29 June 2009

Delia Derbyshire

The other day, a friend of mine gave me a copy of The Dreams, by Delia Derbyshire and Barry Bermange. It’s samples of people talking about their dreams, set to a background of electronic music. The dreams are collected into groups of common elements, such as running away, falling, landscape, underwater, and colour. It’s pretty amazing listening, especially when you consider that it’s from 1964.

I didn’t realise it, but Delia was also responsible for the Doctor Who theme. That was composed by Ron Grainer, but it was Delia who turned his written notes into the phenomenal piece of music we all know and love. Apparently, when she played it to Ron, he said ‘Did I really write this?’ She answered ‘Most of it.’ He tried to get her credited as co-composer, but didn’t succeed.

She constructed the track using oscillators and magnetic tape editing. This involved recording the individual notes one by one onto magnetic tape, cutting the tape with a razor blade to get individual notes on little pieces of tape a few centimetres long, and sticking all the pieces of tape back together one by one to make up the tune. Ye gods.

Delia studied maths and music at Cambridge. She tried to get a job after that at Decca Records but was told they did not hire women. She ended up at the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, and in 1966 she co-founded Unit Delta Plus, which was an organisation dedicated to creating and promoting electronic music. She’s pretty cool (and pretty sexy in that photo!). You can check out some of her stuff here.

28 June 2009

Doctor Who

I've been watching some classic Doctor Who episodes recently – the E-space trilogy. This afternoon and evening's treat was State of decay. It was interrupted by Rose's kids wanting to watch Family guy. This was worthwhile though, as it included the memorable quote 'Since marijuana was legalised, crime is down, productivity is up, and the ratings for Doctor Who have gone through the roof.'

Oh, how we laughed.

26 June 2009

Matt Hunt

Matt Hunt’s show at Peter McLeavey’s is on for another two weeks. If you haven’t been to see them yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. You can’t purchase one though. They’ve all sold already, which is not bad going during a recession.

Matt’s a friend of mine, so I’m not exactly unbiased. However, I’m pretty sure my opinion of his work wouldn’t be different if I didn’t know him. His paintings are both visually compelling (especially in the afternoon light through McLeavey’s windows) and conceptually coherent. And, boy, are they coherent.

Matt’s developed his own elaborate belief system over many years. It’s highly detailed and very consistent, which is more than can be said for some science fiction writers (and philosophers for that matter). Even though he’s quite sincere in his beliefs, he can still have fun with them, and there are some nice little jokes in there.

It’s not a belief system I share, but that doesn’t matter. We each respect each other’s point of view, and our arguments never get nasty (even when I'm drunk!). And, in a way, his is a common-sense nihilist position (paradoxical as that seems). He’s developed his own world view on his own terms, and when you get right down to it that’s what matters – living life and producing work on nobody else’s terms but your own.

He’s got extensive files documenting his system, and I reckon he should publish them as a book.

25 June 2009


I've just joined Twitter. You can find me here.

I was prompted by a friend who suggested I follow Mark E Smith. 'Well fuck,' thought I, 'that could be a laugh.' He said it was just like reading Fall lyrics, and it is! Complete with '-uh's! Brilliant!

24 June 2009


My assessor seems to be on a campaign to persuade me to give up painting in favour of a so-called ‘post-material practice’. It is not just my natural perversity that makes me resist this. I am dubious that there is any such thing. Even if there is, I don’t see why it should be either-or rather than both-and.

The obvious example of an immaterial art is performance. Obviously, a performance involves material things, usually at least one body. However, it is not a permanent material thing in the way a painting or sculpture is (yeah, yeah, so I’m using ‘permanent’ loosely here). It is an event, a situation, rather than a thing.

Let’s take Vito Acconci’s Seedbed as an example. It was a specific event that happened in a particular place at a particular time. The vast majority of us know this work through its documentation. Can we really separate the work from the documentation? If so, the vast majority of us do not know the work at all, only the documentation. If not, the work is not only an immaterial event but also its material documentation.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in producing work for a select group who happen to be in the right place at the right time. I’d like my work to be available to anyone who’s interested, regardless of their spacetime co-ordinates. That means producing material objects that exist over time, and to my mind those objects might as well be decent ones like paintings rather than crappy ones like photos.

Related to this is the main reason why I don’t like the term ‘conceptual art’. I consider it redundant. All art is conceptual. Take formalist abstract painting for example. If you showed one to your cat, you wouldn’t get much of a response. That’s because your cat doesn’t bring the concepts to its viewing of the painting that you do (I’m being charitable here, ho ho).

Despite this, I do have an immaterial art work I’d like to do next semester – get the Common-Sense Nihilist Party properly up and running. One of the ideas behind this is to use legal forms as a medium rather than paint. But that's no reason not to do paintings as well.

Speaking of the CSNP, a friend of mine suggested recently that I should do a book of unfinished projects, of which I have a few!

17 June 2009


Yeah, so the gig on Saturday was okay, but I'm annoyed with myself for organising it badly. I think most people enjoyed it, mostly. I got taken outside on the next day to be told in no uncertain terms how badly I'd organised it. I didn't enjoy that very much.

I've just been to a fourth year painting show. Only one of the other third years showed up. Pretty piss poor I reckon.

I've had my mark back for 40% of my studio paper. This is the paper that's half of a full-time course. I got a good mark and some amusing comments, including 'I am now CONVINCED that you use painting as a conduit or foil to other ideas. But have you exhausted the jokes on this?'

No, no I fucking haven't.

12 June 2009

The fucking Fall!

Some preparation for our gig on Saturday.

Here's The Fall playing '50 year old man' at HMV last year:

Here's 'The theme from Sparta F.C.' from 2006:

This one doesn't have a video, but it's a great song (and, if you come along to the Adelaide on Saturday, you'll see I allude to it in one of mine):

11 June 2009

This and that

It's the mid-semester break, and I've now got five or six weeks of holiday work, reading, and plotting. I should get marks back for my first semester papers sometime soon. I wonder how I've done. I was set to do okay in the (badly misnamed) critical studies paper, but the final test was so stupid I couldn't take it seriously.

I've only made it to work for one day so far. The same thing happened in Easter: I show up, get a niggling sore throat, and then suffer a full-blown head cold. I blame the building's air conditioning.

Oh yeah, on Friday last week I got a call from Rose. A friend of ours in Copenhagen had alerted her that the evil Barrs had written about me. They said some nice things, which was very gracious of them considering the rude things I've said about them. Arseholes.

I'd dispute the 'extensive exhibition history'. And as for the 'signature style well in place', we'll see about that.

This morning a friend of mine forwarded an email he'd sent to them:

Hi, great post. Absolute scream. However if you want to properly colonise this guy you're going to need a David Cauchi in your collection. I have several and would be willing to sell one of them to you. Let me know if you're interested.

The offer was politely declined.

04 June 2009

Some things in Wellington to go to

At 5.30 pm on Wednesday 10 June, Mr Matt Hunt will present his paintings Dreaming of a new Heaven and Earth and The eternal nightmare of Hades at Mr Peter McLeavey's gallery.

On Saturday 13 June, there will be:
visitors since 29 March 2004.