William Burroughs, during his London period, got beaten up by the staff of a café; not unreasonably he subsequently decided to destroy that café. This was in the ’70s: Burroughs had at this point several decades of experience with cutting things up, but the paper-and-scissors experiments that characterised his earlier literary works gave way in England to electronic wizardry: operating under the magical principle that the surface of things is the soul, he began lurking around that café with a tape-recorder, collecting sounds from it and from the road outside, not in linear fashion but haphazardly, he would rewind and fast-forward then randomly press record, slabs of sound cut out like letters for a ransom-note, hours of noise overlaid jaggedly, palimpsest fragments of chat and plate-clink and car, then to that he added yet more discordant crashes and cries and machine-gun chatters. When the tape was completed he took to walking up and down the street with it playing, not quite loud enough to be heard but evidently loud enough to make an impression: within a couple of weeks the café closed down for good. Never fuck with a weirdo.
NOW IT FEELS AS IT SHOULD BE:
Satellite eyes stare down and all the Earth is whitelight and behind it is more morelight, a white-against-white pointillist image of the world, glowing landmass outlines mounted on a glowing cuboid jut defiantly in darkness in all that cosmic Distance. (Technically it belongs to wob wob wob WOB WOB chk achk achk chk a hundred pounds every time der der der DERR.) Open the door and out and here, hear:
Low shuddery drone of turning machinery turning to lift a delicately-veiled glowbright halo up and down and up and down over a flesh-coloured column, a tall thin wooden post on a circular base: moaning that halo is machine-slid down it, moaning that halo back up, at its highest point lifting clear off the top to reveal the pole’s bulbous red tip then down it again then back up then down then up, the veil protecting prurient eyes from glowbright glare. Two spectres stand discussing the piece: she says she says “I like this bit but not this bit.” He says “Proper Freudian, innit.” “…In what way is it Freudian?” “In what way isn’t it?” “Good point,” and then: harshnoise scrape HARSHNOISESCRAPING scrape from above: metal-go-round again again against metal more still SCRAPE stop. Another halo? – this one is suspended from the ceiling, large and painted in Kali colours, black on the outside, red on the inside except where the paint’s been scratched away. Starts again: HARSHNOISE. Mounted inside this section of tube there’s a sometimes-spinning weather-vane with a lightbulb and a blade stuck to its point, all the better to see you with, all the better to cut you with, spinning, round, metal blade against metal inner-halo, red paint is scraped away then it stops, again. Quiet. She says she says: “Ouch. It’s like fingernails down a blackboard.” “…In what way is it like fingernails down a blackboard?” (DNG DNG, DNG chime bk bp bk bp bk makes a nice sound dunnit, don’t get it on that haha haha UH oh there goes one now mmmmm, for Health & Safety reasons they’ve stopped ’em.)
And here’s a woman masked and blindfolded writing “What is she doing?” on the wall, what is she doing? she is writing “What is she doing?” on the wall, a performance-piece called “Dagenham Corner” perhaps suggesting this space might simultaneously be some other space, this town some other town; the woman’s mask is white and whitelight-lit from inside, bird-beaked, the beak crumples and deflates with every inhalation as though to draw attention to the basic in-out-in-out-in-out-in-outiness of (Kidvoice please I’ve never holded one of them, voice I’ll give it back when I’ve finished not all of it noooo! and I’ll show you my secret hideout.) things.
…Onwards through the gallery, to one side there’s a series of paintings of people: all figure no ground, the black-and-white images possess no other features just whitelight whiteness around them, there’s no detail save body and clothes. This absence of scenery, of moment, of step to step on or fight to fight in or house to sit inside or race to be racing, is ambiguity: a woman, here, falling or diving, mid-somersault or half-collapsed and what has happened to her dress? Next to her, a child up off a trampoline? or is it a child been hit by a speeding truck? The colour-scheme speaks of absolutes but the absolute lack of context makes it impossible to know. This Japanese woman, the awkward arch of her: orgasm, horror? This girl mid-step: pained grimace, joyous determination? (Pyow pyow pyowwww bobblybubble oh! stepjangle hammerfart rollerrrrrrR coasterrrrrrR meepmeepmeep meepmeeep vWEEE knock knock.) Facing these blackwhite portraits are a sequence of images in which recognisable figures are absent: impersonal abstracts, areas without inhabitants. Each painting has a colour, one strong colour per piece in blobby shapes around the edges of the canvas or off to one side, a brightlight blue or yellow or moody claret blobbing around black-on-white scribbly-scratch scrawls like Brion Gysin’s calligraphic-marketplace doodles like pubic fuzz like MDMA ceiling-squiggles, or there’s this one: defined by the platonic Yellow in which it twists here’s the original superstrung Harpsichord, n-dimensional, or there’s this one: biology textbook, the in of us, deeper, playing off against those photorealist females opposite, the molecular facts against the everyday clothes and pose and expressions, or there’s this one: colonies of nanobacteria crisp-briefling emerge on the Calabi-Yau edges of an I. Hypergerm crystal cities in the atoms of a brain, nownew somethings on that borderline between Line and Curve and Concept Thereof, spawning shapes feeding on or drowning in inky seas of possibility.
(You like that one? aiee-eeee wormy-yurmee they did have a coupler days of trial-runs caroozella!! shot step thunderboom rainy rainy woof, bopbop UH xylo woof xylo can’tquite.) And here’s Vibe Cube: a doorless safe, a box coloured in arthurmerlin green and yellow, the green of the cube and the yellow a palmprint on its top centre and at the edges some words: “TouchMe,” as though insisting on a thematic resonance with the previous exhibition at TAP. Here we’re to touch in order to experience not just sound as sound but also as movement, blaring out of Vibe Cube all this time, tingling sweaty fingers of: Chkachkachka fiddle, ckzz snorey chirrp I’m just gravelstep chat with errrrm traffic a gateway which is er which is… Her! eeee yeahyeahyeah chg chg chg chga chg chg no! yeah! that’s my address, cheers footSTEP footSTEP shutdoor click. Hear, feel it: sound as vibration, the intangible voice made tangible, touched sounds causing fingers to instinctively tense at dogbark, quickaway cricketball clack or shoptill outpring, now fingers-hand-wrist-arm-guts-head rumbled by demolition drone, deephigh urrrrrrrrCLINK to low gurglemurmur and all this noise comes from this town, a cut-up of Southend, from snide rubbishdumped crampedspace to smugtwat Porsche, from squelchsand to fuckin’-’ave-it-mate to glispyfield swaysway pollen to airport lament to tree-swing kids to Kursaal cursing, glimpses of away-from-it-all, bursts of in-the-thick-of-it, Hallo urrRRRb yelp byah! it’s me! but the aircraft kcnggggg platechang or somethin dreep-dreep oom urr clapclapclap clapclap urrsn VROOM! coff-coff guttyshudder boomcrack silence then: waspbuzz! Technically it belongs to CHDCHDCHDa rictus-prick shtepshtepshtep drunkpunch like to and all this all going on at once Cool, makes a nice sound don’ it et in arcades beepbeep BOO badding-ding ding! beepbeep BOO badding-ding ding! you like that one? plaintive mum ba-ba-ba-doo! da-ding da-ding da-daa! ba-ba-ba-doo! da-ding da-ding da-daa! wirrrrr shut solemn steps, tinkly chime fingerthrum avva ballroom chinkchink saxyphone pianopuhLUT! thank you very much chokey-glurgle, hungerpang jet, lullaby sunday, departure-lounge and this is some of the soul of Southend and this, by the principle of fractal resonance, by the “As above, so below” of my old mate whassisname, this is the soul of anywhere, of Dagenham Corner, of Anywhere, of benevolent meta-tumours in the brain-cells of a woman in Minami Gyotoku moaning, is every point on a whitelight allcolour Earth and is moon and is Distance and shakes-it-all-about and broadcasts the words “Now It Feels As It Should Be.” Which is hardly a statement of fact: as good as things may be it would take a most miserly conception of Heaven not to be able to conceive a Should more urgent than Now, a now in which there are more and more bubbles but as yet no fizz, a world in which who does not spend at least as much time dying as s/he does living? See the words as propaganda then, as intent, a tapping-into, a subliminal burst of transcendence in immanence and vice versa and vice versa and again, one step forwards, now NOW it IT feels FEELS as AS it IT should SHOULD be! [Echoes; fades.]
CREDITS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER):