Thursday, 30 August 2018

PhD-Ness part 4 in weekly series - reading, listening, pomodoring, Sebald and Infest

slightly emptier notepad this week, another matte medium image transfer - this time onto canvas using a two week old black and white photocopy and finally(!!) started reading Sebald and the blue post it note stickers indicate places in the text where there's something I need to look up, something I want to think about a bit more, something I want to quote or some mention of death/funereal custom - I'm not sure where I got the copy from though, I usually remember where I get books from but can't remember with this one and it doesn't have a charity shop mark I recognise in it.

So finally started reading some Sebald - Rings of Saturn 2002 edition and so far I am absolutely loving it, in a similar way to the way I completely fell in love with Barthes Camera Lucida because it is so immediately emotional and personal plus he is writing about things I love - the past, bones, burial and fascinating recounts of individuals histories. There are also stark shocking figures about the bombing raids during the 1939-1945 war which originated in East Anglia. So far I'm up to the silent housekeeper and her inheritance - I am looking forward to reading more and thinking about the themes of the book and the way it is constructed and written.

Along with looking up some of the references in Sebald's book I also need to do some investigating into the life and work of Elizabeth Fulhame who published a book called An Essay on Combustion with a View to a New Art of Dying and Painting in 1794. She is credited with discovering photoreduction - which is to do with light dependant reactions and the concept of catalysis -  which is to do with what chemicals can be added to others to alter the speed of chemical reactions to give a desired outcome. I think. I'm not really au fait with chemical terms and so I can forsee a lot of dictionary checking and asking questions of my chums who are chemically literate in my future.

I had never heard of Elizabeth Fulhame before last week when she was talked about by Irfan Shah during his very excellent Measure of the Moon talk at Leeds central Library last week. He talked about the connections between photographic and film experimentations and Leeds. It was fascinating to hear him trace the threads and leads between the invention of the micrometer, calotypes, daguerreotypes (am especially pleased because that's the first time I've been able to spell that word correctly without having to look it up!!) and the creation of moving images by Louis Le Prince. Much more investigation needed on my part to find out more about Elizabeth and also to hopefully read her book and ideally be able to understand it....

I'm interested in her work - partly because she was a woman but also because of my work transferring images onto material and to see whwther or not she uses any techniques I could learn from or copy.

As ever I've been really struggling with concentration, flitting from one thought to another or one website and another so am going to make a concerted effort to do one thing at a time, either until that particular task is finished or for a set amount of time before swapping to something else - essentially the pomodoro technique. Sometimes though it is the chance finding of seeing another potentially useful source whilst looking up or working on something that is most fruitful but also potentially most distracting. This most often happens when I am having to look a word or a reference up which either leads me down another path or down the siren path of social media. Must be a bit more disciplined though and make productive use of as much of my time as possible eg like reading more Sebald whilst on the bus earlier this week, whilst waiting for a chum and whilst waiting to be called in the health centre waiting room.

This also makes me think about procrastination, it was a real light bulb moment when I read about procrastination often being a mask for fear of failing the task you're putting off. A feeling I can all too readily identify with, though sometimes my procrastination is also useful as it means I'm mostly on top of the non scarey more routine tasks and life admin type stuff. Though in spite of checking my diary almost every day - I still often forget to get birthday cards in the post in time for folks.

The Tetley run an artists associate programme and I applied for it through the very marvellous Curator Space a couple of weeks ago. It was a bit of a last minute application as I'd not checked Curator Space properly and so was only aware of the opportunity thanks to the email reminder of last chance opportunities. I've had an email to say I haven't been successful which I'm not surprised about partly because last minute applications are not as well thought through and put together as ones done well in advance and also because I'm not sure the kind of work/subject matter/approach is what they're looking for but I've asked for feedback on my application so I'll see what they say.

Last week was very busy in terms of lots of lovely things too - namely Infest which is an annual goth, dark wave, industrial, synth pop festival in Bradford. It's usually three nights but this time it was four as it was the twentieth anniversary. As there were other family things going on we only went for the Thursday night which was also the evening that our friends Zeitgeist Zero were playing and they were brilliant and so were Peter Hook and the Light. There was also the Gravediggers Union and Empirion but I didn't watch those as my attention was all for Zeitgeist Zero and Peter Hook and the Light.

Peter Hook was one of the founding members of Joy Division who became New Order after the death of Ian Curtis in 1980. I've kind of grown up with Joy Division and New Order - coming from Manchester you'd be hard pressed not to have heard of them, even if you're not a fan of the music they made. So it was amazing to hear such wonderful iconic songs that have meant a lot to me and so many others over the years played live with such passion. A friend writes with much more eloquence about the performance and its link to the goth scene here

It was also especially lovely to hear, dance and sing along to those versions without the usual annoyances of having to watch it through other people's phone screens or being forced to listen to other people's inane conversations. That's not to say that those things weren't happening but they were few and far between and easily avoided. It was also a lovely opportunity to get properly gothed up, wear lots of make up and see lots of friends in real life as opposed to chatting to them via social media. Social media is exactly that - social but it's also a media as opposed to a direct physical immediate experience and whilst it is a good way of keeping in touch with people it's so much lovelier to see them in real life. In the same way that I'm all about the analogue when it comes to images - in real life I'm all about the real as opposed to the virtual simulacrum.

Programmes/films watched
Nothing of note except for yet another rewatch of Jacques Tourners Night of the Demon (1957) its monochrome gorgeousness is just enchanting, especially the corridor Caligari-esque scenes and the scenes in the wood (it's in the trees, it's coming!!') with the lights in the distance has given me an idea for a photo sequence I want to try using dusk, torchlights....and maybe even a smoke machine.

Books read
(finally) started Rings of Saturn by WG Sebald
still reading Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayer and am struck by the arguments around women and work, careers, marriage are still being had today - some of the archaic language being used aside. Given that the novel was first published over 80 years ago and we have had things like The Equal Pay Act in place for 40 years makes me feel that Sayers was a prescient and still relevant novelist and depressed that not more progress has been made.

Exhibitions Attended
No art ones but did go to Yorkshire Air Museum last week. My brother was up for a visit and it was his choice to go there as he is a bit of an aircraft nerd. I've been there a few times now and there were quite a few new planes and others were at more advanced stages of restoration than when we'd last seen them but the thing that struck me this time was the lack of context around some of the things on display. There is lots of technical information around dates of use, size of engine etc and displays around the development of aircraft and the use of aircraft in the 1939-1945 war in particular.

However the object that to me was without much context and that I found especially horrifying and depressing was a cluster bomb, on display with half of the cover removed so the smaller bombs it contains with technical details next to it, but nothing about who designed it, who makes it, who sells it, who profits from it, where it has been used and that kind of information.  I also had my usual cognitive disconnect/does not compute on visiting the Chapel, my reading of the new testament was a long time ago but I am fairly sure Christ wasn't reported as saying many pro-war/fighting things if at all.

So a busy week of doing a bit of reading, some photo editing - did a lot of flipping of images ready to print them for matte medium image transferring, some dressing up, some dancing and some socialising - all of which are good for my soul.


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