26 April 2009

Assorted reviews of Forced Entertainment’s Void Story which has been at Soho Theatre in London all week as part of the excellent Spill Festival. Void Story has more gigs coming up through the Summer (Berlin and Graz for sure) and features text and images from me, performance from the company and sound by our collaborator from the early days of Forced Entertainment John Avery. Here’s a Guardian review (with an image of me since Richard was delayed for the photoshoot), here’s one from MusicOMH and one from Science is a Lie blog. Also, a long and smart piece from Mary Paterson at the Overspill blog.


Meanwhile in the carpark of a Morrisons supermarket, Anniesland, Glasgow these days you can have conversations with the police that go like this:

 “We have men, women, who are now, yeah – right now – doing their work, their daily work. They go about their work day in day out. They then go home to their families. They go home to husbands, wives, children. We are way, way down. That would be exactly the same with you. You would still have your life, Tilly. You go about your life as you do every day – we would be sitting somewhere way down here. But when you would be going to the meetings that you would be going to anyway, we would maybe be meeting you about once every two weeks, once every three weeks, once every week maybe. [Inaudible.] That’s the type of thing. Likewise, the thousands of other people that work with us [inaudible] they’re at their works now, be it joiners …”

More in The Guardian here. Or just read Phillip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly.


Swimming outdoors this morning in Central London, the gridded windows of the concrete office buildings which flank The Oasis divide and reflect the sky as a complex system of blue and white polaroids. For the most part unadorned, a few boast squares of cardboard stuck directly to the glass evidently designed to block the sun at particular times of day, others – on the window sills which evade the upward track of your eyeline – sport an arrangement of photoframes seen from behind, mugs, pencil holders and nondescript ornaments the generic momento traces of the people that must work there in the week. Looking up, stood in the deep water at the far end of the pool you find yourself completing some kind of virtual circle and in turn imagining them, stood motionless at the windows, looking down at the water left moving by your exit from the water.

Like so much of the landscape it’s hard to see it these days without thinking of Ballard. His last short story – typically perverse, funny and rather good, self-consciously framing his own death – is published online. Tributes from various people at Ballardian.

I came across Ballard when I was a teenager – stumbling into his work, along with that of Michael Moorcock, Phillip K. Dick and William Burroughs in amongst the vast amounts of less ambitious science fiction I was reading. Ballard had a big effect on me – thanks to his work’s dark and thoroughly ambivalent take on contemporary culture, for the continuous embrace of catastrophe and for the aggressively experimental and poetic approaches to language he developed in The Atrocity Exhibition.

Sad that The Guardian couldn’t find anyone from performance or theatre to talk about his influence on them or the field for its article. They only had to ask! But it’s probably a sign of how lame British theatre is that there wasn’t an instant connection, or even a thought about making one. Ballard’s take on the human (always somehow so deeply bound up with landscape), and aesthetics (his work so bound up with cinema and painting) probably doesn’t much lend itself to the stage, and certainly not to the cheap-pop-humanistic-psychology that drives 99% of drama. For me his approach to language, to deep interiority, to time (stretched, shattered, bent out of shape) and to the body (subjected to similar processes) are the things that have trickled unacknowledged perhaps into theatre and performance work – a process too osmotic and profound to be termed influence. Sentences of his, images of his, vivid pictures from his writing have stayed with me for years and years and years – I don’t think they’ll ever fade.