Thursday, 1 October 2009

print. the final frontier…

the shrieking violet taking the blog on to the street...

blogging has its fair share of detractors, for whom the continuing explosion of the blogosphere is the final nail in the coffin of our media drenched culture– fuelling a million vanity projects, a tsunami of inanities, yet more evidence of society’s preening narcissism and an unhealthy dependency on self promotion, forever spewing out inconsequential twaddle on facebook, myspace, bebo & twitter. it seems we have never been so opinionated nor so eager to share our every waking moment with strangers…

yet in reality blogging is a predominately private and rather solitary practice, its fantasy landscape a eerily silent cocoon that typically garners few visitors or at best a miniscule passing audience. after a few anxious posts you quickly become accustomed to the callous reality that no-one actually reads your pearls of wisdom, whilst anyone inadvertently stumbling into them doubtless pays them scant attention before backing off to somewhere more enticing. in truth your carefully constructed prose lies suspended, pristine and vacuum wrapped, in a virtual bubble that is rarely inspected or invaded.

your literary struggles, ostensibly connected to a bustling, media savvy global highway of infinite possibility, all too often remain private property. one obvious solution is to regard the project as a work in progress, a hyperstudio to test out half baked notions and experiment with form, structure and subject matter, free from the paralysing self consciousness that comes from nervously anticipating a critical eye. but this studio, this fermenting hotbed of experimentation is, through another lens, merely a prison cell precluding the rough and tumble of healthy dialogue; denied the cut and thrust of peer review all those postings are simply another type of narcissistic self indulgence.

it is therefore a necessary evil to leave the safety net and anonymity of your cosy blog page and submit an occasional piece to the vagaries of a printed publication or magazine, even though such an enterprise is littered with various pitfalls, embarrassments and even derision. what has so far been mutable, improvable, a rehearsal room or practice run for an imagined first night, becomes a static, solidified mausoleum of your words. no amount of blogging can really prepare you for the unforgiving glare of black ink on white paper, a tangible visceral object that the reader can take away to peruse at their leisure, study, pick apart, comment on, challenge or simply dismiss as inadequate or irrelevant.

so it is with genuine trepidation that i draw your attention to a little flurry of print activity on my part recently, in two wonderfully diy manchester based publications. as someone who is passionate about the city and the peculiar, endearing and often frustrating landscape we inhabit, it's a pleasure to see such publications emerge and thrive and a privilege to be offered the opportunity to contribute to them. thank you both ~

the latest issue of the splendid but irregular fanzine belle vue, called simply belle vue2, includes a mini essay on living in a tower block that i originally presented to the tower block tour a couple of years ago, an event organised by cube as part of national architecture week. it can be purchased in cornerhouse and piccadilly records for £2 and has some lovely evocative pieces by the likes of our very own mr barrett.

meanwhile this months edition of the already indepensible shrieking violet magazine contains an article on the many wondrous but endangered murals, mosiacs and vernacular artworks scattered across the city; you can find issue 3 in a host of outlets including piccadilly records or download it via their blogspot. the shrieking violet is a fascinating hybrid, a blog thats also a fanzine, a bold enterprise that puts its money where its mouth is, heralding a new spirit of grassroots creativity taking its ideas directly onto the streets and not being afraid of mixing new media with the more traditional. its free too!

on a slightly different note the manchester modernist society for whom i also write were featured in the manchester evening news recently. the comments section on their online version is well worth a perusal; public opinion ranged from agreement that our architectural treasures are being needlessly eradicated, to accusations that we are deluded crackpots....

what next? a retreat back to the shadows of the internet? no indeed - for my next trick i will be attempting to review angels of anarchy for the Manchester city gallery’s exhibition microsite, a self imposed challenge currently paralysing me with fear and loathing, plus an essay to accompany the totally fabulous lonelady’s imminent single release, the first since her signing to warp. then im off to the capital to lead an informal modern day salon at this years this is not a gateway festival in spitalfields, which will eventually be included in their annual publication.

im sure to stumble and fall along the way but surely flexing ones atrophied cerebral muscles is preferable to doing nothing at all? as is facing the risk of disapproval or dissent from a wider audience? time will tell dear journal, time will tell….

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