Thursday, September 29, 2005

Overheard Overhead


Overheard Overhead was the final show at the Vestry staged the bleak mid winter of February 1997. Having turned my back on all things Film CO-OP some six years before I was nonetheless working with a form of what might be called expanded cinema. In Overheard Overhead however the whole apparatus of lens-based projection is abandoned in favour of a “lens free” moving image practice with all the surfaces of the exhibition space becoming a continual screen.

The idea behind the piece was partly inspired by walking through Leicester Square in the early evening when one could hear a mass of birdsong coming from the branches above but not actually see any of the feathered singers. In a continual quest to make the audio visible and vice versa I experimented with a circuit that produced changes in light intensity between four bulbs synchronised to the rising and falling birdsong. Using the lights to cast shadows on branches produced a network of overlaid filigree patterns that in some way seemed to visualise and plot the intricacies of melody and communication.

These patterns were projected onto walls floor and ceiling, creating a sensation of walking inside the sound. The birdsong’s volume inside rather than out also worked a reversed non-diegetic effect with off stage (in the wings so to speak) becoming centre stage. A short QuickTime movie of the piece can be seen here

Anecdotally….
There were the usual mishaps in setting up the installation not helped by the budget of £200. Firstly there was the issue of where to get the branches from. I contacted Lambeth’s park authority and was told that some tree felling was taking place in Brockwell Park that week and that I was welcome to any number of branches, they would even deliver them. I was told to arrive at 8.30 sharp on a Monday morning to pick out the branches I wanted. I turned up at the designated point only to find a few logs and a large pile of sawdust. After much walky talky work, one of the park rangers told me that unfortunately some volunteer workers had over the weekend been rather zealous and had pulped all of the branches. The pile of sawdust I was standing by was indeed the branches in question. This setback was probably a blessing in disguise as despite the high Vestry ceiling I had probably overestimated the size of branch needed. Chopping a few branches down from the overgrown church garden I soon found that quite modestly sized pieces easily filled the space and accomplished the effect I was after.

The branches were suspended from the high ceiling, the windows blacked out and the lights and speakers installed. The card for Overheard Overhead was printed for £35 by the possibly dubious Alpha printers. Dubious because they were clearly a front for something, as no printing ever seemed to be taking place at the works and the door was always opened with great reluctance. The private view aided as ever by copious amount of gin supplied free by Gilby’s was a success and more importantly the piece seemed to accomplish the mix of menace and romantic sublime I was seeking. As ever attendance at the sub zero Vestry throughout the course of the exhibition was small but appreciative but boosted when Time Out printed a review.

Though not planned as such this was to be the last DIY exhibition at the Vestry. I had invited David Leister to the opening and he suggested I might want to help him promote a screening in the old town hall just off Hoxton Square. As this was part funded by the LFMC I was once more reunited with the organisation. The Lux project was well advanced though chaos reigned, as there was no permanent administrator or up to date accounts. I was offered work initially for 3 months but ended up staying till November just prior to the Lux centre’s opening. It was already becoming clear by that stage that the underlying financial projections for the new Lux Centre did not in any way stack up. I was doubly uneasy that several new staff had bee recruited whose salaries somehow had to be paid. However the total grant support of both the LFMC and LEA at the time was little more than £90,000 and given that the ICA was receiving in excess of a million in support it seemed reasonable to expect that the BFI and the Arts Council (who had invested over ten years of time into the project) would increase the funding to meet the new costs. The funding did indeed increase in the next two years but never in line with what was needed. The Lux was not badly managed it was simply starved of funds and limped from crisis to crisis from the moment the doors opened. A proposed rent hike by the landlord brought on by the soar away success of Hoxton, which in part had been caused by the opening of the Lux itself, was the final straw and the plug was pulled. London still has no dedicated centre for the screening of artist moving image work, though the BfI have something planned for the revamped south bank NFT site.

Update 2012: Goodness the blog entry starts off with a nice piece about Overheard Overhead and then becomes reminiscences about the last day of the Film Co-op. Interestingly the BFI did open a space dedicated to Artist Moving Image work but subsequently closed as part of cost cutting measures however artist film and video is now becoming very much part of mainstream gallery echibitions.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Record Test


Stereo test records appeared regularly in the 1960’s and 1970’s. One side of the LP usually showed off examples of the wonders of stereo recording, often classical music or sound effects that passed magically from one speaker to another, whilst on the other side of the album were detailed instructions on how best to set up your stereo for full enjoyment of those micro groove frequencies. These instructions were often combined with a series of electronic bleeps and bloops that that supposedly allowed for proper adjustment of tracking and frequency response of your Hi-FI.

What is appealing about stereo test records is that the discs break the usual continuity of the recorded medium. As was suggested in turning the Picture Down a couple of weeks back contemporary music recordings are highly artificial. Stripped of the natural visual counterpart the music attempts to fill the space with a continuity of sound. This can literally mean a filling of the sound space using compression to create an impression of absolute volume or it can mean a more subtle continuity that of an uninterrupted signal. This can apply from everything from easy listening music to the most leftfield noise work.

With their direct instructions to the listener to get up and start moving speakers about and even reconnect wires and adjust the height of the needle Stereo test records break this continuity. The apparatus of reproduction is foregrounded and the listener becomes an active performer. Playback becomes not just a seamless process but open to change, variation and even chaos.

Instructional LP’s on everything from dance to cookery shared many of the same characteristics of the Stereo test record. Diagrams and fold out sheets would often accompany the records thereby restoring a visual element to the audio, as intrepid couples would try to master the intricacies of the Latin Hustle.

Test records were either budget releases or given away free with audiophile publications. With a little rummaging examples can be readily found in flea markets or in the exotic sections of second hand record shops. From my own collection here is is suitably reworked series of test record (ings) for your downloading pleasure.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Piece of the week – Under Press of Sail

In the spirit of 7 Up (the TV programme not the fizzy drink) I thought we should turn the clock back to 1978, yes that’s right some 27 years ago when I was a mere 18 for perhaps the first piece I recorded worth talking about, Under Press of Sail.

In a burst of career planning not shown since I had based my university choices on which colleges had electronic music studios. One couldn’t actually study electronic music at BA level at the time ; there was no sound art or sonic coursers as there are now, but a number of Universities such as East Anglia (which had a Synthi 100) and City University had electronic set ups. These were used either for research or evening classes. Being keen to be in London I picked Goldsmiths College whose electronic music studio had been set up by Hugh Davis.

In autumn 78 I went to Goldsmiths technically to study Psychology but with my focus on getting into the studio. I found that the studio was often free during the day. Within a couple of weeks or so I had convinced the friendly technician Richard to let me come in and use the facilities. He would often go off for a long lunch or some other business and so I would have the place to myself.

The electronic music studio was based in the downstairs of a small terrace house and was mostly stocked with EMS gear. There were two VCS3’s, a Synthi, the EMS pitch to voltage converter, a sequencer made by some of the participants on one of the advanced evening courses , a graphic equaliser and 4 or 5 Revoxes and that was about it.

In comparison with what I had been using previously this was a galaxy of riches. My bedroom at home had been full of rewired radios and cassette decks and I had built a tape delay system a couple of years before using two reel to reels running at 1 and 7/8 inches per second, an interesting but limited set up.

The VCS3 (whose praises I sang in a blog a few weeks back) were in many ways a natural extension of the home DIY circuit bent set up but with more possibilities. The way one could use the pin matrix to feed everything back into itself offered endless opportunities for sound mangling. I soon found however that if you found a particular bruit you liked you should get it down on tape as soon as possible as even if you meticulously noted down all the pin positions and knob settings, a patch would never sound the same twice. This also posed a problem of how to record pieces. If say you ran the sequencer and recorded a bass line onto one track of a Revox there was no way you could hope to sync up a second part.

I did find though that patches could be altered in real-time on the fly by a combination of swift dial action and pin pushing in and out. One could set up a main patch and leave the pins for modifications to the patch half in/half out. At the crucial moment one would push them smartly in and simultaneously turn any dials that needed adjusting. By running all three VCS3S simultaneously and whipping pins in and out one could then record a whole track in one take without any overdubs. This then was the nerve racking method used for Under Press of Sail recorded in that first flush of Autumn 78/early 79.

I musty have been fond of it as the piece appeared on at least three Snatch Tapes at the time and was reissued a couple of years ago as part of the Reprint CD on Anomalous. You can hear an MP3 of it here

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Well Hung?

Tate Britain has just completed another rehang of its collection. One of Serota’s innovations, the rehangs provide a good opportunity to see more of the collection and avoid the gathering dust phenomenon that used to occur before. This particular exercise though seems less successful; part chronological, part thematic it as if the curators were caught between chairs when the music stopped.

When Tate Modern opened there was concern that Tate Britain would become the forgotten museum. The logic behind having a contemporary modern collection on one site and a specifically UK collection which covered 1500 to the present day was never compelling. Gilbert & George where not the only British artists to complain that they wanted their work at Modern and not tucked away at Britain. Locating the turner Prize at MillBank and a series of changing exhibitions have helped to mask the inherently weak thinking behind the two-site approach.

Not only is there no clear logic as to why a British artist is shown at either Britain or Modern there is curatorial fudge between the two sites. When Modern opened it famously abandoned display by movement and chronology (the norm in most museums around the world and seen in full effect at MoMA). At the time in Fishing Line (a sort of faxed precursor to this blog) I commented that this thematic hanging was less to do with radical curatorial thinking and more to do with covering up the gaps in the Tate’s collection. Five years on the Tate seem to have acknowledged this but carries on with it nonetheless at Modern. But at Britain confusion reigns, on the left hand, or historical side of the gallery where we have Victorian Narrative, Pre Raphaelite and so on, a vaguely chronological approach is employed, then on the right of the gallery where things get more contemporary we get a mix of movements (Pop), quasi-themes (On England) and individual artists (John Latham). It’s more pick and mix than post modern (no pun intended).

One solution would be to merge the pre Second World War part of Tate Britain’s collection with the National Gallery’s collection to make a truly European gallery. The post war British art from Britain could then then be properly assimilated into Modern’s collection. Of course the chances of the directors of either institution agreeing to this or paying any attention to this obscure blogger are negligible.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bjork V Bush

That’s Kate not George of course. Why should these two chanteuses be up against one another? Well whilst a significant portion of the female pop scene seem keen to out sex one another, Bjork and Bush are secretly living out roles from Richard Crompton’s Just William


Bjork is of course Violet Elizabeth Bott, the ever so spoilt daughter from the “Big House” who in her lisping voice announces regularly "I'll squeam and squeam 'till I'm thick - I can, you know". This threat is made whenever William’s gang the Outlaws refuses to allow Violet Elizabeth to join in on one of their secret missions. Knowing the terrifying consequences of not complying, the boys inevitably let Violet not only join in but take centre stage. Swap the Outlaws for the Sugar Cubes and, the comparison becomes all too obvious.

Whether Violet ever grew up and lost the lisp we shall never know but Bjork seems content with her perpetual role as pigtailed cutie muscling in on the boys’ big plans. Just recently seeing that there was a deal of Outlaw fun to be had in Matthew Barney's cremester cycle Bjork, squemaed her way into both picture and soundtrack.



Kate, ah dear Kate is of course Joan the girl from next door who William has a soft (or should that be hard) spot for. The daughter of a doctor from Dartford, Kate, I mean Joan is far more circumspect about hanging about with the Outlaws preferring instead to attend ballet and tap with mademoiselle Bonchance (ex Royal Ballet you know). Of course with her interest in ballet, theatre and the piano Joan is quite the little performer as well, and was the star of the end of year school production. She even sent a tape to that nice David Gilmour from Pink Floyd who said he liked the tunes very much but that Joan should finish school first.

And the difference between the two? Whereas Violet never grows up Joan catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror one day and realises all that make up and hammy acting is actually quite embarrassing, she then goes into her house and won’t come out for a very long time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Gone are the days…

Tate Britain has just completed another rehang of its collection. One of Serota’s innovations, the rehangs provide a good opportunity to see more of the collection and avoid the gathering dust phenomenon that used to occur before. This particular exercise though seems less successful; part chronological, part thematic it as if the curators were caught between chairs when the music stopped.

When Tate Modern opened there was concern that Tate Britain would become the forgotten museum. The logic behind having a contemporary modern collection on one site and a specifically UK collection which covered 1500 to the present day was never compelling. Gilbert & George where not the only British artists to complain that they wanted their work at Modern and not tucked away at Britain. Locating the turner Prize at MillBank and a series of changing exhibitions have helped to mask the inherently weak thinking behind the two-site approach.

Not only is there no clear logic as to why a British artist is shown at either Britain or Modern there is curatorial fudge between the two sites. When Modern opened it famously abandoned display by movement and chronology (the norm in most museums around the world and seen in full effect at MOMA). At the time in Fishing Line (a sort of faxed precursor to this blog) I commented that this thematic hanging was less to do with radical curatorial thinking and more to do with covering up the gaps in the Tate’s collection. Five years on the Tate seem to have acknowledged this but carries on with it nonetheless at Modern. But at Britain confusion reigns, on the left hand, or historical side of the gallery where we have Victorian Narrative, Pre Raphaelite and so on, a vaguely chronological approach is employed, then on the right of the gallery where things get more contemporary we get a mix of movements (Pop), quasi-themes (On England) and individual artists (John Latham). It’s more pick and mix than post modern (no pun intended).

One solution would be to merge the pre Second World War part of Tate Britain’s collection with the National Gallery’s collection to make a truly European gallery. The post war British art from Britain could then then be properly assimilated into Modern’s collection. Of course the chances of the directors of either institution agreeing to this or paying any attention to this obscure blogger are negligible.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Engine Trouble


A somewhat tongue in cheek homage to the joys of motorbike riding. A single shot of a Harley Davidson engine is digitally animated; to produce a swirling mass of metal. Using max/msp/jitter the movement of the image is scanned to produce the 'engine' for the soundtrack

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Community Centred

At yesterday’s meeting (?) there was a lot of talk about art and the community, but what or who exactly is the community? Too often it seems an undefined given; arts managers talk about closer links with the community, of reflecting the diversity of the local community, of how art can empower a community and help regenerate it and so on, without interrogating the concept of community itself.

The local community is constantly mythologised; the idealised community typically consists of close knit extended families living in proximity to one another, experiencing hardship and as a consequence having little physical or economic mobility. Whilst contemporary society is often conceptualised by the same arts managers as a fluid hybrid of intersecting trajectories and spheres of influence meditated by new technologies the community reassuringly stays put. The world turns rapidly around, but the community is always there.

The community then is something of a noble savage; untainted by the individualism of modernity, a mistrustful beast it will initially be reassuringly hostile to art change. When the centre, theatre, or project opens the local children will overturn the bins and shout abuse as they rattle the security grills on the window. But in time, after overcoming numerous hurdles, the community will gradually begin to come round, to see salvation in the art centre. Local crime will fall, and those same children who sprayed graffiti on the front door will now sing with angelic voices as they photograph themselves and their surroundings.

Friday, September 16, 2005

If we can sparkle he may land tonight


The title is a line from Bowie’s Starman, a song on the Ziggy Stardust LP, and the installation was an attempt to deal with number of issues to do with photography, identity, and even time travel! In the blog “What is wrong with Photography” a little while ago it was argued that “the expanding chasm of emptiness that is inherent in photography functions something like a black hole sucking implication and association towards it as a cover for its nakedness.” To view a photograph then is always to stand on the edge, and as with all heights there is always a temptation to step off into the void. Never is this more so than with the iconic image of the star (man), a picture whose world we both create and tumble into. If we can sparkle he may land tonight, sought to open up this process, to make apparent the cycle of projection between audience and icon.

The back cover of the Ziggy Stardust LP shows Bowie resplendent in home made jumpsuit striking a camp pose inside a red telephone box. In the installation this image from the sleeve was enlarged to 4ft square and then lit by back projection from a slide of the same image. The process with its slight off register gives the picture a certain three dimensional quality. The light from the (back) slide projector rises and falls creating the impression if you put your mind to it that Bowie is "beaming" in and out of the scene. In front of Bowie's image a telephone receiver dangles from the ceiling. The mouthpiece begins to glow just as the light in the image begins to fade. From the ear piece the distant sound of a ringing phone can be heard.

The spectator stands in front of the picture holding the receiver and becomes part of a light cycle; transported backwards and forwards, in and out of the picture, through time and space. Rather than being interactive the viewer’s normally active (but hidden) role in creating the photograph is potentially exposed - or at least that was the idea.

The installation was shown at the Tannery in 1996. The project also spawned a CD called Through a Telephone Box Darkly, a parallel universe soundtrack to Heddon Street (where the phone box was, and still is located - well almost it is not the actual Ziggy box but a newer style red box).

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

In a Whirl

Grayson Perry has a new weekly column in the Times in which he shares with us his views on current art practice. Accompanying the column is a picture of Grayson grinning impishly. Noticeably absent are any of the usual bonnets and bows that are the normal attire of his art alter ego Claire, who as little (well big actually) Bo Beep wowed us at the Turner Prize giving and was seen bobbing about in search of the big bad wolf at this year’s Venice Biennale. Why Perry should have felt that Claire was not appropriate for the column is not clear; perhaps he wants to be taken as a serious down to earth potter after all. Certainly the reactionary nature of most of his comments in the column is more fitting for a ceramicist than a contemporary artist. But perhaps this is just another guise, for the impish grin in the picture suggests a certain knowing, a peculiar projection, a reversed “passing” if you will.

For transsexuals intent on the sex change OP, passing is the holy grail of achievement. Passing is where with enough shaving, make up, padding and tucking in the right places a 13 stone builder can be transformed into mademoiselle x, and travel unnoticed up and down the high street. Indeed if the OP is to be performed on the NHS, then Brian must live as Brenda for six months, practising the feminine until the illusion is complete. Clearly Claire is an altogether different club. Claire is in some ways far closer to the drag act of someone like Lilly Savage than the surgeon’s knife.

The terms transvestite and the transsexual are often confused in the public mind. However whereas the transsexual seeks to pass unnoticed, to be taken for a woman the transvestite and certainly the full-blooded heterosexual transvestite, often as not is intent on a sophisticated non sequitur. For Claire or Lilly Savage the illusion of femininity is a transparent projection. We see the exaggerated attire and mannerisms, the camp and crude one-liners but simultaneously we see through to the man underneath. In essence its something of a reflexive art form declaring its artifice and enjoying doing so. The problem is familiarity can make such acts seem unnecessarily mannered and in Claire’s case simply an attention grabbing routine.

Looking at Grayson’s picture in the Times though something curious and far more interesting happens, a reversal of the normal process, as we see past the ‘straight’ look to the transvestite underneath. What was the normally projected female alter ego becomes the hidden or the hinted at. The same thing happens with Paul O'Grady (Lilly’s alter ego) who has started a parallel TV career as himself. The result in both cases is some kind of third person half removed.

In a further twist one of the leading Lilly Savage look-alikes is played by Helen Lilly Neeley; a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. Perhaps she will also do a turn as Paul O”Grady as well.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Not Fade Away

Echo, echo, echo, the words die away across the canyon, as the sound waves bounce repeatedly between the walls of rock before exhausting themselves into silence. Our perception is off something receding, moving away from us, into the past.

Simultaneously we consider time to be moving forward; we talk of in a half an hour¹s time as being a point in the future, full of the as yet un-happenned, whilst half an hour ago, is safely taken place and gone.  But if an echo is the sound of something receding, of something behind, then should not the reverberations be occurring in the past, should they not in relation to our perception of time¹s trajectory have already happened? Instead the sound, the echo travels on, speeding forwards into the future, not behind but in front.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Piece of the week - Buy British Art


After winning the South London Gallery Open Artist’s Prize in 1995 I was hopeful the exhibition offers would come flooding in. In fact the only offer was from a newly opened gallery space called the Conductors’Hallway. This was part of the ASC studios, which were housed in the offices of a former bus garage in Camberwell. The rather poetic name for the gallery, referred to the fact that the exhibition space was the former entrance lobby for bus staff. With the old entrance door at one end, and the stairs blocked off at the other, the Conductors’ Hallway was basically a long narrow room with a tiled floor. 

Yet this alternative space would over the next 5 years host a surprising number of good exhibitions. Artists who showed at the Conductors' included: Brian Griffiths, Dave Beech and David Burrows, John Workman, Fiona Crisp, Marq Kearey Bob & Roberta Smith, and Monika Oechsler to name but a few. Despite some initial reservations I showed there on three occasions, firstly with the solo installation, Somewhere over England, and then twice in the group shows Collectables and Gym. It is from Collectables that Buy British Art is taken.

Perhaps why the Conductors had such a good selection of work was that despite being an unprepossessing space, the panel that ran it was quite choosy. This was rather cheeky, as there was no help with installing, promoting or invigilating the exhibition, but it did mean that the gallery didn’t just turn into a venue for work by artists in the studios. There were some not so good shows but in a couple of weeks they would be gone and the next one would be up.

The group show, Collectables was a curious affair. Staged on one Saturday, artworks were hidden in and around the vicinity of the gallery and cryptic clues provided as to their whereabouts. The public (mostly other artists) then had to set off and try and locate the works, collect them and return them to the space.

I toyed with a few different ideas for the show. Perhaps film strips hidden in hedgerows that could be ound and then be reassembled back at the gallery to show footage of the bus garage in its heyday? However whilst time wasting in one of Peckham’s many one pound shops I came across a consignment of red plastic busses. These were discontinued stock and bore the legend Buy British Toys on the side. At this point I was still regularly reviewing for Art Monthly and whatever the review was about was always keen to work in some critique of the seemingly unstoppable tide of YBA art. I had also only that week been to up to the then Saatchi gallery on Boundary Road with Gina Raincoat on a routemaster bus so the whole thing seemed to click.

Buy British Toys was changed to Buy British Art and the destination on the front made Boundary Road, whilst the back display panel showed the bus had come from Lewisham Way (home of course to Goldsmiths College). The little red bus was hidden in a shoebox on top of a bus shelter on the No 36 route and so was only visible from the top deck.

At the time I was concerned people might think it was an explosive device, now of course most of Camberwell would be cordoned off and I would be jailed for sedition. Anyway the bus was found soon enough and taken back to the depot where it belonged.

A jokey throw away, probably? Though even today it still seems to capture something of that heady nationalistic fervor that swept the UK art establishment and caused them to pass on critical judgment in return for a seat at the international art market table.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Turning the picture down

Sound and vision historically inseparable, were rudely torn apart at the moment of mechanical reproduction. Edison had wished it otherwise… "All movements of a person photographed will be exactly coincident with any sound made by him..." he proclaimed in 1891. However technical difficulties ensured the twin’s separation. Though reunited in the 20th century, and after Jolson in the mainstream cinema usually inseparable, terrible damage to the relationship had been done. Film though never really silent (its presentation always in some way accompanied) saw itself as a primarily visual medium, whilst the ventriloquist phonograph that could speak and sing without moving its lips accustomed people to sound, and in particular music without vision.



So accustomed are we to the separation that you often see simultaneous DVD and CD issues of the same live material. Why though would one buy the CD, when all you have to do is turn the picture down on the DVD and listen to the music? Logically there should be no reason, but sitting there with a darkened screen when you know there is a picture would be somewhat unsettling. If there’s something to view we feel we should look. You can open your eyes now.

The cumulative effect of music and vision combined though is far more than the constituent parts. When being described the essentials of a case Sherlock Holmes would always sit with fingertips pressed together and eyes tight shut in contemplation, and arguably having no picture should allow one to concentrate on the music. In practice though we listen less without the vision.

None but the most zealous fans, or those practising fro the next Stars in their Eyes will feel able to watch a live recording of a performance of a group more than a handful of times. Yet the same music without the pictures can be listened to repeatedly; over and over, hundreds if not thousands of times. In short the picture being turned down leads not so much to concentration, as the possibility for saturation. We enter a highly artificial condition in which without the vision, which should accompany it, the sound is literally backgrounded.

To hide this artifice of music without vision, recordings became more polished more removed from the live and hence the visual. The multi-track recording combining as it does several performance or bits of performances has no clear visual correlation it is the perfect music for continual reproduction, its location being nowhere in particular.

On the one hand this could be an argument for a return to the “natural” state of sound and vision in unison, but before we all rush down the folk club it should also be seen as advocating a far greater exploration of the possibilities of music and image together. Not as in the misconceived music video which tries to simply add back the visual content stripped out during recording process but in a marriage of music and vision composed simultaneously

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Instructions are contained on the tape, which you will find in the blue rucksack.

Deciding that it was time to see more of Romney Marshes we set off clutching a batch of the recent (and free) walk walk walk leaflets jointly published by East Sussex Council and Paths to Prosperity (ah yes regeneration through outdoor exercise). The leaflets include a map and copious instructions. These are of the " instead of continuing along the footpath, turn right at the junction, continue for 300 metres (330yds) and then follow the footpath uphill to reach a sign, ignore the left hand turn (the surfaced track) cross over and follow the edge of the field before bearing right before..." variety. It soon became apparent though that in order to follow the prescribed (doctors orders) route one had to be reading the guide almost continuously and that the landscape was something glimpsed (rarely) in between sentences. A textual experience then.

Seeing by wireless...
I am writing this in a house which is opposite (give or take a patch of green) where John Logie Baird made some of his first televisual experiments. Apparently Logie was ordered to Hastings for his health and combined bracing walks to Fairlight with knocking up dodgy apparatus in his rooms (his landlady eventually threw him out after one incident too many). The house now has a blue plaque on it and sometimes at night one can see the ghostly blue light of an unseen screen illuminating the sitting room walls. If only all site specific installations were like that.

Which all ties in rather nicely with last night's Science and Seance programme on BBC2 in which various eminent inventors (Baird, Marconi, Edison etc) were shown to have a belief in the spirit world and a desire to make contact with the other side. I will admit to an interest in such things, though as the programme went on one did wonder why the voices of the dead are always deemed so much more interesting than the patter of the living.