Afternoon Dust

nathan's blog

Jeremy Millar — XDO XOL

I wrote about Jeremy Millar’s film Daphne before, but his new work, showing as part of Whitstable Biennale 2014, feels bolder and more substantial. It features a flat, fog-covered landscape, a bog or fen, clay formations covered in shrubs. The only human presence is that of a solitary man, who sits quietly by a stream or shelters inside a derelict, abandoned concrete building. The film ruminates on the landscape and upon the actions of the man, which range from passive contemplation to patient, focused activity.

Whitstable Biennale 2014

Last weekend saw the opening of the 2014 edition of Whitstable Biennale, a festival of new visual art located in a quaint little Kentish coastal town. Having spent a couple of years living in Whitstable, helping out on the production team for the previous two editions of the Biennale, I was much looking forward to exploring this year’s festival as a punter. The main programme for 2014 seems bigger this time round, bolstered as usual by a healthy satellite strand.

Failing to see, or not: Hannah Rickards at Modern Art Oxford

While in Oxford for Audiograft festival I had the opportunity to visit Hannah Rickards’ solo exhibition at Modern Art Oxford. The show comprises various works made over the past decade related to meteorological phenomena — or rather, to different attempts to describe or otherwise represent experiences of such phenomena. In the film No, there was no red. (2009), people recount experiences of seeing aurorae, sometimes agreeing or disagreeing over the appropriateness or accuracy of particular descriptions, metaphors, or similes; Like sand disappearing or something (2013) is a multichannel audio installation of further (or the same?) attempts to describe and explain similar experiences.

140201_1630 (water piece)

New piece arranged and performed in SuperCollider.

This piece is a demonstration of the Part-Aleatoric Sample Machine, a project I am working on to explore possible interfaces between human and non-human listening. In the PASM, a computer uses chance principles to select samples for playback and apply effects; a human performer decides how long each sample is played for, and also operates a simple sine wave oscillator.

The samples used in the piece were recorded at Linton Falls, North Yorkshire.

Classifying as Philosophy: AND Publishing Workshop

At the weekend I attended a workshop hosted by Birmingham’s Grand Union art space and led by Andrea Franke and Eva Weimayer of AND Publishing, with input from digital archivist Karen DiFranco. AND has amassed a sizeable number of pirated books to form their unique Piracy Collection, part of which has been made available to read at Grand Union over the past few weeks. The methods and intentions of the piracy differ from book to book, with artists’ modifications, unauthorised translations, commercial frauds, and publisher and printing house errors all represented. The task of the afternoon’s workshop was to begin to classify and catalogue some of these books. Established cataloguing systems were dismissed as ill-equipped to reflect the often unique provenance of the books in the collection.

140103_1504 (pluck piece)

New piece arranged and performed in SuperCollider, using code from Bruno Ruviaro (pluck pattern) and a recording of dry leaves in a pestle.

An archive containing the SuperCollider code and audio sample can be downloaded here.

This work and all associated files are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

What the senses understand: Recent works by Katie Paterson

I first came across artist Katie Paterson a few years ago when she made the streetlights along Deal Pier flicker in response to lightening storms for her work Streetlight Storm. Since then she has continued to make connections between ordinary, everyday objects and natural phenomena, ranging from nanomolecular technology to dead stars and quasars. In the process, she has developed close working relationships with scientists, often through residencies at leading research centres such as University College London’s Department of Astronomy and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. The recent launch of two new works seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on her conceptually rigorous and aesthetically engaging practice.

A second look at Jan Martens' Sweat Baby Sweat

Two years is a long time these days. I can no longer make sense of most of what I wrote nearly two years ago upon seeing Jan Martens’ Sweat Baby Sweat for the first time, but luckily (and unusually, for contemporary dance) I had the chance to see it again at The Place in London, courtesy of the Dance Umbrella festival.

Jeremy Millar — Daphne

I’ve been a bit useless with sharing my thoughts about things I’ve seen over the summer, but a couple of things stuck in my mind long enough for me to finally get round to writing about them. Jeremy Millar’s 18-minute film Daphne (2013), seen at the Turner Contemporary’s summer exhibition, was one of those memorable things. The film was shot in the Photographic Collection at the Warburg Institute in London, and consists of numerous very long shots of filing cabinets, potted plants, whitewashed pillars, and piles of artworks stacked on tables or leaning against walls. Occasionally a cardiganed arm or the top of a head is glimpsed as members of the Institute’s staff sort prints into piles, or quietly discuss some aspect of how the Daphne of the film’s title, a minor figure in Greek mythology, has been represented in art over the centuries.

In defence of percepts: a response to Seth Kim-Cohen's 'Non-Cochlear Sound Art'

Seth Kim-Cohen’s In the Blink of an Ear: Towards a Non-Cochlear Sound Art (2009) is an odd book. On the one hand, the author lays on a relentless attack against what he calls “sound-in-itself”, or rather against those artists and theorists that would seek to reify such an imaginary sonic essence in order to posit it as the transcendent origin of the sound art they favour. At the same time, he articulates a version of Seventies Conceptualism that comes to replace the phenomenal sonic object as the underwriter and validator of what is now the sonic ‘text’. In the place of perception, he advocates an approach that understands sound art as a blank surface upon which the inscriptions of context — “sociality, gender, class, race, politics, and power” — can be read, going as far as to suggest that some sound works, such as Alvin Lucier’s seminal I am sitting in a room (1969), are better apprehended without listening to them.