Tuesday, January 29, 2008


#13: expectations

What do you call the male version of a nymphomaniac?

Either way, you might not know exactly what kind of sex he or she enjoys - the details, but you can clearly understand the intent. This is the only expectation that I value with art (or people for that matter): I expect a person to have a particular type of intent; beyond that, I'm open to any thing, any form of expression, and any means to achieve it.

As soon as expectations creep beyond that threshold then the art is not coming from within but influenced from outwith, and thus compromised just as an audience might demand a particular song live, a section for clapping, an encore, and so on and so forth - or perhaps the conventions of recorded sound like length of recording, number of tracks, stylistic balance. The script is no longer controlled by the satyr, I mean, artist.

This is why awareness of expectations and the capacity to continually fuck with them is, I believe, a critical skill for successful meaningful uncompromised art.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Writing this on the train (is there no escape from being online?) and heading down to London for tonight's Cocadisco extravaganza.


An experience which even exceeded the already high expectations, a night for the cognoscento. (Photo by Rodhaidh.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008


There are several metaphors that come to mind while viewing these amazing sandcastles - but surely better to just enjoy them for what they are.


A few other things to report from Cologne after the recent stay there.

The Kolumba Art Museum is an impressive modern building constructed imaginatively by the reclusive Swiss architect Peter Zumthor upon the ruins of St. Kolumba Church, itself pulverised by bombs at the end of WW2, whose damage revealed the archaeological layers that the church had been constructed upon. This, fascinatingly, goes right back to Roman times, as can be seen as you wander along the walkway in lower part of the building. The odd sound installation of the (nonexistent) pigeons cooing is quite spooky. In fact, it all makes you wonder if it'd be worth demolishing a few more landmark churches and cathedrals - it was commonplace for colonial religions like Christianity to use pagan holy sites as convenient locations for their own monstrosities and temples of vanity. Upstairs in this amazing building, there is contained the most eclectic ragbag of unexceptional exhibits you're ever likely to see - from the traditional to the avant-garde, from the baroque to the minimalist, from the pious to the secular.

On the same day, I visited the 'largest musical equipment store in Europe' - and it is admittedly impressive. You can easily get lost amongst the sea of guitars, keyboards, drum kits, amplifiers, racks, computers, headphones, lights and PA systems, all sprawled across the 12,000m² (!) of floors and rooms. The place was rammed with sweaty hairies eager to have a shot on the guitars, or baseball caps dropping some beats on new drum machines. All of us buying into the dream that is music.

Other than all this tourism, the trip involved talks that I gave at the Film Academy, and the Academy Of Media Arts - most enjoyable both and I am very grateful for the warm hospitality there.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


And continuing with the chess-related theme, a nice metaphor for religious belief systems.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Any chess enthusiast that was around in the early 70s will be aware of the extraordinary impact of Robert Fischer (1943-2008). The article in today's Guardian is an interesting one to much of the background, yet, in my opinion, while clearly a troubled soul, was also a much misunderstood one even after he gave up the game after wresting the world crown in 1972 from the Soviets' hitherto domination, and at the peak of the Cold War. From a player's perspective, My 60 Memorable Games is the book - to the chess connoisseur, the work not of a games player but of an artistic genius.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Am enjoying a couple of weeks in Cologne right now.

Saturday experienced a sound installation (at Meiré & Meiré's venue Factory) that consisted of lying in a darkened room on military field style hospital beds with a dozen or so other souls. You put on the headphones and while listening to the digital ambient new age music look at an entire ceiling of projected video abstractions. And, despite some minor imperfections in presentation, was eminently enjoyable.

Last night was the turn of some utterly generic noise performances courtesy of John Wiese (Paul Devens supporting) at the Stadtgarten. I know Wiese is undoubtedly a really nice guy and he's unfairly got caught in the firing line, however this tiresome product placement has got to stop. Since when did people think it was cool to be giving free advertising to an increasingly evil empire like Apple? Whatever the hell next? I hate to see that logo being peacocked around as if it's going to help you get laid - it isn't. Seriously though, this type of noise stuff nowadays is so tightly scripted that it's about as fucking transgressive (let alone subversive) as taking your kids to church in an SUV and stopping off at Denny's for lunch afterwards. Maybe not even.

Since I've already embarrassed myself with the occasional totally pointless and unsolicited restaurant 'review', I've decided to keep digging downwards. Bar Tabac here in Aachenerstrasse is a wonderful, friendly, and spacious Belgian restaurant with lots of traditional Brussels ambience - in addition to the always excellent daily specials, the mussels are especially amazing. Also, recommended for the quasi-vegetarians like myself, there's Osho's Place in Venloerstrasse which is annexed to the extensive new age centre next door. All rainbow dungarees and exaggerated calmness, yet the place works - food is really a treat, and the pale yellow walls, open zen-like spaces with the wide natural light and generally relaxed atmosphere, all make for a nice change in pace.

Fair warning: there's more to come from this trip in the next few days.