Hey Readers! Welcome to another instalment of the 'Feetured!' blog series, where we get to know more about the brilliant creatives and artists working in the North West of England.
We aim to build a safe and engaging networking space that will allow creatives across different art forms to find one another and spotlight the incredible talent right here in the North West!
The blogs will allow our 'Feetured' guests the chance to talk in more detail about their work or ongoing projects, and we hope our readers will not only keep up with the series but support these fantastic artists going forward!
In creating art the most important thing is not creating. That is to say, the absence of creativity, the void, is the thing from which all truly great things emerge. What we think of today as the endless font of creativity, one idea sprouting from the next, is only achieved through the deliberate sustenance of a conscious silence. To think of artists, especially oneself as an artist, as being sustained by the mythical ‘finished work’, ‘schedule’ and ‘routine’ is to miss the importance of the rest of the time, that is freedom.
This is why dreams figure so heavily in my own work – they are the space of a mind unconfined by routine, kaleidoscopically recombining all the loudness and silence of a life into something unrecognisable. So, too, for the form of the dream; it allows one to be much less connected and narrative in one’s approach to creation. This is not, by any means, to trample on well-planned, creatively rigorous work, nor to condemn it to some point in the past. I merely believe that restricting oneself to this format as the ideal of an artist is severely damaging to those for whom this framework does not apply – myself included.
With this in mind, I think it’s incredibly important to try and get out of your own voice, the reason-filled thing that controls the order of one’s narrative, where narrative exists at all. Several years ago, I started a writing series called THE FILES I WANT, which has since become a semi-regular fixture in my artistic output – academic obligations notwithstanding. The source material is scraped from sites not really meant for human eyes; it is machines communicating with other machines in a strictly utilitarian, SEO-optimised purpose. The purpose of this text is not narrative, not even truly lingual – it is structural and functional in a way that nothing written by humans could truly be. Where the human unconscious is fluid and illogical, the machine unconscious is focused on a kind of reason that, when read like conventional text, becomes unreasonable. As an example, take this text scraped from one of my sources:
Civil Engineering Materials Neil Jackson. Table of contents Preface; Part I: Research Methods for Engineers David V.
Niki Trox marked it as to-read Oct 13, Civil Engineering Materials Neil Jackson. Looking for beautiful books?
Structural Engineer’s Pocket Book: Bryan J Mac Donald. Amazon Restaurants Food delivery from local restaurants.
Handbook of Tunnel Engineering Markus Thewes. I’d like to read this book on Kindle Don’t have a Kindle? Share your thoughts with other customers. Anis Issam added it Oct 19, Without the columns, a mm thick RC slab was being asked to span up to 14 meters.
Permaculture Jan Martin Bang.
It’s obvious here that these kind of websites scrape content, reviews, summaries etc. - but the important thing is that the recombination of these things is unrecognisable as anything constituent within it. Previously, the cut-up technique was used to similar effect: to alienate the text from itself, and uncover new meaning. Nonetheless, cut-up was a creative tool, not, as is seen above, a marketing one. What is retained is a Burroughsian or Gertrude Stein-esque sensibility. The language itself, its semiotic content, is no longer the focus. Where Burroughs and Stein focused on the sound of language, a kind of reclaimed aleatoric lyricism, the algorithm merely exists to generate hypertext, the kind of thing that goes further and further up in Google search results. It exists in a parasitic relationship with search algorithms, much in the same way Burroughs existed in a parasitic relationship with the newspaper.
The important thing here is that the order, the thing that makes these works interesting, is nearly-invisible, and without the proper context and investigation vanishes into nonsense. Nonetheless, it’s not as if the works themselves lack meaning without context – it is this very phenomena which I exploit – merely that the form definitively changes based on one’s knowledge about its background. So much contemporary writing fails because it makes its context either irrelevant or necessary, and in doing so bounds the work to being a kind of diatribe, or else a puzzle-box, where meaning is simply encoded. See the swathes of awful ARGs which include base-64 character encoding (or some such simple cipher) as a part of the game, versus the more masterful and artful restraint of those for whom meaning is obscured, but not encoded. Encoding your work, making it have a cipher to plain meaning, will only mean that your work will be stuck in the point in history in which it is solved; which condemns your art to the trash-heap of time.
Back to ‘routine’ – the Internet has trained us to be constantly attuned to a kind of continuous flow: and we feel encouraged, even financially incentivised, to respond in kind with serialised, regular work. However, some of the best work in recent Internet history has bucked this trend – not only in the sporadic output of on-again-off-again blog writers and part-time philosophers, but also in the creative work of contemporary artists such as the now-widely-seen The Caretaker, or the indie-horror darling Tony Domenico (of Petscop fame.) Here, irregularity and waiting form a crucial part of the works, and seeing them in retrospect, with the entire work accessible at once, forms an incomplete picture. The immediacy of being able to see a person’s entire life has led us, if not on a conscious then an instinctive level, to live our lives all at once, to focus manicly on the present. This is doubly true of artists, who increasingly rely on regular payments (Patreon, Ko-Fi, Twitch subscriptions) in order to survive.
But the best artists of their time, with work that lasts beyond the moment, have always bucked the current trend. Beyond saying that this is highly damaging for artists (one can see the fields of burned-out creators without any passion for their work), it’s also damaging to the art itself. My advice to any potential artist is the importance of patience. When you get an idea, it’s important to let it brew, put it down, come back to it, see how it changes over time. If an idea can last that long that it retains its vitality months or even years down the line, or if it develops of its own accord into a kind of obsession, then you will feel compelled to make it. The work, in a sense, will speak for itself and you will merely be its medium. Feeling as if one must be a slave to order of any kind – narrative, temporal, or formal – will only end up making one resent the boundaries one is put in. It’s crucial to create spaces where these orders are questioned, if not outright destroyed. In these spaces, the new, even if crude and amateurish, can emerge. And what we may think of now as a feeble attempt at the divine, or an idea severely limited by our skillset, may become exactly what we learn to appreciate, that vague and mythical ‘style’ that so many artists deliberately strive to achieve.
It is important not just to create, but to be open to creation, to let the work speak for itself – not in a lack of dialogue about the work, but from its very inception. Great plays, poems, and books will write themselves; all one needs to do is wait and listen.