Call out for your old Multimedia cables

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I am collecting those old multimedia cables you have nesting in the dark corners of your world, just waiting to be transformed into some art. No need to untangle. Can collect from you in Brighton or London, or mail to me at MA Fine Art, Camberwell College of Arts, 45-65 Peckham Road London, Greater London SE5 8UF (or me at home) feel free to cut the plugs/sockets/obsolete piece of technology which was exciting 5yrs ago off the ends before you send. The more the better. Some time this week please? Thank you thank you.

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Mark Fisher and Jeremy Deller

The Battle of Orgreave and Mark Fishers presentation about Capitalist Realism. Not sure that it matters what order I saw them in, but I saw them both within 24 hrs of each other and the effect is very visceral. The political mechanisms in place, the role the media plays in presenting events to us, the local and global posturing of power. If the events at Orgreave are when everything changed, when British politics formally adopted the monetary model rather than the social model of capitalism, then it was only a partial success. It wasn’t about dismantling the miners specifically, as much as dismantling the workers’ security and comfort. The constant state of anxiety Fisher now attributes to the workers of today is only possible because there are still workers, there is still a large group of the population who are indeed workers. They have survived.
Both Fisher and Deller seem to me to propose optimism and faith in what may come next, which I really appreciate, as our current economical and political climate is often presented negatively to us by commentators.
This open ended view is something that I really try to build into my work too, and it’s what keeps me interested, keeps me going. Stating something provokes a much different conversation from questioning or proposing something. (see later post re: Joya residency)

Mark Fisher

Mark Fisher was in conversation with the ever engaging David Cross. They share passion in the state of the world, and I loosely categorise them as Cross working to address some of the predicaments directly, and Fisher commentating and proposing possibilities for how things might develop. This alternative to the current status quo feels to me active, rather than the resigned struggle typified by the ubiquitous ‘keep calm and carry on’ mantra.
Fisher was able to present his research and ideas contained in his book ‘Capitalist realism: Is there no alternative?’ in a really interesting and accessible way. When the floor was opened up for questions I was really impressed with how engaged his responses were, it felt like a conversation.

These are the notes I took during Mark Fishers’ presentation:
The debate can be framed as Fordism vs Post-Fordism, the switch from The Godfather model of control to the blown-open Heat magazine generation.
Capitalist Realism is about keeping at bay what we know about sustainable growth/development. It makes it politically impossible talk about climate change.
When Thatcher announced ‘there is no alternative’ to capitalism, she meant there was none more desirable. Today we are facing an ontological shift which allows us to see another way. We no longer accept ‘that’s just the way it is and the way it has to be’
The disappearance of the political in our contemporary popular culture actually means the victory of one form over all the others. Capitalist Realism is the pathology of the left. New Labour’s world is dominated by markets and big business, ‘that’s just how it is and it has to be engaged with’.
‘Continuous professional development’ epitomises New Labour. It means that you are never finished. Just like The Trial by Kafka, we are now living with lifelong uncertainty and perpetual anxiety. Validation will never come. You could call this a form of market Stalinism.
Neo-liberalism did not in fact free is from beurocracy as we have ended up just doing it all for ourselves. ( Raw market operating needs quantifying- when this gets applied to public services then you have to create beurocracy to measure it)
Is there such a thing as synergy of political and material changes?
How did neo-liberalism win? Successful violence destroyed established structures of workers rots. This was helped by the shift in workers desires. The 1060s neo-liberalism promoted link to modernisation, but to reject is not to modernise.
-Fordism: workers exchanged boredom in return for security in the local factory. In the 1970s the fractures began, with antagonism between management and workers. Resulted the precarious position of ‘flexibility’
-Computerisation and digitalisation, which is short term.
In the 60s success was equal to Stalinist or lenin view of just getting things done, with the alternative being the ethical approach, in which nothing appears to get done. Resulted in a great IMPASSE.
Frederick Jameson offered view on the state of homogenisation. Culture becomes chronically nostalgic, a pastiche. There develops the rhetoric of high turnover and the disappearance of anything new. But capitalism can’t deliver new culture, just new technology.
Communicative Capitalism. Participation is compulsory.
capitalist Realism is the naturalisation of Post Modernism. Results in retrospection and pastiche. This are the facts of mandatory continuous precarity.
Sherrie Turkle in Alone Together wrote about modern communication and how email means we have no more set working hours. Smartphones mean we have no more restricted workplace, but the converse of that is that the workplace is everywhere.
A phrase for this is nonstop inertia. Communicative Capitalism states that phones are no longer leisure items. The libidonisation of anxiety- smartphones are tethers to the capitalist matrix. In social media time we are always late.
David Cross then talked with Fisher about ‘worker prisoners and debater addicts’. And whether post-Fordist placing may be way of recontextualising solidarity?
Fisher responded by summarisation that flexibility is a capitalist construct, plasticity has a memory but can be explosive, and elasticity is a pastiche the two.
The so-called ‘prisoner’ Fordist workers didn’t want to move into liquidity or flexibility, they wanted more structure and coordination. This comes back to centralisation vs de-centralisation.

Being stressed at work results from no longer having union stewards to go to or anyone to ask for support. We are now soley responsible for it ourselves, and therapy or medication takes the role.
Personally I find these theories of lack of support, continuous workplace and constant expectations of improvement and developing being related to mental ill-health extremely interesting.
There is a common dismissive notion that depression is a modern phenomenon, literally in our minds. Accepting it as such, but integrating current knowledge of predisposition towards mental ill health and trigger situations such as a side-effect of capitalism seems brilliant to me.
It means that just as increased incidence lung cancer is as a result of smoking, or road accidents are a result of the car, or indeed burns are a result of the harnessing of fire, we accept that living with capitalism can be bad for our health too.

Fisher finished by suggestion that our capital is in a state of ‘non-stop innertia’ driven by the property prices. UK property prices are a major source of capitalist control, in that if you are happy to work hard to keep a roof over your head, you have no every left to make something or think about things. Logical.

Extract of talk by Mark Fisher

Being stressed at work results from no longer having union stewards to go to or anyone to ask for support. We are now soley responsible for it ourselves, and therapy or medication takes the role.
Personally I find these theories of lack of support, continuous workplace and constant expectations of improvement and developing being related to mental ill-health extremely interesting.
There is a common dismissive notion that depression is a modern phenomenon, literally in our minds. Accepting it as such, but integrating current knowledge of predisposition towards mental ill health and trigger situations such as a side-effect of capitalism seems brilliant to me.
It means that just as increased incidence lung cancer is as a result of smoking, or road accidents are a result of the car, or indeed burns are a result of the harnessing of fire, we accept that living with capitalism can be bad for our health too.

Surface Water development

After an astoundingly immersive week at Cortijada Los Gazquez I have been thinking about the project I began there- where it sits, how it’s installed, the scale, are things to play with. Work in progress.

I was really struck by how scarce all the things we take for granted were there. Water. If it doesn’t fall from the sky it has to be hauled from the spring in the nearest village, which is a car drive away. Electricity- wind or sun deliver it for free, otherwise it’s the combustion engine generator which delivers. This becomes the only engine you can hear in the whole valley. The silence there is otherwise so loud it made my ears ring.

So, finding a rocky outcrop surrounded by optimistic furrows of corn, I trampled some of the herbs for the week. I was situated towards the end of a run-off system of terraces which had served historically to channel water to the well. As the terraces eroded, along with the rainfall, so the well has run dry.

I placed halves of salvaged ballcocks into the earth in a pattern dictated by the contours of the hill and the bushes clinging on there. The title of the work was made even more percent as all that was collected was dust and a lizard!

Things to work on: Depth of the ‘bowls’. Precision of installation. Scale- planned rather than arbitrary.

Art on a train

Train art
Train art
train art
train art
train art
train art
train art
train art
train art
train art

The journey into college takes me an hour on the train, plus buses either end. I actually love it. Peace and quiet, no small domestic demands on me, just time to think and read and write.

When I did this journey daily 12 years ago, we occupied our time with papers: newpaper, journals, books, paperwork. Now we are all consuming/communicating electronically. The conversations have changed too from “I’m on the train….” to ‘Ping’ read me I’m a text message.