Web We Want Festival – Play the Web We Want!

Category : blogging · No Comments · by Nov 30th, 2014
Web We Want Festival – Play the Web We Want!

Reblogged from an original post for the Southbank Centre, in advance of the November 2014 Web We Want Festival about…

Jeanette Winterson on why art matters now more than ever

Category : blogging · No Comments · by Nov 21st, 2014

Written before the 21st century had really demonstrated its commitment to war and the interests of the 1%. It’s surprising how little the questions have changed.
An American lady travelling to Paris in 1913 – the kind of American lady who will still be travelling to Paris in 2013 – asked Ezra Pound what he thought art was for. Pound replied: “Ask me what a rose bush is for.”

Europe was on the edge of war. Do rose bushes matter in a war? What can art do for us now, in the likelihood of another war?

I know there is a sneaking feeling, even among art lovers, that art is a luxury. While pictures, books, music and theatre are not quite handmade luggage or perfume, most people would not admit that art is essential. The endless rows over funding centre on an insecurity about the role of art in society. Nobody doubts that hospitals and schools must be paid for by all of us. Mention art, and the answer seems to be that it should rely on the marketplace; let those who want it pay for it.

Read on http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2002/nov/25/art.artsfeatures1

where in mythology are there stories of collective endeavour that turn out well?

Category : blogging · No Comments · by Oct 15th, 2014

Train to London – through Westcliff

A golden bright morning

I remember I can make a decision

…decisions and the way we make them…

I remember because I have made this decision before

I can’t remember how well it stuck before

it is a choice

it requires me to let go a little of stories, reasons, anxieties, rightness, justification

in order to travel the beam of light, the golden current

life invites me

my 16 bits of consciousness are too narrow to carry counter conversations

the still waters

the coordinated flights of flocks of birds across the sands

the man in the seat in front from a victorian gothic novel

it’s not only to attend to the gold, to the feelings of elation but also to just what is


I have to write my public statement for the Web We Want

I am terrified

by the responsibility

that I will speak from the wrong part of myself with strangulated voice

rather than in polyphonic mode


there are oddnesses

to invite people to join me is to invite people to invest their energy and time in something for me

What is the story of the making of the web

is it the making of Babylon (for which we will all be punished)

where in mythology are there stories of collective endeavour that turn out well?


Fading revolt in the walled garden

Category : blogging · (1) Comment · by Jun 8th, 2014

I recently published Karen Blissett is Revolting, an interview described as “incendiary”, on New Criticals as part of their Lady Justice series.

It provoked quite a reaction on Facebook as people shared their disquiet about her new work and the political contexts that (she claims) necessitated its creation.

They also posted links to other articles and artworks inspired by her tactical use of multiple identity.

In a week where the breaking news was about the new European right for individuals to disappear from Google I was irked by the obverse effect. Whilst exchanges over email list, wikis or community blogs are usually retrievable, in FB the infinite scroll makes it very difficult to find  pithy insights and historical connections even only a week later. It’s also considered bad form to publish outside of FB what was shared within its walled garden. This has led me to reflect on the anti-historical and antisocial impact of dominant social media platforms.


Here are a selection of the comments (with permission from their originators) about Karen Blissett is Revolting.

Ricardo Ruiz: “In May 25 of 2014 at 02:08 he published a letter where he announced that that would be his last public appearance. He mentioned that the Subcomandante Marcos personality has been a hologram and the EZLN doesn’t need his image anymore. The letter is signed by Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano who died a few days earlier in an ambush. It is said that Galeano mentioned that he would’ve returned in collective form.

May 27 at 10:54am · Unlike · 2

“Against death, we demand life.

Against silence, we demand the word and respect.

Against oblivion, memory”

Ricardo Dominguez: I use to write art reviews under the name of Karen Eliot (a utopian plagiarist sign). Here is a rant review I just found by old KE (me) at thing.net in the 1990’s on the show “History of Sex”.
May 27 at 11:46am · Unlike · 3


Tim Waterman: My pal Ruth Catlow interviews the incendiary Karen Blissett – there is some really fiery stuff here. I can also recommend this because it is fascinating to read something written by an artist whose voice is inhabited by many others. Blissett – forgive me, Karen – is perhaps a little unrealistic about the reach of her work in places, but her anger is well aimed.
May 27 at 11:56am ·Unlike · · Share
You, Annie Abrahams and Karen Blissett like this.

Alan Sondheim: let’s not forget Antiorp –
May 27 at 4:41pm · Unlike · 4

Alan Sondheim: Something bothers me about the piece, I’m speaking from the U.S. which is vile – that it’s too easy, that it’s entertainment. Given the state of crisis pretty much everyone is in, with the rise of the right, I worry that all of our gestures that privilege art (and a gallery’s mentioned) – just collapse. I don’t know what the answer is but we have to do more if we’re going to keep at the very least gnawing at the edges of enclaved capital. The pain in the streets – take downtown Providence where I live – is palpable, particularly in a state with the highest rate of unemploymet and highest rate of dissatisfaction. I don’t think the video goes far enough – at least here it would be dismissed or treated as a joke. On the other hand the language of the video is brilliant and cuts as much as any militarese. –
May 27 at 4:52pm · Unlike · 1

Marc Garrett: Hi Alan, well the Karens have a will of their own & decide how they make the work. Although – I do know that it could be a matter of time when even more Karens come along pushing things further – the identity is there for others to explore
May 27 at 6:44pm · Like · 2

Jennifer Chan: wowww guide2seniormanagement is fab; how did i not know about this
May 28 at 9:01am · Unlike · 2

Jennifer Chan: kind of agree with alan on how there’s a huge (americanish) humilitainment vibe initially, but male-identified artists get away with making (ironic) detached work that pokes fun at corporate (branding) structures all the time I enjoy how there is little room for irony or ambivalence here, it really appeases the 99% haha
May 28 at 9:15am · Unlike · 3

Ruth Catlow Yes Jennifer Chan we could do with more artworks that appease the 99%. I also GET Alan’s point – but I think that there is a role for artworks that are passionately critical-I am utterly convinced by Karens’ feverish fury… and that this is not an indulgent, trivial, or self-regarding.
May 28 at 9:28am · Like · 1

Tim Waterman: As one of the appeased 99% I’d just like to say that this work by Karen Blissett hurts so good. It’s like having a safety valve for excess bile. On the other hand, it makes me feel justified in my own anger – and I want to start firing these sorts of salvos myself. It’s a nice, naked, raw bit of revolutionary art. With penises in it.
May 28 at 9:46am · Like · 3

McKenzie Wark via Marc Garrett
May 27 at 11:31am ·

Ruth Catlow: But why the penises?

Karen Blissett: We did think about vaginas but it had to be penises.


Cultural Geographies of Play your Place

Category : blogging · No Comments · by May 5th, 2014
Cultural Geographies of Play your Place

We are preparing for a series of gaming events at a new location (to be announced) for Play Your Place…

On admitting to being an artist

Category : blogging · No Comments · by May 4th, 2014

when it comes up
i brace myself
take a deep breath
and call myself an artist.

as a way of being FOR art
FOR a tradition of willful (rather than submissive) practices – that I am not ready to give up on.
being the most artist that I can be
which is to be free and connected and alert and part of a conscious shaping force of the whole ecology of ideas, beings and things.

re-claiming art now
and using my elbows the best I can to make some space for future art freedoms

i see the encroaching marketization of everything and I refuse to run
and risk loosing touch with the values and process that have shaped me, enriched my world

art continues to generate more ways to be and see myself together with others
i want to keep collaborating with others to create and artify the world.

corporations are running out of land and mineral and energy resources to exploit
now they are moving into us, inside us, mining our insides
“creativity” (as an alternative to art) does not provide a safe haven from corporatisation.

so i am for art that is critical, indigestible, eloquent, indescribable, shapeshifting, cross-realmish, inter-connected, awkward, lumpy, unmanageable, critical- and networks give us a great way to do this together.

– 2012 – as part of a discussion on the Netbehaviour email discussion list about the difficulties of admitting to be being an artist in the current context. http://www.furtherfield.org/netbehaviour/worries-about-blacklists

blogging again

Category : blogging · No Comments · by Feb 13th, 2014

With the recent acquisition of my own “domain name” and publication of a portfolio (pulling together a collection of works that are in some way “mine” – in that they either would not exist without my existence – or they would be different without my existence) – and with due respect to the squally social, economic and environmental conditions- I write this first blog post after a long time.

Though I am a prolific (if undisciplined) muser and maker – private writer, doodler and maker of film, games, artworks- there are many reasons why I haven’t blogged for a long time.

The trickiest of these is negotiating the tensions between public speech and my responsibilities within the various positions I hold in the middle of artistic and educational bureaucratic systems.

I have the feeling that that most public speech that is not couched in academic format, or made on issues other than lifestyle preference or sentiment, or within given frameworks of cultural commentary is regarded as distastefully political or promotional.

It is both political and personally risky to speak one’s private, (difficult, oddly shaped, incongruous, independent and irresponsible) mind in public.

Also, vanity demands that if I am going to negotiate difficult territory in public I should do it well- but on my own terms. So I say that ‘well’ means, playfully and with close attention. I will allow many anomalies and contradictions. The purpose is to move from an unreflective condition of amusement and attention seeker to rigorous grappler with experience- which is currently made up of everyday personal and socially constructed cinches, delights, and melodramas, that may be of interest to others because of the common treacherous grounds upon which we tread.

This is also an act of self- emancipation.

By forcing myself to communicate the relationship between the many complex strands of daily life I may force myself to integrate and simplify the mesh of forces in my head.

Of course there is a tension between sanitization and incontinent oversharing. Some experiences are only half born, others (especially those concerning experiences of others) are not mine to reveal, and because any shared word constructs something new in the world- one has to be circumspect.

However I will need some method for describing the many things that I just cannot talk about- the dark matter- that makes up the bulk of life. Marc and Charlotte have both written and thought about the significance of Gregory Sholette’s insights into dark matter and its articulation of the relationship between the few constellations of bright stars in culture and the ground, the bulk of life experience and action, that remains hidden from view for eternity.

Life is made of dark matter – I am daily engaged in dismantling  conversations (conversations that dismantle me) with friends and colleagues effected by the impacts of the politics of neoliberalism and austerity. Our individual identities are dismantled along with valuable working relationships and methods in a chaotic and barbaric way by the daily assaults launched by current political contexts.

Also in stage conversations and negotiations with possible commissioners and partners on new projects- as we circle each other sniffing for affinities and mutually agreeable paths for collaboration.

So when ‘private’ moments occur I will describe them in terms of terrain (boggy, rocky, bleak), smell (sour, floral, shitty), feeling (whimpering, sweating, glowing) sound (barking, splatt!), materials (a ball of wall, slime covered chocolate) etc etc. So when suddenly a strange glumphing creature appears in the middle of a blog post – smell it, listen to it and perhaps you will recognize bits of it.

The other trouble is that I am given to endless scene setting.

I am initially driven to write something by an uncomfortable situation or jubilant moment and then never get to the point.

on admitting to being an artist

Category : blogging, Furtherfield blog · No Comments · by Feb 9th, 2012

when it comes up
i brace myself
take a deep breath
and call myself an artist.

as a way of being FOR art
FOR a tradition of willful (rather than submissive) practices – that I am not ready to give up on.
being the most artist that I can be
which is to be free and connected and alert and part of a conscious shaping force of the whole ecology of ideas, beings and things.

re-claiming art now
and using my elbows the best I can to make some space for future art freedoms

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Re-rooting digital culture at ISEA 2011

Category : blogging, Furtherfield blog · No Comments · by Sep 22nd, 2011

furtherfield - media art ecologies graphic

Some thoughts on returning from ISEA 2011 in Istanbul.

It is ever more urgent for us to develop functional infrastructures for imaginative interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration.


a percentage of global carbon emissions
carbon emissions increasing in the uk since 1850

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A world where humans play with things

Category : blogging, Furtherfield blog · No Comments · by May 15th, 2011

Overland –  video shown as part of my presentation at Furtherfield’s Re-rooting Digital Culture unconference on Friday.

In September 2009, as part of our media art ecologies pyramid pledge, We Wont Fly For Art,* I took an overland trip to the Eclectic Tech Carnival (and art biennial) in Istanbul, breaking my journey in Linz. I was joined by Aileen and Rob. I blogged and documented the journey with unglamorous tools (a recycled computer and an old mobile phone).

Vimeo Video: 

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