Friday, 13 July 2018

'Like home' in Elsewhere

I am very excited that my review of the exhibition, 'Like Home', has been published on the blog of the Elsewhere: A Journal of Place. 

Featuring artists from South America who explore ideas of place and belonging through abstract art, you still have time to catch this exciting and colourful show which is on until 21 July 2018 in Berlin. The location, a grand corner apartment block in Berlin's Mitte, reminds me the time of abundant unrenovated apartments in Berlin back in the early 2000's and is well worth a visit.  

'Elsewhere is a journal dedicated to writing and visual art that explores the idea of place in all of its forms, whether city neighbourhoods or island communities, heartlands or borderlands, the world we see before us or landscapes of the imagination.'

I have been a fan of the Elsewhere for quite some time, enamoured of the print journal's beautiful design and illustration by Creative Director, Julia Stone, and impressed by the photo essays and high quality writing, selected by Editor in Chief, Paul Scraton. The latest issue, no.4, is available here

Monday, 7 May 2018


Which word is the opposite of ubiquitous?
Rare or rainy?
Robert Walker, winner of two poetry contests: You might
use 'local, sited' and in some instances 'specific, narrow, finite.'

Can I say un-ubiquitous?
To Hindus, Jews, Christians and Muslims, God is ubiquitous
I meant by ubiquitous to imply the opposite.
Madonna's omnipresent bodyguards, ubiquitous, ever-present, pervasive

What made you want to look up ubiquitous?
I wanted to describe the turquoise colour
that seems to be on so many houses
in the town I live in.

Please tell us where you read or heard it.
I am an optimist and I love that word.
I saw it in a Chinese restaurant
describing about dumplings

See words that rhyme with ubiquitous
pansexual, symbiote, charlatan, lowlife, kakistocracy
trending now

Another word for ubiquitous?
ceaseless, constant, continual, continuous, incessant, unceasing
a dime a dozen

Love words? Need even more definitions?
Their HQ comprises miles of corridors
with their ubiquitous coffee machines
Synonym of pulchritude

Which word is similar to ubiquitous?
Indifferent or Omnipresent?
Word of the day: decimate
7 May 2018

Did you find this useful?
ubiquitous fog; ubiquitous little ants
[yoo-bik-wi-tuh s] 
It seemed to be ubiquitous.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Cockenzie to Seaton Sands

A walk from Cockenzie to Seaton Sands in East Lothian and a chance to try out my friend James' Fuji X100S camera. I decided pretty much to include all the shots I took for this post. How I felt about using the camera: It is lightweight, and it looks cool. I actually find the way a digital camera uses retro-styling to imitate analogue cameras of yesteryear a little irritating. I don't really like to use a camera that looks old when the technology is new. It somehow feels fake to me, and somewhat more of a fashion accessory than a camera. Still, I must admit it did feel nice to use and yes, it does look classic. I really didn't work out how to use the camera at all, so basically I just left it on aperture setting and hoped for the best; twiddling the knob that stops down or up by 2 either way helped. The results are better than I expected, given my lack of patience. I bumbled between looking through the viewer, which works a bit like a rangefinder in that you are not looking through the lens itself and flipped once or twice into digital mode, but then mostly used its back viewer.  I have always like Fuji film, and I find the tones warm but also understated in this digital version.  It is a fixed lens wide-angle, and I think the restriction of having one lens is good. I used my iPhone too this day, and realised how pumped up the images are, depth of field and exposure good throughout, but very instagram ready, a sort of hyperreality you need a tone-down filter for, if that existed. James, by the way, would hate me talking about the 'camera' and even has black tape over the branding. In the camera club we were in he was ruthless about the rule that no technical aspect of the photograph should be discussed. Thanks for lending me the camera, James!

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Kitchen psychogeographer

Sunlight in the place of air
The vent in the window idle
Still for the breeze, 
hungry for a storm

Energy in waiting
Blades twin, spin
A story of a bird 
The rattle of a cage

Revolution, a disc
the pound-shop clock
Gaudy and gold-rimmed
And its incessant score

Asking me to spin
Gold from straw 
Another domestic chore
Unravels me

Starting at the last letter
It’s clean gone 
My name is unstitched
A fairy-tale conundrum, a mystery

I am on a micro-adventure
An urban-explorer
A psychogeographer
Of the kitchen

Nature abhors a vacuum
So I shall leave the dust
forget the dishes
And go outside

Here is my compass and map
Those uncharted territories
For those brave enough
To survive the domestic

Saturday, 23 December 2017


I contributed to a google map of soundscapes in Edinburgh for a group called "Drift and Derive (with an accent)" which meet ups regularly to explore the city in interesting ways. I chose to go up Calton Hill, which is in the centre of Edinburgh next to Princess Street. Once you get up there you are removed from the hubbub of the city with wonderful views of Arthur's Seat. With its half-built 'National Monument' based on the Acropolis and once called 'Edinburgh's Shame' as the project ran out of money before completion,  the hill is a place of refuge for half-finished projects and the personal follies within us all. When I first came to Edinburgh, I'm embarrassed to admit I built a superstition around Calton Hill. I made a pact with myself that if I went up, I would move away from Edinburgh. Nevertheless, a year or so later, there I was, up on Calton Hill with some friends of mine who had come to visit Edinburgh. Calton Hill must be far too rational a rock from to go in for superstition, however, as I am still a resident of Edinburgh. A visit to Calton Hill, though, is a reminder of my ongoing ambivalence to staying here.

This time on my visit to Calton Hill, I tuned in to the sounds around me. I sat on a bench with a view to Arthur's Seat and listened to the tourists who were taking selfies. There was a millstone the tourists would step onto to take their photos. For half an hour, I sat and listened, not understanding a single sentence of the many different languages spoken. I enjoyed their ritual of taking selfies, which I appreciated as an investment of time and energy, skill and love. The intricacies of relations has to be symbolically recorded, acknowledged and reflected upon in the selfie ritual. This took often many minutes for each party, and much communication that went over my head. It began to sound like a musical score. Only the English words "3, 2, 1" were woven deftly into one woman's conversation, as she readied her sister for the next photo, of which there were many, usurping her own language with the global language of the selfie. The three words spoken were like a pendulum, ever returning to the same place. In the same way, the tourists were attracted to the millstone, to the stage it gave them, consecrating their outdoor photo booth, again and again, first in front of the craggy landscape, then, turning around, against the National Monument. I began to wonder at the millstone. Who brought it up here?  Did they think of selfies whoever brought it up here, relinquishing the millstone to the tourist's ever-growing demands for their self-affirming ritual? When the millstone was free, I got up on it, and took a selfie, just as I had observed the others doing. I felt at home among the tourists. For me, the tourist attraction was the tourist themselves. It was certainly nice to be surrounded by foreign languages as an antidote to Brexit, insular Britain and small-mindedness. In this way, Calton Hill was rather a haven from half-finished projects and follies on a grand scale.

When I returned from Calton Hill, I mixed and looped the conversations I'd heard. Now disembodied, the voices sounded urgent and haunting from a time and place never to be repeated. In the recording, the woman counts down the "3, 2, 1" against the sound of a kiss, a woman laughing, a man talking in Spanish, and a woman saying 'Holyrood'. Through the recording, each of these ordinary moments become the expectant outcome, the great event, the solution, the reason, though of what is never revealed.

Thanks to Ewan and Michelle for organising.

You can hear the soundscape here, best heard on headphones as the quality is not the best.