Monday, 27 February 2012


So what about music, they ask, didn't you once Do that, in one of your former incarnations? Was that not you I once saw play on the same cruise ship on the same night as both Boney M and The Sweet? Did not handsome men with the insignia of The Evil Bunny embroidered on their jackets in threads of gold once fawn and fetch and carry for you in The Same Hotel That Paul Daniels Stayed In though not at the same time? Did you not once play a gig for £2 and a slice of pizza (mouldy)?  Do I not recall you teaching the tin whistle to convicted serial killers in Hull Prison? Did you not fritter away your youth on airport floors and dirty pillows and the sound of people counting up to two in dusty and windowless rooms? How could you walk away from such glamour?  And what did it leave you with?

Well yes, my friends, it is all true, every word of it, and now you know why you won't find a formal c.v. for me anywhere online.

But the music, once it gets in you, never gets out again, knocking your electrons forevermore like some kind of spiritual herpes that you can express, but never get rid of. And for me, it's the polyphony that's the thing, not that tedious static Western stratified hierarchical pyramid where there's a place for everything and everything in its place but an older, fatter polyphany of a glorious textility where everybody has a voice and everybody talks to each other and the story is woven together out of life being lived. Clearly it is African diaspora musicians I have to thank for bringing about this marvellous structural thinking-change, and thankful I am, even if I make a poor show in the expression...

See, you take the top line and you stick it behind the bass line and everything in the mids wandering in and out wherever they need to go and then you get the whole damn thing and put it behind the backline altogether.

And you take the high and the thin and the bright and the linear and you let it slip under the deep and the dark and the fat and the white noises and thunder and silence so the dark can do its own shining. Whatever's in front, let it sit in behind sometimes, or off to one side.
So you let each of the voices tell its own story and each voice talk to one another. And it's you, who listens, who joins in, who will make of this the big story which is all the stories, according to your focus, according to your lights.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

the deathish gallery shuffle and the magic harrypotter enjoy-your-dinner looking stick

I hate the museum shuffle, the self-conscious drag from painting to painting, maintaining a constant distance from every piece as if afraid of violating their personal space. Always reminds me of horrible nights out with people from work in which you are obliged to do that dance around a handbag which is just a grim pastiche of different ways of standing awkwardly set to music you don't like.

It's a choreography of boredom and obedience, a dress rehearsal for the performance of institutional interactions, a set piece to be trotted out in dole queues, shopping centres, magistrates' courts, airports, pedestrian crossings, jobs where there is nothing to be done yet you have to be seen to be busy.

Is that actually what They (the Man) want art for, after all? Just another way to keep us in our place?

Not for me, ta. What can I do about that then?

Here's a small answer, at least.  The Public* has delightfully named it  'magic harrypotter enjoy-your-dinner looking stick'. Yes it's a chopstick with a UV LED on it and very well it works too both for doing lighting and acting as a self-consciousness dispersing rod. I was excessively proud of my little invention until I realised I had just invented the torch. Oh well, originality be buggered, sez I, at least we have created a space for a little Public Engagement with Engagement.

*Of course I include myself as an equally sorry and lumpen member of that sorry & lumpen class  'The Public' .

Saturday, 11 February 2012


Some great photos here from  Gary C Martin's photostream on Flickr.

He has illuminated the pictures using only white & UV Magic harrypotter enjoy-your-dinner looking sticks so the means of looking at the pictures has created light drawings in the photographs. Brilliant!

Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 37Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 35Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 33Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 32Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 30Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 28
Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 27Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 24Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 22Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 21Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 20Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 19

Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 18Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 16Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 14Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 12Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 09Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 05
Dark Matters, Sarah Roberts - 03

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

how to look at art

Well my little show in the dark is a roaring success. I'm very encouraged that all sorts of people are getting the clever thinky stuff with no trouble at all and picking up on the subtle stuff I threw out there just in case anyone found it a bit amusing and generally enjoying themselves.  But it turns out there are some aspects that need a little explanation—here is my fun instructions manual for attaching a batttery to a battery clip.