The Fold 04 – Patrick Ward

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Patrick Ward

Project Space School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University Road University of Leeds Leeds LS2 9JT

Wednesday 26 April

24 April – 10 May

ENTHUSIASM Practice-led PhD Candidate in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds, Patrick Ward (b.1977 Sheffield) is a graduate of The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London (MFA) and The School of Cultural Studies, Sheffield Hallam University (BA). He is an associate lecturer at University of The Arts London where he convenes the Moving- Image Research Group based at Camberwell College of Arts. His works have been shown at CCA, Glasgow; Centre des arts actuels Skol, Montreal; Mala galerija, Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana; Holly Bush Gardens, London; Shift Festival of Electronic Arts, Basel; ACC Gallery, Weimar and Site Gallery Sheffield.




Patrick Ward



— “Once upon a time, let’s say there was a house” Mysterious Object At Noon, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2000)

Sequence 1: searching Mysterious object at noon. Mysterious object found. Mysterious object in sea. Mysterious object under Pacific Ocean. Mysterious object caught on camera in the museum. Mysterious object in space. Mysterious object in Baltic sea. Mysterious object washed up on New Zealand beach. Sequence 2: eating/looking Your route through the house is careless and untidy. You are eating your way through the house, taking bites from the air. You are (in) both the eye and the mouth, inhaling as a door opens, crunching debris and spitting splinters into the stairwell. The eye is hungry but wasteful. It doesn’t pause to savour what is in each room. It is driven to keep going, up to windows, a quick taste of grubby light, over thresholds and back out, tight corners around banisters, down the stairs, gathering sounds to itself and spilling them, treading them into the carpet, turning from inside to outside and back inside again, opening wide to let a bright strip of tape flutter into it. The eye’s tongue, flicking over the points of reflection that the sun has picked out of the tape’s surface, tastes small silvery points of no-coloured bright sound. Sequence 3: closing/opening/ closing I am watching the landscape beyond the door. It is still but busy with the tiny calculations that allow it to be looped and extended. It is framed and then framed again and then again, by the door, the camera, the screen. I am wondering if it is a landscape and what makes it a landscape. Richard Leppert writes that a landscape is a perception. It is the ‘different within the same; it is what draws attention to itself.’ A line of grass, bushes, trees and sky revealed and punctuated; repeated and fragmented. Something is sounding within it. I am listening, trying to read the sound as nature, life in the landscape: something stirring but sharply; machinery caught in brambles. The sound and image meet in my imagination, writing a micro-story, the next instalment, then split apart revealing the landscape to be alive and not alive. Its air moves unnaturally, stuck, cycling. Leppert’s definition of the sonoric landscape is that it is both heard and seen, ‘peopled and hence interactive’.1 What peoples the looped landscape with its stripes of blurred terrain and grey sky but this sound, caught up in it, snagged on it, stuck in its loops? Was it there before the door opened – was it there after the door closed? Sequence 4: hearing/holding There are all the things the ear wants to hear when it looks. There are all the things the eye thinks it’s hearing. Here we’re holding these hearings, in hands that hold and un-hold in a fight or a dance. To hold sound and to capture it are different actions. The held sound is held in a balance, aware of the risks. Imagery: Patrick Ward, ENTHUSIASM (2017)

It is liable to spill, break or be lost. It is too little or too much. Distortion clusters at the edge of the frame from an excess of touch: from the hand, from the air. (Trying to write about distortion I once described it as ‘a knotted fluid, an impossible hybrid element, an impossibility, an impasse’, but it was too much and it wasn’t enough.) Sequence 5: pointing/tracking The finger points, it presses on a note, smears and stretches it into a new shape. A thumb on the lens, moving aside to reveal a cluster of voices. Or the finger leaves the volume up by accident and the note jumps out, no attack, an exposed wire: a spike. A point of light – a sine tone – a travels between screens. Follow it with your finger. The finger leaves the guitar string, the string leaves the fretboard. The finger depresses it again. Follow the finger with your eye. The finger tells you what to see. It denotes what is being made or dismantled, or tracked or obliterated. It represents the viewpoint that can’t be seen but is created in the imagination. The finger points towards the screen. The fingers hold the screen, the fingers holds screens, a grid, a puzzle box of screens through which clouds do not drift but scrape. The thumbnail against a speaker grille is echoed in the moiré pattern of the screen is echoed in soft curtains is echoed in a thumbprint is echoed in a whirr of a laptop fan is echoed in the flutter of the air vent is echoed in the fine lines of the fingers holding the screens, the puzzle box of screens through which rain trickles. Sequence 6: driving/writing Experience is unspooling. It is a staple of cinema, of the cinematically lived life, this view from the passenger seat of dappled light and shadow passing. You in motion, but still, and all of that still, but in motion, and in the suspended state between the two is the pleasure of perceiving time and yet being impervious to time. You feel it even when the process is exposed as it is here, even when you think you can hear the movement of film in the camera and its fragmentation and reassembly into a digital picture, and static bursts through to remind you that this is a manipulation of a manipulation; even when your focus is constantly pulled towards the edges, the peripheral sounds or the peripheries of those sounds, even – you are still in the back seat watching the shadows and light passing. You are still moved by the slow graceful dance of shutters and screens. Sequence 7: soaring/stretching The archaic roots of the word ‘enthusiasm’ are from the Greek for being possessed by a god. The enthusiastic person is divinely inspired and speaks in tongues and dances. We think of glossolalia as fast, the word itself sounds fast, but it is also possible for inspiration to emerge from a slowing and stretching of time, in which absences are amplified and the divine speaks so slowly that its/their words break apart into bass

and dust. Dave Tompkins, writing about the soundtrack of the film Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016), notes that ‘the past is pitched down, deep into the subconscious, if not buried altogether.’ The soundtrack’s composer Nicholas Britell concurs: ‘Memory can be a low frequency’.2 As with Moonlight‘s chopped and screwed and recomposed string themes, Enthusiasm, in its breaking and spreading apart of a song, explicitly performs the memory work that underlies all of its elements. I think of the stretched song here in its original form. I imagine it soaring again. I don’t mind being overwhelmed, he says. Meanwhile the clouds are shaking. We hear the labour of soaring, of filling the screen with sky; the work of immersion. Sequence 8: meeting/crossing In the failure of technology to apprehend the elements, light, wind, dust, air and water are transformed into ghosts, orbs, EVP, simulacra. Right there. Right – there. The transformations are strengthened in their telling and retelling, in comments threads and videos that multiply in corroboration or in response to debunking. They pass across time and across screens. In Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film Mysterious Object At Noon a composite story is told by numerous people in different locations in Thailand; it’s a version of the Exquisite Corpse game where one person starts and another carries on, and another, but this time many of the players don’t know one another, although some tell their sections of the story in groups. The story is told and parts of it are acted out too. It is about a young boy and his teacher but it’s also about a mysterious object that falls from the sky and becomes a human, and there is a tiger, maybe more than one tiger, it’s a while since I saw it. The audience makes the story and is the story. And of course the object is mysterious and the boy is an alien. Sequence 9: burning You know that feeling of something about to burn? That light that glows just before there’s a fire. You can hear it in the curled-in edges of sounds, directed by heat towards a glowing centre, maybe towards a perforation, a burnt hole, a blind spot; a cancelled sun. Frances Morgan Endnotes 1 Leppert, R. (1998) ‘Desire, Power, and the Sonoric Landscape’, in A. Leyshon, D. Matless and G. Revill (eds). The Place of Music. London: Guilford Press. 2 Tompkins, D. (2017). ‘The Forgotten Frequencies of Moonlight’. MTV. moonlight-forgotten-frequencies/

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