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What's in a name?
Because i am a photographer you will probably assume that ‘a man that looks on
glass’ is a reference to ‘glass’ being photographer slang for lenses. Well, it’s not!
Back in the nineties i spent a few weeks in and around Salisbury filming the
construction of a wonderfully poetic artwork, ‘listening ground, lost acres’.
me with a beautiful old mirror. on it they engraved the words ‘a man that looks
on glass’. When i was trying to find a name for this blog that memory popped into
my head, and seemed so correct i decided to use it.
‘A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heaven espy.’
George Herbert (1593-1633)
Thank you Mary and Graeme.
Artist Profile - Graeme Miller
Graeme Miller is a theatre maker, composer and artist, who co-founded the influential Impact Theatre Co-operative in 1980. His work embraces theatre, dance, installations and interventions, made in response to specific contexts and situations, and man-made dramas. Recent projects include Linked (2003-present), a three mile long semi-permanent sound installation in East London incorporating the voices, memories and testimonies of people who used to live where the M11 link road now runs, Bassline (2004-09), a sound and video installation in a space beneath the city, and Beheld (2006-10), an installation which maps places where stowaways have fallen from aircraft.
Graeme Miller has created a living telescope for Garden of Reason, providing evidence of Galileo’s astronomical model in which the earth and planets were shown to revolve around the stationary sun at the centre of the solar system, thereby changing forever our understanding of the creation of the universe, and man’s relationship to God.
A Top Ten for 2012
Here it is. The ten bestest artsy things from my year. They’re in no particular order because every time I try to rank them a different thing wins. This is the eternal hell for an amateur critic; desperately trying to rank your favourite things into a 500 word blog post and NEVER BEING SATISFIED. Only thing worse than that is if I see something INCREDIBLE in the next 15 days and have to edit and republish and all that bollocks. I’m just going to spend the rest of December with my eyes closed.
JEREMY DELLER RETROSPECTIVE AT THE HAYWARD
Ever since I saw this exhibition my life has been a constant struggle to stop myself getting a huge BRIAN EPSTEIN DIED FOR YOU tattoo. Just writing this is going to dredge it all up again. I knew I loved Jeremy Deller’s work but I didn’t realise quite how much until it was all put together for me like this. I laughed for ages at morris dancers and ravers edited together and then sobbed like a child about Orgreave and the Tories. He’s the greatest living artist working today.
TRACK BY GRAEME MILLER AT FIERCE
I was working at Fierce this year so basically spent the whole 10 days in the imminent meltdown zone of my stress-graph, but I managed to steal half an hour on a clear Sunday morning to be pushed along underneath Spaghetti Junction while staring at the overpasses above. Gorgeous, serene, witty, a bit daft. Wish I could start every Sunday like this.
BRAND NEW ANCIENTS BY KATE TEMPEST
To be honest, any of the three (four?) times I’ve seen Kate Tempest this year could be included here. I’m such a sucker for her stuff, and the incredible way she delivers it; clutching at her body and gesticulating and kind of making her voice go all yearning sometimes. Brand New Ancients was new material about growing up and finding your way but also finding the god and the monster within you. And the band was UNBELIEVABLE. You think drum solos are boring and embarrassing but it turns out you haven’t been listening to the right drum solos.
Music! I used to be so fucking mad for hipster music that I was like the worst “you won’t have heard of them” knobhead in the history of the whole universe. Then I had an epiphany moment and realised what a total knob I must sound like and have been a bit reticent to rave about a band since. But I first got the Django Django record in Feb sometime and it’s soundtracked this year like nothing else. It’s like a party-ready Beta Band. Still haven’t forgiven Alt-J for stealing their rightful Mercury.
If anything has a claim on being the actual number one best thing of 2012, Three Kingdoms is it, purely because of the enormous effect it’s had on me as an audience member. I saw it in May and it has basically ruined all theatre for me since then. It was so compelling, so visually relentless, so completely different to anything I’ve ever seen before that I now leave shows feeling a bit like I’ve just had boring quickie sex and failed to orgasm. I have to write 20,000 words about Three Kingdoms in 2013. BRING. IT. ON.
As possibly the world’s biggest fan of The Wire, it took me a surprisingly long time to get round to watching Treme, but the catch-up filled my summer downtime with trad jazz and Indian chants and call-and-response and the second line. And, of course, the very real and very serious aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. David Simon is such an important voice. Season 4 of Treme is going to be its final season. Like The Wire, it will have achieved more in a few hours of telly than even great shows like Mad Man or Breaking Bad. They just can’t be compared.
TINO SEHGAL IN TURBINE HALL
The Tate’s Turbine Hall becomes the star of everything that it hosts, and Tino Sehgal’s performance piece didn’t try to fight it with big noises and big actions. He put a load of performers in there and told them to run around like starlings at the end of a pier; sometimes gathering together, sometimes flitting about into corners, sometimes stopping to sing. Each starling had a story to tell and I spent a wonderful twenty minutes discussing cross-dressing and sexuality with a young Greek man who said he liked my hair. It felt special and important and personal. I walked away thinking that work like this should be available on the NHS.
HOME SWEET HOME BY SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT SPILL
This is one which benefited from my being so completely ready for a sit down when I got there. It’s basically a huge craft project; building an idealised town-within-a-town that comes with its own community radio station and postman. My property was no 33 and it was a modern townhouse with balcony overlooking the river. I still carry the key in my purse. Like Tino Sehgal, it felt like a time-out from reality; a few hours to sit and think and decorate something and have it feel like there is a purpose.
ADAM MAREK - THE STONE THROWER
The first collection of stories by Adam Marek, Instruction Manual For Swallowing, made such an impression on me in 2008 that I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve done my underwater gorilla impression since then. Short stories rarely impress me, generally because it takes me a while to get in the zone with reading and then it’s all over already, but Adam’s stories are sometimes like smells and sounds and tastes rather than stories. He starts this collection with a reminder of the sheer brutality of life, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe throughout The Stone Thrower itself. I don’t have a lot of time for fiction anymore, but I’m still pretty certain that there are very few writers like Adam Marek out there.
Is that ten? *counts*
As for 2013, the thing I’m most looking forward to right now is a new album from Lady Gaga. Not for the songs of course (although the singles will no doubt be BANGERS), but because she will be putting outrageous things on her body on chat shows and MTV Awards and stuff. The world is a better place with Lady Gaga in it.