Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Minute but significant happenings: Bill Viola, The Passions, National Gallery, London

Brief jumbled notes from a very packed and intensely exhausting yet invigorating exhibition...

'Silent Mountain' (2001), a double screen of a woman and a man dressed in plain blue tops facing the camera. In Viola-slow-mo they come to life and painful but silent howling overcomes them both as they writhe in synchronised agony. Ouch ouch ouch.

'Four Hands' (2001), a black and white polyptych on four LCD flat panels was mesmerising: four hands of different physical ages moving together in different expressions, seemingly in a slow dance. Gorgeous. A visual banquet.

The National Gallery is the right space for this exhibition with Viola drawing upon old masters paintings and devotional images.

Viola makes the viewer a proactive figure in his work. The absence of camera movement combined with trademark slow motion forces the viewer to focus in on the minute details of the characters in the often decontextualised, narrativeless films. Time passes in a very strange way: that's as accurate a description as I can manage. Facial expressions, movement of bodies, hands, clothes, water, fire are all up for close, detailed examination. Light changes imperceptibly. The slow motion is so slow the viewer cannot anticipate what is to happen next; the viewer is forced to concentrate so keenly on the image in order not to miss the momentary minute but significant happenings. It's both a draining and exciting experience. Wonderful. Definitely a run-home-skipping day!

Sunday, December 21, 2003

"Don't sing sad songs when you're drunk"

Friday, December 19, 2003

I lead such a blessed life! This week I landed myself the job of my dreams and felt for the first time in my life that I did a really good job… The thoroughly thought out campaign and endless work, sleepless nights, crazy dreams and obsessive talk of Mass-Observation paid off… Siiiggggh! Lucky, lucky, happy me: to be doing something I wholly believe in and feel passionate about, and to have support, encouragement and delight all around me.

And there’s been ‘Friday Night in San Francisco’ (Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin, Paco DeLucia) from D.P. Dribble dribble dribble dribble!

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Let the Ceilidh Weekend begin...

Last night was a blast! (Christmas Ceilidh fundraiser for the choir) Caught the cosmic giggles until my belly hurt. Ceilidh dancing is so much fun! Second choir gig, too, for me.

Today it's a trip to the library for some research on fundraising, an accessory shop with J to go with our 'triad' dresses for this evening, some carolling in town, then the 'gangsters' ceilidh... I'm knackered just thinking about it.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

DJs Sharp H and Russell K

Well, I'm still in the office half listening to last week's Mixing It's interview with Johnny Greenwood on the web. I'm at work late using the quiet space for some reading and planning. So far, so good. Now for a quick blog and then a trip over to the main library.

Souad Massi was truly uplifting last night. Couldn't keep me on my seat at the end. The evening started in a mad rush to get to the concert on time after work (7.30pm), only to find that there were technical problems and they weren't going to open the doors until 9pm. So P and I wandered off to seek out wine. An organic wine and truckloads of chips later, a little squiffy, we arrive back at the theatre and find ourselves chatting to the people around us. Once again, another typical evening out with P... he just can't stop himself talking to strangers! A lady whom we spotted before wandering off at 7.30 made a beeline for us while P was chatting merrily to the student at the door and I was comfortably standing face to face in silent close proximity with a lady staring blankly somewhere around me (quite an amusing space to be in; had I not had that glass of wine I probably would have felt uncomfortable, or at least would have allowed myself some more personal body space). J (we later found out her name) arrived and began telling us about the sleep she had had at her friend's house; how don't we all need friends who provide tea, a sofa and a blanket (side point - sounds like Club H to me...); how exhausted she was; how excited she was about seeing Souad Massi. We eventually tumbled into the auditorium and after I leant into the wrong man ('yeah, yeah, P.... over THERE....'), I found P the man himself and we sat in the front row. J joined us and we carried on chatting about why we liked Souad Massi, how we had heard of her, how excited we were. It turns out J works for hospital radio, loves mini disc players and does lots of interviews................ And the story goes on....... Right now I haven't the time to tell you the whole story: but it ends with meeting T (aka P.F.) in the street, studying art therapy, acquaintance of J, DJ by night, a girl looking for the Devonshire Arms, and J passing on her 'phone number for P and I's debut as DJs Sharp H and Russell K. We shall begin our training in the new year. I am so excited. I went to bed happy after an hour's chat with A, and woke up without swearing for once in a long time, feeling like today was the first day of my real life. Sounds a little pretentious, I know, but there really are days when I cry in the mornings, and today I welled up with excitement and awe. It does get better.

Right, now, time for some library loving...!

(BTW - the concert was pretty good, too. More on that some other time.)

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

It's just gone seven o'clock and for the first time in ages I have come home weary, exhausted and yet satisfied that I did a good day's work using my brain. I got archive head towards the end of the day and had to rush home in need of food but maybe, just Maybe I will sleep well tonight after a film perhaps.

After a weekend of drooling, watching the last couple of episodes of ER from the last series, a bit of Kickboxer (surprisingly quite an absorbing and entertaining film) and bits of poor straight-to-television films about love, betrayal and murder, waking up in a daze and feeling washed out, I now feel better. Less crackers. Time to take on the world. Bit by bit at least. After some sleep.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Am in London this weekend having a bit of tlc with the family. An drove me home on his way back to Gillingham and we listened to a Divine Comedy album on the way. It was like being on holiday, looking out at the fields and singing along to the music, feeling so free and elated. I got the long awaited letter in the post today and now everything seems so much more real and touchable... and scary. All I can do now is do my best.

Ad and I went into town and as we got off the train we saw a train collide with a pigeon. There was a gentle shower of white downy feathers on the platform and a strange feeling that had the pigeon not been fast enough there would have been bloodshed and a bit more of a knock. I think the pigeon was OK but it could probably do with some client centred counselling and maybe a spot of physiotherapy for a short while.

Also received a letter from twin J today. So good to see that despite the interwonderweb there are still people out there who prefer the written pen to paper word. ahhhhH!

Thursday, December 04, 2003

The night before last I dreamt I was in a badly drawn cartoon with my extended family. We were in a barren rocky wasteland (prehistoric times but with modern clothes?). R was the chosen one to suffer against this tv screen embedded in a rock thing which when only he touched, sucked his life force and he had to fight and struggle against it. There was no way of helping him: we all had to just wait and let him get on with it. Still haven't figured this one out.

Further thoughts on this web communication thing. Different degrees of communication through different modes. Face to face: now that's big time - the best. Psychic vibes: much much less so in most cases. Telephone: nearer face to face than psychic. Letter writing: definitely nearer ftf than p. Text messaging: better than p but much nearer p than ftf than telephone or letter writing I think. Email one along towards ftf from text messaging. So that's why I go mad when people think that an effective way to stay in touch with me is through texting or emailing when we have things called telephones, pens, papers, envelopes, stamps. (Note I am referring to 'good friends' who have supposedly known me for some time and would know my preferred modes of communication. New friends and those abroad have better excuses and I am grateful and happy for anything in those circumstances). Yes there are always exceptions to my preferences, such as when email can be a relief from the intensity of the ftf contact, or a text message can be an easy way to confirm a rendez vous.

OK, I admit: I have a complicated relationship with my phone and my computer. That's why it all fascinates me so much. I could bang on and on and on about all of this but there is no time and finally I am desperate for sleep and pray the insomnia and crazy dreams don't pay me visits this evening. More words later. I'm really getting into this blogging thing but am slightly anxious about it too... Who on earth is reading all of this anyway? Why don't I just get the pen and paper out????

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Sometimes I think this internet malarkey is a bit too scary and people can just get to you anywhere, at any time...

And yet I purposely choose to keep a weblog... what on earth is going on here?? Hmmmm: interesting. Rub my chin a lot.

It's OK when you want people to be in touch with you. But when you're not ready or prepared for it, when you're not able to say 'no' or shut the door for a while and be alone, it can be just awful. Why do you think I keep my mobile phone switched off these days? And when I switch it back on I'm just expecting or not expecting something: hurt or disappointment? Loss and longing: very tricky to deal with.

'...there's nothing as sad as a man on his back counting stars.' (Low)

Did you know that yesterday I diagnosed a MSc student with what seems like a disease rapidly on the increase amongst parts of the university student population: Helplessness. I have never seen someone poke a photocopying machine in such a pathetic, unknowing way that's made me bite my lip thinking they're just taking the mickey out of me. Strange Candid Camera World.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Mmmmmmm: Gillian Wearing - Mass Observation is such a luxurious object in itself: dark brown cloth covers, matt pristine dust wrapper, smooth pages. Newness: mMMmmmmm! Plus rather interesting content, too. Have discovered some books I need to read up on (Ben Highmore's Everyday life reader, for example). I'd really love to see Wearing's videos.

Mobile phone is switched off.

Yesterday I finally watched Three Colours Red and found myself deeply moved by it. Disturbingly I felt some identification with the emotionally crippled retired judge who listened in on people's phone conversations and spied on their lives, his own being empty and loveless. Sob...? Not at all! I laughed out loud. How very strange. I reckon I'll make sense of my reaction in a few years' time.

Got a postcard at work from P: Would I like to see Ross Daly at the Union Chapel next year? Need he Ask??! Drool drool drool! oooooh!

Have come to some empty-headed realisations about loss and longing on the way home along New England Street, in Sainsbury's and on the bus today. I feel sad despite all the good and exciting and wonderful things and people around me. Big Yawning Sigh of Acceptance!

One of the few small pleasures I experience on weekday mornings is walking through part of F Village for less than two minutes. It's like being in a fictitious Tess of the d'Urbervilles world, with small homely cottages, old brick walls covered in green and narrow streets. Then I turn the corner and I can see the spanking bright new building I work in and I'm reminded of where I really am and what time it is.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Home home home... I just want to be at home where I can be in a room and see more than two square inches of clear floor space...

Feels like the world is swimming today. Everything is bathed in water.

Something must be wrong. I really want to be at work.

Just bought Gillian Wearing book - still wrapped in cellophane.... can't wait.