Alpha, Isis, Eden : Listening event

Coded Geometry :: Robin Hood Gardens - ANTI-GENTRIFICATION GHOST DANCE

Saturday 4 March 2017,
3.30–8pm,
with a prompt start at 4pm

The Showroom
63 Penfold Street
London NW8 8PQ

As part of Laura Oldfield Ford : Alpha, Isis, Eden exhibition at The Showroom Gallery, John Wild will present two sound compositions from the CODED GEOMETRY archive. The first, ‘Drone Planes Over Westfield’, explores the paranoia that surrounded the London Olympics, as anti aircraft missiles were stationed on the top of East London tower blocks. The second, “Robin Hood Gardens – ANTI-GENTRIFICATION GHOST DANCE’ , was produced through field recordings of electro-magnetic emissions recorded on a drift around the estate as compulsory purchase orders were being enforced, slowly clearing the estate. This piece represents a brutalist record of one moment in the ongoing clearances hallucinated as an insurrectionary carnival of resistance.

Robin Hood Gardens compulsory purchase order

Full event text

Laura Oldfield Ford has invited a group of artists, writers, theorists, musicians, activists and other practitioners including Majed Aslam, Janina Lange, Jack Latham, Frances Morgan, Fay Nicolson, Francesca Panetta and John Wild to participate in a collective listening and discussion event that responds to the auditory textures of the city, crossing between the sonic and the spatial. The event will also feature a 2015 audio work by the late cultural theorist Mark Fisher.

By exploring the politics of sound, sound essays, thinking about the liminal, thresholds, conduits and crossings, Oldfield Ford is interested in how people negotiate the psychic terrain of the city. Themes that the event touches upon are forensic architecture; sound as assertion of territory and as a political strategy; and the experiential, including how we experience and move through space. By bringing people from diverse backgrounds together Oldfield Ford aims to offer new perspectives on how we feel and hear the city.

Programme

3.30pm: Arrival
4pm: Introduction by Laura Oldfield Ford and listening contributions
5pm: Break
5.30pm: Listening contributions
6.30pm: Discussion
7–8pm: Drinks and DJ sets by Majed Aslam and Jack Latham

Robin Hood Gardens compulsory purchase order

Mediating Environments – The Network

John Wild - The NetworkNetwork: is a plurality of (organic and artificial) beings, of humans and machines who perform common actions thanks to procedures that make possible their interconnection and interoperation’? (Berardi, 2011)

The network has become central to our experience of the world, its tentacles reaching into every area of life. Linking together machine to machine, people to machines and people to people through giant invisible networks of information; a technical infrastructure of cables that feeds an invisible infrastructure of wireless signals.

As part of the mediating environments exhibition John Wild  will be transforming the gallery space into a dysfunctional network of devices, creating an invisible geography of wireless communications, as devices try and fail to establish contact, calling out to each other through unanswered electromagnetic signals.

This network of electromagnetic communications will be made knowable to visitors to the show through a hand held receiver that makes the invisible geography audible.

On the opening night John Wild will carry out a live electromagnetic audio drift of the gallery. Making use of electromagnetic induction coils and a broad spectrum RF receiver he will allow himself to be guided by the intensities, textures, and ambiances of the site’s electromagnetic transmissions, materialising the invisible architecture of the ‘The Network’.

John Wild - The Network

Mediating Environments

The world beyond the confines of our body is intimately connected to our actions – as much cultural artefact as something wild and other, ‘out there’ – nature and techne vitally expressed through our lives and creations. We continually feed into and are moulded by an interminable flux of co-creative relationships and cycles, reflexive actors who fall in and out of sync with innumerable collectives and circumstances. How we perceive these complex ecologies and the meanings we derive from what we do within them, frames our worldview, subtly affecting how we are subsumed by social fields and evolutionary flows. In this time of accelerating change and spiritual transformation can we come to terms with our uncertain predicament? How to navigate the indescribable, manifold environments in which we are embedded?

Matthew Bourree | Paula Deji | John Wild

Opens Thursday 3rd November 6-9pm with a live performance by John Wild at 7.30pm.

Exhibition continues until Wednesday 23 November
Catalyst Arts Gallery
5 College Court
Belfast BT1 6BS

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Digital Drifting

The streets look how I remember them but everything has come to a standstill.
.
Time itself has stopped.
.
Crystallised.
.
Space and time have always been inseparable, but here the whole network of streets has petrified. Space captured in a single moment of time, though on closer inspection it’s not a single moment, it’s a patchwork of distinct isolated moments, stitched into a continuum from noncontiguous shattered fragments.
Are these the moments the streets ceased to exist? The moment just before a great flash of blinding light sweeps away everything in its path. SERVER CRASH, POWER OUTAGE, TERRORIST ATTACK. I hover above this final moment. Looking down on the world as it was. From this scopic perspective I am a god but I cannot resist descending. I join the ghosts, I walk amongst them, stare for far too long at their blurred faces, look for signs of recognition, someone I know. What sort of world do I inhabit when the faces of its residents have been obscured, leached of detail? I spot a familiar outline riding a bicycle. Instant recognition but their deformed features make me feel uneasy. I travel down streets I will never actually visit in lumbering blurs of acceleration, anticipating the next scene to emerge from the slow blocky fog as the screen renders into focus. The streets are bathed in an eternal sunlight. I can feel its heat penetrating my screen, forcing a hallucinatory pink hue onto my peripheral vision. I look at buildings I will never enter, stare at people I will never speak to. Two People Talking Behind A Wall. A secret liaison documented for any jealous lover to track down. Who needs the NSA, FBI, MI5? I remember Robin Bale, a friend of mine, once recounting how he had shown his father Street View. He described how he spent an evening scrolling up and down Ashford high street, ‘we knew that my mum, who had only died a month ago, used to walk here every day to get the papers and fresh bread … So we were looking for that digital smear… we were looking for that ghost.’ . How many others have traversed the virtual streets looking for ghosts? Hoping for a last glimpse, the possibility of one last meeting, a final good bye. I contemplate the possibility of the emergence of a street view cult of remembrance. I look up into the sky. The sun is still shining, COPYWRITE GOOGLE.

 

Stolen Time

In recent months I have become what you could describe as a Cyberflâneur. Escaping the prison of my desk-bound workplace by indulging in daily digital drifts. My drifts take place not in the streets but in the distorted, glitchie and copywritten representation of urban life that is Google Street View. Unlike the flâneurs of 19th century Paris, I am neither a dandy nor a man of leisure. My drifts are an act of theft, of subversion and escape. I steal time back from a system that enslaves me to work for poverty wages in what has become one of the most expensive cities on Earth, London. Condemned to confining my body to the same two metre squared space day after day, repeating the same banal digital tasks. Repetitive data entry causes permanent strain in my right wrist and shoulder. My back is contorted, a continual source of discomfort. My mind is dull, a permanent haze of depression hangs thick throughout the office. This is not some personal affliction; it is a collective flattening of mood than can be sensed as you enter the four digit security code that grants access. While you may initially attempt to protect yourself from the melancholy, it seeps into your very being. This is the emergent affect that arises from an open plan design within which the openness and visibility is used as a form of discipline. Office workers have become adept at covering their mental wanderings. The shift from Facebook, online shopping or some other distraction to a work related screen can be achieved in a blink. My distraction, my escape, has become the digital drift.

Office Archipelago

red screen

Boredom. Eight and a half hours each day, forty two and a half hours each week. Over one hundred and seventy hours per month. God knows how many hours year after year I have sat on the same brown checked office chair with its incomprehensible collection of levers that, however you adjust them, never make it comfortable. Confined to the same two metre squared corner of a dull office with white walls, a grey short pile carpet with, by now, its own scuff marks pointing to the correct placement of the chair wheels. Open plan. Light blue, grey, and yellowed veneer. Each desk separated from the next by a pale blue screen, clusters of three desks form islands within the larger office archipelago. Eyes becoming sticky, have you ever noticed that you don’t blink as often when looking into a computer monitor? Carpal Tunnels resting on the grain of the yellowed veneer. A windup toy car, the best present from last year’s Christmas party cracker and a children’s felt tip drawing attempt to add some personality to this lifeless environment. This is an open plan office but any chance of relieving the boredom by chatting to workmates is quashed by the foul atmosphere created by the overbearing, micromanaging supervisor who patrols the office like a prison screw. We have been unionising, there’s talk of a collective grievance, but this all has to be kept quiet for now. No one has the confidence to be open yet and it looks like the union official could sell us out. They want individual cases rather than a collective approach. In the current climate of precarious work, no one in this office has the confidence to take an individual grievance.

Hand Job Under a Manchester Underpass

The first time I experienced Street View it registered as a shock. The type of shock that is rare for someone who has lived in a large city for a long time. Its arrival appeared with a generalised anxiety. It initially awoke collective fears about privacy. Newspaper articles debated questions as banal as; could it be used by criminals to plan robberies? Can the cameras see into my house? Will I be caught in an embarrassing act like the famous examples of the people photographed leaving a sex shop, vomiting in the street, being arrested or being given a hand job under a Manchester underpass?

I was instantly captivated by Street View and its hyper-real parallel universe. I hoped the privacy lobby wouldn’t turn Street View into a morally sanitised ideal representation of the streets. Street View would loose its seduction if the possibility of stumbling across the seedier sides of urban life were airbrushed away, the moral brigade finally getting to recreate the city as they would like it to be rather than how it is. Questions of morality and privacy seem to miss the fundamental essence of the shock. On experiencing Street View I intuitively recognised a more fundamental process coming into being. Street View represented the first real attempt of the digital to breach its own boundaries. Mapping a territory is well known to be a prelude to colonisation, but no colonial power ever documented a territory to the level Google has mapped the physical world. Google maps, GPS, and Street View combine to form an abstraction of the physical world. The would-be digital colonists of the physical have taken radical geography seriously. They have read de Certeau, and paid attention to mapping both the totalizing overview and the view from street level. Cartesian mapping is employed to enable social tagging.

Spectral Vision

Looking from the street you can see the small white flowers of the overgrown potato vine whose years of interlocking growth provide the garden with shelter from the constant flow of traffic. Curious as to how much you can see inside the house I zoom, directing the focus on the downstairs window. Then stop. A strange physical sensation passes through my body in advance of any interpretation of what I have registered. The feeling is equivalent to being startled, but somehow different, a strange coldness that passes through the body but contains the prickly heat of irrational fear. I can make out the faint figure of a person in the grainy and pixelated image of the window, but not any of the people I expected. This is my own home yet the figure appears as a pale elderly reflection in the glass. A thousand cheap horror movie tricks have conditioned my response to this type of image. I recover from the initial recoil and study the image closer. The underlying compression algorithm is exposed by the magnification. The integrity of the image is at the point of impressionistic disintegration into geometric abstraction. I’m sure that the occultist Helena Blavatsky would have appreciated the geometric revelation thinly disguised behind the naturalistic representation of the world. I become aware of familiarity within the weak outline of the figure. A sensation I associate more with touch than sight. My conscious mind lags my body in its recognition, too distracted by irrationalism. Both the bodily sensations of knowing and my conscious thoughts start to coalesce into recognition. Feelings form into images only to form a name at the end of the process. This is Jenny, my partner’s 91 year old mother. Someone I know well but who seldom visits our house. A rare visit, a fleeting moment, has been captured and stands as a spectral representative for all the moments of this house.

Indelible Psychic Grooves

It is strange how, given the possibilities of endless exploration of the world, my first tendency is to visit the places I am already integrally tied. I do not explore unpronounceable towns in far off countries; I first head for my own home, my workplace and the routes that my repetitive daily routines demand I travel. I virtually follow the indelible psychic grooves I have already inscribed into the concrete of the city. Why follow these paths in virtual space? Is it possible I desire to find evidence, proof of my own existence? Is it the urge to witness myself from the anterior as others do but is always denied me? Is it the nostalgic urge to invoke past memories, reactivating them through the recollection of place? I am always drawn first to the spaces I currently inhabit, then to the spaces of my past, back to childhood and my teenage haunts. Aitkin Road, Meadow View, the Sung Ying Chinese takeaway and Robin Rix’s shop, down Highthorne road to the train bridge which used to list all the scabs from the strike in thick white paint next to a hangman’s noose, then along Glasshouse Road to what is left of Kinhurst Colliery, over to Swinton Comprehensive School, the Patios Estate, down Goldensmithies Road, a visit to the infamous Denman Road and to the former site of Manvers Main, the pit where my granddad worked as a miner for most of his life and the sight of one of the ignition sparks of the 1984-85 miners strike.