A spectre is haunting Goldsmiths — the spectre of Acid Communism; spectres of Mark’s.
I have said a great deal about Mark Fisher’s passing over the past month — publicly and privately. Too much, maybe. His death has been the central event around which everything continues to revolve. Even Trump’s inauguration, inescapable as it was, felt secondary to an immediate and collective grief. I summed up my own thoughts best in a private letter. Having sent that letter, I can’t begin to say any more. I have spent my capacity to ruminate on his passing. The tributes from Robin Mackay, Ross Wolfe, Jeremy Greenspan, Adam Harper and Simon Reynolds say more than I could ever wish to. What I have done is photograph the moments of collective joy, which Mark hoped for, and that we’ve engaged in consistently and necessarily since we heard the news. Careful to photograph the smiles over the tears, there have nonetheless been ample amounts of both.
I now find myself continuing to feel and looking to the future. I find myself more distracted. Things have already felt bleak for some time but despite the sense that things are continuing to get worse and show no signs of stopping, look forward we must. Mark has left us but what he has left behind can nonetheless lead the way. Mark’s concept of Acid Communism was an inversion of Derrida. His was not a mourning but a reformulating of an ideal so that Communism could make itself as desirable as Capitalism has made itself. It is difficult to think this orientation right now. I find myself strangely comforted by Derrida’s words – there’s a first time for everything. Every “Marx” becomes a “Mark’s”. The mourning of a person and their thinking become inseparable.
Maintaining now the spectres of Mark’s.
“Spectres of Mark’s” was a pun I first made in my Geopoetics class two weeks ago — something Mark, the skilled neologist, would have perhaps loathed and cringed at — but it has stayed with me and probably will all year. He will remain with me, consciously. As his loss continues to feel raw within the wider Goldsmiths’ community (which has wonderfully expanded in its heartbreak to include many friends and former students of Mark’s), I am all the more aware of Mark’s own beliefs regarding our immediate political challenges. Whilst in some respects he opted out of our shared situation (and I can’t really blame him), it’s necessary to remember and try to channel his previous optimism and sense of responsibility.
The first post on this blog was a way of looking at the positives of the 2015 as I began the new year with a pretty bleak outlook. For all 2015’s successes, in private it was a year of facing demons and I started 2016 with a lot of old, scarred and tired nerve endings exposed. 2016 has felt almost poetic at times as different worlds repeatedly turned themselves upside down – a dance of personal and political, each trying to one-up and entangle the other. It’s largely because of these events that my new blog, in its first year, has not lived up to my new and higher expectations. When I ended my blogging hiatus (short lived, I know) in January 2016, my intention was to keep more of my pictures to myself as I work on bigger projects but to write more about them and articulate my thinking more regularly. I’ve done the former but not the latter. At the start of 2017, I think I’m okay with that – all things considered…
To do a Top 10 of 2016 is impossible because most of the year’s big things are still on going — Your Wilderness Revisited and my MA at Goldsmiths (why am I writing this instead of my two essays?) being the main two. Shorter projects with old and new friends has been a treat: Black Lime, La Bete Blooms and Niall Ransome were great to hang out with and they all have big 2017s ahead of them. Finally selling the tapes I made with Marta was also great — I forgot how proud of them I was.
Elsewhere: I read Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts again and again and again; I watched this video again and again and again; I listened to so much Autechre; Sam Kidel kept me laughing and also chill as I failed to find regular employment for a whole 12 months, as did Aleksi Perälä’s Contact without irony; the new Radiohead was very nice for driving around Derbyshire when I was living there in the spring and following their world tour every night on Periscope was a much needed distraction; Jenny Hval’s Blood Bitchwas perfect for winter; Beyonce, Rihanna, and Solange.
The most important development of 2016 for me has definitely been going deep with Georges Bataille whilst here at Goldsmiths. He was last on my radar in 2013 when I shoehorned L’informe into my undergraduate dissertation but during the last 3 months of 2016 I came to fully appreciate the range, genius and beauty of his writing as I made my way through almost all of his published books in a very short space of time. Stuart Kendall’s translations of Inner Experience, Guilty, and On Nietzsche are fascinating compendiums spanning his beautiful failure of a project, the Summa Atheologica. Attending a two-day seminar on Bataille’s Nietzsche with Kendall + guests in November really solidified my love for him. He thinks about literature how I think about photography but I can only dream to articulate those thoughts half as well as he does.
My reading of Bataille — perhaps surprisingly — is heavily informing my current project orbiting around seascapes. I unearthed an unconscious obsession with the sea (or bodies of water in general) when browsing my archive back in 2014 and it is now a subject matter that I am fully embracing. So many of my favourite photographic experiences have been by the sea and untangling why that is has been an interesting journey through family histories, Hull’s history and transcendental philosophy, which I hope to articulate through sounds and words. I have always been a bit repulsed by coffee table books but I want to have a go at making one that I would enjoy spending time with; one that doesn’t limit itself to a series of pictures but embraces the non-photographic messiness that goes into photographic experiences; a book about thinking in all its guises that thinks for and through itself.
So rather than end the year with an overview and leave it at that, here’s a selection of photographs taken over the last 3 weeks up North both before and after New Year’s which may or may not end up in this mess of a book project. (Also including a photograph of me taken on my 25th birthday because it’s a good’un).