Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Notes on music.

Recently I was listening to music, music I had once enjoyed a great deal but had since neglected. At one point of my life I would have known all of the lyrics but now everything was vague. As I listened I knew that I knew the songs already, but couldn’t make them out ahead of time, so was always suspecting what was to come next, a sort of slow burning, exciting anxiety which is like flirting, or waking up from a good sleep.

I noticed a spider had taken up residence in the cone of one of the speakers and was moving in and out with the music, engaged in an unwitting duet. To the spider, the music that caused such a specific resonance within me mustn’t mean much as noise. What I hear as melody and rhythm and meaning must come across as a functional part of its landscape, more akin to weather than to meaning. To the spider, a bass riff may be like being buffeted by a strong wind. To the spider, a treble note may be like a breath on the shoulder.


There is this wonderful thing that happens sometimes with music when you are listening to what you think is a simple but elegant song where the singer is singing a note with a long sustain, and it is a pretty nice note, and then it seems like half of the voice changes and becomes something different, but what has happened is that what you were hearing was an instrument that you didn’t even really know was there play the same note as the singer and then in a moment one or the other drops away or ascends into a different note and creates a harmony and you realise that what you thought was one beautiful thing was actually two beautiful things and you were enjoying them both the whole time without realising it, and it is sort of like finding out you are in love with an old friend and then you are so happy and surprised that you want to go back instantly and relive the moment but then the new harmony is so good also that you cant stop for the pleasure it keeps bringing and you are caught in a sort of paradox where you want it to be over as soon as possible so you can begin again but also want it to last forever.


Between tracks the spider gains a small reprieve before again being waltzed into a landscape. I think perhaps that all the really good songs have finished but the next one is a song with this neat bit where the singer goes na-na-na-na, which sounds naff when you read it on a page but is really good when you hear it.

Outside the window a tree moves barely. To the tree, the music that reaches it must be similarly abstracted from meaning. To the tree, the things we hear as notes and beats and choruses must be barely perceptible fluctuations in a much larger and slower environment, like a skipped heartbeat to the Grand Canyon or an indrawn breath to a rocky mountain or an artwork to life. To the spider and the tree this music is environmental, but to us its something we can understand.




Essay by John Ward Knox to accompany the show 'things you didn't know you were already enjoying' at Window gallery.

Thursday, July 17, 2008



Sometimes when you're photographing something you come across a specific angle and then all of a sudden the thing you are taking pictures of almost looks like everything.

simple hearts #12



2nd state


Toilet paper, copper mesh. 2008

simple hearts #11



Copper mesh, wood. 2008

I






Table tennis balls, blinds. 2008

P.S Similar to Sean Kerr's work I know.

simple hearts #10




Silver chain, steel wire. 2008

simple hearts #9




Satin, steel wire. 2008

quality bakers



photograph. 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008



Byro pen on A4 paper. 2008


Byro pen on A4 paper. 2008


Byro pen on A4 paper. 2008


Byro pen on A4 paper. 2008


Byro pen on A5 paper. 2008


Byro pen on A4 paper. 2008


Byro pen on A4 paper. 2008


Byro pen on paper. A4. 2008


Byro pen on paper. A4. 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

notes on music

There is this wonderful thing that happens sometimes with music when you are listening to what you think is a simple but elegant song where the singer is singing a note with a long sustain, and it is a pretty nice note, and then it seems like half of the voice changes and becomes something different, but what has happened is that what you were hearing was an instrument that you didn’t even really know was there play the same note as the singer and then in a moment one or the other drops away or ascends into a different note and creates a harmony and you realise that what you thought was one beautiful thing was actually two beautiful things and you were enjoying them both the whole time without realising it, and it is sort of like finding out you are in love with an old friend and then you are so happy and surprised that you want to go back instantly and relive the moment but then the new harmony is so good also that you cant stop for the pleasure it keeps bringing and you are caught in a sort of paradox where you want it to be over as soon as possible so you can begin again but also want it to last forever.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

Matters



2008

constellation



2008

Gravity. Published in Hue and Cry Journal.



A cat knows what gravity is, much more than you and I do, or can ever hope to. When on the prowl – when a cat is quintessentially a cat – a cat understands gravity well enough to pretend to be water, that to remain innocuous to perception, you must flow silently over the rocks, that the bird will escape if it perceives you as something alien to its surroundings, something unnatural. And water is natural – it obeys gravity, it is constantly moving in two directions, down and forward, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly. Water always seeks the least prominent place available. A cat knows this, as much as a cat can know anything, so a cat mimics water – it flows quietly and unassumingly until it is as close as it can get, and then WHAM it explodes back into cat form again, and the bird sees that it isn’t water but a cat, but by then it is too late.

So a cat knows what gravity is – much more than I do, and much more than a rocket scientist can do. If you throw a cat up in the air it will land on its feet, because it knows gravity, knows where down is.

I’ve never been to a ballet, but I like to think about dancing. I think all movement is just controlled falling. In fact, I think even staying still is controlled falling. A concrete brick on a concrete floor is controlled falling. All the structure of the brick is working against falling – all the grains or fibres or trace elements or whatever – they all are saying ‘UP!’ Staying together, staying upright or multi-dimensional is all about working against gravity, attempting to stay up when everything falls down. I think just staying upright is for all the elements of some thing to move upwards at the exact same pace as they are being pulled down.

It is in this light that I like to think about dancing. For me dancing isn’t an embodiment of emotion or snow or anything interpretive like that, but a basic expression of our desire to stay upright in existence. I think dancing is beautiful – not because it contains beauty, but because to dance is to be joyful while vertical. To express ‘UP!’ in any way is to enjoy what we can, while we can.

There is a scene near the end of the Jean-Luc Goddard film Hail Mary where the frame is fixed on the agitated surface of a swimming pool. The frame shows little but reflected blues and whites until the character Mary emerges, in a slow and languid half-twirl, holding her baby, Jesus, in her arms. The water parts without heroism for the simple upwards movement. It is plain, entirely ordinary, and yet somehow remains one of the more arresting and compelling things I have seen. While the figures moved upwards, the water moved down.

When I think about dancing, I don’t think about Swan Lake or Nutcracking, I think about dance as something to do. I think about dancing as one of the happiest and most natural ways to enjoy being human. When I go dancing I put on shoes with slippery soles, soles that make contact with the ground as fleeting and unstable as possible. and in this way I am always finding myself unbalanced in unexpected ways, and needing to invent new ways to make myself vertical. It is like this with sculpture. I like sculpture like I like music. The songs/sculptures are tangible abstractions of things too large, too small or complex or simple to understand in their entirety at any one time. They have hooks and progressions and drops and movements; they are finite and you can dance to them. What they suggest is a new way of being upright. Once you learn the brick dance from a sculpture, the gangster lean from a pop song, then you can see the brick dance everywhere, and dance the human dance alongside the dancing buildings in the dancing streets.

There was this young Polynesian girl leaning against a downtown bus stop sign as I walked past the other day. She was wearing a very large tee-shirt that covered her from her neck to her shins. It was white and in the sunlight reminded me instantly of Greek sculpture.

Hip-hop and rap culture is essentially a celebration of the body. Previously I had thought it to be a celebration of the word, but now I think quite otherwise. You can see it in the dancing, in the lyrics, in the mannerisms and foibles that make up the culture. I think that despite its insertion onto the realm of commodity, in its inception ‘urban’ culture was antithetical to consumer culture because it was all about aggressively inhabiting your own body. Inhabiting, not just using it as a vehicle to transport your head around, but as a home to live in. The massively oversize shirts act as an awareness of form, as an awareness that clothes are a social function, primarily designed as a signifier. The real form is always the body underneath the clothes.

What this girl knew, like a cat knows to be water, is something akin to what the Greeks must have known: that a loose cover is more celebratory of the form underneath than a tight cover. Her covering herself in the massively oversize shirt is a sign, a taunt that announces that she has a body and she has clothes, that the two are separate though intertwined. This is a taunt to those whose clothes mimic the shape of their body, whose clothes are so confused as to their role that what they cover is not the flesh, but the personality.

I think the Greeks understood that when covered, a form is most beautiful when it reveals itself in little moments – the intense beauty when a thigh or buttock impresses its form into the surrounding fabric, only to fall away again, mid stride. It is like a comment from a moving car: ‘You’re gay!’ or ‘I love you!’ or ‘Wooo!’ It is said and done and gone in an instant, but its impression is almost indelible. ‘I am not gay, dick!’ or ‘Wait! Who are you?’ or ‘Wooo what?’.It is these fleeting impressions that let the mind do what the mind does – fill the gaps. It is the space between the flesh and the fabric that the mind slips into, occupies briefly before it is pushed out again at the next step.

This is why it knocks my socks off when girls wear dresses. Sexy, to me is not having everything bare, revealed - that’s porn and science (the two are synonymous). Sexy is letting the mind explore the potentials of the body. Sexy is not just having clothes that mimic the skin – replacing the form with fa├žade, like a hollow computer animation – but in knowing what you’ve got, and then being coy enough to keep it just that far from reach. Close, certainly, almost touching, but not quite. It’s like catching a glimpse of the ocean through the trees.

Sexy is about gravity, when the clothes literally hang on or off a form. Sexy is about up(form) and down(cover), about a leap and a landing, about dancing.

Essay by John Ward Knox

two things captured once



2008

One thing captured twice



2008



Rock, vase. 2008

John Ward Knox. Curriculum Vitae