Author Archives: Joe

Gregor Neuerer; Left but a Trace

I liked Gregor Neuerer, and I thought his work was of interest. However it doesn’t detract from an element of irony in the title of his latest exhibition; at least there is irony for me having listened to his lecture! It left a trace, but it was but a trace! I found the presentation reminiscent of Paul Eachus’s lecture; in the way it was delivered. Neuerer was delivering his lecture almost word for word from a prepared text. He did however make an effort to counterpoint this with short spurts of ad libbing. Despite a less than brilliant manner in delivering his lecture, I found the content of some interest.

Architectural Yet Abstract

Neuerer’s work included places in the city (of London) where people interact in ways differently to how an architect or designer may have intended.

Strangely, when he moved into a studio in London, Gregor Neuerer began making sketches using his position in the room as a method for working. He marked pencil onto the wall, from the confines of his chair, the result being a circular form with its darkest point in the middle and then graduated shading outward. The basis and context for these sketches was complex; architectural in origin but with the primary notion of confinement in architectural space and constant revisiting of the same place- at least this is how I understood it.

At the same time as working on the drawing, he coincidentally discovered an all but identical mark on the wall, outside a tube station just about the level of the pavement. The same dark patch at the centre and graduation out to nothing. It transpired that this patch was caused by a beggar sitting in the same place each day and rubbing against the wall.

Gregor Neuerer - Left but a Trace

Great work and ideas come from strange coincidence like this. Not only was the resultant shape identical, Neuerer’s original concepts were about revisiting places. Brilliant.

Later works were more developed conceptually, so far though that – for me – gaining an understanding of what the aim of the work is, was extremely difficult. It is apparently very abstract; something the artist seemed to acknowledge and (in fact) he said he was aiming for it.

Although much of the work was “real” – and interesting to me because of that – Neuerer “faked” these black marks in other situations. Creating a similar effect, but doing it himself rather than identifying places that it was occurring naturally. I really didn’t like that. Loosing the raw reality really detracts from it.

Good things; the way his ideas came together. Despite the complexity, I think the artistic logic was good. He seemed to have well thought through ideas that were presented on almost every different “level”.

Bad; despite the simplicity of presentation, the context itself is extremely deep. This seemed out of balance some how – “top heavy”.

Overall though, I was intrigued about the work, and although I don’t think I enjoyed the work myself- in terms of learning it was certainly useful.

Cornerhouse Qualms

I’ve found a slight edge of nervousness inherent in the Cornerhouse’s Tuesday Talks – this lecture was an example of that. Although the intent is obviously otherwise the way in which the question and answers session at the end of each lecture is handled seems to stifle discussion rather than promote it. I always feel terrified about asking a question. Funnily, after the Q&A session at this lecture – which featured only 1 or 2 questions from the audience and conjecture from the lectures’ curator Pavel Büchler the first non-official question to the artist was “So… how is the smoking in Vienna?”. Although I didn’t learn anything from it, it made me smile!

Febuary Work Plan

This is my current work plan – although its getting to the point where “juggling work” almost deserves its own place on the plan.

  • Prayer 2.0 fixes and development. I’ve somehow created some bugs in the Prayer 2.0 website that need fixing urgently, also I’m planning to launch some similar websites with different purposes.
  • Photobombing development. I’m applying for travel bursary from University, to enable me to do country-wide photobombing hence development of the site has a new urgency.
  • Second Life / David Bowie Project. I’m taking on various parts of this collaborative project; setting up/ maintaining a project blog, various writing tasks, floor plans for “Bowie World” and development of graphic themes for some of the pods.
  • Feedback. My friend Zimmy is working with visual feedback and we’re looking at collaborating to create a fully interactive audio/visual/feedback experience. I’m researching using Ableton Live, GlovePIE and Wii controllers to enable digital input to control the A/V aspects of this.
  • Phase Loops. Using techniques pioneered (as far as I know) my Steve Reich many years ago, I’m creating a sound piece using a single voice loop of Branka’s voice.
  • MMU Wiki. Setting up a Wiki software to be used by the Interactive Arts department at MMU, research the various software options.

… and “god” knows what else!

Florian Dombois; Auditory Seismology

Some of Dombois’ work was outside of these points, but the main body was based on these principles.

  • Turning inaudible earth tremors into something we can actually here.
  • Comparing the same tremors from different points on the globe.
  • Dombois originally a scientist, was not interested, so turned to the arts

I was impressed with Dombois’ work – a nice idea and something unusual. I left with a good feeling. My one problem was how confined the work was, given the potential for exploiting (or exploring) the many possibilities it offers.



I was also intrigued: I’m sure many people have worked with converting inaudible signals into audible ones. There must be some interesting possibilities beyond how earthquakes can be transformed into an audible noise. It got me thinking to light; each colour in the spectrum corresponds to a specific wave length. Do a simple division on the wavelength, interpret that as the frequency of a sine wave and there you have a perfect light-sensitive sound machine. Although I haven’t researched it as yet, I’m completely confident that somebody has done this before. Still, I think it might be a fun experiment to try.

I’ve been working with my friend Zimmy to develop an audio element to his light / feedback experiments; maybe a machine like this would be perfect for that.

Commuter Stories

I love “The Commute” and hate it all at the same time. I don’t do it anymore, at least at the moment, but when I did I saw the daily monotony as a horrible chore but also recognised some kind of beauty in it. To explain; despite the abject terror it sometimes creates, not to mention to terrible frustration, it does signify “our” (the West, I guess) amazing talent for organising things and “progress” (whatever that means).

As well as the symbolism of what the commute represents, I love the patterns. The same as the cycles of the moon, the seasons, the tides (which are of course linked to the moon and the seasons) – almost everything in the natural world operates in patterns and cycles of some kind. We have created our own similar patterns. Of course they don’t just exist with the daily commute but that is the particular example I’m interested in.

There are many different ways I could take my interest in the subject, but the thing that really interests me is how if you embark on a regular daily commute everything is almost always exactly the same, but it is always a little bit different. Subtle change is constant, but virtual-constancy is permanent regardless. NB sounds like another Dylan lyric, it is brilliant:

Talkin’ World War III Blues, last verse:

Well, now time passed and now it seems
Everybody’s having them dreams.
Everybody sees themselves walkin’ around with no one else.
Half of the people can be part right all of the time,
Some of the people can be all right part of the time,
But all of the people can’t be all right all of the time.
I think Abraham Lincoln said that.
“I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours.”
I said that.

I’d like to explore this with a documentary film, taking the same route each day; to notice and remark on the things that stay the same, the things that change and document encounters.

My problem with this, is that I don’t think I have the guts to actually do it. I’m quite shy around most people. Maybe I require a bolshy partner.

Anyhow, plenty of other things to be on with for the time being….

Prayer 2.0; Reference Points

This is essentially a webliography of sites that I came across whilst researching things to do with Prayer. is an interesting site with loads of information on all kinds of things to do with spirituality, this article; has some nice extracts from Wikipedia. Also I liked this on “Dharma”

“Dharma” means “protection”. By practising Buddha’s teachings we protect ourself from suffering and problems. All the problems we experience during daily life originate in ignorance, and the method for eliminating ignorance is to practise Dharma.

Practising Dharma is the supreme method for improving the quality of our human life. The quality of life depends not upon external development or material progress, but upon the inner development of peace and happiness. For example, in the past many Buddhists lived in poor and underdeveloped countries, but they were able to find pure, lasting happiness by practising what Buddha had taught.

Iann Schonken is an evangelist blogger. This article begins with;

What is Prayer?

(a) A reverent petition made to God
(b) An act of communion with God
(c) Communication with an all-knowing, ever-present, almighty and loving God
(d) Adoration; Confession; Thanksgiving; Supplication (earnest petition)

It seems strange to me that it is a “reverent” petition – the definition of reverent appears to be Godly, so that makes it a Godly petition made to God. English I guess.

This one is a comic site, the commandments 2.0, the first three;

  1. I am the LORD2.0 your God who brought you out of the land of web1.0, from normal colours and no tags
  2. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me (except good friend – Google)
  3. Thou shalt use “2.0” or “beta” and pastels colours on your every new website project has bible lessons and a wealth of in-depth information on the how the Church of Christ view prayer. Not exactly for me, but certainly interesting.

Yeshuablog says;

Many people question what is prayer because they desire to pray, but don’t know how. Consider these tips:
Praying is like talking to your best friend! It’s easy to talk to someone when you know they love you unconditionally!

This is taken from;

Different faiths number them different. We base many of our laws on them, yet won’t display them in a public setting. If you can only learn one, learn the first one and the others will never be a problem.

The sections on manhood and adultery seem especially confusing!


I have neglected to organise my placement for this year. Once again the best intentions fall by the wayside of more important worries, until the previously ignored becomes the important worry. At least one of them anyway.

I have at some points of intertia over the last few months scribbled down some notes of places that would be good- plans have been hatched just not put into practice. Last year, my aim was to figure out a way of making money, and that would be my placement. I think because of preoccupation with concepts and “work” its probable that this will not happen. Lottery art maybe a route forward?

I had the brain wave last week of asking my brother if he could be of assistance. He works for the school of informatics at Edinburgh University; and hopefully will have access to some interesting contacts that could bear fruit with regard to my placement or other collaborations outside of that. Ahhhh. Things, things, things.

Short-sharp; Shock

My dreams of making spArt into a gallery-based work, and managing to cultivate the constant evolution, input then feedback – like ouruboros; its all but dead.

Legitimacy is the problem. I can do everything thats required, I have all the tools, but the problem is that it is technically (and non-technically) illegal. Personally, this didn’t bother me, and as this person explains sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind;

Hello Joe, Interesting project. I am not entirely sure how spam can become art, but I suppose everything is art in it’s own right. There is also such a thing as “good spam”, as you mentioned. As someone actively seeking funding for a very unconventional (but VERY worthwhile) project, I have had to make use of mass email and spam, and don’t see it as an entirely bad thing at this point. Looking forward to seeing what comes out of this project!

I think its probably something of an eternal catch-22. Spam, by definition, is bad. But there are legitimate, good causes that piggy-back on to it. But then, if the spammers hadn’t “made it ok” to spam, by aclimatising us to it; then we might be even more spiteful of the good spammers.

I suppose most logical people would just say this is why we have opt-in mailing lists, allowing bulk email to be sent but only to those who expressly asked to receive it. Its not a perfect solution though, by any means. I seem to be signed up to about 50 bulk mailing lists, most of which I have no interest in, and that also seem incredibly difficult to unsubscribe from. Furthermore I can’t remember signing up for a single one of them! I suspect that they were all in the small print of websites that I’ve signed up to. The other problem with opt-in lists, especially within the context of what I was trying to do with spArt, is that underlying the spam problem (but real world junk mail, and electronic mail) I actually really like receiving messages things from strangers. Be it in the post, be it in my inbox; it often cheers me up.

Alas, not everyone feels the same way.

BlogCrossing; Isnternet; Anti-Blogs; Liberation

Since I discovered it was possible, I’ve been yearning to make something out of the Webserver on a Stick project (WOS). Components that make WOS are:

  • A web server; Apache
  • A database server; MySQL
  • A scripting language; PHP

For one, I love all the recursive acronyms. GNU, stands for GNU is not UNIX. Witty! And PHP stands for PHP Hypertext Preprocessor. I suppose this is why I get called a geek. Not just for knowing the acronyms – necessarily – but that I find them funny.

Anyway, the case in point is that these three pieces of software, three giants of the software world; can all be crammed onto a USB memory stick. The “AMP” combination (Apache, MySQL, PHP) is such a powerful combination, although rarely seen by end-users directly, it sits behind hundreds of millions of websites, not to mention the hundreds of famous companies that use software like MySQL. Most amazingly something that warms by heart and opens my mind is that it is all distributed for free and with freedom. Their mission statement is this:

[it is our] mission to preserve, protect and promote the freedom to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer software, and to defend the rights of all free software users

It is also, from what I can tell, a mostly pointless exercise. There is very little point in having these three incredibly powerful pieces of software on a memory stick; it is more a showcase of possibilities. The power of the software, and the millions of man-hours of work that has gone into the software development, is encapsulated in an extremely small artifact. Its almost like having an all knowing guru, who could have memorised all of human history, but they are unable to write, talk or communicate in any other way. The strength and power of the software is somehow “trapped”.

BlogCrossing Concept

You may have heard of BookCrossing (“bookcrossing” is now included in the Oxford Concise Dictionary). BookCrossing is defined as;

“the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise”

Although I have significantly different aims, I have transferred the same functional structure, which resonates well with my other audience collaboration oriented work, to work with the “Webserver of a Stick” technology.

Rather than leaving a book in a public place, I am leaving USB memory sticks. Each stick has installed on it Apache, MySQL and PHP and blogging system WordPress (also the system behind this blog!). Anyone who plugs in a memory stick they have found is invited to make a blog entry and then pass the memory stick on to another person, who will then pass it on to another, and so on. I want to this to continue until each stick’s memory is full, when they will all be sent back to me.

Isnternet; although it is all web and internet based technology, BlogCrossing works in a completely “disconnected” manner. The network is made by the people rather than the telephony and internet networks that we are more often a part of.

Anti-Blogs; traditionally a blog resides on the web, and can be accessed by any number of visitors, search engines, news aggregators and so on. Also, most blogs are maintained by an individual, they’re often diaries and journals (like this one!). BlogCrossing is neither of these things, and in fact it is in the inverse. Maintained and written by many individuals, accessible by only one person at a time.

BlogCrossing; a tribute to the brilliance and success of BookCrossing.

I’ve released three BlogCrossings so far.. I hope they’re doing well.

My one misgiving is also the strongest part of the project. I’m worried that the network of people will break down. Somebody might loose the memory stick, they might steal the memory stick, they might accidentally delete all the data on it, anyone of these things would just ruin it. However if those things don’t happen, it proves a mass-understanding, a connectedness (even in anonymity); for me a pleasurable outcome. The aim, is that each person that takes part, and in the future people who see the fruits of the project will feel that pleasure too.

NB, I just spell checked, misread something that I thought I’d written, then thought of the word “witticism”, checked it and it exists – Cool!

“Witty remark. Blend of witty and criticism.”

December Work Plan

Looking Back

Its been two months since my last plan, which was broadly to research two areas for potential to work with for creative means:

  • Spam
  • Blogs

On the spam front, I went full circle with spArt. Looking back it was brilliant because of its subversiveness and despite it being a common criticism of the work I really like the fact it was “formless”. However it doesn’t matter how I look at it, spam is illegal, so I can’t do it….. unless I get even more subversive and start using distributed machines to do the emailing for me (rather than my own ISP). I think I will avoid that one. Pandora and all that. On the plus side, this background led me on to Prayer 2.0, which is now up and running.

I came up with two ideas for utilising blog technology:

  1. Loves & Hates
  2. BlogCrossing

Loves & Hates, I haven’t made this into a tangible piece of work, but the idea works great. I wondered how often people writing blogs wrote that they loved something, and likewise hate something. Using blog alerts, I had emailed to me all the references to the words “I love my” and “I hate my” from all the blogs that Google indexes (many millions). I will use this as the dataset for a piece of work.

BlogCrossing, referencing the website BookCrossing, BlogCrossings are individual USB memory sticks. Each one contains a fully working blog and the bearer is asked to make a contribution and then pass it on to someone else. The only difference is that a BlogCrossing can only be accessed by the person who has the USB memory stick. Blogging is traditionally a one writer to many reader type of relationship, this forces a one reader to many writer relationship.

Looking Forward

  • Music! I’ve been recording an album since the summer. I need to get it done for my agreement with Creaked Records.
  • Push Prayer 2.0, I need to go on a “recruitment drive” for Prayer 2.0 users. This will involve web promotion and producing fliers and so on. Potentially “installing” Prayer 2.0 on computers at University to encourage students to use it.
  • Purchase and release BlogCrossings – I need to purchase and prepare several USB memory sticks for BlogCrossing.
  • Photobombing development, dedicate time to improving and developing my Photobombing website so that it can be relaunched next year.

Disperate Magazine (.com), Architecture & Giant Mirrors

Until June this year, I lived with an architecture student. As a result, I’ve had many discussions about the subject, mainly in relevance to my friend’s (Matt) study and practice. Its a subject that really inspires me. A significant factor in contemporary architecture seems to be the prevalence of symbiotic, bland, and ever-similar designs in all, or at least many, of our cities and towns.

Everywhere I go block after block of seemingly identical residential and office buildings spring up. Week after week.
Making matters worse, these entirely uninspired architectural works, are the very things that today’s up-and-coming affluent young-professionals aspire to own and live in.

Although I would love to be in that such a “flush” position myself, actually aspiring to reside in such a dull and everyday entity seems an awful prospect.

It has sprung to mind, because over the weekend I assisted another friend in setting up his website for a forthcoming publication, in paper and online, Disparate Magazine. I think one of the key areas that the magazine is set to have a standpoint on is potential disconnection between a place, what that place actually represents, and the actual buildings that make up the landscape; especially with regard to the urban built environment. Its a complex subject, but certainly one that I’m interested in.

As an aside, this then got me thinking about my one, grand, architectural idea. Its something that I’ve been thinking about since well before my days as an artist. I may have come up with the idea originally at school, but I can certainly remember thinking about whilst sat in my office at Hilmore House, working for Morrisons Supermarkets.

Sunlight was a precious commodity, in my eyes at least. For some of the year, for some of the daylight hours, my office would have plenty of sunlight streaming in through the windows. However, much of the time was spent admiring a shadow on the opposite side of the road slowly working its ways up the buildings. I could see the powerful and precious light, within a few meters of where I was sitting; yet it was never rarely actually reached me. I was forced to sit and wish I were sat in the sunlight.

Although the idea came whilst sitting at my work desk, in front of a computer screen, I’m continually reminded of the problem. Any town or city I visit; inevitably one (or both) sides of a street suffer in someway. Our precious sunlight is continuously blocked, wherever you are. For instance, almost all the streets in the centre of Manchester are lined with buildings so tall, that throughout most of the day one side of the street is always plunged into darkness; and its the same story in any city you choose to visit. Even smaller towns have the same issue. It even extends to residential streets; often some houses are deprived of a huge amount of their light due to shadows cast by surrounding buildings (or such like).

I was reminded of it again – and again discovered an idea that I came up with, but someone else has also come up with entirely separately – whilst watching a TV documentary yesterday. It was a programme about “the Sun”, in general, but featured a small town in Austria. The town sits behind a huge hill, and for 8 months of the year gets absolutely no sunlight (resulting in high cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder). The SAD affect is highlighted here, because the town just over the river, which doesn’t sit in the shadow of the hill, has far fewer cases of SAD. They have come up with the same idea that I had; use a series of giant mirrors to bounce sunlight around and provide it to areas that don’t receive it naturally.

Although not implemented yet, there are plans to build a network of mirrors around the town so that through the winter sunlight will be available to the townspeople.

My concept has mainly been focused on cities; I envisage setting up extremely large mirrors on the tops of city buildings. There mirrors will track the sun, and move to the correct angle so as to redirect the sunlight (visible at the top of the building) down to street level. The same could be applied anywhere though; on a much larger scale in the deep and dark valleys of the Alps in Europe (and doubtless many other similar places throughout the world). The valleys could have access to the natural light. Light that has proved health benefits.

I must develop the concept further, and get some drawings done.

Something that I’ve always loved, is “remote control”, and I think that this has shades of that in it. I used to have a train set, and the thing I loved about it was not necessarily the trains, but the fact that they could be controlled without touching them. I knew how it worked, the electric circuit was obvious to me; but somehow it intrigued me immensely. This has continued throughout my life, with many remote control toys and gadgets. Most recently my immersion in using the Internet, both for “business and pleasure” (as it were) has meant I have access to hundreds of other permutations of the idea of controlling something through a distance, or without actually touching it.

I can access my home computers from anywhere, not just the files, I have remote control of the actual computer. I can get my email sent to my mobile phone. I can control my computer through my mobile phone. I can send information to my websites through mobile, email, web. Even a BT payphone would allow me to update my websites. Adding imagery into all this, I can actually look into my own home, from anywhere in the world, and get a live picture of whatever is (or isn’t) going on there.

I think the giant street mirrors, are born from this interest in remote control. Its an almost identical “joy” that I experience thinking about it. It is even better in a way. Although all the internet and technology things are extremely clever, and that interests me no-end, the fact that a mirror is such a simple and “understood” (by almost anyone) thing I think it adds to how accessible and really “real” the concept is.

Should Art “Whinge”

Having just written up my rant about Virgin Media – I got to thinking about its artistic resonance.

From what I can tell, Artists often use populist complaints, and ill-feelings, as a basis for “the message” of their art, whatever their art form may be. It could come from war, famine (or any of the other horsemen) or falling out of love, losing something, feelings of despair; anything really. You also get the inverted side of it, you get artists making work that reflections populist (and personal) ‘good things’ that happen, love, wealth, beauty and so on.

I’d love to make something representing the inherent difficulties consumers face, in my case with Virgin Media ripping me off most recently, but also Vodafone, Three (mobile network), insurance companies, banks; all of them seem to insist on making life much more difficult.

Still. It seems trivial in the bigger picture, at the end of the day I’m pretty well off, I live a good life, I’m healthy. I should be content.

I declare this “waffle”.

Virgin Media; Overcharging and Sending the Bailiffs

When I moved house in August, I needed to get a broadband connection in. For a while I managed to use my neighbour’s unencrypted wireless, but I concluded I really needed to get my own connection.

I would have got Be Unlimited; which is very fast, and a very good deal. Unfortunately, BT said there was no line installed (even though I can see one….) and it would cost me £150 to install a phone line. The only option to avoid this charge, was get cable internet, now available through “Virgin Media” (what used to be NTL, Blueyonder, Telewest and the rest of them).

At the time Virgin Media were running an offer, that would provide 2Mbit cable broadband, for £10/month (for the first year) – this is a really good deal. I was unsure, because of reports of how terrible Virgin Media’s customer service was, and also talk of them throttling users during peak hours. In the end I decided to bite the bullet and ordered!

I ordered online, and was expecting my “Welcome pack” within a few days. In the end it didn’t come, so I called them up. Something had gone wrong, said the lady on the phone, because of them transferring their computer systems. She sorted it out, and promised that I would have my welcome pack in a few days. Sure enough, it arrived. The only thing was there were two of them! The courier noted this too, and we decided that he should take one of the welcome packs away.

So I get to installing everything… it didn’t work. Each welcome pack contains a cable modem, each of these has its own unique ID number. Unfortunately I sent back the one with the right ID number, so until I spent about £30 on phone calls to Virgin it didn’t work. They did sort it out eventually. During all these phone calls, it was obvious that they had created two “back office” accounts in my name – for one of these my name was “Lintley” rather than the correct “Lindley” – I told them several times about this, and they assured me that they had fixed the problem of the two accounts, they were very sorry, and everything would be fine.

At this point; I have paid Virgin Media a £25 one-off debit card payment. They told me this would be deducted from my bills. I had also given them my bank account details to set up a direct debit payment, and got confirmation back from them about that.

On the 24th October (according to my bank statement) Virgin Media took £34.80 from my account. This is in addition to the original £25 one-off payment. So since ordering at the end of August, I have paid them £59.80. Remember this contract is meant to be £10/month!

The next thing I know; I receive two bills. Photos of the two bills I got (at the start of November) are below. Obviously Virgin Media had not fixed the dual-account problem; each bill has a different account number. And they say drastically different things.


According to this bill, Virgin Media owe me, £28.35. I don’t know how they arrived at this figure, but I think it is probably correct. I had had the service 3 months, so that should have cost me £30. If you subtract what Virgin Media say they owe me from what I’ve actually paid; it leaves you with £31.45 – very close to what it should be.


At the same time I received the above bill I got this one;


As you can see, it is a different account number, and they’re claiming that I owe them £15. Given that the monthly bill should be £10 – I had no idea why they were saying £15. I decided I would ignore this, and let Virgin sort it out themselves, as it is obviously their mistake.

That was the wrong thing to do, 10 days late I got this letter, with reference to the £15 in the second bill, saying that my services will be disconnected and the file passed to debt recovery agency. Immediately I telephoned Virgin’s customer service people to ensure that they did not do this. They said (again) that they had fixed the double-account problem, and cited the merger of computer systems as the cause. Ok, I thought, the bailiffs won’t be calling, my credit file will be untarnished and so on. Think again…..


When I spoke to Virgin about this they assured me that they understood it was their problem, and that it was all sorted out. They said I would not have my details passed to the debt recovery people, and they acknowledged it was not my fault and I did not owe them any money.

Lo and behold a few days later I get this letter;


So, it seems, Virgin Media have not ‘called off the dogs’. There will be plenty of angry phone calls flying out of my phone on Monday!

All of these errors are very annoying, scary, and potentially will end up with lots of ‘black marks’ on my credit file. However the shambles doesn’t end there. During my telephone correspondence with Virgin Media last week; they claimed that the offer (£10/month) that I signed up for never existed. “I’m sorry sir, we never had any offers at that price, your service costs £18/month”. There is plenty of proof available on the internet that the offer did exist.

I’m at a loss, this feels like Virgin Media are willfully trying to steal my money.

A few phone calls later; for no apparent reason the agent I was speaking to decided that the offer did exist, and said she would apply an £8 discount to my account, for the next 6 months. At which point I will have to call up again, and ask for the discount again.

I’ve found out I’m not alone, there are hundreds, if not thousands of very dis-satisfied Virgin Media customers writing about their experiences all over the web.

I’m extremely angry about being overcharged, but that seems to be the lesser of the issues. Effectively Virgin Media have stolen my identity. They’ve created two accounts in my name, at my address, and they’re threatening to come into my house and take my possessions. This if pretty rich, considering at the moment; they owe me money!

I’m in a right old Branston pickle, and I’m very angry about it.

Low Fi, Net Art Locator

Artists are utilising the net as a medium for developing art projects, however these projects are often hard to find. The range of activity is extensive: artists use the net to experiment; to display and distribute their art projects; to collaborate; and sometimes to intervene critically in the increasingly commercialised and politicised space of the net.We intend to make these art projects more visible and accessible by seeking out key current projects and by encouraging artists to input information about their projects in low-fi’s open submission database.

however these projects are often hard to find.

Unfortunately I only just found it! Still, interesting thing, seems to have been dormant for a while though.

Speech Play Ideas

I used to live with a linguist and we often chatted about how words were formed aurally, psycho-linguistics and etymology. I’m also just personally interested in accents and what people sound like. I’m sure my interest stems from being born in Yorkshire, and growing up there, but having parents who both spoke with fairly bland southern accents. My accent has now become amorphous to whatever environment I’m in, but I used to have a significantly different accent to my peers and friends at school. I never felt stigmatised, but maybe it sparked this interest. Language in general and particularly links and differences between the European languages also intrigue me.

I’m considering the idea of dissecting some words into their component syllables, then writing each syllable in a variety of different ways. Each “iteration” will only have one change from the previous one. For instance with the word “singleton”;

Sin – gle – ton

Cin – gle – ton

Cin – gal – ton

Cin – gal – town

Cyn – gal – town

Cyn – galle – town

Cynne – galle – town

Cynne – galle – touwn

I thought this would make an interesting animation manipulating the form of the words as they appear on the page. Also I think it would be a nice documentary-style film asking people to read through the different versions, but out of sequence. The idea with that would be that they were not entirely sure what the word they’re trying to say is.

Maybe a combination of the two formats. Who knows, this is just an idea at the moment.

Diwali at Platt Fields Park

I went to a pre-Diwali celebration at Platt Fields Park a couple of weeks ago. It was fantastic. Not really directly relevant to my artistic practice, but certainly a good thing to do (for me) to keep my mind happy and creative. It was a really nice community event, but the dramatic climax was hugely enjoyable.

Dewali Fire Poi

Fire Poi.

A 30′ tall effigy of the ten-headed demon king Ravan was burnt, along with atmospheric music and a beatifully choreographed fireworks display. The effigy was buily by an arts company called Walk the Plank.

Platt fields seems to be a hotpot of these brilliant events; the other one I’ve been to being the fire-art-french-thing.

Burning Davan, at Diwali

The burning of Davan.

Prayer 2.0

I’ve never prayed. Not really. I remember sometimes thinking about whether it would be a good idea to pray, whilst walking to school. I always hit the brick wall though that I was only praying just in case God existed. Then I figured out that if he did exist then he should know my prayers already. Either way I couldn’t figure out a good reason to do it, so I never did.

While working with my spam/art concept, it occurred to me that a parallel could be drawn somehow between user-generated spam and the act of a prayer. The reasoning goes like this; one definition of Prayer (from Wikipedia) is this;

Prayer is a mental exercise and type of meditation in which the participant (the prayer) in many but not all forms of prayer attempts to loose mental connection with Earth and transport their mind to another person not on Earth. In most prayer this person is God or another deity. …

This definition is fairly non-specific, but it can be taken that when someone Prays they are trying to communicate or to impart their emotions or thoughts to another person or being – normally God.

In my model the mental exercise becomes the physical one of consolidating ones thoughts to computer-based textual information and the deity is replaced by an amorphous group of other internet users.

Prayer 2.0

I have no aversion to Prayer, but unfortunately I do find it entirely inaccessible, mainly because I’m lumbered with disbelief in God. Prayer 2.0 is an attempt at reflecting upon that and engaging others to do the same, regardless of their point of view. Maybe we can all help each other.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks writing the code, and now Prayer 2.0 lives at

Paul Eachus, Thoughts & Notes on Photoworks

I went to Paul Eachus’s Cornerhouse lecture. From the Cornerhouse website;

London-based artist Paul Eachus’ photoworks and display pieces present an irrational ordering of things, an excess of visual and referential material that refuses to be pinned down within known systems of categorization. His large-scale works are fragmentary, decentred and seemingly out-of-control.

As defined by Eachus, a “Photowork” is not just photographic documentation of his physical work, despite that being how it appears. I think his argument for the the photo work (as a concept) is to do with the abstract quality that photography can bring to his pieces; it gives him the ability to force people to look at his (otherwise) physical work one degree removed from where the work actually exists. It was also argued that the framing of his photo works is integral. Deliberately depriving the audience of being able to view the work in its totality.

A Photowork

An example of a Photowork, image taken from the Cornerhouse website.

According to the artist, these two actions are extremely important in translating his artistic intentions to the audience. Despite concentrating on his explanations and reasoning for over an hour’s worth of lecture; I never completely understood why a “photo work” was necessary. As a three dimensional physical piece, I think I would have appreciated his creations far more; I felt very much like I was being coerced into seeing things from the artists point of view. I certainly would not have arrived at his point of view if left to my own devices!

The works, I thought, were impressive examples of installation and sculpture; they were emotive, instantly creating an uneasy edge on sight and with complexity till the cows come home. Intricate and meticulous. Why, in that case, does the artist insist that his work is made to be viewed in the once-removed form of a photograph? (All-be-it a very lovely, well lit, medium format photograph – but still a photograph!) The strangest thing I found was that there was one exception. He showed us documentary photos (not photo works) of one piece that was designed to be an installation rather than to be photographed and then exhibited; in conceptual terms it seemed to be identical to the photo works.

What is the photo work about? I couldn’t quite figure it out. For me; it definately didn’t add to my enjoyment of the artwork. Maybe forcing the context by using photography is a gimmick, maybe it is a master stroke that I completely missed. Possibly it gives the artist an excuse to talk at length about its implications in order to “sucker” the audience with it. Maybe it is a good career move, photographs are much easier to reproduce than a large installation! Who knows?

For me, two key points are in the forefront of my mind; Delivery of his presentation or lecture was unpleasant. He simply read a prepared document (which came across as an entry in an encyclopedia) was not engaging. Secondly, managing to talk and write about his work in such a complex fashion seemed to be more important than the work itself. Is that a good thing or bad? This guy is obviously successful, to some extent, is it just because he is painting an idealogical picture or because of the merit of his work. A balance between the two must always be drawn.

Spy Phone

I recently purchased a modified Nokia phone, that lets you set it into a “spy mode” – whereby the phone appears to be off but will actually automatically answer any incoming phone calls; without any visible signs. Its designed for un-trusting types to spy on their friends, employers or loved ones. Fortunately, I’m in a position where this is not by primary intention!

I thought it would be cool to do some kind of interactive art work with it. When my University tutors asked me to look at the Urban Legends stories, I thought it’d be fun to create an Urban legend of my own. It would start, in lavish style, in a toilet. Graffiti on the walls tells the story, and concludes with a “real world” factor – a phone number. If anyone is inclined to phone the telephone number, they would be connected to my subversive spy phone – which resides in an undisclosed location. What the caller is listening to is…… in the eye of the beholder. I guess.

Urban Myths at URBIS

I took part in ‘Urban Myths Retold’ at the Urbis museum, in Manchester. The project was off the back of a literature competition that Urbis had already run, asking writers to create short stories either re-telling or creating brand new urban legends. 10 performance-based installations took place at different sites around Urbis, that visitors viewed as part of a 1-hour-long guided tour.

The work that I took part in was based on the story “Three feet from Leroy” – about a man who becomes obsessed with what appears to be an imaginary rat; his fear lead by the legend that, in a City, you are never more than three feet away from a rat. My friend Bryn Lloyd-Evans had created a sculpture, reflecting on some of the themes running through the story.

To augment the physical sculpture, we created a word-based (using the prose) sound scape, that I performed using Ableton Live. In addition my girlfriend, Caiti Berry, “VJ’d” a video performance (using OpenTZT; cool software)that was projected over the sculpture and in a stair-well of the space we were in. The space itself was a claustrophobic service stairway, in the guts of the building; perfect for this performance but it turned out to be rather unpleasant to spend several hours in.

This is a photo-merged picture of our setup (click for a larger version);

Three feet from Leroy, performance setup at Urbis

A video of all of the installations is being produced, so hopefully I’ll be able to post that on here once it arrives.

Bryn is interested in doing some live performances of poetry, using similar techniques, so that is something to think about. Not sure if its right up my street or not.

This is the story;

Three feet from Leroy by Peter Canning

He knew that in the city you are never more that three feet away from a rat. he moved there anyway, but fatefully for him it would be the same rat. Its name was Leroy and it trailed him everywhere- his bedroom, the loo, his office, parks parachute jumps, lifts, buses and even romantic dinners.

Leroy, despite being a magnificent rat with dark fur and bright eyes, didn’t impress neighbours, colleagues or girlfriends. Soon the office was a distant memory and the only dinners he ate were for one. He grew to hate the vermin and laid poison, but Leroy was too clever.

The years passed. Leroy continued to stalk him down the bust streets and lonely alleyways, screeching mockingly at him whenever they were alone. Eventually, his rat-inspired loneliness drove him away from the city. As he left for his home town he saw in his mirror Leroy loitering irritably at the city limits and thanked his lucky starts that he’d soon have a life again.

But he began to miss those quiet nights when, like soldiers at Christmas 1916, he and Leroy agreed a truce of sorts, watching TV together and sharing a burger.

But his pride was too great for him to return to the city, to be reunited with his rodent friend. Until one day the local council won their fight to reclassify the town as a city. And as if by magic, he heard a screeching from under the floorboards.

Spam Good, Spam Bad; Spam Bad

Amazingly, since my last post thing have been going pretty well!

I wrote that yesterday, and things were still okay this morning. However I’ve annoyed one many spam-savvy academics, one too many times (maybe).

I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I was reported to, who notified my ISP who then temporarily disabled my account.

So I think, for the time being, this project will have to go on hold. I still want to continue it in the same vain, but I will have to either find a way to legitimise what in reality is spam; or simply only involve people who decide to take part off their own free will. I do feel however, doing that would detract from what (has proved to be, I think) a fun experience for at least 90% of the people who have responded to my mailings.

I’ll be posting again soon, I’m going to collate all of the submissions from recipients of my spam emails – its quite a nice little collection of nuances now! And hopefully I’ll facilitate a way in that which I can further the project somehow. I still have the ultimate wish of making this a gallery-based piece that can be tangibly viewed by the public. Not just a web-based experience.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far, its been lovely!

May the lap of the spamGods be with you.

Spam Art is Go

I’ve rigged up a pretty good version of what I want to do with my spam based project. Spart is the name I’ve coined, rather unimaginatively. Since I’ve got so far with it, I think I’m going to give it a dry run, mainly to see what kind of result I get, and hopefully provoke a good reaction from the (potential) “victims” of my mailings. My previous post about spam and art is here.

Hang on! I got an email….. what does it mean?

Firstly sorry again if this has brought you to annoyance and if you wonder how I did this; your email address exists on the world wide web, somewhere. It doesn’t mean too much on its own. If you would like for your email address to be removed from the system, there is a link at the bottom of any emails you have received from me.


I’m asking anyone who receives one of my spam emails (or anyone else) to contribute a short message to the project. These contributions will then in turn make up the content for my next mass-mailing. Ultimately I would like the system to be completely self contained – so all the messages that are sent are generated by other people who (at one point) received a message. I will then place the computer(s) running the system into a gallery, and display all outgoing and incoming messages that it generates. This is a little way off, b ut not impossible.

Use this form to add your message to the spam system. Anything that gets sent out will be moderated, so there’s no point including any obscenities in it. If you would just like to leave a general comment click here.


Email Spider Statistics

0) {
$sql = “UPDATE spart_emailstats SET value=” . $_POST[“total”] . ” WHERE variable=’total'”;

$result = mysql_query ($sql);
echo “updated total”;

if ($_POST[“last_hour”] > 0) {
$sql = “UPDATE spart_emailstats SET value=” . $_POST[“last_hour”] . ” WHERE variable=’last_hour'”;

$result = mysql_query ($sql);
echo “updated last_hour”;

if ($_POST[“website”] <> “”) {
$sql = “UPDATE spart_emailstats SET value='” . $_POST[“website”] . “‘ WHERE variable=’last_website'”;
// echo $sql;
$result = mysql_query($sql);
echo “updated website”;

//echo “here”;
$sql = “SELECT value FROM spart_emailstats WHERE variable=’last_hour'”;
$results = mysql_query($sql);
$resultsrow = mysql_fetch_row($results);
echo “

Emails found by spider in the last hour: $resultsrow[0]


$sql = “SELECT value FROM spart_emailstats WHERE variable=’total'”;
$results = mysql_query($sql);
$resultsrow = mysql_fetch_row($results);
echo “

Total found (since 10/11/2007): $resultsrow[0]


$sql = “SELECT value FROM spart_emailstats WHERE variable=’last_website'”;
$results = mysql_query($sql);
$resultsrow = mysql_fetch_row($results);
echo “

Last new email discovered from: ” . $resultsrow[0] .”



Art Spam, Spam Art, spArt I suppose

What is Spam Art?

I have a new harebrained “artistic” scheme. As the title suggests it is to do with spam.

I read about something I thought that was cool; a guy had simply created a dedicated email inbox and ensured that it received lots of spam all the time (not too difficult these days). Then a computer printed all of the messages that were delivered into that inbox and immediately the paper it was printed on was shredded.

I liked it – but a little one dimensional I suppose (I probably wouldn’t have said that if I’d have thought of it first and done it, however).

Another interactive art work I read about, that utilised the Internet, was the guy that had a balloon rigged to an air-pump that was triggered by hits on his blog. Anyone who looked at his blog could rest-assured that their hit, inflated the balloon that little bit more – at the end of one day the balloon was popped.

I really loved this concept. I’m not sure quite what it was meant to represent, but it definitely appealed to my tastes.

Try googling “spam art” – loads of cool results.

My Ideas & Testing the Concept

What I would like to do started with the idea of running two pieces of software on a gallery-based computer. The first program continuously spiders the web and builds an ever-growing database of email addresses. Despite the spam it attracts there are still millions and millions of such addresses out there on the web. The second program would send a message to each of the emails that the spider discovers.

Responses to the sent message would also be displayed by the computer and be published on a blog.

I guess I’m interested in turning the tables on spam, so for somebody out there they will receive my spam and be surprised and joyed at the fact that it isn’t actually the traditional form of spam. If they respond they will be interacting with anyone who looks at the gallery-situated computer or the blog. Thus my interactive art is born.

I tested the concept with a few hundred email addresses that I collected using a simple spidering program, and this has generated a few replies – mostly encouraging. One or two slightly angry or annoyed…. not surprisingly (I am sorry..!)

Take a look at the email I sent here.

The responses have ranged from;

Hi, what exactly is the purpose of this project? And what is the “art” for this project?

To lovely and encouraging responses like this from Anne-Marie;

I am always very happy to see that Students “in general” still have
ideas ! (you are the future my Dear…and the world depends on you all)

And this is the major point that I have to address:

How is art different from spam?David K

Many thanks to everyone who did respond – you’ve helped me a lot.

Also another huge debt to the open source developers who wrote PHPList and all of its components.

Where’s it going?

Well there is quite a development overhead with a project like this; for it to work seamlessly. For my initial test I’ve been filling in all the gaps that ultimately a computer will have to, but I reckon it has proved the concept well.

I’ve refined the idea through the testing. The part of the project that I really want to nurture is the relationship between the email content and the people that receive it. That was one of the most interesting concerns of the people that responded; the content must be relevant or of interest somehow – otherwise the email still constitutes itself as spam and will not be enjoyed by its recipients! So where do I find the content for emails so it will be relevant?

My current thinking is that all the emails that are sent to members of my spam list will actually be generated by users through a website. The website will serve as a medium for any single person to communicate a nuance of thought to (potentially) many thousands of “subscribers”. It can also be a hub for responses generated by any of these “spammed thoughts” to be displayed on the web. I’ve also concluded that anyone who receives these emails must not in an unsolicited manner. It just doesn’t quite sit right with most people (or myself).

Original Spart Email

This is the content of the email that I sent in my preliminary spArt tests…..

I’m an Art Student, in Manchester (UK).

I’m mainly interested in working with computers, technology and the web – and finding interesting subjects within those areas to base my work on.

This will form part of my creative process.

I (literally) just had the idea of putting a computer in an art gallery, connected to the internet and constantly trawling the web for email addresses. This is exactly the same process that some internet marketeers (as they might like to be called) otherwise known as “spamsters” use to gather some of the email addresses that form their spam lists.

My motives however aren’t to lure people into a scam or for some other commercial purpose. I’d like to see if I could have a computer that is constantly collecting new email addresses, and that would also receive a constant stream of replies – as the message is worthy of response, and is not spam.

All the responses would be displayed on the computer in the art gallery.

Something along those lines anyway……

As a sort of preliminary dry run, I’ve just gathered 500 email addresses from the web and I’m testing out the idea with them. If you’re reading this, then you were one of the 500 I got in my initial run.

Do you understand the idea? If so what do you think?

Any thoughts would be great!

Also, if you want to find out a bit more about me, have a look at my website; (however watch out, its kind of a work in progress….)

Many thanks! And I apologise for filling up your inbox :o)


Geocaching; Personal Procrastination

I’m becoming increasing frustrated with my inability to record my music in a efficient manner. Procrastination is a big problem as is occasional lethargy. Also I find it difficult to defer my desires to mess about with my various other projects that are on-going.

Today’s procrastinative displacement activity is giving some much needed attention to this blog.

Photobombing has attracted some comments from various people on the internet and is still smouldering away by itself, which is really encouraging. I really want to get it properly sorted, so its a more cohesive system and accessible to anyone (which unfortunately it is not at the moment). I think that is going to involve quite a lot of re-learning how to program – but should be fun in its own right.

I was particularly pleased yesterday when I stumbled across Imran Ali’s blog and his post about photobombing. Its so good to see/hear/know that people other than myself are attracted to the concept. Imran summated photobombing with this, it isn’t quite correct (I don’t think) but this is probably how photobombing should operate:

I guess it’s basically the inverse of geotagging, rather than tagging a digital map with digital photos, you tag a physical place with real photos :)

A (cool) twist of fate is that he discovered the concept of photobombing via geotagging which is something I’ve been extremely interested with lately.

Speaking of geotagging, I’ve finally got my mobile phone/bluetooth GPS and camera combination to work smoothly, so in future I can ensure all my photographs will be geotagging automatically. But I’ve also discovered the phenomenon of geocaching. What am amazing thing this is. A network of “cachers” maintain thousands of caches throughout the globe. A cache can be any sort of container, and will contain a log book and official paperwork. Sometimes there are gifts inside, or puzzles, riddles, clues to find another geocache – anything! Anyhow, all the cache’s and their GPS co-ordinates are available on the website and anyone who so wishes can go in search of them. Its great fun, I recommend it to all.

I am certainly going to combine my photobombing escapades with geocaching.

Sometimes I wish time went twice as slow, or me twice as fast.

September Work Plan

For the next few weeks I’ll be working with various web and online ideas that I’ve been developing:

  • Using Spam for creative purposes
  • Utilising the “blogosphere”

I’m really interested in the spam “problem”. There’s a distinct irony that by far the largest distributed computer networks in the world are controlled by hackers of disrepute for (primarily) spam activities and spam is something that anyone who uses email regularly will be aware of. I’m not certain exactly what I want to say, or how I want to do it; but I’m going to do something with spam.

The blogosphere (as its called) interests me differently. Although blogs – as they’re known now, the word derives from web logs – have been around for at least 10 years now. It is an amazing resource, whatever subject you choose you can rest assured that someone, somewhere will be writing about it on a blog. Again, I’m not certain how I can create some work that is relevant and interesting, but I’m going to do some research into it.


Run! Caiti in Alexandra Park, we went to play on the bikes and look at squirrels.

GPS Success

I’ve purchased a bluetooth GPS device for my mobile phone. The purpose, to geo-tag my digital photographs, so that all of them can appear on any compatible mapping software. This applies to Google Earth (and maps), and other sites like

I already have a page for my photobombing project to include geo-tagged photographs – using the website

Anyway, I’ve had some success, its taken a few days but I’ve finally managed to create a Google Earth file containing correctly geo-tagged photographs from a trip I took yesterday. Fantastic! See here…..

GPS with Photos

If you’re interested in doing this yourself, I suggest reading this page; – its a very thorough walk through of how to set all this up.

Also, many thanks to Ed, of and Tommi Laukkanen. Ed wrote a blog entry about Carling beer taps, which I landed on very randomly. Then I read his article about GPS tagging photos, using a Java enabled phone and Tommi Laukkanen’s “Trail Explorer” application – a very useful program that logs your geo location as you go and exports to a .GPX file.

Also this is fun opportunity to send another trackback :o)

iPhone, AudioCubes, Max/Msp – Interface!

I’m a big fan of interfacing different bits of hardware and software together, I’ve come across two today. Using the iPhone to control Max/Msp and also a thing called AudioCubes. This uses Max/Msp as well, but is available as a “boxed” product, and manages to control Ableton Live (or any other MIDI enabled software) using these weird coloured cubes. Strange, but interesting I guess.

This is a video of the iPhone thing (from, to see the demo of the AudioCubes go to its website.

Public Art; Large Scale

I just saw a post on about making crop circle-esque images in rice paddys, in Japan.

Rice Paddy Art

Its really cool. Everyone should do it, on different levels. Farmers with fields, architects and town planers with buildings, streets and parks, “ordinary people” with their houses, gardens, cars and selves.

World Collage.

How does one start a thing like that?

On the subject of public art, I stumbled across a blog entry about attempts to cut the public art funding in Florida. Hear, hear to the writer I say!


As part of the process I’m going through to install WordPress on this website, I’ve now become familiar with what a track back is.

Really cool principle, I like it. Web2.0 Go! (or something)

a system in a blog whereby a related item on another site appends information from its first paragraph to the bottom of the text of the original item. Some observers cite trackback as manifestation of the interactive Internet.


I just read a nice comparison article, between and – free blog hosts. Succinct and useful!

This website, recording angst and the doldrums

I’ve set up this website. I figured it makes sense to have a singular place where I can write about my creative efforts in all the different areas I’m working. If nothing else it will help me know whats going on, let alone anyone else. I’m still working through exactly how I’m going to have the site set up, but I am very impressed with the software I’m using (WordPress, with Hemingway-Ex, plug-ins like Slickr and third parties like Flickr) it is extremely flexible, completely Open Source and hopefully will deliver!

I’ve started by transferring my Journal from September 2006 to the present on to the website, so I will now be writing here rather than through so that is why there are posts going back to September on here.

Incidentally – is Flickr called that as if people are looking at a real photo album and going “Ahhhhh” after each page is turned (hence the “flick” bit)?

Emotionally I’m quite tense at the moment. Since beginning University last September I’ve been gearing myself up for this summer, in which I intend to record my debut album. I’ve been wanting to do this for a good long time now, and I’ve had an agreement with Creaked Records for over a year that I will make an album with them. Having got underway (at least a little bit) I’m finding it quite stressful, which is the opposite of what I want – I started making and recording music because I loved doing it – if I can’t enjoy it whats the point. So I need to figure out a way of having great fun again.

Actually, writing about it now, it hasn’t been bad at all. Maybe I’m just taking everything too seriously.

The overall effect of the angst though, is me feeling like I’m now in the creative doldrums. Maybe I should get a pack of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, that might help.

Cornerhouse Copy Cats

On reading the Cornerhouse’s website, I’ve discovered that they’re just commencing with a project entitled Bitmapping (see

The idea basically comes down to a game of consequences, but rather than using words images will be used. And rather than using paper, mobile phones (and their attached cameras) will be used. The whole thing will go on for about 3 months, and as each picture is sent it will be printed and displayed in the Cornerhouse Cafe.

Its brilliant.

However it’s also rather frustrating for me that I came up with precisely the same concept. I guess that, if nothing else, it at least means I’m thinking along the right lines!


Technorati searches blogs, millions of them, this one included. Its in competition with Google and Yahoo et al.

Very useful tool, should use it more. Advantagous over WikiPedia in its basis in opinion and thought, rather than pure facts and citations.

Having just written that I decided to use it, and vaguely entered some search terms. It yielded relevant, interesting and useful results immediately. Brilliant! I discovered the Arduino board, which is a little electronic circuit you plug into your computer via USB, it has a number of connectors, which you can plug just about anything into. On the Arduino website there are many examples of interactive installations people have put together using the Arduino – and it interfaces seamlessly with Max/MSP which is also interesting. Potentially knowing of it will allow me to follow up on some of my more challenging concepts.

I discovered the Arduino after landing on a journal belonging to a student in a similar position to myself, also studying in England. He and his friends were trying to utilise Arduino and Max/MSP to create a self-contained installation that takes shadows cast by the sun as input and outputs audio and video. It sounded good, if a little far fetched. I’ve enquired as to the outcome.

Use Case

In software engineering and system engineering, a use case is a technique for capturing functional requirements of systems and systems-of-systems.

Each use case focuses on describing how to achieve a goal or task. For most software projects this means that multiple, perhaps dozens, of use cases are needed to embrace the scope of the new system.

This would be a fantastic method of ideation. Rather that using a use case to desribe how to achieve a goal or task, use it to describe how to a respresent a subject artistically or describe how to create a particular vision.

Ain’t half clever these software developers.

Incidentally, I discovered that Edinburgh University’s Informatics department, have a person employed specifically to inform the staff about and create digital art. How good is that?

Speaking of quotes

Another Chaos quote.

“I accept chaos. I am not sure whether it accepts me. I know some people are terrified of the bomb. But then some people are terrified to be seen carrying a modern screen magazine. Experience teaches us that silence terrifies people the most.”

Bob Dylan

Academia so far, seems ok

Well, I handed in my journal. I finished my projects and exhibition piece, we did the show. All good, good fun and productive in work terms too.

I did a poor presentation for my assessment of this year, but hopefully I’ll make up in other areas. But possibly I’ll be let down in other areas. Anyway, year 1 – it all could be worse.

Part of my exhibition was a display of about 950 photographs, making up a photo diary of the last 12 months of my life. During the process of taking them down (much more fun than sticking them up, 4 bits of blue tack per photo is 950 * 4 little pieces of blue tack) I was thinking about what to do with the photos.

I’ve decided that I will start another photography project, I’m going to attach my photos to public places with blue tack. Each one will be tagged with a sticker, that links to a website detailing the project. I’m also going to try and photograph the situations in which I put the prints and also try and photograph whoever takes the photo from its situation. I think I’ll call it photobombing.

Also – must make an Eastenders style soap, but in a documentary style. Perfect.

Bringing anarchy to a Wiki

A Wiki, is a website that allows its users to add, edit, delete or change its own content. WikiPedia ( is a free encyclopedia that functions in just this manner.

My friend Matthew spent some time earlier this year deliberately trying to sabotage WikiPedia. I think it came about out of boredom, and mainly focused on changing entries subtly so they included a reference to goats. For instance doctoring the page about US president George Bush so the first sentance read; George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current U.S. President, serving from January 20, 2001 and he is not a goat.

All of Matthew’s edits were reversed, usually within minutes, sometimes seconds and occasionally taking a little longer. So the system works. Matt (and my) IP address (the thing that uniquely identifies computers on the internet) was relatively quickly banned from making edits for a week. Apparently there are actually many people that spend incongruous amounts of time editing WikiPedia, and indeed have become addicted to it. Bizarre.

Initially I thought maybe doing the same as Matthew could constitute as a work of art somehow, but then remembered that WikiPedia is invaluable to me as a research tool and is one of the few resources that out-and-out trust what it says. This comes down to the ethos of WikiPedia editors and its rules and regulations, two of which are;

  • Neutral Point of View: All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing fairly and without bias all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.
  • Attribution: Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a publisher of original thought. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is whether material is attributable to a reliable published source, not whether it is true. Wikipedia is not the place to publish your opinions, experiences, or arguments.

Much as these rules create a brilliant resource, they (purposefully) prevent people from using WikiPedia as a forum for original thought or self-promotion and it is enforced strictly. Again, I agree with this whole heatedly, but can’t help but think its not fair that all the successful artists, musicians and writers are on WikiPedia and may derive promotional value from that. Whereas anyone unknown or aspirational can’t get onto the resource, because nobody knows who they are and nothing is published elsewhere about them. Catch 22.

I created a WikiPedia page about my Dad, to see if his credentials were enough to allow his page to be left on and not deleted. So far this has worked has been live on WikiPedia for a few weeks now, despite containing a warning that “this article lacks information on the notability (importance) of the subject matter”. So not perfect. I could probably put something on the page that would give it some kind of importance, though I’m not entirely sure what. I should put he is father to aspirational artist Joseph, which would maybe get my foot in the door.

I came across a kind of paradox that will, potentially, allow me to achieve my desire of having my own WikiPedia entry. I guess the reason I want this is that is feels like a sign that I would have arrived as an artist, if the WikiPedia editors think that I have the required notability. How it would work, is that I systematically sabotage WikiPedia, but work to a rationale. Realistically I think it would have to involve an aspect of networking too, for instance getting multiple other people to help me as the task is too big for one. Otherwise I could write a computer program to do it. If I can get around the constant re-editing by the WikiPedia monitors, and alter something sufficiently thought-provoking or controversial, enough times and involve enough people; ultimately I could evoke so much interest that I could then get media coverage (even if it is local) or better some sort of comment from a critic. This in turn should constitute relevance and notability enough that my page on WikiPedia would be allowed.

It may seem a bit ridiculous, with that long explanation, but I really think it would work and if its done in the right way it could actually have artistic merit.


Discovered the potential power of a Wii remote and I’ve decided to use it for my University show, it will form the “button” part of my audio installation. In order to record a snippet of audio, you will have to make a gesture with the remote – assuming my programming skills are up to the task.

Inkling for Recording

I’ve got a deadline, of September, to complete a professional-sounding recording of an album’s worth of my musical material. I had the same deadline last summer, but missed it, so I can’t really not do it and come away feeling un-aggrieved. So I’m gonna do it. So far this year I’ve hardly spent any time with my music, mainly focusing on more University-aimed work. But I have the Inkling. And I’m sure its gonna be good, so I’m looking forward to it.

Nice Swiss Writing. Note from Leo, the guy who runs the record label who are going to put out my album. He’s a lovely guy, and I think his handwriting is cool. Also I like the style of putting “Best, Leo” at the end of an email or letter.

I’m going to try and get a Variax guitar, which is a clever “modelling” guitar, hopefully giving me an expensive sound for not very much money. We’ll see…

Listened to Hot Chip’s second album, The Warning, for the first time properly. Its cool. Not quite as much character in parts, as with the first album, but it makes up for it with ingenuity in other ways. Really cool!

Hi-Fi. Play Station 2 based karaoke. Really good fun. This photo probably needs some audio accompaniment.

Heroes is Back

A couple of months ago, my friend gave me a disk with the first 18 episodes of a US tv series, Heroes. I got addicted immediately, and lost two days of my life to constant watching.

Anyway, after the mid-season break its back, and I just watched the new episode – marvlous. I don’t think its that good, in a critical sense, but the enjoyment I get from the act of being addicted is simply fantastic.

Also, I’ve started freecycling.

Reflections on This & Bibliography

I slept for a pittyful hour or so this morning, with birds tweeting and the light endlessly seeping into my room. I wasn’t working, rather my head was looping various thoughts, some about WikiPedia – I spent a lot of time reading it yesterday – and also Nena’s 99 Red Balloons came back to haunt me again. So I’m not the freshest daisy today!

Today is the day to hand in my journal. This, I think, will be the last entry for the adjuged 1st year journal. I thought it maybe useful to reflect on how I’ve developed through writing it. Also I want to state its omissions.

I hope that I’ll continue to write this journal, writing has proved to be a valuable thinking tool as well as delivering gratification simply to try and articulate my thoughts. Writing is something I used to hate, but the older I get the more enticed I am by the beauty of it. Also, as I’m slowly becoming desolved into a world dominated by Google and the Blogosphere, I should make a stand. Take the fight to them.

Incidental- I asked one of the IT guys in Chatham if there would be any mice lying around, for me to dismantle, for my Autotalk button. He’s a nice guy, we ended up chatting about Freecycle ( – just another facet of the dawn of Web 2.0 and the internet’s constancy of innovation.

I’m not sure if its evident, but I certainly feel like my writing has progressed through the practice I’ve had here. Maybe it’s just a confidence thing, either way, a good feeling.

Incidental 2- For Autotalk, paint the floor black and invite the audience to write something down if they’d prefer that to leaving a recording of their voice? Maybe getting too wishy-washy.

I’ve tried to be referential to other artists, as I believe that’s an area where I generally falls down, in terms of being assessed for University, but I still don’t think I’ve fixed the problem. I guess its because I’ve only been exposed to the art world (and actually looked at it, in anything other than a casual sense) since September last year and the majority of the time I’ve been relatively self-obsessed. Mainly looking at other artists’ work as it relates to my own progress. Also I harbour a strong belief that if I like something, for no particular reason, there is no need to spoil it by over-analysis and being overly critical. Or indeed critical at all. So maybe that will be a weak spot of my journal.

Another thing that I know I haven’t done “to specification” is reviews. I have written only two reviews, I think, as a result of sitting down after having come to the decision to write a review. I do, however, have significant other review-type-text that hopefully will fill the void, if it can be distinguishsed from general musings.

Lastly; a bibliography.

The one text that I’ll mention (again) is Brian Eno’s A Year with Swollen Appendicies. I don’t think I’ve used any material directly from it, but as I previously stated it has been a useful tool for generating confidence and, to an extent, has probabl been the largest influence on my style of writing.

Otherwise I haven’t looked at any literature to find out about things or gather inspiration. As you may have correctly presumed, WikiPedia is generally my first port of call regarding pretty much anything (particularly anything that, should be, factual). If WikiPedia itself doesn’t satisfy my curiosity I would then revert to traditional web searching using Google (althought depending on the subject this is sometimes my starting point). To catalog my browsing throughout the writing of this journal would result in a list of thousands of unconnected websites, and not really mean anything useful.

Incidental 3- my good friend David, from my hometown/school classes is having an interview for Interactive Arts today. It would be so good to do some collaborative work, were he to get on.
Other sources are the television and the Guardian. I’ve never previously got into reading a news paper (apart from the Metro, but does that count?), but with a little practice I’ve learnt my way around this particular one and enjoyed reading it a lot, as well as doing the “quick” crossword whenever I can – normally being shamed by my wiki-saboteur friend Matthew.

Breakfast time now I think, then after David’s interview I can go home, relax and catch up on yesterday’s missed sleep.


Created to combat the, alledgedly, anti-USA and anti-Christian WikiPedia, has this about Dinosaurs;

Dinosaurs were created on day 6 of the creation week approximately 6,000 years ago, along with other land animals, and therefore co-existed with humans.

Oh dear.

How time comes together

I like the concept of time, and every piece of work I do has lots of dependency on time. Music and photography in particular. I also like its fluid-ness, and the immense value of looking back at things with retrospect. I suppose that’s why I decided to try and do a project based on it.

So far, at least, my time exploits haven’t come to anything tangible. I tried to suggest that some of the images I presented at my half year review had their artistic basis in representing a moment of time, but its more true that that was retrospective thinking after each image had been captured. As an aside, I really like thinking of taking photographs as, in a literal sense, actually capturing the beams of light that are creating whatever it is I’m photographing. Maybe its the hunter gatherer in me coming out.

I do however, have several on-going pieces of work that are spawned directly from my time project. Its ironic that they’re taking me more time to complete as I initially guessed they would or maybe I am simply still suffering from procrastination-fever.

Fresh Air. I think this moth had just emerged from a cacoon.

Sensible, sensible

I subscribed to Artists News today. What a sensible thing to do! Immediately I’m inspired and encouraged about the wealth of opportunity out there.

Emailing a Saltaire based gallery about a photography exhibition and there’s an intriguing commission for a public space in Coventry.

Innovative, exciting and experiential, it should engage with both adult and family visitors. The piece must also evolve during the exhibiting period either through audience participation or as phases.

I figure my audio installation for the end of year show would fit in with this perfectly, so I’m going to try and follow this up.

Autotalk Patch, at present. This is a shot of the “finished” Max/Msp program for my Autotalk installation, for the end of year show. Getting pretty complex!

Thoughts from a year ago

About this time last year I was feverishly trying to put together a portfolio (from nothing, diddly-squat) to get me through my interview for Interactive Arts. The ideas that I eventually presented to Tony, all stemmed from the writing on these envelopes. I’d forgotten most of them, I should really pursue them.

One of my favourites, comes from the concept of attaching a bucket of paint to all the taxi’s in the city. Each with a hole in the bottom, slowing leaking paint, and eventually tracking where all the taxi’s go. Hopefully creating something aesthetically pleasing to look at.

Not possible I know, but maybe using GPS, similarly to how Adele Prince worked in Nottingham.

Its also really nice looking at these and seeing how my thinking has developed vastly in the last year. Although, importantly, I’m very aware that my referencing to other artists, and indeed knowledge of other artists could do with improvement. I hope during the networking activities that I’m going to undertake next year will help improve this.

Singing Ringing Tree

I visited Tonkin Liu’s “Singing Ringing Tree” – which shares its name with a 60s children’s TV programme – near Burnley in Lancashire. Its supposedly an architectural kind of installation…. thing. I’m trying to write in a frustrated manner; because I often get tempered by coating simple works with layers of meaning and complexity that are beyond their worth. I don’t want to just sound anti. I really love the Tree, its one of the coolest pieces of art that I’ve seen in a while, and I think this is how art should be done. But I would really love it if things could just be appreciated for what they are rather than smearing wonderful things with a veneer that (in me at least) encourages suspicion.

Can you feel the noise? When I visited the tree (in February) it was blowing a gale, and despite having a spattering of beautiful sunlight, was desolate. I think it added to my experience though, despite limiting it to a few fleeting minutes before I lost the use of my fingers. There are some wind turbines in the valley behind the tree in this picture. Its an interesting contrast, the use of the wind to enthral and inspire in the Singing Ringing Tree and capturing its power for industry and commercial use.

The tree’s party piece, is the noise that is created by the wind blowing through the tubes. Aesthetically, of course, it looks both “cool as fuck” and carries much beauty – in my mind at least. But its the haunting noise, coupled with the location high on a moor in Lancashire, that really evokes strong feelings in me and made me feel affected by the tree.

Apart from writing from a critical point of view, I’m really interested in work, that like this, is in a public place and for anyone to enjoy. I should think of things I could do in this manner.

Casts. It never crossed my mind until just now, but could these be guns? I’ve probably been thinking about it too much.

Artistic Landscape. With these two pictures I kind of see the links to architecture more. Imagine a block of flats built such as above.

Run from the Wind. It was cold.

Button Action (required)

I spoke to Daniel Staincliffe again, in a chance encounter in the studio at University. It turns out he’s probably saved me some time, we’re both trying to figure out the best way of having “a button” attached to a computer, in its most literal sense. One of my plans was to dismember a computer keyboard and try to harness the power of just one of the buttons – but Dan has tried this approach already and it is plagued with problems.

I suggested (another of my plans) maybe doing exactly the same but with a mouse instead, its much simpler inside and only has two buttons in the first place rather than 102 on a keyboard. He just said “Why didn’t I think of that?” so hopefully it is going to turn out to be a good (working) idea. Fingers crossed, because if it doesn’t work I’m going to be a bit stuck.

Action required, by me, to test it out!

Showing Off

Despite having the first obstacle of handing in my journal in a few days, my head is filled with ideas and mulling over exactly what I’m going to do for my end of year show. I’ve definitely put my eggs in the Max/Msp audio installation basket, but I really want to represent my other activities from throughout the year.

Autotalk installation, Max/MSP program so far.

Ideally I would like a whole room to myself, with large speakers strategically positioned for my audio installation. Then I would pepper the walls and any other surfaces with printed photographs taken throughout the year but with gaps in the photos to project video work in. Over and above that I do have some interactive audio and video things that I’d love to make publicly accessible.

Having accepted that I don’t have the time, space or funds to do that I’ve decided to explore the possibility of making a photograph trail from the foyer of my University building up to the studio and exhibition area. Arranged in chronological order it would very simply recount the last year of my life through all (that’s several thousand) the photos I’ve taken. It would link really nicely with my Time video piece, which uses all the photos taken from when I started University to the Winter.

Need to check out how they could be attached to the building, if I would be allowed, how much all the prints would cost. Et cetera.

Things since the end of 2006. Self-described.

Picasa excellence and picasa annoyance

I’ve been using Google’s image organisation and editing software for a few months now, and I must say its largely made my life much easier.

Somehow, however, my Picasa library just got deleted. This means I now have to load in my 20-odd-thousand photos again, and I’ve lost various albums I’ve put together.

Oh well, I guess I should try and utilise having a “fresh” look at my pictures.

Rewritten Why’s Alive

I was quite disappointed at my poetic efforts with writing about “To ask why is to live”.

This is a rewritten, and still rather dark version, but I’m happier with it. I really like thie ending passage;

Battlefields and pavements are playgrounds
Middle men and junkies doss like
Why are they, they?
What makes their folly?
Whats the point?
Where’s the sign?
What’s my name?
Why’s today?
Why is alive
To ask why is to live

This is the whole thing:

The End is Nigh

It feels to me as if something is coming close to an end. I can’t quite figure out what it is, is it the impending hand-in date for this journal? Or is it the now ever-constant coverage of global warming that’s getting me down? Or could it be the ever-dwindling student loan in my bank account combined with a scarily low number of days before the end of my University year. It all seems to have just sneaked into my consciousness without much prior warning.

Ending. Owned by my friend Fred it is memories of this guitar that are my first memories of any guitar. It seems to have been around for ever and I’m sure has inspired many; well at least me and Fred. This is a ritual burning of it, after it was rendered useless by a short drunken Scottish man.

I’m currently on a skiing trip in Vallandry, a small alpine village near Albertville in southern France. I’ve been here a few times before, but not for 3 or 4 years. Nothing has changed though, except here there is, too, a new-found awareness of global warming issues. The risk of the skiing trade disappearing has just jumped from nothing, to everything (in the property investors minds, anyway).

Climate change is a serious issue, but as it is patently clear; we’ve created a big problem. We now have to tackle the problem with gusto – I can’t think how better to put it! Believe it or not, when I phoned up my school friend Lindsay when I was 13, really distressed about the fact the world was “going to fuck up” imminently, I reflected (at the time) that I was overreacting. I guess I wasn’t really.
Unforgiving Mountain.

I just read in a newspaper that British Airways looses 23 bags out of each 1000 they load on to a plane – the worst in Europe.

Compliance. After jumping through hoops, doing obstacle courses, burning enough fuel to power the city for a day and a financial outlay equal to a small country’s national debt; I finally received my valid UK passport. It was ordained with this insightful label.

I’m on holiday with my immediate family – a Christmas present to to us all from my Dad – and also with my auntie, uncle and two of their friends. Its quite a giggle and definitely a stark contrast to my cleshay-ridden and wholly student-like existence. Without going into too much detail describing my friends and family’s background; being on holiday with such a concentration of knowledge and intellect, that is rooted in such different methods and concepts to that of my peer group, is very uplifting. Inspirational in a way.

Last night a conversation arose about sudoku, it turns out my auntie is an avid player, while my uncle doesn’t really play at all. I’m quite a fan of sudoku, despite the huge amount of time it takes me to complete even an easy grid. Its a real art form. Apparently, this is the number of combinations you could have for a 9*9 sudoku grid.

Six sextillion, six hundred and seventy quintillion,
nine hundred and three quadrillion,
seven hundred and fifty two trillion,
twenty one billion, seventy two million,
nine hundred and thirty six thousand,
nine hundred and sixty.

Its definitely one of those things where the actual number doesn’t matter. You just know; its a lot.

I also read an amazing article in the New Scientist last night (New Scientist makes excellent holiday reading, although I forgot this week and had to borrow my brother’s copy!) that talked about number patterns just like sudoku. Mathematicians in the Europe only discovered these magic ways of arranging number in the last few hundred years, even though the Chinese have been aware of them for over 4000 years. Fancy that. It turns out that these magic squares, which are the same as sudoku squares, are actually invaluable tools for writing computer error-checking codes. By utilising these squares, a computer or electronic circuit, can transmit a message over an extremely “noisy” wire and actually decode it at the other end. By using the square, a computer can convert an extremely poorly transmitted message with missing or incorrect characters in, such as; ” e i br n rox he zlay uog” into the correct message “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”.

The same kind of techniques are used already for the Internet, digital TV and CD/DVD drives, but by utilising the sudoku squares scientists can transmit high-bandwidth digital signals over electric power lines – the hardest thing to send a message through because of the extreme high voltage and crudeness of the lines. Its quite an odd thing to write about in the context of art, but for one it gave me that warm feeling I get when I see a movie that I really love, or an inspirational piece of art work, or listen to an amazing piece of music. But secondly, the point that really grabbed me was that mathematicians discovered these number patterns some time ago, but never really understood them and just thought of them as a game. Now they’re being used at the cutting edge of technology to do something truly influential. The article included the sentence “maths can, once again, be seen as an art form.” I think that’s kinda cool.

Origami by Joe Gilardi. This is a dollar bill, creased, folder, cut up and put together again in this form. Another musing I arrived at whilst reading the New Scientist was the crossovers that exist between high-level mathematics, magical illusions and art; they’re rife. I doubt I could be a magician, but it’d be cool to explore any artistic magical possibilities that arise.

During our conversation about Sudoku, however, my uncle (a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and author) raised a question of what it is to guess? Also how to distinguish between this and an estimate. I wish my alcohol-impaired brain could remember the exact context of the question; it was to do with the human way (as opposed to a computer) of completing a sudoku grid- almost everyone makes assumptions that they’re not sure of in order to see if they’re correct. Just like guessing a word in a crossword; you may be wrong but even if it is it may well lead to some other correct answers. I thought it’d be cool to do some work reflecting on humans ability to guess and estimate. I’m sure that most guesses are actually more informed than the “guessee” thinks at the time.

Irrelevant Pomp. I created a WikiPedia page for my Dad… it says it “Lacks Relevance”. In fitting with that sentiment, here is a photo that lacks relevance, but one that I think captures the spirit of an instant in London.

Fourtet Contest

Well my entry didn’t win the Fourtet video contest on Italian media website, qoob. In fact it received quite critical comments! However, I am still pleased with the result and it seemed to go down okay in my half year review.

The standard was very high, and the winning entry – although not my favourite – was very slick. It used still photographs of six people in a line, each with a percussion instrument, and all set against a white background. As the music progresses each person becomes animated perfectly in time with the beats of the song.

  1. Consider copying the technique with a different subject
  2. The video also used wide aspect, like a cinema screen – try it!

Adele Prince & Mars Bars

Adele Prince (an Interactive Arts graduate) came to talk to my group this week. She has been very successful with exhibitions, commissions and winning an innovation prize from the Yahoo! website. Through her various projects she has also attracted a lot of media coverage. Her success alone was enough to keep me attentive, but as it turned out I really enjoyed the presentation and her work definately aroused my interest. Most of Adele’s projects seemed to utilise the web, with more recent work reflecting the changes in the how the internet is used and having a distinctly Web 2.0 feel about them. One of her latest works, involved being tracked via GPS, which updated her position on a map on a website, and being given instruction via mobile phone – very technology heavy! This web-centricity was particularly interesting to me; as many of my ideas and things I’d like to do involve the same kind of things.

One commission that Adele showed us, was for a train station in Linconshire. How she created her work (which was a video installation) was to travel the length of the trainline and alongside it. But she did this by foot, taking photographs at 5 minute intervals throughout (the whole journey took several days). With the journey complete the photographs were Adele’s source material, along with video footage recorded by her boyfriend who was following her on a bicycle. The end result is displayed on two video monitors housed within the station ticket office. I really liked this concept, its the kind of self-involving art that I really like. I guess there is something of a likeness to post modernism with exposed self-referencing, that really gets my juices flowing. With this piece I like it that there is no certainty about what the images would be, but together they can be directly relevant to the subject.

Another piece of work she talked about (my favourite I think) was her “Lost Something?” website. This was born from Adele collecting lost items from the street, and cataloging the item, where it was found, and when. Eventually all these items were compiled and uploaded onto a website. People can log on to the website, check the list and see if their lost item is there. Launched in the late 90s Adele still recieves many emails per week with regard to the lost items on the website.

Adele seems to have been prolific since leaving University, with further projects including Lost Something and another web-based affair; Trolley Spotting. Trolley Spotting is an online database (with maps & images) chronicling Adele’s journeys around various cities to find trolleys. It is true that trolleys turn up in many odd places!

I’m enticed by the all Adele’s work, and it is very reminicent of a number of my own concepts – I couldn’t help but feel there was something missing for most of the projects. Like a “missing link”. Of course this is just my preference, and I was exceedingly excited to see someone doing things so similar to some of my aspirations. Also her success speaks for itself.

The presentation did make me think back to discovering the website. On the site, you register your details and you’re then given a serial number. You print the number in a book, which you then leave anywhere you like! The idea is that someone else finds the book, which as well as the serial number has details of how to get the website. They then register the fact that they’ve found the book, where, when, how etc then once they’re finished with the book they are supposed to leave it somewhere else. Thus you get a large network of people sharing books with people using the Internet as a medium for tracking it.

There is another website called and another called – one tracks US currency and the other disposable cameras (and then shows the pictures taken with each camera). The ideaology seems very similar to that of a lot of mail artists, but in this case making the most out of the internet.

When I discovered these websites (about 3 years ago now) the concept of each struck a chord with me; and I started trying to wrack my brains to figure out something similar that I could set up myself. The lost something idea was one that came to mind (I was unaware Adele had done it!), but I decided it would only really work as a self-contained thing if the lost objects were posted on the website by its users, rather than just me, and that this would constitute a massive programming task!

The thing that really turned me on about BookCrossing (which, incidentally, is now a word in the Oxford English dictionary!) was the fact that the people interacting with the site were giving each other a gift. Even if it is to a complete stranger! I like this idea of not being able to control something, but engineering conditions so the “art” actually evolves by itself (plus its always nice to get something for free, from another person). The concept is quite similar to Dave Gorman’s book Googlewhack Adventure, which is an amazing book. I think it qualifies to be called a work of art.

Mars Bars! I think the reason I chose Mars bars was that it rhymes, and I liked the phrase “Mars bars go far..”

My plan is to create a replica of the BookCrossing system, but modified so that Mars bars are the subject, rather than books. I will start with, say, 100 Mars which I will release through a variety of methods – each of them tagged with their own serial number and instructions. Whoever finds or recieves one of the bars, is instructed to log on to the website and record the fact they’ve recieved (and eaten!) the chocolate they are then requested to purchase a replacement chocolate add a serial number (provided by the website) and release that bar.

I would love to create this chocolate giving network, see how far it can spread, track its progress, ultimately see where it takes me and see where it takes the Mars bars.

Later on, I had two thoughts; firstly I was worried about the legality of using the Mars company’s trademarks but then that led me to thinking how valuable it maybe for the company. I wonder if I could create such a thing and sell it to Mars as a viral marketing technique or simply tell Mars about the project and see if they would give me a nominal sponsor to get it off the ground.

So I’m extremely grateful to Adele for rekindling my interest in this kind of project and very pleased to have been made aware of her work, which I’m going to be watching with a keen eye. Maybe at some point we could join forces! Its funny how things work together, I started doing my first computer programming in ages with Max/MSP last week, and now I’m thinking about doing a whole load more.


Trying to think of a name for my Max/MSP based voice recording/playback invention. Autotalk is my favourite so far, I think it kind of gives a feeling its been dreamt up by some zany Germans. Der Autotalk.

I really liked the Singing Ringing Tree near Burnley and part of that comes from to fact it is out there and available for the public this made me think about making an Autotalk installation in a public place. I’ve got dreams of installing 100 microphones and 100 speakers in a public space somewhere. A modern day confessional? Or it could even be counselling, where the counsellor is completely passive. Cognitive behavioural therapy, eat your heart out.

Infact would it be a good subject for the installation… pose the audience the question what should this be called? Then record the answers.

Depression. This photograph came about purely by chance, but the result I feel is saturated with meaning. Narcotics consumed, utilising packaging from prescribed anti-depressants.

Max/MSP Project (continued)

This project was inspired by watching a programme on BBC2 – “The Grumpy Guide to Art”. I found it pretty amusing, but if I can imagine in some frames of mind I would have thought it rather depressing – even though I know that isn’t the point.

My inspiration came from Sir Gerry Robinson’s comments about people “talking bollocks” about art. As an issue, I think its one that idealogically I sit on the fence with; although I’m often frustrated (even angered) with over complicated and non-contexural analysis of art I also love diversity in work and acknowledge that with that comes a natural caveat for over the top, nonsensical anaysis. I must admit (here and nowhere else) that Sir Gerry actually said this at the end of his little section; “its probably a brilliant name for an installation, ‘Talking Bollocks'”. Having got the nasty mental image of a the literal meaning of that out of my head, I immediately knew what I wanted to do; create an installation to explore the issue but to try my best to avoid a biast viewpoint.

I want to create a space that consists of a central piece of physical work. Viewers of the work are invited to make an audio recording of their thoughts and the piece. Each recording left is stored on a computer and will actually be played back into the same space, in real time. So overall you will have a piece of work to view, as well as (potentially) hundreds of different view points being played out of speakers at you whilst you are looking at the piece; and then (if you want to) you can contribute you own opinion.

It feels like my explanation is not as good as the idea I have in my head. I guess the only way to find out is to create it and try!

I’m a little apprehensive, not because I lack faith in my concept, but that I’ve been here lots of times before and then discovered I don’t have the skill/tenacity to actually get it done in the available time. Must be positive.

Max/MSP Project

I mentioned in a previous post a thing called the Lemur, that can be used with Cycling 74’s Max/MSP. To explain a little, the Lemur is a kind of “control surface” that can be utilised in many different bits of software on PCs and Macs. Control surfaces roots are in computer-music, they were developed in order to allow computer based musicians to have a hands on way of controlling their entirely digital synthesisers. With a digital synthesiser as well as playing it (with a keyboard, just like a piano) there are seemingly endless parameters that can be changed whilst in use, to change the sound of the synth. Many of these controllers simply manifest themselves as a keyboard with an array of knobs, switches and buttons available however in the last few years, new technology has started to allow for much more inventive and intuitive options for controlling parameters. The Lemur, is a box with a touch screen. Using software provided with it you actually design your own interface with any type of slider, knob, button, switch, dimmer, button or display you can imagine. As well as this, it is a new type of touch screen, that allows you to touch it as many times as you want. So you can have (for example) 4 fingers spread out, each on its own touch sensitive slider. You could drag each slider up and down at a different speed, in a different direction. I’m afraid my explanation isn’t quite comprehensible so look here;

The Lemur is made by a company called Cycling 74 – who’s ‘flagship’ product is Max/MSP. Max, once you install it on your computer, does nothing. Max doesn’t have a set purpose or function, rather it allows the user to create their own program to do whatever they want; it just provides a framework for doing that. Its rather like a computer programming environment (eg C++, Java or Visual Basic) that specialises in maniupulating and controlling digital media. With Max/MSP and its various add-on options, you are given a toolkit for doing literally anything you could imagine with sound and music, video and images, and because you can utilise Java from within the software anything else that you might want to do with a computer. It is an extremely powerful tool.

As an aside, the software was originally brought to my attention by a friend of mine, Matt Donkin, who used Max for his 3rd year show for Interactive Arts. Matt’s project consists of a music keyboard, and a monitor. The two are linked via Max, and if you play notes that are in tune with one another, the monitor displays “tuneful” graphics. If you play random notes, then nothing very pretty is displayed. It’s an interesting idea. Most “visualisation” programs (such as you get with most computer-based media players) simply process the sound to extract the beats of the music. That is then the basis for displaying graphics to fit with the music. The problem is that the graphics are mostly randomly generated, the only thing that links to the music is the beat and that is often sketchy at best. With Matt’s project, it is the very notes themselves that create the image. Also the image that is created is intrinsically linked to the beat of the music, for the same reason.
Autechre’s Max Patch. Autechre are electronic artists, making forward thinking music mainly using Max/MSP. This image illustrates how complicated “Patches” (Max programs) can get.

I think its really intesting how finding out about a tool, such as this, can actually inspire someone. I guess it applies to me more than, perhaps, a sculptor; just because my work exists almost entirely in the digital realm. But I think anyone can derive inspiration from such things
. I’m sure there is an argument that an artist should have a concept, and then find the tools to create it, but I feel its just as valid to see a tool and then come up with the idea as a result of knowing about it. Such utilisation of the available resources and tools is one reason why Moore’s law (the idea that computing power will double every 18 months) has proved to be correct for the last 50 years and why advances are made so quickly. I suppose that my thinking comes down to this: If there is a way of doing something; someone will do it!

I’m currently developing an idea (that I will write about tomorrow) that will almost certainly be made possible by using Max.

Berliners, Ideas & Remixology

I’ve been to Berlin, and returned, despite having an extremely dodgy passport. I’ll write about it further at a later time, but I’ve completely fallen in love with the place. With the atmosphere, the people, the “way things work” as well as the rich artistic and cultural feeling that seems to spread from each corner of a block to the next. Since being there and returning I think I’ve been riding on a wave of positivity and free flowing ideas – a much needed boost.

Trickles on Monument. The full title of the monument is “The Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe”; it was one of the places in Berlin that affected me greatly. Opened in 2005 the monument is made from 2,700 stone slabs near the Brandenburg gate, arranged into geometric lines and rows, but each stone is slightly ‘awkwardly’ set in the ground, creating an uneasy contrast. An amazing places that I recommend anyone visit.

Whilst abroad I discovered the saga of naming my University course “Interactive Arts” (apparently the advent of that name brought significant extra funding – at the time). I thought it would be cool to set up some kind of forum (more of a list though) whereby students can record what they would refer to the course as, at any given time that they choose. The result would be an ever evolving list of creative titles or labels – potentially a fantastic source of inspiration. A bit silly on the face of it, but I think it could be really useful. Digital or paper?

Another thing I thought would be interesting to do, would be collate everybody’s photographs of Berlin and arrange them so that any photos of the same object or place are grouped together. It would be really nice to see all the pictures together, but also interesting to look at different individuals points of view. Probably logistically impossible.

The last idea is also probably impossible, but I’m trying to rationalise it and figure out a way that it could work on a relatively small scale. I’d like to create a system that would (ideally) have screens visible on all the extreme surfaces of a room. The easiest way to describe it would be to have a box room, with a desk and chair at its centre. The walls, ceiling, and potentially floor would have all their surfaces covered by screens. Next a location is chosen; it could be at the top of the Eifel tower, or Everest or in the centre of Bejing – anywhere. Now pre-recorded images & sounds are played from loudspeakers, and shown on the screen. The idea being that the person sat at the chair has a 360 degree audio-visual experience of what its like to be in that place. Far reaching; but I’m looking at it on a much smaller scale, using TV screens and my garden.

Also discovered an interactive control pad – the Lemur – which is another thing I’d like to create my own version of. I’m not sure I have the technology skills required though (the Lemur is made by one of the most forward looking, and advanced, technology houses in the world; Cycling 74). Its hard to explain, but you can watch a video of it in use by following this link;

Made friends with Dan Staincliffe in Berlin, really like his work, check out these games;

Dan’s Pigeons. One of Dan’s photographs taken with a mechanically triggered camera.

Entry or writers block?

I’ve often thought of writing critically about things in my journal, but then avoided it because I think the content isn’t relevant enough, or I can’t do it justice. I mentioned this in a journal workshop with 3rd year students, and the girl I spoke to simply said I should write about the inability to write.

So I’m giving it a go.

Mostly my reasoning has been routed in not thinking I, myself, am qualified to write about a particular subject. And in some cases I’ve just become frustrated by my own pompousness or submersion in doctoring my subjects with colourful language. The final convergence of thought that has put me off has been just thinking the subject matter is uninteresting; this includes topics such as Neighbours (the TV soap), children’s animation Charlie & Lola (which I saw at the Bradford animation festival), Google’s image editing software Picasa, Anthony Gormley’s Another Place, and so on. Of all those things I have opinions of them all, which to some extent I think would be useful for myself and others to consider. But maybe not quite as much as other topics and more to the point I believe that writing about other more obviously important things will probably leave more of an impact on the reader, or audience.

At this juncture I’m tempted to think this entry falls into the pitfalls I mentioned as reasons for not including several entries. I think my upbringing and frequent dinner table philosophical discourse as a child has left me with an avid appreciation of paradox. This in turn I think is fed by my own paranoid tendencies to think in circles.

It would be interesting to explore peoples’ cognitive processes in a work of art. In my case, here, thinking self-referentially, but it would be excellent to explore some common examples of traps. Maybe look at common dreams as a source?

Clean Sheets

Its a bit odd, for someone with a bed as unpleasant and messy as my own, but I really lust after the feeling of newsly laundered sheets that are freshly put on a bed.

Maybe I should have them more!

An ex-colleague of mine, Matthew McArdle, said he irons his sheets so they’re perfectly smooth.

Rotten Apples

Why does the iMac keyboard that I use to type not have a delete key? What is up with that? Backspace is fine, but I need to delete!

Incidentally – running Windows on MacOS seems to be a real reality now (if thats gramatical?) Maybe I should get a Mac next time I get a computer. In 2050.

Brian Eno

When I began to write my journal in earnest, I decided to follow a favourite route for producing something good. The starting point for this was searching the University library for “art” and “journal”. This yielded two results, one was spurious, the other was Brian Eno’s A Year with Swollen Appendices. This was quite a find, as I’d only days before been reading about Eno and I was really interested in his work. This I think was largely due to his status as a ex-Rock Star with Roxy Music, record producer for people including U2 and Talking Heads, as well as a highly influential recording musician and working artist. Pretty much everything I aspire to be.

It turns out from reading his book Eno appears to be something of the metaphorical anal retentive. But despite this he writes easy to read and entertaining prose, about things that normally would (appear to) be very personal to him. The insight into a successful and intelligent man’s life and the anecdotes and stories that go with are one thing, but seeing how his he produces his work and thought processes is another. I’ve used the book as a resource to dip in to as and when I feel like it, or feel like I need it. The point being I’ve always come away from it with a confidence that Eno’s thinking (I don’t think at least) isn’t too far distant from my own style and methods.

Currently I owe £4.50 in library fines. Worth every penny.

Fourtet Video Contest

I just had a look at Fourtet’s website ( – there is a competition currently running to make a music video for one of his tunes, which I think I will enter. The competition is run by an Italian website, that I had not previously been aware of ( but it seems to be pretty good; it seems to be a social networking site (see MySpace or Facebook) but completely centered around the arts. Each user of the site can upload their own images, videos or pieces of audio/music and then any other members can rate, review and comment. On its own its not that amazing, but the actual quality of the work seems to be relatively high.

Fourtet (aka Kieran Hebden) is a creator of music, in one form or another. I actually have a personal connection to him, which I guess has influenced my opinions quite a bit, but nonetheless he is probably my favourite modern musician. Which is quite a big deal for me.

I will write more about Kieran soon, but for now I must work on the video for the competition.

The tune is called “A Joy” so I’ll have to do something around that I guess.

Jarvis. To suit my current vocation of doing a music video to “A Joy” here’s Jarvis, having some Joy.

Things to Do:

I’ve fostered my procrastination for this particular task for some time, despite it being requisite for the journal; making a weekly plan (weekly. . . !)

  • Photography
    • Print some more photos using the Mac suite at University
    • Find out if I can get access to the Manchester University print room (this will allow me to print up to A1 at high quality, currently I can only print up to A30
    • Transport my framed prints into University for my review in February
    • Enquire about showing those prints at the Link gallery
    • Restart my daily regime of taking photos of my face, bedroom, ash tray, kitchen, garden (I’ve let this slip recently, but the videos would be excellent for VJ purposes)
  • VJ
    • Continue refining library and further develop my understanding of the software that I’m using (OpenTZT;
    • Animate my Romanian doll
    • Create some more digital psychedelic backdrops for overlaying natural images on top of
    • Look at animating my motorway time-lapse images for VJing
    • Prepare my time-lapse videos for review in February
    • Set up my web cam for recording time-lapse again (I would like to position it looking at the street, but I need to purchase a longer cable and set up a mount!)
    • Put together comprehensive plan of what I need to do to prepare my VJ ‘set’ for my review
  • Time
    • Compile a display of time-based photographs and video pieces
    • Look at different presentations of my ‘Time’ material
  • Music
    • Complete “Diamond Apologies” track (should only require some more vocals and maybe a high synthesiser line, could consider recording Bouzouki but it may make it too busy)
    • Revisit other recently recorded tracks (Lifeline & other forays into electronic based music) and look at adding more acoustic elements
    • Put together live set of “finished” material ready to show to Leo
    • Supply Fred Baker ( with recordings for his professional adjudication & input
    • Buy new guitar strings (again!) – Martin, extra light seem to do the trick
    • Book the sound suite at University for mixing down of my tracks using the monitoring system
  • Other Things
    • Sort out passport!!!!
    • Write to Granny and send some photographs
    • Identify something good to review (maybe write a review of the Joe Columbo exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery?)
    • Print photographs taken at the weekend
    • Have a go at making a video for a newly recorded track
    • Decide upon some good music for my VJ demonstration
    • See if Paddy still needs me for the Victoria Hall gig in Keighley
    • Send of release form & DVD to LocalPoint TV
    • Hassle more to see why I can’t post anything to it & try to put new recordings up there
    • Ask people if I can do remixes for them
    • Canvass opinion of local shops for sellings my prints

Having written this it seems highly likely that not all of these will be done and will appear in a future to-do list!

Matt; taken at the weekend on another excursion to Chorlton Water Park. I can’t deduce any particular message or meaning from it – but I like simply like the aesthetics of the image. I converted the original from colour to black and white and increased the contrast in the image to bring out his silhouette. I really like the detail that you can see in it, down to the curls in Matt’s hair.

Back it up; Rhymes with f _ _ _ it up

Crude I know. I feel entitled to be crude having deleted a good 15 hours of work on a piece of music. I have no idea how it happened, but on returning to it, its not there. File recovery programs haven’t recovered anything- simply reassured me that I was so stupid in the first place.

Oh well.

Sorry Leo! (the Creaked Records man)

Undesirable Webs

Despite my ‘love’ of the web and the internet – it is my primary source for doing, well, pretty much anything! – the bigger and better it all gets it simultaneously develops more and more shit flying around it.

My first ever comment on my journal/blog was this (since deleted, thankyou very much);


The VJ Low-down

Note to self:

This requires quite a lot more than this to put in to words and convey its breadth, realistically, but as a pre-cursor it is fit for purpose; It would be best to have a distinct set (set of visuals) for each mood or musical genre that you might encounter; straight-4 dance music, funk, deep house music, ambient, indie etc.

This has natrually come about anyway from putting together my “visual library” so far – but putting it in words I think will help put my thought processes in order!

Flesh out this idea with a proper concept – has been added to to-do list!

Good Vibes

“Good Vibes” are a thing that I crave from time to time. I wrote a song about a succession of these feelings that came about over the course of a weekend in the summer of 2005, you can listen to that on my MySpace page here; I don’t know why it is that when I’m discussing, thinking about or being critical about the arts, I always start to talk in terms of a concept as abstract and non-specific as vibes. Generally I’m very logical and like to see things in fairly black and white or clear cut terms. I guess its probably a requisite skill that you can see shades of grey when trying to analyse something that doesn’t necessarily have a beginning and end, or a correct “answer”, even a particular meaning or reason for existing.

Well really this is all an aside, and not really worthy of being a journal entry. I began writing this just to try and put down in words a good feeling that I’ve gotten from at least getting this far with my journal and regaining some ground lost through November and December. I think my elation has been augmented further with a feeling that my writing is progressing. It has been some considerable time since I’ve written anything structured, for that matter writing anything anything at all; apart from note-taking and scribbling lyrics down. Reading my initial post to this journal and contrasting it with my Pan’s Labrynth review- I’m sure there is progress there. Good vibes.

I must exhibit restraint (a good title for image-based-work maybe?) for if I were reading this as a third party even more objectively (than I write it) I would almost definately think the author were being smug.

Beach Party at Benicassim, in Spain at the FiB (Festival Internationale de Benicassim) festival in August 2006. On the final night there is a free beach party thrown by the organisers to say thanks to the locals for putting up with thousands of drunk English people (amongst many other nationalities). This is a shot of the sea filled with revelers. If I were less intoxicated I could probably have gotten some better shots, but I am still very fond of the depth in this picture and of its encapsulation of movement and atmosphere (or Vibes).

Pan’s Labyrinth

I went to see the film a few weeks ago, and felt it would constitute a good subject for a journal review. I was drawn to it, with the preconception in my mind that it would be solely animated, and that it would probably be inhibited by being a modern fairy tale, which I generally have distaste for. Now, its safe to say that my preconceptions were wrong, but also completely unfounded. Firstly I got the facts wrong, the film is not animated. It does include sections with digital animation being combined with film, but largely it is (or, at least, appears to be) a live-action movie.

Ofelia; as played by Ivana Baquero, in trouble after going on a critical mission inside the trunk of a dead tree. She has wrecked her new clothes, bought by her wicked step-father and will be in trouble.

The central character is Ofelia, a young girl who’s mother has married a man (not her father) who is a captain in Franco’s army after they have taken Spain in 1944. This situation eventually brings the girl and her mother much pain and strife. This is the first parallel to a “standard” fairy tale plot-line. Twenty minutes into the film after the scene has been set, and with fairy tale promise but also an extremely dark and sinister overtone; Ofelia finds a gateway into a mystical world filled with fantastical creatures, stories and monsters. Here perilous evil and potential haven stand side-by-side, if only she can fulfil the tasks set to her by a Fawn, the first creature she meets.

At this point in the movie, the directors obvious intentional showcase of the contrast between the stark reality exhibited by the setting of the film with authentic fairy-tale concepts becomes evident. Simultaneously the contrast (but also seamless blending) of the digital animation and effects, with the live action filming and Ivana Baquero’s natural performance (as Ofelia) works with sublime effect.

The exposition of pure conflict is generally what fantasy is about, but in this film I was taken with quite how well the conflicts were presented. Parallels are obvious between the mystical fantasy world Ofelia has discovered, and the world that her and her mother actually inhabit. In both places Ofelia must confront her fear, drawing on her own bravery and strength.

Ofelia’s mother (bearing the commander’s child) falls gravely ill with pregnancy complications and Ofelia is constantly bullied and resented by her step-father. He is a man obsessed with ruthlessly hunting down and killing all of the resistance fighters who are hiding in the nearby hills; on more than one occasion you are shown quite how brutal he can be with plenty of blood and relatively crudely used gore- for want of a better word. However this doesn’t detract from the film at all, and if anything makes the other sections seem all the more real.

Eventually Ofelia ends up in the Labyrinth and discovers a Fawn. Despite his slightly freaky (but definitely intimidating) appearance, he appears to be her friend. The Fawn tells her she is the lost princess of a secret Kingdom, and that she can return to take her throne and the riches that go with it. She only has to perform the three tasks he sets her, without fail and without questioning him.

Ofelia meets this creature whilst completing one of the tasks set to her by the Fawn. Intensely creative costume and presentation. This particular beast’s voice is deep and harsh, I would commend the voice artist and audio engineer equally. Very scary!

The two parallel worlds, only joined together by Ofelia, form the basis for the rest of the plot to unfold. The plot continually confronts you with unexpected twists but is still easily accessible and simple for the mind to move along with.

I think because of the sensibility and intense emotion being conveyed in the film, it does feel like it takes quite a long time to get you from beginning to end, even though it is only two hours long. Again though, for me this is a big plus rather than anything negative, and adds to the over all effect.

To sum it up I think its an excellent piece of cinema and is certainly a film that could be watched several times without decaying its affecting qualities. Unsurprisingly this comes from all the pieces of the jigsaw coming together perfectly; excellent live action cinematography which is uncomplicated but exquisitely presented. Digital animation to the quality that most people have come to expect thanks to the explosion of that particular medium. Ivana Baquero’s Ofelia leaves a bitter-sweet taste in your mouth, but all of the key roles are delivered with tactility and finesse– something I often find abundant in European cinema and lacking in Hollywood pictures. Topped off with an original concept and plot line the whole thing comes together faultlessly.

Ofelia talking to the Fawn, who is her guide. This shot stirs memories of the Alien films.

Being in the position I am – experimenting with film and animation (amongst my other exploits) – watching a successful picture of this ilk I am both inspired and awestruck. It somehow seems impossible to imagine being in a position to create such a work, but there’s only one way to find out, and that is to try. Hence I came away from the film totally satisfied with my cinema going experience and with a drive to create a narrative based film with a similarly intense reality come fantasy texture.

Fraught Thoughts

These words were written to be used for a piece of music that I wrote called Last Thoughts (you can download it from here; I don’t think I will actually use them for their intended purpose. My writing style comes about in an almost ‘stream of consciousness’ manner, both for “journalistic” writing and poetic writing such as is below. These thoughts are as they came out of my head, unfiltered. Although it wasn’t a conscious decision at time of writing, I think the source for these thoughts is my awareness of mental illness. Various friends, family and people close to me have suffered from all kinds of mental illness and it is something close to my heart and head.

Originally, the piece of music I wrote these words for, used a (very copyrighted) Bob Dylan speech, “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie”. The audio recording I have is (I believe) from Guthrie’s wake, and is extremely moving, and in my opinion a magnificent piece of wordsmithery. The text can be found here but the speech should really be heard from Dylan’s own lips.

Some Thoughts

Twings and Twangs are simple sounds but in essence they’re pure,
I’m lost in thought as we wonder along a path,
Ringing echoes of muffled tones – Bob Dylan in my ear,
Distored sounds images and faces come out of nowhere to create something real,
Physical and gutteral – a feeling?

But these arent real, they dont exist, its a digital fortress to pilfer a title,
Girl I want you here and I want to be there with you, to steal my own line,
And now I am- a little,
A vital thing is that I have comprehension.

An evil face can be deceptive and often decieves,
With deceipt so far that our naievity is revealed,
On occasion so little comes into focus even though we look at the same blades
Of grass in the field and a swan on the lake.

I know there’s tangibility there and I know your nightmares aren’t really real,
They’re reflections of our dreams and reflections of sounds we might not even know,
But combined can swing to nothing or funky flare,
Pain not destroyed by pleasure,
Purity not derived from just an essence of some good feeling and,
Innocence not lost through being insightful.

Floated on the sea of a life in a new world thats lost in the ocean,
Just a pindrop in the Universe,
Pictued on my wall paintings of your soul,
Not a metaphor.

This is not a war or a battle of wits, but,
I’ll fight the fight with you,
Everything is more solid now and safe, we’re all safe
In some thoughts.

A suitably phsychedelic collage of shots taken from a car dashboard. Taken on a small apeture (f22~) with about 30 seconds shutter time. I love the effect of taking shots of motorways from a fixed point and wanted to look at the same kind of shot but from a moving vehicle. I’m trying to give the pictures (althogh still) their own essence or sense of movement. I am also going to look at using this type of material and giving it more life (enough that it could be used for my VJ projects) by some form of digital manipulation. At the moment these shots are as they were straight from the camera, apart from putting them in this collage.

God! (blasphemy?) I do Have Problems

I do have problems with the pleasure and (I suppose it is) business crossover. This was never a problem working with computers. . !

To elaborate, when me and my girlfriends artistic desires and tendancies collide. . . . . . . . there can be fire.

Bed time now.

Outside The Astoria. This is my lovely girl friend, Caiti. One of the few photos I have taken using a flash that actually looks good. I must do more work on improving this skill. NB- this was taken after walking out of an ‘Animal Collective’ ( ) gig in London. Although amazingly creative recording artists, their live performance was a terrible mess. Just too much experimentation (with music and/or drugs, I suspect).

Focusing on Reflections

Focus on reflections
Hear the dimensions
Twisting the light rays
Turn around their vibrations

Focusing on reflections but still deep and
Deep-still, in tensions
That across my temples extrapolate
Unfortunate thoughts and now
Times are gone

Fred & Matt by a Tree, on a trip to see a Installation de Feu at Platt Fields park, Manchester. It was an exceptional event, virtually all of the installations (it was like a mini-festival, with many different things to see) being based on fire and involving fires of all different types. The best art event I visited last year (2006). The picture brings back good memories of that for me. I’m really pleased with the way it turned out, it was semi-posed but basically taken on the spur of the moment. I chose this image because I think the ghostly effect is sympathetic to the words above.

What I Like

Artistically I’m kind of inept in many ways. I’m a novice at having to look at things from an artistic angle and then having to critically analyze it. I do enjoy it though, even if I (well I think I do…) end up at rather cynical and negative mutterings towards a lot of the populist (I presume its populist) work I’ve seen in commercial and non-commercial galleries I have visited.

Recent exceptions are a furniture exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery of Joe Columbo‘s work and Ben Hall’s Wild Britain exhibition at the Manchester Museum. Joe Columbo’s embodies the swinging sixties. Eccentricity flows throughout his work and designs that have now become some modern design classics. Without going to heavily into it right away the exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery comes highly recommended. Ben Hall’s exhibition in contrast is a straight up photography show. I’m not an expert in the field, but his are some of the most evocative and inspiring photographs I have seen in a gallery recently- vibrant colours throughout and thoughtful composition. I was also slightly ‘chuffed’ to see that all of his work exhibited here is from a digital camera. See

I’m particularly impressed with the technical skill required to take this shot, as well as the photographer’s patience and vision for getting the shot. After having watched all of the BBC & David Attenborough’s Planet Earth documentaries I’m even more in awe of the wildlife film/photography brigade. Maybe key to his success, Hall studies the animals he photographs extensively prior to attempting a shot. I wonder if this is possible with humans?

My tendency in art appreciation, is toward enjoying and liking pieces that (deliberately or not) evoke some kind of emotion in me. Sometimes it is explicit, and you can see what the artist is trying to do. Other times its not and everyone will come away with a different feeling. This withstanding it is definitely what I look for in art works, of all kinds, and also what I aspire to produce myself.

Bob Dylan, Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright:

It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It don’t matter, anyhow
An’ it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don’t know by now
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I’ll be gone
You’re the reason I’m trav’lin‘ on
Don’t think twice, it’s all right

It ain’t no use in turnin‘ on your light, babe
That light I never knowed
An’ it ain’t no use in turnin‘ on your light, babe
I’m on the dark side of the road
Still I wish there was somethin‘ you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin‘ anyway
So don’t think twice, it’s all right

It ain’t no use in callin‘ out my name, gal
Like you never did before
It ain’t no use in callin‘ out my name, gal
I can’t hear you any more
I’m a-thinkin‘ and a-wond’rin‘ all the way down the road
I once loved a woman, a child I’m told
I give her my heart but she wanted my soul
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

I’m walkin‘ down that long, lonesome road, babe
Where I’m bound, I can’t tell
But goodbye’s too good a word, gal
So I’ll just say fare thee well
I ain’t sayin‘ you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

These words, in combination with a beautiful piece of acoustic guitar playing, make probably my favourite of Bob Dylan’s songs. Its not a protest song, its not political – and I’m not trying to say Dylan’s more political works are better or worse songs – but for some reason, this is always the one to make me feel the most. I’m not even sure what the feeling normally is, but I always know it’s there.I took this shot on a day when I went to visit Crosby to see Anthony Gormley’s “Another Place”. I was interested in the piece after its extensive coverage on television. The timing of my visit meant that it was an extremely windy, wintry day and the tide was up so few of the figures were accessible – however I think this probably added to the experience. I really like this photograph and feel that even though I am ‘bouncing’ off Gormley’s art it does have its own merit autonomously.

Procrastinate Daily

“journal – a daily written record of (usually personal) experiences and observations” – according to WordNet Search on

That is what I am meant to have done. For the last, say two months, at least.

This is a shot used in a film me and Bryn made during the early part of the University term. This is the sex-pest “Abu” who featured in the film, as played by Bryn. I think the blurriness of the photograph compliments its devil-like qualities. Since putting the film online I have been contacted by an American TV station (Localpoint TV) who are hopefully going to broadcast it. You can see the film (at rather degraded quality) here;

On the whole I have tried and failed to write my journal, so far, but I have cultivated an amount of determination from my procrastination.

This, I do believe, is one (possibly the sole) advantage of procrastination.

I must have a genetic disorder, to suffer from the condition as badly as I do. Rarely does a day pass when I don’t have pungent desires teasing my senses, seemingly whispering at me to get on and do some of the number of tasks that I internally classify as “work”.

On our first University outing in the Science & Industry museum. Focusing on reflections; to describe the photo but also just a rather satisfying flow of words. Maybe I will use it in a song.

At the moment those work tasks are split between my various artistic activities directly spawned from my degree course, producing an album which is already late for a small Swiss record label ( the Director-of-which, incidentally just called to arrange a meeting in January- exciting!), on-going photography and some cash-cowing (so to speak) designing a couple of websites for my cousin and her friend (who are both journalistic-types on the larger than life, upper class, Hampshire equestrian scene – an amazing beast). My University work is top of my priorities but as I have only newly been forging out my own methods of working artistically for the last few months, it is sometimes the hardest to gather momentum. Having said that I often only start proper work on such projects, as with the music or the websites, if I have been cheered up by other successes, and vice-versa. That seems to be the key for me satisfying my urges and overcoming my procrastinatic (is this a word?) tendencies – balancing the success and momentum of different projects with each other, to achieve overall progress. Having written that down, I think has turned a pattern of disconnected and unrelated thoughts into a tangible philosophy. Hopefully for people other than my self, if said others, can scramble through my occasionally scrambled prose.

Photograph of scratches whilst working on “Scratches” project (see below for more information), (vintage) macro lens borrowed from University.

Current University projects include:

  1. VJ Project, evaluation of VJ software that is available (including learning how to use the software and understanding the principles) and also building a ‘visual library’ to be used for VJing. Includes many sub-projects.
  2. Time, this has spawned from the VJ project; work exploring representing and simply showing time passing through photography, video & animation pieces can become part of the visual library for the VJ Project.
  3. Classic photography, experimentation with printing and framing (or other presentations) of my digital photographic work that I have been doing since becoming a camera-owner half way through 2006. As well as having gotten promising results and feedback so far, I have been working on both subtle and severe digital manipulation of images to create dramatic effects.
  4. Websites, I have various interactive websites that I either have in development or would like to produce at some point. These include an online version of the paper-and-pen game of consequences, my website about scratches. Scratches was a “one word” project given to me in the first few weeks of University. The piece of work I presented was a sound-based piece with many noises playing simultaneously – all of which were scratching noises. I also took some macro photographs of the many scratches I see in the world around me. But my final piece of work for this project is the website. The website will just display the progress of a mail-art based thingy, where-by an object is mailed around. Each recipient scratches the next story (or not-story if they don’t want) into the object which is then mailed on again. At each point a digital photo will be uploaded on the website for all to see, also a map of where “scratches” has been. Eventually the object will be obliterated and cease to be, but will be preserved digitally. The idea was to represent human life on earth, its evolution is slow, but has taken us far in artistic, social and technological progress – which is what allows us to create and appreciate projects such as this. Eventually however, we will destroy our habitat. In terms of the whole of human history that time is very close to us now. That is why I want destruction to come eventually, but to celebrate our progress by saving it on in digital format for anyone connected to the web to see. Unfortunately, I have (again) procrastinated! I have created a website, with some horrible drivel written on it (which if I ever take the project further I will change) this can be seen at
  5. Sound and Music projects; as well as independently (from University) working on my music, I would like to explore further sound-art based projects. I was intrigued and interested by an artist who came to present his work and talk about himself at one of our lectures at University – his name has eluded me presently. He had several sculpture works that involved an element of sound, from scratching a record to amplifying the sound of a pin-dropping- all very inspiring for me. I think I probably wouldn’t focus so much on creating noise-touting-sculptures, but maybe it will be something to experiment with to test the water. I would definitely like to refine my scratches sound project to a point where it could be performed with some visual element as well as the sound (and without pushing near-by lecturers to complain about the noise!

So that’s all of me at the moment. I know its the wrong thing to do (starting at the end. . . ?), but at least for the sake of writing this I have written the present first and next time I write I will write about the past.

Sign Parody; I like the sentiment, I took this shot in a squat in the Northern Quarter of Manchester’s City Centre. The people living there were operating a gallery, where anyone could go and exhibit their work (often the canvass they’re working on is part of the building itself). Also hedonistic parties, DJs and so on and so on. A cool thing, in my opinion. Unfortunately I wasn’t really affected by any of the work I saw, the biggest impact on me was what the squat stood for and the fact that (at that time, at least) it was working and existing. Everybody there has now been evicted. Until next time. . . (both the squat, and me).

Nietzsche Quote

“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.” – Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

This quote has been stuck to my parents’ kitchen wall ever since I can remember. Whenever I see it I feel rich.

What’s a Metaverse?

I became interest in a project called Second Life ( – initially just out of curiosity. Broadly, the idea is a whole virtual world, with residents, money, shops, houses, businesses and so on.

I tried it out, and lasted about 10 minutes before I was inspired enough to leave. This is because, the actual second life, the one that exists is little more than a so called-Massively Multiplayer Game (such as World of Warcraft). The major difference is there is no game element underpinning the thing, so essentially the whole experience is dull.

However I really do like the idea. Utilising the Internet (in particular) and technology to get many people interacting, playing, creating things are the exact projects, games or works of art that enjoy and also represent an area that I would love to have a role in.

Simulated reality is the idea that reality could be simulated — usually computer-simulated — to a degree indistinguishable from ‘true’ reality. It could contain conscious minds which may or may not know that they are living inside a simulation. In its strongest form, the “Simulation Hypothesis” claims we actually are living in such a simulation.

This is different from the current, technologically achievable concept of virtual reality. Virtual reality is easily distinguished from the experience of ‘true’ reality; participants are never in doubt about the nature of what they experience. Simulated reality, by contrast, would be hard or impossible to distinguish from ‘true’ reality.

Practical or not, the idea raises three vexing questions:

  • Is it possible, even in principle, to tell whether we are in a simulated reality?
  • Is there any difference between a simulated reality and a ‘real’ one?
  • How should we behave if we knew that we were living in a simulated reality?

An interesting aspect of Second Life is the parallels to social networking dedicated websites, like or These websites take the lion share of internet hits, if you disregard key areas like email and pornography. They’re a modern (internet enabled) phenomenon.

Maybe it would be possible to create a non-graphical virtual world that would seamlessly link with sites like Facebook and Myspace. I used to play an internet game, where you were the leader of a planet and had to use your resources to live and expand your empire. Planetarion I think it was called. The game takes place in real time and had about 500,000 participants all existing on their own planet, invading other solar systems, amassing hundreds of space ships. The point is, it was very successful and absorbing, was “real” to extent (there were real people playing it) and took place outside of the graphical world. All that was required was numbers and figures representing how your world was progressing. Maybe I should explore a text-based, socially-networked Metaverse (more Metaverse reading on WikiPedia; and also

I really enjoy all of the philosophical ponderings that are born from this subject.

The philosopher Nick Bostrom investigated the possibility that we may be living in a simulation. His argument attempts to prove the disjunction of three hypotheses (that is, that at least one of the following three propositions must be true), that:

  1. intelligent races will never reach a level of technology where they can run simulations of reality so detailed they can be mistaken for reality; or
  2. races who do reach such a level do not tend to run such simulations; or
  3. we are almost certainly living in such a simulation.

At the time I thought the concept behind the Matrix was inspired, with hindsight its obvious that the writers had plenty of back-thinking to turn to for inspiration.

Ask why? Live

My girlfriend Caiti said to me, very profoundly for her intoxicated state at the time, “To ask why, is to live” and whilst counting traffic last summer I wrote some words that were meant to reflect that sentiment. I ended up with something that was pretty heavy-going and not very good reading/listening – I don’t think. But I’m still in love with the turn of phrase, it rolls from the tong beautifully and is full of philosophical meaning. I guy I used to work with would refer to it as “a poser”.

I used a few sections of these words in a bouncy dark dance track, with a highly distorted vocal track. It sounds pretty good I think and may well end up on the album. There’s no way you could tell its me either.

Why is alive; why survive. To ask why is to live”

Learning Agreement: "Classic" Photography

I’ve become very aware of my (lack of) bank balance recently, especially due to the proximity to Christmas.

On a trip to Chorlton water park (South Manchester) and various other expeditions I’ve been over the last two months, it struck me I could possibly make some money selling prints of my images. I haven’t a particular speciality in my photography.

I’d like to explore different kinds of subject (nature, architecture, people etc) and different techniques. I’d especially like to experiment with different types of lens (zoom, macro and wide-angle) and also with the different ways (and costs!) of printing and framing photographs.

Goose; This image is a turning point, looking at this I thought “I could sell these….” This has had some digital manipulation, post-exposure, to increase the contrast in the image. However I think I took this a step too far, when printing the image looks too unreal.

Learning Agreement: Time

Whilst working on my VJ project I’ve become very interested in different ways of taking photographs over a period of time, as well as representing time with photographic methods. Combining the two is a goal but I’m not quite sure how wide the posts are.

Yankee Sleeper

I went back to Yorkshire for the weekend, on my return I found this note in my room. Turned out “the crazy American” – whom I’ve never met – had slept in my room.

By all accounts I was relieved to have been away. She sounded quite a handful, my friends and sister all ended up and a very dodgy Belle & Sebastian disco in Salford… or something.

She is from a town in the mid-west called “Normal” and thinks that the Trafford Centre is the biggest mall in the world.