Sold The House

14 July 2007

Best overheard cell-phone conversation:

No, no you don’t understand. Mum has sold the house.. But she doesn’t own it.


Drama Queens Controllers








Came across an interview with Michael Elmgreen whose project Drama Queens with Ingar Dragest at Munster Skulptur Project I wrote the text for.

I borrowed the picture above, which shows the operators in charge of moving the remote controlled sculptures.


Alex Petridis is often best when he’s criticising. But here he gives a positive but very amusing write up to Birmingham band Poppy and the Jezebels.

Murky Notes

13 July 2007
1001 Nights - It Is Murky And Opaque

I just submitted my story for tonights 1001 Nights Cast. It will be broadcast live at 20.53 UK time at the site above – just less than four hours from the moment of my posting this. Later it will be added to the archive on the site where you can read it. The prompt for the story was “it is murky and opaque“.

Meanwhile Lyn Gardner at The Guardian has something on her blog discussing the publication Programme Notes which she, I and a whole load of other contemporary performance people have contributed to. The book is available from the Live Art Development Agency here and consists of writings, case studies and so on exploring the relationship between mainstream theatre venues here in the UK and more experimental practise. Its a fraught topic, and one which can induce feelings of despair (!) but the hope is that things in the UK are slowly shifting towards a more challenging, open and inclusive definition of what theatre might be, especially in the larger spaces.

Let’s hope, keep fingers crossed (and lobby), that further cuts to the Grants For the Arts scheme, or a negative result for the Arts Council in the Government’s upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review don’t make the environment for innovation even more precarious or hostile.

Simulated Mission

12 July 2007

I definitely won't be applying for this which sounds more insane than almost anything Ballard ever dreamed up. You can wonder really what the organisers – the European Space Agency and the wonderfully titled Institute of Biomedical Problems – are looking to discover. Perhaps the strangest thing about it though is that Endemol aren't involved in any way, at least not yet. As soon as the floods have subsided I am thinking of organising a similar experiment in my cellar, if anyone wants to participate. 

Food, Irony, Dogs and Dust

11 July 2007

A place to eat where the words ‘fresh food prepared on the premises’ seemed more like a warning than any kind of advertisment or inducement to consume. Indeed as a statement it only seemed to flag the need for more detailed enquiries, suggesting questions like – where exactly on the premises was the food allegedly prepared, by whom and when?


A very strong new story from M John Harrison at 1001 Nites Cast from the great prompt “not a hint of irony“.  Maybe it’s my jetlag but this one seems more melancholic than the others Mike’s done there. Perhaps it’s all in the narrator’s distance from events, and in his articulation of a world in which certain possibilities cannot or should not, or can no longer be explored.

For no good reason (I think) the story brought to mind these lines which I’d cut and pasted from an online guide to Beijing, a few years ago.

After the destruction of all the capital’s dogs in 1950, it was the turn of sparrows in 1956. A measure designed to preserve grain, its only effect was to lead to an increase in the insect population. To combat this, all the grass was pulled up, which in turn led to dust storms in the windy winter months.

I’m writing again for the 1001 project on Friday – I have the feeling its going to be a strange one since because of timezones I’m getting the prompt first thing in the morning and I have to have it written by noon.

High Negatives

10 July 2007

In the walkway down to the plane, the guy behind us says:

"Clinton won't be elected. She has such high negatives". 

Sceptical Distance

9 July 2007

There's a collection of white plastic garden furniture stood beside the pool in the hotel basement. Six chairs, a couple of loungers, a trio of small tables (maybe footstools, its hard to say). On one of these, in any case, set at an angle like the earth titled on its axis, is a green apple, from which several bits have been taken. A man is swimming with his daughter, some blokes come and go from the steam room. Nothing happens.

Later a woman wearing some kind of semi-uniform (in the general area of nurse/dental hygenist/pharmacist), comes out from the health-spa reception and dons a pair of the white latex 'Inspection Gloves' from the box that's lain on the floor near the entrance. She walks over to the small table, picks up the apple in her gloved hand, and takes it – held at a sceptical distance from her body – back out towards reception for disposal I guess, or some kind of forensic analysis.


I Live Because I Do Not Exist

7 July 2007

On that day and in the days to come, when a boy was going to die, he would first stop talking. His throat would be too dry and to speak required too much energy. Then his eyes would sink deeper, circled in ever darker shadows. He would no longer answer to his own name. His walk would slow, his feet shuffling, and he would be among the boys who would rest longer. Eventually a dying boy would find a tree, and he would sit against the tree and fall asleep. When his head touched the tree, the life in him would fall away and his flesh would return to the earth.

The narrator of Dave Eggers’ What Is the What circles the subject of death concentrically – recounting terror, outrage and anger by turns, as he both fears for his own life and watches his Sudanese Lost Boy compatriots die in an endless variety of awful, sudden or slow, often shocking ways; by slaughter at the hands of Arab horsemen, attack by predators, aeroplanes, disease, infection and starvation. Mainly though he’s resigned to the fact that he can’t predict which of his companions will survive the terrible journey, cannot know for sure if he himself will make it through. Obsessed with this question Achak tries for while to use a friend, another lost boy walking beside him, as a kind of index of his own health.
In the mirror of William K, I did not look well that day. My cheeks were sunken, my eyes ringed in blue. My tongue was white, my hipbones were visible through my shorts…

Very often through the book (which I wrote about already here) Eggers returns to the topic of the flimsy separation between life and death, puzzling at the all-too-easily passed border between survival and extinction, existence and disappearance. Its a distinction that he sees can exist even in life itself, when at another comical and chilling point in the book he meets a solitary adult living alone in the jungle, hiding from everyone. The un-named adult gives him food, and jabbers continuously as he eats, lecturing Achak:

I don’t live anywhere, and you should learn from this. Why do you think I am alive, boy? I’m alive because no one knows I’m here. I live because no one knows I’m here. I live because I do not exist.


More Blogs

5 July 2007

Hugo Kings ImageHugo Glendinning has a re-vamped website with images and texts about his work including collaborations with Martin Creed, Adrian Heathfield, Franko B, Yinka Shonibare, Paola Pivi (and me!). Arriving at Hugo’s place to visit (in the real world) there’s often a moment where we’ll end up at the computer, with Hugo randomly opening folders to show me things that he’s been working on for himself, or with or for different people. From what’s there on his site I’m guessing that the notebook there will be a virtual version of this ‘what’s new’, which is great because he’s always got pretty fascinating projects on the go. Check out the images (as above) from Forced Entertainment‘s durational performance And On The Thousandth Night, the text and series of images of his son Louis sleeping and the many images that he’s been shooting for some Olympics related project, in which kids create dance in East London locations. I’m sure I’ll be linking back and forth to Hugo’s site a lot.


Another new blog/site I’ve been checking out is this one from theatre director and writer David Gale, well known for his work way back leading Lumiere & Son with Hillary Westlake. I really liked this line from David’s recent entry on American identity/Paris Hilton:

“Mythical figures are not people, they generally represent single human characteristics rather than the complex of qualities that comprise flesh and blood persons. We devise mythical figures for the purposes of instruction – they’re not supposed to be something you become”. 


K (reading Mark Danielewski's brilliant House of Leaves) wrote me:

"Bachelard says that our childhood homes physically form our imaginations. So in a way we're always there, ripping up carpets or  digging into corners, or building whole new extensions I guess. For  me there's something very physical about [this relationship to space] too – related to our understanding of our bodies…"


M. mailed me a link to a 1995 sound installation piece by Janek Schaefer, titled Recorded Delivery. Made by sending a voice/sound activated tape-recorder in a package on a journey through the postal system from studio to gallery it looks like a conceptual precursor for the great Tim Knowles Spy Box piece I wrote about briefly a while ago and which involved a boxed/rigged camera sent by post to record the sights of it's journey. Audio samples, and details of a vinyl edition recording of the Janek Schaefer Recorded Delivery are here.

Spam Subjects

4 July 2007

Best spam subject line of the last several weeks:

Second place goes to this one:

Subject: On the site of each disintegration explosion, a fireball rose up first, immeasurably brighter than Sol itself.

First place goes to this one which came from my friend G. who just got married. He was at the airport heading to honeymoon, sending and checking last mail on wifi when it arrived.

Subject: In a lively row walking, drinking Sunset, voices, lights,
 – all that's there, And at times lowering our eyelids Under someone's
 assiduous stare.

The devil got all the best tunes but those spammers got all the best lines.