What Painting Is

I’ve been reading James Elkins’ (yes him again) What Painting Is. The book is about painting as the act of doing things with paint: the work towards the Work, as it were. Not about Art or Representation, or even stories about painters: the book tackles the viscous, tactile, impossible task of making something sublime through actions with oil, water, stone, pigment. There aren’t, he argues, art-critical ways of talking about painting at this level, and the book draws broadly from the language and practice of alchemy to navigate its way around these unspeakable things. Elkins’ face-to-the-canvas discussion of the physical …

A Painting of Heaven

I’ve been reading The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing, by James Elkins. It’s worth a read — he covers a lot of phenomenological territory, in pursuit of what seems a very personal understanding of what seeing (as contrasted with vision or sight) is about. Seeing, as he sees it, is a complex ‘metamorphosis, not mechanism’. Unexpected insights in familiar places (he is an art historian by trade, and much of the book deals with how we exploit seeing in our representations of its effects). This from a riff on Picasso’s Women of Avignon: When a whole crowd …

Monochromes Of London

Sitting outside at The Approach with a pint of Prospect ale, enjoying the lingering Indian summer. Just visited the Wilkinson Gallery, which is exhibiting David Batchelor’s The Found Monochromes Of London 1-80 (1999-2003): …the culmination of four years’ work during which time Batchelor photographed over 100 simple white rectangles found in the streets. Presented as a slideshow, it’s very cool. The found rectangles form the centre of each picture, with a background of urban London spilling around the edges of this blank focus. The series has a lingering Entrances To Hell kind of effect after leaving the gallery, changing the …

Wood Car

If the Eameses had applied their fabrication skills to the design brief of the Citroen 2CV, during a serious fuel shortage, they might have ended up with something like Joost Conijn’s beautiful (the photo [now lost (2013)] doesn’t do it justice) wood-burning, plywood Hout Auto (Wood Car), currently exhibited at the NICC space of the Koninklijk Museum voor Shone Kunsten Antwerpen. An accompanying video documents the car’s rambling journey through the mountain passes and pot-holed backroads of central Europe, avoiding major routes. According to the NICC website: The artist travels towards the unknown. The main plan is to make a …


It’s the summer of Anticon in my house. Song of the week has to be this remix of Sole’s Plutonium. Look out for the white girl suicide bomber. Indeed.

Products? Easy.

Brian’s lucid moments are as entertaining as his (um) other moments. He’s recently written a column about product development in our post-everything world: The fact is, even in the present economic conditions, it?s never been easier to bring an idea to market. Rem Koolhaas recently said that formal architectural training was a waste of time. If you can imagine a building, Ove Arup can build it. If you have a better idea for a laptop or flat panel television, OEM manufacturers can spec and build it for you. Need distribution? Allow me to introduce you to the web, and an …

Turf War

Turned out Banksy’s ‘event’ was just around the corner from here in Dalston. A few pictures before my camera died. It was a good weekend for art: also Christian Marclay’s Video Quartet at the White Cube, and the exhibition of Henry Wellcome’s extraordinary collection of things at the British Museum. And a mango lassi at the Rasa festival in Hannover Square.

Rage Net

Brakhage DVDs arrived. Rage Net on Arcam FMJ DV27 to 42 inch plasma screen. Watch from a distance of about 10 inches. That and The Dante Quartet, which dissolves the screen. Fragments form and reform.

La Mer

I’m not sure where I found this excerpt. The whole thing runs for an hour, and is mesmerisimg projected large. Saw this unexpected in a stairwell at the Palais de Tokyo a few years ago.

Begone Dull Care

The bfi has released its Norman McLaren 2 DVD ‘Collector’s Edition’ set. Mine turned up today. Beautiful. Fantastic transfer, and good selection of films. Lines Horizontal (1961), Mosaic (1965) and Synchromy (1971) are extraordinary visual toccatas. Expensive, but worth it. Buy a video projector, tape down the curtains, and turn up the volume.