital dependency, and increased competition seem to spill out onto the street as the world begins to look like a landlocked Baywatch scene, where a mass of “keep and young beautiful” people hustle between job, gym and grocery as self-perfection becomes a mandatory for market individualism. And as my naturally anxious figure cuts between them, feeling like some 1990’s flotsam and jetsam washed up on the shorelines at the end of history, I am also aware other parts of our towns and cities are beginning to resemble Rustbelt America, or even perhaps the 3rd world. Yet the ‘always on’ cyber-commute way of life we have, creates the sensation of being stuck in a loop, forever.

And how can anything beyond the immediate seem a physical actuality anymore. Even Climate Change feels like it isn’t real, even as nearby floods are showing it most clearly is. This hit home most strikingly when I was jolted out of the post-night-out numbness of my particular ‘loop’ one night, when trouble was flaring up in the Ukraine 2 years back.

Whilst We Were In The Eternal Now...

“Whilst We Were in The Eternal Now…” (2014)

“Whilst We Were in The Eternal Now…”  was a response to the this feeling of pervading unreality to geopolitical and climate change events, whilst in the cyber-commute loop. A cold shiver whilst lying in bed, as I suddenly CAME UP FOR AIR, and realised just how real the threat of nuclear war still is.

I’m the sort of person who doesn’t want to live in a dream world, but I’ve found I’ve been doing more of this over the past few years. Perhaps this was due to an initial meltdown due to the amount I used to threat about the future of humans on this planet under capitalism. It didn’t do me any good, but I hate living like an avatar. And Im glad I came to to the Sheffield and The Nuclear Winter exhibition today, because it made me come up for air.

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