Saturday, April 23, 2022

Residency 3, Day 15: 'People say "go with the flow" but do you know what goes with the flow? Dead fish.' - Roy Keane

Photo John Halpin
Well, formally the third of the four residencies, offered at Uillinn to complete commissions, includes today. I actually left Skibbereen, in the usual style (i.e. somewhat abruptly) yesterday, for 'the smoke' (Cork City of course).

Part of the impressively Ali O'Shea-curated, 'Table Games' exhibition of streamed video, experienced with John Halpin yesterday, at the St. Lukes Crypt, brought back a kind-of-disgusting boyhood memory. My friends and I, in Shamrock Lawn were keen on the idea of chewing gum but were not really allowed to have it, due to our being maybe eight, nine, ten years old. Sometimes we'd see old discarded (spat-out) gum, stuck to the footpath, detach it, and then take turns at chewing it. I recall the feeling, and the texture, of almost tasteless gum mixed with grit. At first the lump would be cold and hard but then it would soften up in the mouth. Probably, the activity did wonders for our immune systems. What doesn't kill you...

Hung around with a gang of engineers in Cork last night and, amongst other things, discussed under-road-pipes with one who is a sewerage-system specialist. She is doing a bit of research which I am thankful for. Another, an engineer-turned-artist, I have consulted about same, is the phenomenal Amanda Loomes, president of The London Group. So it is all happening these days. You get farmer-artists like Miriam O'Connor too, and perhaps the one-dimensional pictures often given of notable names historically, were never really adequate. Van Gogh would be a blogger if around today undoubtedly, and Duchamp became a chess-master. Similarly, it seems too limiting to characterise Sophie Calle as a photographer, but she often is.

I bumped into the brilliant RoadBooks duo, Peter Morgan and Judy Kravis, in the Coal Quay this morning, and had an amusing conversation about their recent artistic venture: 'chance encounters: talking in the park'. The initiative was conducted at Tramore Valley Park in Cork City, which covers an old dump and landfill site. Bizarrely, in order to be accepted by the overall 'Kinship Project' organisers, Peter and Judy were told that they would need to be insured, even though their proposal was only to chat with people in the park. Unsurprisingly the requirement, which cost them €150, became a common subject of the exchanges. The comments listed here,, include:

— We’ve gone very rule-minded.
— Everything’s an algorithm.
— I believe in climate change but Greta Thunberg is going a bit far.
— The past is a jigsaw. All we have is a handful of pieces.

Anyway, thanks to all those at the West Cork Arts Centre and connected with it, who passed through the studio or provided wisdom, in recent weeks, including, Ann, Aoife, Ayelet, Carolin, Claire, Gavin, Grainne, Gráinne, Jackie, Jamie, Joanne, Justine, Kate, Louise, Michael, Michelle, Nikolas, Piotr, Sarah, Sean, Stephen, Sylwia, and Tomasz.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Residency 3, Day 13: 'Bihouix skilfully goes against the grain to argue that "high" technology will not solve global problems' - Paul Granjon referencing writing of Philippe Bihouix

Busy, busy day. Met Aoife Raune of Highlanes Gallery and discussed Sky Diving amongst other things. I'll be visiting Drogheda on 8th July. Later had a tour of Glenkeen Gardens and got to witness the latest exciting works of Carolin Liebl and Nikolas Schmid-Pfähler who make robots, and seemed connected with the ways of Paul Granjon, Simon Penny and the likes. It turned out they knew the former, Granjon, well. The two, Liebl and Pfähler, are on one of these residencies: I need to clear out this studio and tidy up. Might do that in the morning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Residency 3, Day 12: 'Polished, 5,500-Year-Old Stone Balls Found in Neolithic Scottish Tomb' - Livia Gershon, the Smithsonian

Just been listing works produced for these commissions, and thinking about where to put them:

Questions to manage:
  1. Messy or ordered?
  2. Minimalist or maximalist / Use of space?
  3. Need to justify the presence of less-connected ones (other than because I am drawn to their unusual forms)?
  4. Whether to take a 'Please do not touch the artworks' or opposite approach?
  5. (Appropriate) barriers around pieces or not?
  6. Suitable for children or not?
  7. Tension between intimidating/unpleasant affects and seductive ones.
  8. To display exchanges with 'partners' etc.
  9. Wit to be subtracted or added?
  10. Subtraction generally. Have I got the guts to subtract? 
  11. What about feedback, surveillance, 'digital' and systems aspects?
  12. The writing and how to disseminate:
    • audio?
    • NFT?
    • treasure hunt?
    • pdf?
    • booklet (quality)?
    • booklet POD?
  13. Make an open call or not
  14. Organise a panel discussion or debate with main political parties (in process)?
  15. Organise a suitable social event?

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Residency 3, Day 11: 'Duchampian deflation stands not simply as a negation of the status of painting, but as an actual extension of the artist’s skills and competences.' - John Roberts

From Mike Stoakes about the work pictured here:

'... firstly I enjoyed it as a political image of land, ownership and shelter - the occupation of space in its socioeconomic aspect.. the photos are most eloquent about this being at the same time aesthetically pleasing as modulations of green (across image and text). if that seems to me to be the essential framework directly represented and embodied by images and objects as the work might be realised in an artworld context it's interesting to think how images in that arena are often connected in order to be valorised by their insertion into an artworld historical narrative which in some ways is impossible to escape from. in this case you could think of robert morris' comment that canvas should be left to awning and tent makers as well as tracy emin's tent. a tent full of balls reminds me of jasper johns' painting with two balls. however another aspect is the affective one of thinking of the sensation of lying on golf balls which brings to mind things like man ray's cadeau - an iron with nails - or meret oppenheim's furry teacup - even though your work is about dispossession of the space of shelter.'

Some matters I want to give attention to are:
  1. Painterly approaches as applied to non-painting practices.
  2. The question of skill and de-skilling, not forgetting one of my fave art books, John Robert's The Intangibilities of Form: Skill and Deskilling in Art after the Readymade
  3. Pretentiousness again. I have discussed (with myself and in pubs and cafés) many times, but the word's lazy use to describe materials the person saying it simply does not 'get', still grates. And why would they expect to get it? Forgivable in someone new to the game.
  4. Figuration, whatever that might mean.
  5. Work or ideas, or the minds they emanated from, being referred to as 'mad' when they are not. The use is meant lightly at times, but think of the conscious derogatory depicting of Irish and Polish people as foolish or mad historically, {which had its origins I suspect, in the increased rebelliousness of the former, from the late eighteenth century onwards especially, and, in the case of the latter, that period of almost-democratic, or at least more enlightened, feudal order way back in Poland's history.}

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Residency 3, Day 09: 'Work taken home, or even work taken to the beach, remains work.' Caroline Bassett (2007)

The privileging of so called 'creatives' (often by people who see themselves as part of this special elite) is contradictorily, both irritating, and something worth defending. Creativity is an aspect of much human behaviour after all. Even crossing the road safely requires it and there exist 'creative accountants'. Second, perhaps the compulsion to create ought not simply be considered a positive: it could be a curse. Consider the environmental problems, which arguably arise out of the need to relentlessly create, or our habit of creating more people, lovely people often, but lots of 'em, too many arguably.

The other side of the argument is to embrace the specialness of what, say, artists do. The blood, sweat and tears in getting there warrants some respect, you'd hope. Sports people and folk or traditional artists, those demonstrating skill from a list of accepted practices, or using certain media, suck up the admiration more easily. The person that ran the MA in Fine Art I did twenty years ago, claimed that people are born artists, by which he did not necessarily mean genetics is involved. Art seems to require commitment to a distinct trajectory, individuation, and at least tacit knowledge of art history and contexts. Regarding the last factor, there are many cultured people out there, who know their stuff, learned types, but who could not do it, for some reason. Probably there's a need to be able to dip in and out of foolishness and have no shame. I have often come across students who find it difficult to think laterally, and to be inventive. Others can't stop coming up with ideas. The second category may have a problem completing things. A mix of both is marvellous, and the recipe for an exciting life, I'd say. (Shit: just had a revelation that I blog like I'm writing for that old publication, still going, Ireland's Own.)

Earlier I visited Schull market, and bumped into an old friend, or associate at least, dishing out certain delights (for money). I bought a cup of coffee at another stall, paid for it, but then almost walked off without the drink. The man behind the operation joked that he is used to people forgetting to pay, but not leaving the coffee behind. It occurred to me that it would be interesting to set up a market stall which only provides transactional experiences, i.e. a market stall that sells nothing. The business model is excellent, right? Overheads would be minimal. Branding is crucial apparently so something like 'Organic Artisan _ _ _ _ _ _ _' might work. An expert retailer, and excellent all-round person, I spoke to about it, seemed unconvinced...

Residency 3, Day 08: 'Intuition (or insight) is no magical searchlight' - Margaret Boden

I forgot to update this blog yesterday. Once again it was not an unproductive day but frustrating, for reasons of some necessary bureaucracy that had to be dealt with. On the other hand it might be pleasing to overly engage with all the managerial tasks, that these commissions, and work connected with the exhibition in September, entail. A highly detailed Gantt Chart is in order maybe, with applications of ye olde Critical Path Method (CPM) and/or that Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT), or whatever is fashionable now. I could even simulate the bloody thing. God!

Friday, April 15, 2022

Residency 3, Day 07: 'An artist can show things that other people are terrified of expressing.' - Louise Bourgeois

Today was not so much unproductive, as resulting in me not doing what was intended - Barry Brothers was closed :( - and, instead, taking other initiatives. I reviewed this beautiful little beach/bay:, acted upon a problem with the plug-timer mechanism I have been creating, spoke to a TD about a potential debate on environmental questions to coincide with the show in September, received quite a bit of feedback about the cheeky little film I am sharing until Monday, and so on, and so forth...

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Residency 3, Day 5: 'Toys are not innocent.' - Chris Burden

'I still collect toys. Toys are a reflection of society. They are the tools that society uses to teach and enculturate children into the adult world. Toys are not innocent.' said the great Chris Burden.

No time to do a proper post today. In the midst of a talk on cybernetics. Had to drive a bit today. Two days ago went to visit potential car supply place. That was good. Thinking about what is necessary. Thinking about the costs. Had bought toy cars too. Might use them.

Ann Davoren had sent me interesting material about Mexican artist Jorge Satorre who worked out of the West Cork Arts Centre a few years ago. He, for example, did a census of all the dead cars on Sherkin Island.

Phenomenal copycat artist Eric Doeringer posted this clip of a famous Chris Burden work earlier: More on that:

I passed these beauties earlier:

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Residency 3, Day 4: 'The crowd particularly likes destroying houses and objects: breakable objects like window panes, mirrors, pictures and crockery' - Elias Canetti

Conducted more chats with people today, in between other work, including with top artists Tomasz Madayzcjak, Ayelet Lalor, Michele Horrigan, Mick Holly and Sean Lynch, companies I consider myself to be partnering with, Thornhill Electrical and Barry Brothers, and people at the laundrette in what was once a petrol station.

Continuing with defining through listing what (I think) I oppose: To the following:
  • Making,
  • Escapism, and
  • Beauty,
I'd like to add,
  • Representation.

This is old stuff but worth remembering.

I programmed the timers for the IWTs and got the sequence working. The plug, adaptor sequence itself amounts to a piece. A potential title is The Internet of Nothings.

Thinking out loud: If ‘creativity’ is to mean anything, existing bodies of knowledge constitute its arch enemy. In other words, anti-intellectual tones are not always reactionary. Breakthroughs arising from kinds of deliberate ignorance may play off prevailing canons, and eventually will be incorporated into them, but creativity is impossible without what, at first, presenting itself as ‘stupid’. Hence the tension for ‘art as research’, and for what is often termed ‘creative practice’, within academic realms.

Extending this thinking further, other normalising forces are at play. The stress on collaboration, collectives, group work, the fresh undermining of notions of authorship, in art contexts, in recent years may have its drawbacks.  Standard understandings are contained also in the minds of others. Controlling and extreme conservative tendencies, variations of the much feared ‘mob rule’, are surely also inherent to any social situation, including today's socially engaged and participatory practices. However unfashionable it is to state: the individual and individualism matters.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Residency 3, Day 3: 'I construct, develop and understand my way to new work through the physical activity of making.' - Amanda Coogan

Could the quote, above, from Amanda Coogan, minus the two words 'of making' (and the 'the' before 'physical activity' obv.) be something to adopt? Each to their own, right? Minimalism, as a trend or movement, happened a long time ago and art history is peppered with other attempts to disassociate from the hand, or even the eye, and certainly the various sets of traditional craft skills, but things have regressed. The essence of photography for example, is that no effort is required to create mesmerisingly precise representions of scenes, things, people, and let's not forget cats, but still many insist that the little bit of talent involved in pressing a (shutter-release) button, or simply appropriating images, constitutes activity similar to the handicraft of old. Hostility to the idea of 'making' does not go down well with many, and triggers retorts of the 'But you are making; of course you are!' variety. 'Look, even though you ordered that thing from an online shop, and it was produced in a factory in China, and then transported via distribution centres and smaller warehouses, wholesalers and retailers, and ended in your hands eventually: because you are presenting it in a different context to intended, that is making'. Part of me thinks fine, but isn't that broadening of the notion of 'making' in precisely the way you lot, usually, appear averse to, so that esoteric, and even anti-art approaches are brought under comfortable umbrellas, a bit odd? I realise that even the arguments I am putting here are tired. For my part, I feel opposed to both making and escapism; the latter being generally seen as a key part of the artist's role as well, but more about the objections to it later. Thirdly, the common implication (you hear it from scientists who collaborate with artists especially) that art is about locating or creating something called beauty, is infuriating, as if the job were to prettify a barbarous world, or put crudely, 'turd polishing'. Avoiding any of these (making, escapism, of inadvertently finding beauty or enchantment amidst the horror) is impossible, especially if their definings are expanded. When one thinks about these matters for any length of time, the incongruities mount up, but, as I say, steering clear of such specious assumptions about what art is, remain important intentions for me.  Today at Uillinn, Photo credits Louise Forsyth:

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Residency 3, Day 1: 'So far as we feel sympathy, we feel we are not accomplices to what caused the suffering.' - Susan Sontag

I saw this, this very morning:

and then found the location online, and the Street View images from 2009:

At least I think it's the same car.

Unfortunately the Citroen Picasso (see, I had my eye on, to exhibit in September, has been bought by a mysterious other party. Now I'm looking into alternatives, for example bailed scrap cars, and miniature toy cars. Am keen on pursuing this and am not sure where it will end up exactly. Cars are handy, most would agree, but they are also an accepted form of extreme violence, in our midst. Some driving is necessary, driving has its charms too, but so does heroin (I am told). Background material on artists using cars:

Installed myself in the studio today. There isn't much to say. Met a load of familiar and some new faces. conducted a number of both short and medium-length intense conversations. Saw some very fine work installed and on display by Michael Holly in one gallery and Tomasz Madajczak in another. Very helpful discussions were had, and actual live experiments were carried out, at Thornhill Electrical of Skibbereen, whom I now consider myself to be partnering with. Purchases resulted. Bought some crayons as well. Later I began 'programming' my joke Internet of Things' (IoT)/ stupid devices, which are always better:

Add the 'Id' to IoT and you get Idiot.

It is all about NETWORKS:

Friday, April 8, 2022

'It is possible to be too concerned about oneself.' - Adam Phillips

Tomorrow I begin the third of four residencies at @UILLINNwestcorkarts which runs to 23rd April. The plan is to resolve commissions kindly supported by @ArtsCouncilIreland. Work is being carried out in preparation for an exhibition which will open at West Cork Arts Centre on September 17th and then travel to Drogheda in 2023 and in 2024, thanks to a touring and dissemination award also granted.

Activity, thoughts, whatever will be logged daily here. Drop in, email ( or message.

And, sign up for this exclusive 40 second looping film screening on 15th April: