Stained by Dead Inkjets – the soundtrack of my life

Stained by Dead Inkjets - collage #3 (title tbc)

Stained by Dead Inkjets – collage #3 (title tbc)

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the title of the collection of collages I am making for this show is a paraphrase of a track by Throbbing Gristle (TG) on their album “Funeral in Berlin” (1981, Zensor). The original track is called “Stained by Dead Horses” and it sticks in my mind as one of those incredibly emotive phrases that seems to have a life of its own, far beyond the music itself. Other titles that stick in my mind are “Mission of Dead Souls”, “Maggot Death” and “You Don’t No”.

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“Funeral in Berlin” Throbbing Gristle (1981, Zensor)

Cover art by Val Denham, 1981.
http://www.valdenham.com/

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Similarly, TG’s name, as well as band names such as New Order, Joy Division and Theatre of Hate were extremely evocative, because they embodied such enigma.

My retrospective has already been fantastically productive, but one of the things I realised only very recently is that music has played a influential part in my creative development that I was only unconsciously aware of before. Although I do make music, I do not consider myself to be a musician. I use machines to do all the hard work. I just don’t have that particular talent.

What I do have though, is synesthesia. I wrote about this recently and, although I think I only have it mildly. By way of disambiguation, synesthesia is not a mystical state, it is a subtle neurological connection between the senses, and for me music and sound are strongly associated with visual image or impressions.

Strangely perfect. “Rebel Without a Brain” Theatre of Hate (1981, Burning Rome Records)

What I have come to realise is that, despite being only a mediocre sound artist, music and “organised sound” has been a fundamental influence on my work, even when it does not express itself audibly.

I’m not a fan of the minimalist “Untitled #1”, “Untitled #2”, “Untitled #3” titling strategy, and this is an opportunity to acknowledge my influences, even though the work is visual art rather than music.

As a result, I have decided to title all the “Stained by Dead Inkjets” collages after track names from albums or artists that have been influential to me. It’s a risky strategy. On one of the very few occasions when I have sold work, I lost a sale once I revealed the title because the buyer didn’t like it.

Stay tuned…

The tyranny of the blank page (with timelapse camera)

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My timelapse set-up for capturing the making of “Stained by Dead inkjets”

It’s a scary prospect to embark upon a project where you are committed to a deadline, but without knowing the outcome, and documenting it at the same time.

Any failures are immediately apparent to the rest of the world. But also the successes. I’ve done this kind of thing before and know that something will happen in the process, but not sure exactly what.

I decided to make new, A3-sized paper collages from old test prints and spoiled prints, but a lot of that material is A4, which left me with a compositional challenge if the works were not going to look like something plonked in the middle of a larger sheet.

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Work in progress

Also, a lot of the earlier work was very minimal and hard-edged digital graphics, but I wanted this work to be much more organic and dense. I always try to consider the audience and the venue, and these works are going to be shown in a traditionally decorated pub. Minimalism works well in a blank space, but on the busy walls of a public house, something more human and playful seems appropriate.

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“Stained by Dead Inkjets” #1 (title tbc)

When I was younger, I suffered greatly from the tyranny of the blank page. You know that paralysis when you can’t start because you are terrified of imminent failure. It’s not originally my wisdom, but I employ the strategy of spoiling the work in the first place. Many painters will smear a blank canvas with a random wash of paint to solve the problem, and I have found that this technique works for me. In the videos, you can seem me playing around with various simple techniques to distress the original material in order to spoil the canvas and break to paralysis.

The other strategy I employ is just starting. It’s no true to say I don’t think about what I’m going to do, but I believe in just doing something and being open to the opportunities presented by happy accidents.

When I write, I don’t plan, I just start writing. I write in fragments, and eventually, one fragment seems to go with another and so on until a thread appears. Once a logical thread appears, some of the fragments don’t seem to belong and so they get thrown away and might end up in something else. It’s the same with this work, after the first three collages appear to be finished, I have a visual theme emerging. I want the show to be a coherent whole, and these first “finished” works seem to have set the tone. It might all change before we get to the 24th of April, but it’s a good start.

There is a Vimeo album of the making of videos here:

Free events this week at 35 Chapel Walk, Sheffield – organised by Access Space

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Taking down the 20×20 show at Access Space ready to show at 35 Chapel Walk.

This week, Access Space is taking last year’s 20×20 Exhibition to the gallery at 35 Chapel Walk, Sheffield. It will be open 10.30am – 5.30pm from Wed 5th though to Sat 8th Feb. Also, there will be free events each day.

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The relaxation station at 35 Chapel Walk

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#CHDK-enabled timelapse camera ready to shoot the installation of 20×20 at 35 Chapel Walk.

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35 Chapel Walk, already equipped with picture hangers.

On Wednesday between 1pm and 3pm they will be showing how to build computers and install ethical open source software.

Thursday sees a demonstration of 3D printing and a presentation about Refab Space, our DIY FabLab and hack space, by our resident technology guru and hardware hacker, John Moseley, 1pm-3pm

On Friday James Wallbank will talk about crowd-funding and the possibilities of successfully raising money for your project or enterprise through Kickstarter, 1pm-2pm.

Saturday sees our Grand Tea Party between 2pm and 4pm, and performer Paul Newman (not the pasta sauce person!) will be in the the gallery all day engaging people with what he calls “life gamification”.

All events are free and there is no need to book.