In a couple of weeks, we'll be off on vacation spending two weeks in England. Towards the end of the trip, there will be a few days in London. I hope to drink some beer in important pubs, check out the Harry Potter studios, and recite a bit of Wordsworth.
Many people seem to have been appalled by the BBC coverage of the recent Jubilee River Thames Pageant. I had no quarrell with the inane commentary - America! - but I did resent the wanker who came online to make a big fecking deal out of reading Wordsworth Upon Westminster Bridge. Google (and the Daily Telegraph , jeebus forgive me) tells me that this wanker is someone called Richard E Grant. I don't know who he is, and neither apparently does Youtube. At least if I query for Wanker and Wordsworth and Jubilee. The point being that the poem, it's not that long, it's something every child should know, and yet he had to read it from his wanky spanky Union Jack iPad.
The Hayward Gallery is part of the South Bank center. I have fond memories of the South Bank. When I was a youth (before I met your mother, my child) , my first maybe second day as a student abroad for a year in London - I walked from the Kings College music building (still on the strand somewhere) over to the South Bank. The girl I walked with was from Australia, and had come to London to write a masters degree on the Schenker editions of Beethoven. In those editions, Schenker recommends specific fingering for difficult passages, and her idea was that his recommendations had more to do with his analytical interpretations, and less to do with his understanding of the challenges a pianist experiences in moving hands around the keyboard. This is a base simplification of her work, which has probably been published and well received. She is probably faculty at a prestigious university, and I can't remember her name. This speaks poorly of me, but in my defense I have the intoxication of the South Bank centre, which is one of the marvels of British architecture. Prince Charles likened it to a nuclear power plant, which I think he meant as a criticism. This pains me. Charles is an unrecondite wanker, worse than the wanker who wanked Wordsworth up above. But he is the kind of watercolorist that I admire - which is to say a bit of a wanky watercolorist.
Invisible Art. Art created by means that cannot be perceived. Art in media that are beyond our sensory perceptions. The Observer article lists 10 pieces. Some of them seem quirky, a bit of nonsense, I suppose surreal and charming if you like that kind of thing. I don't. However. I think the Asher piece "Vertical Column of Air" is spot on. The Claus Oldenburg "Proposed Underground Memorial for JFK" is magnificent. He suggests a hollow casting of JFK, buried upside down, to the scale of the Statue of Liberty. Bloody hell that's hard to ignore.
I didn't know any of this stuff before reading about the exhibit, and I expect there are many other pieces that will hit hard. Artists talk about the void. Robert Barry has Radiation Piece . A (very) small piece of radioactive cesium has a half life of 30 years. So what is this, now over 40 years later? It's an echo, but an unfeel-able echo, an echo without sensation. Or an echo in a realm of sensation that is not habitually accessed. The Observer reviewer says:
For Barry, who found ideas of nothingness and the void to be extremely potent, radiation was a means of evoking something immeasurable and without limit – the sublime realm of the unseen.
In another piece, Barry uses the carrier wave of an FM radio broadcast station for specific time and duration. What is that? What was it when it happened? Our usual senses could not have perceived the wave - we may be impacted by electromagnetism in ways we don't understand (molecular and homeopathic, animal and mineral) but we aren't migrating birds. And now, our interface to the experience is only through the documentation. The wave stopped long ago. It really is a step outside of time, a breach of normal thinking.
It's all so heartbreaking and impermanent. A simple taste before the wire is pulled away.
I've spent a lot of time in the past few years thinking of ways to 'Erase' sound. I got the idea originally from the Rauschenberg Erasure of De Kooning , what would something like that sound like, I wondered. Pondered. Erasure is not the same as Invisible, as silence is not the same as unheard. The erasure of sound is not silence. I continue to struggle with the technology behind a synthesis process that erases sound. I define 'erasure' in this context as 'the last vestige of meaning'. I recently started to consider the term Adumbration rather than Erasure, but that may just be a cop out.
In the meantime, I wrote an 'unhearable' piece (Music that is Impossibly Loud and Unbearably Silent. Unhearable is not the same as unheard, but it did get to the idea that there's a void in the center.
Anyway. If you ask, I will send you a(n invisible) postcard from London. Cheers!