Friday, 9 September 2016


"Burying things in a first glove of words, a second pocket of writing, a third screen of printed matter, a thousand names..."
         -- Michael Serres, 'Biogea' 

A friend sends me URLs that she has 'orphaned' from their seamless one-click digital environment. She writes them by hand: scrawled in semi-legible pencil on the back of a 20 baht note, or neatly penned in gold ink on glass and then photographed. She draws the outline of a Fra Angelico painting and writes one around the angel's halo, or finger-draws them over photos of darkened rooms that come to me via Instagram.

And then, slowly typing these unclickable unpronouncable URLs into the address bar, I am reminded once again of something that our digital culture ís straining to forget: that there are many, many different ways to approach things, and that love and attention have their own unique velocities.

And I find myself watching things like this:

This beautiful short video documenting the reconstruction of a shattered sculpture unintentionally yet effortlessly seeps outside its immediate concerns, leaving me thinking about robotics, slow time, extreme medical intervention, dance, crime scene investigation, and even William Gibson's Bobby Chombo (the 'Spook Country' GPS geek who chalks out a grid of metre-wide squares on his warehouse floor and refuses to sleep in the same space twice...)

And the vimeo one? Well that isnt too difficult to type in yourself, is it...?

Wednesday, 3 August 2016


"We thought to engage in a very old-fashioned gesture, or one so modern as to still be, like music, in its infancy.  We acted according to a new complex mathematics, one dependent upon the tiniest initial tweaks..."
    -- Richard Powers.

“We laughed, but as little as we could, because we knew it was a solemn thing to burn a house down.”
    -- Marilyyne Robinson

In a dream 30 years ago an angel taught me the secret of photography. She said there are two essential rules: be sure to find the correct distance and always stay as close to the ground as possible.

And for a while I lived inside the wider ambience of those instructions. I turned my home into a soft-logic laboratory, an architectural equivalent of what in India is called ‘frugal engineering’. I had no furniture. The floors were covered with small sculptures and the debris of a nomadic intelligence (books and photocopied fragments, beautiful letters from my friends in Japan). I remember how the act of constantly stepping over things slowed me down and changed the rhythm of my thinking, making it more nuanced, attentive. I remember a Korean zen monk talking about the importance of ritual: he said, when you do something every day your manners become pure, your face shines. 

I remember photographing the books lying on the floor, the corners of rooms that had been ‘softened’ by small piles of cotton wool, subtitled tv images, the radiator in my bedroom. I made audio tapes with seventy minutes of silence wrapped around three or four songs. I understood that the object-world was about to start talking, and that we humans were about to stop doing so, out of a sense of balance, or harmony, or relief. I remember reading Marilynne Robinson’s novel “Housekeeping” during those years. And when I re-read it recently I was amazed to see how much it has influenced my subsequent life. 

I remember waking up one morning with a small poem in my head, a tiny thing no bigger than an address on an envelope: "The young Tibetan monk comes west. He will walk through the whole of Western civilization as if it were snow." But isn't that what all poetry aspires to - being an address on an envelope? Anyway, I got the message and I started walking towards the address, towards my future self, beyond the limits of my imagination and rationale.

Suddenly thirty years pass.

But even now I dream of living in similar experimental spaces: a house with wi-fi but no running water, or running water but no internal doors. A three year solitary retreat - with webcam and ambient OS. Those Hulme years, electrified, reincarnated.


"Opinions Are Non Contemporary" (37 minutes)

A talk about confession, robots, Je Tsongkapa, walking towards China, and more...