Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Non-Stop Inertia: A Stuck Record (performance)


Interruption encouragement!
Artists intervention at Leeds Art Gallery this Friday (18th July) from 1-2pm. Artist John Wright and I will be performing a philosophical debate. Visitors are encouraged to interrupt.


Here’s a piece of writing I have made regarding my take on the performance Non-Stop Inertia: A Stuck Record:

Non-Stop Inertia is a performance piece named after an Ivor Southwood book of the same name. Southwood’s book takes an comphrensive look into the situation of the “deep paralysis of thought and action” caused by the “ideologically constructed” landscape of precarity. This affects mainly the younger generation of workers, but it is increasingly dragging even more people into a role that the economist Guy Standing calls that of the ‘Precariat‘, replacing the older term for the working class, the proletariat.4

But Non-Stop Inertia is also a psychological state as much as an economic one. The “deep paralysis of thought” is basically what anthropologist David Graeber is saying when he argues “neoliberalism [the ruling economical dogma of the present reality] is a war against the imagination”. The stop, start and (finally) exhaustive effect of what Jodi Dean calls ‘communicative capitalism’, that in the age of cyberspace communication extends into all realms of waking (and sleeping) life, is arguably the neoliberal model par excellence.

The little red Facebook notifications, the vibrating phone are more than analogous with violent rashes/itches that produce an inescapable mania over the body. No wonder, as J.D.Taylor shows in her essay ‘Spent: capitalism’s growing problem with anxiety’, that cases of compulsive/anxiety disorders have shown to have spiraled upwards since we entered an intensified stage of neoliberal ‘race to the bottom’ from 2009 onwards. The immensely informative book Alone Together by Psychologist Sherry Turkle, about the predicament and consequences of being “always on” in a world dominated by cyberspace technologies, misses a crucial causal factor in the becoming of this cold turkey-like dependency, and cyberspace’s mushrooming presence in our lives: that the social landscape which has been so ripe for it to flourish in is (at least, in part) ideologically constructed. What Standing and Southwood refer to as the ‘global precariat’ is the necessary 24/7/”always on” agent that makes cyberspace the teaming immaterial beehive that it is.

I [John Ledger] originally undertook this performance as part of an umbrella of artistic events under the name Pandemic, based in Sheffield in the autumn of 2011. Pandemic began just as anti-austerity direct action groups and Occupy movements were asking questions, and demanding accountability in Sheffield around the world. Its aim was to create other spaces for interpreting and expressing a desire for the possibility of ‘another world’, that supported but also provided an alternative to the more direct aforementioned methods. Since then the speed, quantity of information on cyberspace, and our dependency on it, seems to have sped up so much, in just 3 years, alongside the feelings of unpredictability in our lives, that spaces for such contemplation feel ever-more compromised. This makes Non-Stop Inertia, and our performance concept, increasingly relevant.

The performance attempts to mirror this ‘paralysis’, to illustrate just how the ability to understand the social reality we are amidst is continuously broken up. With this performance being in a gallery institution, the predicament of the gallery worker (out of all service industry workers) seemed most appropriate. Compared to many service industry jobs, it is surely a far more pleasant working environment. Yet, because a gallery is an environment that has evolved over time to be a space for contemplation and an absorbing of different ideas, the gallery worker (who remains there all day) is psychologically ambushed by contemplation, (over)thinking. Yet the job requires a standard spiel to be given out to every visitor who enters the gallery. The environmentally-enforced contemplation is continuously interrupted and sent back to square one. Indeed, visitors subjected to more than one of spiels given out often say “you sound like a stuck record“. For such a relaxing environment, one’s head can often feel like a crushed tin can by the end of the day. Due to this I felt this predicament in itself was almost an analogy for the wider state of Non-Stop Inertia.

Below is the sign showing suggested interruptions for visitors to make on Friday:

non-stop inertia

200 year old eyes

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Sometimes it feels that the malaise, the feeling of having been cheated, is because the ghosts of my forefathers embody me, disillusioned with the repetition of ordeals we thought were their past, not ours – after all that glorious future their Dickensian-stricken aging bodies believed they were handing down to us (no wonder the 1970′s seems more like a future than it does the past). I do not specifically mean by forefathers my genetic line, but also the people at large who came before us. I also believe many more my age and ten years either side feel this, even if they don’t think this.
And this feeling is certainly no jingoist rain dance! It’s more of a feeling that the future was stolen. A future in which the jingoist impulse would have been buried 6 miles deep (the depth at which they should have buried Thatcher).

The plight of those before me informs us that we are part of a defeated generation. Yet this truth remains an undetected feeling that almost never registers as a thought; drowned out by the white-noise of the capitalism 2.0′s con-work. The noise of competitive individualism, positive psychology and it’s flip-side, the draconian threats to work harder and harder for less. It turns the brain in an inflexible type of wood, then it sends in the wood worm to fuck you over twice.

“Here are the young men the weight on their shoulders … The sorrows we suffered and never were free”  Decades, Joy Division

Yet my 200 year old glare knows it’s a con when it catches itself in a train window or the mirror in a pub. 200 years of hardship rest behind them (if nowhere else on my body), overriding me with a sensation of ‘not again’. Ghosts accumulated behind your eyes because the future they should have been laid to rest in never arrived – accumulated from a future denied.

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This is a piece of writing I wrote to accompany of a photograph (image above) of screwed up job-centre print-outs (never worth the paper they’re printed on), when I was briefly claiming dole before returning to the very same job I had been doing prior to my unemployment:

“It’s like we all know the world wants us to go through the same ordeals that we already know the grim/empty outcome of, over again, and we’re telepathically communicating a message that roughly translates as “look we’ve [our civilisation has] come this far, look at what we’ve been through, we at least expect something a little better than this”. It is a feeling that haunts the first countries to go through the ‘modernisation’ process’ more than anywhere else; haunted by those ordeals of our forefathers – the first to be subjected to capitalist exploitation.

It’s like we all know the world wants us to go through the same ordeals that we already know the grim/empty outcome of, over again, and we’re telepathically communicating a message that roughly translates as “look we’ve [our civilisation has] come this far, look at what we’ve been through, we at least expect something a little better than this”. It is a feeling that haunts the first countries to go through the ‘modernisation’ process’ more than anywhere else; haunted by those ordeals of our forefathers – the first to be subjected to capitalist exploitation”.

I belong to the unemployed even whilst I work day in day out. I belong here because in my heart I don’t have it in me to accept life as a repeat of the grim ordeals of the past, after all con-men told us that this would never happen again. Thus don’t be surprised if as a 30 year old I remain somewhat in a peter-pan state, where am I to go? I’m not the only one. A culture of so-called ‘shirkers’ is actually a society of lost souls, but empathy for others is not something we do well (if we ever did).

But I can hear it already, “what gives you the right to think you don’t to do a hard day’s work?”, “you need to grow up mate and accept what life throws at you”. Which is completely missing the point, and also roughly translates as “How dare you challenge the work ethic so ingrained in our culture that we’re prepared to destroy the planet and go to war in the process of defending it?” Well, there was a time not so long ago when the idea of a coming-world where we worked less, stressed less, envied less, needed to drown our sorrows less, was anticipated. And I believe this world was far from being an unrealistic goal – until the tide of politics changed that was.

Oh, and if you do misread all of this as me being what you’d likely call ‘bone idle’, I do actually work hard. And, although apart from day job it is not really/directly towards a better career, or a better-looking C.V, and may be work that actually diverts from securing a more financially-stable future for myself (as if I even thought that likely now!) I work fucking hard. But ask me to go to interviews? To start upon the road of bones and C.V’s towards a ‘dream job’? You will see in my eyes that I have already gone. It’s too late for me to believe. It’s a unnecessary repetition of our fore-fathers’ past, and it will only end badly. My 200 year old eyes can’t bear another lap on this grueling track.

A few tweaks towards a ‘smart city’ (city-brollies, and drinking fountains)


These two small, but (I believe) quite effective initiatives seem so obvious to me that I’d be surprised of somebody who can usually only organise an half decent biro-pen composition could come up with them as original ideas, but here goes all the same.

After finding myself both dehydrated yet getting drenched on a warm,piss-wet-through day in central Leeds (after all, how can one go places always prepared for such mixed weather?), I had to consume far more disposable bits of plastic than my conscience usually lets me get away with: a couple of cheap-plastic bottles of water and a cheap umbrella.

I know I need water when the sound of crying babies (whose mothers are seeking the dryness on the same shopping malls as me ) are like ‘wack-attack’ mallets hitting my anxiety-buttons. And getting drenched is always a best-avoided humiliation for someone with an hastily-bodged together self-esteem in an anxiously-hierarchical society, where those already trodden on the most like sodden and discarded bus tickets seem to be the ones drenched by the rain of city streets.

Beyond my own experiences, thirst and heavy rain clearly have a large negative affect within city spaces that are already lacking any sufficient communal areas adequate for such refuge and recuperation. Things that shouldn’t be as disruptive as they are, make a sufficient number of people (thus the general mood of the city) more stressed and angry.

I thought how beneficial it would be to all if that unnecessary stress was lessened, making peoples’ journeys within the city more pleasant, by having stop off/drop off points for weather-essentials such as umbrellas, drinking water, etc. Regarding umbrellas, despite being annoyed by their nickname, and a deep dislike of the individual concerned in the nickname, maybe a way of making this seem practical would be by calling them ‘Boris Brollies’ – as umbrellas, and other weather-essentials could have collection and drop off stations within a city like ‘Boris Bikes’ have in London. Obviously water bottles would have to be boiled before reuse (glass or steel probably being the best bottle material) – but would such a system of doing this really be so difficult, for the benefits of eradicating the city-wide tension caused by thirst, and the unwanted used water bottles littering the streets because the city-user didn’t have any choice but to buy one?

I don’t trust the assumption that people wouldn’t hand back the umbrellas, water bottles and other things, and would pocket them. If there were enough conveniently place drop off stations for the items (such as in public transport interchanges), people would most likely find it far easier to give them back after use than lug them around for the rest of the day.

Of course, all this sounds nonsensical under a cultural reality based around an assertion that everything should be commercially-driven within city spaces for prosperity. But the most privatised, commericialised city-spaces, in my opinion, usually tend to be the ones that deprive one of well-being, at least until the next purchase provides momentary relief from discomfort. Perhaps this is why European countries that, even if their levees are being broken by the tide neoliberal economics, are still largely social democratic, are more open to ways of making cities smarter, than here in the UK. Here, there are so many ways that our cities could be better environments for all, but the private and commercialised notion of space is so dominant that they remain ‘day-dreamer’ ideas.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Ever- Ever- Ever-Ever-

It seems that today the use of ‘Ever-’ with another word attached to it, is almost everywhere. Usually it is ‘Ever-more’, ‘Ever-less’, ‘Ever-increasing’ or ‘ever-harder’. It has become so frequently used in news articles, management emails, general work-place chit chat, scientific journals that is has become white-noise, entirely naturalised. When you pull it out the white noise, suddenly it reveals the disconcerting connotations of Now.

I would say that such a use of words (even if the language has changed) would have had little need to be used before the industrial revolution, except (perhaps) in times of ‘Biblical catastrophes’. I’d say that such a use of words is specific to a society based around the illusion of infinite growth set in motion by capitalist dynamics. But I would also say gthat despite the fact the this process is over 200 years old, the naturalising of this use of words began at the back end of the 20th century, and became naturalised during that last decade. This is because the psychological assault of the austerity-logic alongside the creeping (occasionally, crashing) awareness climate change is upon us that has given us the feeling of being on borrowed time, a feeling that gives rise to the ‘ever-more’ ‘ever-hard’ etc.
Out of Time?

Why does time seem against us? Is everything completely out of out hands, or is this sensation helped along by an ideological construction? The ‘Ever-’ of ecology and the ‘Ever-’ of economy have recently blurred into one. A sense of overriding powerlessness results from this. True, an economy has to take into account the ecology, and a deteriorating ecological predicament is going to affect the economy. But this economy is driven by an ideology that has asserted itself as reality. The assault of seemingly permanent austerity is not a response to reality but a distortion of reality. Yet, because there was no alternative idea big enough to challenge it when it died the first time in the 2008 financial crash, it has been able to rule the media-waves with its ‘reality management’.

This has compounded the feeling of time being against us, because the ability to picture a pathway out is smothered by a tidal surge of hardship (aping the real, climate disaster tidal surge) slowly heading our way. Everything seems to be in permanent motion against (the majority) of us. Which is why the sink of swim, ultra-competitive dog fight logic seems to have become the norm in society – like fighting for the remaining places on a lifeboat. Austerity is not an empirically-based objective – it is an economic war dealt by an ideology based around neoliberal economic theory, that seized the chance to distort the causation of the 2008 crash for its own ends.

If you’ve noticed, concern shown about the environment has diminished significantly since 2009, at least here in the UK. As much as people recognise the seriousness of it, the feelings of ‘Ever—’ that dominate thought make it seem such an insurmountable situation. However, I think it’s pretty reasonable to argue that, under an economy driven by (or, more correctly, in service of) a different agenda, serious actions to deal with it could be taken in a very straightforward manner.

But with this acceptance of the ‘Ever—’ we become silently accepting of things only ever getting worse. This has a huge psychological impact, that ripples throughout society, where people feel that they have to accept worse working conditions, worse services, a worse environment (think how the powers that be are repeatedly trying to make us resigned to accepted fracking – whether it works or not. The gap between a worsening of life for the majority based on empirical fact, and the worsening caused by this ideological assault has been been seamlessly bound. Why is why environmental issues cannot be challenged whilst accepting such a dogma as reality itself.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

One year on from making my Psychogeographical video of the West Riding of Yorkshire…

One year on from making my psychogeographical video of the West Riding of Yorkshire, I’ve come to see it more as a personal, and (more specifically) an hauntological account. It’s more about lost world’s, lost dreams (“dead dreams”), and the fading of  a vitality and belief in change in many frequented haunts, thus the aim of bleaching the photographs to make them look like they’d been exposed to UV light for way too long. I admit it is quite lengthy, but for it to work as a concept formed around a certain region, it was difficult to make smaller. But the areas are split up on the video. 1st part Leeds. 2nd Part, Wakefield, 11 minutes in. 3rd part, Barnsley, 33 minutes in. 4th Part, pennine hills, 1 hour 20 minutes in. 5th Part, Sheffield, 1 hour 30 minutes in.


Friday, 27 June 2014

Images from exhibition Five Years Drowning


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…Attempting a cognitive mapping of chaos…speeding of information causing its very disintegration…a proliferation of incomprehension…a deluge of auto-suggestions against the panic attacks of rare clear perception…being brayed between mumbo-jumbo-unreality and the biggest ever threats to humanity…underneath it all an cracking of skin and an aging of bones #CanIHaveSomeTimeAlone? Five Years Drowning.



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TV Talk (part of series)

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TV Talk (part of series)

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Hyper-Malaise

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Five Years Drowning installation

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Progress…

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Five years Drowning installation

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TV Talk (part of series)
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TV Talk (part of series)

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TV Talk (part of series)

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close up section of ‘Who Would Want to Listen to This?’

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Thursday, 19 June 2014

Pre-2008-Crash Time-Capsules

The Sad but necessary demolition of some older pieces of work.

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Although I wouldn’t really call these pieces of work sculpture – they were more accompaniments to my drawings, mounds rising up to slightly obscure the pieces I was showcasing/like a weight on a stressed chest that won’t go away (guilt of being part of/wedded into the trappings of a destructively consumptive society) – they certainly shared the demand for storage space that sculpture demands. Unfortunately for most of us, such space just isn’t available (I genuinely believe the main difference between sculptors and painters/drawing-based artists, is that access to ample of space to expand into to is a necessity before you even begin to contemplate being a sculptor).


Images ftom exhibition 'The Healing Process'. r

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These pieces of work were made in 2008, and became crammed into a shed with other works. The began to get damaged, but they were beginning to damage other, less damaged works. So, to save those works, I decided that these works would have to be demolished. They were originally part of an installation called ‘The Healing Process’ which I exhibited in the fall of 2008 (healing, as a coming to terms with things, a gradual greening over of scars on the landscape I grew up in, reflecting a hope for a gradual healing over of psychological scars I’d carried with me for some years). Yet I made them from waste and fly-tipped material (largely non-recyclable, except for the newspaper used for Papier-Mache) in the summer of 2008, before it became aware to everybody that we were amidst a huge financial crisis.

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Largely because I am overly concerned with the notion that time as become (even further) out of joint since then I was quite keen to document all that stuff that hasn’t seen light of day since summer 2008. The pre 2008-crash point feels like another epoch whilst it still only seems like yesterday, amidst the austerity-age logic, and superstitiously-embedded faith that things will ‘return to normal’, our experience of time is spinning on a stuck broken record. This meant that it felt weirdly like uncovering relics to a world only 5 minutes past.

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Demolishing them, kind of also felt like knocking down old buildings with the interior of somewhere once lived-in in full sight. Truth be told, the items, even the shards of newspaper stories bear no real difference to what they would look like now, it isn’t as if the world of seeming permanent austerity looks that different – yet something is different, and opening up these soon to be destroyed pieces of work made me think of this difference.

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Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Why didn’t the riots return (in the years following 2011)?


What happened to that energy/impulse that Slavoj Žižek said was split between positive/emancipatory and destructive, which burst out in 2011? For me, the destructive energies/impulses of the UK riots in August of that year exemplified both the explosive jolt out of neoliberal capitalism’s snatching of our hearts and minds that 2011 showed glimmers of (even, as to quote a friend, if anything the riots were in fact that very neoliberal right wing libertarianist “system expressing itself”), whilst also being an exemplar of why these energies/impulses seem to have evaporated since.


I must admit, as spring met summer in the following year of 2012, it slowly became clear to me that it wouldn’t return during this calender year. Specifically here in the UK, as such antagonistic energies, and an ability for cognitive mapping of the social landscape were being diverted and dissolved by a succession of Jingoist demands on the population (the Diamond Jubilee, England’s place in the Euro 2012 Football tournament, and last – but certainly not least – the London Olympic spectacle.) Yet, I really expected this energy to return in 2013, expecting that survivalist adrenaline the media hype of the riots induced in me with ominous anticipation. I expected it to the extent that I found myself in uncomfortable arguments with people who mistook my desire for the fault-lines in this social-Thatcherism-par-excellence point in time to become like gaping chasms in the streets we walk, with a desire to see a return of the mob violence and ruination of livelihoods which was the truth of the riots for many.

Come-what-may they didn’t return (and I severely doubt they will again this year). As I said, I felt they were both an exemplar of the energy/impulse that erupted in 2011 as well as for the reason it didn’t return, because here in the UK nothing else shook the real of neoliberal Britain than they did. And as part and parcel of the justified fear  they induced in the rest of the population (hyped by the media so that it felt like it was happening in every street – “they’re coming for you!”) was the way in which the clampdown by the state could drag down and smother all the emancipatory lifeblood that was flowing through that year along with the riots.

What crept into my thought processes in the following couple of years was the reverse: a total lack of energised belief, an audacity to challenge the post 2008 zombie capitalism, that (like the recent, fast zombie, movies) is feeding off life at an unprecedented speed. A malaise, an ever more privatised construction of our world has ensued (consisting of a deep immersion in sound-bite-sharing on social media, pictures of cute kittens, Netflix dramas etc). A higher level of unreality, repetition of our own lives until then, side by side with an increasing narrowing of future horizons towards that (“one day, surely!) ever-harder to attain secure, stable full time job, and that desire to remain in whatever employment we have, which has raised the protestant work ethic in the work place to an hysterical level (such that the frenzied, yet pointless bureaucratic landscape of Terry Gilliam’s dystopian film Brazil now just looks like another day at work.)

Energy has been zapped, time increasingly taken from us (as the need to be constantly checking our cell phones, social media profiles – “as something promising is surely behind that sms envelope/bright red notification” – dominates our subconscious) and the ‘gloves off’ neoliberal capitalist assault as plunged us all into a survivalist state of being, centred around an eternal present where each day merely resembles the next one. Climate change, escalating situations in only-just-out-of-sight countries – these things become both too much to comprehend and also worryingly unreal, like looking at the world through a just-emptied Jack Daniels bottle. How can the energy/impulse for change that is so crucial right now return under all of this? Everything is moving so fast, yet there’s never been so much malaise when one is confronted by anything beyond their increasingly porcupine-like ego. It is hypermalaise.

When I attempted to undertake a Cultural Studies course in London during the fall of 2012,  the many social, environmental, existential issues were all seemingly at a tipping point on my horizon. Perhaps, because of this, I caved in on myself down there and needed to return to the familiar South/West Yorkshire landscape. Of course, if they were at a tipping point 2 years ago, they most certainly are now. Yet, likely because of the aforementioned predicament , they suddenly feel off radar, miles away, happening but not happening at the same time. As well as this I had to train myself to become a little distant from what I saw around me after London simply just so I could function, because not being able to function when I needed to find work again simply wasn’t an option.
In 2013, my approach was to pick up ideas on a ‘cognitive mapping’ of our contemporary landscape from the shards of an unfinished course, and apply these to my home landscape, in an attempt to build a coherent picture to challenge the disorientation and confusion surrounding our contemporary landscape that everything else was more or inducing in me, and (seemingly) most other people too. After veering away from this project during the last 6 months, I have come back to realising just how crucial it may be as a way of grasping reality from the hands of the neoliberal state’s media control over reality, where the amnesia of now, leaves us blind to anything but an ever-distant past (surely this is why countless people find themselves perplexed that the 1990′s – just before society became immersed in the Eternal Now of cyberspace – is actually a long time ago now) . Thus, I have begun making these maps again, memorising what caught my attention in urban/suburban landscapes during the same day, before it disappears into this time-hole. The map below is the one I made yesterday.


map 17 june


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Five Years Drowning – upcoming show in Sheffield

I have a solo show coming up in Sheffield centre, the preview opening on Wednesday 25 June.

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…Attempting a cognitive mapping of chaos…speeding of information causing its very disintegration…a proliferation of incomprehension…a deluge of auto-suggestions against the panic attacks of rare clear perception…being brayed between mumbo-jumbo-unreality and the biggest ever threats to humanity…underneath it all an cracking of skin and an aging of bones #CanIHaveSomeTimeAlone? Five Years Drowning.

A solo exhibition by John Ledger@35 Chapel Walk
Thursday 25 June – Wednesday 2 July, 11AM – 4PM.
Preview Wednesday 25 June, 6-8PM
35 Chapel Walk, Sheffield, S1 2DP
http://www.35chapelwalk.com

Five Years Drowning


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

“We Are Already Dead” – or disconcerting sensations

Total immersion in cyberspace has slowly given me this sense that I have died, but I can’t figure when this happened (probably in the past 3 years). Yet, at the same time it seems like cyberspace’s infiltration of my nervous system (the information superhighway’s merger with the bloodstream) is the only thing keeping me alive. If, like the half Cyborg/Half human teen-protagonists in M.T Anderson’s novel FEED , something happened to completely ‘disconnect’ me, the true horror of that which cyberspace accelerates into unreal, far-away, sound-bite, would suddenly become too real, and potentially too much to endure.

The “Zero” century (Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi) began the day the ‘real horrorshow’ spectacle of the collapsing Twin Towers was melted onto our minds like media napalm. More blockbuster than any horror movie from the previous 100 years, could anything ever shock us ever again? And so came the slow undead triumph over Western culture – no wonder it’s been mirrored by a proliferation in zombie/vampire movies. A slow slip form the life world which the emerging broadband Internet could help (zombie)-germinate and then reproduce. All our civilisation seems equipped for now is reflections of its former self.

All of this confirms in me that it is the dominant belief system and the structures that form around it that is the corpse at the reigns; our feelings of being dead partly caused due it being able to seemingly annihilate the possibility of an alternative to its own dominance from the psyche-sphere whilst it was in the process of dying itself. Yet, this sensation of undeadness mainly comes by us clinging more rigidly to the dead belief system the more things, like climate change and the joint threat of permanent-austerity and creeping surveillance, threaten to take away the few things we were fooled into thinking were givens, as long as we compromised to live under this system. When you see no way out of worsening situation your survival instincts are to live in a state of further delusion, only now and again being hit by the disconcerting sensation that “we are already dead” (1984). The quote from 1984 I really want to use here (but cannot find anywhere, without the book) is when the protagonist Winston Smith realises that he will never be able to kill himself, to cut short his existence he already knows to be doomed, and stresses how instinct forces his body to stay alive, taking one breath after another for as long as it can.

I admittedly usually cut things short here, as if leaving the blanks to fill in. Partly because this blog has been set up largely with the hasty desire for my visual work to be seen and appreciated/exposed (‘instinct forcing the body to try to stay alive as long as possible”), and this has almost already confirmed that I will only amount to a rookie writing level, with a poor knowledge of writers to use citations from. But I also cut things short because I don’t know what to write from here. I don’t know what to suggest from this point, but still feel I should to shirk off the “negative person” tags. Because I don’t see my self as a negative person, I see myself as I critical person, and Now needs endless criticism. But I just don’t have any answers, not anymore, those naive early adulthood asks of “why not” were easily winded, and need to be replaced. I need a second wind.

Thursday, 29 May 2014


Social Media wipes your cognitive mapping


A wealth of information doesn’t equate to a wealth of knowledge – this is a given. Yet ‘the race to know’ (not really a competition, more a feeling that you never know enough about the important things we trust affect our lives) makes the quest for more information incredibly seductive.

Throughout the modern age we’ve been bombarded (on lesser scales) by information overload that confuses our attempts to understand, from newspapers, wireless radio to rolling news. It becomes hard, if not impossible to distinguish what does and doesn’t concern our interests. For example, a brutal murder, 100 miles away; despite it being of a very upsetting nature, it really has very little connection with the concerns of the rest of us, unless we begin to ask whether a rise in country-wide homicides correlates to decision-making policies. But ‘news’ rarely goes into the genealogy of incidents, and just leaves us confused by a downpour of seemingly unrelated happenings. It can often seem like it’s all out of control, making us feel powerless (or at least more powerless) than usual.
Take this affect into consideration and times it by ten, and this is the predicament faced by the concerned in the age of social media, where information is distributed far thicker and faster thant at any other time in human history.

3 recent events, and the circumventing shower of sources reporting/commenting on them, have literally put my current feelings of panicky disorientation to their highest point in years. These These 3 events are the rise of the UKIP-spectacle, the situation in the Ukraine and the situation in the Favelas in Brazil in advance of the world cup.

I am without a doubt that beneath the conflicting reports, and the unrealness of it all, the events are genuinely disturbing (quite horrifying in the case of the Ukraine and Brazil), but I’ve been so saturated by internal conflict caused by the social media feed-storm of concerning issues, that I have completely lost the capacity to begin to understand just what is going on, anywhere whatsoever.
Maybe my capacity for keeping a level head is shorter than average, and maybe my habitual scatterbrain, my tendency towards many different info-sources, increases this feeling. But I don’t think I am alone because social media platforms have increasingly come to resemble mad-houses (if I can use such an historically-discriminatory term) at breaking point.

My conclusion, the only damn conclusion I feel equipped to make due to the aforementioned scenario, is that information/opinions/reports are mushrooming due to an increased disorientation fed by hasty-yet-futile attempts by the multiple media-bias’ conflict with the rest of us to find understanding/the truth of the situation(s), which is then further mushroomed by our attempts to capture these sources as they slide down the liquid social media platform, and share an opinion on what we trust could affect us/the common good. An information bomb caused by our desire for understanding confusing it with information.

Right now I feel like I have lost my ability for ‘cognitive mapping’. I feel disorientated, thus utterly powerless in the face of perceived-concerns. I presume this is how most of us feel; I presume this resulting feeling of powerlessness is at the root of this increase in the opposite use of social media; the distribution/sharing of the twee, the cutified and the obsession with the past; all the hallmarks of relinquishing of any responsibility when it feel so insurmountable to take it on; rebuilding our childhood rooms, becoming kids, and letting the ‘adults’ run the show.

I feel ‘cognitive mapping’, the ability to make a mental map “of the social and global totality [one that we] we carry around in our heads in various garbled forms” (Jameson) is crucial, because it allows us at least to be able to begin to understand that the power of capital lies behind all these problems, with its demands on an ever-increasingly damaged ecological and social-sphere for more profit extraction. We locate capitalism in concrete abstractions. If we fail, we locate false concrete abstractions, like conspiracy theories, or more relevantly, we blame immigrants for our economic plight, use the ‘the bad guys versus the goods guys’ binary as an explanation for the wars in the world.

It’s sad to admit that I think the overall affect of the Internet, at least under the dictum of neoliberal-economics-mixed-with-neoconservative-methods of power, has been to make us unlearn, confuse and forget, rather than inform.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Thurlstone Moor, May 2014 (John Ledger, Michael Hill – part of West Riding of Yorkshire: A Psychogeographical Account)





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Beaufitul emptiness: our (mild) equivalent to the US deserts, empty, barren, ‘lifeless, open space, where objects take on a monolithic presence. A place of long straight roads that exhaust a mind put into turmoil by the world down below.





Some of these monolithic objects take on a lunar-like feel. The desert and the moon have a huge connection, both in space stations and being frontiers. There is a frontier feel up here, often. Though we may not register it as being so. Escaping to a barren land, that requires no emotion from, this world below

“Climbing up to The Moon” – Eels – a song from my early 20′s

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Brain Damage (Pink Floyd-style; that is – all of us)

“searching for the world I left behind
A shadow hunting shadows of childhood life
It’s all I want and all I miss but how can I return to a place that don’t exist?” -

Almost 3 years ago now, parts of urban England (not the whole of Britain, as Mark Fisher pointed out) were engulfed by an unfathomable rage, as riots took hold of certain urban zones. The media-spectacle made it feel like it was on every street in the country. Surely nobody, from the most reactionary Conservatives to the would-be theorists, desperate to understand the reasons, was left unshaken by the media-heightened prospects during the early days of the rioting. In the midst of 2011, I have never felt so compelled and compressed to understand, and to try to be part of something that could change a global society that felt unacceptable. The resulting years I have felt increasingly more abstracted from the reality of this reality (whilst still being subjected to it), and less cognitively-equipped to stay in tune with the really important things, and partly due to this, have felt like an emotionally-damaged zombie going through the motions of caring.

“when I look over
Over my shoulder
I can’t see my past
It seems so far away”
 
So, it’s part the way the world has gone, and part the world my life has gone, that I rarely feel I am at looking at the world as a living person anymore; scatterbrained, by a compulsion (unconsciously connected to the survivalist fear in an austerity climate) to remain constantly “sociable” via cyberspace, miserably, yet parallelised-drunk on continuous imagery; you’re trying to care, but eventually you just succumb to the “desensitised” rather than the perpetual “panic” (Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi) state, amidst the info-frenzy of cyberspace; the latter becomes an unbearable state, that makes you dysfunctional, and after 2012, I realised that the world “disallowed” the disfunctional, caring me, but accepted the disafffected me. Damaged Beings. Only when I walk the same road to work, a long, boring road, does the feeling of being post-life, post-human, envelope me.
 
Artwork products still create meaning, the only meaning really. And from that, purpose, drive; an hyperstate, that ices over the feeling of lack of life. But this obviously has to come to an end. And so begins the desperate attempts to find oneself in a mirror. You can have tantrums, seasonly breakdowns, but you’ll only arrive at the same conclusion; that all you have just broken into pieces is what must be eventually fixed back together in order to be able to get into the thick of the world again.
 
But isn’t that precisely the place your refraining from heading back into? Of course it is, and right now (the moment after a climatic build up of energy put into work that has to end, thus a huge anti-climax) you’ll try to do this very act of abstaining; and 20 minutes into doing so you’ll realise the separation from the info-frenzied, mediatised, precariatised contemporary world is impossible (ignoring the “you can always just switch IT off” because it rarely deserves the attention it gets).
 
So, within the next few week, what was staring me in the face 6 months ago, will soon be staring me in the face again. Contemporary capitalism does not allow for honest self-reflection; it allows pre-packaged self-realisation, or melodrama, as a desperate attention-seeking to showcase in 3 minute-pop song duration what has been denied (usually via Twitter or Facebook).
 
Some kind of intuition to a book I couldn’t remember the substance of, yet that bears great relevance to the nature of my thoughts right now, must be at play, as to the reason why before I left my room I picked up Theodor Adorno’s Minima Moralia (which, I admit, I’ve still only read fragments of), with a subtitle that has become the subtitle of many of my thoughts today: Reflections From A Damaged Life. This following segment from the book’s beginning explains much towards what gets me stuck in this aforementioned existential landslide:
 
“The occupation with things of the mind has by now itself become “practical,” a business with strict division of labor, departments and restricted entry. The man of independent means who chooses it out of repugnance for the ignominy of earning money will not be disposed to acknowledge the fact. For this he is punished. He … is ranked in the competitive hierarchy as a dilettante no matter how well he knows his subject, and must, if he wants to make a career, show himself even more resolutely blinkered than the most inveterate specialist.”
 
So, if steady footing is called for right now, and if that means occupying a seat in a chain cafe (ooh naughty me for not frequenting a small independent cafe, so small that the barristas are giving me the body language to say “can you leave now please?” after 25 minutes) where I can find my thoughts with the aim of finding ideas for new “art production” because, sadly, a “specialist” or identity-bust I must be. Home is not, and never will be a place for reflection; tasks mount up around you; the scattered mind parachutes in, and on comes cyberspace and the sound-bite encourages a melodramatic end to an anti-climatic moment, when what is needed is pause/reflection (even if it is in an increasingly diluted dorm, found in private-public spaces in large cafes, large pubs.
 
(p.s: If you wish to reply, please don’t repy saying “are you ok?”; right now I’m far removed from doing that whole “cry for help”, fruitless endeveour – anyway I’d use Twitter or Facebook for that. I’M EXPLAINING, I’M EXPLAINING, just explaining – that’s all!)

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Images from ‘Just The Noise…’ exhibition




It’s been good to get the main chunk of my work (minus the installations of previous shows) into one big spaces. But it was especially good to show smaller works next to the larger ones, feel doing this helped map out the last 5 years quite well.

The exhibition is on until Thursday @Gage Gallery, KIAC, The Lion Works, 40 Ball Street, Kelham Island, Sheffield, S3 8DB
10-4PM.

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Image courtesy Mathew Nunns

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 This table includes all the books I have made during these years, including a the artist book Remedy by Victoria Lucas, for which I wrote a small piece. My books can be found here http://www.blurb.co.uk/user/ledgefromkec

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…Coils Tightening (2014)

…Coils Tightening
(2014, ballpoint pen and collage on paper, 80X120cm)

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