James Bridle lecture at the Whitechapel Gallery

I went to this lecture SYSTEMS LITERACY by James Bridle  because I’d come across his work on Drones when I was researching for the Reading Room project.

He also coined the term New Aesthetic  link to a Wiki but I expect he wrote it anyway so thats OK...Also I remember (!)  a chat session we had on the MA course about literacy and its meaning.

The lecture  was associated with the Electronic Superhighway exhibition at the Whitechapel which I will blog about separately.


He is one of the artists I should look deeper into their work as there are several overlaps of thought from the p.o.v. of warfare, space and hidden ideologies, but I find  his website  so full of information it is hard  for me to assimilate.

(There is a subtle irony here associated with the name of his website .. I assume this is related to the content for him … but for me an my recent personal experience it has a different resonance!)

I decided that If I took the trek it would be worth it to understand more about his underlying thinking.

It was worth it. I did observe though that I was the  oldest  in the audience by 10-15 years until another ( 60 +) woman came in just before the start. The audience was about 50:50 split gender wise which I thought was interesting.

It is going to hard to convey everything from the lecture here so I will just write some “Soundbites” I apologise if some of them are misinterpretations!!! These notes are more for me than for any other audience.

It is very fragmented with some key illustrations being missed out for ‘brevity’ but these are the things that stuck.

He was joined by friends and colleagues Tom Armitage, ex- games designer – analogue and computer; and Georgina Voss and here 

Does the Network have agency?

There is increasing use of holograms at airports for e.g.. to meet greet and warn, and at a US border, a digital interface which  senses from skin heat and pupil dilation etc  whether people are telling the truth…These are to be used on some European Borders.

He highlighted the politics embedded within these machines.

Drones  were developed specifically to survey and target within civilian areas.

Despite their ubiquitous use now, this ideology embedded in warfare exists within them, their use and operations. The link between Code and Law

‘Citizenship is  the right to have rights’ Hannah Arendt said.

He explained an example of how if someone’s Citizenship is removed, the UK government has no responsibility if this person is killed in another country

The hologram he has exhibited in Electronic Superhighway is Homo Sacer, which represents the power of something that yells at you but you cannot answer back.

His opinion is that art now misses the interaction generated by the Systems Literacy of the internet.

He cites JODIE  and explains how is possible to access the code and frameworks in this work and so  find out what constructed the image.

BUT the observer would have to do  it,so it is a work both of literal and action. Both are needed…

Viewing sources is a REVOLUTIONARY ACTION… but he said … we live in Counter-revolutionary times.

So is this artwork made to dazzle or to teach stuff?

He believes that though not necessarily didactic or polemical it must share in the literacy.

He talked of the failure of metaphor in the transition for example from Books to e books where the things we enjoy most about our interaction with the objects had been left out

( I wonder whether they were just too difficult to developing the timeframe and the market was responding to demand first and foremost with a development for reading documents in Word…)

He talked briefly about LambdaMOO, an online community of the variety called a MOO [ A MOO (MUD, object-oriented) is a text-based online virtual reality system to which multiple users (players) are connected at the same time.] It is the oldest MOO today.

Piracy and how it related to books and web material and the locations regarding the availability of the books. How far they are from the place of publication.

Then he moved on to discuss how Fundamentalisms of all sorts flourish in the environments of huge amounts of information such as the internet and that

“the lessons the internet is trying to teach us can be misunderstood”

– this implies that the internet has a life of its own but I guess he was meaning the life imbued in it from us -the users, creators and our interactions.

“The internet is not a medium but a context”

he explains that the network is the internet AND US- and so is akin to speech, music and writing not painting etc. It is an UNCONSCIOUSLY generated system and we are using it UNCONSCIOUSLY  everyday.

I’d actually disagree that this applies to all people.

Some of the people I encounter in my work do not even have access to email! Yep it is true.

Some of them are very wary of the underlying ideologies even if they are not really able to describe   what it is they are vary of. They feel it implicitly, as it is a different system and language, which they have difficulty understanding. and I don’t mean code.

I may be missing the point here, but maybe those who have embraced fully all the opportunities are those who no longer see the ‘bigger picture’ and that a level of internet ‘innocence’ also brings with it some caution, which is often ridiculed…! They are right to be cautious…as they do not have and are unlikely because of their social position or/and age gain the literacy to fully engage in the way described…

his final message was that

” We must understand it as we too are crucial parts”  I agree.Writer and Researcher Georgina Voss @gsvo


described Miscellaneous Symbols involved in aviation mapping as Complex Systems.

Aviation mapping is cartography for the sky and she described how it developed from people looking up at the sky from the ground, then balloonists looking down from the sky at the ground and mapping that, through to electronic classifications mapping things that were’t visible to maps of just the airspace with no ground references.

Here main message was that Complex Systems are not just lots of small things together.I think the analogy was something like.Lots of ducks together don’t make a horse!??

Complex products systems  are the  high technology capital goods which underpin the provision of services and manufacturing the technological backbone o f the modern economy.

Hobday, Rush and Tidd.( 2007 ) see this paper here 

These systems are layered in a hierarchy , like a Russian egg, one inside the other.. so where do we fit in that.

She mentions how this can be seen as a Butterfly Effect but this idea is too linear and ignores multiplicity.

I was glad she mentioned that.. this is how I think of Simultaneity, action and agency and  I try to demonstrate that through my work…

She spoke very, very quickly and so confused rather than clarified I felt but I think I got the gist….

Technologist Tom Armitage

Unknown-7talked about how Games are in our imagination and are systemic media..made from rules and systems.e.g chess is based on conflict, Mancala a metaphor for agriculture and seed sowing.

He states that Alan Kay  ( see this TED talk about ideas )thought it to be like reading and writing, and that criticism is also a form of literacy.

So systems need Automation, regulation and rules.. Such systems may be a form, Usb, containers or a Battleship game on paper.

Basically a thing is not just a thing but part of something larger.

Stating the obvious really but then I guess we all miss the room that the elephant is in as well as the elephant!….and this is sometimes what if eel and know but do not express explicitly  in my work! The system I have recognised… I assume it will be recognised already…

So the significance of the system is Disposition or a tendency to act in a learned way….. it needs a player in the system.  Play is our verb for interrogation of a system… we test the ‘play’ in it.

When we play we come across frictional points in ‘the game’ where things don’t necessarily work…

These become our opportunities for making changes

So maybe we should not try to make things seamless!

Hmm this started to sound like an esoteric self- help book! but I know what he means…

He showed the work by Caleb Larson A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter  about provenance in an Ebay age.

In the end, people are at the bottom of the system and as mentioned before… everything happens at once, there is no single Malevolent Butterfly.

It is like building Minecraft inside Minecraft!

He cited Nyman Game Theory ?  and the Cybernetics Group of the 1950’s

The aesthetics of the system area important for the engagement…

i.e. The art is the action and the interaction of curation for example he sees as part of the system. Criticism is also a form of interacting with the system.

Bridle I think summarised by stating that The Internet is illuminating pre-existing structures  bout is not yet changing society only an instrument of reflection of things that were/ are ? not accessible.

We have yet to find metaphors to understand it

Personally I wonder whether we already have the metaphors hidden in our culture and used differently or rathe perceived differently as we see them in our own time… I wonder if they are already in the non-linear structure of our fiction and myth. I can’t elaborate and give example of this here because I’m tired but will work on this further. 

The spatialiatsion of the internet raises questions about What is Art?

He finished mentioning Lived Experience ,Unknowing and how Aesthetics signify and the Sublime nature of the interne

Finishing with:

The internet is an inherently generative medium ( context!)

We are in the very early 21st century and most of this has happened in the late 20th.

We are at the beginning and so to understand out position in the system is essential

Generally a great talk and very full of energy and it was so Young! just like this!

These notes are for me to refer back to…



Redacted Vocabulary and thoughts for the future

I really struggle with the vocabulary of what I do now .. art/ social science and critical thinking come hard to me…unlike biological language which I absorbed over a long period of my development and feel intrinsic to my understanding of some systems.

I struggle with Deleuze and Guattari’s principle of rhizome..not the concept itself but the description….to some extent a challenge of what I understand about rhizomatic roots as a botanist .. see this post The Affect of Philosophical theory in the exploration of non-linear narratives!

Some important new to me terminology here

Redaction is a form of editing in which multiple source texts are combined (redacted) and altered slightly to make a single document. Often this is a method of collecting a series of writings on a similar theme and creating a definitive and coherent work.

It is also used to mean the censorship of documents before publication by removing or obscuring it, while still making it clear that the information has been removed, for example by blacking it out, or by replacing it with a note. ( another quick Wiki reference confession)


This is the sort of the process I am using to assemble material which I then remediate through the work I make and as part of that work through social media Periscope …..…a sort of time space /collage maybe or an assemblage

Ideas for the future: include ? Events at my house and in other locations.

I found these images of Jenny Holzers  Redaction Paintings at acca Melbourne in 2010

She said in the interview “I use everything”..………projections


Laura Lancaster: Working from personal photographs (and Matt Collishaw)

Last night I went to the preview of Laura Lancaster  and Jan Vanriet at the New Art Gallery Walsall.

Both these artists work from photographs, Lancaster’s from discarded and forgotten images and Super 8 film, in flea markets and on eBay so with no personal attachment, and Vanriet’s the opposite, from family photographs and those of people in Nazi concentration camps ( where his parents met).

Both artists work has a strong association with memory, which is where I came in on the MA….seems like a long way back…

Whilst I am not working with this imagery at the moment, I have at the start of the course..cling film scans0011 Resized




IMG_0214150with these drawings on cling film  ( above)

and ‘found’ slides which I used in some projection experimentsAustralian Slides0033 Resized 150
plus these prints on acetate for projection

My work has moved more from personal to collective memory but I’m still interested in artists who do use this imagery for eg Jonny Briggs  whose work is very different from this!

All these artist above use photographs as a source with association with memory and time but in different ways.

For me, Lancaster’s paintings had a real painterly materiality and her delicate drawings on the found paper  such a contrasting fragility ( all in differing drawing styles, as if by different people…)Vanriet’s work was much more controlled and uses repeated images.Both shows were tender and poignant despite the size of the exhibits.

There is of course a huge contrast with Jonny Briggs, whose work is mainly photographic images.There is a PDF of Questions for Jonny Briggs 13.01.16   that I hope to be able to ask him about is work, at some point.

There was also a work by Matt Collishaw  ‘All things fall’  see these images and video. It was astounding. Made apparently using a 3d printer and took a year…..As or much of his work, very beautiful until on closer inspection…… not so in content.

Community -based work

I’m planning some workshops and a gallery visit for people with dementia in association with the local Demetia cafes, in association with the  Education Dept at NAGW based on the Laura Lancaster and Jan Vanriet exhibitions and will also start a series with other groups in my community-based work. Many people in the groups enjoy working from family photographs and referencing these artists may help me take them in quite a different direction by being able to discuss the context and prices of these works.


Protected: ‘Re-visited’: November 22nd: Drawing Weapons and cut-up text

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Remembering and re-researching Ritually Reading and Researching – what’s left on Social Media as an Archive?

Way back in 2012 I saw ]performance space[ and connection time at  The Performance Exchange  part of SVArts at Stroud Festival.

I was drawn to their work on several different levels.

Their use of a plan but not script.Their sense of chaotic collaboration.The way they involved live audience, directly and intimately.The lack of separation between performer, performance, audience, participant.Their use of Social Media ( Twitter) to extend their work outside the performance space of The Shed.

Later, in 2013,  I joined in their work  Ritually Reading and Researching  via Twitter.

Ritually Reading & Researching is a new live & web-based research laboratory. A durational -12 hour – experiment at the intersections of visual-performance processes and critical research. The lab takes place from midday to midnight, commencing at 12 midday (SHARP!) at ]performance s p a c e [, with lunch and an introductory discussion. Participants are then ruled by time (literally, there is an alarm on the hour, every hour) and move between ]ps[ and the Live Art Development Agency’s Study Room.

I’ve thought a lot about their work since then, especially with my continuing readings on Crouch Hill, which in many cases involve me reading and researching, in the space I am researching…., with the occasional coincidental appearance of others, often dogs and their owners, who make a contribution.

The ‘space ‘ of the hill is available 24 hours a day….to a ‘local’  which highlights this quote I noticed in the  RRR webpage documentation from Lucy Lippard’s Lure of the Local

Inherent in the local is the concept of place –  a portion of
land/town/cityscape seen from the inside, the resonance of a specific
location that is known and familiar. Most often place applies to our own
‘local’ entwined with personal memory known or unknown histories, marks
made in land that provoke and evoke. ( Lippard, 1997 p7)

I read this book some years ago and will re- read over the next few months...Strong residual memories of this work have lead to some of the methodologies in my practice, but adapted for me, in this space with my particular research concerns.

I also looked at this work Li-E  Chen’s 24 hours in Dreams at the Battersea Arts Centre which uses Twitter  for interaction.

The Twitter feed then also remains as an archive of the conversations and discussion which came out of the performance.


Ironstone Prize 2016


Every 2 years the local Banbury Museum holds an Open Exhibition.

I usually enter 3 items and one is accepted. Mostly the work selected is fairly traditional, well-crafted paintings, drawings and sculpture with some occasional exceptions.

I submit work for a few reasons

  • It is my local art show
  • I like to gently challenge the way entries are restricted by the means of display
  • I want to offer more conceptual work and encourage others to do so
  • I don’t mind being rejected!

This year I struggled to find work which may be acceptable as I recognise curation is important and creating a cohesive show is essential.

I was going to submit a couple of edited video sketches made in the first term ( Michaelmas and Number three )

However, one used background soundtrack  of Sibelius’ Finlandia during the video recording (it was important for the work that this was not an overlaid track but part of the performance).

I didn’t have the original CD used during the performance and so there were copyright issues…not picked up incidentally by YouTube.. so after much searching the studio I couldn’t use it an acknowledge the source ( A lesson learnt to record the sources of material used…or beware!)

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 16.28.28

Then I decided to edit the video piece The Reading Room as I thought

  • It was too long for the audience
  • It was too site specific for this location

I edited it down to about 5 minutes and I realised, too late, that it therefore meant nothing!

Don’t change the work for the venue!!!

I also submitted Ordnance Survey ( re-made after it was stolen from the Trig Point)

The curator, Dale,  was very interested at submission and helpful with providing a plinth which served as a make-shift Trig Point for display of the laminates fixed on to the chain and padlock. I also submitted a couple of Images of the Scopes for context. I couldn’t take photographs during the submission so here is a reminder



They weren’t really geared up for viewing video submissions without me taking in my own projector for viewing and the other video sketch, Michaelmas was labelled a month before the making cut off date….Daft..

Lots of lessons learnt and this time none of the work was accepted.

When I returned to pick up, though, I did get some feedback despite this not usually being given…

They were fascinated by the work which provoked a lot of discussion, especially as it relates to local history…..but they felt it was not appropriate for the exhibition, only as a Site-Specific work, rather than a piece with documentation from Periscope images.

Good to get the work seen if only by the panel and cause a discussion

What was also interesting is that I happened to have the Flash Drive in my bag when I went to teach at the Care Home, got into a conversation with one of the Staff and lent her the stick.

She was fascinated by both pieces of video and ‘got’ them without any real explanation… A useful crit. from an unexpected viewer….

Maybe I’ll unleash some other work on them next time….things may have changed by then…


Jimmy Durham

When I first started this MA course Jonathan K suggested I look at the work of Jimmy Durham, which I did briefly. This is a closer look.He created sculptures that radically challenged conventional representations of North American Indians.

Here is an interview with him

EDIT MAY 2016  When looking back at Durhams work I discovered this !

Funnily enough according to Wikipedia (!! )he was interviewed by Hans-Ulrich Obrist in Venice, on the social live video broadcasting platform Periscope on May 5th 2015.

He briefly spoke about as-yet unrealised projects, cooking without recipes as a rule, his books of collected poetry, his most and least favorite poets, and always writing by hand while at the same time disliking handwriting. He concluded by answering Obrist’s request for advice to a young poet or artist: “Listen, always listen; don’t talk, but listen.”

and this…which makes me reflect on the interviews  during  my May 1st work May 1st 2016 #Crouch Hill #apreoccupation

Hans-Ulrich Obrist (born 1968)  Artistic Director at the Serpentine Galleries, London. and author of The Interview Project, an extensive ongoing project of Apparently around  2000 hours of interviews have been recorded, and published, referred to by Obrist as “an endless conversation”. .  a total of 69 artists, architects, writers, film-makers, scientists, philosophers, musicians and performers share their unique experiences and frank insights.Wikipedia.com

” the first time that the idea of an interview with an artist as a medium became of interest and  sparked the idea of sustained conversations—of interviews recorded over a period of time, perhaps over the course of many years;”
Hans Ulrich Obrist A brief history of Curating Artbook.com

A summary of the ‘blurb’s below ( as I didn’t get to the Serpentine  exhibition which finished in November 2015 unfortunately)

Durham combines  disparate elements, such as written messages, photographs, words, drawings and objects.

The core of Durham’s work being his ability to explore the intrinsic qualities of the materials he uses, at times fused with the agility of wordplay , and above all irony .

His  practice is a continuous exploration and production of hybrid and seemingly fragmented installations that invite the viewer to reconstitute or reconstruct the underlying signs embedded in his works.

His work addresses the political and cultural forces that construct our contemporary discourses and challenges our understanding of authenticity in art.

He challenges the idea of monumental works and narration of national identities by deconstructing the stereotypes of the Western culture is based.
Drawing on subjectivity,  personal history, cultural context and ecology to weave seemingly disparate narratives into his work.

He discusses the importance of Small Things in a word of Big Events such as conflict and mass migration,  in this interview of the Transformation Marathon at the Serpentine.