Toothpaste

As I was brushing my teeth, I noticed that my parents have changed the brand of toothpaste that they use. They’ve switched from non-fluoride, Aloe Vera based toothpaste, to a fluoride toothpaste for sensitive teeth. I remembered that as a child, if I stayed round a friend’s house, and they used a different toothpaste to the one my parents bought, the flavour seemed radically different to me, and often disgusted me so much that I could only use a tiny bit on my toothbrush. Now - using this new toothpaste - I could barely taste it at all, let alone differentiate between it and the brand that I use at my own house. I decided that it must be something to do with the amount of salt I now use on my food.

Baby Dream

I’ve been having dreams about a baby. It isn’t mine, but it looks exactly like me. And although it is a baby, it can talk, and it basically has my personality. Which is annoying, in the dream, because it took me my entire life to develop my personality to what it is now, but this baby has just picked it up straight away. That seems convoluted, but in the dream, that is a really specific emotion, and that is what the dream is about.
 I keep trying to trick the baby in to doing something that I wouldn’t do, there aren’t any specifics to how I do this. In my dreams I don’t think there are ever any actual words, just flowing thoughts and immediately understood conversations. The baby is also angry at me, which is consistent - if you think about it - with my personality. I think he is annoyed that the future version of himself has not developed a different personality. It is complex, this shared anger, because as annoyed as I am at what I feel is an overly developed sense of self for a six month old boy, he is equally as annoyed for what he sees as my failure to move on from fairly immature concerns. Not that he sees himself as immature, but he also recognises that he is young, specifically, younger than me. I’m disappointing his sense that as you get older, you get wiser, and he is doing the same for me, but in reverse. If that makes sense.
 Basically the dream goes on until I wake up needing a piss. There is a causal relationship between the need to piss and the dream. I can’t work out what it would be.
 When I go for the piss I’m always half-asleep and in my head I’m still battling with the baby who has got my personality. It makes me really angry and it is only when I’m washing my hands afterwards that I realise that what I’m thinking about doesn’t really make any sense.

Cornerhouse Commission for the ARKA group

from www.arkaanalysis.com

ARKA has been commissioned to make a film-work as part of Manchester Cornerhouse's Micro-commission program.
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The film will focus on the travels of a biology Professor at Newcastle University, recorded on VHS tapes which have been passed on to the ARKA group.

ARKA members, Ben Jeans Houghton and Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau will spend ten days in January 2011 researching the circumstances of the recording of the taspes, taking field recordings and interviews, and editing the hundreds of hours of footage to create a short film exploring the oneiric journey of the Professor who shot it.
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More information about how you can follow the progress of the film will be posted here in due course.
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The disappearance of a relevant quote

Liverpool Fugue, the performance lecture that I gave as part of my residency at The Royal Standard, was inspired by my reading of The Rings of Saturn, by W.G Sebald.
  I've been thinking about a film I want to make, about the train journey from my home town of Colchester, to London Liverpool Street station. This would be an exploration of a landscape that has shaped me. Me and a friend would spend a month riding the slow train back and forth, stopping at each station to walk, film and take notes.

Colchester
Marks Tey
Kelvedon
Witham
Hatfield Peverel
Chelmsford
Ingatestone
Shenfield
Romford
Ilford
Stratford
London Liverpool Street

They are places that I know intimately, in the sense that I have traveled through them hundreds of times, and I know exactly how long it takes to get to each one, and I have spent time in every one of them, either waiting for a connecting train, or a rail replacement bus. They are also places that are totally alien to me. Places that I have never purposefully visited, places I have never walked around. They are markers towards a confused idea of 'home', rather than places in and of themselves.

I will again use Sebald as a reference point for this project. I want to explore the reality of walking around these towns and villages, but by creating oneiric histories for each of them - mixing fact and fiction to create narratives that link them together and allow them to become players in a coherent, if somewhat discursive, thread of ideas and inferences.
  The irony is that the specific passage in The Rings of Saturn that has inspired the idea is one of the few entirely factual parts of the book. In it, Sebald describes his train journey from Norwich to London Liverpool Street (the route stops at Colchester and the other stations listed above), gazing out of the window and watching the landscape shift from rural, to light industrial, to suburban sprawl, to city.

I will write a proposal for some funding for this piece - I need some money to cover costs and the time it will take me to produce - and I thought I could begin the proposal by directly quoting the passage from the book. Strangely, I can't find it. I thought I had already quoted the passage for the blog I wrote whilst on The Royal Standard residency, but I can't seem to locate it online. I quickly scanned the chapter in which I thought it appeared, and then re-read it closely. Finally, I went through the whole book, page by page, looking for any reference the Norwich-London train route.

Have I just missed the quotation, or did I imagine the whole thing? I was reading several books at the time, perhaps it was from somewhere else. But I remember Sebald's distinctive narrative voice; at once authoritative and distracted, dreamlike and concrete.
  Maybe when I thought of my film idea, I shot a glance back through my memories to see if I could link it up with anything that I had been doing, to find a causal connection between my reading and my practice. Perhaps on finding nothing, I created a passage that Sebald could have written, in order to link my ideas with his.

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As I was flicking through the book, looking for the non-existent passage, I realised that the story he tells in the last section, concerning national silk production in France, is obliquely referenced throughout the earlier chapters. Silk worms are used as metaphors, or written about in passing, as well as being explicitly referenced in shorter narratives concerning historical figures. This idea of the silk worm producing a thread seems to me to be an internal metaphor, or a synecdoche, for Sebald's writing. He produces imperceptible narrative threads that link together ideas that are almost unbelievable - that these ideas are untrue is made irrelevant by the lightness of his connections and the understated nature of his writing.
  Silk worms can only be bred domestically, they do not exist in the wild. They are, in a very real sense, a human construct. Not just dependent on humans for their continued existence, but also rendered functionless without human desire for silk. The thread they spin is for us, they are not objects beyond our perception, like other animals. They fail to exist without us. They, like us, are meaningful because of the thread they leave behind them. Our thread is that of memory, or history - but like the silk worm, we do not know why we produce this thread, and so, in our ignorance, we must apply our own meaning to it.
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As a postscript, I did try to search online for the passage concerning the train journey, I couldn't find it, but I did find a nice Susan Sontag essay on Sebald. Read it here.

Curriculum Vitae

I got an email from a work colleague this morning. He claimed that I had altered his CV, which he had saved on a communal computer at work. I hadn't done it, but I got him to send it to me. I thought it was quite good.

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Statement
I make work and like making artwork. Mostly the work I make is art and some of it is also sculptures. Making more work, art and sculptures, as well as artwork itself, is what I hope to make more of in the future hopefully.

Education
11 GCSE’s at C or above
3 A levels
1 Foundation course
1 BA in artwork
1 PG Dip in artwork and sculptures
1 MA in artwork and more sculptures

Exhibitions
I have done upwards of 6 different shows, some of them were attended by people.

Relevant Experience
Full, clean driving license
Full, clean underwear
Small, empty brain
Cute dimples

The Five Coffee Shops

In the suburb of a small town in Essex where my Aunt lives, there are five coffee shops. I find this absurd. There is no way they can get enough custom to make them economically viable. I visit her from time to time; to cut her grass and fix things. She would rather throw things away, but I like to fix things. I feel as though older people have lost their respect for objects.

I don’t remember when I first noticed the five coffee shops. They aren’t new. They have names like Melanie’s Coffee Shop and Frothies. They have brown awnings. No one ever seems to be in them. There aren’t many people on the street, and there certainly aren’t any in the coffee shops.

I work freelance so I suppose I visit the area on ‘off’ days. I haven’t really been there on a Saturday. Still, some weekday custom would be expected.

My Aunt had asked me to visit her house whilst she was away seeing my brother in Austria. She has the odd habit of turning off the water mains when ever she is away for more than a few hours. I think it is something to do with lightning or council tax, but I can’t be sure. I do know that she pushes all the furniture away from the radiators so that it doesn’t catch fire, even though she turns the heating off when she leaves the house.

On my second visit, after checking that everything in the house was as it should be, I decided to go to one of the coffee shops. I had the vague notion of eating a cooked breakfast. When I walked in to the coffee shop nearest my Aunt’s house, the lady behind the counter greeted me warmly, though not without surprise. She was obviously unprepared for customers at eleven o’clock on a Wednesday.

I asked for a full English breakfast and a black coffee. She told me that breakfast had finished and that lunch started at twelve. I abandoned the idea of food and resolved to stop at somewhere on the way home. I told her that I would just have the coffee. She smiled and walked back in to what I assumed was the kitchen.
I took a seat and read the paper. I hate reading the paper, it all seems so irrelevant once it’s written down. After five or so minutes I stood up and walked to the counter. I craned my neck to see the woman, but the kitchen was round the corner of a passageway. I called out, but received no reply. Sighing I was just about to leave when I heard a whimpering sound. I walked slowly around the counter and through the entrance to the kitchen.

As I turned in to the room I saw that there was no coffee machine. In fact there was no kitchen equipment of any kind. The space was almost entirely bare with just a cheap looking table and a plastic chair. The woman sat on the chair, crying, with her hand over her mouth. She looked up at me and let out a gasp. I asked her what was wrong and she gestured to the room as if it was obvious. I got down on my knees and she fell in to my arms. She held me close and sobbed in to my shoulder.

We stayed like that for what seemed like a long time. It was uncomfortable, but having made the decision to comfort her, I had to see it through. Eventually she quietened down. Her breathing relaxed and as I made to move away from her, she put her lips to my ear, “You’ve done it now”, she said.
I stood up abruptly. I told her that I had to go and she nodded. As I left I turned and told her that I was sorry. She smiled weakly.

I walked out of the shop and towards my Aunt’s, where my car was parked. Frankly, the whole thing seemed more than a little strange. I resolved to bring a thermos on my next visit.

After Pete Hindle - petehindle.com

Found things

I've just finished writing an application, and in the (incredibly long) application form, I had to define what it is that I do in my art practice. Weirdly, that isn't something you get asked a lot when you are an artist.

You are often explaining why you have done a particular thing, or what it is that you intend to do, but not what it is that you do. A general, rather than a specific question.

From what I wrote (it's all a blur right now, I've just pressed the send button...), and from the work that I submitted, I realise that a lot of my work is based on things that I find, rather than things that I create. Here is a little selection of my favorites. They are all from my website, but I haven't ever thought of them as similar before now.

 Eiffel Tower with Americans, colour photo, 2009

I saw these American tourists having a Segway tour in Paris. One of the group member's scooter wasn't working properly, and when they left she was left stranded in front of me.

 Martin Heidegger, Looking Suprised, scanned image, 2009

This is from a book on continental philosophy by Simon Critchley. The caption for the photo is sort of a philosophical joke. Well, I think it might be. I don't really understand Heidegger's philosophy, but I like the picture.


 Portrait of a Young Flying Tourist, colour photo, 2008

I saw this tourist staging this photo and managed to catch him as he jumped in the air. I was surprised at the good timing of my picture, I probably have a better photo than he does.

 Woman With Glasses (after Martin Creed), colour photo, 2008

I unloaded my bag on my bed, and realised that it had made a perfect little image.

 Fixed Shoes (Wooden Legs), colour photo, 2008

I was fixing my shoes (it didn't work) and had knocked up this informal arrangement to facilitate the (ultimately pointless) process.

 
 Pragmatic Sculpture, colour photo, 2007

I saw this bin arrangement in Tynemouth and thought it was both practical and ridiculous.

 Played by Gentlemen, colour photo, 2007

I don't know who kicked this football in to the sea, but I'm glad they did.

Spilled Lunchbox, colour photo, 2007

How many jam sandwiches can someone have about their person at any one time?

Builder's Merchant

I’ve been dreaming about it, or, it dreams me. A logo, three cylinders in a perpendicular projection. I’m not sure if this style of projection would ever be used for plans or designs. The front of the cylinders are circular and the lengths -the tubular parts of the cylinder - stick straight out sideways. It looks strange. Flat and depthless. Sort of impotent.

One day I’m walking past a builder’s merchant on the outskirts of the town in which I live. Next to the builder’s merchant, positioned over the pavement, but really aimed at the cars, is the sign that welcomes you in to the town - the official edge of the town is marked by this sign, and I’m thinking that I must have walked past this sign a lot, but not an incredible amount of times. Not like the amount of times that I’ve walked past, say, the road sign for the road that I live on. So maybe, one thousand times? A lot, building up over the years. But not regularly, but still a lot. Seven hundred to one thousand times? I think this every time I pass the sign.
I look to my right, towards the builder’s merchant, and I see the logo that I’ve been dreaming about, though it is only looking at the sign that alerts me to the dreams, if you see what I mean. I mean I haven’t ever remembered dreaming the logo, but as soon as I see the logo I know that I have been dreaming it.


The projection of the cylinders is more ridiculous than I remember, though I cannot be sure that I remember it clearly, seeing as I’ve only just realised that I’ve been dreaming this logo, and I suppose this image could have supplanted the image that I can’t quite recall but know that I have dreamt. But then how would it be more ridiculous than how I remember it? No. I must remember it, because it certainly does look more ridiculous. Laughable.

No matter. It must be of some importance so I decide to go inside. I go through the yard, past piles of timber and parked fork lift trucks. I go to the office and look inside. No one is around to speak to. I would ask them about the logo, who designed it maybe, or what it is meant to be. Probably just cement tubes, or scaffolding. The cylinders are too thick (in the logo) for them to be scaffolding. In one of the covered sheds (for really, a lot of the builder's merchant is just covered sheds, full of wood and metal and polystyrene sheeting and plastics) I can see some men talking, and I can vaguely hear a radio playing a song I can’t make out. I decide against approaching them. I look around to see if the logo is anywhere else in the builder’s merchant. It is not. It is only on the sign outside, next to the gate.

The whole idea of entering the builder’s merchant starts to feel pointless, there was never going to be anything of interest in here. I leave the yard and don’t even stop to look at the logo. I walk past here a lot. Not regularly, but a lot. I’ll come back another day.
I've been thinking about ideas for the artwork on the debut Dogtanion album, PSYCHOSES. The title and concept for the cover art is taken from a Buddy J. Finowicz novel I've read. The art work will be made up of pictures of me reading the book in a library.
  I was walking through Didsbury (a suburb of Manchester) and popped in to their library out of curiosity.



From the outside it looks like a tiny Neo-classical cathedral, but inside everything is 60s/70s utilitarian, with laminated A4 paper signs, tough wearing carpets and standard issue wooden chairs. This is how I remember libraries, full of plastic covered hardbacks and students and older men with shopping bags. This is the taste of nostalgia.

I want the pictures to look how reading a B.S Johnson novel feels: quiet rage, inadequate jumpers, thermos flasks and dissent. The overriding colour scheme is brown and no one speaks louder than a murmur. A time when public buildings were (begrudgingly) for everyone. Tramps escape the cold, drunks pretend to read the paper, the poor soak up free information and free heat. No more, libraries have changed in most places, especially London. Our new idea of inclusiveness is the internet and Idea Stores.

I can't afford to bring the photographer to Manchester, so I'll have to find an equivalent somewhere in London. Where should I begin?

Pineapple Chunks and Shoe Polish

I buy tinned pineapple chunks, and then I paint them black. Normally with shoe polish. Then, once the pineapple chunks are dry (which doesn't take as long as you'd think, as long as you follow the instructions on the polish i.e. dry the chunks before painting, in an airing cupboard or on a south facing windowsill, removed from juice), I put them back in the tin (sans-juice), reseal the tin and take them back to the shop.

I won't buy the shoe polish and the pineapple chunks in the same shop. No reason, really, but I do like to use new shoe polish each time, and it's best not to give them any way to establish a causal connection.

Once they are back on the shelf (it is actually quite easy to tell a resealed tin from a factory sealed tin, even though my equipment is catering grade) I tend to loiter around the tinned fruit section for a while, reposition my tin at the front of the stack, label first. I take a picture on my mobile phone, then email a copy to myself and erase the original photo. If no one has picked up my tin within the first half an hour, then I have to leave. I've established the amount of time you can stand in one section of a supermarket without the security starting to get suspicious; half an hour is definitely the upper limit. Normally, I'll take a walk around town, and pop in on my way back, just to check that it is still there. Often, if I've positioned it well, it will be gone. If so, I can go home and make a note of it on my Excel document. If it isn't, then I will return the next day, and on consecutive days, but only to check. I can loiter for half an hour, without the instantaneous appearance of a security guard, about every one and a half weeks (because of shift patterns, and security hand-over briefings and possible print outs from CCTV cameras of certain persons faces, and available space for said print outs on the security guard notice board in the little office with all the televisions).

I have only had a confirmed hit i.e. a viewed (by me) purchase, twice in the time that I have been doing this properly i.e. not just for a laugh, but seriously, with the spreadsheet and distribution pattern. Fairly early on, once in Morrison's and once in Waitrose. In Morrison's I found the resealed tin and stood there for two or three minutes max before someone came along and put it in their basket. I followed them to the tills, picked up some chewing gum and a copy of Take a Break (for Denise, but also by accident, and also because it had Tamzin Outhwaite on the cover, and I like Tamzin Outhwaite, always have.), and watched them pack the tin in to their bags. There was a problem at the tills once the lady had left, with the tin, and I had to wait for the girl behind the till so I didn't manage to follow the lady out of the shop. Once I had got to the exit, she had gone. Probably on the bus, or in a taxi. A lot of the poorer people get taxis from Morrison's, which I always find fascinating.

The other time, as I mentioned, was at Waitrose. I had loitered for my half an hour on the first day, come back for three days in a row for a check, and on the fourth day I arrived at the tinned fruit section (quite small in Waitrose) and thought the tin had gone. I moved a few tins around to look for mine (often it can be shuffled to the back by an overzealous assistant, rotating stock by sell by date) but it wasn't there. I looked down, and clocked the tin (the resealing is really quite obvious, if you know what you are looking for, but obviously, most people are looking at one tin at a time, and even if they are not, shop workers are either not bothered if they notice, or can't be bothered with the hassle of trying to remove stock from the shop floor and pointing out what is - once you take it up to middle management - quite an insignificant aesthetic problem) in the near empty basket of a man, about my height and build. He walked towards the checkout and I followed discreetly from behind. At the tills, I picked up some chewing gum and a paper (no Take a Breaks in Waitrose, well, not by the tills anyway) and put down a little plastic separator, to separate his shopping from my incidental purchases. I allowed myself a quick look at his face. He was looking about the shop, glancing at other customers and trying not to smile. I looked back down at the conveyor belt and saw three tins of pineapple chunks and a small round tin of black shoe polish.

Bastard Son by Dogtanion

I have been a busy bee. First I went to Liverpool for The Royal Standard residency, then off to Guernsey to make a film with Tim Bowditch, and then off to Devon to record some music with Tape Club Records. The debut album from Dogtanion, PSYCHOSES, will be out early next year, and the new single, 'Bastard son', is out on October the 11th. It Drew Itself (which is an excellent blog featuring various other Tape Club Records artists + other videos about people who I don't know and cannot therefore list right here and now) filmed us playing a live acoustic version whilst we were down in the Devon cottage.

I'll let you in to a little secret, we were dru-unk when we did this. Everyone. Cameraman, sound man, everyone.


Dogtanion / Bastard Son from itdrewitself on Vimeo.

This is the AM


Early blogging today. We're off back down to the pools for a final swim in a minute, then we have to pack up and get back on the slow boat. 13 hours to Portsmouth.


We filmed the sunrise over the pools, which was at 6:38 if you're interested.


Tim took some portraits of us as the tide rose. It looks like I'm deep in thought, but actually I'm still trying to work out why I'm awake.


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We were looking through the photos for yesterday's blog and trying to work out why there weren't more pictures of Dave pulling stupid faces. He's good at those.


This one is for Bella.

Squinty

We had a busy day today - our last day. We had four interviews and an early morning filming session. Tomorrow we have decided to wake up at six so that we can film the sunrise over the pools. I think it was my idea, but I'm not feeling the logic at this moment.

We won't have time to blog tomorrow, but to keep you all sweet, here are some softcore photos of Tim. If skinny men squinting in to the sun are your thing, you're in for a treat.

It's not all been hard work on Guernsey. We've been having a right old laugh over here. In lieu of getting T-shirts printed, we thought we'd present a few pictures of 'The Lads' when we're 'off duty'.

Work hard, play hard, as it were.

Dave 'The Slag' Angus

Matt 'Big Hands' Giraudeau

Tim 'Sir Hiss' Bowditch

Wehey, etc.

Hello!


This week is SOUND week. My favourite week, because I'm doing it. As well as interviewing people about the pool and the night time galas, we are recording samples so that we can weave them together for the soundtrack.


As this is a blog about sound, we thought we'd put some sound in it. This is the sound of the floodlights being set up and turned on.



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Like I said, we are recording interviews with people who were involved with the night time galas and the firedive. Today we spoke to Heyward Quevatre, a 94 old former diving instructor who still goes swimming every day (weather permitting. He gave us almost two hours worth of stories about the galas and showed us these photos of him diving at the pool.


When he found out we lived in London, he also told us this joke.