Archive for the ‘TRUTH’ Category

Truth and Lies (Part 2)

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Certainty and fallacy….

What is certain, is that within People’s Republic of China, digital space is governed very similarly to physical space, with equivalent extent of constraints and laws placed and enforced in ‘real space’. In one sense, this approach is progressive as the PRC treat the unquantifiable notion of ‘digital space’ – which we often disregard in the West as not even ‘space’, or an ‘other space’, such as within Foucault’s definition of heterotopia [1].  This ‘other’ space, has become the space within our phone, computer, television and Kindle that we ‘occupy’ more and more – should we not abide the same courtesies and regulations as in everyday walled space?

As outlined as the PRC’s governmental white paper, which can be read on the PRC State Council’s web-site [2], the government communicates that it seeks to promote free speech, movement and exchange online. However, the situation online is very much one of close control and inspection as outlined in my last post. When internet users in the PRC attempt to enter Western social networking or blogging sites, or in fact any sites deemed with inappropriate content by the government, the user is re-directed to another ‘safe’ site, or a notice comes up advising the ‘netizen’ that the server has timed out. Similarly internal social networking sites in the PRC, are closely regulated by government officials.  What is certain and commonplace is that you will be regularly told such a fallacy about why you cannot enter a digital space.

Prior to my six week residency in China, I had researched into how historical architecture and town planning from the Ming Dynasty functioned on this system on this very system of hierarchical control. Within the PRC, Ming Dynasty town layouts from the Empire of the Great Ming (from 1368 to 1644) form the basis of many ancient cities and towns across China. The structure of the walled cities all follow a pattern similar to the Forbidden City in Beijing, which consist of an Outer City, Inner City, Imperial City and Forbidden City. Persons were carefully classed and kept strictly to movement within certain areas of the overall city, with only the most important people at the top of the social hierarchy being able to access the centre of the city municipality.  This walled formation still exists at many of the main cities and towns, although gateways and rules on physical movement are generally no longer adhered to.




In Sichuan Province, I spent time visiting the structures of the walled towns of CiQiKou and Huangdong Complex. The original structures of gateways still remain between separate areas of winding walkways in inner, outer and central sections, although people can move freely between physical spaces.


Similarly, I also visited the walled city of Xian, which was built in the Chang’an period prior to the Ming Dynasty, with the centre of the city formed around a walled rectangular configuration. Xian, in Shaanxi Province follows the structure of a series of external and internal walls, and historically entrances and exits were guarded with serious consequences. In many situations the walled structures, arenow glorified as successful tourist attractions, and are one of the few examples of historical architecture amongst the rapidly growing high rise skyscrapers.



In one sense, the situation of control over individual’s movement in the aforementioned walled historical cities would be deemed as truthful, as circumstances are made clear to all inhabitants of any cause and effect of movement, as well as awareness

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of social positioning. The current situation of online control by the PRC appears as telling a recurring fallacy to its occupants when attempting to enter certain spaces online. However, all PRC nationals understand that the information given by the government is a lie; thus permanently reinforcing the dissolved meaning of any information labelled as a ‘truth’ or ‘fallacy’.

An original intention in my enquiry, was to highlight that within such an on-going situation of historical governmental control – history was clearly repeating itself from the physical to the digital. However, from the physical walls and barriers, to the current ‘re-direction’ and ‘network timeout’, it is evident that, as Mark Twain outlines, ‘History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme’[3]. There are patterns, and comparisons, but differing frameworks and social issues. But how does the control online change the experience of physical space and cities within the PRC?  How does this control of movement digitally enforce or dissipate knowledge in an online era?  And is there hope for

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a democratic or libertarian approach to digital space within the PRC, or is this idealised notion of the internet outmoded and unrealistic anyway?

[1] Michel Foucault. Of Other Spaces (1967), Heterotopias.

[2] Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. June 8,2010, Beijing

[3] Mark Twain, The Jumping Frog: In English, Then in French, and Then Clawed Back into a Civilized Language Once More by Patient, Unremunerated Toil, illustrated by F. Strothman, New York and London, Harper & Brothers, Publishers, MCMIII,p. 64.

The mystery of advertising and the city of the future

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Preamble: the flood

As we witness the fireworks of global finance exploding in the sky, together with the narratives and hopes of the last three decades, we might be missing the silent activity that swarms around our feet. On the muddy ground of today’s semiotic life, the sudden lack of our attention to the moves of semiocapitalism has not led to any slowing of its processes of transformation of our internal and external environments. Language, affects, emotions, attention and meaning continue to be subsumed by the production system, maybe now more than ever. They are extracted from us in rivers, they are conveyed into the catching areas of Capital, and then stored within the mighty dam of Marketing. There, they are supposed to work by inertia, pushing the engines of economic production with their sheer weight. It used to be called the advertising circle, then it became the totality of semiocapitalism.

In particular, people seem to be relieved by relinquishing ownership on functions of production and management of abstractions. They have been encouraged to do so for decades, endlessly urged by marketing to get rid of their heavy burden of immateriality and to give it to the experts. The experts, however, have promised more that they can deliver. The level of the flow keeps increasing, much faster than the construction of the dam that contains it. As more and more semiotic functions are handed over by individuals to the marketeers, their sheer amount is ultimately overwhelming them, escaping the rigid grids that had been built for their containment, overflowing, becoming floods. As it is in the nature of floods, they change the tamed, useful nature of water-for-consumption into the unusable, and potentially threatening qualities of water-in-itself.

And yet, from the devastating indifference of floods, many a civilization has risen.


From description to incarnation

The ultimate scope of marketing is increasing the sales figures of a certain product, a line of products, a brand or a network of brands. This scope can be reached through a myriad of paths and techniques, following short-term and/or long-term strategies. One of the main marketing strategies is promotion, that is, the provision of information about a product /brand(truthful or not, actual or virtual, it does not matter) to the potential customers. Promotion reaches its pinnacle in the use of the techniques of advertising.

In the second half of the 19th century, advertising started as the mere description of the qualities and properties of the objects for sale. Ads merely described the qualities of the products, possibly presented in emphatic terms. Around the second decade of the 20th century, and especially with the first encounters of art and advertising (as it happened with Futurism), advertising started developing the semiotic aspect of promotion. As it became even clearer at the end of the 1950s, advertising focused more and more on the semiotization of the products, through the insertion of values (that is, of the representation of abstract ideas) into them. The product became the symbol of a certain idea, that is, it acquired semiotic value. Through use, the purchaser could interact with the abstractions represented by the product, and appropriate them for him/herself. For example, if a bottle of shower gel represented ‘cleanliness’, the interaction of the individual with that product would lead him/her to appropriating the noun ‘cleanliness’ through its transformation into the adjective ‘clean’. Through use, the ideas represented by the product would transfer to the user and, in doing so, the user would transform objective values (nouns, represented by the products) into subjective attributes (adjectives, acquired by the individual)

In the 1990s, marketing paired advertising with experiential techniques. The interaction between individual and product changed. The appropriation of the ideas represented by the object would no longer happen through simple use, but had to unfold according to the rules of an experience. As defined by marketing, an experience is a ritual set of strictly normed actions, which ultimately leads to the magic appropriation by the individual (or individuals, in the case of collective rituals) of the ideas represented by an object. Differently from use, experience expands its normativity beyond the simple interaction between user and object, going to cover the setting of the surrounding environment, the relationship between the user and other users, the relationship between that specific experience and other specific experiences, and so on.

During the early 2000s, another transformation took place. It was as if advertisers had decided to react to the increasing prestige of experience-managers, by giving new legitimacy to their dying art. In their presentation of the product, advertisers transformed the values contained within it into functions. As opposed to a value, which is the representation of an abstract idea, a function is the process of performance of that idea. A function is the endless process of transformation of the noun into the adjective. In the past, such functions were performed by individuals through use of the products, while, in this new presentation, products already perform the use process within themselves, that is, they already, by themselves, digest the ideas they once used to merely represent and provide their buyer with ready-made subjective attributes which s/he can appropriate as his/her own. If, in the 1960s, a shower gel contained ‘cleanliness’ and, though use, made the individual ‘clean, the same shower gel in the 2000s would already be ‘clean’ in itself, and would pass this ready made adjective to its user. It is worthy noticing that, because of their internalized functions, the 1960s users created each one for him/herself his/her specific way of being clean, while the 2000s users would all participate equally to the same ‘clean’ attribute, as pre-constructed by the product.

Of course, this appropriation still has to unfold according to the rules of a ritual experience, rather than those of simple use. Only the precise obedience to the rules of the ritual makes it possible for the user to appropriate the output of the function constantly in progress within the object. For example, although a pair of nike trainers already perform, within themselves, the function of transformation of the noun ‘sportiness’ into the adjective ‘sporty’, through their correct experiential use the purchaser is still able to appropriate the attribute ‘sporty’ as his/her own.

During the last few years, this evolution has gone even further.
On the one hand, individuals have ultimately accepted to relinquish their ownership of virtually all functions of production and digestion of abstract ideas and to give them to the marketing departments. In doing so, individuals have de facto externalized such functions into products, through the mediation of marketing (more exactly, of semio-marketing such as branding and advertising). It is no longer individuals, but objects, who deal with the abstract world of ideas and bring them to Earth.
On the other hand, the permanent exposition of products and brands to the universe of abstraction has transformed them from hosts of the representation of ideas, into incarnations of those ideas. Products and brands now incarnate the abstractions they once used merely to represent. They have evolved even beyond being transformative machines, which digest ideas. Ideas have eventually ‘possessed’ the objects, turning them into their earthly incarnation.

At the same time, the path of experience seems to have ultimately dried up. The interaction between individual and object no longer consents any appropriation by the individual of the ideas contained in the object, nor of their adjective, digested version. The almost perfect coincidence between ideas and objects has closed any possible opening to the insertion of humans within their relationship. The functional cycle happening within the object has finally closed, leaving outside the humans. The object takes the noun of the idea, transforms it into an adjective and finally appropriates this adjective, thus incarnating the idea and simultaneously making itself a subject. For humans, there is nothing left to do but to witness the miracle.



Let’s take, as an example, a 2008 advert for Smirnoff Vodka. From the bottom of the ocean, with great profusion of CGI, all sorts of objects start to emerge and to fly out of the water. Cans, tins, cars, crashed airplanes, shipwrecked vessels, ruins of submerged civilizations… What’s going on? The camera swiftly moves inside the water, until it reaches the bottom. There, lying on the sand, we find a bottle of Smirnoff. ‘Ten times filtered’ – we read – ‘Extraordinary purification.’

Smirnoff is not just pure. Smirnoff is purity. If you place it on the bottom of the ocean, it cleans up the whole mess down there. If you place it in your house, you have a fragment of purity glowing on your shelf. That’s why you must buy it. But if you drink it… Ah! If you open it…. The magic goes. Purity disappears. You are left with some very common vodka, which is not even that good (incidentally, good quality vodkas need to be filtered only once, while poor quality vodka has to be filtered repeatedly). Why does the magic (and the ideas) disappear the moment the individual interacts with the object?

If we are to attempt to answer this question, we must borrow from religious categories. The ‘incarnation’ which happens in the product has to be taken literally. Smirnoff incarnates purity, like Jesus incarnated God. This means, first of all, that while Smirnoff is purity, purity is not Smirnoff. Smirnoff is ‘the chosen one’ for the incarnation of purity, but it is ultimately replaceable. No inner, specific qualities of Smirnoff make it the best candidate for this task. Similarly, God’s decision to choose Jesus of Nazareth and to make him Christ – him, among all his brothers and sisters – was completely arbitrary. However, once chosen, the object of incarnation ceases to be merely the host of a value and becomes one thing with the idea.

By definition, the contact of the believer with the mystery of incarnation always happens on a non-equal level. Even when conveyed through the magical means of the communion, the immaterial transference between incarnation and simple individual always encounters failure. In the mouth of the believer, the body of Christ necessarily turns into some simple, tasteless wafer. Of course, this impossibility is not to be blamed on the side of the perfect mystery, rather on that of the imperfect believer. It is the inadequacy of the believer, his/her innate shortcoming, his/her natural inability to host the Spirit, which is the reason for such failure. No wonder, then, that the newly evolved world of advertising induces anxious and depressive responses from the consumers. Like the Jewish

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and Christian religions, advertising also relies on the idea of original sin, and functions on the perennial begging for forgiveness by the believer. The main difference being, on the one hand, that the god of advertising is neither merciful nor a god of love, and, on the other, that this vengeful god keeps changing the complex rituals which promise (but never deliver) a temporary truce with its believers.


Testimonials of ideology

What can we call those products which no longer represent, but incarnate ideas? Certainly, we can no longer call them commodities. The paradoxes of the mystery of incarnation have turned their use value to nothing, while they have also made impossible the comparison between commodities, which is at the basis of the definition of exchange value. Also, their given market price can no longer be explained as the congealed amount of labour contained within it, as the process of semiotization escapes the normal accountancy of work-hours. Such products resemble virtual currency within the financial system, that is pure and abstract clusters of values. But they are useless currency, since their owners cannot interact with them on any other level but that of possession. For this reason, we can probably define these products as pure reserves of value, as exemplary and pure stockpiling. These products embody that same process of rapture of earthly functions into super-human abstraction which is typical of ideologies. However, these are particular types of ideologies.

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While typical ideologies, such as those who had such great success during the 20th century, still required the active intervention of humans in order to take place outside of the realm of ideas, these new ideological constructs require less and less human participation. They simply require the proclamation of faith which is implicit in the act of purchase by the consumer of the incarnated object, and his/her subsequent guarding of the sacred object through a possession which never involves use. Buyers of such products no longer are users, but witnesses. They behold the fragments of ideas that they have purchased and they witness their perfect functioning outside of any possible human intervention.

There is only one category of individuals who can still claim the possibility of interacting with incarnated products. While they are still technically humans, they really are not. They are testimonials in advertising. They are often chosen among celebrities, but can also be random, beautiful people who were raptured into the world of direct relationship with the idea. Their relationship with incarnated products is of the object-to-object type – which is the reason why it can still function. When a testimonial interacts with an incarnated product on a TV screen or on a billboard, the transference of values actually happens. When the testimonial of l’Oreal uses l’Oreal’s shampoo, s/he actually becomes more beautiful, s/he actually ‘is worth it’ – as the slogan goes. When a testimonial eats organic food, it actually makes him/her healthy. While, for a non-raptured consumer, organic food functions (that is, performs the ‘health’ function) only as long as it is kept locked inside the refrigerated safety box in the kitchen.

It is as if the church of consumerism had turned from the catholic spectacle of opulence and participation, into a (modified version of) the orthodox mystery. In Greek orthodox churches, priests perform most of their actions behind a wall, which separates them from the community of the believers. Testimonials, like orthodox priests, enter in contact with the mystery of incarnation in a place that is separate from the crowd attending the mass, to whom they turn their back. However, in the church of consumerism, someone has placed a mirror in that separate room, and the believers can still see the reflection of the priests participating in the mystery. This mirror is capitalism, that is, of possession through purchase, which is the last possible way of witnessing the mystery.


The city of the future

Which position are we to take in the face of these transformations?
I believe that we should welcome the complete closure of the circle of meaning produced by advertising with joyful hearts. By incarnating ideas into objects, late capitalism has given us a parting gift before its coming demise. Once dangerously floating above our heads under the name of ideologies, abstract constructions of absolute values are now trapped within inanimate objects. Capitalism has performed a voodoo trick, for which we should be grateful.

If Smirnoff wants to have the monopoly on the idea of purity, it is most welcome to do so. Actually, we should help it to do it even more. Artists should team up with advertisers, pushing the boundaries of incarnation even further, closing the circle of perfection. So that abstraction might never escape again, and never again swarm above us like a murder of crows. We have battled for centuries against the dangerous power of ideas, and we might finally be reaching victory thanks to the unwitting help of semiocapitalism.

This does not mean that we will ever be able to do without abstraction. The tendency to create absolute, idea values is part of human nature, and a part of us is and always will be longing for the presence of abstraction and ideology within our lives. However, if up until now the ideologies of modernity necessitated our active intervention and sacrifice in order to exist among us, we can now be satisfied by witnessing their presences, trapped within fully semiotized, incarnated products.

We should let the discourse started by the latest form of advertising develop to its ultimate consequences.

Little by little, incarnated objects will take over our living spaces. Like the house of the neurotic, which is immaculate and perfect in order to perform the function ‘calm’ on behalf of its incapacitated owner, our cities will progressively take over all the abstract functions that we always struggled to perform. And like the neurotic, we will slowly realize that if we want our houses to perform those functions, we will eventually have to move out. And we will move out of our houses, out of our cities. The perfect city of the future will be the complete pantheon of absolute abstractions incarnated into objects, devoid of any human eyes. We will enter them in silence, to dust the objects and the glass walls of the skyscrapers. We will have to make sure that everything remains in there as we left it, that nothing ever breaks. And, once a day, we will have to watch the ads for the products trapped in there, which we will no longer need to buy, just to remember that they have taken upon themselves the plague of ideology for our salvation. Then we will go back to our new homes, outside of the perfect city of abstraction, where our worst desires will remain safely locked. And we will be free, forever. Free from Humanity, from Purity, from Beauty, from Health. Free to be human, to be pure, to be beautiful, to be healthy.

This text derives from a conversation with Robert Prouse

Notes: The truth and frequency. A feeble attempt to abandon subjectivity for objectivity.

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

X ray, gamma ray, beta ray, UV, infra-red, microwave, radio, spectroscopy, dromology. Big words and little particles that give way, indecipherably, to transform into waveform- or vice versa- when a wave opens up and regurgitates the particle under the microscope. Or the particle passes through something- or boils from its core- or its core does something unusual, like going back in time, disappearing from the laboratory forcing the scientists to sit down to work out where it went. And finding out that went to yesterday. Fat particles that move slowly (red), small particles that move fast (blue), particles that are leftover radiation behaving in different manners, some spinning x direction, some interacting weakly and some particles having no anti particles (bosons). People working hard to simplify stuff and taking damn seriously the hypothetical elements of the enquiry; the winos, the zinos, the sneutrino, the sleptons and charginos.[1] These are not sweets from Willy Wonka or the latest meme to randomly emerge from ether, although they similarly owe their existence to technocracy and the jargon of people who need a word quickly and their subconscious logic takes over. I think Jung would have liked today’s memes and it is interesting to consider their origins, whether they’re a scientist under pressure to describe something, Warcrafters, programmers who play Warcraft (!) or network protesters turning some psychotic cop casually pepper-spraying people into an icon, as he sprays his way through the Getty image archive. He’ll be on a talk show soon,commissioned by conservatives trying to appeal to the upper middle class about protecting their traumatized ephemeral wealth, their shifting pension, their shifting house and their fear of working for nothing until they die.


Time and time again there is this perpetual cycle of feeling defeated by one’s own inability to comprehend the world as much as one would like to, that a defeatism prevails when certain areas are approached, that desires outweigh capabilities- or that a certain mania ensues when those capabilities are analysed. The disparity between what one can do and what one wants to do- and the subsequent retreat into the world of notions and ideas to compensate those shortcomings. You can have these ideas for free, even if they are more valuable that anything else than what can be produced in material form. The author turns artist and then faces the emotional position between destroying something or deconstructing it. Constructivism and crazy hedonism ensue in the consciousness to get started, the stupid idea seeds itself and its positivity is contagious, the value can get left behind or carried away, or do this or do that, so it is good to watch it. Maintenance.


Yoko Ono’s transparent mazes spring to mind, revealing a skeletal form- a thing that needs to be escaped from (FORM)- leaving the participants exposed. Afterwards there was this compulsion to make an X ray maze that revealed the bones of the people walking around inside it, like in an airport or Total Recall but there is too much risk of cancer for the audience, which is already high enough. It would be good, though, and maybe euthanasiacs can sign themselves up to participate, so they can look at the insides of other like minded souls and reflect/ genuflect in the nasty invisible wash of the x ray. One feels tempted to anchor this notion to an image, like Bacon’s Pope or Goya’s Saturn, where flesh falls away, vertically, off the canvas, invisibly ripping through the air and the floor beneath it. The artists intent hitting you like a hammer as they drag you down with them.


Images getting washed- by sunlight, predominantly, and occasionally the odd clean up- or post-art vandal assault. Like after Kempton Bunton’s mother had sprayed Goya’s Duke of Wellington with a bit of Mr Sheen to clean it up before she made him hand it back to the police[2], or like the Sultan of Brunei’s housemaid, when she found that rolled up Monet in the garage behind the wardrobe, thinking it was some old curtains and put a bit of carpet upholsterer on it. Those poor conservators, as if it is not enough preserving these crumbling CANONS they also have to train to deal with the more exotic forms of indemnity, from the mad, to accidents, the idiotic, to farce, to out and out hatred and madness- the psycho-sociopath of the anti-image world (yours truly), armed with excrement or a can of spray paint or an axe- or a can of expandable foam inside one of Henry Moore’s orifices. An image is in a cycle of being perpetually stripped and dolled up with artifice for a multitude of reasons, structurally in a literal sense it is compromised and weakened- metaphysically (and generally in some basic sense) it is supposed to have more meaning, which is an archaic, semi-religious dogma- an aspect we are hopefully slowly shaking off. Some people consider it to be a bride being stripped bare by its mother, or Marsyas being flayed, or someone writing about the Norse tradition of Blood Eagling, ripping the skin off a humans back with the back of their axe so they can break the ribs around the spine, one by one, pulling them outwards and then, finally, pull out the liver.[3] The idea being the victim looking like a bloodied eagle.


There is a ghoulish element that is largely present in this foggy, damp old country and, also, in some of the nations paintings, the collections themselves, and the choices of the subject matter- and I’m not just talking about creepy haunted houses, or country lanes and old folklore but when this island reveals it’s nasty side (and not just politically). We have such a bloody history- both in the sense of receiving and giving- and there seems to be this perpetual denial of it, as if negativity is a thing that has to be supressed. It reveals something about the national psyche and our relation to power and violence, like the current reaction to the class war that is being fuelled in this country by bought politicians serving the interest of money before society, who condescend the people they have profligately stolen off and then insult them- and then carry on taking some more. It might be not be wise to sit on volcanoes or powder kegs, or to provoke a volatile material but people in power don’t seem to learn, as if history is only an artefact and not a lesson to be learnt, which is saved for each miserable generation to experience for themselves (altruism is a dirty word in the market).


When I saw Charles 1st Insulted by Cromwell’s Soldiers by Delaroche, after over 50 years of living in cob-webs, it reminded me of a corpse on a slab- having been assaulted by an archaeological site- the latter bit being quite true in many senses. The painting was subject to shrapnel, rubble, kilos of dust, transit and, more than likely, damp. The subjects are nasty, not just the paintings recent history (being bombed): Charles the arrogant fucker- soon-to-be no longer- contemptuously looking down his nose on his tormentors, who gleefully toast to his demise. It’s like he’s a magnet to horrific violence and his nasty sneer follows us around the room. It followed him to the guillotine and it hasn’t transcended anything, in fact it still seems extremely provocative and deserving that the painting did get the shit kicked out of it by the Luftwaffe. Being a cunt transcends time, the word despot prevails and possibly diminishes their crimes.


Torture the Irish and Scottish> insult and steal off the your own people> get beheaded by them> get depicted as the tyrant you were> get assaulted by nature> get assaulted by fate. I want to know more about this painting; if it was loved by its owner, or why it went where it went. It’s got a similar, nasty backstory to the Goya, like when life, outside of the work, assumes a greater personal meaning, trivialising the sentient stuff in the painting, only for us to then elevate, it again as it has accompanied us on our journey of interpretation. Audience Participation[4].


Invert in Photoshop



Spectroscopy is one technique that art shares with astronomy. Dromology is king. The layers of age being sought out as the time it takes for the light to reach the eye determines an approximate age of the thing (the relatively distinct colours from stars- their red shift- contrasting to the paintings’ varying degrees of pallid forms that used to be brighter colours in their heyday). Blue, the small fast oscillating particle/ wave receding and red the slow fat particle/ wave coming towards us…The KECK telescope in Hawaii is such a beautiful thing. The two domes sit in the clouds on top of an active volcano, Mount Kea, in the Pacific, quietly and diligently measuring the ages of stars, systematically working their way through the points in the night sky: the domes agree on a point in space, fix on it and split the light in two, they reconvene at another point, which gives them the mean age of the light- how long it takes for the divided strands of light to reach the volcano…





Gamma pulse- light travelling high frequency waves- sterilising food with radioactive pulses. No mass, just electromagnetic energy. A microscopic bombardment of metallic cobalt radiation, absorbed into the blood, kidneys, bones and liver but also passed out the through one’s shit and piss (it is well travelled). How does energy materialise? Wave deposits? The slow attrition of what appears to be nothing looked at closer, revealing microscopic phenomena. The scientist then looking at everything from the bottom of food chain upwards, to the things that feed of the small stuff, upwards, to the top of the food chain: amongst all that exists amongst the exotic cultures; who eats what, does what and how because of where. A transparent creature living in the cold, feeding off very little and doing very little as a consequence, possibly unaware of the light passing through its non-being and its undeveloped brain, like phytoplankton in Antarctic or Arctic waters or microbial creatures that live in trenches that are deeper than the height of Everest. AMANDA in the Antarctic being the doyenne of such things as it chucks thousands of football sized detectors in the ice, similarly working its way through that kind of carbon isotope time layering ice rod to look for Muons and stuff related to anti-matter- the unknown stuff in the universe that outweighs known stuff by 9 to 1? Is that right? Can you look at objects, or the world, or matter in the universe- and say: there is nine times more unknown stuff than all of this stuff?[5]


Microwaves destabilising ambient matter, something needing to be at x viscosity to be pumped all around the 100,000 miles of veins and arteries at its optimal. Fat being the seat of the soul (in the brain). Thermodynamics/ solar particles. Thermo-stasis creating an equilibrium for electromagnetic energy to pass through, over, around the lump of mass, showering the nerves. Nerves oscillating in a state of disequilibrium is a worrying thought… (epilepsy, spasmosis, cymatics). The agitated wave or where all the random factors of material forms and waveforms assume a visual form. Salt at 100 hz, or a water, olive oil and corn starch mix spread out on a speaker, turned on and left alone to perform a one off performance, where the air pressure, the humidity, the temperature, the frequency, the magnet type and the material affect the performance. Even the simplicity of pouring rice on a drum skin and singing with your mouth against the skin reveals an imprint of the ambient data of the materials. It’s an amazing form of documentation.







The Act of the Prosecution of Charles 1st taken from the National Archive. Pertinent, more than ever.

An Act of the Commons of England assembled
In Parliament for erecting of a High Court of
Justice for the Trying and Judging of Charles
Steward King of England

Whereas it is notorious that Charles Steward be now King of
England not content with those many encroachments which his
Predecessors had made upon the people in their Rights and
Freedoms, hath had a wicked design totally to subject the
Ancient and fundamental laws and liberties of his Nation,
And in their place to introduce an Arbitrary and Tyrannical
Government, and that besides all other evil ways and means to bring
His design to pass has prosecuted it with force and second levied
And maintained a civil war in the land against the Parliament
And Kingdom; whereby he country has been miserably wasted,
The public treasure exhausted, trade decayed, thousands
Of people murdered and infinite other miseries committed,
For all which high and treasonable offences the said Charles
Steward might long since justly have been brought to
Exemplary and condign punishment. Whereas also the
Parliament well hoping that the restraint and imprisonment of
His person (after it had pleased god to deliver him into their hands)








The Original Notion (a)

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

The Original Notion (a)


I wanted to make a 1 million-piece jigsaw puzzle. It was a whimsical piece of work, most likely to be manufactured- and outsourced- and hopefully, quite modest.

Now, I Google the stupid idea before I make it because when I did research the idea, the results were better than my thoughts- a 600 million piece puzzle with a deeper social meaning than that I had intended to provide.

I like this humility, it’s not good for me personally- nor does it bode well for artists.





The Better Idea (b)




Reassembling a puzzle with 600 million pieces

Published On Sun Jan 20 2008
Brett Popplewell Staff Reporter

Nineteen years ago, as the Berlin Wall crumbled and democracy swept through communist East Germany, STASI agents – members of the secret police – worked feverishly to destroy millions of top-secret documents in an effort to keep them from Western eyes. Attempting to shred some 45 million items as quickly as possible, the agents fed page after page into shredding machines. The equipment quickly jammed, leaving the agents to tear up the materials by hand and throw them into garbage bags meant to be incinerated. But with East Germany quickly falling into the hands of the west, the agents were stopped before they could burn the shreds. Some 600 million pieces in 16,000 bags became the property of the current German government. They have remained, for the most part, in that state.
Then, in May 2007, the German government revealed the world’s most sophisticated pattern-recognition machine, the $8.5 million dollar (U.S.) E-Puzzler, which can digitally put back together even the most finely shredded papers. Developed in Berlin by the Fraunhofer Institute of Production Facilities and Construction Technology, the E-puzzler is a computerized conveyor belt that runs shards of shredded and torn paper through a digital scanner. Scanning up to 10,000 shreds at once, the machine links them together by their colour, typeface, outline, shape and texture – not unlike how the average human might try to piece together a puzzle. The machine then displays a digital image of the original document on a computer screen.
“The task to automatically reconstruct 16,250 bags full of torn documents using a technical system . . . presents an enormous technological challenge,” says Bertram Nickolay, the lead inventor of the machine.
During the Cold War, East Germany’s Ministry for State Security – STASI – was regarded as one of the most formidable secret police forces of its day. Using a vast network of civilian informants, the STASI kept files on up to 6 million of East Germany’s 16 million citizens through an estimated 400,000 informants from all walks of life. For decades, neighbours spied on neighbours, priests spied on their flocks, husbands spied on their wives and even children spied on their parents. They reported their discoveries to the 90,000 STASI agents keeping tabs on the population.
Prior to the creation of the E-puzzler, a team of 15 Germans had laboriously been putting the pieces together by hand. But they managed to rebuild only 10,000 documents from 300 bags during 12 years. The German government estimated it would take a further 600 to 800 years to finish the job. But having uncovered heartbreaking stories of espionage – like that of Vera Lengsfeld, a 54-year old German politician who was shocked to learn she had been spied on by her husband for 11 years – the German public demanded the files be put together more quickly. An estimated 3.4 million Germans have officially requested to see the information the STASI gathered on them. With the E-puzzler, Nickolay says the government will be able to un-shred the remaining documents by 2013. Nickolay acknowledges his machine’s importance in helping millions of Germans to piece together their former lives. But says his machine is even more significant to the rest of the world.
In addition to piecing together shreds of paper, the machine has been used by Chinese archaeologists to reconstruct smashed Terracotta warriors found in the tomb of Emperor Qin. And the equipment has deciphered barely-legible lists of Nazi concentration camp victims. There is only one E-puzzler in operation, but Nickolay’s team has received interest from other former Eastern Bloc countries looking for a way to get at their own state secrets of the past.
“It’s no longer safe to shred a document,” Nickolay says. “The only safe way to destroy something is by burning it.”

Truth and Lies (part 1)

Friday, October 28th, 2011

the ultimate knowledge = the honest knowledge = truth?

On a conscious and critical level, the notion that actual ‘truth’ exists, or is a worthwhile entity for which to search for in everyday postmodernist digital society, strikes me, at first, as a pointless exercise.  What possible ‘truth’ is there within the endless streams of tweets, posts and sites that are so riddled with self-promotion, spin, and often masked authorship?  How does ‘truth’ online relate to any considered ‘truth’ in physical space?

We ‘all’ know that the situation of living within postmodern digital society offers endless multiple speculations, criticisms, theories.  There is no complete certainty, no evidence that can be ruled out entirely as a lie, and definitely no one way of living.  The notion of ‘truth’ and its necessity for living is redundant, right?  Or on the other hand, is the belief of ‘truth’ embedded so deeply in our cognitive mind set and behaviour – that we seek by way of discovering information, an attempt to reveal a ‘truth’?

We are educated in institutions that often advocate the importance of truth, and the significance of uncovering the definitive information we can hold in complete certainty, closely linking this ‘ultimate knowledge’ to ‘the honest knowledge’.

For example, the University of Lancaster’s institutional motto states Patet Omnibus Veritas – ‘Truth Lies Open to All’[1].  In this dictum, the institution optimistically equates the obtainment of knowledge (achieved through exclusive higher study) to an idealised ‘truth’ which is positioned as the most desired attainment in life.  At a glance, this suggestion of ‘truth’ in the universities branding, sits uncomfortably against HE pedagogy – which endeavours to promote independent, critical thinking.  Instead of discovering collectively one ‘truth’, or answer accepted and practiced by all, our students should be questioning existing research and presenting their own individual lines of argument both within, and beyond education.

Patet Omnibus Veritas – ‘Truth Lies Open to All'


Similarly, the University of Glasgow presupposes on its crest “Via, Veritas, Vita”, translated in English as ‘The Way, The Truth, The Life’.  This is an abbreviated version of Jesus’s statement in John (14:6) from the greatest grand narrative of all – The Bible.  ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’   Again, pointing to ultimately, one way of being, one right and wrong, one truth and one lie.  Both institutions promote critical thinking and research, however the philosophy at the core of the organisation suggest the notion of ‘truth’ being related to obtainment of knowledge through the research process.  So how does uncovering information, or the truth, relate to the idea of The Truth, as in the grand narrative of ‘the truth, the way, the life’ ?


Via, Veritas, Vita” - ‘The Way, The Truth, The Life’


5292 miles to seek ‘truth’?

So, I will admit freely at the beginning of June 2011, I found myself travelling 5292 miles from London, England to Chongqing, China, to investigate the ‘truth’ relating to a certain set of circumstances.

As part of a five week residency at the 501 Artspace in Chongqing, China, (funded by the Arts Council England, and supported by the Chinese Art Centre)  I set out to ‘uncover the reality’ of current constraints set upon residents in the People’s Republic of China when occupying digital and physical space.  Within my brief, I would research into how local inhabitants occupied present day physical and urban space, digital space, and how these experiences of control related to historical Ming Dynasty architecture and town planning.  The research would inform a body of drawings, prints and installations exploring these themes.

As you are more than likely aware from international media, internet users from the People’s Republic of China, cannot move freely within the supposedly libertarian internet.  Numerous sites that are deemed as inappropriate, with overly sexual content, or questioning of the government and the country’s political history are inaccessible to users.  Similarly, the majority of Western networking sites; Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and Posterous, are also banned to netizen’s.  When encountering a banned site, the user is met with a screen that provides one of two euphemisms.  The internet user is either re-directed to another safe ‘site’ or the screen flashes up with an informative page that the ‘network has timed out’.  Both of these explanations, or redirections, can be classed as ‘a lie’.

When I interviewed local inhabitants regarding their experiences of ‘redirection’, the response I met was firstly, a mixture of apathetic acceptance and lack of acknowledgement of the controlled situation from the government.  Secondly, another group of locals felt frustrated by hypocritical governmental power over movement in physical and digital space.  The censorship does not end with Redirection and Timeout issues; there were numerous narratives of email accounts being hacked and attached items being deleted from incoming mail, particularly from abroad.  Similarly, when users access and inhabit internal PRC social networking sites, such as ‘Fanfou’, ‘Renren’ (which mimic closely iconography and features of western social networking sites) any untoward comments or behaviour are removed.


Ren Ren Logo

Ren Ren Logo


Fanfou Page (Twitter equivalent)

Such aforementioned actions by the PRC’s government immediately appear as deceitful behaviour, functioning from a position of relentless control.  From a Western position, the government is essentially lying to its inhabitants, providing false information for the reasons that occupants are demobilised or redirected.  However, as my research and understanding of the culture developed, what first appeared as a clear lie and truth, did not ultimately ‘liberate’ [2] myself or research.  The evident hypocrisy of the government related to, relied, and perpetuated endless social and political systems within their society.  The situation was, and is, much more complex than the simple difference between a truth and a lie.

The motto is part of the longer translation from the ‘Famosa Apologia’, a medical document from the late 17th Century.  It reads: Those who were before us are not our masters but our leaders. Truth lies open to all. It is not yet anyone’s possession. Much of it is left, even for those to come.”
Lancaster University Website – ‘Origins and Growth’.  Accessed: 18th October 2011.

[2] Slavoj Žižek’s ‘Good Manners in the Age of WikiLeaks’, in London Review of Books, Vol.33 No.2; 20 January 2011, writes; “However, it is a mistake to assume that revealing the entirety of what has been secret will liberate us. The premise is wrong. Truth liberates, yes, but not this truth. Of course one cannot trust the facade, the official documents, but neither do we find truth in the gossip shared behind that facade. Appearance, the public face, is never simple hypocrisy.”