10 Feb 2017

How do You Fealh? Lying Fallow for a Season.

Question: Is an artist a machine?


(făl′ō) adj.
fal′low·ness n.

To rest is to gather energy and ideas, does this make you a better human, a better artist? If output is continuous, are you an unthinking machine. It's a bit of a leap, to let go of continuous action, to pause creative output. Like a library taking time to restock itself.
The age old wisdom of 'lying fallow' for a season, which was 4 months in London, has been most instructive.
A period of gathering.  It has been both wonderful and a chore.
As a result I'm able to say, one does not waste talent lying fallow, but instead, one allows it to deepen.

A fallow field is:
1. Plowed and left unseeded during one growing season.
2. Characterized by apparent inactivity: a fallow gold market.
3. Plowed and tilled (land), time taken to eradicate or reduce weeds.

[Middle English falow, from Old English fealh, fallow land.]

How do you fealh?
Harvest will be around March, with a series of surround sound performances in Sharjah in the UAE for Maraya Art Centre, a solo showing of my work in Dubai at The Mine and a short music residency at New York University in Abu Dhabi in February.

February also sees the launch of our radio works for Sharjah Art Foundation, When the Near Becomes Far.

Meanwhile my two weekly radio shows on Resonance 104.4FM and Resonance Extra have continued, so perhaps it wasn't a completely fallow period: Six Pillars and Free Lab Radio.

17 Dec 2016

So How'd the Year of the Monkey Turn Out for You?

These waves,
Emitted not by rhythms,
Waves that are if unheeded, utterly silent.
A data ocean, in which
You buoy yourself, 
You embroil yourself,
To which you give up Life's greatest credit,
 You give time,
These waves in which
You swim, only to sink in at the first real news;
Speculation, gambling, affectation,
The binary coded sounds of a species confused.

2016 was the year of the Monkey. How did it turn out for you? 
Monkey: "I am the seasoned traveler
Of the Labyrinth.
The genius of alacrity,
Wizard of the impossible.
My brilliance is yet 

In its originality.
My heart’s filled with potent magic
That could cast a hundred spells.
I am put together
For mine own pleasure

2016, The Year of the Monkey, in January this year, was discussed with some trepidation by observers of Chinese calendar tradition.

Now at the year's close, bookshops in London stock the pictured publication.

5 Dec 2016

Keep Woke

To 'Keep Calm' is one thing, to cocoon your mind in self-centred obsession another;
your projects your friends your events your circle...your output your income your appearance.

This inward turning, a narcissistic echo and webbed mirror we have been sold
gives common ground over to those who damage;
extremists and mortally dangerous businesses pursuing profit and power,
in every sphere, at every level
while we look the other way.

Sanity would demand it.

Waking up is talking to a stranger,
doing something you'll receive nothing, apparently, back for.

Take up the mantle. A steward of all that common good.

#woke blitz spirit

"A flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."


2 Dec 2016

Standard Oil Company and Petro-Subjectivity, Performance - Radio Revolten

"Just a note to say I had a listen to 'Petro-Subjectivity, attracted by the title, and love it -- you really get to the heart of the toxic mess....
and the Neruda poem, oh yes.... in every dimension, really beautiful work....."  
Gregory Whitehead, radio artist.

Making notes is the key to being a good poet, we were told, as we sat cross legged on the lawn of an Indian music academy in Maharastra, India in 1999. The speaker was a retired accountant, now renowned not only for the music academy he founded, but the many Qawaalis and poems he had penned since. He went on Write down anything that springs to mind; a line, a phrase, you never know what it may blossom into.

Now, years later, in a new century, in which the fall out from past actions by BP in Iran are still surfacing, old lines come to mind. On this reflection, we performed an hour's live piece for Radio Revolten, composed of my recordings of the sounds of my surroundings in Halle, a town full of astoundingly detailed architecture. I also pulled in a thread begun in my last post, the poem by Neruda, and a book on my shelf, Petrosubjectivity by Brett Bloom, who I'd interviewed many years ago for Resonance104.4FM.  The sounds of Halle were: football hooligans (one wearing an electronic tag on his ankle), the train from Leipzig to Halle, an impressive array of musical instruments decorating our Airbnb: Persian tar, a guitar I prepared, electronic keyboards, an accordion, a ukelele, a berimbau...and voices at Radio Revolten. Here Georg Nicholl translates my Neruda reading spontaneously into German, in an improvised ping pong of thought and suggested images. The sounds of being in Germany then, with thoughts of a reoccurring greed for profit.
What has Neruda's pen done to stem the growth of hatred, except to identify more clearly the uninhabited gestures of a common enemy.

21 Oct 2016

All Hallows' Eve

I made these videos on my phone, both are with the original ambient sound, one made in a shopping Mall in the UAE, the other in a homestead in UK. I post them here as a note, because it struck me, again, this Halloween that no fiction is scarier than the reality of what, in fact, men to do one another, and to themselves; from the swift impact of war, to the slower seeping poisons of capitalism.
Neruda says it most clearly, below, an extract from his early poem Standard Oil Company: 

Standard Oil Company
Their obese emperors from New York
are suave smiling assassins
who buy silk, nylon, cigars
petty tyrants and dictators.
They buy countries, people, seas, police, county councils,
distant regions where the poor hoard their corn
like misers their gold:
Standard Oil awakens them,
clothes them in uniforms, designates
which brother is the enemy.
the Paraguayan fights its war,
and the Bolivian wastes away
in the jungle with its machine gun.
A President assassinated for a drop of petroleum,
a million-acre mortgage,
a swift execution on a morning mortal with light, petrified,
a new prison camp for subversives,
in Patagonia, a betrayal, scattered shots
beneath a petroliferous moon,
a subtle change of ministers
in the capital, a whisper
like an oil tide,
and zap, you’ll see
how Standard Oil’s letters shine above the clouds,
above the seas, in your home,
illuminating their dominions.
Extract, Pablo Neruda

17 Sep 2016

Jebel Hafeet Mountain - جبل حفيت‎

Driving to Al Ain, towards Oman, at Jebel Hafeet the coral has formed an immense natural totem. 

The pink of the rock body, reaching up to the uninterrupted sky, meets its hue in the glowing tail of the receding sun.

Hundreds of creatures, a mass of butterflies, thrive around caves at the base, where a hot water spring pools out in the horizon.
 Graffiti behind iron railings, speaks of a millennia old human gesture; to daub on naturally occurring walls. Mountain felines convene around commercial food sources.

 As day pulls away, electricity announces its dominion in the void of the night, and the landscape, the distance, becomes a transitory circuit board.

18 Jun 2016

Noise of the Middle East - Performance

Your drafts folder is a notepad. One I found was this clip taken from the crowd when I performed on stage during a short residency at New York University, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi.

Here's an interview with Time Out I gave about the festival.