Disrupted Rhythms: The Dance of the Rhythmanalysts. #1 Preliminary DemarcationsJanuary 10, 2021
Dr. Scary and Mr. Gory – “Unwritten History of Present.” & “Amphibionic.”January 10, 2021
Yuri Pattison, sunset provision (still) (2020 ~ )
WebGL Game Engine, uRadmonitor A3, live data
Digital Fabrication and Development: Tom Merrell & Rob Prouse.
courtesy of Douglas Hyde Gallery
“No one is more embroiled with, reliant upon and inseparable from their technologies than the moderns, folded ever more intimately into the nonhuman world”
– Bruno Latour
Trampolines with black nettling around them, unidentifiable sawing sounds, the oven fan, not knowing what to do so letting the day slip through your fingers, which feels like a waste. Time is precious, but it’s also just a concept. A parallel line, on a different axis; reading, although you might just move over the text with your eyes for several pages before you realise you can’t recall any of it. There must be a word for this, but you don’t know it. There are documents, printouts, folded on top of each other, creating a white rectangle on the mess of bedclothes and pyjama tops beside you. You miss people, and the idea of wearing makeup. You are irritable and irritating. You look at your phone too much.
The night (two parts of one story)
I feel more alone at night, but more comfortable too. The switch of ‘trying’ can flick off, whilst the streetlamps come on, the laptop moves from the desk to the bed. I watch a series of videos, The Self-Illuminating Pen, by Sarah Tripp on MAP Magazine’s website. These are a collaboration between Tripp and Isobel Lutz-Smith, they give motion to the five texts Tripp writes and show an image of the light her pen casts when its pressed down onto smooth lined pages, a disembodied hand holding it. From the artist’s website, these works are ‘a series of ‘letters to the editor’ on writing in the small hours.’1
Look away and I miss a word or meaning, yet when reading at the speed of the hand, it feels painfully slow. My mind tries to find the ends of words when there’s only the beginning letters, as if there are crossword boxes to fill, or the structure of a puzzle mid-play. A pause when the pen adds an extra full stop that’s not needed. It seems, after a while, like I can finish the sentences before they are written, as if I am writing, the transposition from mind to page travelling, via the screen, through my body too.
There is a passage in Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space on solitude and light. Bachelard talks about a famous poet and two friend’s out for a walk in the countryside when they see the light from a solitary house in the distance, ‘this image of solitude symbolized by a single light moves the poet’s heart in so personal a way that it isolates her from her companions.’2 Is this the light of loneliness? Bachelard says ‘we are hypnotized by solitude’3 and I am re-watching Tripp’s videos from the beginning to try to get into a rhythm when I sometimes lose concentration and close the tab at a place in the middle. When the laptop light at night begins to hurt my eyes, I turn on the bedside lamp, ‘the lamp keeps vigil, therefore it is vigilant,’4 to my looking at things online, Youtube documentaries, potential recipes, yoga videos, viewing rooms, film screenings and trashy streamings.
I try reading in a slouchy chair in the living room, the dog licking the eczema that afflicts the underside of his little paws and wrists. I don’t want to be alone, so I have the tv on, playing a film.5 It’s a quiet film, there doesn’t seem to be many words spoken, but I hear insects chirping and classical piano, growing louder from soft starts. The sad sweetness of the music keeps pulling my attention out of the book I’m trying to read. Each time I put it down to watch the film, the internet cuts out on Mubi and the movement stalls.
I try to anchor myself with objects, notice how the garden has grown since I last looked, determine what changes mark time moving and the events that I passed through to get here. I write lists of all the objects in my room or on the desk, and in the view out the window. Moyra Davey writes in Index Cards, about an action she rehearses most days, ‘lost and found’. Searching for an object, or a line or two she’s read and only dimly recalls.6 She says ‘the ritual is about creating a lacuna, a pocket of time into which I will disappear.’7
I make a note of what I’m wearing so I don’t have the same appearance on all the zoom meetings this week; pink and red batwing sleeved top with plastic hair trailing off the two topless cartoon women pictured on the front.
Dig up spuds from the garden to eat, gather leaves under cold water, send the baby snails down the drain. Scratch the dog behind the ear, do all this. Release the pages of a notebook one by one to lift the air into an artificial fan on your face.
I’ve been meaning to watch Jeanne Dielman by Chantal Akerman (1975) for years. Now seems like the perfect time to escape into an acute rendering of (someone else’s) domestic space, just before I go mad from sitting in my bedroom. It’s hard to find online, I suppose I could download it, but this feels like too much effort. Or I just like the idea of watching it, the idea of being ‘coeval’ with a place,8 or disappearing into this place without a struggle.
Should I put the dinner on? And other non-interesting thoughts pucker the edges of a headache. I read online about Milly Thompson’s residency with Akerman Daly, I see three videos in small rectangles of Vimeo blue, Morning Light, Afternoon Heat and Nightclub, ‘…you are a queen with a thousand kings.’9 Soft scratchings, that noise almost like cotton wool grinding against itself, can you remember it? A felt tip on paper, the sound comes before or after we see the words appear on screen in their animated chunkiness.
Highlighting the title at the top of the page, glowing. Pink is a natural colour, but there is nothing natural about highlighter pink. It feels masculine. The scratching is stop-start, like a mouse hiding in the walls. The sound is faster than the video and it continues after the images have stopped moving. Do you ever have that feeling inside your head like you’ve stopped but you’re still moving, stepping onto a bus in the bright sunlight, slamming a car door on the street?
I drop a plate into a washing up dish in the kitchen, the water both stops its motion and makes it sink.
There are new words for this already, viewing artwork online, the ‘intimacy of the small screen experience’10 reminds me of commuting, watching Netflix on my phone and sometimes listening to what other commuter’s are watching if they aren’t using headphones whilst on a bus at 7am in the pitch dark, lashing rain. But art is different. Would the artist mind if I watched their video on my phone whilst I watch tv? Like scrolling through Instagram stories and pausing when one catches your eye.
I often feel stronger for the art works I miss online, than for those I see. Reading reviews and looking at images or documentation to make up for the now passed ‘exhibition.’ When viewed from this position, the work and the knowledge that all anyone saw was the inside of a website or video player until the dates of the show finish, feels different.
Yuri Pattison’s screening of sunset provision on Douglas Hyde Gallery’s website opened for a few seconds then broke my laptop for days, unable to handle the nature of the work, a seascape being fed data via a channel of networks controlled by a monitor that was situated in the artist’s ‘home/studio,’ to change the ‘colours, wave, movement and atmospheric thickness’11 of the sublime and slowly moving sea. I took a screenshot of the view, I wanted to remember it.
I missed Willie Doherty’s new film, ENDLESS on Kerlin Gallery’s online viewing room. So I watched the trailer, sorry, the excerpt. Christopher Eccleston reads from Doherty’s script: ‘the feeling that I’m walking on the edge of a steep precipice and that I might slip and fall into an unending pit of disgrace.’12
I didn’t know you could make Vimeo loop. As I looked away the voice started again, I was startled by the feeling you get from a looped video in a gallery, the urge to maybe stay for another cycle, to try and recognise the point you took off from, somewhere in the middle, so that you know for certain you’ve watched it all. ‘An interminable vigil.’13
I stand up to grab a pen and something slaps the ground. It’s a photograph, I’m using it as a bookmark, two fields separated by a line cutting just below the centre. At the top, limitless blue sky from out a plane’s window. The bottom, the grey white plastic of the plane’s interior, so close that it looks like the mottled skin of a dead body. And in the middle, the tiny round hole that breathes air between the two perspex sheets, crystalline ice gathered like frosty scratches in a ring, and as a rim, between the inside, and outside.
I am reading about Rachel Cusk travelling to Greece in Outline, feeling time suspended inside the plane because of the lack of friction between the space and bodies hurtling towards their destinations. I used to be able to write on journeys, the idea of movement (like a buggy lulling a child to sleep) relaxing and quick. This opening up of a fixed place to write from. It makes me think of Moyra Davey, Chris Marker and many others observing, with camera or pen, people commuting on trains and buses.
Commuting seems to validate efforts made, even if you had a ‘bad day at the office’ at least you went and came back. I miss ten minute naps underground in the presence of strangers. I miss the presence of strangers.
The sublime or abstracted image makes a good bookmark, as it opens a space when you turn the page or reach to close the text, somewhere to lay your eyes (and thoughts) as you try to step out of the space you’ve come from and land smoothly, the book and your head, resting on the bed.
When you notice the rain and its efficacy, looking slows down. In the Art Monthly Talk Show Bob Dickinson and Sophie J Williamson discuss ‘the home in art as a place of haunted obsession.’14 I get excited and download PDFs of their articles, and on Bruno Latour, which posits ‘one thing is certain: these subjects endowed with an inside’ (human psyche) ‘are as strange as these objects relegated to an outside.’ In the podcast Dickinson summarises thinking around Latours actor-network theory of human and nonhuman subjects in a way that feels manageable. I recoil slightly once I delve into it myself, and prefer to spend time considering what crime series is playing on tv from the dialogue I can hear through the wall to my next–door neighbour’s house.
Dickinson says that how critical writers write about art is a useful way of thinking about how we link human and nonhuman stuff, the artwork is nonhuman, so writing can be an activating factor between the division we perceive. Is that the act of network?17 This raises interesting questions about where the darker side of the domestic world is, full of networks connecting human and nonhuman… the associations between the objects and the human who lives in a space. But I’ve had enough of that for now, I want to finish the Paris Hilton documentary on Youtube.
I loop back to Bachelard, eyes flicking between tabs, whilst the radiator makes violent choking sounds behind me, ‘phenomenology of the imagination cannot be content with a reduction which would make the image a subordinate means of expression: it demands, on the contrary, that images be lived directly, that they be taken as sudden events in life.’18 I think of all the viewing I’ve done over the past while through the same rectangle of laptop light that I’m writing this on, and return to my bedroom’s images and objects with new eyes, those that have become sacred, those that have ossified over time, ‘when the image is new, the world is new.’19
2 Gaston Bachelard, Poetics of Space (first published 1957) 2014, Penguin, p. 56. Pronouns changed from ‘him/his’ to ‘her/hers’.
4 Ibid., p.54
5 Trần Anh Hùng, The Scent of Green Papaya, 1993
6 Moyra Davey, Index Cards, Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2020, p.17
8 This is in reference to something I’ve read, but I can’t remember what just now.
9 Quote from text displayed in video Afternoon Heat, Milly Thompson, 2 mins 2 seconds, date unknown
10 Maeve Connolly, Willie Doherty: ENDLESS, Art Monthly, Jul/Aug2020, Issue 438, pp.33-35
12 Willie Doherty, ENDLESS, Single Screen Video Installation, 4K Video, Black and White, Stereo Sound, Duration 13:00 min, 2020
13 Quote from words spoken in ENDLESS, Willie Doherty, Single Screen Video Installation, 13:00 min, 2020
15 Christopher Watkin, (Chapter 6: Bruno Latour: Translating the Human) French Philosophy Today: New Figures of the Human in Badiou, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres and Latour, Edinburgh University Press, 2016
16 ‘Actor–network theory (ANT) is a theoretical and methodological approach to social theory where everything in the social and natural worlds exists in constantly shifting networks of relationships. It posits that nothing exists outside those relationships. All the factors involved in a social situation are on the same level… Thus, objects, ideas, processes, and any other relevant factors are seen as just as important in creating social situations as humans.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actor%E2%80%93network_theory
17 Here I am paraphrasing Dickinson by quoting directly from my notes on the podcast
18 Gaston Bachelard, Poetics of Space (first published 1957) 2014, Penguin, p.68
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