Best of 2014 – Black Dwarf

Sampling old musical passages to create new music is a rich and widely discussed practice. But sampling old music to make new photography?

My work with the °CLAIR Gallery introduced me to the photographer Petr Lovigin and his remarkable ‘Black Dwarf’ video. Simply put, it is the most beautiful piece of art I saw in all of 2014. It has everything I love: oddity and splendor and, perhaps most importantly, a nice little intellectual kick; thanks to Lovigin, I discovered that Alexander Vertinsky was the baddest Russian composer and artist I’d never heard of.

I sent Petr an email in Bangladesh where he is in the midst of a multi-month project. He answered three questions for me:

1. Why Vertinsky? Is he beloved in modern Russia?

I think that no. Already one century past his maximal activity. But for me that time (Silver Age of Russian Art, October Revolution 1917, Civil War 1918-1920) is very interesting… I know all the songs of Vertinsky but his romance ‘’Black Dwarf’’, the story behind it – it’s like it is about me.
Continue reading

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Investigate Ethical Investment

I went to Barclays bank today and asked them what their ethical policy was. The lady looked blank. Then a light dawned and she asked did I mean stocks and shares? Her brighter colleague came to her rescue saying that not only was no one in the branch qualified to answer that question but it was unlikely that I would even be any the wiser for looking on the internet. If I could wait for five minutes she would come out of the booth and I could write a letter to the manager in head office to see what they had to say about it and by the way No One had Ever asked about this before.

I found this hard to believe. It seemed like a fairly simple question. I have had an account with you for 20 years. I put my money in and then the bank presumably invests it. Would it be possible to know what they invest it in? Continue reading

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Paris your plughole is up! Sink le mini tour!

après moi le déluge
et le déluge tombe
dans le sink
à Paris

Saturday 8th Nov, 5pm :: Tumbleweed Music
sink play Shakespeare & Co., 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 5e

later on Saturday 8th Nov, 7.30pm :: Sink the Jazzbar w/Kate Stables
sink and Kate play Le Petit Joseph Dijon, 3 Rue Joseph Dijon, 18e

Sunday 9th Nov, 5pm :: Concert Secret de Sink et Kate Stables
avec le short film Moko and Loupe accompagner d’un soundtrack live
208 Rue St. Maur, 10e


sink is the acoustic übertrio of Tim Vincent-Smith, Daniil Dumnov & Leon Wright

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Two Scintillae (regarding three Italian girls, a Japanese monk, and the nature of enlightenment)

This afternoon on the corner of Bermondsey Street I saw three Italian girls, all looking at maps on their phones. Each was turning her phone to orientate the map better to the street, but at the same time, the phone was turning the screen in the opposite direction in response to gravity. And so as they stood there, all three cartwheeled their phones round and round. The October sun was shining brightly.

One of D. T. Suzuki’s books ends with the text of a Japanese monk describing his attainment of enlightenment. The final poem reads, ‘Now that I’m enlightened, I’m just as miserable as ever.’


(D. T. Suzuki quoted from John Cage’s endnote on 45’ for a Speaker)
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Sound Mirror


selfie of Sink and the Spurn Bight Sound Mirror by Kate Stables

When you think of a Brimstone missile in flight do you imagine yourself watching from its point of departure, in the sky, or on the ground with the missile coming towards you?

Before radar Continue reading

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Our Nation’s Keepers

[This post is a nod to the not-so-fictional voting scene in Moko & Loupe.]

Today is California’s primary election for 2014, including on its ballot a surreal motley of aspirational elects and quaint jesters. You’ll find the indispensable republican businessmen competing for Governor against such hopefuls as a poet, a golf course operator, a ‘psychologist/farmer,’ and a security guard.

The following quotes have been copied verbatim from the list of priorities submitted to election officials by the candidates. Who will you vote for? Continue reading

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One Another

© Alisa Resnik

© Alisa Resnik

Books have always been comfortable camouflage for me. A novel in your pocket is a superpower; pull it out and you’re transformed from awkward misfit to contented savant. The same goes for a notebook and pen and don’t get me started on the glorious refuge of a host’s bookshelf while waiting for the third glass of wine to kick in at a party.

I’d always thought this façade was unique to book people, or perhaps artists too, who could shield themselves in their sketch pads. But then I met my friend Alisa Resnik. She started carrying a camera not so much out of a love for photography (although that was there, profoundly) but because it was so deeply agonizing for her to interact with humanity. The camera calmed her social neuroses and was a way to connect. “I would never describe myself as a photographer,” she wrote to me. “I just see the camera as an instrument that lets me communicate with people.”

Continue reading

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R.I.P. Mike Dineen

Mike Dineen in Earth

Mike Dineen in Earth

Mike Dineen passed away last Thursday. In productions I was involved in, Mike played the judge in Earth in Paris and Amsterdam, and 3 in the Châteaudun performance of Part 2 of Three Parts — the first public performance of a piece I’d written.

Mike you were sharp and funny and with a touch for the beautiful. You understood how to move people. Thank you for having moved me, and been a part of my life.

— Adrian

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Bach’s Squiggle

At the top of the frontispiece of Bach’s infamous series of pieces for keyboard in all 24 keys, C major through B minor, revolutionary in its day and widely credited as being the beginning of Equal Temperament — a system of tuning which allows one to play pieces in remote accidental rich keys without sounding rubbish and thus the foundation of the Western Classical Tradition — Das Wohltemperirte Clavier or Well Tempered Clavier, there is a large and apparently uncharacteristically whimsical squiggle:

bach squiggle

There is also quite a hefty squiggle at the bottom but it is to the squiggle at the top that I wish to draw the attention of the reader.  Continue reading

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Reading over China-related notes (poking at As Big As The Sky), some interesting connections suggested themselves among the papers paving my study floor.

1. In Ming dynasty China, a bill proclaiming legally stipulated punishments:

  • 80 blows for striking another so as to cause internal bleeding
  • 80 blows for throwing dung at the head of another
  • 100 blows for stuffing dung into the nose or mouth of another

2. Under the leadership of Mao Zedong, during the Cultural Revolution:

In schools and some workplaces people were required to eat yì kŭ fàn 億苦飯 (recalling bitterness meal), made of tree leaves or chaffs mixed with horse dung or dirt, as part of the ritualistic practice of remembering the past. Not surprising, the meal had a terrible taste Continue reading

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