Monday, 20 December 2010

Action Painting : Windsor Free Festival 1974

A little bit of footage of the cop I decorated with fluorescent green paint when he was beating up a peaceable member of the public at the Windsor Free Festival back in 1974. see my earlier blog about the free festivals.

The still image was in The Sun newspaper the next day (below) , the movie footage is from "Festival Britannia", which was broadcast on BBC4 in 2010.

The soundtrack is from "Extraordinary Rendition" by Nocturnal Emissions, 2010. (coming soon..)

29th August 1974,
After a week of low-key harassment, a horde of vicious coppers are wrecking everything at Windsor Free Festival. The boys in blue have dragged me out of my tent in the early hours of the morning and now the bastards are roughing up the young women running the free food kitchen that has sustained me for the week. I’ve a pot of fluorescent green poster paint in my pocket I’ve been carrying round for a while, thinking maybe I’ll do a bit of body painting with it or something... I chuck the whole pot over a particularly violent rozzer. The next thing I know this big ugly cop and two other flatfoots have jumped on me, they’ve got me down on the floor, twisting my arms up my back and dragging me along the turf by my hair in the direction of their Black Marias. “You’re nicked “they might have said except thirty or so public spirited citizens jump on top of PC Plod & his mates and somehow I get squeezed out from underneath this mass scrummage like a freshly ejaculated spermy thing.

I run off and swap clothes with a mate so I’m disguised and won’t be recognised. Later that night, I spot the big ugly cop he’s not bothered to clean himself up, he’s still got the paint on his face, dirty bugger. Next day he’s got his photo in The Sun “Target- a smeared face .. dignity intact” reads the caption. Oh I get it, propaganda. Dignity my arse, he was a thug.

It was a long time ago, but I kept the newspaper clipping, dull and monochromatic and old-school though it was. The coppers’ uniforms look like something out of Enid Blyton, that’s why they were called Plod. Hippies look funny. But it was good to be involved in that counter-cultural stuff.

The Free Festivals were amazing examples of good humoured insurrection, especially the Windsor one, squatting in the Queen’s back yard. Now everything’s so commercialized and you’ve got digital entertainment coming out of every orifice, the rich have got richer and the poor have got poorer and politicians keep mongering these horrible wars and it’s all for corporate greed. And sometimes it feels like there just isn’t any opposition any more, and then something wonderful happens, like Charles and Camilla get paint-bombed and the Tory HQ gets trashed and loads of what the ruling class doesn’t want you to know, but you know anyway but can’t really prove ,gets published by Wikileaks and you think, well maybe there’s hope for us all yet.

The other night there was this documentary, Festival Britannia, about the old festivals on TV and there’s footage of Windsor in it I’d never seen before and there’s a few seconds of the big ugly cop in it, this time in colour. I think I did a good job of the paint work.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Lion of Goonzion - Landscape Giant embedded in Google Map

Nested Signs in nested landscapes.

Many sightings of the Beast of Bodmin Moor say that it is lion-like, this could be a thought form emanation from the Leo Zodiac outline, which in turn may indicate the boundaries of a Mesolithic (and later Celtic) tribal area.

Leo’s body lies over Goonzion Downs, he is the Lion of Goonzion. Leo also stands on the village of Ley, it could be said that he is a “Ley lion”. Another place name that makes up his outline is Luna. Luna is the Latin name of the Earth's Moon as well as the Roman moon goddess Luna. Leo also stands over the 1412 Pant(h)ers Bridge.

This is such a dense and potentially dangerous system that attempts to give a workable summary of it would achieve nothing worthwhile.. see the book THE BODMIN MOOR ZODIAC by Nigel Ayers (2007).,-4.576836&spn=0.038773,0.077162&t=h&z=14&,6572553384516215121,50.482197,-4.595718&

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Virgin's Nipple Embedded in Google Map,-4.52604&spn=0.001212,0.002411&t=h&z=19&iwloc=A&

Constructed by Master Masons of the Highways Agency, The Virgin's Nipple is a ritual motor vehicle trackway designed to stimulate an erogenous zone within the Giant Effigy of Virgo in the Bodmin Moor Terrestrial Zodiac.

Nigel Ayers "Spoon" (1970)

This is the first film I made. It's shot on Standard 8mm film stock in Tideswell, Derbyshire, 1970. I'd be 13 years old. The cast includes myself, John Allen, Danny Ayers, Mary Ayers and Nick Buttle. The original footage is silent. The soundtrack here is from Nocturnal Emissions "Duty Experiment" CD, recorded a decade later.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Keeping Hope Alive

Endo-cannibalism in the making of a recent British ancestor

Following his death in 1975, the ashes of Wally Hope, founder of Stonehenge People's Free Festival, were scattered in the centre of Stonehenge. When a child tasted the ashes the rest of the group followed this lead. In the following decades, as the festival increasingly became the site of contest about British heritage and culture, the story of Wally's ashes was told at significant times. His name continues to be invoked at gatherings today. This paper discusses these events as 'the making of an ancestor', and explores wider contexts in which they might be understood. These include Druidic involvement in the revival of cremation, Amazonian bone-ash endo-cannibalism, and popular means of speaking of and to dead relatives. In addition to considering the role of 'ancestors' in contemporary Britain, the paper contributes to considerations of 'ancestry' as a different way of being dead, of a particular moment in the evolution of an alternative religious neo-tribal movement, of the meanings of 'cannibalism', and of the ways in which human remains might be treated by the bereaved and by various other interested parties.

Harvey, Graham (2004). Endo-cannibalism in the making of a recent British ancestor. Mortality, 9(3), pp. 255–267.


see also

see also

Monday, 22 November 2010

Free Festivals, UFOs and the 1970s

At the age of 16 I began spending my summers hitchhiking around the UK. Along my way, I attended various Free Festivals, notably events in Windsor Great Park in 1973 and 1974. The ethic of these festivals was completely different from that of commercial pop festivals, then or now. The Free Festivals were effectively mass proletarian squats of land, organised on an autonomous DIY-ethic of "bring what you expect to find". Free communal food supplies were organised as well as free entertainment in the form of "underground" rock acts & their light shows, often by "name" acts of the time - Hawkwind, Gong, as well as dozens of more obscure and unknown acts including the electronic band Zorch, the Stranglers, Joe Strummer's 101ers.

Arriving early and leaving late at these events, which tended to last for weeks rather than days, I got acquainted most of their organisers, I also found myself being interviewed and photographed by national newspapers. The ad hoc way these events were organised meant that people from the libertarian far left were joining forces with lifestyle anarchists others with far more right wing brands of individualism. Members of authoritarian cults such as the Hare Krishnas rubbed shoulders with anarcho-capitalist dope dealers, Hells Angels, gay liberationists, rock entrepreneurs, weekend hippies and quite a few ordinary normal people.

The 1974 Windsor Free Festival took place - without Royal permission - in the park adjoining the royal castle. The national press pretended to be scandalised by (true) stories of giveaways of thousands of tabs of LSD, public nudity and open cannabis smoking. After 10 days the festival was brought to abrupt end by a violent eviction carried out by hundreds of police officers. At one stage I myself was arrested and roughed up by three police officers, but several dozen public-spirited citizens helped enable my escape. Many of my friends were not so fortunate and ended up in police cells. I spent a night or two in a friend's house in London, then took up an invitation to join Fort Wally, a dissident camp within the Stonehenge complex, which I had briefly visited earlier.

I stayed for a few weeks in Fort Wally, a camp of 30 or so people, close to the Stonehenge monument in a communal geodesic dome.

There were many different motivations behind the people at the camp. Some were obviously from highly privileged backgrounds, some were minors who had run away from abusive parents, some were petty criminals and addicts, some were mentally ill, some were hardcore mystics and some were teenaged hedonists. During my time there, I managed to gain an access to the central circle of stones, to which the public are nowadays generally denied. On one occasion this was by vaulting a barbed wire fence, on others we were let in by the official custodians. The Stonehenge monument I found mysterious but disappointing. Stonehenge lacks the subtle aesthetic appeal of a site such as Avebury or indeed many of the thousands of smaller Neolithic sites scattered over the British Isles and Continental Europe. However, I became fascinated by the belief systems of the people I was associating with at the camp, and how their theories failed to measure up to experienced phenomena. Their faith in a DIY culture was one that I continue, perhaps naively, to share. Lifestyle anarchism was one which I had most difficulties with. I have never had the desire to live for any length of time in a commune, and I never embraced the primitivism of some of those who went on to become teepee dwellers. Recreational drug use had some benefits and many disadvantages. Already a long term sceptic, I took the mysticism with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the layers of meanings this prehistoric site had accrued.

One incident in particular stands out in my memory. On the night of the full moon, around midnight around 20 of us were admitted inside the fenced enclosure to the centre of the stones by a friendly night security man. Having got there, and having no unifying religious or scientific background, I wondered for a while what we were supposed to do. Someone suggested holding hands and chanting Om. I thought this suggestion was silly, as I couldn't see the relevance of a Hindu mantra to a European site of largely unknown origins that by all accounts predated that living Asian religion. But for want of a better plan, I joined in, staring at the night sky as we all chanted Oooooommmmmm. After a few minutes three objects appeared from the distance and flew high above our heads. There were three coloured lights on each of these objects each forming a triangle. I interpreted these objects to be helicopters from one of the nearby military bases and a coincidence that they should be on full-moon manoeuvres at same time we were omming. As far as I was concerned, the only strange thing about the experience was the helicopters were silent, I took this to be because they had been very high above us.

At the time I was unimpressed, but for some of the people there this was a very moving experience. A young man I met there, told me he felt like he was now full of an incredible energy and felt able to shout louder than anyone on earth. He also said, "Wasn't it great when the flying saucers appeared?". I humoured him. These were not flying saucers, they were triangles of light - nothing like the giant chrome hubcaps photographed by George Adamski and others. I thought the entire event was the ultimate in corniness and cliché. A circle of hippies chanting Om at Stonehenge at the midnight of a full moon - of course UFOs would appear - and of course no-one would believe me if I were to relate this story 30 years in the future. Later I learned that triangles of light belong to a certain category of UFOs and are not always thought to be of extra-terrestrial origin. Some have argued that these manifestations may in fact constitute a form of telepathic communications between the Earth Mother Gaia and her advanced primate surface dwellers. These thought-form communications often take on the appearance of shiny technological gadgetry with flashing lights, as this has been found to focus the attention of advanced primates. Years later, when working on a web site development in Dublin, I met man who told me he had been a RAF technician stationed on Salisbury Plain at this time, working on the development of silent helicopters. I think it is wise to neither believe nor disbelieve any of these explanations of what I experienced. Whether I can trust my memory of those events 30 years later is another question, but over time they have accrued a far more complex meaning for me than they ever did in my teenage years.

At the end of the summer of 1974 I was faced with a choice, either to join in an overland trek to India (in a former hearse), or to return to my Art Foundation course in Chesterfield. I chose the art course as I liked to experiment with technology, I liked the sort of art you could display indoors and I liked my home comforts.

However, my encounters with the counter culture furnished me with a reading list of unorthodox archaeology and redundant fringe belief systems. I enthusiastically consumed books such as John Michell's View Over Atlantis, Alfred Watkins' The Old Straight Track, Eric Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods, Wilhelm Reich's Mass Psychology of Fascism. I found myself reading these books mainly as entertainment, as fiction, though I also conducted hands-on experiments in ley-hunting, orgone accumulation, and the like. The visual side of these subjects, sacred geometry, pyramids, etc fed into my art work, as did some of my more nightmarish experiences with authoritarian society, which I don't have the space or inclination to deal with right now.

Experiences in the field showed me that reality matched neither an orthodox or an "alternative" view. All sides were obviously faking their results in order to support their preposterous theories. Exploring fringe beliefs was a useful tactic at art school, as I had at that time very little interest in, or knowledge, of art history. My art comes primarily from my own experience, my understanding of art history came later. I was using my hands and eyes and body to create real things in the world and through this interaction was examining my experience of the world. Using the structure of fringe beliefs, I could explain my work in non-art terms, referring to subject matter outside the "art world". At the same time, I think I may have disappointed anyone who assumed I actually believed in the subject matter I was exploring. I was covered by the fact that similar occultist tropes were being presented as Land Art by Richard Long, Robert Smithson etc, and as performance art and sculptural objects by Joseph Beuys and many others. So my work could easily be understood as being well within the parameters of acceptable art practice.

I do not think art is a mystical process. Any mysticism accrued to art making are largely the result of the alienations imposed by consumer society, and a hangover from the religious indoctrination of earlier centuries. However, I find it is often difficult to explain the processes of art-making, especially the "life" of art outside the "author" in any other ways than those of Magick. Magick, like post-modernism is a lot to do with manipulating symbols to influence consciousness. From whatever ethical, religious or political standpoint you take, to work in art is to work with real things and to do with exploring the fabric of reality, it is also about sharing that exploration and experience with other people.

Nigel Ayers, April 2006

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Dobwalls Virgin

Nigel Ayers
The Dobwalls Virgin, 2010
wood, glass, acrylic paint, clay, tea, dill
9 3/4 x 9 3/4 x 1 3/4 inches

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Sid Rawle R.I.P.

The social activist Sid Rawle, or as the gutter press used to call him, "King of the Hippies", died last week.

In the '60s, he was one of the Hyde Park Diggers commune who were given an island, by John Lennon, off the coast of Ireland to establish an alternative society. He was often on the mic at the Free Festivals, officiating at marriages and funerals, and published International Times for a while. In the '80s he was with the Peace Convoy at the Molesworth peace camp and he's well-known to many in traveler and Green circles.

Our paths crossed quite a few times in the years following the police attack on the Windsor Free Festival in 1974. He was inspiring company.


Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Desiring Machines

Emanation Machine

V1.01 responds to the emotional arousal of the user, as well as to environmental factors, providing an interface with residual energies in the etheric field. The device utilises a powerful 9 x 9 UV matrix, pedagogic voice enchanter and electro-mechanical counter. The potentiser contains a 30C homeopathic potency of Nux Vomica, pre-eminently the remedy for many of the conditions incident to modern life.

Etheric Link Machine

Contains electro-magnetic hand scanner, multiple etheric sensors and homeopathic potentiser, linked to a morphic resonator. In the hands of a trained operator, the Etheric Link Machine is an effective diagnostic and therapeutic instrument, its efficacy reliant on the ESP level of the user.

Intensity Production Machine

Contains Zenor activation buttons, multiple etheric sensors, electronic voice phenomenomiser and homeopathic potentiser. The Intensity Production Machine is good for you. It has ethical content. It illuminates the human condition. It reveals deep inner truths that cannot be expressed in words.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

War Criminal - TV footage and documentation

A compilation for you..

Music is "I See You're with Eeyore" from Nocturnal Emissions "Collateral Salvage", available for download in all the usual places and on CD as well.
End credit music is folk music recorded on the street in Iraq two weeks before the invasion.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

From Today's Papers

Sunday Mirror

The Independent on Sunday

Daily Star

Tony Blair - War Criminal
Poster, Flyer, Postcard
Nigel Ayers (2003)

Image download 1.8 Mb:

or go shopping:

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Citizen's Arrest on Blair

Activist Kate O'Sullivan managed to get through tight security to confront Mr Blair as he held a book signing in Dublin.

The 24-year-old from Cork claims to have queued for 90 minutes and went through airport style security - handing in all her belongings and going through a metal detector - before she attempted to arrest Mr Blair.

She says the former Prime was blasé about her accusations: "He didn't say anything, He just signed the book, he looked down and then looked at security."

Ms O'Sullivan, a member of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Movement, was detained for almost half an hour before she was cautioned by gardai.

Earlier, shoes and eggs had been pelted at Mr Blair as he arrived at the bookshop on O'Connell Street in Dublin city centre.

War Criminal update

The project War Criminal is a psychic warfare exercise instigated in 2003. It will remain in operation until such time as the individuals it accuses, Tony Blair and George W Bush, are brought to justice in an appropriate international war crimes tribunal.

In 2003, I designed twin portraits of George W Bush and Tony Blair as war criminals. These were put to immediate use as placards in an anti-war demonstration in London. I also made the images available for free download on a couple of activist web sites. I soon heard they were being used as placards in a demonstration in Washington DC.

In November 2005, I opened my newspaper to find a reproduction of one of the images I'd designed, adorning the shirt of soccer superstar turned Third World activist Diego Maradona in an anti-Bush demonstration in Argentina. Images of Maradona bearing this image were prominent throughout the international news headlines on November 5th.

Subsequently, I made the images available in a variety of formats through a print- on-demand Internet company in the USA making a variety of household items - they can now be purchased as badges t shirts, beer mugs, dog blankets. This piece documents the ecology and democratic use of these two signs.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Musical Concrete

A page from the book

I don’t know that I ever intended my music project Nocturnal Emissions to exemplify a genre – or sub-genre – of rock music. But I suppose often “genre” doesn’t just mean “style”, it can mean a collection of attitudes. And you know, we weren’t following a genre, we were creating it.

“Industrial” implies something to do with the alienation experienced by individuals in a society where money is king. “Ambient” means to do with your environment.

If I was doing a diagram, I'd place us a lot closer to dance music, dub and post-punk than metal.

But this diagram has to make more sense than back in 80s when Virgin Megastore would have Nocturnal Emissions in the same bin as the Nolans and the Notsensibles.

Though there were political and philosophical differences between ourselves and Coil, I can’t deny that we were on friendly terms back in the ‘80s .

I like this book, “Information is Beautiful”. I was browsing through at it at the Port Eliot Festival the other week. Here it is in a pile stacked behind Tim Smit and Jarvis Cocker:

Check it out:

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

NETWORK NEWS the book is out now

Sinister beasts, earth mysteries, the occult shenanigans of the royal family, the occult symbolism of British currency, time travelling punk rockers, Nocturnal Emissions merchandising and much, much more.

Includes interviews with: Walter Alter, Nigel Ayers, Muslimgauze, John Watermann, Zoviet France, etc.

Network News was produced between 1990 and 1999 by various authors associated with the Nocturnal Emissions project and distributed by Earthly Delights. While some pages of the original documents have been removed for legal reasons, the low fidelity production qualities, small print typefaces and obsolete contact information of the originals have been preserved as much as possible.

.. ..

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Monday, 10 May 2010

The films of Alejandro Jodorowsky

Alejandro Jodorowsky was active as a film director in the 60s and 70s, following a career as an actor and director of experimental theatre and happenings.

Jodorowsky’s 1970 film El Topo was a surreal blend of the Wild West and eastern philosophy. Sort of Luis Bunuel meets Sergio Leone with a touch of Kenneth Anger and performance art thrown in: nudity, amputees, dead animals, lots of blood, spiritual philosophy and psychedelia. It was packaged and promoted as “midnight movie cult cinema” in the Elgin Cinema, New York, relying on word-of-mouth recommendation among Chelsea hipsters. And so, they say, it helped establish an “outsider” genre of films based on a culture of late-night screenings, reviving interest in neglected filmmakers like Tod Browning and Ed Wood, and providing an audience for new film makers like David Lynch and John Waters. Critic Ben Cobb writes that after enthusiastic recommendation by John Lennon , “El Topo screenings took the form of a drug-fuelled happening. People went to be mentally altered by the film, spiritually enriched or, at the very least, have an experience.”

John Lennon’s manager Allen Klein saw potential in Jodorowksy’s brand of druggy-exploitation cinema, bought the rights to El Topo and put the money up for his next film The Holy Mountain (picture below). Klein screened El Topo in a Broadway cinema, which immediately blew its credibility as far as its cultish audience was concerned. Having learned a marketing lesson, screenings of The Holy Mountain were limited to midnight slots on Fridays and Saturdays where they attracted a sizeable cult following for a remarkable 16 months.

Jodorowsky and Klein fell out over a new exploitation film project they were discussing. According to Jodorowsky “I weighed up my artistic integrity against fame and wealth. After a torturous half-hour, I reached my decision.” Allan Klein was furious and did his best to make sure that El Topo and The Holy Mountain were never screened, while Jodorowsky did his best to encourage the spread of bootlegs of the two films. There were legal battles until 2004 when some sort of reconciliation was reached and the films are now widely available on DVD.

Jodorowsky went on to make the exploitation film “Santa Sangre”, but seems to have been mostly occupied with a writing career, books on psychology and the tarot as well as the sort of adult graphic novels that are popular in France.

Jodorosky’s films El Topo and The Holy Mountain contain some of the most striking and strange sequences in modern cinema. They are masterpieces of grandiose self-indulgence, and have been a big influence on the likes of Matthew Barney. Their bizarre scenes and ritualized narrative structures are the sort of thing you grow accustomed to if you’re familiar with avant-garde and outsider art, but never with this kind of budget.

What is puzzling, then, is how these films ever got made. The extras on Jodorowsky's DVD collections show him at work doing tarot readings and conducting seminars on “Psychomagic: The Transformative Power of Shamanic Psychotherapy” (the title of his latest book). What becomes clear is that the guy is very persuasive and has great manipulative skills. The people with the money must have been suckers for that kind of scam back in the day...

Alejandro Jodorowsky's 'Dune: An Exhibition of a Film of a Book That Never Was was at Plymouth Arts Centre 2 April – 16 May 2010. Curated by Tom Morton. See review by Nigel Ayers.

for art cornwall

Alejandro Jodorowsky's 'Dune: An exhibition of a film of a book that never was

Alejandro Jodorowsky's 'Dune: An exhibition of a film of a book that never was

Plymouth Arts Centre 2 April – 16 May 2010

Dune is a weighty Science Fiction novel written by Frank Herbert and published in 1965. The cover blurb by Arthur C. Clarke says its “unique among SF novels. I know nothing comparable to it except The Lord of the Rings”.

There have been several attempts made to film the book, and the rights to it have passed through several hands. It has been the subject of a TV mini-series, and a new cinema version is currently being planned, to be directed by action specialist Pierre Morel.

1984 saw David Lynch's version of the book. Lynch's Dune was not well-received by critics and performed poorly at the American box office. Lynch distanced himself from the project, stating that pressure from both producers and financiers restrained his artistic control and denied him final cut privilege.

In some versions of the film Lynch's name is replaced in the credits with the name of a fictional director Alan Smithee: a pseudonym used by directors who wish to be disassociated from films they have worked on. In fact, like a lot of bad sci-fi, David Lynch’s Dune retains a fairly large cult following.

Before Lynch, in 1976, Alejandro Jodorowsky was given the job of directing the film. He gathered around him a group of collaborators including the Swiss artist HR Giger, who later designed the movie Alien, the French graphic novel artist Moebius, and English sci-fi artist Chris Foss. Pink Floyd were to provide the soundtrack and the proposed cast was to feature Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and Salvador Dali. Dali was to play the Emperor of the Universe who ruled from a golden toilet-cum-throne in the shape of two intertwined dophins, their mouths designed to receive, respectively, urine and excrement: “Dali considers it very bad taste to mix piss and shit”.

But Jodorowsky never got the finance and the project was abandoned. All that survives are the director's notes and production drawings by Giger, Moebius and Foss.

Jodorowksy has written about his adventures in film-making as a process of spiritual discovery and has said film-making should be a way of losing money, not making it. “Contemporary art” tends to be all about about price tags and status, so I was interested to see the interpretation of this material by the contemporary artists in this touring show. I hoped for something over-the-top and mystically bonkers.

In the downstairs room there’s a chrome head with raffia hair and bulging eyeballs. This is a Steven Claydon piece. The chromed metal looks like it may have once been a colander and yes, it could easily be a portrait of the young Jodorowsky strung out on amphetamine...

On the opposite wall is a portrait print also by Claydon. It’s not Jodorowsky. Perhaps this is a portrait of Frank Herbert? I look at the label and find it’s a portrait of Somerset Maugham. I wonder what Somerset Maugham has got to do with the film that never was? Tom Morton's notes say it may “be read as a stand-in for the Emperor Shadam IV (Maugham’s stately pleasure dome Villa Mauresque recalls the Emperor’s golden planet)”. So, it’s not Emperor Shadam IV, it’s not the Emperor’s golden planet, it’s a portrait of an author who once wrote a book with a scene in it that was similar to a scene in Dune. So this is the Portrait of the Author of a Book That Contains a Scene In It That is Similar to a Scene in The Book...

Vidya Gastaldon's paintings are small, pleasant watercolours with pieces of Herbert's text written on them. They're a bit like William Blake's in style, only William Blake put a bit more effort in. Blake would have also used his own secret method of printing and his own text, whereas Gastaldon 'has used Herbert's novel as an i-Ching-like instrument of divination, flicking through the pages at random and then making an image based on the first line her eyes alight on'. So she hasn't actually read Dune, she's just skimmed though it a bit? I love the way contemporary artists cut corners!

Upstairs there are materials actually related to Jodorowsky's Dune project: a set of nice big illustrations by both Giger and Foss and loads of magazine clippings about the project.

On the top floor, in the exhibition space, there's Day Jackson's piece. His human skull morphing into platonic solids seems to be in a Jodorowsky groove, and there's a load of science fiction comics on loan from a local shop, and some reading matter on the subject of science fiction illustration.

Curator Tom Morton writes that the remains of Jodorowksy's Dune project: “reveal a potential future for sci-fi movie making that eschewed the conservative, technology-based approach of American filmmakers in favour of something closer to a metaphysical fever-dream...In 1977, George Lucas' Star Wars was released and the history of sci-fi filmmaking and even mainstream cinema, would never be the same again

I'm not so sure that the sci-fi movie genre and mainstream cinema has become so much technology-based as effects-based in its approach, and that beneath this layer of sensationalism its underlying ethos is to re-inforce the fears and insecurities that drive the modern hyper-capitalist economies. There seems instead in Jodorowsky's sacrificial film-making an attempt to blow apart those insecurities and enter into something akin to personal freedom and autonomy, using film as an uninhibited process of spiritual discovery, rather than a means to make money for corporations.

But then the guy is so obviously barmy that it's hard to tell.

Nigel Ayers 27/4/10

photos by Lesley Ayers


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Pump - CD review

Written by Justin Patrick
Sunday, 04 April 2010

For Nigel Ayers the systematic derangement of the senses has never been enough. From the beginning of his career he has sought nothing less than the total disarrangement of reality. Using slowed down voices, sludgy bass, noisy analog synthesizers, guitar and weird effects, these unorthodox statements from his first band sound as if they were made in an atmosphere of cerebral discord. Conventions of musicality are thwarted in favor of shoestring arrangements gelled together by intuition rather than adherence to preconceived formulas. Traversing terrains that range from the psychotropic to psychotic, the collected works of The Pump make for an artifact that is not easily pigeon holed, not now, and probably not in the late 1970s when the group first formed with his brother Daniel Ayers and the late Caroline K.


This CD collects together music from two cassettes originally released by the band in tiny editions circa 1980. The tyranny of Dolby noise reduction doesn't seem to be present, though they have been remastered and presented all together on a compact disc. The songs are very far from concise but exhibit a playful malevolence that is nevertheless enjoyable. All but one of these 19 tunes are under five minutes in length, with many being less than two. I don't think they were kept short to gain more attention for radio airplay: the only hooks these songs have are the squelchy electronic kind that dig into your brain. Though as far as dirty basement scuzz goes, this is some of the best available.

Nigel Ayers has a knack for naming songs. I'm sure he had quite a hand in giving these their names because reading the list is almost as fun as listening. “Inner Riot Cola” starts the disc off and sets the right mood with a bit of microphone fuzz and a voice saying, “Hello. I'm talking very voice will be slowed down when I play it back, and it will sound normal.” The high pitched voice sounds remind me of a soda drinking kid who has had too much caffeine, and I considered the rest of the disc in light of that voice, as it is filled with the same playful exuberance and boundless energy that children know. Unhampered by rules and regulations The Pump made up its own musical game, owing little to other styles and trends. In doing so they attacked rigid minds in an attempt to break them down. This is nowhere more evident than in “The Eleven Thousand Year QC,” a rambling science fictional monologue and political diatribe. One of the things I admire about Nigel is that he has never shied away from making his music political, and in this song the words “duty experiment” are mentioned for the first time, a motif that he explores more thoroughly in the guise of Nocturnal Emissions. Read in a stately monotone it sounds like a newscast from a far dystopian future, with peculiar electronics lurching underneath it all.

The next song ,“Earth Vows,” is one of the best. The ebb and flow of ominous phase shifters is accompanied by what sounds like telemetry and smothered hand drums. The false hints of melody fade in and out obscured by speaker hum. “Futures Unlimited” has a static drum machine beat, nostalgically cheap and dated sounding, with a warbling bass line that keeps it all together. It doesn't matter that the bass and beat aren't exactly in sync—it's like they are there only to give a context to the other spastic and dithering noises. “Slangy Policies” is another gem: a synth stonewashed in reverb has the focus now, accompanied at times by vaguely martial percussion. “Bats Fist” is another teetering and gnarly bit of synth slush. This is the kind of noise I like, stuff that is not reliant on volume levels to make an impact, or on shrillness, but is composed of wobbly textures that make me feel unbalanced, mentally and otherwise. “In A Box” is a sound poetry piece, with Caroline K's voice mixed with a clutter of debris.

Briefly on “Unsoiled Nukes” things sound like they could blast off into a kraut-infused free-for-all where the rhythmic elements might finally find some cohesiveness. At 53 seconds though it just doesn't last (I love it anyway). Attention is paid throughout most of the songs to the mixing specific sounds to either the left or right channel exclusively. Nowadays, while panning is just one trick in an arsenal of studio techniques, most albums tend to be more subtle with it, but I like it when things are panned hard to one or the other side. “Is it something I said?” is the longest song on the disc, and sounds like it was recorded at a live performance, as it has a much more mono sound then the rest, and whooping voices can be discerned in the background. Of all the tracks it is the most visceral and has the most squeal. I like the garbled and melted sounding voice that taunts throughout, making the unnerving buzz and unyielding oscillations tolerable (left alone I don't know if they would be).

Some of these songs were included on the Nocturnal Emissions “Lest We Forget” 4xLP+7" set from Vinyl-On -Demand that came out in 2008. This disc however includes all the material released by The Pump and is thus a perfect edition for the serious collector.


Saturday, 20 March 2010

Lusitania - artist's book out now

Lusitania is an artist’ book work reproduced from documents first assembled in 1977. The found images and texts were printed on a variety of A4-size papers and mirrored foil using various multi-coloured screenprint, duplicating machine, photocopy and collage processes. The original documents were flood-damaged in 1994 and evidence of the resulting textures and coloration can be seen in this production.

Exhibition history: a version of this piece, Lusitania Wallchart, was selected as part of the national Young Contemporaries exhibition in Manchester, United Kingdom, 1977.
Product Details
Publisher Earthly Delights
Copyright ©2010 Nigel Ayers (Standard Copyright License)
Language English
Country United Kingdom
Publication Date March 14, 2010

Page Count 28 pages
Size A4
Binding Saddle Stitch
Interior Color Full-color

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Mission To Libra: The Bodmin Moor Zodiac

The sun is in this sign from 24th September to 23rd October. An air sign.
Key words: beauty, art, partnership, tact, charm, relaxation, affection, compromise, diplomacy, laziness.
Light or planet: Venus.
Body parts: kidneys, lumbar region.

Libra lies in the line connecting the bright stars Spica in Virgo and Antares in Scorpio. The Arabic names of the bright stars in Libra (the scales or balance) indicate that they formerly belonged to the scorpion, Zubenelgenubi means the southern claw and Zubenelschemali the the northern claw. Zebeneschimali is one of the only green stars which can be seen without a telescope. The sun entered Libra on the day of the autumn equinox; the name represents the equilibrium between day and night and between the seasons. The constellation has been known as the scales, a symbol of justice, balance and harmony, since the time of ancient Rome. It has been said that the Romans created Libra from the Scorpions claws, giving the scales to Astraea, the goddess of justice who we now know as Virgo. Their origin has also been traced to 2000 BC to ancient Babylon when this was the season of the weighing of souls and the judgement of the living and the dead. Mens souls are in the balance at the time when day and night are equal. Iota Libra is a multiple star with Component A being of 4.5 Magnitude and Component B being of 9.4 Magnitude. The eclipsing binary Delta Librae changes its brightness from 4.9 to 5.9 Magnitude within a 2.33 day cycle. It is about 300 light years away.
The scales are an analogue device that measures continuous information in an infinite number of possible values. The only limitation on resolution is the accuracy of the measuring device. By contrast, a digital system is one that uses discrete values, representing numbers or non-numeric symbols such as letters or icons, for input, processing, transmission, storage, or display.

Initial Visualisation, prior to field work

The scales lie around Rosecraddock and close to the Wheal Tor Inn, the highest inn in Cornwall. The handle of the scales is formed by the road that runs from St Cleer through Tremar Coombe past Polwrath to Darite. From the church at Darite, through Crows Nest to Higher Trethake runs the cord that suspends the northern scale which is formed by a system of fields on Fore Down. Below the northern Scale lies Newton Farm, this reminds us of Newtons discovery of gravity as the force that works the scales. The process of weighing is suggested by hamlet immediately below the scale, known as Wayland. The cord which suspends the southern scale is formed by the road that runs from St Cleer Post Office across St Cleer Downs, past the water works. The southern scale itself is formed by a complex of fields enclosing Trenabe and Treneath. St Cleer is one of the larger Cornish parishes and has been inhabited for more than 6000 years. The village has two public houses, a post office and a general store. For thousands of years metal ores have been dug from the ground in this parish, first tin ores from open works and later copper ore from deep mines. In the nineteenth century 3000 men, women and children were employed in mining, a boom that led to the building of new villages like Darite and Minions. St Cleer Well, sanctified by St. Clarus, was said to cure insanity and blindness when a patient was ducked in the water.

.. see the book THE BODMIN MOOR ZODIAC by Nigel Ayers (2007).

Friday, 5 March 2010

Mission to Leo: the Lion of Goonzion

This is such a dense and potentially dangerous system that attempts to give a workable summary of it would achieve nothing worthwhile.. see the book THE BODMIN MOOR ZODIAC by Nigel Ayers (2007).

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Artistic License

On Spatial Detournement

Since the 1950s, guerrilla sign ontologists, situationists and psychogeographers have delighted in using the power of the map to decode the urban landscape. They have explored Manchester using a map of Milan , wandered Newcastle guided by a map of the Berlin U-Bahn, and explored Hackney with a map of the moon. This re-use of maps may at first sight seem to be a simple economy measure, but these were in fact experiments aimed at creating spatial détournements, subverting the commodified image of the city. By the intentional misreading of city space, the city would “be experienced not as a thing at all, but as possibilities”. Our ritual walks are in contrast to the concept of the dérive meaning an aimless walk that follows the whim of the moment, sometimes translated as a drift.

French philosopher Guy Debord used the dérive idea to encourage readers to revisit the way they looked at urban spaces. Rather than being prisoners to their daily routines, living in a complex city but treading the same path every day, he urged people to follow their emotions and to look at urban situations in a radical new way. The notion was that most of our cities are so thoroughly unpleasant because they were designed in a way that either ignored their emotional impact on people, or indeed tried to control people through their very design. The basic premise of the dérive is for people to explore their environment without preconceptions, to understand their location, and therefore their existence. The flaw in Debord’s notion is that town and rural planners now use very sophisticated methods of emotional route-manipulation to move consumers through a series of consumables. The radical way to counter this manufactured routing is not to rely on emotion to guide us, but instead to devise more precise and radical methods of rambling. A better way to explore space is instead to adapt another of Debord’s concepts, that of the détournement, where an artist reuses elements of existing media to create a new work with a different meaning, often one opposed to the original. Détournement is similar to satirical parody, but often employs more direct reuse or mimicry of the original works rather than constructing a new work, which merely alludes strongly to the original. Another technique we suggest is to adapt the cut-up or fold-in technique to design walking routes. William Burroughs and Brion Gysin applied this to printed media and audio recordings in an effort to decode the material’s implicit content, hypothesising that such a technique could be used to discover the true meaning of a given text. Burroughs also suggested cut-ups may be effective as a form of divination saying, “When you cut into the present the future leaks out”. Burroughs also further developed the fold-in technique as a method for altering reality. Burroughs’ explanation was that everything that could be recorded could be edited. Later the CrimethInc Ex-Workers Collective developed behavioural cut-ups as a method of changing one’s life by performing activities which are created by cutting up two socially acceptable, routine behaviours and recombining them to form an new more amusing activity. The intention is that you perform a series of cut-ups for a long period until it becomes second nature and your behaviour is altered significantly. Détournements, fold-ins and cut-ups may all be contrasted with recuperation, in which originally subversive works and ideas are themselves appropriated by mainstream media.

In spatial détournement, a rambler reuses elements of a known territory to explore a new psychic space with a different meaning, often one beyond the boundaries of the “original”. In this case maps of outer space are folded into maps of terrestrial space. So our ritual walks are spatial détournements based on precise plans to overturn external temporal/spatial manipulation of our rambling. We have created our own walking system instead of being enslaved by another man’s. We do not advise others to follow these routes, but instead to create their own pathways of exploration. Looking at the patterns drawn on a landscape allows us to analyse their origins in the communication between human and animal life, technology and landscape. A detailed study gives us insight into how we remember our travels. Using GPS, a follow-up analysis of a created map provides a different perspective on how the Bodmin Moor Zodiac was organised. By looking at various data from above, below and within, moving through both time and space, we are able to make additional observations, analysis and conclusions regarding our rambles that might not be possible from ground level.

From the book Bodmin Moor Zodiac by Nigel Ayers