Henry Bond

Shu and Orlowski will always be remembered as innovators in the gig economy which created a new type of precarious worker who uses a smartphone to get jobs and gets paid for each delivery completed. This is of course another aspect of the smartphone revolution which began around mid-2010. Deliveroo started in 2013. With Deliveroo there is no set amount that you are paid for a delivery it will be between £3 and £6 and as you might expect the computer will tell you how much you earned after you have delivered. It is demeaning and demanding dead end work which offers no possibility of progression of any kind or any financial security. It is just getting money to live. It might be okay on a midsummer's evening but in the rain in February it is hellish. You inevitably get lost all the time. There are four million addresses in London you are never going to learn them all. Riders in London on mopeds and electric cycles delivering food to people in their homes has become a common sight over the last ten years. It has become a London fixture: a Deliveroo rider on a moped, engine whirring up then stopping, as he goes up and down the street sheepishly looking for an address he has been given. They are an underclass. The unskilled underclass who live in precarity without basic employment rights like sick pay. The worker class and precarious class are quite separate now. The worker is someone who is able to get a job with full employment benefits. The underclass work without benefits. We have come to expect and accept this underclass: men or women who seem doomed to work the most dreadful jobs like Deliveroo rider with no way out. Many of these workers are immigrants who can barely speak English. Their lack of any proper language skills only adds to the likelihood that they will find it difficult to move beyond precarious work while also remaining easier to exploit: they cannot effectively challenge, negotiate with, or make complaints to the management. With Deliveroo there is no management to complain to it is just you and your account on your phone. If you take a look at a photo of Will Shu he does not immediately look like a person who exploits others in order to grow rich but nevertheless that is what he is. The most mordant image today that really sums up today in a quite specific way perhaps as much a photo of a Deliveroo rider is a photo of a couple naked standing in front of a classic photo-portrait style backdrop like an Avedon set say. The man looks fairly cool he has got a beard and short hair, he is quite ripped, he has got his arm very affectionately around the waist of a woman who has got a tribal style tattoo around her left bicep. They are both smiling at the camera. The picture is captioned: Rowena and Sally, lesbian couple. You read the caption and then you realize that it is actually a picture of two women. In the UK the consequence of Edward Snowden was really that the law was changed to allow most of what he revealed to become legal. That is it in a nutshell. The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 makes it legal for GCHQ to bulk collect email, Web and phone records of British citizens. Of course in reality they collect a lot more than that—meaning they don't stop at the British only. They are sniffing all that data using AI software and other recognition softwares for suspicious things. Nobody is manually reading your emails. But the real change with the IPA is that GCHQ now hold on to the data so that if a person becomes a suspect at any point in their life then their Web, email and phone records can be consulted for example by police detectives gathering evidence. As Liberty have been arguing and still are arguing you cannot have the Human Rights Act and the Investigatory Powers Act both in force at once if you are trying to be a sane country. You cannot have a legal right to privacy and the IPA together. One expressly undermines the other. That is what is still being argued in court by Liberty. But you have to look at it in relation to Instagram and Google. Google's bulk data collection—retaining the Web search history of ninety percent of all Web users—is obviously not compatible with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act: Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. From a right to privacy perspective GCHQ's collection of data at least has the purpose of foiling terrorism and seeking to stop people being drawn into extremism whereas Google's bulk data collection and Instagram's bulk data collection is done solely for the purposes of making profit. That is where the idea of post-democracy comes in. UK nationals have no realistic legal means to challenge Google, Instagram, or ByteDance. Email is not really a secure way of communicating with another person I think we all know that by now anyway. Our Web browsing history is being recorded that is just a fact—and doubly by the UK state and Google. Would-be terrorists don't use email to plan an attack so there is only limited use in the vast expense of interrogating our emails anyway. Look there is not a soul on the planet who believes that WhatsApp encryption could not be cracked in five minutes flat if access to certain messages were suddenly required by the NSA or the CIA. What kind of encryption is it? It is the kind that can be cracked and is already cracked most certainly. I mean I bought a copy of Let Us Be Muslims by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi because I like to be informed and it is a classic radicalization book. That is fine but if I were to recommend that book to one of my students in an email well that would be a different matter. In fact it would be highly suspicious and possibly illegal. It would be a breach of my workplace prevent policy that is for sure. So I don't do that. I think my point is that it does not take much to drift over the line into what could be interpreted as creating an atmosphere conducive to terrorism like buying a book on Amazon and recommending it to a student. Making and sharing a photo is just a basic utility something that everyone with a smartphone does anytime. There is nothing special about taking a picture at all. It is just something that we all do. Or to be more accurate it is just something that 6.3 billion people do anytime. There really is not much more to say about the JPEG at this point beyond the fact that it can fairly be described as ubiquitous. The ubiquity of the JPEG. Instagram uses JPEG for all images displayed on its platform. All images are converted to JPEG when they are being uploaded. JPEG is the most profuse type of photographic image ever known to humans with several billion being created each day. The most successful image format ever devised. Maybe ten billion each day. The Joint Photographic Experts Group created the international standard for compression in 1992. Many of the names of the original committee are unknown as it was an ad hoc association. Only Graham Hudson and Gregory Wallace are known. The creation of the JPEG compression standard in 1992 is one of the most significant moments in the history of photography. I wonder if there is any way anyone could begin to estimate how many JPEGs have been created in total since 1992? It is more than a quadrillion. It could be a quintillion. You have got China slowly emerging as an authentic authoritarian dictatorship with the introduction of mass surveillance and the Chinese Communist Party Social Credit Initiative which is making ordinary life intolerable for one and a half billion residents. You have got Russia which slowly morphed from potential nascent democracy into a horrifying dictatorship. You have got the absolute monarchy in Saudi Arabia who regularly execute dissenters—many of whom confess to their supposed crimes under torture. Who can forget the state sanctioned execution of Jamal Khashoggi who was anesthetized and then dismembered with a wood saw by his assassins? How many of the one hundred million in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria want out of their failed state because life there is unendurable? What of the plight of the five million people living in subjugation in the autonomous entity of Palestine? And what of the forty three million in Ukraine? So too the hundreds of millions of African people living in the failed states of Somalia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Burundi, Eritrea, Mali, Niger, Kenya, Côte d'Ivoire or Mozambique. Are they to be left to their fate? The stress and anxiety for the ordinary person living in say the city of Juba is unimaginable with the daily threat of robbery, car-jacking, ambush, assault, kidnapping, mugging or shooting. As well as navigating civil unrest and armed conflict—with militias often setting up arbitrary ad hoc checkpoints. The FCDO advises British citizens do not travel to most of these countries which are deemed to be too volatile and dangerous to enter. If you go anyway against FCDO advice then they have no obligation to get you out even in extremis. Or you have got the USA. People used to admire the USA in the 1950s—artists like Peter Blake or Hockney. There are three hundred and ninety three million privately owned guns in the USA. What would be a better definition of an insane country than one in which you can walk into your local shop and buy an M4 Carbine military rifle with as much ammunition as you might need? An M4 is lethal up to about five hundred metres and can fire at the rate of seven hundred bullets per minute—that is really a technical number as no soldier fires continuously for a full minute they fire in very short bursts. The M4 Carbine is the primary gun of the United States Marine Corps. This is really just to underline that an M4 Carbine should never be made available to a civilian. I mean you don't go hunting with an M4 Carbine. It has been developed by Colt solely for killing other humans on a field of battle. Most of the time in the UK we just let any thoughts about the reality of daily life in any of these countries go to the back of our minds and nothing to be done. Life goes on and we enjoy our freedoms while millions elsewhere are suffering. In order to enjoy our freedoms and walks in the park and ice creams on lawns we have to forget about all of it. That is where the question of engagement comes in. Do you want your work to engage with any of this? Can you make work that is relevant to global politics? Or is there something more pressing? That is why I like the work of sixty-five year old Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn. I don't find it didactic I would say I find a lot of other art too disengaged from politics or just posing around politics which is the worst. Look fine art photography is a great career but you have got to be realistic about what you are getting into at this point. If you want to protect art photography in its current form of a photo framed up on the wall then you have got to go out and protect the galleries by supporting them as a regular active spectator. The state-funded ones are one thing. And you have got to also encourage the photography buyer—or collector as they are called. It seems a lot to spend say three thousand on an art photo for your wall at home but some people will do that. Without that then there is no means of art photographers making a living at all. At some point they have got to sell pictures to the wealthy. By convention the gallery takes half the money off the photographer. So it is not easy. A Jeff Wall photo is priced at several hundred thousand pounds. There are very few people on Earth who are going to spend that on a photograph at this time. There is always plenty of fuss about Photo London and Paris Photo in terms of going to have a look at art photography. That is fine but in the end these galleries have got to sell or they are going to go out of business. Things have changed a lot since 2010 when the digital image revolution began. If you are scrolling through images all day and night do you really want photos hanging on the wall at home too? People think the commercial galleries selling photography will always be there but that is not certain. If you look at the commercial art galleries in London you can see that they don't show much photography any more. As for the Megas: Tillmans, Ruff, Gursky, Sherman, Eggleston, Wall, Taryn Simon, Christopher Williams, Philip-Lorca diCorcia. It is this list of rather predictable names isn't it? It is not easy to get excited about the names on that list right now. It all starts with the panopticon. Jeremy Bentham designed a cylindrically shaped prison with a central guard-station. The guard-station view is up above and allows the guards to see into any of the cells at any time. At a certain point the prisoners assume they are being watched even if they are not. They cannot know so they expect that they are. His first drawing is dated 1791. The whole of CCTV culture emanates from that 1791 drawing. It is the same dynamic operational. You cannot know if a CCTV camera is actively watching you or if it is even turned on or if there is someone in a control room scrutinizing you so you just assume that there is. This is the basic deterrent that dominates everyday life in cities around the world. The CCTV camera may be recording your every move. The CCTV camera is capturing you. Implicating you. There are cameras everywhere. Little black domes. If you do anything illegal it will be captured on CCTV. If something happens they will go back and look at the CCTV. CCTV is being recorded for your safety. The interesting thing is that so many people welcome being under twenty-four hour surveillance. A lot of people just feel safer. There has never been a more successful deterrent to criminals. And it is all about video. It is video technology that has enabled CCTV culture to emerge. London before the cameras came was different. It was more dangerous you can say that at least. CCTV brings reassurance. Look particularly for women. I sometimes ask my students what they think and usually they are in favour of the cameras. Both Bowie and Iggy sang prophetically about CCTV. Bowie's lyric is so memorable: Keep your electric eye on me babe. Put your ray gun to my head. It is the all-seeing eye that is what it is. That is what we have got now: security cameras in operation. You can go and consult the original drawings they are in the collection of University College London on Gower Street. Bentham was born in the East End he is famous for a lot of things not just the panopticon. Look Louise swears that this is true. And she is a reliable witness. She is a Senior Lecturer now in an Arts Faculty in a University in the North of England. She has sent me a map of how the room was and the painting itself. So this in the summer of 1983. Louise and I went Interrailing with backpacks to Europe. We went to Amsterdam and to the museums and had a look around. We stayed on a barge of course. Then we went to Paris. We went to several art museums we were art students or about to become art students. So we went to the Pompidou and she took a photo of me sitting under a large Electric Chair. I do remember being quite obsessed with touching famous art at that point. I definitely touched that Warhol. I stroked it really. Then for sure we went to the Musée d'Orsay looking at the French masterpieces. We went into one room in which was hanging Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe an 1863 painting by Édouard Manet. It is one of the most famous paintings in all of art. Louise says it was in a smallish room, and there were definitely people in there. There was no guard. According to Louise I leaned over and picked a piece of paint off the painting using my fingernail and put it in my pocket. Now, honestly I do not remember doing that and I do not have any such fragment. I have asked Louise if there is any chance at all that she dreamed that and she says no not at all. She says it was from the lower left. Near the picnic basket. She was horrified she froze. She could not believe what I had done. Time stood still and amazingly nothing happened. So apparently I vandalized one of the most important paintings of the post-impressionist era. I mean I am not adamant that it didn't happen but I myself do not remember doing that. When I was at sixth-form college I listened to a lot of industrial and experimental music: 23 Skidoo, Cabaret Voltaire, Test Dept., Throbbing Gristle and Einstürzende Neubauten. I still think highly of all those people. Genesis has gone. Sleazy has gone. Stephen Mallinder did a Ph.D and teaches at Brighton Uni now. DOA by TG is a good record. The Culling is Coming by 23 Skidoo is a special record. When it came out it was said that the LP covers cost four pounds each to print—this strange dark reflective material that had been over printed. So that they were making a loss on each copy sold. I saw all of them play live. Test Dept. played at Cannon Street station and they had an Olympic style trampolinist as the support act. Some at the sixth-form were into Elvis. Some really knew nothing at all about music. My friends Matthew, Jez, and Dave formed a band called Two Dead People. Jez was the lyricist and guitarist. He had to play and sing. Like Kurt Cobain used to. I am only a few months older than Kurt—I am a contemporary of Kurt. It is a long way from Farnham to Aberdeen, Washington, but growing up we were the same age. Looking back it is hard to say who 2DP sounded like. They did not sound like Nirvana. Jez had much earlier been into The Beatles, Crass, and The Stranglers. Both Jez and I loved Clock DVA. 4 Hours by Clock DVA. The Southern Death Cult and Theatre of Hate I think were influences. Conquistador by Theatre of Hate and Moya by The Southern Death Cult are two astonishing tracks. There was this subculture at the time called psychobilly. Jez was a psychobilly, he was into The Cramps definitely. The big thing was going up to London to get shoes at Robot. Jez had this perfect blonde flattop. The song I remember so well even now was called I Just Can't Believe What's Goin' On Inside My Head. Jez was with Anna Stark. She became a model—she had attended a Roman Catholic school for girls. Mark Golding was one of our friends at college. He left and moved to London. He died in December 1986 of a methadone overdose. He was friends with Boy George I think he was at George's house when he OD'ed. There were tabloid headlines George's Friend Dies of Overdose. My girlfriend was Bella Courtney also known as Bella Keyworth and of course whatever her married name is. She lives in Italy in Turin. I got in touch with her at some point through her brother Philip who lives in New York. It is always a bad idea to do it I know. What can you say? You know reminiscences. Bella's father was Nicholas Courtney the Brigadier in Doctor Who. When Laurie Anderson did United States I-IV at the Dominion I went up on my own nobody else was interested to go up with me. I remember putting on Coup by 23 Skidoo at Ben Inman's eighteenth birthday party and getting shouted down quite roundly. It does sound amazing really loud. I was in a car accident later that morning with Rachel Inman and Nick Foxall who was driving. It was so frightening. I was in the back when Nick lost control of the car near Tilford in Surrey. He was completely smashed and stoned. Totally out of it. Only an utterly reckless idiot would have got into a car with him driving. He hit the kerb a couple of times before he flipped it. It was surreal as people always say. It felt like the actual crash took minutes it seemed to unfold so slowly as if in slow-motion—which is also a cliché. I got out of the upturned car through the back window. Everyone crawled out moaning. There was this flattened wreck with the wheels spinning freely and the engine creaking. Rachel started screaming at me to leave because there were three of us in the back and she was worried about Nick's insurance. She was adamant. There were no other cars on the road it was absolutely deserted. In the Surrey countryside. It really was quite filmic. So silent. Dawn was breaking. It did not occur to me that leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. When it was in the local paper the following week it said I was a passenger so who knows? I cannot actually remember how I got back to Farnham I must have walked. It was about six in the morning. I went to my work which was at a petrol station in Upper Hale. I had the keys I had to go and open up. I opened up and then when I sat down behind the counter I went into shock. I did not know what to do so I called the guy who worked the other shift and asked him to come in and he did. In the following days everyone was saying to me how lucky I was to be alive. I just blamed myself for getting into the car with Nick. It was entirely my free choice. I mean he was stumbling all over the place as we all walked towards his car, and slurring. I have always looked back on it as a death wish—an unconscious wish to die. If I shake hands with someone I just wait a few minutes and go the bathroom and wash. I get very bothered by people who tap me on the arm or slap me on the shoulder. I carry anti-bac wipes a lot of the time. As regards sound I find dreadful background music intolerable. Rubbish music is just painful to me something like Heart. If I go into a shop and there is Celine Dion on I will just leave immediately. I cannot have the radio on in a taxi. I have to ask for it to be turned off. I generally detest background music. Also I have got tinnitus. My ears ring like they do after a loud concert. I have been told that it comes from listening to music loud on headphones for years. Particularly when I was doing my Ph.D I listened to very loud music for probably six hours a day seven days for three years—Led Zep, Metallica, Sabbath, stuff like that. It just did not seem obvious to me at the time that it was a risk. There really is not that much that can be done about it now. I just have to live with it. It is fine during the day but at night in bed it feels loud and disturbing. Another thing I cannot deal with is cooking smells. For one thing I am vegetarian and the smell of roasting flesh does upset me. But things like steaming broccoli or cabbage are a hassle. I really need fresh air at all times if possible. Kingston School of Art is divided into several Schools for example The Design School. I work in The School of Arts—which is a little confusing. And then from The School of Arts there is a further hierarchical ordering into Departments. I am in the Department of Film and Photography. And from there it breaks down into the Film course team and Photography course team. We never see the Film academics they are somewhere else in the building. I have never actually met them all together. I have met one or two of them. It is a shame because I love film and I love nattering about film especially to people who know a lot about it. When I was a student at Goldsmiths I used to work at a cinema in Hampstead called the The Everyman. I was an usher. It was a repertory cinema meaning it showed great old films—different films every day. There are very few of those left now. Maybe none. When I worked there I saw a lot of the films from film history as 35mm prints. You would never see them really today—except maybe at the NFT which is a dreadful place. So I saw 35mm prints of Tarkovsky, Fellini, Antonioni, Godard, Hitchcock, Vincente Minnelli a lot of films. I mean some of the prints were in really poor condition. The projectionist would spend all day splicing the film together and repairing it before the screening. Those will never be shown again I am sure. At the end of the evening I used to have to get the Tube from Hampstead to Brixton where I lived. At the time it never struck me that that was a long Tube ride. The last Tube from North to South. Camden Town was the big interchange. Those trains were so noisy. Incredible thunderous sound and the screeching round corners. Those were the old trains with wood strip floors. There was the Rio Cinema in Brixton so I should have tried to get a job there. There are six of us working on the Photography degree course. Anthony is the Course Leader. Shane is our Head of Department and above him is the Head of School who is Alistair. Above Alistair is the Dean who is called Mandy. The fact is that the University is not ranked very highly on the Complete University Guide which is the most autonomous and independent rankings. CUG is owned by IDP Connect. They really do have quite some power. I am not sure if they realize just what sort of power they do have. They don't publish their algorithms at all. Every university scrambles to get up their rankings. Of course they do. You are getting scored out of 130. There are 130 universities in the UK. We are currently 79th on the list. The Guardian do do one and we are 45th on that. But the CUG is the one everyone uses. My office is up on the second floor. It is okay as an office, it has a window onto a corridor which does not open and there is no proper air-conditioning system. The temperature often goes over 23 or 24 degrees so it is quite stuffy in there. Sometimes I have to abandon working in there completely. I mean the commute is a killer. It is an anti-commute really, I go from central London to Kingston to get to work rather than making a journey into Town. It is only about ten miles from where I live but it takes over an hour to get there. It's pretty slow. And you have to change trains. I get on the District Line at Gloucester Road where I live and the Tube takes me down to Wimbledon. Most of the travel is overground. The train crosses the River at Fulham Railway Bridge—a 418 metres-long iron bridge built in 1889. You can look down into the dark-brown flow of the Thames water below it is roughly the colour of baby's poo. Most passengers don't even look over to acknowledge it. At Wimbledon there is an interchange to South Western Railway. SWR has trains going as far as Exeter, Weymouth and Southampton. But my route is via Raynes Park, New Malden and Norbiton. I only know the names but I think of these places as some of the most boring places in the world. New Malden in particular I think of as a dire place—a classic dull suburb. The trains to Kingston are actually bound for Shepperton which always reminds me of J.G. Ballard as that is where he lived until his death in 2009. Ballard is one of my idols. Kingston is in the Oyster card pre-pay system so you don't need to buy a ticket you just tap your Oyster at Kingston Station. I get different charges at different times I have never been able to work out exactly what the correct fair is. The charge changes depending on if it is peak time or not. The worst thing really is people who get on and then make a phone call right next to you often speaking loudly and with abandon to their interlocutor—talking usually indescribable drivel which disturbs the mind. Of course there are no quiet carriages on this route. I always get up and move. I am often on the move on trains. I always have been. Escaping from people. Moving away from people that are annoying me and there are a lot of them. Like people who get on eating hot food or body odour. I can't be near someone who smells. I cannot suffer that at all. I think the heaviest record I had when I was a child was Closer. I always use the opening of Decades as a reference whenever I set up a music system. Martin Hannett was an unquestionable categorical genius. He was an addict: food, heroin, alcohol. Whatever he could get his little hands on. The percussion is playing this simple quite hypnotic beat. But that percussion is metallic. It is not a drum kit sound at all. It is icy cold. It is metal on metal. If you have the system set up well then the initial percussion will resonate and you hear the left and right pan signals as distinctly separately recorded tracks of the icy beat. When the bass comes in it is low and smooth and right in the middle. You hear the bass smack in the middle and the percussion far left and right pan. Then the synthesizer keyboard comes in with this sound that is like a science-fictionalized harpsichord. So you have got these three aural outputs and the soundstage is really very clearly set out. Then Curtis comes across the top of everything with a vocal sound that seems like it was recorded in a Victorian bathroom. To me it sounds like the vocal track is very slightly slowed down in the production. I am pretty sure. He probably didn't tell them. He was creating that track. It is Hannett's music really. That is why the band didn't really like what was going on or so it is said. He had taken over. You cannot reproduce that on stage. No one is ever going to record a track like Decades again. They recorded the album at Pink Floyd's studio in Islington, in London N1. Two months after the recording Curtis hanged himself. It is hanged not hung. Most people get that wrong and it irks me. Look we do need some seminal critics to take commanding positions in British art criticism. To give direction with depth and weight to their arguments not just the journalistic. What work has changed anything? What have you got before 1988? You have got Gilbert & George, Helen Chadwick, Bacon, Hockney, Riley, Auerbach who is not British, Freud and Hamilton. And the Lisson sculptors. Then comes Hirst and what? Saville. Hirst, Saville, Emin and Doig who is maybe not a British artist. So I am not sure after that? Jeremy Deller and Douglas Gordon. Jake and Dinos. Ofili of course and now comes Michael Armitage. Lynette too. You know Sarah's early work is so salient there is no doubt about that absolutely the savageness of it the couldn't give a damn attitude—you know that has gone out of her work now completely. But that has to be remembered that raw attitude. That is a priceless aspect of British art in the 90s. So I would say for myself Sarah's early work is just incredible and brave. I know Tracey has been brave too and has Saville been brave? Of course critics should be grappling with Hirst and possibly helping him in what he is doing. I mean influencing him. He cannot be entirely above influence. Surely somebody could get him to come to his senses. What he is doing makes no sense. He does not need the money. What is he doing? Can somebody ask him what is going on, there really is no need to make you know seventy cherry tree paintings or however many it is. I don't know with some of these new series how many he is doing but you can see the paintings all propped up in the studio in Beak Street they are literally all around the wall propped up like thirty paintings at a time. I can't speak to Damien. I wish Angus was still alive. Anyway for me the sort of writers I would have liked to really take a commanding position and role in British art criticism are these: Matthew Collings, Andrew Renton and Julian Stallabrass. All three of them should put down what they are doing and write major serious books about British art that do start inevitably maybe with a Damien dot painting or Sarah with her legs apart on a sofa with boots on. Or better start from say Bridget's first solo show in London which I think was 1964. I am not talking about a book with quotes from Sir Michael Craig-Martin. No, not that all over again. There have been umpteen mid-market books that gloss everything. I am talking about depth and weight. That is what I am craving. Jon Thompson could have done an amazing book. Anyway Matt is doing his drawings and he is happy doing those for the time being. People cannot necessarily repeat what they have done. Or match it. Weller on his own has never recorded anything ever like the immensity of The Jam. He knows it. The worst was The Style Council. Morrissey is a special case to study because if you accept Viva Hate as a separate instance in that he was working with the genius Vini Reilly then bar that record has never recorded a single interesting song in more than thirty-five subsequent years of recording. Not one. Not a single song that comes anywhere close to what he wrote for The Smiths. It is bizarre. Creativity is like that. It comes and goes but in truth we all know creativity is a born innate talent. Some people are born with artistic talent. It is like footballers. Some are just very talented and you cannot train that or cause that to happen in a player—we have all seen goals from Messi that are sublime and seem improbable when you watch them. They are beyond what any ordinary player could do. They are unimaginable. You can hone it but that is all you can do. Look like a fat booty Celine Dion/ Sex is on fire, I'm the King of Leona Lewis/ Beyond the truest/ Hey, teacher, teacher, tell me how do you respond to students?/ And refresh the page and restart the memory?/ Re-spark the soul and rebuild the energy?/ We stopped the ignorance, we killed the enemy. You cannot explain that. With the best art there is nothing more to add. You just get awed. And that is how it should be. These days I drink Evian from the small bottles, 33cl or 50cl. I am always thinking that I am getting dehydrated. I always feel that I have not drunk enough water. I guzzle water sometimes and then I am running to the loo every five minutes. I feel guilty about drinking Evian. Evian is owned by Danone which is a classic massive corporate with companies all over the world, Russia, India, China, Africa. It is not really my kind of company. Do I really need to be drinking water brought all the way from eastern France? They say it is shipped mainly by rail. I have tried many times the Brita Maxtra filter but I have never managed to become a devotee. The big thing with Brita water is that it filters out most of the calcium carbonate so with tea you don't get that scummy ring on the surface. I just cannot face drinking Thames river water. English tea is the best drink in the world as long as you make it correctly and that isn't easy for some people. You really do have to know how to make a good cuppa. English breakfast tea you have to call it now which is stupid. We drink it whenever we want. It is just tea, it is a drink that sustains. There are so many people who really don't know how to make it though. In the old days you would go into a caff and you would get a mug of the best tea in the world. You don't get many caffs like that in London anymore. I hate it when you get a really poor effort for a tea with water that was not boiling coming out of a spout on the cappuccino machine and the tea bag floating there on top, and you get handed that, and then they say three pounds fifty. A packet of PG Tips tea bags is two pounds for eighty bags. They are two pence each. A tea bag is like two pence. So for adding hot water that is an extra three forty-eight. Why must this go on? There should be something like a tea tariff in London so that you can only charge fifty pence for a tea. Whoever sells is it still making a profit and their main profit will come from the cappuccinos. So that is me: a legal tea tariff to keep teas at a reasonable price. Let them charge what they want for Italian style coffees no problem. Fancy drinks you can charge loads for them. Maybe a pound as a maximum for the tea: a quid. A squid. A sov. I know it seems like a small thing but to me it isn't. Four quid for a tea should not be allowed. It is about quality of life: I don't want to spend my life getting ripped off for every last thing I buy. Stop people taking the piss. That would be a thing worth doing. Corruption begins at the level of everyday life. There has to be some kind of protection from the unscrupulousness which is just so endemic in London. I think they do have a one Euro cap on an espresso in Italy. But I am not going into McDonald's to get tea. I don't support industrial beef production and the mass slaughter of cows. Put the abattoir and the slaughterhouses on the High Street. Let the people see what they are eating. Of course you can't. You never could because it is too much. At least there should be some sort of access to the McDonald's slaughterhouse. Where is it? It must be more than one. There are two hundred and fifty killing houses in the UK in total. Death barns. As long as the blood and the death is safely sanitized with plastic toys and the reality of the production of minced beef is kept far from the mind of the customer then all is well. Let's say you are not a creationist. So then what do you propose when it comes to an explanation for how life on Earth began? I mean I do feel that interstellar panspermia is plausible. We know that bacteria can definitely survive in space. So the thesis that life forms were deposited from elsewhere such as by a comet crashing into the Earth with living cells on it is quite credible to me. Obviously it does not actually answer the question of where life came from at all. It came from another planet is not a full answer is it? If you look into the scene of abiogenesis it is quite funny. I am afraid it really is chicken and egg but it is at the level of the earliest single-cell organisms: the earliest ones from 3.4 billion years ago have fully developed DNA which of course all life forms must have. They have got their full genetic material so where but where did that come from? That is the question. You know many scientists offer the theory of the RNA world. The idea is that RNA evolved and then DNA evolved and then proteins and somehow they all came together as would be required before any single-celled organism could be created. The feeling is that in the end RNA must have just started evolving because there is no other possibility. There really is no convincing thesis for how life occurred. Nobody knows. That is just the way it is. Abiogenesis is one of the most absurd areas of scientific research you know putting chemicals together under certain conditions to see if life will spontaneously occur. Of course it never does. A lot of people say I believe in the Big Bang. Well okay but the Big Bang is not a theory of how life on Earth occurred at all. The Big Bang basically says that if you work backwards in time at some moment you get to a gravitational singularity when all known laws of physics collapse and what happened at that point cannot be fully explained. But it does not touch on the question of the emergence of living organisms. I must say I follow Burroughs in his interest in the Silurian Hypothesis. It was not called that when he was writing about it though. That is quite a new term that has come in since the 60s. As Burroughs argued it took humans only 300,000 years to go from the Stone Age to our present advanced civilization. So this could easily have happened before given that the Earth has had a breathable atmosphere for 4.6 billion years. If it happened long ago then fossil evidence might be very scant indeed. It is possible that technologically advanced human civilizations have emerged before and left no evidence behind. Perhaps they incinerated all evidence of their civilization in an all-out nuclear war. As Dave has it: It's nuts Fam. The truth is madder than fiction Fam. It's nuts out here. I grew up with some of the worst music on the radio every morning getting ready for school, and on Top of the Pops. You would think it is nothing but I don't see it like that for me bad music is an affront—it's auditory pollution. There is plenty of bad fiction but people don't subject you to James Patterson or David Baldacci do they? We had DLT on in the mornings when I was at school. The misery of listening to DLT. I don't know why I didn't act to turn it off. I used to think I was quite powerless over things when I was a child. Madness is one band that I really have always disliked. Our House is a bad one. Baggy Trousers or My Girl. I wish they had never formed. Mull of Kintyre was number one for nine weeks in 1977, that was an affront. Why did Paul write that idiotic song? Why did people buy it? You do not need more evidence than that to say that Paul on his own without John is just so paltry. Ebony and Ivory is another one. Ian McDonald's demolishing of Maxwell's Silver Hammer in Revolution in the Head is so valid. The fact that Paul insisted on recording it without John playing on it says something. Why was he so intent on recording that pitiful song? Paul on his own just writes utter trivia. Bohemian Rhapsody was an unpleasant song. I did not understand that it was camp when I was a child. I just thought about this man who has committed an execution-style murder and I was quite distressed whenever I heard it. It was number one for fourteen weeks. Don't Give Up on Us by David Soul, that was bad. Boney M the Rivers of Babylon. At the time Summer Nights came out it never struck me that they were both fondly recalling their rampant sex sessions in the song. I mean U2 were just a dreadful band weren't they? I wish they had never formed. The Edge has to wear a beanie forever but why? He is a nitwit. Looking back Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall was actually a very accurate and brilliant commentary on life in a British comprehensive school in the late-1970s. No dark sarcasm in the classroom. That is what it was like, the teachers mocking and putting the pupils down all day with jokes at their expense and undermining them at any moment. The teachers at my school, every one of them, was either a self-obsessed puerile prat or a demented sadist. There were no good teachers there was only one other way they could be and that was boring—but boring to the point that the lesson is driving you up the wall. It was impossible to enjoy being at Weydon it was just endurance. That was the school ethos: whatever happens one way or another you will hate this four years of your life. Look, I don't want to be a major bring down but think about it, you have got 6.3 billion people with a smartphone now—that is the Ericsson Report figure for 2021. That means a phone with a pretty good digital camera. I mean seriously it has got to be self-evident that that is going to have a big impact on photography as a profession—how exactly are you going to stand out from the crowd? I mean what do you do as a photographer that the ordinary person can't manage? I don't honestly know. Advertizing photography is easy work if you can get it. It is always being undermined these days by influencer marketing which is a celebrity endorsement really: I use this product and I recommend it. That is known to be such a powerful strategy in advertizing. People listen to others whom they respect and revere. Instagram influencers recommend products in their posts that are seen by their followers. For these sorts of posts the influencer takes their own photos for Instagram. This is a big deal actually from a photography point of view if you think about it because suddenly everyone wants to promote their products in a way that does not actually require a professional commercial photographer at all anymore. The influencers themselves become the photographer. So this is just another way that professional photography is fizzling out big time since 2010. If you do want to do it you have got to get on Instagram and build up your following and that isn't easy at all. And I am not talking about 5-10,000 you have got to build up 50-100,000. It is a form of insanity. It just cannot be done. And some of the photographers who have big followings are like cliché machines. Honestly an AI photographer would be as good or better as most of them so it is hard to know what you are competing against. I just wonder what you know Mapplethorpe or Arbus would have done at this point I really do. Stuck with these little windows. What would Fran Woodman have done? There has to be a feeling that it is over. I really don't want to be a bring down but it is the same for the novel too. People just don't read books like that anymore they read stuff online instead or they just stay on their phones. Scrolling through Instagram and responding to Snapchat or WhatsApp messages just like 1.4 billion others do every day and night until the juice goes and they finally think about sleeping which of course they can't because their brains are fully stimulated and aroused with God knows what envy, jealousy, possessiveness, insecurity, doubts. Seriously, for me the first epoch of photo-history runs from 1839 to 2009 which is 170 years. So you have this first historical age of the medium which is absolutely involved with ever-increasing proliferation and the rise of the ordinary person taking snapshot photographs. In the same context you have got artistic or serious photography which has got this amazing history especially through the twentieth century—Atget, Sander, Walker Evans, Man Ray, Robert Frank, Winogrand, Friedlander, Arbus, Boris Mikhailov, Brandt, Martha Rosler, Cindy, Helen Chadwick, Goldin, and so on up to Tillmans as maybe the last great name. You have also got the rise of commercial photography including fashion in this first age: Avedon, Bailey, Penn and so forth. Then, from 2010 you have got the emergence of mobile global instantaneous interconnectedness with the smartphone: billions of users making and sharing billions of photos every day at a rate unprecedented in the former epoch—using apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Instagram. I date the epochal change to the launch of Instagram in 2010 as it is that app which most defines the new age in which photography becomes decisively linked to global instantaneous sharing and engagement. In the late-period of the first epoch you do have hundreds of millions of casual snapshot photographers but they are making photos that are still seen by only a few. A few friends and family members. And of course the most basic change is the movement from the physical photo to the on-screen image. Digital images were already being shared using desktop-based websites like Flickr and of course Facebook towards the end of the first age but these desktop sites are really quite different to the watershed of Instagram. So this second era begins under my schematic in the middle of the Obama administration nearly nine years after 9/11 with Kevin Systrom's much-debated first Instagram post—the first ever Instagram post—on the 17th of July 2010. Most likely either a picture of his dog, or a lit window-display of some badges, or a very skew-whiff landscape shot at night, depending on which source you accept. His actual account Kevin currently shows the picture of the badges as his first post. And like that the world of photography was changed forever. Look, the smartphone revolution is the biggest change in the history of photography. There is the history up to 2009 and there is the history since 2010. It's like that. 2010 is when you get the cell-phone coverage, the smartphone and the apps all coming together—Instagram launched in October 2010—to give us the mobile global instantaneous interconnectedness that we have become so accustomed to and can't really live without now. The scene of profuse photo-sharing that has overtaken us all. In 2022 over eighty percent of Brits have got a smartphone. The important thing to realize with the smartphone revolution is that none of those who innovated the hardware and software apps had any real idea of what would happen—they were not in control of it. Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger were not sitting there saying: we are about to change the history of photography quite profoundly forever. They had no clue what was about to go down. It's like the Trinity nuclear test in 1945 with Robert Oppenheimer and the rest of the gathered scientists in Jornada del Muerto in New Mexico. None of them knew really what was going to happen it was an experiment—there were some among the group of observers who thought that there was a chance the test nuclear explosion would set in motion a chain-reaction that would be self-sustaining and would eventually engulf the entire planet. I think that is partly why we can call this epoch a revolution because everyday life is transformed but in ways that are not yet fully understood. These last ten years have been an overwhelming social experiment. We have all been involved in a gigantic social experiment. And this is not something that any government has had any ability to affect really so far. There are very few laws around social media and smartphone use. What can you do? You cannot stop the emergence of this technology. The people want it. They sign up for it. So there is the dimension of the post-democratic too. Are executives from Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Samsung and Apple regularly briefing the Prime Minister on their upcoming developments and plans? I don't think they do that at all. I really don't. I don't think he knows much more than you or I. I mean the UK probably has MI6 agents working undercover in these companies who know more maybe? And what does GCHQ do? All these companies the UK government really has very little knowledge about or influence over are driving many changes in the daily lives of the British people. So that is what I mean by post-democratic. It is beyond anything the elected government really has much control over at all. One of the real issues with the Web is how searchable some material is. If you post images of you and your mates pissed those pictures are getting indexed on search engines. Sometimes pictures pop up that you had forgotten about from years ago that are actually quite embarrassing. And of course potential employers and HR staff do search for you on the Web before deciding who to interview of course they do they are not stupid. Anything posted from years ago can come back to haunt you many years later and affect your career. For that reason you have to constantly watch your back these days. Or God forbid there is a news story about you because that will never go away. You have to try and write to Google to get them to stop indexing it and good luck with that. It is not funny it is like having a gun to your head every step you take. A good example of the normalization of sociopathy is the recent action and treatment of Will Smith at the 2022 Oscars at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. The whole sequence of events helped to normalize violent thuggish behaviour. The act of violence and the foul order: Keep my wife's name out of your f--king mouth. This was broadcast to around two-hundred million people. And then watched by hundreds of millions more later as news. First there was the demonstration or tutorial in how to behave as a thug. There is this factor of the pretext for violence—Are you disrespecting my wife? This is so often the case. The provocation is minimal. And the violence tends to have the effect of transgressing established rules such as the tradition that you don't physically attack a comedian. It is all about going beyond ordinarily accepted boundaries. The whole scene seems almost rehearsed if you watch several times as if a certain message was always intended. The outcome is the desensitization of the millions watching on. If you have seen violence like that once you can see it again and you get used to it. You start to expect it. What is portrayed is the behaviour of the classical gangster: the law and all etiquette must not only be ignored but ridiculed. That Smith was then rewarded and continued to party definitely upheld the message that the thug can operate with impunity because very often the social group will either fail to react to a bully or in a more Ballardian way actually support and enjoy his actions—even if it be unconsciously. There are no examples of a significant artist from art history whose work requires a ten minute preamble to foreground it. Even really a one minute preamble is quite a lot. I can explain Warhol or Carl Andre to a novice in one minute no problem. Richard Hamilton: sure. Duchamp: no worries. Iza Genzken: easy. The best art actually requires the most minimal preamble. The best of what art has to offer is aimed squarely at an ordinary person of ordinary intelligence. There are no elites in art appreciation. That is a myth. If it seems that the work can only be understood by those with some special knowledge that is a very bad sign—especially if there is a patent disconnect between the preamble and the work that is actually before you. The simple fact of being given a preamble at all should be a warning sign. If you are told that the work is a sophisticated critique of capitalism that is usually a bad sign. If you hear the phrase critique of neoliberalism that is a bad sign. The term neoliberalism means capitalism but is used by some to make their work seem more important and in the know. If you hear the word sophisticated that is a bad sign in itself. If you are at the Tate Turner Prize show and the work seems to make no sense at all to you then it is quite reasonable to assert that the work is too obscure or cryptic to be any good. The 2016 Turner Prize show is a good example because the art there needed all manner of explanations before you could even get started. If there is the lingering feeling that only some rarefied cognoscenti can participate in appreciating the work that means that the art has failed to hit its target and will certainly not be remembered. If the art before you fails to resonate in any way at all then it is the artist who has failed not you the viewer. As Ballard predicted, downright cynicism has become acceptable and even really fashionable in the digital era. The standard retort to anyone who holds an opinion which is rooted in any sort of morality these days is: Come on don't be naïve. The person with antisocial personality disorder will justify their lack of any moral code by dismissing the views of others as Pollyannaism. Scepticism is a symptom of the digital revolution. In a world of fake news and random opinions distrust and suspicion becomes inevitable. The problem is that scepticism soon drifts towards giving up and surrendering into apathy. If there is one state of mind that has become tied to the daily reality of participating in social media it is the mood of being blasé. SOED: Cloyed with or tired of pleasure. Bored or unimpressed by things from having seen or experienced them too often. People will eventually come to understand that constantly providing free content for apps like Instagram and TikTok is too involved with relentlessness. Relentlessness and misery. Your content is precious. Of course they want you to think it isn't. That is the whole ruse. That is the essence of how they make a profit. You give your content away for free in the hopes of boosting up or retaining your followers and so it goes. I am glad TikTok is Chinese-owned. There is no way ByteDance would ever sell it to Meta not for any kind of crazy offer so at least there is still direct competition between these platforms. ByteDance vs. Meta is the first big tech stand off. China vs. USA. I wonder right now what TikTok is worth for a cash purchase? It has to be at least $100 billion. Or $200 billion. ByteDance is under the influence of the one-party authoritarian Chinese state so it is insanity to share personal information with TikTok. In the end these platforms suck all possible content out of every user for the purposes of making profit. So many people I used to follow on Instagram have given up their entire life stories and their wealth of opinions to the platform. I mean I do do this website as a self-promotion and I am offering free content to any reader I know but at least I have full UK copyright protection and I am not making anybody else rich by doing it which is actually important to me. It is about having control. My website is HTTP. I really don't need HTTPS. There is absolutely no necessary reason to encrypt the content on this website. Instagram should be obliged to make an annual payment to every user for the right to license their content—a once-a-year goodwill gesture. If they had to pay just $20 to each end-user that would be $26 billion paid out annually. That gives an idea of how important free content is to them because that amount is about their total profits. And what about the damage that they are doing to our society? What are the reparations going to be for that? That is another question. It is like smoking you cannot just say oh it is up to the user to do as they please. Because we are talking about something that is proven to be addictive. The harmful effects are known about—phone addiction, eating disorders, anxiety, reduced quality-of-life, social isolation. I strongly doubt ByteDance is ever going to compensate anybody for anything but Meta yes. They will have to eventually. If you are vending something that is known to have negative health implications then you have to do something about that. It is the same with the gambling apps in the UK which should be regulated. Brits are wasting £6 billion a year on them and it is money they cannot afford in many cases. It is affecting young men more than any other group—this is a known fact so it is obvious that online gambling companies should not be allowed to sponsor football club shirts. The FA is a sick organization isn't it? They should not have accepted Newcastle to be taken over by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. Of course not. Does Jamal Khashoggi mean nothing? This is the dissident that the Saudi assassins anaesthetized and then dismembered with a wood saw. Look Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian one-party regime with no free press. It is a sexist plus massively homophobic state both in law and in entrenched culture. I know the defence is that PIF own stock in so many companies so why pick on Newcastle? The answer is that Newcastle is something that we in the UK could easily have said no to for the sake of our own peace of mind. Why does PIF want a football club anyway with all the drinking and swearing that comes quite naturally to many supporters of our national sport? Why get into it? And as for the companies that PIF owns minority stakes in then just avoid those too: Facebook, Citigroup, Disney, Bank of America, BP, Uber, EA games. None of those touch me at all. Boeing is the only one that is difficult to avoid really. PIF own like two percent of Boeing. We have become so accustomed to the word misogynist: a person who has a pathological contempt for women. Burroughs was a misogynist. I know he was married or had a common-law wife before he came out but he did kill her. We rarely see the inverse in print or even used in speech: misandrist. There must be misandrists out there it is only logical isn't it? I have met one or two over the years I am sure of it. You know people who think that all men are the lowest and the most despicable. The whole point is that it has to extend to all men not just the ones that have pissed you off. Just having extreme contempt on the basis of a person being you know a male of the species. One old friend comes into my mind in particular and I can remember some of the prejudiced comments: all men are turds. All men are led around by their penises. They are all big babies aren't they. I was born in Forest Gate. Forest Gate Hospital which is not there anymore. It was on Forest Lane E7. Forest Gate is in Newham. I was born in the East End. I am a Cockney. My nearest club was West Ham. So I should have supported West Ham from infancy really but I didn't. When I was growing up we moved to Farnham in Surrey and I supported Liverpool. It never occurred to me that I had no affiliation with them it was just that they were successful and had Keegan. It was all about Keegan. I think he was the first star that I really became fascinated by. I remember watching the 1977 FA Cup final when I was ten and being deflated when we lost to Man U. Lou Macari scored a deflected goal to win it for Utd. In those days the winners of the FA Cup went absolutely wild after the final and the BBC used to stay with the celebrations for like half an hour. I lost interest in football at age twelve when I got into skateboarding. Skateboard culture does not accept football at all really. I mean skateboarding is hollowed out now and it is an Olympic sport. I am talking about being a skateboarder in 1979. We were getting skate magazines on mail order from California. So as a street skater in 1979 I drifted away from football and then after that I became a punk. It was not until 1996 when I moved to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea that I got back into football. I started supporting Chelsea. This is pre-Abramovich, pre-Chelski, pre-Mou. It was the era of Ken Bates. When I started following them Hoddle had just been sacked and replaced by Gullit. Then it was Luca Vialli and then The Tinkerman. They were all exciting managers in their own right. Mou's first press conference was June 2nd 2004. I'm not one of the bottle I think I'm a special one. JT's first match was in October 1998 so I followed all of his playing career. I know his sex-life was a comedy farce and then people do remember him changing into a match kit in Munich when he had not played. And the reason why he was not playing as well—giving Alexis Sanchez a dead-leg for no apparent reason off the ball in the semi-final. But all these things we forgive him. In May 2010 Chelsea won both the Premier League and the FA Cup—the double—under the Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti. Since then a chant has become one of the mainstays of the vociferous supporters in the Matthew Harding Stand at Stamford Bridge: Double double double/ John Terry has won the double/ And the s--t from The Lane [White Hart Lane then the stadium of Tottenham Hotspur] have won f--k all again/ As John Terry has won the double. I am truly sorry to say that to me Abramovich's criminal past was not at all clear or understood until the scale of his corrupt activities under Putin was revealed in 2022 and he had to sell. What I had always understood was that he got out of Russia and was using Chelsea like a shield. Meaning he bought the club so that he would be too high profile to be assassinated. I thought the whole point was that he had walked away from Putin. There is also the factor of his affable smirking. He just did look quite harmless didn't he? Another classical composer I got into is Anton Bruckner. Amazing. One of the most brilliant conductors of Bruckner is Sergiu Celibidache. He is very controversial because he takes everything so slowly. Much slower than the tempo says in the score. He just made that call. He died in 1996. His recordings with the Münchner Philharmoniker are sublime to me. There has to be room for real interpretation. Then, I also got into Beethoven's Piano Sonatas. Gilels is pure granite. I used to have about every recording of the Hammerklavier, opus 106. The slow movement of the Hammerklavier is a devastating piece. Glenn Gould is so mannered it is like he is poking the keys, and he vocalizes, he is actually humming in some places. Solomon Cutner is electric, fizzing. John Ogdon's recording is mind-blowing. But you have to set the right conditions to listen to it. You do need some space and time to take it in. I think it is getting harder to set the conditions for listening to Beethoven like that, in the context of the smartphone revolution. John Ogdon's Opus 106 has only got 1,200 total plays on Spotify. It is crazy. I mean David Helbock, one of the most wonderful new jazz pianists has got only 4,800 monthly listeners on Spotify. I went to see David Helbock at Liverpool Hope University in 2017. It was in the lecture theatre, not a massive venue, and it was not even half-full. It was his trio. The bassist, Raphael Preuschl, used an amped-up bass ukulele. Helbock uses a prepared piano like the Cage Sonatas. That is another one that I started collecting every recording of, the Sonatas for Prepared Piano. So immortal. Boris Berman is a good one, John Tilbury, Joshua Pierce. Lilian Nakahodo is beautiful, intense. You can tell from literally the first two bars of Sonata One what the attack of the pianist is going to be like. Rear Window, Blade Runner, Blow Up, Hiroshima mon amour, Stalker, Solaris, A Clockwork Orange, La Dolce Vita, Taxi Driver, Marnie, Two or Three Things I Know About Her, Performance, Peeping Tom, Get Carter, La Jetée, Blue Velvet, Memento, Gilda. Just watch those and you have already introduced some of the key themes in critical theory: voyeurism, authenticity, artificial intelligence, uncertainty, conspiracies, unconscious desire, violence, sociopathy, state control, the British class system, seduction, media manipulation, debauchery, the fallibility of memory ... and much more besides. There is nothing better than these movies—get them on 4K with Dolby. People say ah yea well I have seen those, as if a single viewing is really all you would ever need. Even better find a cinema that is playing one of them. The last ever film at the Chelsea Cinema before they knocked it down was Stalker. Tarkovsky was God-like director. Some people ripped out seats at the end as souvenirs. There were amazing speeches from the managers who had been there decades. It was recognized that the era of good films on cinema screens was over. There were tears streaming down the faces of some in the audience. Seeing Stalker on a massive screen was incredible. You see details that you could never see at TV-screen size. The best screen in London for many years was the Lumiere on St. Martin's Lane. The worst thing was when the Odeon redeveloped the Odeon Leicester Square during the Lockdowns. They should not have been allowed to do that. It is dreadful now. There should have been a preservation order of some kind. It is obvious. Westminster City Council is a joke. Look what they have done to Soho. They have destroyed it everyone knows that. I mean some art is just so dire that I don't want to even think about it. Peter Bradshaw was reviewing a film recently and he said something like this film was so bad that I cannot believe I have actually seen it. That is how it is when I see really dreadful art. I mean the piece at Tate Britain that is truly bad, and the piece before it was so awful too—Heather Phillipson and then Hew Locke. Both those installations are appallingly overblown and tedious and such a waste of money to produce. To me a certain aspect of minimalism is really quite essential. It is just too much going on. Thank God Tate have done the Sickert. What a show. That is the best show for me. Much better than the Bacon Man and Beast. The theatre room and the nudes room are both wonderful. You don't have to look hard to see his influence on Bacon and Auerbach. Sickert is the man and he was not Jack the Ripper. No way. What a joke that was. Patricia Cornwell. The best book is From Hell by Alan Moore. Alan Moore is a unique and brilliant contributor to our culture. In From Hell it is Sir William Gull who is The Ripper. If somebody does not get comics you just show them From Hell or Watchmen. I think honestly, if you have got photographic images that you care about, I would say that putting them on Instagram is maybe not a good idea. The license that you sign up to is very broad and while it is operational you have really handed everything over to them. I think the best guidance is to make images that are solely for Instagram and to that extent they are pictures that you accept to enter their licensing system with all that that implies. Much of which is really quite mysterious and unknown, such as Instagram demanding the right to modify ... publicly perform ... and create derivative works of your content. Why do they think of such permissions in their license? Who knows? I am quite judgemental about dating apps. I think they are a depressing waste of time and a great way to meet a sociopath or someone with HPD. But what is interesting is that they do depend on photographs. You have to post images of yourself by which your suitors make a decision about their level of interest in having sex with you. Of course, as is rather well known, those pictures are usually not very honest at all. It is wonderful really that photography still functions this way. Every user must look that much better than they actually appear to the naked eye. The whole thing is rather disingenuous but this doesn't deter people at all. Tinder and Hinge both require six photos. It is funny that everyone plays this game. It has been endemic to photography since the first day in 1939: a person must always look their best in a photo. It is human nature. It just is. It cannot be changed and it never will be. A photographic portrait must by default be at least somewhat flattering. These days if a photo is not flattering it gets instantly deleted. Everyone has their own idea about what passes for a flattering picture. People are very picky and definite about what flaws they want to disguise. Everyone has these things that they are not really satisfied about in their appearance to the extent that if you don't have that reflex you can be seen as in love with yourself and conceited. One of the problems with Instagram as a platform is the inevitability that your images will be viewed by users on a smartphone screen at a size no bigger than 8cm square. This is quite annoying really. You can pinch using two fingers to zoom in on a photo but it is not convenient for scrutinizing an image as we in photography are used to doing. When I was taught by Ian Jeffrey at Goldsmiths he told me that half an hour is about a fair time to look at a photo before going on to critique it. The fact is that Instagram is literally a diminution of the photo as an object of study and aesthetic delight. How can one really look at a photo on Instagram and say, oh yes, that is really an interesting image? It is fine for most users I am sure but for the photographer I think there has to be some kind of pause for thought. I know that it is too late and there is nothing to be done about Instagram now but it is worth noting that this platform is not at all well suited to photography appreciation. RAF Marham is equidistant from the small Norfolk towns of Swaffham, Downham Market, and King's Lynn. If you drive past Marham you really do not get any idea of what is there. It is just very rural and picturesque. The pilots of the F-35 Lightnings stationed at Marham are some of the best fighter pilots in the world—they would have to be, you are giving them a £90 million plane to fly. The RAF laid this highly specialized runway for the F-35s. They spent £200 million getting the base ready for them. It is sci-fi space-age technology. The helmet of an F-35 pilot costs at least £300,000. They fly in 3D with three-sixty spatial awareness. The F-35 is the most astonishing object. Ominous otherworldly menacing it looks to be from another civilization on another planet. Marham is exactly one hundred miles from Nelson's Column. If you are flying an F-35 that is not much of a distance as your top speed through the air is Mach 1.6 or 1200 mph. You are going to be flying at around twenty miles per minute towards your combat target. So you are looking at five minutes or so. The time it would take to get you airborne has to be estimated—there are crews always on quick reaction alert. So depending on how long it were to be between the order being given and take-off a group of F-35s could be defending London airspace in about say twelve minutes or thereabouts. There is no plane on Earth that can out-manoeuvre an F-35 or hope to defend itself against an all-out F-35 air-to-air attack. And the hostile is not going to know that much about the F-35's position probably until direct visual identification from the cockpit. There are F-35s permanently on stand by you know watching over us really. Listen to the lyrics of Kendrick Lamar's Worldwide Steppers, Father Time or We Cry Together. I think when Dylan complains that nobody as talented has come to take over from him he should listen to those tracks. I mean these days Dylan is just for us bores isn't he? But he should listen to those tracks really. Kendrick is psychopathic but that is just the way it is. Worldwide Steppers is Tangled Up in Blue written for the digital era meaning an age in which—as Ballard predicted long before—the psychopathic has become commonplace and even accepted. My psychiatrist recently told me that those with personality disorders are misunderstood and should be admitted into society. I fear those with antisocial personality disorder. We all do. Criminal psychopathy is you know a different way of thinking that should be honoured? The NHS website gives it straight: Antisocial personality disorder is a particularly challenging type of personality disorder characterised by impulsive, irresponsible and often criminal behaviour. Someone with antisocial personality disorder will typically be manipulative, deceitful and reckless, and will not care for other people's feelings. That is what the Web has produced: a society in which ethical principles, integrity, honesty, and so forth are generally ridiculed and scorned. It is a gangster culture. Values are for dopes, Muppets, squares, civilians. You know, people who really don't get it. Having a good dictionary is so important. The best dictionary in the world is the OED. The Oxford English Dictionary. It is a privilege to consult it. They have a full set in the reading room at the V&A. The National Art Library. It is twenty volumes. I cannot write anything without a proper dictionary. My main dictionary is Angus Stevenson and Lesley Brown the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles (6th edition) 2007. And my second dictionary is Angus Stevenson the Oxford Dictionary of English (3rd edition) 2010. Both by Oxford University Press. They are both brilliant. I mean Angus Stevenson what a God. Totally. It is amazing that there is no Wikipedia page on him. I can't do anything without them. If I have so set up a new computer that is the first software I install my dictionaries. I can't do much without them as I have to look up all sorts of common words all the time. I can never remember how anything is spelled. And I am forever getting definitions muddled. I looked up obtuse today. I thought it meant being deliberately unintelligent. But the SOED says: not acutely sensitive or perceptive, dull, stupid. I thought that is a good word but it was not quite what I was thinking of. Disingenuous is closer to what I was thinking about, the ODE says: not candid or sincere typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does. I know some people who are disingenuous. Being disingenuous is very common. It is really quite standard for people to be disingenuous most of the time apart from when they are being obtuse. Well that is just a few people. I prefer people who have the ability to speak frankly and candidly about themselves and their life. I prefer that to a line of insipid banalities that are uttered really as an affront to the interlocutor. London tap water smells distinctly of chlorine—it is chlorinated to disinfect it. Thames Water that comes out of the tap is actually purified and disinfected Thames River water. You actually drink Thames water so there is a connection there back to the river. Most of the water is extracted into the purification system at Teddington—this is known as water abstraction and Thames Water hold a license to abstract from the Environment Agency which is a part of DEFRA. Amazingly, large portions of the stock of Thames Water is owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the China Investment Corporation, and Kuwait Investment Authority. It is madness that this is allowed to happen. It makes sense for any country to have complete autonomous control of basic domestic utilities. And anyway I think it is wrong that countries with sickening human rights records should be allowed to own our fresh water supply. All I would say, for myself, Thames water does not strike me as a very clean liquid to be purifying. I mean what does it take to disinfect that stuff? It must take a lot of chemicals. It is interesting that Thames Foreshore Permit-holders are asked to: be aware of the possibility of Weil's disease which is spread by rat's urine in the water. Infection is usually through cuts in the skin or through eyes, mouth or nose. So rat's urine is definitely something that is purified out of Thames water before you drink it. Harrison Birtwistle is another one on Spotify with an unbelievably low number of listeners. Birtwistle's Gawain is just so good. The Elgar Howarth recording with the Royal Opera House orchestra is crazy—if you play it loud it is utterly hypnotic. The opera Punch and Judy from 1966 is amazing. I went to one of the premiere performances of The Minotaur at the ENO in 2008, which was extraordinary. Birtwistle was in the audience, in a normal seat about eight rows back. After the curtain call he just got up to leave with everyone else. I stopped him to shake his hand. I think there were only eight performances in total and it is not going to be staged very often, so he probably went to all of them. It was John Tomlinson singing the Minotaur. The bull's head was made of thin steel gauze so he could sing with it on. It was an beautiful piece of costume work. I don't know who made that bull's head but it was so well done. Music awes me. Some things in music awe me. Music was so important to me when I was a teenager. But I was quite a naïve listener. I had never heard The White Album for example or Abbey Road. I thought the Beatles were a joke. I think the heaviest record I had then was Closer. I mean imagine sitting down and writing Siegfried Idyll. The story of Wagner getting members of the Tonhalle-Orchester to play it to Cosima on Christmas morning 1870 is sweet. But imagine sitting down with a pencil and manuscript paper and writing something like Siegfried Idyll or the Prelude to Siegfried. The Prelude to Siegfried is my all time favourite piece of music. I heard it once at the Royal Albert Hall and I was sitting in the chorus seats so you are literally next to the musicians and I was right next to the tubas. That was incredible. But there is a lot of music like that. If you listen to Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight, to me that is genius. So I do enjoy music. I have got my Mac plugged in to a Rega amp with B&W CM1s. The Rega Brio is a special amp. The story of how Terry Bateman made it is online. It is based on a Quad amp from 1952. It is really a wonderful bit of engineering. I also like Stockhausen. The estate won't put his music up on Spotify. The complete official Stockhausen CDs is 106 box sets. I think they should put them on Spotify. The full set of CDs is about £5000. For hundreds of years from 1839 to 2000 we looked at photos on a flat piece of photo paper. As we entered the digital revolution something happened to photography. Photographs stopped being pieces of paper and became images that were encountered on a screen. Specifically the laptop screen the iPad screen and the smartphone screen. We have become accustomed to looking all the time at backlit LCD screens. Images on LCD screens glow out, the photo radiates light. It is very different to looking at a printed photo on photo paper which is rather flat and dull by comparison. This is one of the basic changes that has happened for photography in the digital revolution: glow. My website is only about 100 lines of HTML code in total. Have a look with View Page Source. I honestly do believe that there is too much code on so many websites. I think it is better to keep it simple I really do. There is no need to have a head with 1000 lines of code. Just use basic HTML. Tim Berners-Lee. I mean what a God. What have you achieved in life? Oh, well, um. I invented HTML coding and wrote the first version myself in 1993 and it has subsequently been used to create about 1 billion websites. How about you? I used to collect jazz CDs, I have still got them all. I have got hundreds. It is experimental jazz. Most people say they like Miles Davis or John Coltrane, but put on Coltrane's Meditations and people can't take it. The Father and The Son and The Holy Ghost, is the first track. That is my music. It is the same with Miles. If you put on Agharta people can't deal with it. Unit Structures by Cecil Taylor is one of my favourite records. Cecil was incredible. You can see videos of him demonstrating his technique. Ornette, Albert Ayler. Ornette Coleman Live at the Golden Circle is an incredible recording. Some people call it free jazz but I dislike that term. Not many of the exponents really ever used that term. They used to say it was Out jazz. Like that cat is quite Out. Lester Bowie I like a lot. I like Bowie too, but Lester Bowie was beautiful. Urban Bushmen by Art Ensemble is a good record. I like good spaces to see art. Gagosian Grosvenor Hill isn't bad. Hauser. I loved the old space they had in Piccadilly. The best show there was Christoph Büchel’s Piccadilly Community Centre, in 2011. That is my idea of using the possibilities of the art space in an interesting way. There are a lot of artists that make me groan. Artists like Cattelan or Kaws. I mean what happened to Koons? At some point his art became rather silly like the Gazing Balls. Jeremy Deller's piece where he toured a bombed car wreck from Iraq around the USA asking people what they thought of it. That was was profoundly moving. Douglas Gordon 24 Hour Psycho is utter genius to me. I don't think he will ever top it. It was just one of those one-off moments. I guess Cerith's light pieces I do like a lot. The first time he did a big squiggly one at White Cube Bermondsey was superb. Cerith did a piece with TG too, and he edited Jarman's films. Chris Burden is a God. There was this piece at Gagosian a while back with a very minimal scales in the space like ten metres across perfectly balanced. On one side is this massive boulder—a rock. And on the other is a renovated vintage Porsche. If you are thinking about photography Thomas Ruff the pixelated images series. It is difficult with photography. It doesn't really work in the art space a lot of the time. I used to collect different versions of The Ring. It is a bit difficult because there are so many Nazi connections. Herbert von Karajan was a Nazi, he joined the Party quite early and carried on conducting all through the 30s and the War. Deutsche Grammophon carried on recording under Hitler. There are so many connections. I used to think Reginald Goodall's Ring was fine. I did not realize at all that Goodall was a British fascist—he was in the British Union of Fascists. I don't know about Andrew Porter who wrote the English libretto. The obvious thing to do is to just completely discard Goodall's recording. Solti's Ring is considered to be overwrought. At least you can listen to it without fearing he was a Nazi. I mean there are films of Wilhelm Furtwängler conducting with a massive swastika behind him. Karl Böhm was a Nazi. Joseph Keilberth was a Nazi. It's nuts really. A lot of the recent recordings are live. The thing with the Solti recording is that there was so much effort put into creating the sound-stage. If you hear some of the Germans conducting it, the music is much starker, more mysterious and frightening. Solti is really lyrical, full of melodiousness by comparison. I think some of the German recordings are just extraordinary, of course. I think all Wagnerians do. But I don't listen to them now. I wouldn't want to. I haven't taken any photos for twenty years now. I used to be a real voyeur as a photographer. That was my thing I was forever creeping up on people. A woman changing in private was I suppose my ultimate photo subject not that I got many such images. The first time I went to New York my friend David was a photographer's assistant and invited me to a shoot I cannot remember where it was. About five minutes after I got there around a dozen nubile models came into the room where we were sitting talking and stripped off down to their knickers. It was very much like a Vanessa Beecroft performance. I think it was a casting. It would never happen today. David just turned to me and winked. This was in 1986. In modern language my work objectified women and can really be called sexist or even actually perverse at this point. I mean not more so than many others in photography like Helmut Newton for example. Some of his images really are misogynistie. Caffeine is addictive and it is really unnecessary. There is no need to be more alert because of a drug in your system. Humans are already naturally alert. The idea that you need a drug to become alert is ridiculous. This is the big thing with coffee. We are all so addicted that we feel we really need caffeine in the morning. I mean the most obvious thing with caffeine in your body is that it will affect your sleep. Caffeine inhibits feelings of sleepiness and the onset of drowsiness, and the effect can last for more than ten hours. It is in your body for ten hours at least. Personally I resent paying £4 for a coffee. The work of the barista is a classic fetish of capitalism. The barista takes ingredients worth maybe five pence in total and blends them creatively together to make something suddenly worth £4. So once the barista is paid for her time the rest is all profit. Starbucks makes around $4 billion a year profit. It is crazy to keep paying like that for a cup of coffee that you don't even need and is likely to affect your sleep. I only have one coffee in the morning and that is it. Personally I use the Alessi 9090 stainless-steel moka pot designed by Richard Sapper in 1978. It is a good example of how great design cannot necessarily be improved upon. It is a stove-top coffee-maker. Jony Ive really designed for Apple following Dieter Rams's ten principles of good design. To me Jony is a disciple of Rams more than anything. Marc Newson has designed some beautiful things. I have got a Helice floor-lamp from the original bare-aluminium production in 1993. People go crazy for Sottsass don't they? I have got his Memphis table-lamp on my desk—it's a bit of a cliché I know. Sottsass was a functionalist-minimalist at the beginning though—like the Olivetti portable from 1969. Thirty years ago I was together with the French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster for I don't know I think a year starting March 1992. She really changed the way I think about art. She was aware that she was super-intelligent and recognized that other people around her might not be so smart as her. She used to be constantly reading books all day long. I am really not into her work at all these days though I must say. I just don't think superior intelligence is a good starting point for being a great artist. Damien has special kind of raw intelligence—he has never read any critical theory I don't think. I think if you try to make art and read critical theory you end up with art that grad students like but not much else. I don't like being browbeaten. Art should not be incomprehensible due to being too intellectual—if an ordinary person of ordinary intelligence does not get it then you are doing something very wrong in my view. Like Joseph Kosuth for example. The idea of art is not to cause the viewer to be scratching their head wondering what it is all about. It means the work is too obscure. Art lovers generally react quite violently against art that is too clever by half. I am not being obtuse. It makes no sense to be cryptic as an artist. Look, I am not interested in Marx myself at all. To me Marx is a joke. An obscenity really. Humans will always war and seek to persecute one another. Capitalism is not an ideology. Of course it isn't. Is the school playground or the prison wing an ideology? Of course not. Marx has also produced China and the former Soviet Union. Marxism is just a route to a totalitarian state. It is horrifying to me that some people swagger around thinking that being a Marxist is really quite cool. I myself am a Freudian. There are so many people these days who tell me very clearly that Freud is no longer taken seriously but to be honest it doesn't faze me in the slightest. The point about Freud is that the idea of the unconscious was schematized by him but it can be seen in literature in Shakespeare or Coleridge. We all know that we are sometimes drawn towards desire by forces that we cannot really explain rationally. I understand that some of Freud is hard to take if you are a feminist but the idea that part of the mind is not visible to consciousness is basic for me. I have never been able to get anywhere with Ulysses really. I do revere it. I gave my daughter an extract of Finnegan's Wake to read the other week. Her face was classic. I met this guy Ahuvia Kahane recently who claimed to have read it cover to cover. Fine. I sent my Dad A Thousand Plateaus as a gift. Just because we had observed that people always quote it as a reference. We both agree with the Introduction that it is really not intended as a book that can realistically be read cover to cover. I still revere it. There is an amazing book about them writing it. They used to have these mega sessions at Guattari's psychiatric unit La Borde. I think if it had been written by one person the book would not have the force it does. I don't really get on with novels that much. Stewart Home I love, his irony and intelligence is wonderful. To me he is exemplary. Brilliant guy. Crash and The Atrocity Exhibition I love. I used to be a massive Burroughs man. I really did. The non-fiction stuff, I used to hang on every word. I have copied sections of Junky out before just to learn how he got his pared down effect. Junky is really Burroughs trying to write like Hemingway but I prefer that to Hemingway personally. The first half of The Executioner's Song is just brilliant. People always balk when you say it is Mailer but that is life, the fact is it is better than In Cold Blood. It is a work of genius to me. I mean some writers you go back to and you think God this is actually dreadful not at all how I remember it. Bret is like that for me. I mean I was young and impressionable when I read it. I guess American Psycho will never go out of print but Less Than Zero is dire. If you mention it people always say they saw the film and it was rubbish. Some things you go back to and they are even better than you remember them, GB84 by David Peace is like that. What a writer. Blue Velvet is really a very Freudian film. We do not necessarily know why we are drawn to certain people, situations, but we know that they are sometimes hazardous. We can map out the unconscious in that in therapy a person might figure out that they are always drawn towards, say, a certain type of man with certain masculine traits and these are magnetic. Or for a man, he may find a certain trait in a woman will cause him extreme desire. These things can be assessed and really recognized in psychoanalysis. The pattern will become quite transparent. But as Žižek has said it can be a dehumanizing denouement really. Do you actually want to know the contents of your unconscious? It is a sort of deconstruction of the self that leaves all the mysteries of life exposed. I like Jake and Dinos Chapman. Their work is superb. I really don't know if they have stopped now. The best one was the show that Jake alone did at White Cube in Mason's Yard of the Nazis with burned up faces looking at modern art. That was funny and haunting. I love the first ever piece I saw by them which was the cyborg upside down hanging from the ceiling of the ICA upstairs dripping blood. That was a wonderful work. And so right in that space. I think it is the best thing I ever saw in that space. I remember one show many years ago I was at the opening and the artist just left the space bare did nothing at all, Bethan Huws it was. I was there bang on time at 6:30 and Iwona was in great distress and Bethan comes out of a door and sticks up a short text explaining why she isn't showing anything. And of course Helen Chadwick's piece with the rotting material in a glass box. I had a couple of tutorials with her at Goldsmiths but I just did not really listen to her at all. I should have listened to her much more closely. I was sad when she died. She was a great spirit. I mean I have tried to read Jake's new book but I don't have the stomach for it at all. He is much better as an artist. I saw a video of Jake, he was talking about how he likes Manuel De Landa A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History, from 1997. I have not read it mainly because it is not on Kindle. I cannot buy books anymore I just read my Kindle. I cannot face reading a book at all. So hopefully it will come out on Kindle at some point. Every record for me by The Clash is like a sacred object. The albums have the same force for me as people had with The Beatles. Each record opened new doors and ways of thinking. Give 'Em Enough Rope is a classic punk record and from it I learned to think about music as a way of expressing disgust, anger and resentment around social issues. When I got London Calling I was perplexed: this is not punk. I slowly realized that The Clash were no longer punk. I mean London Calling is sort of bluesy jazz rock. It is a very mellow record with sax and piano on many tracks. Some of the songs are still about social issues and authentic experience like Rudy Can't Fail. Guns of Brixton by Paul is wonderful but I really don't think it is written from experience of police raids—there is a theatre to it. And that is really what London Calling is about complete theatricality. Spanish Bombs is a beautiful track. And then there is Mick's Train in Vain written about Viv Albertine. You can see videos of him performing it live much more intensely and heartfelt than on the album. When Sandinista! came out I was fascinated. People say Metal Box is the archetypal post-punk record but I think Sandinista! is so experimental and sometimes absurd. I was still a punk and some of my friends who were also punks took it back for a refund. I was the opposite. We used to have postmodernism at that time and I realized immediately as an art student that Sandinista! was postmodern. It is a model of experimentation in a recording studio. It is still a quite impenetrable record though even in the fact that it is a triple album. Combat Rock their last record is like Abbey Road in that every track almost has a sentimental dimension. On the cover picture they are so far from home—on the Petchaburi Road railway line in Thailand. Topper is a junkie. They are outlaws. They are songs for Baudelaire or Rimbaud really. Death is a Star and Straight to Hell are songs for outlaws. Ghetto Defendant was the first time I had ever heard of Ginsberg. When you listen to the record you know it is over. I played Death is a Star to my daughter once and she was like are you actually serious? Is this even a song? These days in professional photography people expect you to have thousands of Instagram followers so that is a challenge for photographers starting out. How do you stand out from the crowd when there are one billion people posting images to their accounts every day? It is mind numbing. If you were to review every post to Instagram covering just one single day and you looked at each post for ten seconds it would take you three hundred and seventeen years to look at them all if you were to work twenty-four hours a day without breaks—not that you'd live that long. That is the sort of scale of image profusion that we are into. All we can ever talk about in image production from now on is samples—indicative images. And from there it is so easy to drift into generalizing. I came off Instagram. I think my account is still there, hbond66, but I am not using it. In the end I just found the constant subtle boasting so insulting, I just felt affronted by it. It is just so contrived and irritating. I really do wonder if there isn't something quite destructive about it. And then of course there is all the time spent scrolling through it which to me is a waste of time. I personally am not interested to keep up with what several hundred people are doing each day. I cannot take it all in and I question if I want my mind filled up with all this middle-class trivia and diversion. I mean Twitter I cannot handle at all. What is an opinion worth in the context of Twitter? Three hundred million opinions but how many of those are really informed in any way? What is the point of so many opinions? And given in such a short text. What about Beuys was a German Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 87 pilot in WWII? And the whole thing about the fat and the felt is just invented. I mean my only visceral connection to WWII is my uncle Alan. Alan Bond was killed in 1942 on a bombing mission to Bremen. He was the navigator and bomb-aimer. He was one of four in a twin-engine Handley Page Hampden on the way back from Germany when he was shot down. All on board were killed. He is buried in Holland. They had already dropped 1.8 tons of incendiaries on Bremen. It was a night bombing mission. One document that is worth reading is the Giancarlo Massei Report from the original Amanda Knox trial. Read it and then make your own mind up about what happened. It is four-hundred pages. Why would two innocent people behave as Amanda and Raffaele did on the morning before Meredith's body was found? It makes no sense at all. If they were innocent then what were they doing? For example, Marco Quintavalle owner of the local shop near Raffaele's flat said under oath that Amanda was waiting outside his shop as he opened his shutters at 7:45am and then when he had opened up she went straight to the cleaning section. Why did they clean Raffaele's flat so scrupulously? Especially when Raffaele actually had a cleaning lady. But that is just one thing. There are so many more. It was only when I got together with Anya Gallaccio that I understood what being middle class actually meant. Up to that point I had just never thought about class or the fact that I was poor. I adopted much of her middle class behaviour. It came on almost instantly. The desire to go shopping, having a credit card, having things of quality in life. Anya actually went regularly to the opera. The idea of a living room with strip wood floor and an expensive sofa. The idea of having interior design. Shelves with books, art books. The expectation of going to restaurants, such as a restaurant that has recently been reviewed in the Sunday papers. Cooking things that have been discussed on Radio 4 or in the Sunday papers. Actually living as opposed to how I had been just getting by for years on salami, cheese-on-toast and pasta Napolitana. Anya took me out to lunch at L'Escargot at 48 Greek Street. It was actually the first time I had ever been in a nice restaurant. I had only been to the Pollo Bar and the Tower Tandoori before that. I had not been into an Italian or French restaurant. As soon as we sat down Anya ordered a glass of kir royale—champagne with crème de cassis. She told me she was an Epicurean sensualist. It was my twenty-second Birthday. I learned a lot from Penis Envy by Crass. Gee Vaucher is amazing. I am an ally of feminism. I love the work of Hélène Cixous for example, the project of Écriture féminine has hardly even begun. Gender Trouble has become one of the most influential works in the entire history of critical theory. I sometimes wonder how Judith Butler feels about it. It was no way expected. The interesting thing about the book is that it is influential in spite of the fact that it is actually very dense and academic in tone, vocabulary. Gender performativity. It has become more than a phenomenon, it has changed history. That is how people felt about Dylan. Gender Trouble was published in 1990, so it took a while to reach the mainstream—thirty years. Recently I bought a fairly rare pair of Jordan 1s and wore them to work. I had students stopping me all day telling me how cool they were. But for me I would rather not be wearing Nike, I just feel the brand is too mainstream. They are made in China. There is nothing really authentically American about them. It is just the association to rap music that makes Jordan 1s what they are. The Dave lyric is so indelible: Jordan 4s or Jordan 1s/ Rolexes, got more than one/ My AP cost thirty-one/ Millimetres forty-one. He is alluding to his Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch which cost him £31,000. It has a 41mm diameter face—the largest that this venerable Swiss watch maker have ever produced. So it is just him boasting about conspicuous consumption in the end. Verdansk is astonishing too. How does he rap like that? It is profound. Absolutely astounding. I used to listen to rap all the time in the 1990s. At a certain point I started to feel the violence and rage was not good for me to be continuously exposed to. There is something desensitizing about rap. There is a normalization of the almost psychopathic cynicism that many performers express. The Chronic is an incredible record, untouchable. Triumph by Wu-Tang is an extraordinary track. Verses: Ol' Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Method Man, Cappadonna, U-God, RZA, GZA, Masta Killa, Ghostface Killah, and then Raekwon. It is the intensity that draws me in. Kanye is certified as genius. Dark Fantasy is priceless with the wonderful Nicki Minaj intro. Gorgeous is really the most authentic and personal rap on that album. I mean who else would sample 21st Century Schizoid Man? Juice Wrld could freestyle for more than hour there are videos of him completely improvised. If you are making art or photography compare what you have done to Verdansk by Dave and see if it has anything like that intensity that gives you a shiver. Or maybe you are not into intensity—some art is slow-burn I do get that. Like Eva Hesse her objects haunt the mind. I was on Foundation at Farnham when I met Julian Woolatt. He came up to me in the street and said he wanted to photograph me and my friends—we were dressed as punks with shocking fronds as hairstyles. He had long hair in a bob. He was drinking a can of Special Brew at eleven in the morning. One day after the punks shoot he showed me the main darkroom at Farnham. It was the first time I had been in a non-improvised darkroom. I was immediately reverential—there were at least twenty people printing in this vast dark work space. I was in awe really that this place even existed in Farnham. Next Julian showed me the photo studio. There was a shoot going on with studio flash, again I was deep in admiration as Julian talked to the photographer. I had gone from the red tinged darkness of the darkroom to the bright white light of the studio in a few seconds. Then Julian showed me the book Tulsa by Larry Clark and I think Weegee. Again I was stunned, I was stupefied by the book—the first photo-book I had ever seen. In a way everything I have done in photography began on that day. I always come back to that day as a reference point. I had had such a dull life as boy growing up in Farnham. I had done my work experience not so long before in the photography studio on Downing Street, where I had sat for a week, literally doing nothing at all, just sitting in a chair. They said there was nothing that needed doing—I got so low during that week. They did not show me anything at all. I should have complained. So this visit to the art school with Julian was just thrilling. There was no photo studio on the Foundation and the darkroom was in a wooden shed with two unbearable technicians hovering at all times. In my recollection of the first visit with Julian there were no technicians around. The students were confident with the equipment and the processes. There was no need for technicians. In the darkroom they had the soundtrack to Taxi Driver playing. As I teach today I so often cast my mind back to those first moments. Those are my two primal scenes—the dark and the light. The quality of being in this darkened room which invites on reflection and patience. And then brightness of the studio flash bulbs that throw off this affecting jolt of strobed light—a penetrating forensic light. Everything seems organized for maximum light on the sitter. These two spaces of photography are, to me, places to be honoured as indispensable because the are so unique to photography. When you are in the photo darkroom everything on the outside just fades out. The feeling is of time standing still. As if the hour of the day means nothing. And that is true too in the studio—what is going on outside begins to drift away. The two spaces are the yin and yang of photography. One bright the other dark. One intense the other reflective. One involved with body performance, the other with the loss of the body in darkness. Recently I made contact with Julian. He lives in Southend on Sea now. He didn't really remember when I explained the tour he had taken me on. When you think about art now and someone writing a history book you have to be realistic. The chapter about 2020s is going to start with Mark Bradford, Theaster, Koons, Doig, Iza & Gerhard, probably Tracey. But with photography it gets harder. You can say Tillmans, Ruff, Wall, Gursky, but that is not really the story of what has happened to photography in this digital revolution is it? The chapter would have to begin with an iPhone. Six billion photographers. The selfie. Instagram. That is the story of photography now. That is just the way it is going to be. Photography history as it was in the twentieth century doesn't really exist anymore. Who are the great names now? Nobody really. Carrie Mae Weems. The narrative is about profusion, instantaneous sharing. That is the only narrative of significance. With the book Point and Shoot I did for Hatje Cantz I had several different cameras. I had a Leica C1 point-and-shoot. I had a Ricoh GR1 which has a beautiful 28mm f 2.8 lens which is as sharp as a Leica lens. Incredible. I had a Fuji Finepix which captured 900 kb images. Also I had a Nikon Coolpix 990—you could twist the screen and use it as a waist-level finder which was a very good design. For some of that book I used to ride on the top deck of the Big Red Bus tourist tour of London with a 500mm f 2.8 sports lens that I rented. One great way into basic critical theorizing is the book of collected Ballard interviews Extreme Metaphors. We are experiencing a revolution: the digital revolution ... the information age ... the Internet age ... the smartphone revolution. It is all the same thing. We are in the middle of it. It is like the famous Marx line: All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned ... That is the age we are in. As Bowie once said: you may like it or you may not like it. It doesn't really matter because that is what you are going to get. He was talking about music becoming free to the end-user which it was for a while in the glory days of Kazaa peer-to-peer file sharing. It took several years for the music biz lawyers to work out how to block Kazaa. I mean now £10 a month for Spotify to access 1.8 million albums at CD quality is not bad. The issue is the payment that the Bands get. It is $0.003 per stream isn't it. If I were to recommend a place to start with critical theory it would be Debord, The Society of the Spectacle. They say it is Marxist but I don't see that so much. How did he predict in 1967 how things would go? If you read the first few pages it is hard to believe it was written forty years before Instagram. So yes start with La société du spectacle and then personally I would recommend as a second book Baudrillard's America from 1986. But forget the Geoff Dyer Introduction. God knows why they asked him to Introduce the new edition of that book. Seriously, what does Geoff Dyer know about Baudrillard? McCullin is a weird case. His own website content header reads: Don McCullin is arguably Britain’s greatest living photographer. For the past 50 years he has proved himself a photojournalist without equal. Honestly I don't know why he has to be so self-important. I suppose it is really between him and Bailey unless you include Hockney. Nick Knight and Martin Parr come behind and then maybe Tim Walker? ... Paul Graham? The thing is with Bailey is how many times are we going to see those same old images from Box of Pin-Ups? Sir Don does not get my vote particularly. Parr is so English. He is a wonderful talent but if you compare him to Nan or Eggleston then he isn't really in the same league because his treatment of his topic is so light—he is like Gilbert and Sullivan. You cannot call G&G photographers exactly but I would say that they would be top of the list for me. The Dirty Words Pictures by Gilbert & George is I would say the best series by a living British photography-orientated artistic duo. The thing that I learned to do at Goldsmiths was print in a black and white darkroom. I was in there most days. It was a small one down a few steps, most of the time I was in there on my own. I have never printed anything since those days but I retain a tremendous sense of fondness for the hazy red light in the black and white darkroom. When you are in this darkened windowless room all day you lose track of time. It is like the outside world really fades out. I never used tongs at all. I had my fingers in the chemicals all the time. I started trying to learn colour printing but it was too much for me. I think black and white printing is one skill that is so foundational. If I ran a photography course I would make it mandatory as the only way to print. I honestly think that would do a lot to raise standards. Absolutely no automatic printing of any kind allowed and no digital submissions, that would be my course. Love it or loathe it I am sure it would do good. The way that photographers are today I suppose that many would not want to become subterranean like that. So for three years at Uni I was either out with my Leica IIIf or in the darkroom printing my pictures onto sheets of Agfa Record Rapid double weight fibre-based paper—they don't make it any more. Agfa don't make photo paper at all any more. Soon after I started at Goldsmiths I came under the influence of another student Joe Dillworth and he was into Leica III. So I got a Leica IIIf from the 1950s with a 5cm Elmar. I used that for a long time. That is an amazing camera. The design of it is just beautiful. The lens is just four glass elements. It is unimprovable. They are not expensive. Joe was also into Rolleiflex and he did all his degree work on an f 2.8 Rollei. Whilst still at Goldsmiths I bought at great expense a Leica M3 which I used to do all my degree work. The thing about Leicas is that there is no depth of field preview. At some point I became a Nikon man. I got an F3 and that became my basic camera. For a lot of my candid work I used a waist-level finder and a 180mm f 2.8 lens. I used to shoot fashion like that. I did use a dreadful camera the Nikon 801 for a long time. It was made of plastic. I honestly don't know why I used that. I would still recommend Leica III and all thanks to Joe who first turned me on to them. My first 35mm camera was a Cosina CT 7. My Mother had asked someone at the Art School what would be a good camera to buy for a student and I think they had said Pentax K1000. For some reason I was hell-bent on buying a camera that had been recommended in the camera magazines—the CT 7. Of course I did not realize at the time that these reviews magazines are a scam and fixed by the big camera companies in order to sell their newest products. So I bought this horrible camera that I never got on with and it soon stopped working anyway. So after that I got a Nikon FM 2. I bought that on Tottenham Court Road. A long time ago there were numerous camera shops there and you could go looking around them to see what was in stock. Look so much photography drifts towards being sexist nonsense. There are so many nude women soft porn images in photography auctions and it is just so normalized to see naked women everywhere. It is all supposed to be sassily erotic and tongue in cheek but it really isn't. It is a bit like Picasso. Slowly but surely the art historians are beginning to call out his blatant misogyny. Many of the photographers from the 70s and 80s who did nudes look so dated now and really quite offensive. And they are crap photographers too people like Michel Comte or Herb Ritts. There really are some awful photographers that come up at auction. One of the absolute worst is Sandy Skoglund. The grey room with all the orange cats. The blue room with all the fish. It is embarrassing. If someone tells me this work is in the spirit of surrealism I honestly know what to tell them: go and have a look at Europe After the Rain by Max Ernst from 1942. That is surrealism. Start from that if you are interested in surrealism. Jeff Wall's work follows Brecht's Verfremdungseffekt. You are forced to look carefully and critically at something that ordinarily you would not look at with a critical eye. The scene seems quite mundane until you look again and see that it has all been meticulously set up. Verfremdungseffekt is one of the most important ideas to be aware of in art, film and photography practice and I find it to be really quite foundational. Brecht argued that in the theatre often nothing was really achieved as the audience were in an uncritical relationship to the events unfolding on stage—they were enthralled in a sort of narcotic, swept up, hypnotized he said. Brecht offered a number of devices to stop this enthralled state occurring. The cast deliberately overacting or speaking their lines ironically. Exposing the actual construction of the play such as making visible the lighting or other production elements like having the stage manager in view. Anything at all that breaks the magic spell that would otherwise captivate the audience. A character stepping out and addressing the audience directly—sometimes known as breaking the fourth wall—is another. Not like a Shakespeare soliloquy. Just talking to the audience out of character just talking normally. There are some films that use this effect such as Annie Hall, Trading Places, Fight Club and Deadpool—usually in films actors must never look directly into the camera as it breaks the illusion that the events are taking place without a movie camera present. Mario Testino was an abuser of power. He had me strip butt naked for him. And this was for a knitwear casting. A knitwear shoot. I actually did get the job. I mean I do not know why I didn't tell him to piss off. I honestly thought it must be normal to strip for a casting. I was dreadfully naïve at the age of eighteen. He spotted me working in the bar of the Riverside Studios arts centre in Hammersmith while Michael Clark was on. This was at his house on Lambeth Bridge Road. I think it was door number 10. He was not rich and famous at that point at all. I would like my reparation to be Mario stripping naked for me now. I will have him in my kitchen just standing there stark naked while I make a coffee which is only what he did to me. Photography is doing so badly at auction. I mean art photography. But why? First is that many collectors coming into the market understand art with a quite narrow idea: it should usually be a painted picture of oil on canvas. And at the heart of that is the idea of buying something that really is utterly unique. Particularly if you are paying a lot of money it feels right that what you are buying is a one off. Art photography is in editions of six or ten or what have you—as well as the idiotic convention of the AP or artist's proof on top of that. Nobody knows what APs are. What are they? Don't buy one. And when you do buy there is the spectre of some other gallery or the estate printing your photo again at some point. There is nothing to stop them and many of these photographs have indeed been reprinted again at a later time so you really don't know what you are getting into—it is a minefield. Some photographs by Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, Bill Brandt, Helmut Newton, or Araki as examples, have been printed in various editions and versions at different times. The buyer has no protection regarding further editions. One big euphemism is the term printed later, if you see that on the catalogue data then it means that it could have been printed last week and probably was. A photo is a print—meaning prints-and-etchings. It is not a unique thing. And in the end even the convention of artificially limiting down the edition size in order to increase scarcity—and so justify a high price—as Wall, Crewdson and many others do does seem to be a bit of a scam. Gilbert & George works are unique. So that is easier. Could be a good one to to go for. I met this guy the other day and he said he worked as a creative in an ad agency. He was really quite proud about it and I was like I didn't know there were creatives anymore. The only adverts left are those awful depressing spots for Fabreeze and yoghurts and Lidl. I mean he was building up this picture of how they have you know a pool table at work and get treated like Gods and I was thinking but for what? For a Fabreeze advert? Nobody cares about TV adverts at all except at Christmas to watch the John Lewis one. TV adverts are an inversion of creativity. Creative in that context is a disingenuous euphemism for maker of clichés. It is a misuse of the term as there is nothing creative whatsoever in a TV advert. And these are adverts that nobody actually watches anyway. TV adverts are a twentieth century phenomenon. I am quite fussy about my data. Fussy or paranoid. I don't keep anything on my local machine at all. I store everything on Google Drive. If my Mac crashes it will not be much of a problem for me. How vulnerable is data on Google Drive? It is hard to say isn't it until such a day comes that there is some sort of catastrophic event. People do make some outlandish claims about how much electricity it takes to run cloud servers. It is a good example of how difficult it is to get precise information from the Web. You can make any bold claim you like really: it takes as much electricity as is used by the whole of London, or more. It takes the same amount of electricity as is generated by thirty nuclear power stations. The European Google servers are said to be in Eemshaven and Groningen in the Netherlands, and Mons in Belgium. I actually have my MacBook set up in a quite unusual way. I have three different partitions for job, home-office, and general Web browsing and TV. Meaning I have got macOS system installed three different times on three different partitions. It is just the way I like to work—you could do the same thing with different users. But why do it the easy way? With my general TV streaming and Web browsing system I don't have any email clients installed so it is just for leisure and no distractions—that is important. If you are relaxing then just do that. Don't answer emails at the same time. My work partition runs an older macOS than my home one. I do not use iCloud at all. I do not even log into my Apple account. I do not want anything at all happening on my computer with data automatically. I had someone talking to me the other day who was arguing that the photographers of the photos Warhol appropriated should be credited on all museum title cards and I suppose he does have a point. The photo of Marilyn that Warhol used is from a publicity shot from the studio of 20th Century Fox for the film Niagara from 1953 in which she appeared as the character Rose Loomis. But I don't think the actual photographer has ever been identified. The interesting thing is that the photo was quite old when Andy used it. He could have just used the most current but he didn't. The point was it was very soon after her death that he made the piece—in 1962. So the piece is about her death or her death and her fame together. Meaning it fits in with the car accidents and the electric chairs. I do love Guston. I have always liked his pictures. These days everyone likes Guston and the prices are sky high but I have always liked them. Total genius. I mean the thing about the KKK hoods is a difficult one. I have tried explaining the concept of microviolence or microaggression to people in art but they just won't have it. They hear the idea and then they start shaking their head as if the most absurd thing they have ever heard has just been uttered. The big comeback with the KKK hoods is that they are justified because they are self-portraits. So what can you say? I myself would not put one on display in a museum as I think it is insensitive. I think the main Web porn sites should be blocked by the UK state. I do not think it is acceptable to just open a Web browser and click once for free porn. I do not really care if that is described as censorship. It can be called whatever people want but to me it is dealing with a public nuisance and should be under state intervention as many websites already are. The UK government blocks any number of extremist radicalization sites for example. Porn available like it is is degrading to both the viewers and the participants. Also why is there no interest in protecting children from porn? Young children watch it, of course they watch and it is harmful for the obvious reason that it tends to debase sex from being a private intimate act to being a disturbing and quite frightening pantomime in which all sincere emotion is removed and mocked. What happens when an eight year old boy gets online with his iPad? Of course like all his friends he looks at stupid porn videos. This is damaging and detrimental. One photographer I have never been interested in is Gursky. It is annoying because people always ask about him. The first thing to say about his work if you are thinking of buying a piece is that the work is not archival. The way he mounts up the picture behind plexi is called diasec it is a patented process by which you stick the front face of the photo to a piece of plexi. It was innovated for advertizing sites not fine art. This process is not in any way archival. The thing with it is that the pictures do tend to yellow down over time. The white part of the image border goes a very unpleasant yellow colour. And there is nothing at all that you can do about that. Some people have gone back to him requesting a new print with mixed outcomes. So as far as conservation goes a Gursky is a horrible investment. Any philosophy of the digital image has to start from the fact that a JPEG is not an image but only a set of instructions for a computer to display: a number pixels each of a certain colour. It is a long list of instructions but nothing more than that. Build a grid of a certain number of pixels by a certain number of pixels. The first pixel on the first row should be colour #FF5733 and so on and so on sometimes twelve million times. That is quite mind-blowing isn't it? The image becomes only this series of pulses. This long string of numbers. Instructions to a screen. The photo image today is continuously subject to scepticism. Is it a fake? Is it photoshopped? Is it real, or actors? Where was it made? When was it made? Who was the photographer? All these things are mainly things that cannot be proved or determined even by the BBC Reality Check unit. In many cases it is just impossible to say. The photo is no more to be believed than someone's blog can be believed. For the casual user any photo is just another image that is there to be scrutinized for the customary few seconds before moving on to something fresh or more pressing. There is no real critical engagement. There is always something more pressing to do on one's phone. There is always another photo to look at and there always will be. It is never-ending. Objective facts often have no more credibility than opinion and conjecture on the Web—we know that. We live in the post-truth era—we know that. We live in an age in which nothing is true and nothing is untrue—which is a definition of nihilism. Everything can be both proved and disproved simultaneously—which is sort of a definition of psychosis. That is the epoch of the Web which dominates over us. It is a strange type of domination. The thing really about the Web is that nobody really predicted how omnipresent it would become. Even in 1995 or 1996 it was still not clear what was going to happen. I remember a friend called Guy saying to me: if you are going to use the Web then you are going to need a search engine. And I was like. Well, sure, okay. Where do I get that from? There is a pervasive cynicism that set in a while ago now. I think Web awareness should be added to the national curriculum in schools from the age of twelve. A weekly lesson on the timetable with an exam at the end. It is needed in order to counteract the nullity and confusion that the Web generates so voraciously.

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