Recent attempts to map memories of the present

These are works that are building towards a larger project, that if it sticks to it’s course, will be named ‘A Revolt Against our Ghosting’ to argue that the current (faltering) ideological reality de-centres and marginalises us all (to massively varying degrees) through processes that make the space we occupy seem beyond our comprehension, creating anxieties and encouraging privatised living. This project is part of a wider collective project, that will become more clear and present within these blogs in coming months.

I'm still here (12.11.17)

17.11.17

 

 

 

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Digital Flattening – Inspired by John Ledger

It was last year sometime on a trip to Manchester that John brought up the notion that older tech had a strange flattening effect when you zoomed in. An almost digital rendering of time and space, and or a metaphor for the ‘flattening’ or ‘smoothness’ within which the cognitive capitalist realism erodes a sense its own horizon. John’s words have inspired me to carry on this project within RBATEOTU. Here is my curated selection.

These images are places and artworks or are they simply images and compositions.

Milly-Molly-Mandy Remembered.

I don’t remember being given Milly-Molly-Mandy. Just that she was one of three favourite childhood toys (the second being a bear I got for my birthday named Birthday Bear, the other an anomalously stuffed Troll Doll called Huggable). She was named after my favorite character, Milly-Molly-Mandy, the namesake of my favorite childhood book. Milly-Molly-Mandy was a Blyton-esque explorer of the mundane. Her eating a jacket potato becoming an exceptional favourite, which I obsessed over and underwhelmingly dubbed “Milly-Molly-Mandy potatoes”.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/225750903″>Milly-Molly-Mandy gets Loaded and Other Stories</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user68633656″>Rebekah Whitlam</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

I’ve been told that we had “absolutely nothing” when I was born in 1984, my mum admitting she cried when the orange cordial split because we couldn’t afford another one. But my earliest memories are cemented by an unwavering, have-it-all, go-getting spirit of the 90s. I could be whoever, or whatever I wanted to be. “If I put my mind to it”. And there was nothing to worry about because of another golden ticket- “It all works out in the end”.

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Selected memories from the never-ending 90s. 

1990 Sat crossed legged in Y.3. John Major becomes Prime Minister.

1992 The Big Breakfast airs on channel 4.

1993 Live and Kicking with Zoe Ball and Jamie Theakston take over Saturday morning t.v.

1994 FHM coins the term “ladette”. TLC release Crazy Sexy Cool.

1995 Hooch is launched in Britain.

1996 The Spice Girls debut with “Wannabe” and Geri Halliwell cites Thatcher as a pioneer of girl power. New Labour release their manifesto.

1997 I draw a life map in R.E. According to me, I will hit all life’s aspirations by the age of 27. Graduated, Employed, Married, Mortgaged, and Mothered. I pencil in questioned likelihood of an after life.

That same year I start to attract the attention of boys that smell of Lynx Africa and chewing gum.

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1998 We get a computer and the internet. I get drunk in the park. I’m too sick to go on a school trip to Alton Towers.

1999 Destiny’s Child release The Writings On The Wall. I get a mobile phone for Christmas.

2000 The Spice Girls go on a hiatus.

2002 Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes dies in a car accident.

2003 I get pulled in by the head of year to discuss my future. I don’t know yet. I defer a year.

2004 I become so anxious that I stop eating and sleeping. Put on anti depressants. Go to Australia. I start an art foundation course.

2005 Brian Harvey runs himself over after gorging on jacket potatoes. I start my degree.

2006 I drop out. Go to therapy.

2007 I Go back to university. The Spice Girls reunite.

2008 Recession hits. We enter an age of austerity and a generation becomes witness to an event horizon from which lynx and lager cannot escape.

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Images from mixed media installation, Milly-Molly-Mandy Gets Loaded and Other Stories, by Rebekah Whitlam, from the exhibition, Will the Last Person To Leave The 20th Century Please Turn Off the Lights, Baildon, July, 2017.

 

 

 

 

Milly-Molly-Mandy gets Loaded and Other Stories – Rebekah Whitlam

John Ledger


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/225750903″>Milly-Molly-Mandy gets Loaded and Other Stories</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user68633656″>Rebekah Whitlam</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

Video work by Rebekah Whitlam based on her installation for Will the last person to leave the 20th century please turn off the lights? an exhibition staged by our collective  The Retro Bar at the End of the Universe

Thanks to Adam Weikert for the soundtrack (and TLC).

Baildon,July 2017

A mixed media installation exploring a nations 21st century come down from 20th century neoliberal hedonism. A new generation of adults become petrified in 90s juvenility. Numbers in anxiety, depression, ADHD, and liver disease have doubled over the past 30 years. We’re broke, confused, and desperately scrambling for the exit.

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Don’t Look Back in Grandeur

John Ledger


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/223045399″>Dont Look Back in Grandeur (2017)</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user60125733″>John Ledger</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

Don’t Look Back in Grandeur (title by DS Jarvis) was a videowork quickly thought up for the introductory section to the ‘exhibition space’ inWill The Last Person To Leave The 20th Century Please Turn out The Lights? – an event staged by the collective ‘the Retro Bar at the End of the Universe, in a disused pub within the eerie and unidentified West Yorkshire metropolis.

This introductory space became a quick response to the sense of structural ‘unraveling’ occurring around us in the months of May and June. Across from the videowork is an installation of blog-article ‘The End of The Long 90’s’, posted by Rick of Flipchartfairytales in the week we had a potentially game-changing General Election, and the farcical and despicable tragedy at Grenfell Tower in London.

Obviously in…

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How Did I Get So Old? (pre-GE2017 musings)

John Ledger

I really wanted to make more of this project before the election day, but the things I had been documenting spread into a project I felt I couldn’t reasonably complete in the time space left. I had been making narrated maps and compiling photographs from the 7th May onwards, but to post them all now would just the equivalent of showing the teacher all the ‘hard work’ i’d been doing in the past month in the hope that I could pass the GE2017 exam, and not have to face the tidal wave of bickering sounds that’s building.

I begin with the series of maps I made during the last month, and conclude with a short piece of writing I have cobbled together within the last week, as I tried to make sense of the chaotic, month, year, century leading up to now.

In a Barnsley Wetherspoons the ‘Love Manchester’…

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So, ok.

As moments of a terrible nature strive for the lime light. As hate and devision prevails born from a world which is fundamentally in contradiction with itself. We must find a form of dysfunctional unity. If we are to learn anything from the past it is surely that tolerance, freedom and basic moral judgment of human kind,  must transcend all naive political tendency. No matter the failings of the West (and there are so many) it is time to join in a collective moment which stops this cycle. The evil acts of the few illogical and inhuman persons on many sides of the political spectrum need to be seen as what they truly represent! A world in pain from ideological stupidity which should have been iradicated in the last century. It’s a fucking disgrace that people can actually act and speak of hate against a fellow person in the way that they do. If we see ourselves as a ‘civilised’ species and want to evolve past the next 50 to a hundred years we need have a good bloody look at ourselves in the proverbial mirror! A moral and ethic, basic human law, implemented world wide, is what is needed in order to move into the next stage of the anthropescene. To avoid complete inhalation we need to come together and drop all deplorable prejudice. This is incredibly difficult as everyone must have a voice. However, if a truly evolved species can move beyond the Kardashev type 1 scale of civilisation (harness the energy emitted from its parent star) this is a political necessity. This hyperthetical agreement cannot be avoided in order for our survival to occur. 

The politics and neoliberalism of the last half of the 20th Century has resulted in further devision as forced globalisation. In turn, this has fostered an enterprise culture which serves shareholders and the individual singularly at societal expense. This of course isn’t the full picture. Many global corps do contribute. However, capitalist drive cannot have a moral dimension simply by the fact it is pure drive and a money making machine. What is needed is a socialist capitalism and a new order of politics which can be democratic without being discriminate and divisive. 

A plea by John Wright. 


Ends (Writings From HMS Brexit)

ENDS (Stories From Time-locked Space)

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(March evenings , 2017)

For nearly 2 years one of the gateways into the centre has been shadowed by a broken bridge. But although it may not hang waiting on Brutalist Death Row for much longer, what it accidentally embodies seems destined to remain.

Like many boom towns of the early stages of capitalism, that now find themselves forgotten by all-important mainline routes to a parasitic capital, Barnsley is a town that they forgot to finish. Like a child stunted by an unanticipated ration, it’s too small for its own feet. This once-potential capital of the Yorkshire Coalfield is still a bus service hub for all the ex-coal-conurbs it promised to cater for, and we still flock here like stuck automatons of a stolen time, expecting destination but finding terminus – as the town, like the bridge, ends just as it begins.

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But ‘the broken bridge’ isn’t just about this infrastructural abandonment. It’s about a pervasive sense of paralysis. The frustrated and aimless nature of so many young people here, whose anxiety-inducing shoutings rain down on the town’s transport interchange – desperate for destination (like their upwardly mobile contemporaries appear to have). There is an invisible block in the way of hopes and desires, and we fold back into depressive and destructive pleasure-seeking. I have no game to win, no gain awaiting me, no hallucination of some fantastical bohemian haven from ‘the narrow minded’ –  just a critical need to speak of all that is under a sick sun. But I am paralysised too. Unable to build bridges, I collapse into quick fixes.

The attempts to resurrect a long-gone past in the face of a foreclosed future have had a strange side-effect on a town which has since suffered post-traumatic deindustrialisation disorder. The reintroduction of the much-missed markets that filled the high streets of yesterday has created a claustrophobic setting, constructing a crucible of the social pain around here. A fight breaks out between the feeble and frail as bonds rest on the fine line of the crucial next fix. The drug-taking would be in full view of the public, if there was a public, rather than pod-people, relying on battery power between places of consoling confinement. My battery has run out today.

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The Given is Giving way. Friends speak of the joy of searching the chaotic middle aisles of the European low budget supermarkets for budget surprises. But within such places I see the direction we are headed, and without a captivating argument against global capitalism’s distribution of things, the direction is downwards. Indeed, within these places you can see how the ‘Western way of life’ is slowly resembling the ‘Eastern way of life’. This unsaid truth is incubating a xenophobia against the European migrants, who are arriving in synchronicity with the arrival of a quality of life we thought was the fault of their failed Soviet dreams. Our souls are stained with the Social Democratic promises of continual improvement. It’s clear to see how The Migrant has become the unfortunate locus for the pain caused by this broken promise.

The staff and shopper look alike; stunned. Caught in limbo between a stain of a sense of civic responsibility and the disembodied disturbances that now greet them. The cause is a group of teenagers, whose bored baiting turns its attention to the shop windows, as they bang on them as loud as possible without the threat of breakage, before leaving Town End for the transport terminal. Nobody is sure of the limits to their search for entertainment. The anguish of the Liberal; their tongue littered with words that sound conservative and reactionary before they’ve even been released from the mouth.

Down at the railway station the word ‘contaminated’ has been written by maintenance engineers under platform 1. But it ends up make-shifting for so much more, replacing the inefficient language I struggled with back up at Town End. ‘Contaminated’ is testament to all I’ve been seeing on these midweek winter evenings. The landscape, and people alike – we’re contaminated with something awful, something corrosive. Wave after wave has swept through these exposed precincts, over the past decades, decimating us more and more. The social body smashed into little pieces, that then feed on each other as if we’re acting zombies for the social bonds that once lived. The new wave, the deterritorialised, who were born within Broadband, retteritorialised with frustrations and misgivings they do not even detect. They are the new enraged, rightfully furious as they stare at the closed horizons their elders refuse to clear. But will they ever know this?

The thing is, the contamination is dying – it has nothing new to feed upon. But we aren’t small mammals waiting in the dark as the sun set on the dinosaurs. There is currently no new sun which we can speak of.

But it is no consolation to think that this fallout is happening for the beautiful people-places as much as it is for us, because as I walk to the station my gait is still filled with the haste of someone trying to outpace the weight of living under the spotlight of under-performance and failure. Its aura bullies these places, cruelly never allowed to forget the trendy urban hubs, that seem populated by models who show no sign of the stress marks from the affects of the fallout.

The cold waiting area is swamped by the stench of the 20 pence toilets, and the breathing noise coming from the faulty fan system is hardly a comforting noise like the ‘breathing sea’ we listened to in last year’s Journey to the Forgotten Fun of Filey. In fact it just makes you hyperaware of your own anxious breathing. You can see the pain on the faces; my face, in the reflection from the glass, retarded by a self-consciousness that can’t escape its knowing. “What am I doing wasting more limited money on overpriced pints in nostalgic bunkers in Sheffield?!” I leave the station and walk out of town.

I look back down the road at the town hall which has relative prominence to any grand structure for a bigger place. This is a centre like any other. They all command a certain wider zone, eclipsing similar sized centres beyond, and only themselves confronted by the pull of the much wider centres further afield. You expect something from them, and ultimately develop a love/hate fixation, unless you live in the command of another centre for long enough to be pulled in elsewhere.

I turn around again, and go back towards town. It’s been a strange few weeks anyway. The city-world of the mind is a maddening rabble of things to the extent that the head feels like an overcrowded collider.  The drink is a problem in as much as an anguish unfolds once the day is done. I want light but relapse into the dimming – I cannot be convinced that the morning will arrive.

Every morning I ask myself “why did I feel like that?”. But I did. Each morning brings the prospect of a new horizon, yet every sunset sinks me into a nihilized state under a dead horizon. The world we currently have is going through terminal decomposition and, possible, re-composition into a new one. It is deeply traumatic for all, experienced as it is in little prisons of loneliness. Internally working overtime at the end of all work  causes a sort of mute panic, as the sun goes down. And ‘dimming’ sources are sought, once again. Just maybe tomorrow will bring the new horizon…