Backwards and forwards


Backwards and forwards

[Part of a short talk I gave for Blast Theory in Portslade, as part of their Act Otherwise symposium]

is a word that hangs around
the kind of work we’ve been discussing
like a seagull
at a seaside funfair
picking at the scraps
Or maybe like Colleridge’s Albatross
once uttered
and then forever slung around our necks
distracting people from what
we’re actually saying
In an entirely unscientific survey
A google search for
Blast Theory Innovation
2,510,000 results
Whereas a google search for
Blast Theory political
77,900 Results
Despite the fact I’d say the latter
is an equally
if not more important
feature of
Blast Theory’s work
a search for
Blast Theory and Golf supplies
5,570 Results
What does this tell us?
Probably not very much
But at least its innovative in its approach
It’s approach to what
You may ask
said the seagull

I have become
and weary
of innovation
I think
And I’m sure many
Others do to
That it is unhelpful
That the rhetoric
Of innovation
Binds us
uncomfortably closely
To the insatiable
of late Capitalism
I believe it was
Karl Marx
That took
one look
at the queue
forming outside Apple’s
Flagship regent street store
and declared
that in a godless
Is the opium
of comfortably

I have become interested
not in what we’re doing
Or might be doing
that’s new
But in what we’re doing
or might be doing
that is the same
In how old ideas
might reoccur
I’ve become interested
in the past
in asking
how I can better
consider my own practice
and city-based
locative media
not as innovative new frontiers
but as part of
a continuous cycle
of urban strategies
and ways of operating in the city
what Michel De Certeau
describes as
‘a strategic discourse of the people’

This is not nostalgia
Not a longing
For something
Not a fondness
for dead images
But a desire
To reimagine
and remake
everything that was
and radical
and alive
about the past
within the present
The Band
Of Montreal
described the past
as a grotesque animal
which it might be
In which case
I don’t want to see
that animal stuffed
Or preserved
To be admired
Or studied
I want it rampaging
through the streets of our cities
Like the dinosaur
at the end of Jurassic Park II
I want it to cause trouble

This is what I’ve been up to recently
finding ways of recreating the past
not as images
or representations
but as processes
and actions
and ways of moving in
and moving through
the city
Specifically I have been looking at
various groups of artists
in New York
in the 1960s and 1970s
and how what they were doing then
relates to what I am doing now
And identifying in their work
tactics and mechanisms
which might continue
to resonate


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