May 14, 2018

Sunday. A ghost on the staircase that appeared to ascend to the third floor of the house (from the place from whence the voice has come):

After lunch, I walked to Llanbadarn village. The red trees bled in the saturated sunlight:

On my return, I played The Nice’s rendering of Tim Hardin‘s Hang Onto a Dream (1968). Keith Emerson was reaching his peak as a piano improvisor at this time – integrating his love of jazz into the rock idiom. I recalled playing the album, from which the track is taken, regularly on Sunday afternoons as a teenager, while alone in the front room of my home in Abertillery:

Today. 8.00 am: A communion. The glorious day that broke my sleep in the early hours was at odds with my spirit. As in times of bereavement, the ebullience, normality, and indifference of the outer world is sometimes ill-fit to articulate the motions of the inner world. And a present grief or loss often bears with it the vestigial echoes of every other grief or loss that one has been suffered, in my experience. Thus, over the past few days, my mind and heart have returned to the years immediately before and after 1983.

8.30 am: Off to School. Today begins the final haul towards the opening on Saturday. The screens having been painted immaculately, the students began to install the work. My job is to listen to the students defend their decisions, and step-in only when an appropriate resolution cannot be found. This, after all, is the first time that they’ve ever had to think about and apply the principles of editing, coherence, selection, and arrangement within a prescribed space.

10.45 am: A jaunt up the hill for another blood test. The nurse drew forth a crimson stream on the second attempt:

On the way home, I said to myself: ‘Do something that you’ve never done before!, John’. The possibilities for such, between where I was and the School, were limited. I decided to take a snack at Bronglais Hospital’s cafeteria. I wondered how many people had sat there before me, either waiting for bad news or after having received it:

11.15 pm: Back at the ranch, several of my tutees were where they should be, getting their act together:

12.30 pm: A PhD Fine Art inquiry. 2.00 pm: After lunch, I continued shuttling up and down stairs, and to the galleries. Things will inch their way forward until Wednesday morning. In between expeditions, I marked MA Vocational Practice material. I’ll have walked many miles on these trips by the close of the week.

7.30 pm: I was desperate to return to my own work. Having wiped my earlier version of ‘Born Blind’, I reviewed the weekend’s endeavours. The fluid background loop required a more decisive beat pattern overlaid upon it. I was onto it …

Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • The size of a work has no relation to its importance. The old 7″ (18 cm), 45-rpm vinyl records, on which singles were released, could only contain a maximum of 4 1/2 minutes of music on each side. The medium, thus, constrained the length of the composition recorded on it. However, during the golden age of popular music in the 1960s, truly great songs never felt too short; that’s because they were designed to be that long.
  • When exhibiting, aim for economy, succinctness, coherence, and sufficiency. Do not be afraid of the spaces either side of a work. The space is almost as important as the works (like the silence either side of musical notes).
  • Space is variously a framing device, and visual pause, a comma between clauses, and a moment of respite.
  • The simple act of setting up a work in a vertical plane transforms your relationship to, and apprehension of, it significantly. By I’ve never been able to adequately define in what ways.

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