Plato Stole My Key Frame

Paul Harrison

{Animation & Public Engagement Symposium – Bradford Animation Festival, National Media Museum Bradford, Organised with the The Animation Academy, Loughborough. (2014) – I met so many people at this event it was amazing :)}

To begin let’s start with a question why has Plato stolen my key frame, and how is this relevant to the topic we are here to discuss? The public’s engagement with animation does not necessarily have to be an overly complex relationship. However this is before an ancient Greek’s thought compels us to re-think animation’s connection with it’s public. We are all familiar with his name, or more accurately the name he chose for himself. Plato was actually born as Aristocles and chose Plato because of his broad appearance and the breadth of his thinking [1]. Here in this account rests an explanation as to why Plato has stolen my key frame. Plato nicked this important image to remind us that appearances are potentially an illusion. Yes, Plato one of the first people to be deeply concerned with the forms things take, the man who would ban the artist and painter from his ideal city because they engage in mimicry. With their attempts at representation they distort and deceive, when waiting for a viewer to trap.

Well this information seems to be both counter-intuitive and counter productive to the discussion we are having today. Animation is undoubtedly an art form that has relied on both a painterly and deceptive quality of practice or creation. This can be seen as self evident in a powerful and accurate description I am found of using. ‘Animation is the creation of the illusion of movement through drawing.’ So here I believe Plato would start if he was here with us, to become more agreeable to the aims of this gathering. One believes that Plato’s lasting legacy compels us to alter the aforementioned definition of animation. So we can see the formal elements that the public potentially use to engage with animation with more clarity. In this way, in my suggestion the descriptive sentence alters into this:

‘Animation is the realisation of the illusion of movement through dialogue.’

So the words ‘creation’ and ‘drawing’ become ‘realisation’ and ‘dialogue’ when appeasing Plato. Why does this make Plato happy? The changes have such a positive affect because he himself was a student of Socrates, and a product of his teachers method. A route which used dialogue to attain realisation through debate, this path has been known since antiquity as the dialectic. Seeing that we are at a symposium it makes complete sense to demonstrate the importance of dialectical qualities in animation as a vessel for realising illusionary movements. To demonstrate this in Plato’s Symposium we are greeted with a re-telling of a discussion between Socrates and five or six other people on Love as a god. After you move through the homoerotic sections of speech on what qualities a younger man needs to have, in order to be a good lover. Then we reach an interesting depiction of the creation of the human form, traits, and characteristics. The words of Aristophanes offer this strange creationist account of where we come from. Zeus has grown tired of the behaviour of the first humans after they attempted to climb up to heaven to attack the gods. Quoting Zeus’s words portray a rather ‘public’ humanity. It’s a rather cartooned account of the malleability of our appearance. Making one wonder or ponder, if this perspective on human form, has more affinity. With the stance of a creator or the created?

‘I think I have a plan by which human beings could still exist but be too weak to carry out their wild behaviour. I shall now cut each of them into two; they will be weaker and also more useful to us because there will be more of them. They will walk around upright on two legs. If we think they’re still acting outrageously, and they won’t settle down, I’ll cut them in half again so that they move around hopping
on one leg [2].’

Surely we should reference an animation to decipher why we should not be fearful of this ‘cutting in half’. Precisely because animation already exists between forms, just like there is something between ignorance and wisdom[ 3. Ibid, p.47.]. This should be self evident and under no doubt, the problem we have is understanding the form this art takes, when such a large part of it is formless. Let us now watch the animation Tango (1980) by Polish animator Zbigniew Rybczyński. A film which one believes offers a way of opening the problem up by viewing the humorous historical past, in the contemporary future […] One first glimpsed this animation placed as just one of the many masterful examples of this art form. In the Barbican exhibition Watch Me Move, one did just that and watched Rybczyński’s magic unfold before one’s eyes[ Greg Hilty and Alona Pardo, Watch Me Move The Animation Show, Barbican, Merrel London/New York, p.184, (2011). ]. It not only made this speaker’s obsession reach unpreventable depths. Another thing this film does as you have seen is that it portrays a vast range of human forms, all in motion, all existing under one roof. In this singular locality the plurality of forms present bear more than a remarkable resemblance to what’s philosophically known as the Third Man Argument. Rather than bore you and lose time on mulling over what the correct interpretation of this is. I’d rather offer a definition and opinion that arose when flirting with philosophy.



Defining the argument as simply as possible T.M.A is the problem of having a singular definition of some form (F). When in fact this creates an immediate contradiction where to have the singular you need a plurality. A person can only define the form of a human in relation or next to another human form, which then needs another form to validate itself. My interpretation of the importance of this to a public engagement in animation, is that it brings into sharp focus, the pieces we have on today’s chess board. The T.M.A and Tango show the graceful intertwined dance that the essential notions such as causality, and humour. Share in both the animated and philosophised rooms we are walking through today. So in animation do we need to stress about the ad infinitum aspect that this platonic argument gives rise to? As it is validating animation’s existence; putting it in another way, on a gestural level. The essence of animation is both one of infinity or infinite possibilities. Where nothing is impossible and everything is at the mercy of humour. If ever there was something that demonstrated the insignificance of relying on a formal singular definition to construct meaning it is humour. Humour as a construct is very important in breaking through the institutional subconscious of control. That is always latent and fully present in attempting to enforce one definition or limit.
Humour an absurd dualistic thing, it oscillates dependent on the viewer, yet remains unifying.

Tango is mainly humorous in the absurdity and range of the sequences available within the animated room (imagine this occurring in your bedroom or living room?). Whilst, one can observe truly absurd animation’s in the antiquity of ancient Greece. Staying with the T.M.A you glimpse the logic of one’s opinion in that animations humour and it’s numinous essence. Are what any public will immediately freely associate with, so if we wan’t to increase engagement, in one’s opinion we should immediately forgo and denounce all stationary definitions of animation. We should adopt a tactic which successfully embarrassed Plato, for that is what Diogenes of Sinope did, when he arrived in ancient Greece after defacing currency. There exist many account’s that relate to this cynic’s animated attempts to get his public to think about how they live. From walking around in the middle of the day with a lamp and looking for an honest man[5]. To the moment when Plato was left red faced after confidently announcing to the world via the Academy, that man is a ‘featherless two legged being’. After hearing this Diogenes rushed to grab a chicken, plucked it’s feathers, and brought it into Plato’s school. After this event Plato’s definition was altered adding ‘with broad flat nails’, so we have here an example of the importance of a fluid understanding of animation.

So one feels like I have discussed the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the public engaging with animation. This fluidity or plasticity is what has driven both the production and consumption of this diverse form of art. It should be our duty to allow our thought’s to move toward understanding the illusions we create, not devaluing them with notion’s of property, with ownership via knowledge. Another way one would choose to express this particular sentiment is by saying that, ‘you wouldn’t squander the work of the Warner Bros animator Chuck Jones by turning the river of movement in his work into a drab stationary puddle’. How then can one understand this practical aspect of the symposium today? Well, embracing the topics one has already mentioned is a start. Yet I find myself drawn to Language and the work of one little known philosopher (one last philosophical reference). Ludwig Wittgenstein is often thought of as an anti-philosopher, he only wrote one book, which finished with a puzzling statement.

Wittgenstein suggested ‘Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent[6 ].’ a seemingly truthful simple suggestion. However this demand has a context and that is this philosopher’s hell bent obsession to understand truth, what is true, here in the immediate present? Is his question in the only book he published during his life the Tractatus. In this text he discusses thought as logic and spawns the ‘verification principle’, using the analogy that logic is a picture of the world. So you have actual reality and a picture of reality and if you can get them to line up then this is true according to Wittgenstein. Now you may be thinking this is just one reiterating problems of definition, and you could be forgiven for adopting this opinion. Especially when you look at the contents of this text, as this example demonstrates:

‘This perhaps explains that the figure




can be seen in two ways as a cube; and all similar phenomena. For we really
see two different facts. (If I fix my eyes first on the corners a and only glance
at b, a appears in front and b behind, and vice versa.)

5.552 The “experience” which we need to understand logic is not that such
and such is the case, but that something is; but that is no experience.
Logic precedes every experience – that something is so.
It is before the How, not before the What[7].’

However Wittgenstein offers us a unique thing to consider because humorously after publishing this book and his thinking. He immediately dismissed it instead turning to language in his posthumously published work Philosophical Investigations[8]. Where his work in what he called ‘language games’ and using the phrase ‘language gone on holiday’, attempted to dissolve the habit of philosophy to use words out of context. This makes me wonder if animation like language and philosophy to an extent is always self referential? One doubt’s that it is and to demonstrate my opposition to this whilst also concluding how one would choose to engage with animation as a potential member of it’s public. One would choose to focus on how open animation is in it’s ability to push all forms of language into new and uncharted territories, that are potentially outside of matter?

We have to continuously create new language for animation.


  1. Diogenes Laertius, Life of Plato, IV
  2. Plato, The Symposium, Trans: Christopher Gill & Desmond Lee, Penguin Books, London, p.27-28, (2005)
  3. Ibid.
  4. Greg Hilty and Alona Pardo, Watch Me Move The Animation Show, Barbican, Merrel London/New York, p.184, (2011).
  5. Laërtius & Hicks 1925, Ⅵ:41
  6. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Cosimo, New York, p.108, (2007)
  7. Ibid, p86.
  8. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, Blackwell, Oxford, (1967) .

A section of Alexander Pope’s “Essay On Man”

(beautiful part of a great poem)

“In vain, in vain-the all-composing hour
Resistless falls: the Muse obeys the pow’r.
She comes! She comes! The sable throne behold
Of Night primeval and of Chaos old!
Before her, fancy’s gilded clouds decay,
And all its varying rainbows die away.
Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires,
The meteor drops, and in a flash expires.
As one by one, at dread Medea’s strsin,
The sick’ning stars fade off th’ ethereal plain;
As Argues’ eyes by Hermes’ wand opprest,
Closed one by one to everlasting rest;
Thus at her felt approach, and secret might,
Art after art goes out, and all is night,
See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled,
Mountains of casuistry heaped o’er her head!
Philosophy, that leaned on Heaven before,
Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more.
Physic of metaphysic begs defence,
And metaphysic calls for aid on sense!
See mystery to mathematics fly!
In vain! They gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die.
Religion blushing veils her sacred fires,
And unawares morality expires.
Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine,
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!
Lo! Thy dread empire, chaos! Is restored;
Light does before thy uncreating word;
Thy hand, great Anarch! Lets the curtain call,
And universal darkness buries all.

I’ll diss if you take the piss!!

Recently, there have been a few encounters with individuals so rude it made me say “dude!”. Resulting in me wanting to say this ‘Diss’, but I am not so violent so I just wanted to share it digitally.

“What are you doing coming into this place?
It’s not for your dumb face!!

So, let me show you out of this space, you look like you need a brake!
I advise stepping out of this race , you aint handling the pace!

Damn, Why did you put me in such a rage? I was only turning the page when you started pretending to be a sage, and no I don’t mean the herb, you should have just read the blurb!

‘Burp burp burp’, Why you so full of gas?
‘Churp Churp churp’, Why are you called Bird?
Happy as Larry… wait your name is not Larry it’s Barry or Harry? Sorry Gary? You’ve just become nameless and I am so shameless!

Enough of this lameness, I must admit your humorous. Giving yourself a hernia in such a hysteria. Just one last word of gratitude or platitude. This is OVER because I just helped you bend back over!!

Cheers P.”

Political Factoids / Muriness

Factoids in the Political Realm


Today, looking back at recent events in the west. My mind is filled with a deep hope that the Labour party lead by Jeremy Corbyn can usurp the evil leadership of the Conservative party. If they achieve this it could give millions of people in America some more inspiration to unify and collaborate to get rid of Trump from the helm of their government. What has struck me recently has been how those in power have distorted the truth to maintain and enhance their control. Recent nefarious practices, such as the abuse of data can be seen to have bought the British democracy. Undermining it by equipping the propaganda machines of the right with enough information about voters, so that they could feed the population facts that distort the truth. The noun for this type of information is a ‘factoid’ a piece of information repeated so many times that it starts to attain the appearance of the truth. This has already caused a catastrophe of epic proportions. Brexit is entirely a construct and conclusion of the power plays within the conservative government. The decision to leave the European Union was engineered in this space of greed, self-interest, and the cult of money. David Cameron, Boris Johnson, George Osborne, and the likes of Nigel Farage have all lived with such luxury and distributed such views. That, I hope eventually their unethical actions come back to haunt them through the rest of their existence – these people that made the UK poorer.

From oligopolies lobbying to Members of Parliament expense claiming. You might try and compassionately reason and suggest, ‘Perhaps, if I was in such a situation, if I was offered the chance to claim for money – by just showing ones receipts. Then maybe I would do the same.’ This hints at one of the biggest factoids the legitimisation of entitlement, of ownership. We are not supposed to inherit rights, rather we are meant to be born with them. But, under the Neo-liberalist project that gained steam since it was fuelled by the socially damaging governments of Thatcher and Reagan. Our rights have suddenly become surplus to requirements. Trump’s idiocy, ineptness, and overall hideousness shows clearly how those with vast wealth simply do not care about the majority. It does not matter if we destroy the planet… or, if you literally remove the rights of those with different appearance or belief. What matters to Trump is business and his ability to exercise control through profit. The inability of democracy to not completely safeguard itself from corruption does not have to be it’s downfall if we are more aware of it. Team Trump’s use of factoids to give the orange haired child in the room confidence in his own bloated existence and his repertoire of lies. The attack on decency and the visual explosion of hate from the masses towards the ‘other’ (itself a potential factoid?). The murderous Murdoch mafia’s desperate attempt to slur the honorable socialist Corbyn, and disrupt free speech with it’s rank drivel should also be snuffed out.  How do we stop people like Robert Mercer and his company of Cambridge Analytica?

Let’s hope Trump is impeached, and Corbyn’s Labour is elected. Then perhaps certain Factoids: climate change is a myth, profit is not a filthy world, market competition drives progress, and capitalism will last forever can be made to match the facts they are enhanced from? In the future how do we keep the two separate, a fact from it’s potential steroids?

Muriness: a Japanese word that I created!


Not completely unrelated to the above, yet certainly detached is an event that brought me great personal joy. Recently, my job in Tokyo has been rather debilitating. The reason for this is because I am an English teacher in a conversation school in Japan. So yes, of course, in my lessons I do not speak Japanese because I do desire the Asian people I see weekly to learn my language, and have been working hard to achieve this. Since I started two years ago my company has expected me to abide by certain rules – to a large extent I have out of respect for the opportunity to work and experience living in a different country. Yet, in the last couple of months I have come to realise just how unhealthy this strict regime I am forced to maintain is. This is okay, I only have two more months of work here, but one of the saddest, most negative things that will stay with me is my own inability to have adapted myself to the environment of Tokyo. This means that rather than fluency, I speak a broken Japanese that stays somewhat too simple.  This frustrates me because I am a social person, I do enjoy spending time with people, and up until very recently I deeply desired to speak a second language fluently. This is still too vague… let me describe in more detail how I have felt working full time in Tokyo. 3 days a week I finish work at about 10:00 pm, I leave the school at around this time. Adding this to the commute via train I arrive home towards 11 at night. This does not leave much time to relax and spend time with my housemates. Or, even prepare a wholesome meal.

Anyway, this post is not about ungratefully bitching on the company that gave me my first full time job. Although, I am frustrated and annoyed at how I have been treated – and the behaviours I have forced to perform. Notice how I am not naming the company this is out of respect for those I work with both fellow foreigners and local Japanese friends. Who have helped me enjoy my time here… What I want to share with you today is the Japanese word I created to describe this frustration and anger I suddenly felt toward the type of capitalism that exists here in the biggest city in the world. The word is Muriness, a hybrid between the Japanese Muri (impossible) and the English ‘ness’ (quality of) so you can use it to describe a feeling/sense/quality of impossibility. So, what in my experiences living in Japan could be seen to have Muriness? Let us go through some examples. The Japanese language itself is a huge language – if you are good at singing then you might find this language easier to speak. You pronounce absolutely everything there are no unvoiced syllables. It’s written form is slightly more challenging, but if you have time, desire, and commitment you can do it. For me the muriness of acquiring Japanese as a second language is it’s formal context specific qualities. These things stand in sharp contrast to my mother tongue. I find myself not being able to express myself both accurately and creatively enough when I try and communicate in Japanese.

The Japanese government is also in contention for being labelled as having muriness. This is due to prime minister Abe’s support of Trump and the administrations conservatism that is very much a perspective in favour of a nationalistic past. Contrasting with the image of modern Japan as a passive, peaceful, and welcoming country.  One normal encounter with Muriness, that every normal individual or salary-man/woman regularly encounters is the experience of rush hour traveling on the hundreds of trains. Sometimes the train is so full you literally have no space to move. Discovering, or contemplating the “meaning” of existence I would also say has a potential for Muriness because this assumes the importance of meaning. I would like to imagine that one day this bizzare little creation will enter the Japanese lexicon and be used by Japanese people in conversations in both Japanese and English. For now, I am content that I made something that allows me to describe how I feel having existed in a far eastern capital city. Please… Japanese readers please use this… when you feel like something is impossible, but do not know if it is actually impossible.

We Blog Therefore We Are!

Free. Online. Radically. Collected. Education is an online entity consisting of a motley group of creative animals seeking to reinforce the web’s potential for supporting new and healthy politics. Grounded in the belief that to maintain a free internet we have to work as a community that values every voice rather than kneeling to the rule of law a sell your labour and sell your self attitude. That is screaming: me, me, me, me, or I, I, I, an I- consciousness rather than a you and an ours. Amidst this false love of self and dogmatic capitalist oppression of anything that may be remotely common or communal, it is hard to maintain an active resistance to the intoxicating lure of mass produced images. How then are we to maintain an optimum amount of lucidity when it is so easy to become ‘plastered’ with all the LARGE information and BIG data, we have parked on our eyeballs? Our question then is how to collaborate or share, to communicate, and to have communal ownership over what we are posting and what has been posted. A goal we should be striving for this however is under threat, make no mistake that the freedom we have in communication in our social networks and digital platforms is not universal it is very much a habitat of the west. These past years we have experienced mass civil unrest as usual the same lines are being drawn poor are poorer the rich are richer – a story which this time is different because of collaboration. Authentic attempts in democratic activism are what inspire F/O/R/C/E; this essay explores the strange environment and character we seek to call the home for our work.

To avoid misinterpretation lets use two examples of selflessness that are now interwoven into digital attempts at activism. The internet would not be what it is today without it’s culture of open source (a free form of collaboration whereby developments in code are shared freely regardless of author) this method of working had it’s champions foremost of which stood Aaron Swartz, a man who championed free communication and a freeing up of access to online education. His suicide is something that should deeply trouble America because he was ruthlessly prosecuted for spreading digital documents for free, bearing in mind that this is the individual who developed RSS 1,0 web syndication, the structural component that enables websites to share information. That alone is a great legacy however Aaron was incredibly productive from a very early age he co-founded the company Creative Commons and will remain an icon for advocating for access to free information and its tools of digital distribution. In the face of his abandonment by the then spineless Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the prosecution and charge of a million dollars and thirty five years in prison, his final decision to end his life. Has to be seen as containing very unsettling questions about the nature of economic control and influence over online behaviour, look at the way in which the need to expand to have ownership comes often with catastrophic consequences – phone hackers don’t get such a level of disrespect?

That is because they where journalists (apparently) and just doing there job, of course highlighted by the failed takeover of Bskyb, by the Rupert Murdoch owned farce of a franchise called News Corporation. If this English example of the tension between capital and new online conversation is not enough for you to begin pondering your position then lets delve further. Let’s look at another individual who whilst working collaboratively at Bletchley Park during World War Two, as a member of the code breaking team deciphering Nazi messages that turned the face of the biggest of conflicts, Alan Turing worked on concepts that literally resulted in contemporary cybernetics and technology. It is stupendous that her royal highness took so long to pardon this innocent genius from the idiocy of then homophobic laws. The fact that both of these characters committed suicide after being illegally pursued by their respective governments after being core members of communities that worked towards positively shaping how we now live our life’s should never be forgotten. As it appears to us that their achievements where solely off their own back, however what is really highlighted is the question of what madness happened or took place around these chaps that ostracised them to the point of despair is this the limits of any collaboration? Are we to believe that these similarities are not to be found lurking feeding of long worn out capitalist patterns, are our collaborations of the future to carry these sad occurrences?

No, they are not because we are not going to forget what these two would have more than likely described as the most important process in the realisation of their perspectives and concepts. That is ‘collaboration’ without it the accidents, disagreements, and ideas that will shape present experience may never see the light of day, an otherwise wondrous discourse then has to die. As a discussion Blogging or ‘Web Logging’ has been around for many years but its core structure is a chronological process of allowing, a clear unbridled transmission of a logical use of public reasoning. Today it is second nature to blog, it is an extension of our daily behaviour and it will become ever more important as an attack on the notion of private intellectual property is coming, it is still in the pipeline. Politicisation of digital material has been slowly developing in tandem with shifts in our understanding of our current situation, on the one hand starved off the promise and premise of consumerism. Which is the practice of defining one’s existence through the products and brands that you support and buy into, rather a statement of ‘I am what I own’. Whilst turning to the other palm we discover events such as the use of google maps by activists and student protesters to avoid aggressive police kettling (herding) techniques by using satellites to swiftly avoid the cops, the speed that digital matter can travel has altered any possible politics! The scenes of the crimes of those wanting inequality who desire a superiority are to be overcome.

The manifesto of the Occupy movement was never written down it did not need to be, the call for action resonated around the globe powering through the blockade of all the imperialist media. That is because it was a cross platform meta-emotional demand for a dis-functional, disrespectful, and parasitic economic structure to be altered in the image of the new digital ‘# generation’. To actualise this claim we have to divert, convert, and subvert or uproot perceptions on digital material. This is a hard task to visualise and entertain but we have to because the fact that the occupy movement sang a loud epitaph for capitalism, a bi-product of which was the axiom of the 99% against the 1%. This thought derived from revolutionary moments like Tahir Square in Cairo, revolutionary in the mass mobilisation of all classifications of the public and revolutionary in how the impetus for action was generated. Through digital networks the denouncing of illegitimate governance has been ignited but it has been burning slowly, worryingly so, and if we are to come to the conclusion that we are living through a failed revolution. Then the haunting words of the Frankfurt School thinker Walter Benjamin should be seen in a serious light ‘every rise of Fascism bears witness to a failed revolution’. This is not to suggest that here in the United Kingdom fascist tendencies like those found in Ukip will solidify and accumulate, resulting in real political influence but it is a fact that this evil is on the increase. It is only kept at bay if we keep engaging in discussion that is an open and free flowing madness.

So how do we keep this pressure striving towards emancipatory positions aimed at creating a more just community and a functioning system? We use our digital materials and the new environment we grew up with, the digital environ which is known as the Blogosphere, to directly combat perverse attempts to manipulate the technology we are becoming more and more attached to. Make no mistake the digital mirror (internet) of real life events is the reflective material that we should acknowledge as the battle ground for the ‘rule of all for all’ (democracy). This ever elusive experiment in equality that is so easily blurred by an increasingly greedy society of oligopolies that are busy attempting to infiltrate government to gain more influence over markets. Such is the antithesis of all that is needed as we move towards new problems that have been created by miss-collaboration, a shadowy process, the financial manipulation of people. You can see a huge disenchantment with this currently online with the rise of the hacking group Anonymous, who whilst operating under the iconic anti establishment mask of Guy Fawkes demonstrate new modes of resisting. Although you will not see F/O/R/C/E with such deep mascara our path is less aggressive but equally as radical in that it’s still an attack on value. Our project is about redefining the very idea of intellect because we deeply understand that there are huge divisions in education both student and teacher are working with a strong unhealthy value.

The value of set curriculum non fluid test based modes of educating human beings no longer hold any substance for us. This can be summarised under the question what value does education contain outside of collaboration? It is the process of collaboration that provides the moment of understanding the missing component in the politics of the mass struggle for meaning. When your overburdened with debt it becomes difficult to imagine starting a new blog which will somehow make life more meaningful beyond finance and monetary problems. However the thing is it will and what is even better is that you can invite people from anywhere on the planet when you post a review and a thought it is also an invitation, your action carries a suggestion. It says I feel and think this, what do you think? This is what needs to be thought of as a healthy definition of collaboration which both maintains an individual amongst a multiplicity of voices. This is what puts our reliance on the digital realm as a col-laboratory of re-thinking the channels of legitimate authentic demands such as free education and an open political public, into thought. A channel that we are focusing on is the video channel our agenda is to occupy Youtube and Vimeo, maintaining what we today shall label the Ourtube. So it is F/O/R/C/E’s implicit goal to create the most open, eclectic, diverse, mad, bad, rad, sad, upbeat, on beat, uplifting archive available today; we face difficult hurdles ahead of us that is why we push for mass collaboration.

The barriers to this are not primarily philosophical however we have new notions that are barging their way into our collective perspective like the strange idea of the Post-human. Some reaction to Postmodernity losing its buoyancy in contention with Slavoj Ẑiẑek’s idea of ‘there is no Big Other’ you have to be your own master, this statement can be used to further grasp what one is blabbering on about. This call for self mastery is the philosophical bar, from the ancient Greeks through all of the greatest of ponderers: Nietzche, Hegel, and Descartes encourage this aspiration. How does this relate to collaboration? Well it is good to understand that these thinkers came to their realisations because of collaboration, this is to say that whilst in conversation (in communion) with someone and something. A wonderful thing happened that is essential to successfully collaborating, they fell into disagreement, disagreements create thoughts, enthusiasm and energy. It is in this spirit that we attempt to function as an entity of moving parts never at home in dogmatically interpreting cold academic jargon tied to capitalist interests. Adopting a Cartesian vocabulary as human beings we are neither res extensa (extended thing) or res cognitas (thinking thing). It is these two behaviours that F/O/R/C/E is swimming amongst, it is a spectrum and a frequency to be also found online. You can see this when the internet changed from centralized one-to-many systems to the decentralized many-to-many topography of network communications.

Lets then make sure the internet remains so by collaborating?

Art = The Black Hole For Knowledge

When perceiving interpretations and accounts of the world and it’s western society you will notice a few things, firstly science and physics are continuously shaping our views of this world. Whether we are observing the newest discovery in subatomic particles or attempting to decipher a new theoretical notion in quantum processes and calculations which physicists have developed. This at times often can be held as a fantastically brilliant art form as it does share similarities with art if you look at the narratives: a physicist proposes an equation, an idea then tests this in the experiment. Does the artist not take their idea proposes a matter of subject moving on to a very prolonged period of experimentation, in this angle of shared characteristics between art and science good gallery and exhibition space become like the laboratory, with which one achieves a certain greatness. Unfortunately this prodigious-ness falls short as both practices or fields of behaviour are currently failing our species. Why is this the case? One reason suffices to explain, both art and science are chained to the mast of the sinking ship that is known as knowledge. Do not be confused with this, as what is suggested here can be simplified in a very simple question. The question (which is extremely relevant to the relevancy of both subjects) is, as a human being what would you prefer to have when living experiencing your life, knowledge or understanding?

Now immediately many people may start to say ‘what’s the difference, are they so different?’ at first glance they are similar you can believe that knowledge is generated through understanding. However what one will propose here is that today we desperately need the above processes to develop and leave us with understanding, knowledge needs to be dethroned (or even destroyed?) – simply because it has become overtly possessive like the pimp that beats his whore. Putting it much more softly, if you know you will avoid the option for the helpful understanding. Within this suggestion one does hope to also show how art rather than science is naturally in the business of developing understanding, rather than science which has a long history of knowing. It is not the fault of scientists that their area of expertise carries this great weight and damaging characteristic as looking at their process of experimentation you see it is destructive; when using a hydrogen collider or ‘Atom Smasher’ they smash, break, and collide matter to get a waveform to analyse and use as data. This appears to be an experiment only the physicists are invited to partake in however that is not the case because every single one of us carries atom smashers on our bodies. Every time we blink we have been smashing photons to build a picture to understand our world. The difference being is that one has to use the language of mathematics to challenge the factual.

The other, or art, is not completely roped to numbers it remains and has been an experimentation with more mobility. The major retort to this suggestion will be one of being accused of operating within just a semantic, word game, metaphysically wish fulfilling co-ordinate to overcome these possible dismissals we will be taking a journey on the next shuttle or rocket into the universality. That is unknowing, on the way we will take our knowledge and see it absorbed in the hole of art. Art this fantastic black hole when it happens when you encounter a great work of art, you are invited to develop your understanding of it’s subject, the art arises from facts but is sitting on top true art has always been secretly driven by understanding it’s constructed by it shaped by it. Where as modern science is historically understood to have grown up on the highway from Scientia (Knowledge) through René Descartes’s X/Y Co-ordinates, to Isaac Newton’s scientific method, and arriving at quantum physics and mechanics. Again we should ask incisive questions to unravel the scenario we are exploring, let us start with the narrative of the similar and the different; regarding knowledge and understanding, in doing art in a world of science or equation. In a recent discussion with fellow artist Pavel Büchler, Hester Reeve shows her wonderment at the thinker Hannah Arendt’s comment on art, the conversation is under the title Doing Art Now.

‘I am struck by Arendt’s claims that art works are ‘thought-things’ first; they arrive into the world from the human capacity for thought, but this doesn’t stop them also being object-things. It’s this combination which is extraordinary about art.'(i)’ This extraordinary quality is what makes art the ideal breading ground for one’s understanding but what helped design this complex numinous un-edited space between thoughts and objects? Before we arrive at artists that are exemplar black circles that help swallow some knowledge to develop the above question let’s take a short detour with some philosophers, our destination is the space station of Aesthetics where Immanuel Kant and Jacques Derrida are waiting patiently. Fascinated to be in outer space they both made great steps in the ‘how art breads understanding’ Kant critiqued judgement on his fantastic path, his reaction to Newton’s new bread of science which at that time caused a major havoc, bringing into question the idea of God’s dominance. As it showed that the cosmos functioned within mathematical laws that could be created by a man. Kant’s great achievement was to turn this break in perception and show that even if with this new knowledge there was room for the knowledge that had thus far ruled over human endeavour. It is honourable that this thinker created his own set of laws to match the laws set by maths; thankfully Kant’s struggle to bridge the gap between empirical and rational views on art. Did not reaffirm the dominance of numerical physical fact instead his distinctions such as the ‘antimony of taste‘ (ii) and that of the ‘parergon’ (Greek for incidental or by-work), kept discussion open and full of subjectivity. Therefore we should be grateful to Kant because the open unique experience one can have with art whether it be associated with that of the sublime, the beautiful, the unsettling and the calming. Was protected through a Kantian distinction between inside and outside, which we will soon see is still very important in today’s habitat of the overwrought processes of knowing.

All knowledge we have today creates the type of lasting blindness you get from gawping at the sun. This blood red immobility is in contrary and in ignorance to that of an understanding in artwork; working on, in, and from a work of art both as a creator or viewer happens to create potentials. Such as those tied to the difficulty of developing a concise understanding; think about the notion that you can never know what an artwork is really about without speaking to it’s creator, whilst the artist’s work reaches it’s potential when it’s spectator or audience develops a response to it. Here we have a reality that is threatened by data and information, if you approach art and the work of an artist thinking you know their work and it’s meaning you distort the chance scenario. It is now in this current historical context that there is a chance to view the task of art differently. As an opportunity to get rid of your knowledge, another way of saying this is that to arrive at the real or actual value of art, one has to become aware that as a phenomenon art is innocently blind. Here the French philosopher Jacques Derrida offers us an opportunity, a reconstruction of an earlier deconstruction. In 1990 Derrida was the curator of an exhibition at the Louvre in Paris, Memories Of The Blind, it opened with the painting The Origin Of Drawing (1791) which we will be an ideal example of the marvellous movement away from knowing and toward an understanding. It is precisely in this image you see Derrida’s attempt to highlight the lines between inside and outside. (iii) Highlighting the behaviour of object/thought relationships that are to be found in this confrontation with a sight from antiquity; Butades is frozen in time, her hand is busy tracing the shadow of her lover as she is facing separation from him for a reason unknowable to us. Although faced with this aesthetic it would be extremely common to understand or interpret that: a) the two are lovers, b) Batudes outlining of the shadow points to that which is exterior, the event that is still to take place or the future that is still to come, an epic frame for our situation today. Subordination to knowledge is not helping anyone it is doing the opposite hindering our attempts to arrive at a better purpose for each other’s life, a greater presence outside of cold fact.


Joseph-Benoît Suvée’s, Butades, The Origin Of Drawing, (1791).

Meanwhile Derrida is finding it hard to decide on if he should start to explain how this image also illustrates some of Plato’s core concept’s, but before he can decide he is accosted by another German bloke. Friedrich Nietzsche hobbles towards them apprehending Kant, ‘Plato is the name for a disease! Why would you ruin and ridicule this great example of human tragedy in it’s most needed form?’. Let’s not, as it seems that one of the most historically accepted renditions of the root of most art is that it is to be found either born out of or smearing itself in the muck of that which is tragic. For is it not tragedy or tragic what we are discussing? This deceit which is the toxic state of our knowing, what would a world look like if art and science where built without architecture that allowed for knowledge? Before we arrive at the black hole we shall play a word game to pass the time with one of the major paradigm shifts in the 20 century, the discovery of Antimatter. In this angle we have adopted a position that is anti – matter, this is in opposition to those matters often banded around, counted as being an adequate platform for knowledge not understanding. It is understood therefore there may be a super-massive Black Hole at the centre of every galaxy in the Universe, it is also thought that Black Holes created through the death of a star, create Antimatter. Thus this shadowy realm that physically exists next to, behind, or accompanying everything that one may observe. Is a new way that a being could arrive at a better reading of this Butades’s painting.

What one is trying to articulate and bring together is that understanding has the same positive properties to those found in the behaviour and event of this particular revolution in physics. Within this space in time there is yet more evidence of the strange embroiled relationship between science and art. In 1941 the ideas of the physicists Richard Feynmen and Ernst Stueckelberg collided, an idea that an anti-particle could travel backwards in time was released (iv). When asked why he did not publish his idea in a more prestigious journal, Stueckelberg said something like this: ‘because it was a time of war, it was impossible to find an artist for the diagrams.’, many would have been enlisted! Maybe, Ernst ‘as artist’ drew the diagrams himself? This suggestion however likely or false if it where true demonstrates the shared material of uncertainty that artists and scientists have been moulding, casting, and thoroughly falling through. Thus the level of uncertainty generated by an event like the devastation reaped by the atomic bomb landing on Nagasaki, has stayed with humanity the complete loss of life left a deep black shadow. One that forecasts a world continuously delineated by opportunities to sell products of knowing. It was with the knowledge that by dropping a nuclear weapon it would assert such devastation on the other, on the enemy that it would cripple them to the point of submission to imperial power. It actually had an effect of the aftershock of an earthquake, it highlighted the extent to which our species operate and function under a wider structure of a heavy evergreen knowledge.

It is in this manner that a reality whereby knowledge not science has a lot to answer for if it results in this kind of forgone shadow, as having this privileged position being able to look back in time. You may well adopt the logic that this had to happen or that it would have happened eventually. If this is so then it is not preposterous (as art has to happen) to propose that art creates a shadow of it’s own allowing not for the zero energy of knowledge but for the bottomless pit of understanding, the negative state of electrons on an invisible ladder of all unconscious quantum (v). This (how much?) attitude is all mortally and morbidly enlightening as on this spacecraft to art as passengers we begin to doubt questioning when we will arrive at the centre of the galaxy? It is a long journey and knowledge weighs heavy on the passengers, especially on those philosophers. As respite they all fall into a dream, whilst snoozing they land on a long and windy yellow brick road where all three thinkers are hoping to be awarded with a watch, diploma, and medal. These will have to wait as we have finally arrived at today’s black hole The Wizard Of Oz Experiment (2011) by the German artist Dennis Neuschaefer-Rube, is an example of this chance to banish knowledge. For this author it shows this by denying or manipulating the usual role of numbers and facts; because of it’s inherent process of re-using visual information, in a non-linear manner; a characteristic that is seen strewn throughout most of our creative efforts. With this video installation you do not know what the material is until that external experience. Then given the information that this work comprises of a screening of the original Wizard Of Oz film, side by side five thousand eight hundred and twenty nine times. All of this becomes irrelevant when confronted with the experience of viewing the work with a type of presentiment. This knowledge you have can be taken from you if you understand that when you start to look. With a preconceived idea of the contents of this work then the art itself distorts and destroys this, replacing it with an understanding that did not exist before you had the encounter. Looking at this work you can not actually observe any of the detail of the original material of the film. Another way of describing this anti-material behaviour of art is the simple understanding we have arrived at through quantum mechanics, particularly those destructive forces found when matter collides with it’s counter part (vi).


Dennis Neuschaefer-Rube, The Wizard Of Oz Experiment, film still from film installation, 2011.

i. Pavel Büchler & Hester Reeve, Labour Work Action: Transmission Annual: Doing Art Now, Ed. Michael Corris, Jasper Joseph-Lester, Sharon Kivland, P15, Artwords Press, 2013.
ii. Andrew Ward, Kant The Three Critiques, P.211, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2006.
iii. Jeff Collins, Bill Mayblin, Introducing Derrida, Ed. Richard Appignanesi, P.140-145, Totem Books, 2005.
iv. Frank Close, Antimatter, Oxford University Press, p102, 2009.
v. Ibid,  p43.
vi. Jim Al-Khalili, Quantum A Guide For The Perplexed: Antimatter, Phoenix, London, p164-165, 2012.

Occupy & Mutuality: Towards an understanding of Anarchy

In Tournament of Shadows episode six of the BBC drama Ripper Street (2012) you find a radical Jew who is blown up in his own house. Framed as a bomb maker the main protagonist of the series goes to visit the victims brother Isaac. Whom, informs the detective that his brother was an Anarchist in a most powerful manner. Isaac’s words describe what could be said to be the desire behind both the Occupy Movement and The 99%. The brother emotionally articulates that his brother believed in ‘Anarchism from the Greek Anarkhos (without rule), Joshua believed completely in altruism, mutuality, and an end to mans dominion over man’. It is a shame that we had to lose this fictional life to be presented with an alternative to the populist definition of an Anarchist. Implying a violent individual causing disorder, upheaval, and living without rules. Well, that may be quite an image that we could carry of the dreams of a contemporary young rebel. However, this text attempts to contemplate how anti-capitalist movements are being undermined through their focusing on existing institutions such as the state and banks.

The main issue that evolves around this particular conundrum is two way, on the one hand, you have the current separation of power and politics. A position described by the professor of philosophy Simon Critchley as ‘It is certainly not populist or people centred. Politics, does not have power, politics serves power. Whereas power is global or supranational, politics is still local and there is a gap between the two’ It is this break in phenomena that Critchley believes is the source of the sense of estrangement or loss we currently carry. Now, this thinker goes on to explain the classical goal of politics being one of Autonomy. This notion is a main goal of the Occupy Movement and subsequently leads us towards the opposing position. It is one’s opinion that for this collective ownership to happen our appreciation/consideration of human nature has to be honed. Currently thoughts such as greed as a form of survival, as part of nature, inherent within ownership and value. Stand, as instant opposition to a direct form of revolutionary emancipation and perhaps society should turn to another word beginning with the letter A.

Autotomy, referred to as a ‘casting off of a part of the body by an animal’ it is a way of surviving an attack. Now it is paramount that we understand why it is important that we cast off this part of our body? And what part of our bodies we need to disperse? To start to answer these two questions one should turn their attention to what happened during the recent riots throughout the United Kingdom. The traumatic experience of the Malaysian student Ashraf Hazig who was seriously hurt with a broken jaw. One individual seemed to comfort him whilst his accomplices raided his backpack clearly escaping with a Sony Psp games console. This horror operates on many levels as it highlights the dark side of our materialistic culture. What Sigmund Freud ordained in his writing ‘Das Unbehagen In Der Kulter’ literally the uneasiness in culture. In this text Freud describes civilisation and its discontent with the norms or rules that it creates for itself. Rules that in this case distorts and alters the distance between the image of our current condition and primordial man.

But this ancient human is still present deep within our psyche it lies patiently waiting to show itself. When it does as in the case of Mr. Hazig and his deceivers we are presented with an ‘Unbehagen’. This uneasiness is what one needs to throw away if we are to participate in peaceful change. Unless we continue to allow for an imbalance that could also be, in a way, be what; in Lacanian thought is known as the ‘return to the real’ or the ultimate trauma. Now, how to begin to think about whether or not it is possible to dissect something attached to culture which is constantly evolving and forever terrifying. Here is where we should think about Anarchism and especially the idea of Mutuality, described by the Frenchman Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. As a form of ‘spontaneous order without central authority, a “Positive Anarchy” where order arises when everybody does “what he wishes and only what he wishes” A nice idea, alas in reality this relies on reciprocal forms of communication. Which does not happen when you have been continuously fed commodities and been told that there allure or value is paramount.

But this is a rather objectified view of our over committed relationship to sell-able objects lets entertain a more subjective angle. In our Capitalist system you have this social hierarchy at the top the Bourgeoisie, at the bottom the Proletariat. Or Employer and Employee, or Master and Slave, as a reading of the prominent Hegel by Alexandre Kojève offers a key systematic component. Describing Desire ‘is the desire for recognition. In order to achieve recognition, the subject must impose the idea that he has of himself on an other’ Now I am not even entertaining or talking about the historic danger of abolishing a market then leading to a Totalitarian relationship. Lets be clear what I am actually proposing by using a visual metaphor, it is a belief that one can grasp easily, in that we need to alter the existing pyramid into a circle. Perhaps intuitively speaking if we are to redesign capitalism then our attention needs to rest on matching the repetitive wheel of growth and recession.

To that of the natural perennial cycle of life and death, order and chaos. Through a transmuted reflection on the Hermeneutic, Gestalt, Metaphysical, and Pataphysical formations. Or more generally the needs of a sentient being, our humanity residing in our consistent reach in time, thought, and action. Our ability for empathy should inspire us to cultivate bewilderment at the structures and sequences we have created. Transferring this energy or ‘Positive Anarchy’ to one another will not be easy to do, it will take a long deep look into the unknown recesses of the dark penumbra of ownership. In an effort to break into modes of thinking, new sequences of being.

  • Paul Harrison (the above writing is some old musings on Anarchy. Maybe, I will revisit them at a later date.)

Poetry: Goethe, Mallarmé, Hölderlin, and Space Ape.

J.W.v. Goethe 

Wie im Morgenglanze                            How, in the morning brightness,
Du rings mich anglühst,                         You all around shine at me,
Frühling, Geliebter!                                 Springtime, Beloved!
Mit tausendfacher Liebeswonne          With thousandfold love-bliss
Sich an mein Herz drängt                      The holy feeling
Deiner ewigen Wärme                            Of your eternal warmth
Heilig Gefühl,                                            Presses itself upon my heart,
Unendliche Schöne!                                 Unending beauty!

Daß ich dich fassen möcht’                    Could I but embrace you
In diesen Arm!                                          In this arm!

Ach, an deinem Busen                             Ah, upon your breast
Lieg’ ich, schmachte,                                I lie, languish,
Und deine Blumen, dein Gras                And your blossoms, your grass
Drängen sich an mein Herz.                   press upon my heart.
Du kühlst den brennenden                     You cool the burning
Durst meines Busens,                               Thirst of my bosom,
Lieblicher Morgenwind!                          Lovely morning-wind!
Ruft drein die Nachtigall                         There calls the nightingale
Liebend nach mir aus dem Nebeltal.    Lovingly for me from the misty vale.
Ich komm’, ich komme!                            I come, I come!
Wohin? Ach, wohin?                                 Whither, ah whither?

Hinauf! Hinauf strebt’s.                           Up! Up it surges.
Es schweben die Wolken                         The clouds are leaning
Abwärts, die Wolken                                Downwards, the clouds
Neigen sich der sehnenden Liebe.        Bow down to yearning love.
Mir! Mir!                                                     To me! To me!
In eurem Schosse                                      In your lap, clouds,
Aufwärts!                                                    Upwards!
Umfangend umfangen!                            Embracing, embraced!
Aufwärts an deinen Busen,                     Upwards to thy bosom,
Alliebender Vater!                                     All-loving Father!


Stéphane Mallarmé

Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira Le Hasard (A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance)

UN COUP DE DÉS JAMAIS, QUAND BIEN MÊME LANCÉ DANS DES CIRCONSTANCES ÉTERNELLES DU FOND D’UN NAUFRAGE, Soit que l’Abîme blanchi, étale, furieux sous une inclinaison planche désespérément d’aile, la sienne, par avance retombée d’un mal à dresser le vol et couvrant les jaillissements, coupant au ras les bonds très à l’intérieur résume l’ombre enfouie dans la profondeur, par cette voile alternative jusqu’adapter sa béante profondeur entant que la coque d’un bâtiment penché de l’un ou l’autre bord

THROW OF THE DICE NEVER, EVEN WHEN TRULY CAST IN THE ETERNAL CIRCUMSTANCE OF A SHIPWRECK’S DEPTH, Can be only the Abyss raging, whitened, stalled beneath the desperately sloping incline of its own wing, through an advance falling back from ill to take flight, and veiling the gushers, restraining the surges, gathered far within the shadow buried deep by that alternative sail, almost matching its yawning depth to the wingspan, like a hull of a vessel rocked from side to side
LE MAÎTRE, hors d’anciens calculs, où la manoeuvre avec l’âge oubliée surgi jadis, il empoignait la barre inférant de cette configuration à ses pieds de l’horizon unanime, que se prépare s’agite et mêle au poing qui l’étreindrait, comme on menace un destin et les vents, l’unique Nombre, qui ne peut pas être un autre Esprit, pour le jeter dans la tempête en reployer la division et passer fier; hésite, cadavre par le bras écarté du secret qu’il détient plutôt que de jouer, en maniaque: chenu la partie au nom des flots, un envahit le chef, coule en barbe, soumise naufrage, cela direct de l’homme sans nef, n’importe où vaine

THE MASTER, beyond former calculations, where the lost manoeuvre with the age rose implying that formerly he grasped the helm of this conflagration of the concerted horizon at his feet, that readies itself; moves; and merges with the blow that grips it, as one threatens fate and the winds, the unique Number, which cannot be another Spirit, to hurl it into the storm, relinquish the cleaving there, and pass proudly; hesitates, a corpse pushed back by the arm from the secret, rather than taking sides, a hoary madman, on behalf of the waves: one overwhelms the head, flows through the submissive beard, straight shipwreck that, of the man without a vessel, empty no matter where

ancestralement à n’ouvrir pas la main crispée par delà l’inutile tête, legs en la disparition, à quelqu’un ambigu, l’ultérieur démon immémorial, ayant de contrées nulles induit le vieillard vers cette conjonction suprême avec la probabilité, celui son ombre puérile caressée et polie et rendue et lavée assouplie par la vague, et soustraite aux durs os perdus entre les ais né d’un ébat, la mer par l’aïeul tentant ou l’aïeul contre la mer, une chance oiseuse, Fiançailles dont le voile d’illusion rejailli leur hantise, ainsi que le fantôme d’un geste chancellera, s’affalera, folie N’ABOLIRA

ancestrally never to open the fist clenched beyond the helpless head, a legacy, in vanishing, to someone ambiguous, the immemorial ulterior demon having, from non-existent regions, led the old man towards this ultimate meeting with probability, this his childlike shade caressed and smoothed and rendered supple by the wave, and shielded from hard bone lost between the planks born of a frolic, the sea through the old man or the old man against the sea, making a vain attempt, an Engagement whose dread the veil of illusion rejected, as the phantom of a gesture will tremble, collapse, madness, WILL NEVER ABOLISH

COMME SI Une insinuation simple au silence, enroulée avec ironie, ou le mystère précipité, hurlé, dans quelque proche tourbillon d’hilarité et d’horreur, voltige autour du gouffre sans le joncher ni fuir et en berce le vierge indice COMME SI

AS IF A simple insinuation into silence, entwined with irony, or the mystery hurled, howled, in some close swirl of mirth and terror, whirls round the abyss without scattering or dispersing and cradles the virgin index there AS IF

plume solitaire éperdue, sauf que la rencontre ou l’effleure une toque de minuit et immobilise au velours chiffonné par un esclaffement sonore, cette blancheur rigide, dérisoire en opposition au ciel, trop pour ne pas marquer exigüment quiconque prince amer de l’écueil, s’en coiffe comme de l’héroïque, irrésistible mais contenu par sa petite raison, virile en foudre
soucieux expiatoire et pubère muet rire que SI La lucide et seigneuriale aigrette de vertige au front invisible scintille, puis ombrage, une stature mignonne ténébreuse, debout en sa torsion de sirène, le temps de souffleter, par d’impatientes squames ultimes, bifurquées, un roc faux manoir tout de suite évaporé en brumes qui imposa une borne à l’infini

a solitary plume overwhelmed, untouched, that a cap of midnight grazes, or encounters, and fixes, in crumpled velvet with a sombre burst of laughter, that rigid whiteness, derisory, in opposition to the heavens, too much so not to signal closely any bitter prince of the reef, heroically adorned with it, indomitable, but contained by his petty reason, virile in lightning anxious expiatory and pubescent dumb laughter that IF the lucid and lordly crest of vertigo on the invisible brow sparkles, then shades, a slim dark tallness, upright in its siren coiling, at the moment of striking, through impatient ultimate scales, bifurcated, a rock a deceptive manor suddenly evaporating in fog that imposed limits on the infinite

C’ÉTAIT LE NOMBRE, issu stellaire, EXISTÂT-IL autrement qu’hallucination éparse, d’agonie; COMMENÇÂT-IL ET CESSÂT-IL, sourdant que nié, et clos, quand apparu enfin, par quelque profusion répandue en rareté; SE CHIFFRÂT-IL évidence de la somme, pour peu qu’une; ILLUMINÂT-IL, CE SERAIT, pire non davantage ni moins indifféremment mais autant, LE HASARD Choit la plume, rythmique suspens du sinistre, s’ensevelir aux écumes originelles naguères, d’où sursauta son délire jusqu’à une cime flétrie par la neutralité identique du gouffre

IT WAS THE NUMBER, stellar outcome, WERE IT TO HAVE EXISTED other than as a fragmented, agonised hallucination; WERE IT TO HAVE BEGUN AND ENDED, a surging that denied, and closed, when visible at last, by some profusion spreading in sparseness; WERE IT TO HAVE AMOUNTED to the fact of the total, though as little as one; WERE IT TO HAVE LIGHTED, IT WOULD BE, worse no more nor less indifferently but as much, CHANCE Falls the plume, rhythmic suspense of the disaster, to bury itself in the original foam, from which its delirium formerly leapt to the summit faded by the same neutrality of abyss

RIEN de la mémorable crise où se fût l’événement accompli, en vue de tout résultat nul humain, N’AURA EU LIEU, une élévation ordinaire verse l’absence QUE LE LIEU inférieur clapotis quelconque, comme pour disperser l’acte vide abruptement, qui sinon par son mensonge eût fondé la perdition, dans ces parages du vague, en quoi toute réalité se dissout

NOTHING of the memorable crisis where the event matured, accomplished in sight of all non-existent human outcomes, WILL HAVE TAKEN PLACE a commonplace elevation pours out absence BUT THE PLACE some lapping below, as if to scatter the empty act abruptly, that otherwise by its falsity would have plumbed perdition, in this region of vagueness, in which all reality dissolves

EXCEPTÉ à l’altitude PEUT-ÊTRE, aussi loin qu’un endroit fusionne avec au-delà, hors l’intérêt quant à lui signalé, en général, selon telle obliquité, par telle déclivité de feux, vers ce doit être le Septentrion aussi Nord UNE CONSTELLATION froide d’oubli et de désuétude, pas tant qu’elle n’énumère, sur quelque surface vacante et supérieure, le heurt successif, sidéralement, d’un compte total en formation, veillant, doutant, roulant, brillant et méditant avant de s’arrêter à quelque point dernier qui le sacre Toute pensée émet un Coup de Dés.

EXCEPT at the altitude PERHAPS, as far as a place fuses with, beyond, outside the interest signalled regarding it, in general, in accord with such obliquity, through such declination of fire, towards what must be the Wain also North A CONSTELLATION cold with neglect and desuetude, not so much though that it fails to enumerate, on some vacant and superior surface, the consecutive clash, sidereally, of a final account in formation, attending, doubting, rolling, shining and meditating before stopping at some last point that crowns it All Thought expresses a Throw of the Dice

1. The larger and smaller words in capitals in the poem are to be read as intertwined statements, and dominant and secondary threads of the poem, in accordance with the hints in Mallarmé’s Preface.
2. The French Septentrion meaning the North, derives from the Latin Septentrio also meaning the North, but specifically referring in addition to the constellation Ursa Major known variously as the Great Bear, Wain, Plough or Big Dipper. Note that a constellation is a chance arbitrary visual formation of often widely disparate stars, delineated and designated purely by the human mind.
3. Note the following possible literary echoes, which may equally indicate no more than Mallarme’s absorption of, and interest in, common 19th century themes:
Coleridge’s The Ancient Mariner (1797-1799: especially the casting of dice on the deck of the spectral barge);
4. The legends of the Flying Dutchman, and of the Maelstrom (See for example the final chapter of Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, 1870); Shakespeare’s Hamlet who also appears in a Mallarmé sonnet (The Clown Chastised); Rostand’s Cyrano (First performed 1897) with his defiant plume (also of course in French a pen and a quill or swan’s feather, a key multiple meaning impossible to capture in English); Melville’s Moby Dick (1851: for Ahab’s defiance, and his pursuit of the White Whale that signifies Le Néant, and not merely for its compulsive and obsessive digressions!)

J. C. F. Hölderlin

Wurzel alles Übels / The Root of All Evil
Einig zu seyn, ist göttlich und gut; woher ist die Sucht den
Unter den Menschen, daß nur Einer und Eines nur sie?

Being at one is god-like and good, but human, too human, the
mania. Which insists there is only die One, one country, one truth and
one way.


Lebenslauf / The Course of Life
Größers wolltest auch du, aber die Liebe zwingt
All uns nieder, das Laid beuget gewaltiger,
Doch es kehret umsonst nicht
Unser Bogen, woher er kommt.
Aufwärts oder hinab! herrschet in heiPger Nacht,
Wo die stumme Natur werdende Tage sinnt,
Herrscht im schiefesten Orkus
Nicht ein Grades, ein Recht noch auch?
Diß erfuhr ich. Denn nie, sterblichen Meistern gleich,
Habt ihr Himmlischen, ihr Alleserhaltenden,
Daß ich wüßte, mit Vorsicht
Mich des ebenen Pfads geführt.
Alles prüfe der Mensch, sagen die Himmlischen,
Daß er, kräftig genährt, danken für Alles lern’,
Und verstehe die Freiheit,
Aufzubrechen, wohin er will.

More you also desired, but every one of us
Love draws earthward, and grief bends with still greater power;
Yet our arc not for nothing
Brings us back to our starting place.
Whether upward or down—does not in holy night
Where mute Nature thinks out days that are still to come,
Though in crookedest Orcus,
Yet a straightness, a law prevail?
Tbis I learned. For not once, as mortal masters do,
Did you heavenly ones, wise preservers of all,
To my knowledge, with foresight
Lead me on by a level path.
All a man shall try out, thus say the heavenly,
So that strongly sustained he shall give thanks for all,
Learn to grasp his own freedom
To be gone where he’s moved to go.

The Space Ape

Up In Flames

Be the first ones to criticise
Be the last ones to stay alive

Be the first ones to take a stand
Be the only ones to understands

Be the last ones to shut your mouth
Be the first ones to spit it out

Be the first ones to say you will
Be the last ones to take the pill

Be the first ones to violate
Be the last ones to tolerate

Be the last ones to take a life
Be the first ones to blow the device

Be the only ones still on the run
Be the last ones staring at the sun

Be the brave one who shouts from the roof
Be the sage one looking for the proof

Be the young man whose older than his time
Be the old man whose living in his prime

Be the last ones to see yourself
Be the only ones to be yourself

Be the first ones to feed your brain
Be the last ones to go insane

Be the devil all up in flames
Be a rebel man it’s all the same

Be the first ones to criticise
Be the last ones to stay alive

(You can see this poet’s brilliance here:


# Ashley Holmes

I have been friends with Ashley Holmes for roughly five or so years. We met whilst studying at Sheffield’s school of art, and of course we both share a love for the subject. Mr Holmes is a brilliant black Lutonian with an exquisite creative thirst. A hunger which is self evident when you meet him, yet his visual and audible habits are something to cherish. Since we both graduated Ashley has maintained a steady output of both inquisitive visual art, and uncountable nights of mixing music. In fact Ashley is responsible for my awareness of artists ranging from Kelela, Bok Bok, J Dilla, Inc., and many others. I can remember very accurately when he described to me his experience in Liverpool with a mutual friend David Michael. They had both been to see the band Inc. and his account of this experience made me realise that the two of us are quite different people. Good friends, great geezers, creative creatures with overlapping interests – but somewhat different. This was then reinforced years later when he came to an exhibition of his work in Tokyo, with the brilliant Space Space Gallery (Ella Křivánek ya crazy 😉 {1}). I had just moved to Japan to nurture some diverse life experience, and had been in a foul disenchanted mood regarding art of all kinds. At the end of the exhibition I asked Ashley something a long the lines of, ‘If you can produce great art cheaply via the internet and a computer, what is the point of showing it physically in a gallery?’. I can not remember his exact words, but I imagine his answer to have looked like this, ‘Paul you fool, exhibitions are not about the work, It is a social event.’ Such an answer I had judged as being completely wrong.

         Yet, after being a teacher for two years the value of experience in life and culture has taken more of a concrete presence. Therefore I now understand Ashley’s quick explanation and appreciate this British artist’s work all the more because of it. I find Ashley’s work incredibly social it often directly utilises digital social networks as it’s main material ingredient. The art often has this two-fold social element both technological and somewhat socio/anthropological. For example, the work that Ashley showed in the exhibition at Space Space Gallery in Tokyo consisted of material of a Jungle Rave that had been shut down by the police somewhere in London. The video that he exhibited is a good example of three major themes that are easy to spot in Ash’s work. Firstly, a) his own identity, b) sound, music, and politics c) technology and digital culture. During and after the exhibition one was struck by two things: the artist’s delight in using the new potentials of digital media, and the fact that Ashley’s work naturally issues further engagement (mostly of the spoken kind, and preferably with him). This prohibited dance then was given new life by Ashley, and I now wonder/want to ask him: if the narrative or visual qualities of the original material were chosen because they signified what potentially any art exhibition could be? It also reinforces the notion that culture is all about the doing of something – sharing of things that seem unrelated, yet are always able to be repositioned.

          On the other hand, what are we youth doing today? Rejoicing in the repositioning of unvaluable things through our right to use Instagram? Yes, however this is why we need artists like you Ashley to serve up new experiences a midst the horrible haze of digital pacifism, and a certain languishing in lethargic language. Anyway, back to discussing your work. Over the years our attempts at using digital material and our discussions on the merits of studio-less creativity culminated in you beginning to make work perfectly suited for inclusion in A Pixel or Digit? An exhibition at Croydon school of art in London. A project that I curated with Alice Cretney, who is the director of Turf Projects a gallery and artistic community – always running a great programme with interesting artists showing work. The exhibition comprised of ten I-phones and your work which you can see as: My Ghetto Frame Of Mind Makes Me Prone To Hostility, was one of the ten initial artists we worked with. This work highlights Ashley’s comfort-ability or natural way of working with moving image and digital materials and it’s methods of distribution. This video showcases this both in it’s format and visual content. Watching the work you are confronted with swirls of mirror like metallic droplets. Suggesting you have found a way to transform internet based video into a new glitchy gloss. Running on loop and representing gold Nike sneakers, and also someone who is perhaps you? I can not quite tell. The manner in which the liquid like parts of the video move make me think about a possible relation to mixing music: Ashley what is more mixable paint or music? Oil or vinyl?

ash 01
Ashley Holmes. Dot Dot Dit Dit Dot Dot Dash, Platform Residency, Site Gallery, 2017

You may wish to answer one day, please? Sneakers are the focus of the next contemporary cultural motif your work consistently (in my opinion) carries a torch for. The very real change in artistic culture. Wording this directly, a montage used to be the dominant term throughout artistic practice in the early twentieth century. Yet, now we find this word subsumed into our generation’s ritualistic creative habits of appropriation. Therefore, what we can observe when we watch Ashley’s Crep Check (2016) is not only a masterful manipulation of digital matter – it is also a sublime example of what one just suggested, appropriation is the current ‘ground’ which we have been building on. The object of Ashley’s inquiry is the ‘Sneaker’, and the narrative that is given to us is one of both the value of new footwear juxtaposed next to their place within a certain urban culture. That of the so called degenerate class of folk called Chavs. The word ‘Crep’ in the dialect of English known as Chavish, refers to a particularly desirable sneaker. The dialogue that accompanies the continuous stream of creps being dirtied is a marvel in itself. Yes, sound-bits I like include: ‘Ohhh shit I need to get dem… luv Jordans from day one!’, ‘Dose kids wa weird in mi school.’, ‘Like… Workouts, and Classics, and Airmax one nineties… One tens…’, ‘Doze are the creps ya got.’. In this particular work the confident use of the language of a demonised poor, reminds us that it is in fact just as valuable as the Queen’s English. As a digital construction it shows Ashley to be a master of composition.

Crep Check’s composed of two main objects liquid (again) and Creps (sneakers) a complimentary pairing that remind me of what the thinker Mark Fisher accurately explained as Capitalist Realism. In the 2009 book of the same name Fisher shows the true extent of the rule of capital over our lives. I reference this book because Ashley’s video reminded me of it’s essential re-telling of the modern ramifications of one of the core theories of anti-capitalist thought. The origins of Marx’s ‘Commodity Fetishism’ is his disagreement with his master (Hegel) over the use of the term fetishism. A religion of sensuous appetites that through the prism of desire and fantasy imbues objects (products) with a strange power over us. Ashley’s observation of sneakers in my opinion offers a tiny snapshot of how this theory is a big part of the fluidity of capitalism. The choice of object, especially if the footage is of Nike ‘Jordans’ is symbolic of the unforgivable habit of money to take something from life, and in a heart beat sell it back to us in an undead/deader than dead form. Understanding that Michel Jordan’s spirit and memory on the basketball court, provided capitalists with something to quench the thirst of people with a fantasy for elite athleticism. The footwear in this moving image piece makes the Leftist realisation that the more capitalism rots internally on the outside it appears clean. That’s what the interplay of food stuff’s, sauces, and water being systematically dirtying, and cleansing hints at. Therefore another look at Mark’s writing allows us to see this realism clearly.

‘Gangster rap neither merely reflects pre-existing social conditions, as
many of its advocates claim, nor does it simply cause those conditions, as
its critics argue – rather the circuit whereby hip hop and the late
capitalist social field feed into each other is one of the means by which
capitalist realism transforms itself into a kind of anti-mythical myth.{2}’

       Fisher’s quote and Ashley’s work join to show this ‘myth that is not a myth’ like quality of both culture and production. Perhaps today’s city dwelling habits hide this above quality, yet being from south London this artist’s imagery is bound to carry urban nuances and interests. Yet, Ashley is one delightful dude…so, of course, his influences carry more light and complexity than gangster rap. A quick glimpse reveal two giants of creativity Sun-Ra, and Gill Scott-Heron. Mr Ra, the alien from Saturn certainly preached peace, in 1942 Ra was drafted into the U.S.A’s military. Immediately, Sun-ra opposed such violence, and after remarking that he would attack his commanding officers if forced to join, he was quickly imprisoned. Of course Mr Ra was willing to avoid physical violence at all costs even if this meant being subjected to it himself. The other truly immortal, that Ashley cites as inspiration is the poet, rapper, spoken word performer, and bluesologist Gill Scott-Heron. In fact Ashley is simultaneously artist and a scientist, not just of the blues, but always exploring music. Although speaking of the blues provides a nice way of introducing his most recent artistic activity.

ash 001
Ashley Holmes. Dot Dot Dit Dit Dot Dot Dash, Platform Residency, Site Gallery, 2017

In the Blues music you have a certain scale that contains ‘Blue notes’ (literally worried notes) flattened in pitch. This effect is similar to something found in what Ashley chose to name his residency at Sheffield’s Site Gallery. Dot Dot Dit Dit Dot Dot Dash, is sampled from Heron’s ‘Old- fashioned ghetto code‘ (2001). It’s a nod to how through an alteration of language people may still communicate successfully, but maintain secrecy and avoid snooping authorities. This element is so important given the surveillance habits, and propensity for racial profiling in the racist institutions of the U.K, and U.S.A. This is why Ashley’s residency is something to ponder for longer, both for him and wider communities throughout the country. The content and programme of events provide opportunity to think about how cultures are cultivated. How communities and by default that specific culture has it’s own defence mechanisms. Discussing this further, on the flier for the exhibition you have a type of head wear, called the The Down Du-rag. This piece of silk material came from prisons in the 1970’s, but now has become gender neutral and is worn by many many black people around the world. This Du-rag is an evocative object not only can you associate it with the gang wars that rage in America, but could also be connected to the Hi-jab and the current existential crisis our Muslim friends are facing with the evil version of their faith, Isis’s and it’s caliphate. In this sense the conflicts between Cribs/bloods, Muslims, and Daesh are the same evil.

ash 002
Ashley Holmes. (Du-rag) Dot Dot Dit Dit Dot Dot Dash, Platform Residency, Site Gallery, 2017

           An evil that is perhaps only overcome when members of the species, or community come to accept the incompleteness of one’s own culture and language. Therefore, when we look at Dot Dot Dit Dit Dot Dot Dash, we see a project by a young artist, who is doing what artists should be doing – re-energising and re-animating. Culminating in the creation of images igniting new imagery. Alas, I did not actually attend the exhibition in person, but one is not only writing about Ashley because he is a friend. I write about Ashley because I am impressed by what he has achieved and the manner in which he has done so. Unlike the shameless behaviour of some world renowned art figures: Anish Kapoor I am thinking of you? Why do you need ownership of exclusive rights to use Vantablack? This unfortunately is not the only nastiness one has to touch upon. In recent years the U.K has been governed by a group of silver spoon fed Conservatives. Together the agendas of George Osborne and Michael Gove pursued austerity with a brutal mentality, art itself was deemed surplus to requirements. If Gove had is way the curriculum of the UK would be rather artless. That is why it is a joy to observe Ashley do his ting effortlessly, and so naturally. It defeats the impoverishing desires of those privileged few just by it’s very presence. Thanks has to go to Sheffield’s Site Gallery for selecting and enabling one of the city’s residents an opportunity to publicly discuss his blackness.

         One last comment on the content of this residency: on Saturday the 11th of February the film Babylon (1980) was screened. This film is a depiction of the troubles with racism faced by black youth throughout the 80’s in London. Watching the film you are shown an accurate portrayal of the savagery that they faced. The sound system enabled their culture room to resist, a sonic sanctuary like no other – it is a fact that during that time the mythical Jah Shaka system used to lock themselves and those present at the dance inside the venue to escape the hatred of white police. I suspect that after viewing the film, during the preceding discussion, people discussed the unique dancing stemming from Black culture (e.g Chicago’s Foot work, or those from the Jamaican dance hall), that in many ways are practiced more frequently than a waltz, kan kan, or the salsa. Finally, Ashley’s tri-fold exploration of Black cultural production, unspoken coded languages{3}, and the black personae shows very clearly that he is one of the leading young black figures of the British creative community. I for one wait for him to continue the making of great art, in the rhythm of a ‘Dash-dot-dot-dit-dit-dot-dot’. You can keep track of his activities here: {4}

ˉ ˉ ˙ ˙ ˉ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˉ ˉ ˙ ˉ ˙ ˉ ˙ ˉ ˙˙˙˙˙ ˉ ˉ ˙ ˉ ˉ ˉ ˉ ˉ ˉ ˉ ˙˙

‘Old fashioned Ghetto codes saw phone conversations like this:
“Hey, Bree-is-other me-is-an? You goin’ to the
pe-is-arty to ne-is-ite?”
Oh, yeah! Well, why not bring me a nee-is-ickel
be-is-ag? You dig?’
I know who ever they was paying at the time to
listen in on my calls had to be scratchin’ his head
sayin’, “Dot-dot-dit-dit-dot-dot-dash.” (damned if
I know!)

  • Gill Scott-Heron, The Ghetto Code, ‘Now and Then’, Canongate Books, 2000.


{2} Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: is there no alternative?, Zero Books, 2009,
{3} As a side note I would just like to add one more question to this short body
of writing. Recently I have become intrigued by mathematics. I discovered
what a Logarithm is, and since then have been studying them. Therefore I seek
to discuss with those with more grounding in mathematics to muse on the
possible relations between ‘sound pressure’ including amplitude and images.
I’m sure that existing interpretations can be found in Steve Goodman’s book
Sonic Warfare, and the writings of Kodwo Eshun, the theorist and filmmaker of
the Otolith group in London.
I believe you can find some of his musical madness here:

もっと詩だね~ More poetry!

1_ wish loving lasts forever

2_ Happiness becomes like a forest

3_ When travelling erase attachment to possesions.

4_ What can humans do with the world.

5_ Nothing is the truth of everything.

6_ Leo gives courage to everyone

7_ Gravity is good but strong

これはもっと僕の詩趣の文書をシェアしたいですけど、16個の詩を後で足していましょう。These are more of my poetic sentences I want to share, but there are 16 more I’ll add later.