Issue 47 October 2012
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Issue 47 October 2012
you are listening to
CONTENT Get in touch / Welcome
Spotlight - Cover Art
Poetry - Catlin Bahrey
Fiction - David Hartley
Spotlight - Danielle Lovett
This month’s mp3 - The Voyeurist
Spotlight - Joe Doldon
Feature - Journeying
Blankpicks - Didn’tsbury
Extended Cut by The Voyeurist
By Kev Munday, Chris Haughton, Michael Barrow, Becky Allen, Ben Walker, Alex Jones, Sarah Redfern, Nick Malyon, Cara Campbell, Phill Hopkins, Sandie Cook, Andy Singleton, Kathryn Stamper, Sylvia Jeffriess, Andy Broadey, Paul Skavinski, Blanka Ciok, Jude Macpherson, Liz West, Fran Giffard, Mark Boardman, Kevin Bradshaw, Chris Leyland, Erica Ferrari, Jenny Core, Adam Booth, Productofboy, Andy Glinka, Mario Sughi, Mika Nash, Claire Curtin, Christine Morris, Kyle Saxton, Charlotte Colegate, Hilton Vasey
Blank Media recommends Credits
Blank Media Collective presents the winner of The Title Art Prize 2011
Joe Doldon coming November 2012 BLANKSPACE, Manchester
welcome Back at the start of 2009, when I joined Blank Media Collective as Fiction Editor, blankpages was one thing. The new team back then breathed new life into the PDF format, and led it into the flagship publication it became for BMC. As the audience and the organisation grew, so the sophistication of the product increased. Bespoke illustrations for the creative writing and dedicated designers alongside streaming mp3s over the top of the flash version of the magazine gave us something different, a unique selling point if you will. The internet has changed a lot and now it’s time for blankpages to transform once again. We’ll be merging the content of the PDF magazine into the main website to give you a more interactive experience, more regular content updates and a whole new look for the site. You heard it here first. So this, in some ways, is goodbye. We’re planning to archive all 47 of the PDF issues so you will be able to revisit them. I’m certain it’s the right move for us, and for the artists we support, so keep your eyes on the main website for information as to when the new site will launch.
John Leyland Editor
Clockwise from top left: Blanka Ciok, Erica Ferrari, Mario Sughi, Nick Malyon
Introduction by Michael Thorp
cross 47 issues, blankpages has featured over one hundred visual artists covering almost every possible discipline; painting, sculpture, installation, illustration, street-art, the list goes on.
Kevin Bradshaw, whose psychedelic illustration graced the cover of issue 24, was invited back to illustrate across multiple issues until joining the blankpages team permanently as fiction editor until 2011.
As a digital magazine, the cover art of blankpages plays an important role, luring people from across the internet to come and explore its content. We search high and low for striking artwork from emerging artists to grace our cover.
Rose Barraclough is another current member of Blank Media who first got involved with the organisation through blankpages. Her automated contraptions were featured in issue 27 and she has since joined the team as Exhibitions Curator.
Previous highlights have been Blanka Ciok’s work in issue 29 whose striking digital art revealed layers of hidden depth and darkness under close inspection. Mark Boardman, featured in issue 25, contrasted our summer issue with his bleak, wintery paintings.
Now blankpages begins its transformation to become the centrepiece of the new and improved blankmediacollective.org. Once its metamorphosis is complete, blankpages will maintain it’s support and promotion of emerging visual artists through an even wider range of digital mediums.
More recently we featured Chris Haughton’s multiaward winning children’s book ‘A Bit Lost’ on the cover of issue 45. The visual art featured in blankpages has had a longstanding effect on the magazine and on Blank Media Collective as a whole.
s predictably unexpected as life could be, my own took drastic turns after being featured in blankpages. I realised that there was worth in my writing. Suddenly I was not only a poet, but a published one. Next, I was doing a featured reading of my poetry at the college I was attending. Next, a friend approached me and asked me to help with his literary journal, The Boiler. And finally, the most random of all, it added to my writing experience, which caught the attention of McGraw-Hill, a publishing company that I currently work for. If anything, there was a confidence that brewed that I didn’t know I lacked. I am always locked within my own mind that it was nice to have something else open me up a bit. Perhaps it’s validation, perhaps it’s narcissism—either way it feels beautiful.
Papa You told me she should drop dead. First words spoken, pulled from your mouth like cellophane. Cancer in a microwave oven; we’ve rotated slightly. I am peeled eyes drifting on dirty tiles, a checkered kitchen, flakes falling off against myself, dusting a floor in silence—she was talking to me.Yes me. Blooming as an onion layered in heat, I cried watching her, watching me, without you.You’ve made her something cooked, unopened. How could a sea creature drown? I shuffled backwards—her shoulders bare with pillowed skin, and I too humbled to touch her. This is what beauty is: her laughter when she gets our names wrong, a sentence with little stutter. These are the pictures I’ll remember. I am meant to love you, and cradle your age like you know something better than me, or anyone. But I know why people visit. I know why people leave.
My Dear Clarice If I could sip the moonlight, I’d imagine it to be bitter, like a mantis after biting off a lover. For the moon casts stolen light, that merely shadows brightly —If it casts anything at all: slivers shine on nothing. But you still look to it, as if that Cheshire smile was more than a devious embellishment to ignite the sky. You hunger palely for answers, skin stiffening, as if forced against a stranger, their essence upon you, eating at you. But I wouldn’t harm you. Like the moon, I’d barely skim my nail against your thigh, breathe in stolen touches, and out your reply.
Caitlin Bahrey is secretly a poet. After years of telling herself that she only writes fiction, she realises now that it simply isnâ€™t true. She is based in New York, though often her head is elsewhere.
Illustration by Michael Thorp
Introduction by David Hartey he beauty of having your work published in Blank Media Collective’s blankpages is not just the kudos of the name, the fabulous art work haunting around the edges of your words, or the featured mp3 popping away in your ears – rather it is the combination of all these elements and more besides. The platform of blankpages reflects the ethos of the collectivity of Blank Media as a, well, collective and after The Dust Station was published on its glossy e-pages the thinking behind my writing tended more towards the multi-medium . Thanks largely, it has to be said, to the internets, there is a new richness to be found in the throwing together of creative elements, and the fact that there is a contrast and comparison to be found with each turn of a digital page puts blankpages at the forefront of that exciting tendency. So lots of my recent work written since The Dust Station seeks to enrich the story-world further;
creative film reviews on Screen150.wordpress.com are complimented by original drawings and my current pet project theexplodingsupermarket.wordpress.com is experimenting with sound clips and text layout, as well as contemporary narrative techniques. Also included here is an extract of my next release Tether, which is a story-music collaboration with my brother Rick aka (murmur); soundcloud.com/murmurmanc. This is my most experimental short story yet; the whole piece has been scored by Rick’s rich electronica music and the sounds and words interplay and wrestle with each other. It’s an absurdist sci-fi tale of an alternative early history of the Soviet space programme and will be available to cheaply buy in early October. So thanks blankpages.Thanks not only for having my words but for sparking off some new ones – ones that can be heard and seen, as well as read.
The Dust Station (an extract)
When I’m on the till, and a customer is rude to me, I send them to the Dust Station. To take a brief example; if you approach me with an item you would like to purchase and you do not finish your pointless telephone conversation for the duration of the transaction, thereby ignoring me, then its straight to the Dust Station with you, Sonny Jim. Of course, this is an increasingly common occurrence. I am aware that the Dust Station may be getting a little overcrowded; stuffy, smelly and congested – but that’s the price you pay for being rude. For making me feel like a well-worn cog in a money sucking machine. That’s not who I am, that’s not what I’m about; to the Dust Station with you – and think about what you’ve done.
I can remember the first time I sent someone to the Dust Station. I work in a bookshop, have done for a few years but when my bookselling career was in its infancy a woman approached me with a tricky question.
‘Do you have “Liverpool” in Pevsner?’ she said.
I blinked and looked at her blankly before mumbling, ‘I’ll just check.’ I typed in the familiar word “Liverpool” and the mysterious word “Pevsner” into the catalogue search engine. I got no results. I began to doubt the word “Pevsner” and tried different spellings. I was getting nowhere while the woman fidgeted, fiddled, squirmed, huffed, puffed and blew my house down. ‘It’s an architecture book,’ she added with distaste.
Exasperated, I suggested she go and ask a member of staff upstairs where the architecture section is kept. Without another word she swanned away, nose first. Barely ten minutes later, she returned, nose first, clutching a book about Liverpool which she promptly thrust into my face. ‘Pevsner are a very well known publisher of architecture books,’ she said, ‘as an employee of a bookshop I am very surprised that you don’t know that.’ She strode out of the shop, head high, nose first. I fumed and raged having been so thoroughly belittled. I returned to my task in hand, stooping to pick up a pile of books from the floor, huffing and puffing as I did. It was at this moment when I inhaled some dust and sneezed. That explosion, like the Big Bang before it, created the world of the Dust Station in the same instant and I immediately offered the soul of Pevsner woman as its first inhabitant. She is still there now, I imagine. I have never set her free. Why should I? Keeping her company are scores of grumpy sods and ignorant droids such as the man who wouldn’t accept the Scottish £5 note as change when I was selling ice creams in a busy theatre, despite my ‘Legal Tender’ remonstrations. And the countless students who expect me, the busy bookseller, to find their text books for them even though they are stacked on clearly marked tables five meters away and then don’t say thank you. And the woman who complained to a manager about my lack of enthusiasm on a day when I was developing a headache that was in no way alcohol related. She’s there, in the darkest, dustiest room.
Don’t get me wrong. I am well aware of the mantra ‘With Great Power comes Great Responsibility’ and I am careful to exercise caution. I try to reserve Dust Station for those who are unnecessarily rude. If I have prompted rudeness by a slip in my impeccable customer service then I acknowledge this and do not invoke Dust Station. I have also granted myself the power to take people out of Dust Station if I change my mind about them. Shamefully, I often find myself banishing foreign people whose only fault is frustration at the breakdown of language communication and I quickly transfer them out of Dust Station and into the much more neutral environment of Cultural Awareness City, where the parks are green and the sun always shines. Suffice to say, with every Dust Station decision, whether taken subconsciously or with angry clarity, I allow for a period of review where the fates of these souls are decided. I have created a Dust Station Purgatory area where these people wait before being released or consigned. As time wears on however, I have growing concerns. More and more people are being sent to Dust Station and not very many are being released. It must be getting overcrowded in there. And smelly. And sweaty.
Tether (an extract)
The Tether Project. The first great, mad idea of the Soviet space programme. Secret, and then not secret; a world event fifty years in the making. A cable, titaniummagnesium-aluminium meticulously constructed in long, deep tunnels 110km length, beneath the Baikonur plains. A design once classed as insanity, slowly became truth as it swallowed the minds of the ever excitable generations of scientists and engineers. On the end, a suit, within which the very best Cosmonaut would sit – would live for twelve hours outside our patient planet’s atmosphere, in the cold distance of space. Even the Americans were impressed and they were still sending monkeys to die in rocketships. During the time it was being built, so was I. I was born as my mother died, something I think my father never truly forgave me for. By sixteen, he must have decided I was ready to fend for myself, because he left the farmstead and moved to the city to be eaten up by buildings. So I inherited the farm and lived a life pretty much of solitude, cycled with the crops, chatting to the cows. The southern tip of the farm bordered one of the Tether facilities, and I quickly established a relationship with some of the scientists and senior officials based there. They would come to my house, I would cook them soups, salads, steaks, my way of thanking them for their hard work for the Motherland. They repaid me with smiles and friendship, but also with questions; ‘Sergei,’ they would ask, ‘do you ever dream of space?’
Illustration by Michael Thorp
‘No,’ I would reply, ‘I have never been, so I do not know what it looks like.’ They would laugh. ‘Sergei, do you think you could ever train to be a Cosmonaut, be one of our heroes on the end of these tethers?’ ‘No,’ I would say, ‘I am happy with my crops and my cows.’ They would laugh.
pretty man for sure. I was a nothing-boy farmhand in comparison; I had to suppose that Mother Russia didn’t want her greatest accolade going to a cabbage enthusiast, a cow-lover. They asked if I wanted to stay for the launch, I said no, petulant. They drove me home, in silence.
And yet the call came for volunteers, their jokes became speculation, became encouragement, almost became bullying and I joined. It seemed to me that I was helped through every stage, my test scores found magical extra digits in my favour, on occasion. The training! Man, the training was madness like I have never known – I was not unfit, I was of good stature and strong temperament – but these tests, these agilities! Impossible mind-puzzles with no solutions, endurance weightlessness in the nude, core exercises without break or refreshment – it felt to me like they were filling time, just waiting until they could line us up and pick out the prettiest face – the most television friendly, the one who looks least defeated. As it was, it was not me. They chose Komarov, Vladimir Komarov to be the face of the Tether, the first man in space. I must admit, I was crushed. Angry. Confused. They had pushed me into this and now I was to spectate? Komarov was a slob, as lazy as they come, but a muscle-bound
David Hartley is a writer and blogger from Preston, now firmly anchored to Manchester. He was the winner of the Lancashire Writing Hub Flash Fiction Competition 2012, and is having a chapbook of flash fiction published with Gumbo Press later this year. Follow his twitterings at @lonlonranch and find his writing via: abarrelroll.blogspot.com screen150.wordpress.com theexplodingsupermarket.wordpress.com
Daniel e Lovett
s a young one I always felt the need to collect things; bric-a-brac, old tat, tacky ornaments, teddies, nice looking twigs, leaves etc. I used to go with my grandparents to car boot sales to find things to add to my ever-expanding collection. I filled draws; shelves and walls full of old tat. I always wanted something stimulating to look at, whilst daydreaming away in my room for hours on end. This hasnâ€™t changed; my room still looks like an overrun emporium of commodities. I think my work reflects this compulsion to hoard things that I have always had. I feel my work is in its development stage, and needs some tweaking and adapting still. The general path it has been taking satisfies me, I want my work to be fresh and exciting, and for people to interpret their own story into my pieces. I feel my work is flourishing in wallpaper designs and textile patterns, and this is what I really have a passion for. When I finish a collage and then repeat that over and over, my work finally blooms. I love bringing in age-old mysterious elements, and combining those with a cosmic style. By bringing together found imagery (which already has many stories to tell) I feel I am creating a new story and adding to the many layers.
Danielle Lovett is a freelance illustrator and screenprint artist. Based in Manchester, up â€˜Northâ€™, she has an urge to explore what the rest of world has to offer. Danielle regularly goes on hunts for ramshackle old books, magazines, postcards, tattered animal encyclopaedias and the like. She enjoys spending time with her little cat Zelda and searching for charming images to then form into surreal patterns. She loves bike rides and getting her hands muddy in the wilderness, which probably explains why she loves getting her hands messy screenprinting and painting. She has also constructed her own screenprinting studio in her basement, which she is humbly proud of. www.daniellelovett.blogspot.com www.cargocollective.com/daniellelovett Totem
this monthâ€™s mp3
Words by Anne Louise Kershaw late ‘80s early ‘90s revival is upon us. The fear and trepidation that ensues as you see 12-year-olds wearing Pixies t-shirts is soon soothed as you don your first re-release plaid shirt (unbuttoned of course). Teenagers have finally stopped GHDing their hair to death and it seems that once again the geeky, Doc-wearing totally not ‘in’ look (Jesus don’t say it’s ‘in’ they’ll stop wearing it) is, well, back in!
them to fit right in to the current style trend. It is maybe reflective of how much they do by the fact that they gloriously do not. Nor should they. Their location in this aesthetic landscape was arrived at through emotional, creative and logistic necessity, rather than through kinship with high-street dictatorship, and embodies a tradition that reaches back further; into the midst of Northern Indie and Hacienda-esque House .
In the light of this, go and google-image London grungsters The Voyerist. Self-proclaiming, fear driven noise addicts, you might expect something rather down-beat when it comes to band image. And you’d be right.
Made up of guitarist and producer Richard Rushton and singer-songwriter Sarah Nag,The Voyeurist add a delicious dark-disco twist to the alt in alt-rock.They produce tracks that have the emotional intensity of a female-fronted Nirvana living in twenty-first century London, laced over beats and synths that would make a Bedroom DJ weep with joy. Their ‘image’ is entirely a product of the fact that they pretty mush can’t be arsed with one, as Richard Rushton explains “I’m more than neurotic enough as it is, so I try hard not to think about how I look – I guess it shows. Black-on-black is about all the colour coordination my wilted little brain will handle.” Sarah Nag on the other hand has applied some thought to this aspect, resulting in her total dismissal of it: “As I get older I’m far more anti establishment/anti fashion, mainly because I want the music to speak for itself… I want my voice to be the connection, not some fucking gimmicky get-up.”
Shots of the band are mainly monochrome, occasionally interjected with a deep, dark blue. There are some pictures, however, that are far more visually flash though these are not of the band, but of their impressive array of digital floor-gadgetry – usually taken by musically curious journalists.This incongruous mix is poignantly reflective of who they are aurally. It mirrors their sound, which, if it had eyes, would be less shoe gazing and more squaring up to you – with glitterballs on. As there is a massive element of the whole understated ‘90s ‘none’ image to The Voyeurist you might expect
Nag’s voice is extremely engaging and is indeed the thread around which the rest of their sound winds. She is refreshingly unflashy and has an addictive monotony that, layered over such rich timbre, is distinctly hypnotic.
by the attempts made by reviewers to verbally nail their sound. “In fact its gratifying when someone picks up on the little winks and nods you put in thinking that no one’ll notice.”
Despite the fact that The Voyeurist can fit their entire stage rig “into three backpacks”, their sound, as with Nag’s voice, is stylistically complex and in no way simplistic. The songs from their self-titled album (which is available for free download from their Facebook page) have a strippedback rawness to them, yet they are, at all times, multilayered and intricate. The track “Beasts’ for example, unfolds like an updated version of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control”, albeit on speed and spiked with classic house backing vocals and synths. It is metallically industrial yet totally uplifting. The outcome is a perfect balance of indie misery with eye-rolling euphoria.
One such attempt to highlight their sonic intricacies left Rushton slightly bemused, “I find it kind of funny that someone once called us math-rock, considering I can’t actually play guitar or add up anything more than loose change without getting an aneurysm.”
It is this euphoric element that distinguishes The Voyeurist from other straight grunge inspired bands. Doing something that is only possible with musical hindsight, they manage to embody the finer and polar-opposite areas of music that spanned the decade that concluded with grunge. All of these musical points of reference however, are something that have been laid upon them by those eager to pin down their sound, as opposed to anything they themselves have intentionally aimed for. “The fact that people usually see parts of their favourite bands in us is always a high compliment,” Says Rushton, un-affected
When I throw genres like grunge and house their way, Rushton is almost oblivious: “I think any house elements come either from what little EBM [Electronic Body Music] stuff I listen to or from simply trying to sneak in more acceptable mainstream elements such as 4-on-the-floor kicks and dance tempos.” Any other musical definitions you may pick up in their sound are equally ambigious to Rushton: “I’m not sure its necessarily a grunge thing either, so much as it is just a dirt thing being toned back a notch. Part of making something more easily digestible is to give it a dancier grounding, so in terms the 80’s influence I suppose it’s because – even though its an acquired taste – the drum sounds from that decade just sound big, like they were recorded in a bunker or something. Plus there’s more of a legacy to them.” The Voyeurist shamelessly and refreshingly build on this legacy. Despite high-production availability, they use sounds that are as trashy and bare as the day they
were originally sampled into mid-‘80s drum-machines. As Rushton explains: “Something like a [Roland tr] 707, you hear it, and you can almost instantly recognise it. In a sense, it sounds more like a real instrument being played and fucked around with.” These, now retro, electronic tones and beats are clearly recognisable, even if you weren’t aware of your familiarity with them. Their track “Open Wide” delivers such a straight and unceasing dance beat, you feel you are time-warped in a classic warehouse party. This, however, is parallelled with distorted guitar and keyboard lines that fuzz over the whole thing like a thin untra-violet wave. Tying this reliably together is Nag’s serious vocal delivery and inner-city themed lyrics. The fact that The Voyeiurist are a two-piece (“We’ve had a few friends come and go, but it’s always been Sarah and I as the creative locus”) allows them to indulge in all such manor of blissful sonic stacking and fakery without swamping their sound. Turning another supposed restriction into a positive, Ruston explains: “If you don’t have the capacity to record instruments easily – as we didn’t – you’re always kind of faking it from the outset. Using samples of real machines felt like it helped. Even if it’s silly and pretentious and nobody else noticed or cared, that was in the back of my head whilst making most the tracks. Modern samples, whilst usually superior, just come off a sample back somewhere, they are, in a sense, orphaned from the start.”
© Anne Louise Kershaw
© Anne Louise Kershaw
When I ask whether they are influenced by the ‘80s and ‘90s bands that I see as colouring their stylistic grab-bag of a sound Rushton says “I don’t go specifically searching for 80’s bands any more than I do 90’s or current ones, and whilst there is a certain degree of crossover aesthetically I’d wager the grunge elements are a little more down Sarah’s street than mine… . It is an odd combo perhaps, but just because something’s intended to be listened to alone in a dark room doesn’t mean it can have a danceable pulse. After all, laughter is an inherently social act but you can still watch a stand up dvd in your own bedroom.” Whether to make their somber sound more palatable or their dark themes more accessible, this musical unification of seemingly opposing genres, sounds and styles is a balance representative of their musical relationship. This is something that has comfortably progressed ever since they started when Rushton had “been demoing some tracks at home and decided to put some feelers out online just to see what I’d get. Sarah came back with easily the best vocal takes and we just decided to go from there - I think we had 2 or 3 songs written before we even met.” From a song-writers perspective, Nag expands on their artistic development: “Our earlier work was a place for me to vent my fears and desires in a very matter of fact sort of way. As we’ve progressed I’ve become far more abstract, something you’ll hear in our more recent music. As for particular themes and issues, I think the music speaks for itself. I hope that for someone somewhere my
lyrics resonate on a personal level…at the very least as some sort of crumpled up cathartic gift.” Such simultaneous, creative growth makes for a strong and confident partnership. This is something they are both deeply aware of and is, as Rushton explains, “obviously the most important thing. My go-to line here is, it’s like any successful marriage; Sarah wins all the arguments and we don’t fuck. But I think we’re good at reeling each other in. I try and make sure things don’t get too accessible (I think the technical term is ‘selfsabotage’) and Sarah’s the reason why our EP’s don’t have intolerable forty minute long ambient segues in-between each and every song.” Interestingly as their originative relationship has got stronger, their separate roles have become less defined. “We used to have a more rigid way of doing things,” explains Nag, “but as we’ve become more creatively comfortable with each other we have becoming more experimental in our processes.” Rushton explains their writing process like this: “As a general rule it goes; ambient stuff, add beats, add bass, add guitar, then I’ll send things to Sarah to see what she likes/hates and hopefully add vocals. We have a running joke at the moment that she usually picks the demos I hate and I don’t think are going to go anywhere. Shows how much I know.” If this is the case, it is a successful formula. Hitting a variety of restrictive necessities, The Voyeurist have carved a
sound that is distinctly unique, with an image to match. Speaking of his ‘none’ image, Rushton says “At some point it’s less of an addition to a live experience and more of a ham-fisted slight of hand to cover up for vacuity in the material. Got shit-all worth saying? Fuck it! Have you tried wearing a meat suit? ‘Nuff said.” The visual and sonic elements are neatly tied. Their album is confidently well-rounded. Assured in its retrospective and low-fi production, it is explorative in its experimentation of what is to hand. Any logistic or ecomonic restrictions placed on the band have had only positive creative outcomes resulting in an exciting blend of filthy indie electronica. “Ironically we’ve probably stripped down the live setup to as small as it’ll go,” says Rushton, “It’s something we’re trying to build gradually. What with all the synths and electronic drums etc there’s not many other economical options for us.” Listening to “Extended Cut”, you are glad they didn’t have a big budget to hand. The song’s strength lies in the way Rushton thoroughly abuses an array of totally unfashionable beats and fills. His choice could not be more entirely ‘drum machine’ and is fantastically refreshing and totally electric. On top of this is Nag’s delightful wordsmithery. Her equal abuse of classic-pop structure alongside really tightly rhymed and perfectly knitted lines, has you totally enraptured. Rushton describes her role as “Storyteller”, whilst Nag likes that “Rusty tends to base our demos on a loose visual. That’s something I’ve always
loved about our music, you can really get a feel/taste for the musical landscape. I often get an overwhelming sense of synesthesia with some of our tracks and from there they take on their own momentum.” “Extended Cut” is a perfect example of The Voyeurist. It really is one of those neat and addictive songs that leaves you breathless when it ends abruptly at 3.38 and has you pressing re-play before the final guitar/keyboard screech combo has faded out. They really make songs you can introspectively lose yourself in, whilst dancing, rave-style and shameless. Unsurprisingly, in instances such as their longest track “AK” where they only indulge themselves for 4.42, you find yourself needing to loop the track. As is the case throughout the album, their sonic rawness is supported with provocatively emotional lyrics. When Nag sings the lines “I only like it when we’re drunk/we kamikaze into a super love”, she is intriguingly moody and directly to the point. “And the cycle never-ever stops” rings out as the track builds to a dirty neon bar sign of aural intensity that climaxes with a million separate rasps of electronic fuzzery.The result is dark, sexy and addictive. You find yourself, once again, hitting re-play. This is more than extended into their live performance, which, Nag explains, is “THE most important aspect of a band’s career. I’ve been to countless shows where I’ve walked out because of how mediocre the delivery has been. You can sound great on record where you are sheltered and polished but if you don’t connect in a live
setting then you may as well not have bothered. I want every person to walk away from one of our shows feeling like they took a piece of us with them, if they haven’t then we don’t deserve to be on stage.” If you are enticed, which you should be, there is fortunately even more of this to come.“We’re about to do a few shows with O Children and Ulterior - and we’ll actually get to see Die Hexen this time around which I’m looking forward to,” explains Rushton. They have also “Started working on some collaborations as well, probably shouldn’t spoil any surprises there just yet. Plus we’re gradually writing and demoing for a new release. Much of the old stuff feels old. It was quite introverted in a lot of ways. Like it was crawling into the foetal position after a body blow. Its still very early on but if starting indications are anything to go by things are looking a little more outwardly aggressive, bitter, if not outright vindictive.” I can only imagine how intriguingly dark blue and sonically exciting this will be.
The London based due have been together for just over a year. Gaining airtime and attention on BBC 6 Music, XFM and Amazing Radio the London-based The Voyeurist have cultivated an impressive roll-call of collaborative production credits, including official remixes for Visions of Trees, MEN (JD Sampson), Light Asylum, Kool Thing, Worship and Au Palais. This year they have played consecutively sold out gigs in including shows as lead support for Grimes, The Ting Tings, I Blame Coco and Light Asylum. They also headlined Club NME in Berlin, Roundhouse’s Emerging Artist Festival (featuring on the Roundhouse’s 20/20 compilation release) and played to a packed crowd at Underage Festival. www.facebook.com/thevoyeuristmusic www.twitter.com/thevoyeurist http://thevoyeuristmusic.tumblr.com/ www.thevoyeurist.bandcamp.com
Joe Doldon Interview by Rose Barraclough, BMC Exhibitions Curator
itle Art Prize 2011 winner, Joe Doldon, will open his first solo show in November supported by Blank Media Collective at our home in BLANKSPACE. We recently caught up with him to see how things are getting on. “Since winning the award I’ve been continuing to make work through doing a residency at Marlborough College. This has afforded me plenty of time to dedicate solely to making work. This was a temporary contract for the academic year and so now I’m looking to shrug off boarding schools for good and getting settled with a studio space up in Sheffield. Hit the real world again! As I had a materials budget provided by the college, my prize money has gone into getting my driving test under my belt which will help massively in terms of transporting work and materials - something that can be very tricky and limiting without a van of your own.”
Contortion # 8
Joe was born in Leeds in 1986.After growing up in Grimsby he completed his Art Foundation at Loughborough and then graduated from Falmouth College of Art (as it was then known) in 2008 with a 1st class degree. It was then that his artistic career began to flourish; after being selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2008, Joe completed a 2-year residency at Christ’s Hospital School, quickly followed by a year as artist in residence at Marlborough College. Joe currently lives and works in Sheffield. So how did it feel to win the first ever Title Art Prize? “Purely being shortlisted for the prize was flattering, but winning was completely unexpected! It was great to establish friendships between other exhibiting artists and to strike up what will hopefully be a lasting bond with everyone at Blank Media Collective. The exhibition was very professionally finished and to see what this organisation was doing on a shoe-string was really heart warming. I’m so glad to say that I’m going to be a big part of it all again soon. ”The upcoming solo show is an incredibly exciting prospect. It’s been the biggest date in my diary since winning the award and will be my first major solo show. I’m hoping to put all my time and energy into it to make the best job I can of such a fantastic opportunity. It will be the pinnacle of my artistic career so far and I’m hoping I’ll be able to get settled in Sheffield with enough time
to keep making work in the run up to the opening of the exhibition. The experience will be invaluable in terms of gaining feedback and response to my work. I’m just hoping it will go down well and my work does justice to the great work that all the guys put in at BMC!” Joe’s show will open at Blankspace in November 2012. What will it be like? “My practice is always rooted in an exploration of materials and their potential to be manipulated. It’s an examination of their production, history, and implications. I try to keep the working process open, and so too the concluded article. I think at the heart of my practise is a primal instinct to shape and manipulate objects in order to understand and come to terms with the fabric of the world. Thus my work tends to subtly hint at the meaning of our roles as human beings of today and throws up questions concerning the boundaries and crossover between what is natural and what is man-made.”
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For further information about Joe Doldon and his work, follow the link below: www.joedoldon.co.uk Light Box
Journeying Words by Sarah Handyside
The only teacher is experience, no matter what people tell you. Clicks don’t become true until you’ve lived through them. You don’t appreciate what you have until you’ve lost it.” It’s the sort of phrase that could all too easily be trite, a throwaway teenage diary entry or song lyric. But in this context it holds, snap-crackle-popped out of the mouth of Luke Winter, a photographer-writer-blogger who, in moving from Northumberland to Glasgow to Montreal and now onwards to the US, has truly made his art and creativity about the journey, not the destination. He seems an apt stop for Blank Media to make in this, our last pdf, a bookmark at a midpoint of our own
joyous journey. Certainly the past year has been one of sparkling change for us, of exciting events and fruitful collaborations. The collective has grown in membership and ambition, with talent both familiar and new bubbling away on many different projects. Some of the most thrilling partnerships we’ve ever embarked on have taken root – we’ve seen a scrap-car drive-in take shape opposite our building, filled spaces beyond our own with beautiful art, invited new writers and musicians to share in our events. We’ve outgrown our old skin, and it feels good. Blank Media is a not-for-profit organisation scrabbling its way through an era of cuts, a group of people working full-time to pay rent and slotting Blank Media into the
spare corners of their lives. So it’s easy, sometimes, to look only ahead, to think about funding applications and next month’s exhibitions and next year’s uncertainties. What Luke reminds us is how valuable it can be to stop, to look around and back, to enjoy simply where we are and how we’ve got here. He collates his photos at www.dyroxy.com, some organised into clear sets, others dropped into his ‘everybody has an everyday’ project, a rabbit hole of photography described as ‘a cure for thousands of photos sitting on dormant hard drives unseen, [...] a photographic scrapbook’. The site is punctuated with words, some his own, others of those who inspire him. Refreshingly, it’s proudly work-in-progress, or maybe lifein-progress. It’s not glossy and it’s not always especially edited. Sentences spill over themselves and every so often a photo appears that seems unfinished. This, of course, is part of its charm. Luke grew up in Northumberland and first became interested in photography in his teens. When he moved to Glasgow for university, things changed – and then changed again – and he describes the process with infectious animation. “[Photography’s] something I’ve done since I was 16 or 17. But I never sat and interrogated why – there was no space or time to do it. You’re stuck in education, in a
way. My first year at uni I stopped taking photos – there were all these new things to focus on – so interestingly I was unsure of what to focus on. Then I came out of a relationship that was really stifling, and really started enjoying taking photos again.” He ran a more ‘traditional’ blog for a while, but found it worked in a way that conflicted with his desire for showing narrative, buildup, change. “There’s a pressure to produce a single image to put on display, so a lot of good work gets discarded...I was thinking more about narrative, stream of consciousness, and how to claim that photography.” How, it turned out, was via a move halfway across the world. In Montreal he found himself without structure or familiarity, and while his website remains peppered with pictures of the people and cities and countryside he left behind, a shift in focus, a transition to a different kind of photography and writing is clearly apparent.
dandelion clocks, a contrast between the tangible and the transitory is present throughout. Luke’s spiky writing complements this, skipping carelessly from thought to thought yet effortlessly creating images as gorgeous as his greatest photos along the way. Whatever window the site opens on his life, he isn’t concerned with polishing it to its brightest sheen, rather with moving the viewer along with him. Asked what he thinks of his new city and the words jabber out in tumbles, the ‘bizarre blend of French
“his website remains peppered with pictures of the people and cities and countryside he left behind”
“When I came here [to Montreal] I’d been shooting blindly. Now...there are so many more stages to photography...editing, production...which I really started focusing on. I’m looking at more abstract form and pure geometry instead of emotion and sentimentality.”
and American’, the fact that there’s ‘less of a sense of community here’, the sprawling perpendicular grids of young north American cities in contrast to the meandering age of home, and the splendid isolation of taking himself so far away.
So now, from cool-coloured, sharp-edged images that focus on the geometry of concrete city, to the muted transience of water, clouds, soap bubbles and
But he’s already moved on since we spoke, embarking on a three-month exploration of the US, documented, of course, through online word and image at
www.letterfromamerica.tumblr.com. He’s calling it a live blog, and finding that it gives a different sense of time and editorship to his work. “There’s not that definite barrier with the past, where you can judge what’s good and what’s not good. So I’m going to embarrass myself, which is a Good Thing […] the future for me is producing engrossing stories with a combination of words and pictures, and that’s what my American adventure is about. I’ve got ten years of experience – can it mean anything to an audience?”
pictures are “both just signifiers – but together they’re far more than the sum of their parts.” Which seems pertinent for us at Blank Media too, as we look back at what’s been created over the past years, and what we have become. blankpages in its current form may have run its course, but the words and pictures (and music!) we’ve left behind have, we hope, some longevity still.
“Luke remains gently philosophic about the content of his corners of the internet.”
Thank you for being part of ours.
So far there are photos of new American skylines with unidentified friends in front of them, snippets of sentences from Martin Luther King and Barack Obama, the last Montreal pavement and the first US Greyhound. It’s gloriously messy and no doubt much of it would be changed if time was being treated differently. All the more precious, then. Luke remains gently philosophic about the content of his corners of the internet, murmuring that words and
Across letterfromamerica is scrawled: ‘Our generation’s advantage is communication. We can find and build like minded communities like never before.’
Mr Didnot Did n’ tsbury Whilst chomping some greasy chicken in a well-known Didsbury fast food franchise a few years ago, a drunk man who was all legs and wobbles cornered me and demanded to know what was wrong with Didsbury. I froze with limp chips in hand, hoping his question was rhetorical. All I wanted was some post-pint cholesterol in the shape of beige food rammed into a yellow polystyrene container, not to be required to give a lengthy treatise on the deficiencies of everyone’s favourite leafy suburb. I began to formulate a reply: too many of the delicatessens are on the West side; St James’ church should be open to the public more; the M&S food hall building looks like a depressed suitcase. I needn’t have worried because my sozzled questioner slurred an answer to himself: “What’s wrong,” he wobbled, “is Didsbury needs to get the cucumber out of its bottom.” Except, he didn’t say bottom, but you get the idea. I started Didn’tsbury at the end of
2011 because I wanted to celebrate the cucumber-less bottom of Didsbury; to lift up its leafy underside and see what came crawling from the shadows. Under my photos of Didsbury, I write surreal little fiction pieces that follow strict grammatical rules. The wife thinks it’s ridiculous, but the South Manchester Reporter has given it extensive coverage, and the other day Prince Phillip came round with a signed cucumber. It might not have been him. Reality begins to blur when you spend too long in the weird world of Didn’tsbury... Mr Didnot
Mr Didnot recommends:
The Fiction Stroker The Fiction Stroker started in December with a bold piece in which the writer was won over by a Terry Pratchett novel, a book I disliked immensely. Since then, critiques have included screenings at the Lass O’Gowrie, an Alan Bennett play at Taurus Bar, books on the science fiction imprint Angry Robot, and a theatrical take on the television series Porridge. The site is not afraid to adjust its brow to a high or a low setting, and it has the best ratings system on the internet: everything’s measured in strokes. As if each novel or play is a cat. Or a dog. Or a magic lamp. Lovers of good writing without pretensions should give The Fiction Stroker a tickle and see what pops out. thefictionstroker.wordpress.com
OPEN STUDIOS 7 Awol Studios, Ancoats, Manchester 4 October, 4-9pm Free Awol Studios hosts its seventh Open Studios event, an opportunity for art lovers to wander around and marvel at the work their resident artists have been developing. With pieces spanning a range of disciplines, from sculpture and fine art to ceramics and crafts, this is a great chance to socialise with some of Manchester’s finest artistic talent and even make some purchases. www.awol-studios.co.uk PORTFOLIO SESSIONS Waterside Arts Centre, Sale 6 Oct £5 Trafford-based Creative Industries has teamed up with Castlefield Gallery to organise Portfolio Sessions: an opportunity for practicing artists to have their work seen and critiqued by leading and experienced art professionals. Taking the form of 45-min one-to-one sessions, experts will also offer guidance for those looking to embark on a career within the arts industry. For full guidelines on how to apply for a slot, visit the event page on the Waterside Arts Centre website. http://watersideartscentre.co.uk
MAGICAL ANIMALS Sandbar, Manchester 8 Oct & 12 Nov, 7pm £2/£1 conc An open mic night held on the second Monday of every month at Manchester’s fringe culture hotbed Sandbar. Featuring spoken word performances, comedy, poetry and cakes. Artists can compete to win the Magical Animals Tiara, and each night features a set from a guest performer. http://www.sandbaronline.net MESSY DRESS PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS FINE Nexus Art Café, Manchester 11-14 October, 7:30pm £8/£6 conc First appearing at the last ever Not Part Of festival in 2011, Messy Dress Productions proudly present a revival of FINE, a two-hander featuring a college counsellor and a student which explores concepts of honesty, privacy and self. Discounted tickets are available for those who book in advance. http://nexusartcafe.com http://www.messydressproductions.co.uk COLD CHILDREN BY PAT FLYNN The International 3, Manchester Wed-Fri, 12-5pm Runs until 12 Oct Free This exciting new photographic exhibition, utilising the motif of an empty-photo frame as its recurring basis, focuses on how human behaviour is conditioned by exposure to the influence of television and media. http://www.international3.com http://www.patflynn.co.uk
EMERGENCY 2012 BLANKSPACE | Castlefield Gallery | Z-arts 13 October, 12pm-10pm Free Off the back of their very successful Hazard event this summer, Word of Warning present Emergency, a multidiscipline arts festival comprising of nearly 40 pieces of work. Daytime installations and interactive pieces will be shown at BLANKSPACE and Castlefield Gallery between 12pm and 5pm, while the night portion at Z-arts running from 6pm until 10pm will feature a variety of live performances. http://emergencymcr.org A CAREFULLY PLANNED FESTIVAL Northern Quarter, Manchester 20-21 October Weekend Ticket £15/£12.50 advance Day £8/£7 advance With 100 live music acts playing across a series of venues such as Kraak, The Castle, 22NQ and Nexus Art Café, A Carefully Planned Festival will play host to a plethora of new and upcoming artists, as well as more local established groups, across the whole weekend. With a wide range of musical genres, spanning folk inspired acts such as Second Hand Marching Band, to experimental Mancunian prog-rockers Day For Airstrikes, there really is something for everyone at this event. http://acarefullyplannedfestival.wordpress.com
BURY SCRIPTWRITERS’ SHOWCASE The Met, Bury 8 Nov, 7:30pm £7/£5 conc Following on from their sell-out showcase event last year, the Bury Scriptwriters’ group returns with another eclectic display of new writing and performance pieces from emerging local talent. Short film, poetry and comedy performances will be among the pieces presented in this wide-ranging and varied showcase. http://themet.biz SQUARE PEG THEATRE PRESENTS FORWARDS AND BACKWARDS King’s Arms, Salford 6-9 November, 9pm £7/£5 conc Manchester-based theatre outfit Square Peg bring their critically acclaimed two-hander to Salford for four nights only. Having won the award for Best Actress and nominated for Best Production at the Buxton Fringe, Forwards and Backwards has been hailed by reviewers as a ‘vivid, rich and emotional experience’ not to be missed. http://kingsarmssalford.com http://www.squarepegtheatre.co.uk
SOMETHING TO SHOUT ABOUT? To include your event or recommend someone else’s in a future issue just email us with your event title, location, date, time and a short description. Editor@blankmediacollective.org (max 100 words)
blankpages Team: Editor: John Leyland Head of Design: Michael Thorp Fiction Editor: Dan Carpenter Features Editor: Sarah Handyside Visual Editor: Simon Meredith Music Editor: Anne Louise Kershaw Events Editor: Adam Gilmour