January 18, 2016

8.30 am. Grim news for the workforce at Port Talbot Steelworks:

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 09.08.59

The Steel Work [working title] project is now very timely, therefore. It was developed, at the invitation of the Peoples’ Collection Wales, as a response to the deposit of over 2,000 glass-plate negatives of the Port Talbot Steelworks (PTS), which they’ve recently acquired, and which were hitherto unknown. The negatives depict the plant during the first two decades of its existence. PTS was, and remains, one of the largest steel manufacturers in Europe. Presently the plant, and UK Steel in general, are under threat from imports of the alloy from China more cheaply, with the threat of job losses (now realised) and possible closure. Consequently, this may be one of last opportunities to engage artistically with a living industry, and one of the great contributors to Wales’ industrial heritage. The project is envisaged as a visual-sound articulation aimed at promoting the collection within an academic and a public sphere.

I wrote to one of the project organisers:

Presently, I’m envisaging a sound response to both the glass-plate slides and the steelworks as it looks and sounds today. The ‘soundscape’ would be performed live, and so could form part of an event aimed at promoting this collection and public debate in the Port Talbot and South Wales region. I’ve also been discussing, more generally, the new methodological  approaches to converting digital images, such as those made from the glass slides, into sound analogues with Professor Reyer Zwigglaar at Computer Science. As such, I believe the project could develop into one that has meaningful public impact, while at the sometime breaking new artistic and academic ground

9.00 am. I opened and dispatched responses to my unread mail, and made ready for a trip to the campus to participate in the delivery of a Research Supervisors’ Training session:


I’ve attended this session more times that I can remember. However, the discussions never fail to raise new issues, imponderable questions, and fresh and relevant insights, and are never less than open and mutually supportive. Personally, I derive a great deal from learning about different disciplinary perspectives on PhD supervision.

12.15 pm. At homebase, I used the awkward three quarters of an hour before lunch to deal with responses to my morning’s dispatches, and others beside. (Do the small things in the small intervals.)  1.40 pm. I resolved Saturday’s volume pedal problem by fitting it into the return signal path of the handboard loop:


2.00 pm. Back to ‘The Bible and Visual Culture’ [working title] book, which Bloomsbury Publishers had commissioned, and on with the development of the second conspectus.

6.15 pm. Practice session 1. I concentrated on developing a tonal palette for the guitar using only a Moog MF Drive effector with a filter, controlled by an expression pedal, together with a wash of a subtle chorus and reverb. The outcome was extraordinarily musical, enabling me to summon a range of moods from the elegiac and melancholic to the aggressively ‘heavy’.

7.15 pm. Module admin: notifications of introductory and initial classes, curriculum amendment, Blackboard spring cleaning, and email broadcasts. It takes time, but must be done.




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