2016 news. Talks, installations, hope and gambling.


Second post of the year, how about that. It’s July, and it’s cold and damp. Winter coat again today.

A couple of weeks post-Brexit and the UK is having a stressful time of things. I don’t have much coherent or informed to say about that yet, but it does feel like we could be interrogating our creative work a bit right now, and at least asking ourselves if we can use our privilege to do anything to help the situation for a lot of the disenfranchised people in this country. I don’t know. But it might not hurt.

“But enough about that, back to me”


I can finally share a few bits of news I’ve been sitting on for ages.

Next week I’m speaking at an event called Make Do & Bend. I’m on a panel about R&D in the arts at St Martin’s in London. Info here.

If I can scrape some cash together in time, I’ll be speaking about my experience at Rambert at one of my favourite events, Dublin Maker, on July 23rd.

On July 26th I’m speaking at geek comedy night thing “An Evening of Unnecessary Detail” hosted by the brilliant Helen Arney and co. I’m not sure what about yet. I’d like to write something new for it. Come.

I am not kidding about how everything always happens in the autumn. It’s a massive pain and means everyone’s constantly double-booked, turning down paying gigs and failing to apply for things because everything clashes with everything.

In September I’m speaking on panel (of two!) at the massive New Scientist Live event. Our theme is tech, art and the sublime. Read all about it here.

I’m not sure how much I IMG_4487.PNGcan say about this yet, but in October I’m going to Helsinki to do a residency there. Contact me privately for more – I’m collecting info on Helsinki and its tech/art scene before I go.

When I get back, my installation at the Lowry in Manchester will be opened, as part of the Rambert 90th show there. This is all shaping up at the moment.

Hack Circus

Hack Circus 11 is a bit delayed, due to hold-ups from just about everyone, and I’m not complaining because I could do with hanging onto the cash for a few more weeks to be honest. But most of the content and artwork is in, and it’s going to be great. Someone asked me recently why I’m closing the mag on issue 12. I will do a post about this nearer the time, but the extreme delays on everything coming in for this issue are yet another big clue that these things have a shelf-life.

The Hustle Horse

I have had many great conversations since I finished at Rambert in April about exciting possible projects. None of them have come through so far and now, if they do, it’ll be too late to do much about them. I find most conversations about ‘exciting projects’ and developments of my work are time-wasting in terms of immediate usefulness, but maybe in five years something will come out of them. Worst are the unanswered emails I send following up on enthusiasm. Maybe I should push on them all, but generally I choose to put them out of my mind and keep going until I find someone with time to give me.

balanceSo at the moment I’m galloping along on the hustle horse, pitching for every bit of funding and every call-out I come across.

I have to assume none of the things I’m going for will come through, and if any of them do, I’ll be immediately double-booked and have to turn some of them down. I guess funding and residencies with three month lead times must be used to the changing lives of people, and the prioritisation of people who can give us real answers, faster. But it doesn’t feel particularly good to have to hedge like this… the struggle is real.

Also, time I spend filling in application forms is time I’m painfully aware I don’t spend generating work, or doing research, or even coming up with ideas for projects or money-generating products. So applying is worse than begging, it’s gambling. Yet I can’t stop, as long as we have hope. Perhaps the hopeful are all gambling addicts.

Relating to that, there will be a major final event for issue 12, around December, in Sheffield *if* the funding I’ve applied for comes through. As ever, I must assume it won’t so, forget I said anything. But you should know that I’m trying.

Why don’t you just quit?

I’m sure the “September problem” is one of the reasons the summer always feels like such a crisis point in my work. Lately I’ve been thinking constantly about how you get hold of an income and keep it going. I think people must be confused why “people like me” don’t just go and get a regular boring desk job. It’s not for lack of trying, though in my case, much of the trying already happened. It’s unusual circumstance, not necessarily bloody-minded special-snowflake-itis, that leads people into unusual lives. Besides, in many readings of it, filling in application forms for a living is pretty regular and boring. I’ve also edited sites and publications for people until fairly recently – also fantastically tedious – but many of the things I can do are invested in less and less. So far as I can tell, it’s way harder to get a blog editing job than it was is 2008.

The difference isn’t so much the work itself, anyway, but the goal. My brain is broken in such a way that I am terrible at following instructions. Until I was allowed to get on with my own exam revision in my own, I was pretty mediocre at school. I am far better at leading people into crafting new visions than trying to intuit the culture or intentions of existing projects.

Maybe you just haven’t met the right job yet!

bigstretchI don’t know – maybe we’re doing all the jobs! And having occasionally made as much doing this as we did in real jobs, we know that income is tantalisingly possible. It’s the goal that’s the point, not the day-to-day. So we keep going at it, like addicts. And have you ever seen an unhappy addict? I rest my case.


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