Lost in Transition (Cryptic-Cove Park Residency)


In the last week we feverishly beavered away getting our pieces ready for presentation to the Cryptic team. My insistence on the immersion of solo viewing meant I set up my work in a corner of the main centre so people could experience it over the course of the day. With current resources it comprises a laptop turned to portrait, the screen covered by a sheet of two-way mirror, but imagine it’s a Victorian dressing table. As it’s really the daffodils that make the work it seems I can only present the work in various Springs around the world (or find some most fetching imitations).

Given that the dominant imagery of my piece is drawn from Greek mythology, I found the setting of Cove Park strangely apt for the creation of this work. It provided me with the all important pond and woods for Narcissus/Echo location shots and new song birds from which to make music. This use of a pastoral environment brings with it wafts of British romanticism or is it a kind of 19th century post-Romanticism — the reclamation of these Greek figures in disguise by writers such as Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde. And now Oscar really wants to find his way into this piece. However the work is pretty much complete in content now, the next step requiring fabrication of the “set piece” and some detailing of the sound track and live video system.

As a quick side-project, the irrepressible and amazing Kathy Hinde and I decided to record an album of collaborative improvisation while watching the sun set over three afternoons, and we’re quietly pleased with our tinklings, scrapings and warblings. Stay tuned for more info on the release we are hoping to “drop” in July.

When it was time to leave Cove Park the heavens wept to see us go which meant a muddy get-out. The cows lined up outside our pod the night before in a guard of honour and Gareth the duck, who prefers to walk up the road between ponds, quacked a reluctant goodbye on his way past.

Back in Glasgow for the weekend I adjusted to the convenience of convenience stores, televisual images (a binge watch of Taggart on-demand), almost constant internet and flying solo — no longer part of a loose and lively collective. I managed to catch the exhibitions at CCA, GoMA, two sessions of nicely free Glitch Film Festival, and wander with half of Glasgow, in the almost too bright sun, around the beautiful Botanic Gardens, including a free ambient electronic music performance in the Kibble Palace by someone who’s name I never caught. And I put Glasgow at the top of my favourite cities — well in a tie with Ljubljana.

The time at Cove Park as part of this Cryptic residency has been wonderful. It’s been utterly inspiring and a privilege to hang out with this group of artists — Kathy Hinde, Robbie Thomson, Heather Lander, Tuwis Yasinata, Eduardo VC, Stuart Macpherson, Robert Bentall, Charlie Knox & Euan McKenzie and Josh Armstrong (along with some excellent non-Cryptic additions). I think I can honestly say that after two years of really wondering if what I’m doing is actually a way of working, I can now say I think it is. And maybe, given the vagaries of creativity, that’s the all we can ask.

Thanks enormously to: Brad & Kali at The SUBSTATION in Newport, Australia for offering me this amazing opportunity and financially supporting it: the Cryptic Team — Cathie, Caroline, Claire, Chris, Jana, Rachel; the Cove Park staff — Catrin, Julian, Alexis, Helen, Vanessa, Rita, Hamish (the dog who only barks at the postman after he’s left the building), Lorelei, Merle and Beverly (the highland cattle) and Gareth (the duck). I’m sad to say, I didn’t get around to naming the sheep. Maybe another time….

My participation in the Cryptic-Cove Park residency program is supported by The SUBSTATION.


And then the sun came out (Cryptic-Cove Park Residency)


A postcard-progress report

Once the sun came out productivity went down as I went on several walks and became obsessed with the birds I hadn’t been able to see for the rain. But just before the sun came out we had a hailstorm like snow.



I discovered that the Narcissus lily (the key character in current project) is actually a daffodil, of which there are multitudes in the fields!


And I realised that both nature and art-making and philosophy are all based on knots and tangles….


So I contemplated the sign and symbol.


And I realised that you really cannot have too many sunsets over Loch Long.

My participation in the Cryptic-Cove Park residency program is supported by The SUBSTATION.

A cross-fade of words

Perhaps words have desires for themselves?
Which words desire to be heard?
Are there shy words and extroverted words?
Clownish words?

I am looking for the humble but wise words,
which know when to show themselves,
know that they communicate with reasonable efficiency
but not a two-dimensional flatness.

Words whose cellular walls are not rigid.
Words, that when placed with other words,
allow a kind of seepage – osmosis.
This word is a little weak
but with this word next to it,
it borrows some power.
The strong word is not so much diminished
but deepened and reinforced by this act of charity.
Like colours, the bright balanced by a neutral
not by hard edged contrast but gradation.
Can there be a gradient of words?

I’ve always loved  colour gradients.
I get a feeling,
a sense of endless potential,
wonder and satisfaction
at the point where the two colours combine.
Yet there is no exact point.
Just a seamless slide.
I swim in it, like a warm bath
dwelling in the transition.

the colours can’t land,
one gradually intensifying while the other fades.
It’s not an aggressive takeover.
It feels consensual —
a letting go.
A moment of benefaction
and generosity.

My sound based on the cross-fade,
the audio version of a gradient.
Between the voice and the noise
one sound emerging from another
one sound grown and from another.

My work perhaps not about binaries or paradoxas —
the argument —
as I’ve been framing it,
but about gradients.

Or are there gradients in an argument?
In the middle of the outplaying
what can really be separated from what?
Moments of acknowledgment, acceptance –
Can there be gradients of disagreement?

(Feb 28, 2016)



How words work
Letters  accumulate to form words,
which accumulate to form sentences
which accumulate into paragraphs
accumulating into pages…

Not that accumulation implies quality – just volume
a body – a mass of material,
amassed material.

Sounds too accumulate
each sound made of divisible frequential elements that amass
rubbing together, adding layer on layer
to form envelopes of texture, timbre, tone

I pull and stretch sounds
to find the sounds within sounds
break them apart and then
then add them back together
to make new frictions

With words… I don’t so much pull them apart
(maybe I should – but it seems too primal)
rather it is all a constant reassembling
additive synthesis….
hoping something may appear
– a beating frequency, a wolf tone –
in the chance combinations
in the weight of accumulation.

And as an afterthought…

What of entropy?
In the world of objects
accumulation can imply
a gathering from
lack of control and order
dust and cobwebs accumulate
in untended corners
redefining, territorialising space and its relations…

are my accumulations of words and sounds
an attempt to force the conditions of entropy
to own it, control it?

(this is not clear and half-formed – but I leave it here to accumulate.)


I write adjectives about sound. (More on this soon.)

I use the words intertwined, twining, twisting.

I  say plaiting because that is the word I learnt as child, when I took three sections of hair, crossing the right over the centre and pulling the centre right. Crossing the left over the centre (which was the right) pulling it to the left. I think of this because I am currently trying to plait my hair like the young people do — to get through a difficult growth period. The world now calls it braiding.

And I think of how sound can be braided.

Three sounds – to be literal – one left, one centre, one right. Their paths crossing in an orderly fashion. Or their frequencies momentarily combining, absorbing each other and separating again?

Imagining the sound of a tightly tied braid…

And what is a braid of words?

sound  art  word

art  sound  word

art  word  sound

word  art  sound

word  sound  art

sound  word  art

sound  art  word

PS – I categorise this in unravellings – though it’s all about the ravel.

Sound Swords Sound Wounds

The original title —
sounds words art.

And through an accident of elision
we get soundswords.

Sounds that are words that are swords.

Then I think of the word sound.

Perhaps the word I use most in my life (besides fuck).

And when I think of words that are typographically related to it – I begin to find it a curiously solid word for something that is so ephemeral.

There are the words that are spelt like and sound like sound:

But then there is wound –
wound around sound –
which is also a wound (woo-nd).

Words and sounds as wounds.

Where words become sounds become wounds,
slicing through the air,
pushing a word towards the audible,
making the word heard,
making rifts in the air
like a sword.
And this wound is the sound —
where words become wounds become sounds.

I am starting with the basics.
Breaking it down
to it’s smallest unit
the word