A new year

It’s 2011 already, and I shan’t even try to apologise for my absence from the blogosphere… Ok, well maybe a bit; I’ve been doing other things. But will throw one of my favourite quotes from Guattari, written in an obituary of Deleuze, by way of an excuse / distraction: “Il n’y a pas de manque dans l’absence. L’absence est une presence en moi.” The end of 2010 was busy – a performance down  at the University of Plymouth in November, and two at InBetween Time festival in Bristol in December. All of which went very well. Whilst the first two were reworkings of existing pieces, I made a durational work at IBT that was

If I were you I would run for your life

entirely new and experimental in the best sense of the word. It consisted of a kind of meditative performance installation, working with visual actions and materials in trance-like intensity, which was punctuated by gentle pauses – the playing of live radio and the distribution of jam doughnuts. It felt a very tender but powerful piece, which was received with the compassion with which it was intended. I’m really enjoying it as a way of working (even if it might not be as commercially viable as more neatly packaged live art works…), and hope to continue exploration in the new year. It would be great to hear / read any responses, if you were there?

And on the subject of feedback, I’ve decided it’s time to rework this blog a little, and make it function more like a website. I’d resisted such a thing for years -particularly publishing documentation online – but have caught up with the times and think it can do no harm. So I wonder how would be best to design it? Who is it out there that’s actually reading this, and why? What, I wonder, would be most useful to visitors? A (more) regularly updated blog? A kind of living CV? An archive of documentation? A resource of writing? A newsletter? As before, any feedback or comments would be much appreciated, so do let me know.

7 thoughts on “A new year

  1. Hi Paul, happy new year to you. Just to let you know that I’m reading you, and am currently grappling with similar concerns about an on-line presence…but then again i suppose i’ve been grappling with it ever since i made Brith Gof’s first (time limited) website for the production Tri Bywyd way back in 1995. I wasn’t conviced the internet was the way forward….hmm. From time to time i’ve collected and colated content to share, but have always struggled not to see sharing the materials with ‘the unknown’ as little more than vanity publishing. The initiative that changed my mind was http://www.culturecolony.com, set up by Pete Telfer, but intended to be ‘owned’ by all its members. For the first time I felt that placing content online would be contextualised, and, due to it being a membership site, would continue to have ‘value’ rather than being ‘given away’ for free (Please don’t ask me to explain further – particularly as my vinyl project last year, ‘Rhan Gwaith – Rhan Un’, involved giving away free records!)
    Anyway, having said that, I have been rather lax in placing content on Culture Colony, but thanks to reading your post here I feel the urge to get back to it, if not straight away, perhaps after a cup of tea. I look forward to seeing how your online presence develops.

    1. A very happy new year to you too Richard, I hope you had a good festive period and that all’s well. Glad to hear you’re reading, and that I’m not the only one with theses concerns. Grappling since 1995? A veritable pioneer, even if an unconvinced one 😉 Yes, I do know Culture Colony, although haven’t been on it for a while, will check it now. I completely agree about the importance of content being contextualised and valued, which I think I’ve always been incredibly aware of. (But I’m also aware that I owe some of this overprotectiveness to a traumatic experience with the media some years ago). I do sort of wonder whether this actually matters? We probably share a distrust (and dissatisfaction), as live artists, of mediation of our work, but I’m sure we’ve experienced work being miscontextualised or de-/under-valued in the live event too. What have we got to lose by giving it away for free? To risk sounding cynical, it’s not like I make any money off documentation anyway! To the contrary, i’ve come to think (/hope) that having stuff ‘out there’ might help give my work increased visibility (although am aware of the contradiction of that visibility being of documentation that might not be first rate / representative). Ditto, with writing about process, etc. It’s a dilemma, but one that I feel I’m kind of taking charge of, rather than just procrastinating about. And I think Sarah below has some really good points about using web presence / content more actively and creatively, and about developing it in a way that wil be of use to you. Will go and reply to her directly…

  2. I just wrote a whole load of interesting stuff on how you could develop your website only to go and press the delete button. Technology is great when you’re not an idiot.

    Anyway, to summarise I said that you should update your blog more regularly. Ponder on your current practice (as opposed to just documenting past works), you could include your thoughts about other work (be careful what you say though!), as well as what and who inspires you. There could be an interesting impact on your specific pieces as well as your work as a whole if you let people in on the ‘rehearsal’ process (and of course I’m saying this because I think it is a good idea as well as being very useful research for my MA!!!). What would happen if you sometimes brought as in on your thinking process and could you do it in a unique paulus hurius way? I’m also of the opinion that you should only develop your website in a way that will be of use to you as a practitioner and academic-type person!

    Creating an archive of work/research could be good but again could you do it a way that embodies/reflects you as an artist (rather then just words and images)?

    Wrote more but am giving up now. Whatever you do, don’t press the delete button.


    1. Ah, technology… Yes, more regular updating goes without saying. I noticed yesterday that my posts are getting longer and less frequent, when the opposite would obviously be the preferred situation. I like the idea of using the blog to reflective upon practice / process more, and of using it as a creative / research project. I guess I’ve been as overprotective of my process as I have of documentation (see above comment about live artist paranoia about mediatisation), preferring to imply some kind of mysterious secret studio practice, rather than what is actually a rather mundane routine of procrastination, sketching, listmaking and trips to Wilko’s. There is something about putting thoughts into the blogosphere that is somehow even more intimidating than putting them onto paper, which is even more reason to bite the bullet…! It’s only the past couple of days that I’ve been fully getting to grips with the technology of WordPress, so I think that once I map and arrange my pages a bit better, I might be able to think my output a bit more clearly and see how it all fits in. But your comments have been supremely helpful, thank you!

      1. We are thinking through similar issues of ownership at work too – it is something that has to be considered very carefully not only ethically but also legally. Ultimately though we want people to be inspired by our work (hopefully to make the world a better place through kindness!) and the concept itself isn’t really something we can call ours only. We want to try ideas out (a creative laboratory) and then pass them on, letting them go is quite important to us (and from my experience not something people do too readily). I know my work is different and much easier to manage in the media than being a live artist (everyone loves kindness don’t they?) but I think there are (and always will be) difficulties (albeit different) for any artist in the media (Turner Contemporary Margate for example). (Too many Parentheses in this reply)

        We have to manage our messages carefully but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a public face at all. And I do think that it will help in increasing your visibility as you mentioned above. Time to consider how, when and what you should be putting in the blogosphere will help to make it a positive experience for you and your ‘visitors’.

  3. Great to find out more about your work through this blog, Paul. Blogging has considerably helped me structure my thoughts over the course of my previous studies. I think it’s normal that it comes and goes. Often it’s most interesting to read when you feel there’s a necessity there. So if you’re hesitant about this way of exposure: follow your bliss! Curious about your run-in with the media though, what was that about?

    1. Great to hear from you Sven, thanks for looking! Yeah, blogging can be really useful but for me there’s still a little ambivalence. I think I’m over my exposure anxiety now – my media run-in was many years ago when a small (characteristically conceptual and bizarre) site-specific performance I was doing was picked up by local. and then national and international, newspapers, and Sky News flew in and behaved as you’d expect them to, and I was rather young and naive and overwhelmed by the whole thing. “Once bitten twice shy”, as the saying goes. I think there’s still an issue for me in knowing what the purpose of (this) blogging is, and finding the time to do it. It’s reassuring to hear that you think posts are most interesting to read when there’s a necessity to write them! I know I’ve not blogged on here for months, but for various reasons the idea of doing so has become something of a chore, another thing on the ‘to do’ list that remains to be done. I need more discipline for sure, but also to come back to review the form and my relationship to it. Hmmm.

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