Monday, November 30, 2009


Today ... New Zealand launched its first rocket into space. A slender, unmanned rocket was launched from a site on Great Mercury Island. Witnesses to the rocket launch had tears in their eyes, the experience described as 'profound' ... 'pure elation' ...

Today ... New Zealand's second largest repatriation of human remains arrived at Te Papa. In wooden caskets, the remains of 33 Maori were returned from museums in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Sweden. The origin of many of the repatriated individuals, including tattooed preserved heads, is believed to be the Mercury Islands.

This passing of invisible trajectories, tracks through time and space, ancient and futuristic, crosses for a moment at the Mercury Islands ... this place where Captain Cook paused a while in 1769 to watch the planet Mercury cross in front of the Sun ... this moment when Cook was able to fix his latitude and longitude, a point in space, a moment in a trajectory of time ...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Cloud of [Un]Knowing

A poem of sorts: where the metaphysical realm of the virtual conjures up haiku-like clouds of text. Perhaps a Tag Cloud Spotters' Guide is called for. Is one's own cloud the light and wispy Cirrus, woven with small streaks of light, up high in the rarefied zones? Or are there the traits of the Cumulonimbus, rumbling, crackling, a downpour always already imminent? Within the William S Burroughs-like congealed fragments, the strangely amputated stanzas, there are curious moments, micro-intoxications, like the "New Zealand Pleasure Finalists"... heralding a joyous cloud formation, like the fluffy Cumulus of a holiday sky. The Search [for] Gloom ... a leaden cloud laden with dank drizzle. And the serenity of the isolated 'Solitude', a small cloud in a clear blue sky, a lenticular formation of the sort one sees parked above hills, mimicking the topography ...

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Cockatoo Island, Sydney, JB

"The observation of two minutes' silence by an entire nation at 11am on 11/11 is the greatest work of modern art the British have ever come up with... in this age of mass participatory cultural events, the poetry of shared silence is perhaps appreciated more than ever. Who would have thought contemporary art would school us in remembrance?" Jonathan Jones

"Noise masked as music had pursued her since early childhood. During her years at the Academy of Fine Arts, students had been required to spend whole summer vacations at a youth camp. They lived in common quarters and worked together on a steelworks construction site. Music roared out of loudspeakers on the site from five in the morning until nine at night. She felt like crying, but the music was cheerful, and there was nowhere to hide, not in the latrine or under the bedclothes: everything was in range of the speakers. The music was like a pack of hounds that had been sicked on her." Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Contemporary Confessional, Christchurch, JB

Friday, November 13, 2009

One Degree of Separation

Simon Patterson, The Great Bear, 1992 (detail)

Roland Barthes' assertion of the 'death of the author' somehow evaporates when the object of one's writing is suddenly reading what one has written. While Barthes promoted the creative intervention of the reader in the experiencing of a work - or in the case of my current conundrum, the viewer - the sudden presence of the author (director) has a somehow immutable and omnipotent power. They are far from 'dead.' Is what I have written about his work of any interest to him? Is it, even, truthful? Does that matter (in the context of the reader's promotion to creative ally of the author)?

This has happened some times before, direct contact with the topic of one's musings ....with theorists who suddenly loom large at conferences, here or there, hither or yon. However, this latest imminent exchange is perhaps the most intimidating yet, and productive of an extreme and scrupulous self-critique. Crises of confidence ensue.

The webs of association are intriguingly complex and imbricated. The various degrees of separation sometimes suddenly fall away, till there is The Other, right there, without intermediary. This web is remiscent of Simon Patterson's The Great Bear. Playing on the idea of 'constellations' of thinkers, artists, musicians, philosophers, Patterson deemed his particular configuration a grouping of stars called The Great Bear, which is clustered along the various lines of the London Underground. So, now, travelling via the line of Great Directors, and imagining I would, as usual, simply rattle by the station and stare at it out the window, I find that I have now disembarked, and am confronting it, in person ...

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Wesleyan Methodist Church (Verso), November 2009, JB
"She had learned that over the ages various metaphors had been used for explaining memory, all of them attempts to understand how the mind worked. There were seals leaving traces on soft wax; vast storehouses with many chambers and ranks of pigeonholes, some secret; elaborate palaces with thousands of rooms each named. There were metaphors from photography in which memory acted like a chemical, leaving ghostly images behind; and from archaeology with its shards and relics, all needing sifting and reassembly. Meanwhile, from the digital world came hard and soft discs and neural nets. There were also homunculi and mystic writing pads in which scratchy trces or scars were left on a hard plate that was continually being overwritten."
Lisa Appignanesi, The Memory Man, 2004, p,44

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Temporal Inversion

7.54am [pinhole camera image] JB
The oxymoronic melancholy of spring is insistent, pervasive. Amidst the effusive efflorescences, the shattering chartreuse - a lime-ish green that is alarming in its intensity - there is a darkness. That conundrum: the resistance of happiness in the presence of beauty because of the knowledge that it will pass, the ubi sunt effect. And here - way down here - out of step with the 'old world,' there is an amplification of the inevitability of the passage of all things. In spring the rituals and festivals of the old world's autumn are marked, such that at the height of the spasm of renewal, planting and growth, the celebrations, with some bizarre macabre twist, mark the ending of things - meditations upon death. All Hallows' Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day come not with the darkening evenings, with bonfire pyres, rotting and decay - but with bright sunshine and blossom. Senescence is always already a presence.

B[l]eached bone [pinhole camera image] JB

Thursday, November 5, 2009

All Saints Day

A procession. Medieval. Theatrical. Spiritual. Water is gently flicked from the ceremonial vessel with a frond of Kowhai from the Sacred Grove.

The words are intoned:
Bishop Kito: The earth brought forth vegetation; plants yielding seed, and trees of every kind ... and God saw that it was good.
Bishop Winston: As the earth brings forth its blossom, or bushes in a garden burst into flower, so shall God make righteousness and praise flourish before all people.

The consecration is peformed. Upon a sunny Sunday late afternoon, Evensong into evening, the broad vistas connecting to the volcanic cones beyond, the ley lines and resonances of topography become momentarily intensified. And it was good.