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Liverpool Psychfest 4

Islet_Psych024

This is Islet playing on the Camp stage on Saturday afternoon of the Psychfest. It’s a double exposure so there are way more drums than one might normally expect.

Liverpool Psychfest 3

Moodoid
This is the French band Moodoid, who played on the Saturday afternoon of the Psychfest. There was a lot of glitter involved.

Liverpool Psychfest 2

Woods_Psych016

This is Woods playing at the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia 2014, which took place over the last weekend of September. This is the second of a series of photographs that I took at it (the first was of Goat and can be seen here) and I’ll put more of them up here over the next week or so. As usual, this photograph was created by opening the shutter at the start of the song and closing it at the end. Big thanks to the festival organisers for facilitating this, especially Sam Hinde, and also to the crew who were all extraordinarily helpful. As I said, more of these to come.

Liverpool Psychfest 1

GoatForPete

Pop, punk, prog and psych: these are what Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices refers to as the ‘four P’s’. For Pollard, they constitute the key ingredients of this thing we call rock. You can include one or two of these ingredients and still produce something really good, but if you want to be great, you have to master all four. As the driving force behind the greatest band of the modern era, this is a man who knows a thing or two about music, and we should therefore take note of what he says. What Pollard’s taxonomy suggests is that psychedelia is not some sort of temporary aberration in the trajectory; not just the folly of drugged-out hippies in Haight-Ashbury. Instead it’s a core element of the DNA of the music itself, and it’s therefore just as relevant right now as it was when the original wave of psychonauts set the controls for the heart of the sun way back in the late 1960s. If you’ve never tuned-in, turned-on and dropped-out, then you’re not just missing out on the joys of one particular sub-genre of rock music, you’re missing out on pretty much the whole damn thing. Your outlook is fundamentally flawed. You probably think ALT-J are a good band.

The photo at the top is of the Swedish band Goat. The text is the first part of a review I wrote for thumped.com of the 2014 edition of the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia. You can read the full thing here.

Wall1This is a text I wrote for the Pact Of Disengagement event that took place at Temple Bar Gallery and Studios back in May, which Teresa Gillespie and Ben Woodard kindly invited me to be part of. The idea was to explore the question of the nature of the relationship between art and philosophy, or as Teresa and Ben put it, their ‘mutual abuses’. I was one of a panel of speakers (Paul Ennis, Francis Halsall, Matthew Slack, Edia Connole, Jonathan Mayhew, Micheal O’Rourke, Rob Murphy, Lily Cahill and Tina Kinsella), each of whom had five minutes to articulate some thoughts on the subject. This text was written to be ‘read out’, rather than ‘read’, so you could always read it aloud to get the full effect

I am going to talk about this idea of abuse – the notion that more often than not art and philosophy are engaged in a form of mutual abuse that is not particularly constructive. Abuse of philosophy by artists. Abuse of art by philosophers. I’m going to suggest though that maybe abuse isn’t always bad and that we might take, not an uncritical view of it, but at least a view that is open to the possibilities that such abuse might present. I’m going to largely confine myself to artists abusing philosophy rather than the other way around. Continue Reading »

Gracelands6
The following was written for Emma Mahony’s excellent module, Art Institutions And Their Publics, which was delivered as part of the NCAD MA Art In The Contemporary World course in 2013. It deals with the notion of the deviant art institution, a concept introduced by Emma on the course, and considers whether Michel Foucault’s idea of the heterotopia might or might not function as an appropriate conceptual model for such an institution.

Michel Foucault’s 1967 lecture Of Other Spaces outlines his concept of the heterotopia1, a sort of countersite which somehow contests or inverts the sets of relations by which spaces and sites in the rest of our world are constituted. Foucault claims that such sites are critical to functioning of the human imaginary and implies that without them a collapse into authoritarianism is inevitable. As he puts it at the end of the piece, after providing the example of the ship as a heterotopia par excellence, “without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates”. Continue Reading »

Swans at SupersonicThere is a song on the new Swans album, To Be Kind, that is directly inspired by Lars Von Trier’s brilliant 2011 film Melancholia. The film tells the story of two sisters, Claire and Justine, and their differing reactions to the impending arrival of a rogue planet, which, as becomes apparent as the film progresses, is in danger of crashing into and destroying the Earth. The first half of the film revolves around a wedding party at a country house for Justine, who is to be married the next day, an event that Claire is largely responsible for organising. Claire is at home within this world of social and familial ritual, however Justine is not, and her behaviour becomes more and more erratic and unhinged as the evening progresses. The night ends in disarray, with Justine’s husband-to-be and the rest of the guests leaving in disgust, and the wedding cancelled. The second part of the film concentrates on Claire and Justine (along with Claire’s husband and son) as they await the arrival of the planet Melancholia. It initially seems that it won’t collide with Earth at all, however it eventually becomes undeniable that it will, and that there is no escape (Claire’s husband commits suicide when he finally accepts this). Claire goes through stages of denial, fear, panic and despair, whereas Justine calmly accepts the situation, and smilingly tries to comfort Claire right up until the final moments. Continue Reading »