Thursday, 8 May 2014

Monday, 26 August 2013

Summing up the map book in 50 words... and some more

Sheffield international artist book prize needed me to write a blurb for the exhibition about my map-book. In 50 words. In the end I wrote this

Do You Know The Way - World Map 1310 - 2235
Screen-printed three color map book.  
This map, like all maps, exists in opposition to the ideal map, a correct diagrammatic depiction of the world around us. This is the purpose of cartography, but it is an impossible aim. This idea was a starting point in the construction of this book.

Here is the other statements I wrote while trying to come up with a 50 word summary;

  • This map, like all maps, exists in opposition to the ideal map; a map that would depict, in detail, the world around us. This is the defined purpose of cartography, but it is an absurdist, impossible aim. In the construction of this map I gathered up elements of historical fact together with the culturally apocryphal and formed them back together within the constructed constraints of this folded map book. In the combinations of these elements, this map hopes to recognises and celebrates the impossible and the absurd. 
  • This map, like all maps, exists in opposition to the ideal map; a map that would depict, in detail, the world around us. This is the defined purpose of cartography, but it is an impossible and absurd aim. In its combinations of historical fact with the culturally apocryphal, this map-book celebrates attempts at the impossible and statements of the absurd, recognising them as ways through the pessimistic narratives of our world today. 
  • Umberto Eco In his essay ‘On the Impossibility of Drawing a Map of the Empire on a Scale of 1 to 1’ makes it absurdly clear the hopelessness of including everything in representation. This together with the particular way of folding was the starting point for my book 
  • In common with many other maps, this map wants to understand what is really going on. Not acknowledged by modern maps, but nevertheless common to this map, other maps of today and maps of the past, is narrative

Narrative is an important feature of this map-book's operations, however in this map book the narrative has been abstracted in order to cope with the competing ideals of today.  In fact all maps today are abstract, they just don't acknowledge it. Hidden behind the facade of longitude and latitude is a manic imagined apparition formed from many conflicting ideas and power bases.
This map attempts to bring an element of that apparition to the forefront.  


Monday, 29 July 2013 illustrations

 I am currently doing drawings every two weeks  for this Spanish philosophy website, here are my first two  illustrations .

ABOVE was my first illustration for the website, it was for an article about Erasmus  of Rotterdam,  entitled "In praise of folly", although the article wasn't actually about that piece of Erasmus writing,  I decided to draw folly because I like him. 

Here Folly has been transported into our age he is now wearing specialist headgear, because he has been morphed within the  the legacy of Erasmus of Rotterdam. That is the legacy of the classical tradition in combination with the unreformed doctrine of the Catholic Church. That is why his hand, his instrument of power is inside the church and the Greek temple is on top of his head.  

I decided to draw only half a Greek temple after I came across this very nice cutaway of the Parthenon to the right,  and also I like the idea that segments of the classical tradition were cut out and utilised by religious scholars in the time Erasmus, with  other less savoury ideas and customs of the Greeks discarded. Or lobotomised  in the case the above illustration of folly. 

ABOVE AND TO THE RIGHT is the next illustration I drew, for the next article about a follower of a Erasmus from Spain, Francisco de Vitoria. He came across as rather boring and Conservative but nevertheless a nice guy, in the same way as Erasmus but maybe without his wit. He was also a big fan of travelling the world, seeing all races and creeds as part of God's great kingdom.  

I have illustrated him being guided by the Stoic and careful tortoise, who incidentally issues God's will via moon worship, not unlike some of the Greek pagans that the European Catholic scholars had recently rediscovered,  "That knowledge, It was already in them, the parts that they didn't want" the tortoise might say...

Friday, 26 July 2013


I make drawings and books that explore individual stories and ideas formed from contemporary and past events, big and small. I am interested in the patterns these stories can form, forcing into focus the inescapable weirdness of our world today. My work is designed to immerse the reader in a poetic depiction of this world. I like to do this in drawings, moving image and print, and sometimes song.

I'm interested in documenting and playing with points of convergence both historical and cultural in a way that exposes oddities and uncomfortable patterns of events that often contradict our assumed realities. I collect information and narrative together in the course of my research, and reassemble it within the constructed constrains of the work I have created. I do this because I need to understand what’s going on and I hope I’m not alone.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Deborah Levy Workshop

This workshop revolved around a reading of her story "Stardust Nation". it was a short story about one man stealing another man's memories; A manager in an advertising firm appropriates the identity of another,  his employee.  The employee is always drunk and sad and troubled,  his sister doesn't seem to like what's going  and while the employee is institutionalised  she tries to keep the manager away. However she seems to be somehow feeding off him as well,  although the group wasn't sure about this.

The  group then generated imagery in the workshop after the reading. I decided that maybe the brother  was being appropriated by both the sister and his manager, and in the end barely existed,  apart from in the minds of these two assertive characters.  The manager was quite passive aggressive, the sister was  just a bit angry and aggressive.

I think the writing workshop last year worked better,  this group and that group were more in need of a writing workshop than an image generation workshop.  Especially at this time of year. Similar ground had already been covered by Matt and Andrew Lanyon  in their workshops.
Deborah Levy is a fascinating  and eccentric speaker,  eccentric as in keeps you listening. The talk in the lecture studio the day before the workshop was great,  she has an excellent sense of timing  knows when to place a  surprising phrase, create omnipotent statements that follow the ordinary or humorous  seamlessly.  Reminded me of Laurie Anderson who does this. and others

Monday, 10 June 2013

Experiment with PDF

If it can be said a handmade book is read at the distance it was created, then with this in mind what is happening when we read a PDF? There are many crazy websites and programs around now that attempt to simulate the book and its pages, in pixels,  in windows, on your screen. There's a sadness to this sort of operation, a sort of nostalgic tragedy. I would like to make PDF's that utilise this tragic nostalgic quality, in a poetic way, to exposes what is at the heart of this type of thing, an uneasiness in the way we use our new technologies. I think its a transition thing. We are living in times of transition, it might be useful to get inside the symptoms of this transition.  

Friday, 31 May 2013

Beirut Book - Photographs From The Near East

Experiments with scale, print and paper type for new book - 'Backwards'

Summing up Backwards

My initial idea with this  book was to create something of a travel journal. the leftovers from this approach can be seen in the black covered concertina sketch book and also in this research journal. I soon realised that what I actually wanted to create, in reflection to my lebanon trip, was something more akin to my first project utilising a poetic song-like back and forth between the text and imagery. This time however the events I was dealing with were contemporary, this together with the primary nature of the research brought me towards a simpler more straightforward, less graphic visual side of things. These events are still going on, the civil war in syria could see yet more complications with a more active participation of the west, we will see.  
This book is about Lebanon, but Lebanon is barely mentioned. This is intentional, this is book about syria, about the west's relationship with the east, the ellipsis of all this is Lebanon. -"If there is no Syria what will happen to Lebanon?" It is what is implied by all these conflicting physical and theoretical realities but left out in the political reasoning about these things. A state which exists because of an accident of history, which now some may say operates as a laundry room for all the dirty money of the middle east and to others as a model of tolerance and balance in a sea of problems. It may also be the place where free market has proven how, if implemented without constraint, can make even the most hardened enemies partners in the quest for acumltive personal welath, thus peace. The flip side to this is the side effect; weird and excessive corruption together with soul destroying homogeneity.  
This is the homogeneity I was talking about in my final essay, it is a process of maybe sub-liminal but most probably liminal fatalism, which as its first victim, takes the arts and turns its possibilities for creative advancement into wet shiny wallpaper. The way through this is impossible to see clearly, i'm clutching at straws, I can only imagine the willingness to see through this will come from the margins, almost as an accident, like lebanon itself.
SO! The way through? It will seem desperate and mad, It will come from the unexpected, at the edge of the center to the middle, to the east? The lebanese bank manager and his visions, thats the idea...
Anyway this is turning into more of a rant than a summary, I'm running out of time....        


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Evolution of letters 'Annoying symbols' and cover of book idea

I have been doing a Wikipedia binge today following the further story of the Phoenician alphabet, reading into how it spread like a  cultural disease across the world. I came across lots of strange charts including the two above. I especially like the top one, it is very proud and very mad.  Anyway eventually stumbled upon a website about symbols used in medieval Arabic alchemy inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphs. It is weird to see how the beginnings and ends of written language have joined forces,  in the pursuit of the completely unattainable. 

The concept  I'm developing for the front cover of my book is to display something of this begins and ends,   although I don't want to  imply any connection to alchemy.  However  this website makes me think that as soon as you start throwing letters around without really understanding what they mean you cannot help but imply a practice of alchemy, bad alchemy that is...


Never thought about the connection between the crescent moon and the ouroboros...

Selected Sketches

Monday, 27 May 2013

Potential material for ending new book

In the process of writing my book  I generally have a few thematic concerns from around which I generate imagery.  From this imagery I then generate text.  This is a particular piece of text I liked, but I'm not sure I'm going to include.

The darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. 

You are not dreaming

You are reading a book

You fall asleep while reading a book
imagine waking thousands of years later
would you finish reading the book?

Imagine falling asleep reading a book
You awake a thousand years later
You look at the book

But you can not read it


Friday, 24 May 2013

Lebanon - Byblos

 Byblos is directly and tangibly associated with the history of the diffusion of the Phoenician alphabet (on which humanity is still largely dependent today), See above two examples of this diffusion on one sign. Two for the price of one!

 The scribes of Byblos developed an alphabetic phonetic script, the precursor of our modern alphabet. By 800 B.C., it had traveled to Greece, changing forever the way humans communicated. the earliest form of the Phoenician alphabet found to date is the inscription on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram. Found in Byblos, in fact.