The Seethingographer #2 Summer 2017: Going Home

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The Seethingographer #2

We are delighted to launch the second issue of The Seethingographer today!

This is a collection of writing and images on the theme of ‘Going Home’. Submissions were opened up worldwide, and we had an amazing international response!

A word from our guest editor Sinead Keegan…..
Reading through the submissions for this issue of The Seethingographer was a peek behind the curtains and around the corners of the spaces people call home. These pages are filled with the nuances of what it means to go home, from Alan Boyce’s gritty reality of homelessness to the hearth fairy of Julia Rose Lewis. Sometimes we find ourselves on the threshold, neither home nor away from home, as in Roger Leege’s ‘Fast Food’ which showed me a moment from my own childhood, and Maite Lisa Jordao’s permanent liminal emigrant existence ‘Coming Home’. Whether you know the places described, or…

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High-Rise, Ballard and the 1970s – An Exchange with Adam Roberts

tobylitt

I wrote an article titled ‘Sourcedness’ on Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of High-Rise for Critical Quarterly. It’s here. (It’s also here, until Critical Quarterly say no.)

A Facebook post by Adam Roberts on 20th April 2017 seemed to be thinking along the same lines:

The Alec Guinness/BBC “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, set in the 1970s, *looks* a lot less “1970s” than the more recent film version, also set in the 1970s, because the BBC version *was actually made* in the 1970s, and in the 1970s the 1970s really didn’t look very 1970s, where the 2011 filmmakers went out of their way to make their movie look 1970s.

Jameson’s “Postmodernism” book has something relevant to this.

So I suggested Adam Roberts read what I’d said in CQ:

SOURCEDNESS

The writer-director team Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley is among the most interesting and ambitious working in British cinema…

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Z by Jim Lawrence

Source: Z by Jim Lawrence

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Anderson & Samudzi: The Anarchism of Blackness

Robert Graham's Anarchism Weblog

Roar Magazine, which describes itself as “an online magazine and quarterly print journal of the radical imagination, providing grassroots perspectives from the front-lines of the global struggle for real democracy,” has published in its most recent issue an essay by William C. Anderson and Zoé Samudzi entitled “The Anarchism of Blackness.” The first part of the essay discusses the “failings of American liberalism,” the delusions of bipartisan politics in the United States, blackness and the “societal fascism” of non-citizenship (being resident “in a settler colony,” as opposed to being a citizen of the U.S.). Here I reproduce the concluding sections on the “anarchism of Blackness” and “responding to this Neo-Fascist moment” in American history.

The Anarchism of Blackness

Make no mistake: progress has been secured by Black people’s mobilization as opposed to a single political party. We are the ones who have achieved much of the progress that changed…

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HERE COMES THE SCIENCE BIT – Einstein’s Masterwork: 1915 and the General Theory of Relativity, by John Gribbin

This is a typically well written and clear exposition of its subject by John Gribbin, one of our finest popular-science authors and a professional astronomer to boot. Einstein’s Masterwork: 1915 and the General Theory of Relativity explains in everyday language how Einstein accounted for gravity’s effects on spacetime summed up in an equation which is far less famous than the E=MC2 of his ‘annus mirabilis‘ in 1905 (his Nobel Prize-winning paper on Brownian motion, his doctoral thesis for the University of Zurich on calculating the sizes of molecules and atoms suspended in a fluid, his paper on the photoelectic effect that explained black-body radiation and proved that light and matter behave in fundamentally the same ways, establishing the reality of light quanta, and the now famous paper on the Special Theory of relativity) but no less important: gμν (gee mu nu).

The possibility that the universe is curved had been posited earlier and independently by the mathematicians Riemann and Clifford. Minkowski had elaborated on the Special Theory, which applies to a notional flat spacetime, with his spacetime diagram, describing how a vector moves along its own timeline relative to constant spacetime. It is a pictorial representation of how inertial frames of reference in uniform motion relate to each other in the Special Theory. The General Theory goes much further by accounting for the acceleration in 4-dimensional curved spacetime of tensors (the non-Euclidean version of the vector). The difference is that the presence of matter creates the curvature of spacetime, and the tensors, of which there may be as many as 16, describe this curvature. Fortunately for the curious general reader, such as myself, who has no background in higher mathematics or cosmology, this is all laid out in a refreshingly straightforward scheme that requires no headache-inducing attempts to grasp equations. Indeed, it is almost tempting to wonder what is so terribly difficult about all this stuff about spacetime curvature, gravitational lensing and all the rest of it, so lucid is Gribbin’s treatment of the material.

There is an illuminating though necessarily not comprehensive account of Einstein’s personal life as it related to his work (after all, the book is about a specific aspect of his work, not a full-blown biography), enough to show the real human being behind the image of the secular saint and omniscient genius. It shows how Einstein’s theories, brilliantly conceived though they are, did not emerge ex nihilo; his great predecessors such as Maxwell, Boltzmann, Planck, Minkowski, et al were working in a scientific culture that grows out of the ingenuity of many minds. However, the singular genius of Albert Einstein shines through. It has been said that the Special Theory would have been developed by somebody around that time if Einstein had not done so; but the General Theory could probably only have been produced by his uniquely fertile imagination. The book ends with an account of the scientific legacy of the General Theory (black holes, time dilation, wormholes, etc) and Einstein’s final years.

This book is pitched at a level which the non-specialist can appreciate without being condescending or irritatingly chummy. It deals with complex ideas that have profoundly changed our understanding of the universe’s structure and workings, ideas which will continue to affect humanity’s future in ways we can only guess at. If you want to get Einstein’s work, get this book.

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An Anarchist’s Declaration by Jim Lawrence

I am not a silent poet

All governments will be disappeared
Being as useless as a spandex tea tray
Nation states will be deported, dragging their discredited boundaries with them
Armies, navies, air forces, cops and spies will become Buddhist monks
Money will be no longer relevant as we all work from love of creation

The laws of physics will seem to be suspended
As miracles that confound description
Turn the streets into blazing visions of shadows and fire

Widows will beat their carpets for gold dust
CEOs will throw themselves at the feet of Gina Lollabrigida
Helicopters will buzz overhead in Busby Berklee formations
Dropping leaflets for propaganda by ballet
Drag queens will be in charge of the economy, redistributing fabulousness
And donkey sanctuaries will become places of secular worship

Everyone will be a legend and deserve the honour of being legendary
Trees will finally be understood
The Great Work will sort everything out and…

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HYPERREALITY FLUX – Twentysix Psychogeography Stations, by Darrant Hinisco

Earlier in 2015 the photographer Darrant Hinisco was browsing in a secondhand bookshop when his interest was piqued by STEPZ, a recently published zine devoted to psychogeography and urban aesthetics. Somehow this copy had found its way in very short order from Yorkshire, where Tina Richardson, the publisher of STEPZ, resides, to this obscure Portugese emporium.  Hinisco contacted her with a view to creating an edition of his photographs, wishing to re-imagine them as psychogeographical praxis. Well, we are living in the era of globalisation, so this may not seem so curious.

What is perhaps a little more curious is this. I know Tina via social media and an interest in psychogeography and architecture, and contributed a piece to STEPZ, but I did not know she had published a new text under her Urban Gerbil imprint. That text is Darrant Hinisco’s Twentysix Psychogeography Stations.

I was browsing in Orbis Books, an antiquarian bookshop in a little-visited Southampton sidestreet. Among the stark shadows, surprising angles and dusty grey light that make the shop’s interior resemble a German Expressionist film set I noticed Hinisco’s little artist’s book. Being a longtime admirer of Ed Ruscha, the pop artist after whose groundbreaking Twentysix Gasoline Stations Hinisco’s work is patterned, I picked it up from Mr. Orbis’s desk. He peered at me and told me he had perused Twentysix Psychogeography Stations. ‘It has something of the hauntological about its images,’ he said in a cracked and ancient voice. He looked at me meaningfully over the rims of his half-moon spectacles. ‘It appeals to me as a believer in the importance of synchronicity in human affairs.’ I had heard Mr Orbis’s gnomic pronouncements on many an occasion, being a regular customer of his peculiar little shop, and therefore expected something weird. I opened the book to find that my friend Tina had produced it. I must have given away my surprise, for Mr Orbis chuckled and said, ‘Perhaps there is even something magical about it.’ Coincidence or a visitation from the weird? Either way, you couldn’t make it up.

In 1963 the pop artist Ed Ruscha created Twentysix Gasoline Stations, a pioneering artist’s book documenting his journey across the United States from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City. During the trip he photographed 26 service stations, beginning in L.A. and finishing in Groom, Texas. Each monochrome image is captioned with its location and brand; there is no other text.

26 GAS STATIONS ED RUSCHA

Twentysix Gasoline Stations, Ed Ruscha

Twentysix Psychogeography Stations is a playfully complicated reincarnation of Ruscha’s piece. Where his images are a desolate yet romantic record of a single journey, a drift of the automotive rather than ambulatory kind, simultaneously a literal and toneless reproduction of mass culture imagery and a downbeat celebration of Americana, Hinisco’s collection of images spans several decades and two continents, and problematises artistic representation.

Twentysix Psychogeography Stations is not clearly autobiographical. Indeed the author of the photographs seems to be absent, non-existent. The camera’s eye is detached from the physical, bereft of exterior context. Defamiliarisation is sharpened by the manipulation of photographic effects. Each station is captured within the lens’s paradigm, a percept floating between being and becoming, finally set adrift in a stream of conceptual possibilities within each observer’s imagination. The photographer is not there; only the eye of the beholder’s mind has an ontological status, however numinous.

Yet interpretation is possible. Each station has a caption: not a bald label of surface description but a suggestion, a joke here, a pointed comment there. Brownfield, Somewhere Near You 2015 implies a politics and economy tied up with the problems of new builds, environmental complications, homelessness, property bubbles. The Lack, Leeds 2012 is a fragment of a deconstructed brick archway through which a scrubby bit of heath is visible; but who can say what this represents? There is no metaphysics of presence, simply an unanchored set of signs divorced from any diachronic or synchronic context. Next to it is The Supplement, Leeds 2012. Again the image, a bit of broken wall encircling a pipe outlet, is adrift, but the caption invites comparison with The Lack, functioning as a trace in a possible binary of ‘anywhere/here’.  Some images are labelled simply as ‘the North’, making a joke about regional stereotyping recognisable to anybody steeped in British culture, invoking clichés of whippets, rickets and trouble at t’mill. Two lomographically inspired photographs, The Tourist’s Gaze 1, Halifax 2014 and The Tourist’s Gaze 2, Istanbul 2013 mirror each other in ironic commentary on the psychogeographical critique of tourism and heritage. Fun and games with signs and wonders.

There is another significant difference – or rather I should say différance – between the two books. Gasoline Stations constructs a syntagm of images that support each other in the production of meaning. The observer feels that these pictures are representations of a physical reality out there somewhere, even though the photographs are clearly arranged for artistic purposes  – indeed because they are arranged. Meaning is presented as more or less stable. Psychogeography Stations is the supplement to it, upsetting its ontological stability, usurping its ‘reality’ by functioning as its binary in a representation/simulacrum opposition. Psychogeography Stations, by destabilising interpretation, presents a simulacrum of its predecessor (this is reinforced by the identical cover design), making uncertain the concept of journey by reflecting the underlying form of Gasoline Stations, and subverts its own representation of ‘reality’ via the precession of signs. Meaning is thus deferred endlessly through the mutual simulacricity of the two books as they reciprocally unmake-remake themselves through indissoluable deconstructions. Twentysix Psychogeography Stations is a representation of a simulacrum, a travel in hyper-hyperreality, as real and unreal as anything in the postmodern hall of infinitely reflecting mirrors.

200px-RuschaGasolineStations

Twentysix Gasoline Stations – original cover design

Humour and seriousness play off against each other in this manner throughout the book. Are we supposed to read these images in particular ways? Should we or should we not take the captions seriously?  Is this art or polemic? Is it consciously presented as an undecidable, inviting us to deconstruct our interpretations, or is it just a random collocation of interesting photographs? Maybe Twentysix Psychogeography Stations is all of these things.

Is any of this real? Is it all just a joke? Don’t ask me.

In the tradition of Dieter Roth, Fluxus, the Russian Formalists and the Futurists, Twentysix Psychogeography Stations extends the codex form, creating an artefact  beyond literature and photography, by introducing further material in the form of a short explanatory note by Hinisco on the publisher’s blog. I must say, though, that why this was done is a puzzle.

http://particulations.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/darrant-hinisco-i-have-never-called.html

So this is a postmodern take on a central form of modernist cultural intervention, possibly a ludibrium, possibly a serious exposition of Derridean and Deleuzean theoretical tropes, possibly an interrogation of simulacricity or possibly a confusing and amusing play of absence and presence and jumbled graphemes.

Oh, and the pictures are nice too.

 

Twentysix Psychogeography Stations is published by Urban Gerbil:

http://particulations.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/twenty-six-psychogeography-stations.html

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