Monthly Archives: September 2022

Ring ring

I’m stuck.

I have to reconcile myself to the fact that I need an audience and without one I get stuck. i guess i have never grown out of the showing off – All my recent creative efforts have been directed toward a non existent audience. i have found myself performing to myself – Cancer and Covid made sure of that. Now that there is a possibility of rekindling the flames of an adoring crowd I just don’t know what to do, so I thought I would write to you, confident that most of you wont read this, but that doesn’t matter. The act of putting it out there seems to offer some relief, some path out of ‘stuck.’

in the spirit of some of the themes addressed below i have avoided correcting this (much) – hence it reads like shite!

i killed this blog because I was weary of listening to myself trying not to say the things that i wanted to say but instead saying the things that i thought you wanted to hear. thats got to stop. so this post is that most tiresome of posts – a navel gaze into my current artistic predicament

other than this bit

i am undertaking/subjecting myself to – a course of cognitive behavioural therapy in order to deal with what i refer to as my ABAS – Abducted By Aliens Syndrome (this is where i panic that something utterly unexpected and disastrous will happen to those i love)- it isn’t going to work of that i am certain and in case you were jumping to conclusions – this process – this writing a blog process – is not my self administered alternative – in fact i believe it has nothing whatsoever to do with the CBT but everything to do with the fact that i am so so very stuck and i need help.

let me tell you why.

first (you may sense i am rushing) i feel as if i have only limited time to get down all the stuff i want to get down. you may ask what makes you think you have something worth putting down – well i just do. – now i suppose i have good reason for feeling under pressure to get on with things, what with the cancer diagnosis – but fortunately that’s not a pressing concern just now – things on that front are quite miraculously OK. I can’t remember if i communicated in a previous post that i am, according to my last visit to the Royal Free, in a period of remission – so no worries there. Well that’s not true but you know what i mean. moving on – i said when i started this blog in 2014 that i had a list of priorities that i planned to stick to – or to put it another way these were the things i was going to worry about from then on: (in order) 1 – Family. 2- Health. 3 – Art. 4 – Work – as i have said health gets a tick – Family are very fine, and work is pretty Ok so that leaves Art – and dear readers it is in my Art – I AM STUCK and being stuck when time is running out induces a sense of panic that is not conducive to producing art – as you can imagine – a vicious circle.

now as i said I am very very aware that ponderous debates on one’s art are tiresome but i really need this and whether anyone reads this or not, whether anyone proffers any remedies doesn’t matter a jot – i am writing this under the illusion that i have an attentive audience and thats enough for me.

so whats the problem?

perhaps foolishly, no not perhaps – foolishly, i am under the impression that i need to produce a consummate piece of work – something that draws all my previous and current preoccupations into one summative ‘Ring Cycle.’ As i approach retirement from an undistinguished career at the university i fantasise about leaving with a flourish and publishing a groundbreaking something or other that makes them regret not making me Emeritus Professor of Total Brilliance – Now knowing that i am no Wagner – i don’t have, as it were, talent, originality, a consistent body of work that just needs a perfect exemplar to top it off – the best i can do is just assemble all the fragments, all the unrealised attempts, all the failures, the incompetent inarticulate fumbling with the various modes of artistic expression i have touched upon over the years into some sort of loose package that might encourage future generations of creative incompetents to do similar and might even be rather interesting art – while pondering this possibility I have become interested in Jospeh Cornell – He was an untrained amateur and recluse living in the new York suburbs with his mother and a disabled brother. He emerged as a true original during his lifetime so in that respect i have missed my chance to emulate him having not yet emerged as a true original probably as i have yet to do anything original – anyway he made ‘shadow boxes’ containing bits and pieces he got at thrift stores in the city – he assembled loose, surreal, dream-like narratives by juxtaposing seemingly random objects.

Randomness has fascinated me since being a teenager when i stole a copy of John Cages book ‘Silence’ from the school library. Needless to say i didn’t read it just carried it about. – (I have read it now its rather good) so the random nature of Cornell’s compositions tallies with the random noises, voices and musical samples i have been utilising in the phone box – some would say the disruptive result of letting serendipity or error into the proceedings provides a layer of amateurish incompetence but i would counter that when it works, and of course it only works some of the time, it blows away the cobwebs of excessive and potentially turgid control, rather effectively.

bad amateur art is one of my current preoccupations – i recognise that in many respects my work in the last few years has been amateurish – the result of not knowing what i am doing – i have tried a bit of poetry, a few short stories, some bits of visual art, even some musical compositions all of them are clearly the work of a first timer – but in my view that doesn’t diminish their worth i consider them all much better than any of the work i did as a ‘professional’ director.


amateur work can be much more engaging than professional work probably because the mask of professionalism doesn’t sit between the artist/performer and the audience – of course you are probably not experiencing the work you are too busy empathising with the performer struggling to disguise their amatuerness but that’s the appeal, that struggle replaces the intended art with something rather better – more engaging, more human – at least for a short while – and brevity i am convinced is a crucial creative component – no art should take longer than 20 minutes and most should be restricted to 20 seconds to assimilate – speaking of amateur, my dad, a first time writer of anything other than technical reports and letters of complaint, produced a short autobiography – as a family we were a tad cynical at the time, i am not sure why – i guess we thought it was the sort of thing that old people do and why bother? – who is going to read it? – but actually we rather value it now – it doesn’t even attempt to be art – it’s certainly not bad art – its simply a record – the formal style and tone reflects his personality perfectly – i think it was a good thing for him to do and nice for us – it leaves a mark, even if its only for a generation or two and its better than nothing. Conversely i don’t think i would be a good as my dad at leaving a record but think i can leave some bad art behind, after all i call myself an artist so i should be able to do that.

the question is how? – what is the medium? what is the platform?

and thats why i am stuck.

I know myself, i know how lazy i am – the single most successful output of my creative life in terms of sustainability has been this blog – the reason is its very easy to do and consequently i can slip it in between indolent periods of watching TV and polishing my lighter collection – (i am doing this at 4:00 am because i can’t sleep, what other creative activity can be done when so bleary eyed and dull brained) – the telephone box that talks a bit like me has been a valuable stimulus for all sort of creative meandering but every step on its journey to fruition has been long winded, complicated and frankly at times not really worth the effort – that said it is something that excites people a lot more than a blog post – so the combination i am looking for is something that has the looseness and ease of this blog with the visual and auditory appeal of the telephone box but also the durability of my dads book – and i cannot find it.

Hence i am stuck!

I imagine a platform – i suppose it has to be digital to allow for multimedia content, in which you can sketch with video, scribble with speech, make pictures with text, graphics with sounds – interventions with live broadcasts – but effortlessly. A platform that isn’t owned by some mega media organisation, that doesn’t require a subscription and has some possibility of longevity. (i hope to be still doing it when i have retired from the university and my pipeline of free computers and software is cut off). I believe the solution lies somewhere in the idea of composited, overlapping and looped media eg. screen capturing websites as video, audio capture of live broadcasts and rebroadcasting them, filming and scanning handwritten document and sketches, layering and compositing media but not in an elegant broadcast quality style, maintaining the rough edges and collisions that occur spontaneously – somewhat similar to these website designs

I tried some of this in my latest telephone box film – certainly the best so far – but the last one to have documentary and explanatory content and still a significant distance from what I want to achieve

so the quest for the formula for my ‘ring’ – working title ‘ring ring’ goes on. I will put together a prototype miniature – a fragment made of fragments and circulate that – as i said at the beginning i need to share and the act of writing this has been very useful for me – it has brought some clarity, not a solution but a clear statement of the problem. if you have any suggestions please let me know although knowing me i almost certainly won’t listen – don’t mistake this for a discussion it’s a vent.

Thank you, if you have made it to here – you have my respect.

and if i hear the phrase ‘i just wanted to pay my respects’ one more time i will …