Selected Trash from the Ruins of Society

Why produce images? What guides the process of presentation? One can say it’s the eye moving with detached coolness through the environments it traverses, but that would be to place too great an emphasis on the idea of the eye as an instrument of will. What determines the environment that this heroic eye engages with? Duty, whim, boredom, the fiction of a mission grounded in a half-baked idea… Clear eye, calm mind, the desire to transform passive acceptance through the exercise of choice… The imposition of a programme.

We move away from reality the moment we attempt to describe what we’re doing. We blunder around until we arrive at the idea of a therapeutic foundation underlying our gestures in the world. We don’t limit ourselves to the in the moment clarity of what’s going on. It’s predetermined intention encountering those elements of the moment that seem right and fitting for all manner of reasons invented after the fact.

Yeah, mate, I just go out and do it, and I do it so often that I seem to know what I’m doing, and this supposition eventually takes on the properties of certainty, so that I know I’m on the right track. It’s a form of experimental engagement with myself that grants me possession of the world. It’s my world, and I show it to you, and your reaction lets me know that it exists.

Download: Selected Trash from the Ruins of Society 2018

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Wyndham Court, Southampton, 19 April 2018

Processed with Blackie

There’s something about visiting a place for the first time that makes the elements that comprise the environment more noticeable than they seem to be when a locale becomes familiar. There’s something about being out in the world after an extended period of retirement that amplifies this mode of perception.

I’d never been to Southampton before (and I haven’t returned since this photo was taken) and I arrived in the city following a time of great tribulation that had confined me to my home, then my neighbourhood, then my city in a state of trembling and fear for almost a year.

Going to Southampton represented a key milestone in my reintegration into wider society. The sense of alertness grounded in the shock of the new and my consciousness that a lot was at stake merely by undertaking the journey was further heightened by the fact that I had travelled there for an appointment that had the potential to bring about great changes in my life and way of being.

Personally, the picturesque qualities of a council estate modelled to resemble an ocean liner in concrete were far less significant than the fact that I was there to see it, or to see anything. But these personal considerations are not visible, neither do they endure. I think about them when I see the picture but all anyone else sees is the image.

Who Wins if You Win? Carver Street, 24 July 2018

Who Wins If You Win Carver Street 24.07.18

This is the work of an unknown graffiti artist who operates in the region of Carver Street and Rockingham Lane in Sheffield. The work of this individual is invariably primitive, consisting mainly of one word slogans (as illustrated here) or short phrases. There’s no real underlying theme to the collection, but contempt for authority and an indictment of commercialism is indicated, alongside a sense of alienation from restrictive societal norms.

As well as this comment on the Lotto, the artist has expressed opinions on the council (meaning Local Authority), Donald Trump and the toilet practices of Justin Bieber.

There’s something about the nature of the interventions that suggests a male hand is at work and my knowledge of the locality leads me to believe I could make a good guess about where he lives and even what time he commits his slogans to the walls and billboards that comprise his gallery.

West Street, 29 March 2018

Processed with Blackie

Hail holy light, ofspring of Heav’n first-born,

Or of th‘ Eternal Coeternal beam      

May I express thee unblam’d? since God is light,      

And never but in unapproachèd light

Dwelt from Eternitie, dwelt then in thee,             

Bright effluence of bright essence increate.    

Or hear’st thou rather pure Ethereal stream,  

Whose Fountain who shall tell? before the Sun,        

Before the Heavens thou wert, and at the voice        

Of God, as with a Mantle didst invest  

The rising world of waters dark and deep,     

Won from the void and formless infinite.      

Thee I re-visit now with bolder wing …

David Village Lighting maintained a showroom on West Street for 20 years. I passed the place hundreds of times and I never once saw a customer in there. Come to think of it, I never saw the slightest trace of a human presence in what seemed to be a luxury commercial outlet.

The shop never made sense to me. For a time, I speculated that the tawdry luxury apartments across the road might have generated a viable customer base but ultimately the development failed to make any appreciable difference.

Something unseen must have been going on to sustain the place for so long without any visible signs of support. I assume it had something to do with council sponsored neighbourhood action plans and vainglorious chancers exploiting transient funding streams.

David Village Lighting embodies a certain type of future, a self-interested form of success: something that appears to exist, offering something for sale, without anyone to sell it, because nobody wants to buy.

West Ham Labour Party Office, Stratford High Street, 14 December 2018

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James Keir Hardie was elected MP for West Ham South in 1892 and helped to form the Independent Labour Party the following year. I’m certain he would have been alarmed by the procession of would be oligarch pads down Stratford High Street, which threaten the existence of the current party office, and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have supported the obscure sentiments of the sloganeer whose work is depicted here.

The ‘loafer revolution’ refers to the marketing push that led to the acceptance of a particular brand of Gucci shoes as objects of desire (you can buy a pair for yourself today if you’ve got £540 to spare) and the vacuous promoters of the ‘idea’ of contemplaction describe it as ‘The art of contemplating Life and the Universe through pictures’. What’s that supposed to mean? Where’s the virtue in this kind of passive-anarchist ideological stance?

I suppose the artist could be operating on the fringes of the field of scornful comedy; whether or not this is so, it remains true what Coil said (screamed or shouted), dunnit:

CONSTANT SHALLOWNESS LEADS TO EVIL.

Vanity Fair, Holme Lane, 3 August 2018

Vanity Fair Holme Lane 03.08.18 1

Level 4 Local Guide Moses gives the place a five star Google rating and comments ‘Good’.

Moses seems at ease with the world. He gets about a bit – Sheffield, Rotherham, Manchester, Blackpool… Wherever he goes, he inhabits a five star universe. Unlike his illustrious forebear and namesake, he’s not hard to please.

Volt Sheffield Vapes & CBD Oils offers ‘Good customer service and products’. World Class on Pitsmoor Road ‘Have everything’. The Sea in Blackpool is ‘Nice’, as is Woody’s Sandwich Bar on Ecclesall Road. The Hadramout Restaurant in Manchester offers ‘Very nice food’. GoldStar Manchester Ltd in Salford provides ‘Top service’. The Turkish Kitchen serves up ‘Good food a bit pricey’. The Ponderosa is a ‘Big park good for kids’. The Peak District National Park is ‘Nice’ and KFC on Queens Road is ‘Sweet’.

I’m left wondering if I’ve stumbled on some repository of coded transmissions hiding in plain sight. If that’s the case, I must confess that I can’t crack the code.

Upper Hanover Street, 24 May 2018

Upper Hanover Street 24.05.18

Facts on the ground suggest that Upper Hanover Street in its present form post-dates several other roads in this area of Sheffield. It dissects Broomspring Lane, Wilkinson Street, Glossop Road and Leavygreave Road, all of which would follow more or less straight and uninterrupted paths without it.

St. Andrew’s United Reformed Church on Upper Hanover Street looks like it’s housed in a typical mid-Victorian building of its type, which supports the idea that the road must have been widened to accommodate the growth of traffic in the city and the look of the area surrounding the church suggests that this undertaking could date from the 1960s.

This photograph was taken at the junction of Leavygreave Road and Upper Hanover Street. The low wall behind the two women forms part of the perimeter of the Somme Barracks, which opened in 1907 and now serves as the base of the University of Sheffield Officers’ Training Corps.

The black building in the background is the university’s Department of Music Soundhouse, a “purpose-built, state of the art facility for instrumental lessons, practice, small-scale rehearsals and sound recording.” It’s an interesting looking place but it’s almost impossible to get inside; access to the building is not granted to all music students and members of the public seem to have no way at all of gaining entry.

The high brick wall to the left of the frame at the back of the picture forms part of the former Henderson’s Relish Factory, which closed in 2013. The site was purchased by the university in 2015, which announced grand plans to turn the premises into a pub (since downgraded to a vague commitment to ‘preserve and develop the original building as part of its campus’).