Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-03-14 - 6:03 a.m.
I went to see Lawrence on Thursday night – we talked about his Oxford pitch – the initial respose and how it might be developed. I tried his daughter’s Squire Strat and thought how nice the neck is. When I emerged from his house the car was covered with snow and so I had an exciting time driving up over the Berkshire Downs to the well gritted M4. I played Lawrence the BEAST music which really caught his imagination.
Friday I left Guildford early to drive to Victoria and then plonked myself in a café to write presentation. The meeting near Green Park was as good as I could have wanted and so I rang Peter Chatterton and went down to Balham on the tube. He offered me a chance to blow his Yamaha DX to a Beethoven trio and I thought how nice the patches are. We finalised details for our afternoon meeting with Nick and Trish.
Nick seemed to like the way the Lullabyes programme is shaping up. He has commissioned a lul for his choir from Ms R Panufnik, the contemporary composer, which is brilliant news. Everyone was very taken by the Meridian track. Meridian are playing the Royal Festival Hall foyer in 25 March starting at 12.30pm. The next step is on my front is to do the communications strategy. Peter is going to start on a set of video interviews.
I floated with Peter a link between Lawrence’s work on strategic reflection and Michaela’s “Dialogues” which Peter has helped out with in exotic locations. Peter seemed to think there was something to go for there.
I picked up the latest Wire and Modern Painters at Victoria – both excellent. The Wire has a review of the Cage-fest and lays into the BBC for being too stuffy but it gives Richard Bengerfield’s percussion the thumbs up. There is a lot of excellent material on the Art Bears – Frith-Krause-Cutler post Henry Cow. The headline is the planned collaboration with the Sex Pistols which never came off.
The material about Dagmar K made me think of Ed – the strangely hypnotic Liverpool poet briefly married to a friend of Paul Bell’s from Leamington. Ed and I wrote a lot of songs in a mad rush – he had a way of captivating people and one such was DK. Those really were strange days – when we were developing Ghosts. Thinking of that made me check that I had still got the promotional copy of Guitar Solos that FF gave me when I played him the Wheeler-Cameron Capital Radio session. FF looks more and more like Ted Hughes in the archival pics.
Good article also on NYC No Wave – located as the fallout from the 1974 explosion of Television, Patti Smith Group and Ramones before some of them tidied up their act. Destroy All Monsters must be the Detroit end of this – hopefully some of their CDs will be on sale at the Tate Liverpool retrospective of Mike Kelly – art punk really and clearly linked to Art Bears. On this definition Ghosts was No Wave because it was a strong reaction to Television and an attempt to cherry pick from punk and Totton who was co-writing with Wheeler was very taken with PSG.
The article homes in on Mars including some of the contact with PSG and also B Eno’s foray to NYC in 1978 to check out No Wave. The more one researches the stronger the channels seem to be. PS with Sonic Smith in Detroit listening to the Electrifying Mojo through NYC to Low era Bowie and Island era Cale. Avant garde art song with electric resources. No distance from there to, say, Sheffied (or Montreal) industrial. Or indeed the emergence of Sonic Youth.
I am just not going to think about the Sonic Youth curated All Tomorrows Parties at Camber Sands 2-4 April. I will console with the thought that I am off to Venice on 6 April – James’ 20th birthday – to engage myself with Palladio facades and Bellini madonnas.
Modern Painters has a good article on Minimalism in the South West USA esp the land art – Spiral Jetty and Lightning Field - and the Judd Foundation at Marfa – true contemporary sublime. Also excellent review of El Greco explaining that he is still ahead of today’s avant garde sublime. There seems to be a current of opinion that Old Masters are indeed masters but their mastery engages directly with todays’ issues.
Very sad to read of the death of Richard Wollheim - my main influence through his 1968 book “Art and Its Objects” when I wrote The Aesthetics of Improvisation (along with FF). The compensation is the opportunity that arises to see how the strands mesh. For example the strand of English aesthetics that is rooted in Melanie Klein and Adrian Stokes. Stokes lived just down the coast from where we stayed last year – a place where the light intoxicates. These English pioneers linked abstraction to emotional states through the difficult process of Klein’s analysis.
Wollheim was a protégé of A J Ayer (the philosopher Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane jointly studied in the run up to a Love Supreme). Stokes introduced Wollheim to Klein’s ideas and RW did Kleinian analysis
In 1985 he became Mills Professor in Berkley – but the MP recollections are rather quiet on Wollheim in NYC in the mid 60s. After all RW was the first to draw threads together there to explain “Minimalism” in his 1965 article.
That article ends with a staggering trope – RW explains that the general drift of thinking about the world is towards generality. We start with just seeing the world as disconnected bits and then make bigger and bigger representations for ourselves – driven by pragmatics as much as anything. Art is about the meaningful particular – it represents an opposite drive to pragmatic generalisation - and artists intensify the particularity of their offerings by craft and care. But this elaboration of the object to emphasise its uniqueness has a reverse side – and this is what emerges in Minimalism – a return to bareness – the particular facet of the particular thing. (Andrew’s thoughts on Robin’s Elements of Beauty are worth recall here.)
Wollheim is able to relate this moment in art to a reflection of Pascal’s on the nature of authentic love – a love which is not rooted in an engagement with qualities but an engagement with identity. A Love Supremem