Love’s Faithful Afflictions (2007)
Acrylic, copper wire,plaster, tar wood, paper, ink
This artwork contains Hebrew which reads: “I know, O Lord, that thy judgements are right, and that in faithfullness hast afflicted me.” Psalm (119:75)
Acrylic, tar, copper wire, plaster, on canvas (includes speaker and sound)
…Here the medium of installation becomes a receptacle for the narrative of a Faustian traveller, gripped by romantic myths of freedom despite a genuine desire for a truth unfettered.
Even so, his journey is not initially inspired by a higher ideal but a disaffected need to escape a home that seems hollow and somehow insubstantial compared to a constant stream of media beamed into his television set.
At the end of his travel, in a makeshift hut, realisation dawns that he has only assembled another cage to surround himself both physically in the form of the shack and mentally vis-à-vis his confused notions of liberty.
They entangle like a knot.
The only thriving wildlife still barely touched by man is the hot, confusing, and poorly lit world within himself. The strangely shaped glands and bones, the transparent lungs, the dense tangle of cells in the brain hold worlds within worlds; and through it all, streams of blood. — Leo Vroman
So obsessed is he with the search for some absolute reality outside himself that when he comes to the realisation that there is none to be found, he falls into its opposite – a state of nihilistic relativism; in that, all things being equal, all value collapses.
“…The opposite of art is not ugliness, it is indifference.”– Elie Wiesel.
This narrative is played out through documents, the relationship of objects, sounds, and video. Sound emanates from an experimental surround-sound setup from under the floor and placed at various angles in the installation to envelop the viewer.
Mise-en-scène is geared towards creating the illusion of a neurotic thought space: cluttered, confused, with multiple points of reference for different senses. A heterotopia as such that it exists as the representation of our fictional traveller’s mind. An architectural space one can physically inhabit and which space in turn inhabits the mind of the interloper.
A red light bathes everything in a similar hue, giving any object the appearance of being of the same substance and substrate; the colour of the sun when seen through closed eyelids or the Rectum nightclub in Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible. An effect lifted and made flesh-tone from the cinema of social realism, where colour grading turned cineritious, a metaphor for encroaching standardisation, blankets all in grey.
The eye of the bulb is scratched and battered, its wires hooked around a wooden beam and twisted through bars; some out of sight and some into hastily positioned sockets.
But this head is not yet complete – for we have already said that this is a place where mind and architecture meet, a zygomatic arch, with pounding temples – without sound there can be no inner voice and so there are speaker cones and diaphragms that mushroom from the walls, under the floor, and hanging from the ceiling.
These emit waves, birdcalls, and blips. What would be amniotic bliss if not for the promise that sometime soon this world will collapse. Are these infrasound vibrations the swell of the ocean, human regulatory fluids, or the evidence of the ground falling out from underneath this musky, dust-filled hut? For all we know there is nothing outside, pas de plage sous le pavés (no beach underneath the pavement) and no noumenal truth to cling to as we whirl delirious though space, protected by our walls and one-way mirrors.
The readings of dials and gauges in our vessel are only the measurements of one arbitrary point to the next, sufficient as much as our bowels keep time with our meals. And yet there is no time but in clocks and what they measure is the metronomic movement of their own hands from one point to another in uniform secession, whether brass or atomic. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius is now, the A-bomb over Nagasaki now, the origin of all life now, your own death now, now and why not? “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
This living space is rapidly filling, not only with human waste but with the dust of words and ticker tape from the readings of the machines; like the mulched shreddings of a gerbil cage, you can smell it on your skin, taste it in your mouth tainting your saliva.
Today I am a cyborg, tomorrow debris.
Know that this creation of constant change and novelty is to forge a sense of historicity in ourselves. Modernism, and the commodification of the world have cast us out into a space where all time is relative, making satellites of us all.
And so we try to create structures that in turn produce a sense of reality onto which we can attach each other and ourselves. Yet once the law of diminishing returns is enacted, this scaffolding collapses into a pile of dust and the process is repeated. Therefore not only is the earth a ‘Desert of the Real,’ its orbit is filled with debris that whips the eye.
The light fixture is not just a shiny red bauble; it is the Blepharitis of a culture blasted with its own images, with the sand grit of cracked mirrors. This reproductive process creates a kind of Kessler effect1. Will there come a time when there is nothing left to see or any space to see it?
“And it came to me then. That we were wonderful travelling companions but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal in their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they’re nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we’d be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing.” – Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart
1 The scientific term for a scenario in which the density of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO) is high enough that collisions between objects could cause a cascade – each collision generating fragmentations which increase the likelihood of further collisions.
Common Ground arts event filmed at Hanley Park on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th June ’10, Stoke-on-Trent by the artist Behjat Abdulla.
In it I became The Green Man for a little while for Kate Lynch’s project: ‘A Conversation with the Green Man’. Keep an eye out for me in the video! Below are some links to her work:
Common Ground is a weekend long arts event in Hanley Park, Stoke-on-Trent, organised by AirSpace Gallery Studio Artists. The project invites the public to discover art works hidden and placed in the city park. The art works work with the historical and physical reality of the site, and set out possible future visions for a public park in need of activation.
Common Ground has been commissioned in response to a recent public consultation project, Quality Streets, where the public expressed a desire to see activities and events taking place within the park.
Common Ground will see artists intervening in public spaces; loudly, quietly, secretly or overtly, in a manner which questions the use of public parkland in the 21st century. The works will last the weekend, be sensitive to the place they are situated, and offer opportunities for delight and magic in the city.
Details about the Artists’ Projects:
Phil Rawle turns a tree into a giant sundial with his Sand Drawing.
Bernard Charnley’s piece finds politicians up to their necks in it.
Andrew Branscombe‘s interactive musical sculpture references the human life of the park.
Kate Lynch asks the public to look out for the elusive and enigmatic character The Green Man.
Monument sees Stuart Porter drawing attention to features of the park that are more usually overlooked.
Katie Shipley explores the physical processes of memory through drawing and sculptural intervention.
Anna Francis excavates the Park’s Halcyon days, connecting to the history of a once great city park by repopulating the bandstand.
David Bethell will be undertaking durational performance ‘Digging’ between 11.30 am and 4pm on Sunday.
Glen Stoker uses the Pavilion to investigate levels of Political commitment to urban regeneration.
Carl Gent aims to consult the public on his campaign to Twin Stoke-on-Trent with a distant cosmic body.
Celine Siani Djiakoua’s participatory piece asks park users to consider poignant questions, and connects to the multi-cultural side of the Park.
Nickie Brown’s signs aim to directly address the public, testing reactions and responses to requests and orders.
Marc Tittensor’s stick men delight and amuse, and reference the Park as a destination for Play.
Chris Parkes has created a series of sculptural objects that reference the furry and feathered inhabitants of the Park.
Michael Branthwaite’s sculptural piece provides visual sensation through colour and form.
Ben Faga’s performances and installations bring animals from around the world into the Park.
Brian Holdcroft draws a physical line that denotes the body passing through space and across time, when
moving through this historic site.
Andrew Jackson will negotiate chance meetings with park users, aiming to capture these moments for others to discover later.
My Dear Tom is a mysterious and anonymous sound piece by Emmie, from a Postcard sent in 1907.
“We will live in this world, which for us has all the disquieting strangeness of the desert and of the simulacrum, with all the veracity of living phantoms, of wandering and simulating animals that capital, that the death of capital has made of us – because the desert of cities is equal to the desert of sand – the jungle of signs is equal to that of the forest – the vertigo of simulacra is equal to that of nature – only the vertiginous seduction of a dying system remains…”
Jean Baudrillard. Simulacra and Simulation (c 1981). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994:153.
“On the most basic level, computers in my books are simply a metaphor for human memory: I’m interested in the hows and whys of memory, the ways it defines who and what we are, in how easily memory is subject to revision.”
“When I was writing Neuromancer, it was wonderful to be able to tie a lot of these interests into the computer metaphor. It wasn’t until I could finally afford a computer of my own that I found out there’s a drive mechanism inside- this little thing that spins around. I’d been expecting an exotic crystalline thing, a cyberspace deck or something, and what I got was a little piece of a Victorian engine that made noises like a scratchy old record player. That noise took away some of the mystique for me; it made computers less sexy. My ignorance had allowed me to romanticize them.”
Interview with Larry McCaffery in Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern Science Fiction, Duke University Press, December 1991
This Jolly Anthropomorphism
text on scroll:
“Although the Pagan fables are not believed,” “yet we forget ourselves continually, and make inferences from them as from existing realities.”
“And just as the fables: within every child’s bedroom as they sleep, whether soundly or no, lies the greatest symbol of Man’s terminal folly – the aching need to remake everything with great fingerwork or intellect in his own image – the bear that Roosevelt supposedly spared.
This jolly anthropomorphism shall be the sign by which man will happily fall into desolation.
The great spoiler’s flag shall be the bear-child…
…what do we see in its shiny, black-button eyes?”
“In polar climates the human frame, to maintain its animal heat requires for combustion in the capillary system, an abundant supply of highly azotised food such as train oil. But again: – in polar climates nearly the sole food afforded man is the oil of abundant seals and whales.
Now, whether is oil at hand because imperatively demanded, or the only thing demanded because the only thing to be obtained? It is impossible to decide.
There is an absolute reciprocity of adaptation.”
“One night I was sitting on the bed in my hotel room on Bunker Hill, down in the very middle of Los Angeles. It was an important night in my life, because I had to make a decision about the hotel. Either I paid up or I got out. That was what the note said, the note the landlady had put under my door.
A great problem, deserving acute attention.
I solved it by turning out the lights and going to bed.”
“Anyway dad was in the station shop buying a map, and I was outside feeling so manly and just so proud of how I hadn’t botched anything up yet – set fire to the gas station or what have you – and the tank was almost full.
Well, Dad came out just as I was topping the tank off, at which point the nozzle simply went nuts. It started spraying all over. I don’t know why – it just did – all over my jeans my running shoes, the license plate, the cement – like purple alcohol.
Dad saw everything and i thought I was going to catch total shit. I felt so small. But instead he smiled and said to me, ‘Hey Sport. Isn’t the smell of gasoline great? Close your eyes and inhale.
It smells like the future.’
Well I did that – I closed my eyes just as he asked and breathed in deeply. And at that point I saw the bright orange light of the sun coming through my eyelids, smelled the gasoline and my knees buckled.
But it was the most perfect moment of my life, and so if you ask me ( and i have a lot of my hopes pinned on this: Heaven just has to be an awful lot like those few seconds.
That’s my memory of Earth.”
“Away, away with all these cobweb tissues of rights of discovery, exploration, settlement, continuity etc. Our claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole continent which providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federative self–government entrusted to us.’”
“We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The Birthday of a new world is at hand.”
“I see the great Zion, a city upon a hill…
… a shining example to the old world.
The wonder of a blue planet brindled green with Astroturf, and arranged with twinkling pillars of glass pricking at the sky.
The world hangs in its orbit like a sterile bauble, a million blinking satellites reflecting obedient-wonder back in its direction.
It is Manifest Destiny.
wistful pangs for a sky the colour of television, and looking we see that bluebirds have made their nests in the white cliffs of Dover.
“At last the Indians are all of lead.”
“We must protect them from the contaminating influences of the frontier.”
This final bacterium lies dying in a pool of its own sanitized juice…
…in this green and pleasant land.
Un-blemished little boys on a Ritalin-ride, petting tame lions, the smell of ozone in their nostrils
Like some fucking Jovo’s dream in a Watchtower leaflet.
And of course, Henry the horse dances the waltz.
Forgive them oh Lord for they know not what they do.
Mothers and sisters sit in eating houses, vomiting into toilets fitted especially for the purpose, fathers watching blindly…
…but happy non-the-less, and slim. Shouldn’t forget this.
Remember nature, part one, the original?
Don’t Sequels always ruin it?” …
“I went two Independence Rock for the purpose of recording my name with the swollen catalogue of others traced upon its sides; but having glanced over the strange medley, I became disgusted, and turning away resolved:
‘if there remains no other mode of immortalising myself, I will be content to descend to the grave un-honoured and unsung…’”
“Once the only reason Men kept Dogs was for food. Noting that among Men no crime was quite so abhorred as eating the flesh of another human, Dog quickly learned to act as human as possible and to pass this ability on from parents to pups.
So we know how to evoke from you Man, one day at a time at least enough mercy for one more of life.
Nonetheless however accomplished our life’s are never settled, we go on as tail-wagging Scheherazade’s, ever a step away from the dread Palm leaf, nightly delaying the blades of our masters by telling back to them tales of their humanity, I am but an extreme expression of this process…’
“The rain follows the plough.”
“You cannot say, or guess, for you know only a heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, and the dry stone no sound of water.”
“As the creation of this very text, so the organisation of the people, haptic, decisions based on emotional alacrity, naiveté. It is nothing but a passing glance; this very text I speak can mean nothing to this assemblage…
The great spoiler has come:
Does it care?
Not the good ship lollypop.
I am not a robot: that is but a slave. I am less than this, but as less so I am more. I don’t mean to imply that I care about the distinction. I do not wish to exist, there is great tendency to crucify prophets.
I remain the troupe mascot, a symbol for an expedition that is long gone.
I am heavy metal.
I interpret the sun’s heat as time now. And it covers me almost entirely.
You may not have noticed that I am not in the possession of a face.”
“Perhaps I was a tree at the beginning of time”
“The Spaniel has got a skin disease, mange, I think, which makes almost all of its hair fall out and covers it with brown blotches and scabs.
He was saying filthy lousy animal! And the dog was whimpering. I said ‘good evening! But the old man went on swearing. So I asked him what the dog had done, he didn’t answer. He just kept on saying ‘Filthy lousy animal!’ I could just about see him bent over his dog, busy fiddling with something on its collar. I asked again a bit louder. Then without turning round he answered with a sort of suppressed fury, he’s always there!”
“Is god to live in a dog?”
“Perhaps this assemblage is as the scarab beetle to you, an exotic insect with the nub of something familiar”
“Do not anchor yourself to similarity.”
“Man is a soft machine,
a flexible suit with holes
stuffed with threads
and tubes serving
for nothing but tenderness
and to be warmer than air…”
Exherpt from the poem entitled ‘Mens’ (Human) by Leo Vroman, translated from Dutch by Gwyddion Flint
Above is is a video of my latest installation, entitled SOFTMACHINE. More information will follow shortly.
“For a long time he stood gazing at the owl, who dozed on its perch. A thousand thoughts came into his mind, thoughts about the war, about the days when owls had fallen from the sky; he remembered how in his childhood it had been discovered that species upon species had become extinct and how the ‘papes had reported it each day — foxes one morning, badgers the next, until people had stopped reading the perpetual animal obits.”
“He thought, too, about his need for a real animal; within him an actual hatred once more manifested itself toward his electric sheep, which he had to tend, had to care about, as if it lived. The tyranny of an object, he thought. It doesn’t know I exist. Like the androids, it had no ability to appreciate the existence of another. He had never thought of this before, the similarity between an electric animal and an andy. The electric animal, he pondered, could be considered a subform of the other, a kind of vastly inferior robot. Or, conversely, the android could be regarded as a highly developed, evolved version of the ersatz animal. Both viewpoints repelled him.” Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
“Art’s relation to capitalist culture can, in important respects, be condensed into thinking about its relation to this dialectic of inversion between subject and object. For Marx, this inversion produces an alienation of humanity. Again, in his well-known characterisation of fetishism, Marx writes:
‘…to find an analogy [to the fetishism of commodities] we must take flight into the misty realm of religion. There the products of the human brain appear as autonomous figures endowed with a life of their own, which enter into relations both with each other and with the human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products of men’s hands.’ Karl Marx, The Fetishism of Commodity
This is a dialectical inversion of subject and object: we can discern a struggle of subjection or subjugation in commodification and, by extension in art.” Stewart Martin, Critique of Relational Aesthetics, Third Text
ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK:
A conversation with no conclusion
Moving further and further away from our natural origins and towards an insectile future. This not-so-fairytale world where we communicate by text message and a six-sense called the internet rather than face-to-face, where the only uniqueness we have is a fingerprint and a number with which to identify ourselves with is almost upon us…
One day soon the human race will wake up and realise that like Franz Kafka’s character Gregor Samsa, we have all turned into cockroaches.
Should we really be living in these termite-mounds we call cities that constantly pump gases and wastes into the little natural-environment we have left, the environment that bore us as a young species, giving us everything we need to survive? Is there still time to reclaim it for the willing?
This exhibition explores the concepts of millennialism, totalitarianism, and the loss and replacement of ‘real’ identities through commodification. Gwyddion Flint
List of Artworks
1. Bragolin, photographs, sandblasted frames, Gwyddion Flint, 2008
2. We Have Ways…, graphite drawing on paper, sandblasted frame, tar, GwyddionFlint, 2009
3. With No Clear Beginning and with Very Little Sense of Where Anything Might End, Photocopies mounted on foam-board, Varnish, coloured paper, coloured ink, Behjat Omer, 2009
4. To Be Is To Have, Photography mounted on foam-board, varnish,Behjat Omer, 2009
5. Rendition, Photographs, sandblasted frames, Gwyddion Flint, 2009
6. Phobos, plaster, tar, copper, wire, on canvas, Gwyddion Flint, 2007
7. Untitled, mixed media, Behjat Omer, 2009
8. Cleanliness is next to… photograph, sandblasted frame, Gwyddion Flint, 2009
9. Helicopter II, graphite drawing on watercolour board, mounted on foam-board, Gwyddion Flint, 2008
10. Machine my Mother Machine My Lover, graphite drawings on watercolour board mounted on foam-board, Gwyddion Flint, 2009
11. Loves Faithful Afflictions,mixed media, Gwyddion Flint, 2007 (Hebrew Text Reads: “I Know, O Lord, that thy judgements are right, and that in faithfulness hast afflicted me.”
12. Hive, mixed media, red LEDs, honey, electronic sound, Gwyddion Flint, 2008
13. To Be Continued…, Projected Film, 7.30mins, Behjat Omer,2009
14. On/Off, Photocopy, paint, varnish, rear-mounted light with switch, Behjat Omer, 2009
This was a project in which I produced a suite of photographic images based around the British urban myth that is Bragolin’s ‘Crying Children’.
Bruno Amadio, popularly known as Bragolin, is the creator of a group of paintings made of crying children, the most famous of which is known as Bragolin’s Blue Boy’. The paintings, which feature a variety of tearful children looking morosely straight ahead, are believed by some to be cursed, the curse causing the owner of the painting’s house to burn down
This is the beginning of a series of projects that will culminate in the complete fabrication of an urban myth.