“I start to listen to my breath, feeling the heat of each exhalation against my lips and the outside cold, and the crunching footsteps in the snow beneath me. My ears catch an older sounding voice speaking about the healing properties of different roots and the earth in general. A low drone rumbles in the distant background and I find myself alone on a small wooded island in the middle of the lake. I stumble back towards the rest of the group.”
Late last year I went to the Arctic Circle with Sonic Acts’ Dark Ecology tour and wrote about it for The Wire: Adventures In Modern Music magazine. Read the article here: bit.ly/1XIifqc
The good people at Seismograf magazine have interviewed me about me and Theo Cook’s recent film, Nine Futures – you can read it in full here.
I’ll also be participating in a day of talks about music and art writing that Seismograf has organised, called “Kvalitet i musikkritik – Musikkritikkens relevans i det 21. århundrede” at Copenhagen’s Dome Of Visions on 1 March. More info about that here.
“Water on Mars and Donald Trump in the presidential race – it’s hard to predict what the future holds in store. The same is true in the festival world, where today’s era offers sound design and production that constantly challenges the boundaries of what both sound and a festival is. In ‘9 Futures: Sound Fragmenting’ the director and The Wire journalist Nathaniel Budzinski travels around to some of Europe’s most forward-looking sound festivals and films while the experiments run amok…”
If you’re in Copenhagen 8–11 November and you have an evening free please come to one of the two screenings of myself and Theo Cook’s new film.
I’ve got an article in the new issue of frieze – ‘Why do artists write novels?’ Here’s the first para:
‘There’s widespread anxiety surrounding a particular plural possessive noun: artists’. Despite many artists happily ignoring disciplinary boundaries, the inconsistently applied s+apostrophe lingers awkwardly. I recently heard LUX Moving Image Agency co-founder Mike Sperlinger give a talk about how descriptors like Artists’ Moving Image or Artists’ Writing reflect an institutional impulse to categorize activity as much as they imply an artistic desire to integrate or own other disciplines. ‘We don’t have artists’ painting,’ Sperlinger joked. Anyway, I thought to myself, whose film, video or writing was it in the first place?’
Also featured are Brian Catling (pic above), Gerry Bibby, Katrina Palmer and more.
Read it in full here
I have the honour of heading out to the next Oberhausen International Short Film Festival (its 61st edition, no less) in early May, to sit on the judging panel for their MuVi Award for music focused film and videos. In the festival’s own words: “Any music video with production or direction located in Germany can be submitted for the MuVi Award competition. An independent committee views all entries and selects about ten candidates for presentation during the Festival. An international jury then chooses the winners from among these nominated works.
Click here for full info.
In the current issue of The Wire magazine, I’ve interviewed the artist and poet Heather Phillipson about her work. I really enjoyed her performance at London’s Serpentine Gallery late last year and have followed her work for a while, so I thought it might work out to write something up. Read the article and judge for yourself – but you’ll have to pay for a copy of the magazine to do so!
So, for those of you who don’t have the cash (or can’t be bothered to click around any further into the internet), here’s a short snippet: “There’s a segment in artist and poet Heather Phillipson’s 2014 video Put The Goat In The Goat Boat where a herd of cows in a field stand together in a neat line and look straight into the camera, right at you. An ominous zombie aggression lurks behind their dumb stare. “It’s come to our attention that you and your kind are trying to eat us all up,” says a husky and flat toned woman’s voice, channeling the bovine collective’s innermost thoughts. Rattling away in the background is the sound of typing on a keyboard. “One nice chop at a time until there’s nothing left but gristle,” they accuse me. “Legally there’s little we can do to stop you. However, we’d like you to know that there’s actually quite a lot of us animals… If you attempt to eat us all we will stick our hooves so far up your arses it will take the next Big Bang to dislodge them.” The phrase “Big Bang” is cut and looped as the cows continue to glare. The voice abruptly cuts back in, “Seriously, don’t fuck with us.”
You can also watch a video here and listen to some of Phillipson’s sound work here. And if you want to see/hear more, then check her Vimeo page.
(Collage above is by Phillipson)
Watch a teaser for a film I’m making with Theo Cook about music festivals, premiering May 2015. (Teaser music by Benedict Drew)
“Sounds Fragmenting is a forthcoming film about some of the world’s most cutting edge, experimental new music and art festivals. Travelling to nine different festivals across Europe, Sounds Fragmenting looks at the artists, audiences, organisers and labourers who make up the festivals, as well as how they provide spaces for challenge and innovation, relaxation and hedonism, discussion and dispute – how these particular festivals sit at the centre of new cultural production and audiovisual reality.
Festivals featured include: TodaysArt (The Hague), Cimatics (Brussels), Musikprotokoll (Graz), Skaņu Mežs (Riga), Unsound (Kraków), Insomnia (Tromsø), Cynetart (Dresden), CTM (Berlin) and FutureEverything (Manchester).
Film by Nathaniel Budzinski and Theo Cook. Teaser music by Benedict Drew“
This piece is called “Eternal Pish” (it’s about a website called Eternal Bliss, geddit?) but it could’ve been called “Hands Off My Soul” – though that seemed a bit OTT.
“The marketing narratives laid down by the likes of Red Bull and similar have helped beckon forth an enveloping haze of meaningless positivity, creating a world that’s happy yet contentless, adult but toothless.” Nathan Budzinski assumes the lotus position, breathes deeply and becomes mindful of Eternal Bliss™
It’s also me finding an excuse to use the word “vibrationship” and reference Carl Sagan yet again…
Another small segment that I’m happy with: “It doesn’t matter if a story is true, it becomes real if you tell it often enough: take all the literature ever published about Atlantis, toss it all into the sea and you’ll get a real island to match the tale.”
I wrote that in 2008 in the UCL Institute of Archeology Library when researching for a project about “edutainment”(well, a series of essays). Though they haven’t happened, much of that research still feeds into my writing and other projects. The library itself is a strange, cramped and airless place that has (or did when I visited) rows of study booths that were so extreme in their will to focus an untrained human mind like mine that they reminded me of Jonas Mekas’ Invisible Cinema.
Read what I wrote for The Wire here
Kenneth Clark in front of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s
Blonde Bather c. 1933. Courtesy: Private collection & Tate, London
I’ve had the pleasure of writing a piece about the legacy of Kenneth Clark’s televisual self-emissions and the dramatic-o-ccult vibez of Civilisation for the new Frieze Masters publication, out now.
A small, slightly squished, sample:
“In one viewing of Civilisation, Clark is a tweed-wrapped fuddy-duddy touring Europe, self-consciously posing next to selected art works while delivering over-wrought conjectures with aristocratic authority. Clark as King Midas inverted: the man with the wooden touch. From another viewpoint, Civilisation joins the ranks of artefacts that it once addressed […] Clark spends a lot of time fondling things, whether they’re the ones he is attracted to or the ones he fears. A Civilisation cameraman, in discussion with historian John Cronin, describes a segment in episode seven, ‘Grandeur and Obedience’, where Clark paws Giovanni Bernini’s marble Apollo and Daphne (1622–25) at length: ‘He just keeps stroking it […] it looks almost manic, sexual.’ Beyond the weaving of television magic there’s a hint of an occultic sensibility vibrating through Civilisation. ‘I can’t say what civilisation is … yet,’ he says, but Clark knows it when he sees it, feels it emanating from the objects he caresses.”
Also, in the November–December issue of Frieze (the monthly UK one) I’ve reviewed Jennifer Tee’s exhibition, Occult Geometry, at Kunsthal Charlottenborg (curated by the excellent SIGNAL space in Malmö)
AND if that isn’t enough self promo, then I’ve got an interview with the Copenhagen based Selvhenter ensemble in the November issue of The Wire!
I’m happy to report that Theo Cook and I have been awarded the ECAS documentary commission open call for 2014–2015. We’ll be travelling to each of the nine festivals in the ECAS network, filming and recording at each to produce a documentary about the music and sound art festival project as it ends its five year cycle. ECAS (European Cities Of Advanced Sound) is a network of the most forward thinking, independent, non-profit music and sound art festivals in Europe – they are also linked into the ICAS network (International Cities Of Advanced Sound). The work will premiere in Berlin in May 2015.
Part of our proposal said:
“Sounds Fragmenting Our Present Tense (working title) is an audiovisual docufiction work looking at and listening to the nine different ECAS festivals. Narrated by a chorus of different voices, female and male, from different nations, ages and historical moments, Present Tense reflects upon the current state of music, national borders and identity – imagining what Europe, and the world, would look and sound like if they were organised using the logic of music…”
Full announcement here