“…drifting towards (x)”

The filthy carcass of London is still twitching spasmodically. It jerks about like something is still alive inside it, even though everything else has stopped. Everything else has stopped.

David Cameron PM

On the occasion of the passing of the Rubbish Act, 2013, only two Members of Parleyament voted on the bill – The Chancellor Mr Osborne, (who has been sleeping rough on the back benches with several other refugees,) and Mr Cameron himself, who has the only remaining firearm.

Severe rubbish drifts prevented any other Members of Parleyament from gaining access to the House, and therefore the only people to know of the new law’s existence are the people still trapped inside the Lower Chamber, like a pocket of methane expelled from a dead body.

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“My addiction to following pieces of litter around as they are blown to and fro in the wind often overtakes my walks these days, to the point where I usually cannot tell if I really am the author of my own movements, or whether I follow some long caravan of garbage on its meaningless journey from one dusty corner to the next. Today is no different.”

CADE, journal extract

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See things from the right angle

“My bed seems to have developed some kind of gravitational or electromagnetic field all of a sudden, because I just cannot get out of it. It only started yesterday I think, but it feels I’ve been stranded here for aeons…a bit like those statues on Easter Island. I’ve tried climbing out, fold by fold, but my desperate struggles just seem to erode the chance of ever being set free…”

Dolly, victim of Evelina Mansions Housing Association SE5

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“Shuffling myself into a spit-ridden corner where I might keep out of the vicious flows and undercurrents passing through the street, I decide to put the toilet under observation.”

[more]

CADE, journal entry

Dealing with the city as corpus, CADE explicitly approaches the breakdown of the normal functioning of the metropolis through the digestive tract, examining much as a doctor would the waste products of this body for signs of illness or disturbance.

In CADE’s notes, he explicitly makes the following assertion:

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“The health of the whole state can be ascertained by its attitude towards
rubbish

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Chief Curator Prof. Bettany Unction

“In conversation with CADE”

Copyright © 2014 The Unstitute, All rights reserved.

Concentrated Boredom

Walking through Mary Datchelor Close, a semi-ordinary looking 1970s housing block, in colour, annexed between Church Street and Camberwell Green Youth Court – a building of which I am always cautious for its ability to stir unpleasant images in the meshes of the afternoon. I am aware that, amidst the almost perfect stillness and silence of the afternoon, there is a feint droning noise coming from somewhere out of view, flooding the estate with a malevolent, nauseating tone, a sub-larynxial movement almost inaudible to the ear. I decide to investigate further, having my curiosity stirred by this intensely monotone sound, uncertain whether it originates from the exterior or interior world. I swiftly go incognito by putting on the appearance of someone going up the shops, (so as not to draw any unwanted or hostile attention to myself,) and move from wall to wall around the estate, pausing now and then to press my ear to a surface, detecting the source of the grumbling drone in this utterly unremarkable landscape. Before long I come across an unmarked white Transit van parked up in front of a house which is coupled to some kind of trailer. An assortment of plastic hoses – three dirty-white ones and one green one – lead from the underside of the trailer unit and in through the kitchen window, evidently pumping something into the house, or sucking something out. The droning sound must be coming from the trailer, but it is impossible to be sure.

There is a lot of congestion in each of the fist-thick pipes which probably accounts for the droning sound – the vibrations of an engine working beyond its capacity, overstrained. As it coughs and splutters under its difficult load, a thick brown tar-like liquid, a little like dirty amber, seeps out from a tear in the green pipe and drips into a puddle around the trailer. This inexorable, tardy fluid, a sort of highly concentrated boredom, holds me in its trance until I gradually become aware of one of several pairs of eyes watching me from behind a dirty lace curtain in the kitchen window of the house. I stop and wonder whether the residents of this house are even aware that there is somebody in their house performing ‘works’ of some kind. Slowly the front door unlocks from inside and a trio of ‘workmen’ emerges, looking as if to demand some kind of an explanation for my standing here and taking photographs. As they walk towards me I notice the Health and Safety warnings on the trailer about decontamination, which would most likely explain the protective white plastic garments the three ‘workmen’ are wearing. They look the way you would expect a team of scientists or engineers to look in one of those science fiction films, who have been charged with digging up the remains of some ancient alien object buried deep beneath London streets, that alien object buried deep in the unconscious viewer.

I decide it would be a good idea to respond cautiously to this unfolding situation, and to that end I make a half-gesture towards the puddle of gravy-coloured fluid accumulating round the trailer tire. My gesture, perhaps tinged with a shade of divisive malice, a bit of divide-and-rule, causes two of the ‘workmen’ to suddenly become animated, and they start bickering to each another in whispers and hushed yelps. The two of them, in their Laurel and Hardy-ish way, are trying to hide behind the back of the third man who is, I now notice, somewhat taller and more impressive-looking than the others. After removing their protective masks and outer gear it is almost impossible to imagine how I could ever have thought all three men were the same size just a moment ago. These two are considerably more scrawny, undernourished and pathetic than the ‘foreman’, who just stares impassively through me just as though my presence was, to him, little more than a detail in the unfolding drama of his work day. Without my noticing, one of the two thin men has placed an empty bottle of Grant’s Scotch Whisky under the drip in an effort to minimize the waste of, (or to prevent contamination by,) this strange fluid. The second thin man just watches the other with a strange intensity, his hand down the front of his trousers, eyes rolling backwards into his skull.

I must escape, I conclude, before this situation, (or my own folly,) achieves its full degree of unpredictableness. Gesturing a second time to the puddle, this time more forcefully, I remind the ‘foreman’ how instrumental I was in the recovery of this apparently precious fluid. Had I not been passing something irreversible might have happened – and he knows it. I guess that he was probably ignoring the gross misconduct of his colleagues – their wastage of the fluid – so as to spare me, an outsider, from the spectacle of their punishment, but there was now no way it could be overlooked. By indicating the leak a second time, I had sealed their fate. They alternately throw hostile glances at me for having betrayed their incompetence, clawing at my conscience for a life line, but this hardly bothers me much – on the contrary, it brings me pleasure to know that I will be able to escape when their punishment begins. The foreman crouches down to the whisky bottle and slugs the contents with a single discharge of his gorge. His stern gaze, then dissolving into small rivulets of moisture in the corners of his eyes, echoes the spreading dark patch around his crotch, a Rorschach  image steaming and clinging to the inside of his thighs.

As I slip away from this narrative lurking in the housing estate, I see the faces of those thin men which seem to say – ‘It was the boredom that did it; your boredom! And we will never forgive you.’ Or at least that’s what I try not to tell myself as the droning sound fades into the distance, becoming little more than part of the background of the afternoon, a layer of autumnal parallax. To be sure, a million such monotonies lurks in the plain light of day, each threatening to disturb the apparent order of things. But if it really is my boredom that is responsible, if my boredom carries such charge as to be able to draw latent possibilities out of the monomanias of an afternoon, I am pretty certain that my being there to watch them unfold won’t really change anything.

The whole project to which this text belongs may be seen here: “…drifting towards (x)”

Barry Cade @ The Unstitute

‘THE WRECKAGE OF STARS': DR. JAMES LUCHTE @ THE UNSTITUTE

The Unstitute is proud to present the essay ‘The Wreckage of Stars: Nietzsche and the Ecstasy of Poetry’ by Dr James Luchte – available in English for the first time. It has been included in the permanent archive ‘[dis]Corporate Bodies’.

The essay artfully argues against the scholastic traditions of Western academia, the creation of the modern ‘theoretical man’ and the philosophical ‘spectator’, and explores the challenging alternatives presented in Nietzsche’s ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’.

Read the full essay here: http://theunstitute.org/disCorporate.Bodies.2.html

Dr Luchte is an expatriate American philosopher, author and poet who has lived in the United Kingdom since 1995. He is on the Board of Advisers of the Nietzsche Circle based in New York. This essay, available in English for the first time, was originally published in the Chinese Social Science Quarterly in 2011.

LINK:

http://theunstitute.org/disCorporate.Bodies.2.html

A patch of wasteland

This patch of wasteland, located off the westerly end of Southampton Way, Camberwell, measures roughly one quarter of an acre. It has no direct access-points; no way in and no way out, other than by scaling the fences or going under the ground. It does not appear to have had any use for rather a long time – the time of disuse measurable by the advancement of decay and overgrowth. I am only able to see it from the balcony of an abandoned house which adjoins it at the rear, and as far as I can tell, this is the only vantage-point from which you are able to tell that it even exists. In the westernmost corner is a ruined brick building – too small for a house – propped up by oak beams to prevent its utter collapse. A large quantity of garbage has been tossed over the outer walls, making this a haven for vermin of all kinds. A corpse is barely visible at the far-eastern corner.

I take two photographs of the wasteland, (or more properly, The Wilderness,) to record how it changes – if it changes – at the beginning and the end of one week. If I can study the passing of time in this wasteland which is excluded from direct human contact, this blind-spot to the city, this terrain vague, I hope to see the spatial mechanisms underlying the degradation and nihilism of the populace.

 

1: July 16th

The initial photograph and referent to the final one cannot provide any surprises, inasmuch as it constitutes the first view of a space and its contents; it is a mapping, a topography, a set of references and coordinates. Only when I return next Friday will any change reveal itself. The red arrows point at the derelict building/outhouse on the left, and the foot of the human corpse on the right. Note the window in the warehouse on the upper-left is begrimed with soot and provides no perspective of the wasteland – the balcony I have reached on the south side is the only accessible vantage.

It seems obvious to say, but much of what can be seen in this terrain is due to the lack of human presence. Prime land in the city such as this rarely remains fallow for long before developers move in, but this area appears to have been unused for quite some time. The hastily-erected fences constructed from corrugated iron suggest either an effort to retain the integrity of the borders of this territory, or a defensive measure to contain something hostile – at any rate, the builders of these fences, whether through negligence or on purpose, have not built any way in or out of it. It is land-locked, so to speak. Closed-off. This may have simply been a gross oversight – like building a house without a door – or it might be evidence of a last-ditch struggle to hold something within its confines.

It is possible that there are a large number – perhaps a growing number – of such wildernesses springing up all over the city, only you can’t see them due to perimeter barricading which makes them disappear off the map. Unless a survey was conducted from the air to document the area of useful land that has been left for waste, we would have no way of knowing just how much of London has been eroded in this way, and at this stage of social decline I can hardly imagine any governing body having the necessary energy or time to carry out such a survey. There are always plenty of helicopters in the sky though, (two can be seen at the top of the image,) but these seem to be engaged in some kind of search for something – probably fugitives. Unless they’re searching for themselves. I mean, actually searching for themselves. But that seems improbably to say the least; from my observations it appears that the helicopters tend to hover like flies over the corpses strewn throughout the disused areas further north from here towards the river; those areas that became fallow many weeks ago.

I depart, ready to return in a week to take the next photograph.

***

 

2: July 23rd

As you can see, nothing has changed. You could be forgiven for thinking that this was exactly the same photograph as the previous one, except that it isn’t. Mounting my camera on the tripod I left on the balcony, (so as to get exactly the same angle on the wasteland as I did last week,) I find myself looking into exactly the same scene; nothing has changed – not even the light has changed. The two helicopters are stuck in the sky, unable to get out of the picture. The undergrowth, which is usually fast-growing at this time of the year, has not grown a bit. Nothing has changed at all, rather everything seems to be stuck in a state of suspended animation, frozen-off from the rest of the city. The outhouse is no nearer to collapse, and the corpse has not deteriorated, even under the incredible heat of the noonday sun which seems to be hotter and closer than it ever used to be. If this wasteland were to be a cancerous invasion of sorts and local residents had worked to stem its growth before it infected their homes, the effort seems to have failed, however. The houses in the vicinity are empty, too. A process of de-gentrification is in progress, the area becoming less and less desirable, no longer up-and-coming as it once was, but down and out to the point of zero-value. But the question is, whether this is the result of the patch of wasteland infecting the area, or the area devaluing itself and creating the patch of wasteland. But it is impossible to know such things from only a pair of identical photographs.

 

CADE, Untitled diary fragment #703 [summer 2013]

view entire project here

OCUSONIC ‘A Diamond Forms Under Pressure’ now showing online @ The Unstitute

The
Unstitute
is
an
Evolving
Interactive
Environment

The Projection Room – Video Launch:

OCUSONIC

‘A Diamond Forms Under Pressure’
15th July-15th August

The Unstitute continues to offer monthly screenings of experimental videos online. This month we take pleasure in presenting ‘A Diamond Forms Under Pressure’ by Irish artist and composer OCUSONIC.

A Diamond Forms Under Pressure, is an anomaly existing somewhere between experimental film and music video.
An improvised electronic soundtrack drives proprietary software, which analyses the audio’s frequency content and generates a cogent synchronous image in real-time. Frequencies push and pull against each other stabilising or agitating the central image.

***

About The Projection Room

The Projection Room at The Unstitute was created to show experimental video art online. Works are selected on the basis of their ability to provoke thought, reaction and engagement on the visual, audible and conceptual levels, whether in a positive or negative fashion. Videos are not selected on the basis of technical merit or aspiration to conventional standards.

Successful works will be screened for one month at The Unstitute. Applicants may send as many works as they like – if selected, they will form part of a month-long roster. Your video/s will be promoted via international web channels.

The Unstitute is currently seeking submissions for its 2015-16 season, but there may be also the opportunity to exhibit as part of a group screening in the nearer future.

If you would like to apply, please send a link to your video/s to theunstitute@gmail.com

LINK:

http://theunstitute.org/Projection.Room.html

Long Lane: Beyond the Pleasure Principle

Introduction:

Long Lane, Southwark. The people here are in a desperate state, although it’s difficult to tell what exactly they are desperate for. Usually there is some ostensible reason why a young man might cry his heart out in a doorway – or why a woman might lead her partner about on a leash. There are too many whys and wherefores these days which are little more than vague gestures than real questions seeking out an answer. There are too many unsolved mysteries that double, treble, quadruple every day. One doesn’t wonder if people don’t unconsciously desire to be perplexed, acting in the strange ways they do. But there’s literally no good reason for being in Long Lane; this is the place people go to get beyond the pleasure principle. People’s behaviour doesn’t mean anything here. Not even a scream has meaning.
People only ever cry out for something. You cry out for help. You cry out in pain and you cry for joy. You cry in both orgasm and mourning. In Long Lane however, something highly unusual has happened to the normal sequence of the cry inasmuch as here, people cry for nothing. This ‘cry-for-nothing’, harmless as it sounds, signifies nothing. You cannot hope to find out what it means, and if you catch yourself doing it, you’re done for.

 

Cries-for-nothing

1) Man in doorway

This first recording is of the aforementioned young man in the doorway of a closed charity shop on Long Lane. You might think he was drunk or something, the way he lollygags on the pavement staining his trousers in phlegm, but you would be wrong. There is no reason for this behaviour. This man is in an abyss. From a distance, the sounds he makes are indistinguishable from those of a person in deep misery – indeed, all the sounds are correct, but the content is entirely missing. I listen several times to the recording of his ‘voice’ and find the sounds I interpreted initially as abject misery are in fact nothing of the kind – there are no words, ideas, concepts – and therefore no meaning to his cries. It is a cry-for-nothing.

2) Male voice from above

The second recording came out of a first-floor window further down by the junction with Wild’s Rents – a nondescript cobbled street with a gourmet food shop on its corner. This batch of noises are far more terrible than the first but alas, just as meaningless. I try to picture the person up there in that room above the shop, grunting and snorting until he practically vomits. It can only just be described correctly as a human voice.
Looking at the deli-style menu outside the shop, I am puzzled as to the fare on offer here.


I speculate momentarily on the possible connection between the sounds and the menu, but think better of it and move on. In this instance, I am glad for the cry to be meaningless. I rush back to the complex delta-like junction spews its nonsense all over Borough High Street like an ill mouth.

3) Man on leash

This whimpering and grunting animal has been clumsily dressed in a suit by his wife who, in a crude effort to provide him with a familiar identity, has revealed her denial about her husband’s metamorphosis. It may be that this man-thing can only get around anywhere on a leash, perhaps due to laziness, idiocy or lack of motivation, but whatever it is he has become entirely dependent upon his wife for survival. Were she to abandon him he would no doubt turn feral and run wild all over the area, posing a threat to husbands and other dogs in the neighbourhood.

Empties

 

Well…that was the last thing he ever said to me. Packed-up and left the next morning he did, and that was the last I saw of him. Poor old Mr. Johnson. But I suppose you can’t blame him for wanting to leave this place – I mean, it’s going to the dogs, innit? Not that he had a choice, mind. About leaving. Well, there weren’t nothing left for him to do, so naturally he lost his job. Housing Association’s hardly likely to pay for a caretaker to take care of a building that they don’t care about any more, are they? Think about it. Housing Association treats this whole estate like it doesn’t exist. I suppose that’s why everybody’s gone, cause…well…I mean, people don’t want to live somewhere that doesn’t exist, do they? Course not. Except for me of course. I suppose you could say the Housing Association should have done more to keep the building in good repair, you know. They could have painted the walls for a start, or occasionally cut that overgrown lawn out front and changed them old fittings in the lobby that never work but, I dunno – they’ve got their own agenda, haven’t they?

Of course, they don’t want me here. Course not. They say I’m ‘standing in the way of progress’. Yeah. That’s what they said in their letter. Hang on a minute…I got it here somewhere…ok, I got it…here we go:

Dear Mister Whatever-your-name-is,

Our Enforcement Division has recently discovered that you are standing in the way of progress. I should like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to clause number 5,142a in your tenancy agreement that states the following:

‘All persons residing at the property agree not to stand in the way of progress. Any person or persons at the property found to be standing in the way of progress are recommended to think twice about it before they get their mouth filled in with concrete.’

If it is therefore your intention to continue standing in the way of progress, the Housing Association will take no responsibility, financially or otherwise, for the condition of your internal organs after we visit. 

Yours, with heartfelt regards, etc. etc.,

Mister Housing Association

It’s funny, but I don’t feel like leaving. Don’t ask me why. I just, you know, I just feel like somebody should stay, you know what I mean? See, if I leave, this place just won’t exist anymore, so I’ve got to stay. I know I shouldn’t, ‘cause of the risk and everything, what with them ‘patrols’ the Housing Association keeps sending round in the middle of the night, making that dreadful racket with their crowbars as they tear the place apart, night after night, breaking things and with their jack boots. But that’s nothing compared to the dog patrols. You don’t wanna be anywhere near one of them when it comes past. I saw them get a squatter last night. Poor woman. Talk about savage. It’s terrible it is. So you have to sit and cower somewhere almost impossible to get at, hardly daring to breathe…or you keep moving from one flat to another, hiding as best you can, keeping upwind from those dog-things. But, I suppose you gotta hand it to them; at least they’re thorough. The Housing Association, I mean. At least it gives you a bit of confidence in your local authority, you know what I mean? And it’s good to have confidence in the authorities. So, well…I just sit here in the dark most of the time. But I know they’ll find me in the end. They find everyone in the end…