Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A field student of Valhalla & Folkvangr


Lost and Found in E17 adopted a special sort of vision with which to enter the hallowed or halgian halls of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and it's resident National Art Library. The purpose of this mission was to view Field Study International's emanation at the entrance of the eminent library, and secure relevant reverent information and experience to disseminate in the field. True to form (and material) this field student was temporarily lost, but then found by the helpfulness of the staff at the information desk who equipped him with sparkling clear directions and a map, for which he willingly offered and made a donation. Such was the extent of the immersion however the field student's vision appeared (to him) to break down into bewildering grids of coloured squares and he feared he might not do honour to his guides. After intoning 'Fluxus is life' 23 times the field students' powers of interpretation were revived and so the squares made sense. He was even confident he would reclaim a long lost address book.
Alas that book was nowhere to be found but in further and more far flung mythical fields. However Lost and Found in E17 is happy to present the National Art Library catalogue numbers for the many Field Study emanations on display - a collective spirit born of the industrial arts of peace.



FIELD STUDY INTERNATIONAL: EMANATIONS OF A COLLECTIVE SPIRIT IN ART
@
VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM,
NATIONAL ART LIBRARY,
LONDON.
APRIL 4th to SEPTEMBER 5th 2011

Saturday, 16 April 2011

a field student of paranormality

a field student's notes

from a visit to

Susan Hiller

Tate Britain 1 February to 15 May 2011

Lost and Found in E17 has ventured into some very dark spaces recently all in the name of field research with a psychological bent. Ever willing to seek and receive guidance and inspiration I have visited elder and eminent artists who have conducted field research with exemplary creativity. Susan Hiller’s retrospective at Tate Britain provides willing field students with many opportunities to study radical and innovative explorations and accounts of the often overlooked and ignored aspects of our culture.

The exhibition is all most a maze of installations, in and between which it was easy to become disorientated or lost. I entered the spaces or chambers via short dimly lit passageways or thresholds. Some of the installations were unnervingly dark spatially and metaphorically; the darkness paradoxically came and went with the ephemeral glimmers, rays and beams of the constituent slide and video projections. Once inside and immersed it was sometimes difficult to tell if, while betwixt and between projections, others (Hiller acolytes) were there. Indeed, fellow visitors entered and exited so quietly and respectfully they might have been supernatural. Was I alone in this perception or imagination of an art experience which was so purposefully designed?

What powers were being played out in these chambers of ‘paraconceptualism’? ‘PSI Girls’, a 5 screen video installation, each featuring colour filtered clips from movies in which girls were (viewed) exerting telekinetic powers, relayed the potencies of some childhood female/feminine minds. Objects were moved, and materials transformed, by thought alone. Accompanying this concerted and directed telekinesis was an intense soundtrack consisting of ecstatic drumming and clapping. The clips shuffled between screens and colours in a series of different permutations - each cycle repeatedly reaching an abrupt climax of white noise and visual static. Here was a collective consciousness in flux but to what effect or consequence? The contrasts and juxtapositions of assorted phenomena, alarm, innocent playfulness, sinister experimentation, terror and disbelief were intriguing, and might have been more immediately perplexing had I been able to shift from a sense of security, in which I believed I was just watching harmless celluloid bunkum.

In response I imagined I would recall, falsely, having been a subject of an infantile fantasy of another’s omnipotence. As a diligent field student I attempted to make notes, trying to maintain a cool anthropological observer status, and to resist the mass eroticism of pleasure being enacted. As I began to write ‘PSI’ my writing hand was taken by a telekinetic power. I could only scribble frantically or, to use a para-technical term, write automatically. After many cycles, I detected a whiff of gas on my breath, and fearing one of the PSI Girls was turning my bodily fluids to petroleum - and especially as another PSI Girl had demonstrated a power of remotely igniting baths of water into flames - I exited tout de suite. No matter how much I enjoyed this fantasy I was not going to spontaneously combust for the pleasure and privilege of it. Later I wondered if my automatically created memento could have been the result of a connection with just one of the PSI Girls.

Concerned about my literal and para borborygmic state I headed for some of the less enclosed spaces of the exhibition. Finding refuge on the bench which formed part of the work, Monument, I reflected on how vapid my responses to the installations were; symptomatic of a super ego resisting the potentially enlightening draw of a mercurial and troubled feminine collective unconscious. In the book to accompany the exhibition, Jorg Heiser writes,

‘Questions such as ‘Do you believe in ghosts?’ or ‘Do you believe telekinesis exists?’ are somewhat beside the point for someone versed in these fields: collecting stories of the mysterious is not primarily about ascertaining the existence of supernatural phenomena, but about exploring them as manifestations of the individual or collective imagination (not excluding, crucially, the imagination of the person who is doing the inquiring).

In this respect there is a case for an anthropological survey and creative taxonomy of disbelief and mocking scepticism. My self-indulgent joking aside I acknowledged, privately or inwardly, a great deal more imagination and sophistication had gone into the creation of the exhibition than that which I brought and I could try harder to empathise with the real situations and imaginative constructs to which it referred. There in is the issue of a viewer’s willingness or reluctance to relinquish a safe distance and get into the mind of the artist and those the artist is trying to communicate with and about. My facileness with the installations may be indicative of an emotional vacuum and artlessness I brought to the works or plain callousness given the tragic circumstances of those who are memorialised in Monument. On the bench accompanying the memorial plaques of Monument, there was a cassette player with headphones through which the artist talked about the work. Hiller (I assumed) commented,

‘Safe art ignores death and ageing, the limits of our understanding, fear, the existence of evil, despair, rage ..... the enormous pressure created by the vacuum of the virtual absence of these elements obliterates all strong feeling including joy...’

One of the photo-plaques making up the whole assemblage of Monument is that for a,

Henry James Bristow

Aged 8 at Walthamstow

On December 30 1890 - saved his little sister’s life

By tearing off her flaming clothes

But caught fire himself

And died of burns and shock

-


And so I wondered at the turmoil of joy and despair this dedication evokes while also failing to reconcile the foolishness of my mock irrational fears at, or in, the mind of an out of control PSI Girl. Much of the charm and appeal of the retrospective is its capacity to play on ambivalence within the discrete fields of each exhibit as well as in the spaces between them. Carrying a joke (a self indulgent entertainment for example) from one site to another did eventually have disturbing consequences and together with a little more thought (of some sort) each encounter became less neat and self assured.


For field students of 'An Entertainment', there is an opportunity to witness a mass outing of Mr Punches in early May



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Friday, 15 April 2011

a field student of congested junctions






Dalston Junction - Saturday 9th April 2011.

Some of the stupidity surrounding the debate about the welfare of all transport system users was expressed in today's (15th April 2011) Radio 4, World at One programme.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01075rv

(BBC iplayer/listen again)

A report and discussion primarily about cycling safety begins at 16:10 minutes and continues to 25:07 minutes.

I found Andrea Leadsom's comments infuriating and exasperatingly dismissive of the conditions and circumstances cyclists and pedestrians have to try and endure - and tragically fail to do on far too many occasions. The citing of a death of a pedestrian due to a reckless cyclist surely indicates a need for tougher legislation and action concerning the much more frequent cause of cyclist and pedestrian deaths; reckless and negligent motorists. How do the fatalities and injuries caused by cyclists compare to those by motorists? I think Andrea Leadsom should understand the differences between everyday nuisance, fatal hazard and extraordinary circumstance. Such legislation as Ms Leadsom called for would be wholly ineffectual without a commensurate change to motoring legislation - as well as fundamental changes to transport design and infrastructure.

The current situation at Dalston Junction in London highlights a lamentable state of affairs. It is for me one of the most dangerous locations in London, for anybody - motorist, cyclist, pedestrian - and given recent tragic events I am aghast at the continuing rank indifference of the various agencies responsible for the transport network.

I was there again today and asked a 'banksman' why, as a pavement had been closed, and so many pedestrians were hazardously crossing through and in between heavy traffic, a proper (if only temporary) pedestrian crossing had not been provided. "Too expensive" was his reply. So pedestrians deprived of a footpath are crossing in between heavy traffic through which cyclists are also travelling on a highway narrowed substantially by building works. The tragic irony of this indifference is, this is a transport hub.

The indifference could be summed up by the truck which is so filthy the warning to cyclists is effectively obscured.

There has been more discussion in the news today about how London's transport system will cope during the Olympics as an additional 5 million people are expected to use it. I have serious doubts about the competence of an agency such as Transport for London to deal with this situation given it's management of the transport network around Dalston Junction.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

a field student of tweed runs and cycles


Cycling home from west London this afternoon I came, by chance, across the Tweed Run - a retro fashion critical mass which consisted of hundreds of cyclists dressed in tweed riding a great variety of bicycles including penny farthings. I was told 450 cyclists had signed up however it seemed like a lot more. Given the gorgeous weather these elegantly attired cyclists made quite a spectacle. It is a shame a certain black cab driver didn't appreciate this outing and chose to drive through the procession at the junction of Clerkenwell Road and Farringdon Road. Visitors are welcome to download this video if it in anyway helps with making a complaint against or about that driver.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

a field student of public art

How does Waltham Forest Borough Council support and care for (or curate) public art in the borough? What does generous support for a work of public art mean? What sorts of judgement about public arts provision can be made on the basis of a visit to a council web-site?

My questions are asked with a bias towards outdoor sculpture and site specific installation - and so I acknowledge I am not addressing the full spectrum of arts, entertainment and culture.

Here is a collection of London borough council public art web pages to compare to LBWF's; Each link was sourced using the search term: 'name of council public art'

http://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/index/leisure/arts-entertainment.htm


http://www.brent.gov.uk/arts.nsf/Arts/LBB-27

http://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/leisure/arts-music--culture/arts-and-tourism-service/arts-projects-and-programmes/public-art-development.en;jsessionid=7CE0A22904F47340E3980CDE76036F09

http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/environment/planning/publicrealm/public-art/

http://www.southwark.gov.uk/info/200006/arts_in_southwark/1769/public_ar t/1

http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/LeisureAndCulture/ArtsService/PublicArt/

http://www.bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=8991


The question of how LBWF manages the portfolio of public arts was prompted by my experience of trying to access, 'Linked' - an audio walk/installation by Graeme Miller.

Despite being supported by the London Borough of Waltham Forest, there is very little information about this work by an acclaimed international artist on the council website. All I have found about this work via 'lbwf.gov.uk', so far, is this list of celebrities and notables, which features Graeme Miller.

If the information is there, it is not virtually, literally or metaphorically jumping off the page. When I went to various libraries and a museum to borrow the equipment necessary to participate in Linked, many members of staff (council institutions & employees) did not know what I was talking about. The equipment was (eventually) provided following various enquiries and I recommend Linked as a public art work. The work is partly about people who lost their homes, sometimes forcibly evicted, to make way for the M11 Link road.

I appreciate it is of little consequence I expended a little more time and effort getting access to Linked than I expected however the experience prompted me to ask if various cultural strategies are pointless. The council has expended public funds on a variety of strategic surveys and initiatives which might be considered ineffective.Perhaps, like the provision and management of public footpaths, public art in Waltham Forest is sometimes lost in a labyrinth of strategies - a relevantly dated blank map.

Further afield, beyond the M25, other borough councils appear to be more inspired by London 2012. I was in Ipswich recently and picked up this free guide at the city library. Below are a few scans from the 35 page A5 booklet. It is available for download via Ipswich Council website.







Perhaps such a guide is whimsical 'surplus value' in a time of deficit and so do most of the arts have to accept less government funding - local or otherwise?

The E17 and Leytonstone Arts Trails have done a great deal to energise public art in the borough recently, creating events which reveal a lot of enthusiasm for the arts in the borough but with how much support from the council, and support based on what sorts of expectations?

Here is another site about public art


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

a field student of highway contraventions


Kingsland Rd. 5/4/11

Presumably the poppy on the front of this truck is not intended to commemorate the many innocent cyclists and pedestrians who have been crushed to death beneath such vehicles. By the looks of it, this driver would never show any such solidarity, sympathy or empathy - let alone straightforward respect for the law and other road users. This was not the first ASL on Kingsland Rd, that truck had intruded on prior to arriving at this particular junction.

I was on my bicycle in the ASL area. I took the top photograph while standing there. I had enough time to walk forwards and photograph the stationary vehicle from the front, to include the registration number. The driver caught sight of this and lowered a window and started shouting abuse. I made an equally rude gesture and, as the lights had changed, headed off, north up Kingsland Road, keeping in the bus and cycle lane. The same lorry drove slowly alongside me and the driver persisted in his intimidating abuse. This abuse included, at one point, veering towards me as I avoided some potholes in the bus lane.

I made some more gestures and then broke away as the lorry arrived at the back of a queue of traffic.

About 15 minutes later I passed some police community support officers cycling up the road. I asked one of the 'cycle mounties' to stop as I had something to ask. I gave an account of the encounter with the truck and showed the officer the photographs. I was told the lorry driver would easily 'get off' this one as he could claim the photographs were taken while on the move. I pointed out a closer inspection would reveal the vehicle has not moved in the time taken to take both photographs and I am on the inside lane - where I would not stand if the lights were on green. I didn't completely reject her point. Then I was told I would need a witness and, with their details, to go to a local police station and fill in the appropriate forms. She added a witness is more valid than photographs as there are all sorts of 'loopholes' regarding photos.

I have tried going to a police station once before. The task took an excessively long time and my complaint (being bumped by a black cab which did not stop) was met with such indifference I decided not to bother with the formal process; which, I believe, is precisely what the station officer wanted.

In recent weeks there has been a spate of fatal collisions involving cyclists and lorries - as the inexhaustible Freewheeler's, Crap Cycling and Walking blog, reports - a depressing litany of death notices it seems sometimes.

To return to the photographs, something in the blatancy of the contravention and the proximity of the cycle symbol with those massive wheels brought home the violence of the situation on London roads.

Monday, 4 April 2011

a field student of E17 blossoms

Blackhorse Road April 2011.




Blackhorse Road April 2011


Saturday night saw a lonesome field student of E17 temporarily vacate his cloister of erotic misery to make a bee line for the bright lights of the High Street, Walthamstow. Intent on stripping a bridesmaid bare (or two, even) he proceeded with an artful swagger. He thought his luck was in when three headless bridesmaids emerged from the darkness of the Crest charity shop.

He tried courting their attention, volunteering his services from down on one knee, however he was incapable of arousing anything but a mannequin stillness and silence - which he thought dumb before thinking better of such a judgement.

Determined not to be deterred or frustrated in his erotic mission our man decided to try dating some buildings instead. Earlier in the week the field student had loitered on several apartment block corners admiring the ornamental facades, at times lost in an Arcadian reverie. That evening he could not find the date stones for the building of St James St Apartments and the International Supermarket.

Suddenly the Grotesques (grottesco) of medievalist fantasy cried out like an awful conference of emergency service sirens. So intense were the cries, screams and wails of these terrible visages the field student had no choice but to seek the sanctuary of an altogether more peaceful and refined location - fleeing the arcade in search of a night garden.

Earlier in the day, north along the Blackhorse Road, the field student had spied a front garden between the corners of Courtenay Rd and Cornwallis Rd. Close to a bus stop, the garden was occupied by a line of resplendently blossomed trees; a free(?) cherry blossom festival. Seeking some philosophical solace, the ornamental male headed for the mysticism of the sakura (or ume) and the consolation of hanami. Given the field student’s nocturnal predilections this hanami would be a yozakura. Were the trees plum or cherry? Would there be, as in parts of Japan, a rowdy lantern lit party? No.

The field student strolled about the trees imbibing the atmosphere of the blossomed place hoping to revive his spirit. But for the flow of traffic along the Blackhorse Road it might have been a more peaceful experience. Although without a lantern the student had a camera and flashed the trees, capturing their floral images. He imagined this site and ephemeral illumination viewed from a greater distance. Two young women arrived at the bus stop, and finding the sight of someone photographing trees at night amusing, started laughing mockingly before being shuttled off by a night bus.

The field student recalled another tree in full bloom; one which during a hot and sunny June day had been so full of foraging bees of all sorts, it hummed or sang of a nectar flow.

According to this site, the rowan has some relevance to those searching for ghosts.

The wood of European Mountain Ash is a tough, strong wood used in making tool handles, cart-wheels, planks, and beams. The Rowan was once a tree of ill repute in Northern Europe, where the Celtic Druids had venerated it. It was associated with witchcraft in 15th-16th century England where it was a symbol of paganism and the supernatural - and in some circles it has magical properties good for the virility of the male essence.

For this student however, the digital camera screen blinked indicating exhausted batteries, and without an ash in sight, he made his way home

Rowan Tree - Budleigh Salterton June 2010