2020 lack of vision

intracardiac shunts and the material that passes through them

So, yes. We're in the season of covid-related co-morbidity, so I'll add my penny to the pile. The routine operation I had back in August, the one for which all my follow-up calls got missed, and I seemed to be recovering a bit slowly, well. Turns out the spectacular migraine I had during the first of the two procedures, the one with all the problems I put down to too much morphine, well. It wasn't a migraine. And the problem wasn't purely the morphine. Nor was it a standard stroke, which is why it got missed and they went ahead with the second procedure. But it was a stroke.

Took me a while to get there, but here's how it goes: The offness in my vision was recovering, then hit a stop point. At that point, I tried to get help from the part of the hospital that did my operation, failed. Then called the eye hospital. The triaged me to Specsavers. Specsavers did the visual field test late on me Tuesday and followed up the following day. It was from the senior optician there that I first heard "I can't confirm it here, but bilateral damage of this type is normally an indicator of stroke". The following day, up to the hospital for the Eye hospital. Then a swift MRI to confirm what everyone, me included, by that stage knew. Finally, late on Friday, Stroke clinic, statins, home.

Here's how the accident unfolded: While treating my fibroids by introducing embolisation material into their supplying blood vessels, an undiagnosed and unproblematic hole in my heart briefly opened. This allowed blood containing clots/embolisation material to cross over into the blood flow supplying my brain, where it impacted, creating a scatter of tiny strokes. A large area is affected, but significantly the blood vessels at the back of the neck (that's generalist), the posterior temporal lobes (language, memory), the right thalamus (vision, memory, sleep, motivation, attention span), Small Corticol (language again - but mechanical this time, tongue and throat) plus small damage to many other areas. Most of this invisible to me, bar the visual field loss which is invisible in a different way (but definitely means I'm banned from driving).

Or to put it in doctorese: Uterine fibroid embolisation with subsequent paradoxical cerebral embolisations and posterior circulation infarctions.

minor gardening disruption

As I'm sure absolutely nobody is, if anyone is following my gardening blog on RSS here (as thepunkgardener) you might have noticed some silence in recent times. This error has been resolved and it is available again at jrd_punk_garden. Contains pieces about gardens, not all my own, gardening, a bit about my allotment, and lots about how we can make urban spaces greener.

going gag strip for hourly comics day 2020

Hourly comics day (1st Feb) on a Saturday! Could I do it? Or would I be too busy? Well, yes, I did it, but then felt so awkward about it (tl;dr got ill; wasn't much fun) I didn't get it out to look at it till today. Never mind though because having done a bit of post-production on it today, I'm feeling OK about posting it. In the event my plan of producing 24 "hilarious" 3-panel gag strips (i'm terrible at gag strips) seemed to fit the hilariously out-of-control nature of the day.

The Day after Brexit in 24 Comic Strips


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Day's end. We meant to go straight to bed but ended up drinking chocolate. It's actually Chilli Willy drinking chocolate.

going to a lecture on narrative and typesetting

So, in Oxford, lectures (public access) can sometimes appear in odd places. They can be part of the outreach programme of a department, part of a study programme by a visiting academic, or, as here, part of the programme of work of a visiting artist, in this case Red Plate Press/David Arme, who was Printer in Residence at the Bodleian. This was the wrap-up talk after while creating work including a text landscape of Oxford (on display at the talk and through the link, along with press and process images). The title, Accumulating Narrative at the Weston Library, suggested a good break after my working day.

Here's the official description:

This lecture will be delivered from an artist research perspective, drawing on David Armes's own practice and that of the artists whose work he will explore. It looks at the links between the 1960s concrete poetry work of Hansjörg Mayer and the graphic typographical works of Wolfgang Weingart, drawing a line through the later 20th century work of Ken Campbell to reach the 21st century work of contemporary artists Vida Sačić, Aaron Cohick, Marianne Dages and Dimitri Runkkari. The lecture will pose questions on subjects such as how meaning can mutate through the process of production, what impact the physicality of materials has and how we can read narratives created through improvisational production techniques.

Here's pretty much what things looked like from where I was sitting, except that you can see some curious colour fringing. I'll come back to the colour fringing later.

Accumulating Narrative - moire fringing

I was late and had to be walked in. I was snuck into the very back of the lecture theatre, right up in the gods. It was dark, but not so dark I couldn't take notes. My notes are not always very edifying, however:

Material makes reading
Modification is generation
A cursory initial series finds repetition becomes generation
Ock/google translate/ - newlyn/newland/neylyn
engulph >> deplete

Thank you, lecture brain. Although I know why I got so excited about Google. It was because I'd used Google, in its early days, as a story-telling device, feeding the results of one search into another to create tangled little stories. I have the results somewhere. I wrote it in longhand, using different ink colours for the different browser windows. No idea why.

This wasn't how Google was being used here. It was being used to blur meaning through translating text back and forth between different languages. Not just the recommended one-two-three, but continuing translation tennis until the meaning blunted, drifted or sprouted in unexpected directions. This was just a side-sprout of the lecture however, which was actually about letterpress artists books, and how they reveal and obscure meaning.

Accumulating Narrative - photography layer

So, coming back to the colour fringing. One of the themes in the lecture was the ways in which typography (and by extension, book design, or even spoken language) could reveal meaning that wasn't there. Partway through this discussion I grabbed my camera to try and take a note of a slide and the autofocus stuttered and the auto-exposure delayed the shutter and stretched the shot and I took the picture above instead, which does show the slide (or possibly another slide, as he kept flickering back and forth between slides (I'll come back to that) jumping forward, backward) but also artefacts that were not there, but which through the act of photographing them become design elements.

After that I started taking notes with my camera, as well as my pen. Trying to capture what wasn't there.

Accumulating Narrative - rainbows in grey

Consider this image, for example. How much is the moiré messing up our vision, how much is the camera extracting slices of projected image that were meant to be viewed together? Arme's presentation was jerky and staccato, with many runs forward and backward. Enactment of nervous anxiety, but also exploitation of persistence of vision, visual overprinting, rhythmic counterpoint to the discussion. Back to my notes:

Slowing down readers by adding layers of noise - Aaron Cohick
Books written and printed simultaneously (an emergent |book|)
De-intervention of books reducing interpretation layers
Rainbows shimmer through my processors and are discarded
Oscillation between seeing and reading

The deliberate slowing down of the reader through placing design elements (in some cases) directly between them and the narrative recurred again and again and seemed to have parallels with my place in the room, where the impatient shift of a head or hand repeatedly occluded my view of the projection. My favourite description of this was the idea of printing with the backs of the type, which was presented as almost a bit of a cliché of typeset book art, the sort of idea that occurs to everyone. However, the understanding that a typesetter can read text from the blank censorious rectangles of type backs, decoding meaning from spacing and size, makes it something rather different; a secret text, created only for those in the know.

Accumulating Narrative - motion

This book is by Ken Campbell (not that Ken Campbell) whose website is a bit of treasure trove of curious books. Other names from my notes include Lucio Paserini, David Maurissen, Marianne Dages and Hansjörg Mayer, along with someone I have recorded as Petra SchlzleWallgast, whose name clearly became blurred within my own narrative. Back to my notes:

Moire moiré moirée
Nothing Can go wrong - one must simply leave it to chance (Riverine Swerves)
Use black & white to create the illusion of colour
Ball bearings mounted at lettering height
Improvised press with magnets holding letters (what if this then what?)

Accumulating Narrative - ceiling moment

The scatter of light in the dim room was being recorded accurately by a professional camera person next to me. I found myself wondering if the noise of my note-taking was interfering with the recording of the lecture, my dark brown felt-tip pen (very visible in low light) creating one of those blurring layers obscuring meaning and narrative. Books establish a way for a moment in time or narrative to travel through time to another place, another reader; but some of the pieces discussed were very narrow windows of travel; fifteen sheets printed before the press auto-destructed, a single copy made (plus process photographs, of course). Back to my notes:

Better your squills
Contentious & unconventional reading (action)
Fighting what the press wants to do
He broke his apprenticeship
Our father's juice flows everywhere
Multiples that are individuals

My attempts to photograph was what wasn't there in the lecture on accumulating narrative was abruptly cut off by a dead battery. Low light is ruinous on processing power. The lecture came to an end and we were allowed down front to observe at close range the beautiful artefacts, the subtle colours of print and the delicate effects of the layering, shading, self-obstructing type.

Accumulating Narrative - the door in the image Accumulating Narrative - patch abstract
Accumulating Narrative - stairs downward Accumulating Narrative - the world opens
olafur eliasson

a man walking his tiny digger down Oxford Street

November is dark space. We swim through layers of brown leaves, grey skies, falling rain, year after year of bad things happening at this time of year. But in the winter, we walk after dark, we walk in the wet, we walk in the murk and the twilight and the fog and the failing light. I was up at the allotment this week, pretending it was light for long enough to put in the winter peas, the winter beans, while allotment cat jingled through the tumbledown weeds in my wild borders, her white fur luminous in the dirty dusk.

But here and there comes a moment of unalloyed absolute joy:

the workmen and the digger

close up of the happy couple

I love tiny diggers and I cannot lie....

a long walk down a hot road in July

What was July last year that I couldn't access my memories of it for almost a year? For I am writing this in May 2020, from the depths of the Coronavirus Crisis, trying to remember my overheated and hurting 2019 self, iller than she realised and unhappier too. The periods had started to go quite wrong by this stage, and the recent arrival of Mulberry cat had started to catch a tiny tarnish of him being the wrong cat. This phenomenon, well known to people who have lost any beloved creature, is the exquisite sense of feeling both that you love the existing animal very much and that they are wonderful and perfect in every way; but at the same time they are not the one that you have lost and will never see/hold/hear/feel/smell again. There's an explosion of anger, contained by its own pointlessness, little smoke trails of guilt and failed stoicism. And a bewildered little animal wondering why you are holding it tight and crying.

But anyway, this is what I am here for:

July: She work very hard to Friday night Big Screen. You've got a few watch-this videos in the mix. Track 2, Chris dancing on Parisian rooftops, in a style simultaneously boy band and not. Tracks 14, 15 and 16 -- Chemical Brothers sending a dog to the moon, Destiny's child Jumpin' and Cazwell's bonkers Beyonce fantasies. And you'll want to drop back in for final track 20, where a Girli fan has stitched together a super-lovely video for Friday Night Big Screen -- I'll be your Buttercup, you can be my Westley....

Here's the full tracklist. The two items off a Spanish compilation of obscure electro are fruit of emusic's long tail, which I occasionally comb for lost tracks. In this case, it's a version of A Horse with No Name by a band from the early 90s so obscure I can't even remember its name, lost in a great multi-device music library failure. I go for a look through covers periodically, hoping to rediscover it. I didn't, but I found the oeuvre of Mun records and they had an electro cover which was quite good, actually, and so was the rest of the comp, especially Neon Walrus!


build it up, tear it down...... the

Paging cleanskies, motodraconis, timscience, t__m__i, bibliogirl and emperor, and anyone else who might be participating, I'm finally publishing my #tenovertwelve compilation this morning. I was reluctant to publish it online because although it does match the theme ("build it up, tear it down") and in fact that was the theme I suggested, the subject matter is one of those that brings things knocking, not just from the anonytrolls hand helpfulstrangers but also from reasonable I've-never-experienced-that friends and surely-that-never-happens acquaintances.


Thanks one and all! Lots of the comp is from comps people gave me, so thanks for the help too. You should be able click through to read the sleeve notes in full, but in case anything is unclear, I copy it again here:

This compilation, on the theme of build it up, tear it down, was inspired by the Ryan Adams approach to mentoring female talent. For those who this story passed by, musician Ryan Adams rhapsodised in an interview about how much he loved mentoring female musicians. In the wake of this, various women described how the experience had felt from their end; pursued sexually, mocked, belittled, work dangled and then withdrawn, cut off from other contacts, held back, thwarted, blocked, some exasperated into exiting the music industry altogether. Adams hit back, calling them embittered and mediocre, low in talent and high in resentment, frivolous cultural lightweights, irrelevant. Baby’s on Fire, track 2 on this compilation, takes a visceral run through this minefield, rolling in racism as well as sexism on the way. Other tracks explore insecurity, double standards, sexual pressure, toxic relationships and male privilege. Some of the lyrics are deeply queasy. But with those reservations I love every track, even as I feel the ambiguity - he’s helping. Yes. No. Not.

As ever, if anyone wants to discuss my interpretation of Brian Eno, wonder why on earth The Emperor of Oranges is on my playlist (Steve Whitaker gave me a copy of a mix CD he made for someone else, and it was on that), get a link, share another appropriate song or say why "numberwang" would have been a much better theme - head to the comments!

the space between the buildings - compilation May 2019

It's an odd thing to think about, what went wrong with compilation-swapping last year. I got ill, certainly, and the creeping sort of ill that leaves you suddenly iller than you thought, unexpectedly. My ipod, which I had been using to pre-sketch the compilations, stopped holding charge, and that didn't help. My current set of headphones are OK, but have an annoying plastic cover which gets sweaty in hot water, and then there's listening up at the allotment and in the gym now, and neither of those have a good noting system attached. But I also felt like I was stressing people out, or giving them a job they didn't want, or hassling them unreasonably, or bothering them. So I quit trying to do this after this month. It also seemed awkward to carry on with my comps after I'd invited everyone to join in I was sick of seeing (and hearing) all the little stressed-out apologies for not having done one themselves, so clearly even seeing the comps was a problem, so I stopped posting them. I didn't stop making them, because it's a semi-automatic process thrown off behind me as I listen to music, but I did stop doing the drawings, because, yes, I'm not about feeling more awkward for no useful reason. So I had to wait until that slightly moody feeling was gone, which is why I am actually posting this in April 2020. Finally got around to drawing that picture, too:


This is a picture of me doing urban yoga. This is a yoga style where instead of imagining yourself to be frogs or dogs or cows or trees or whatever, you imagine yourself as part of the urban environment. Many of the poses are very similar; Towerblock, for example, is a lot like Mountain (though you should have squarer shoulders). The Neon, Sodium and Superbright LED salutations are pretty much what you would expect. The idea of finding a space between the buildings (to live, to enjoy, to thrive) is core to anyone living in a city; concrete grounding, and pigeon of course is still so relevant. Here's a little Youtube playlist of the tracks. There are a couple of substitutions - Art Brut's Let's get Drunk about it was not available, so here is Hospital instead and you have a different Mark Pigden track, sorry. The recording quality on The Overload's track is so bad, it's barely worth including. Biltone has been replaced by Super Numeri. Nevertheless, it's a reasonable stab at May last year, a golden time when we could go outside, go to gigs, throw parties.

Here's the full track-list, for the curious:

Na Vecne Casy!

It's time for the next mix CD for tenovertwelve

But what will the title be? After the massive success of last month*'s theme, Garden Pests, I've decided to go for the traditional poll solution. Sadly, Facebook appears to have taken this moment to remove "Post a poll" from my available post options. I'm doubtless in an experimental group of some sort where they're reducing choice to see if it results in boiling anger a smoother user experience. However, I want to this now rather than wait for when FB decide to switch me from the B list to the A list. So - welcome to tenovertwelve May (I know there's only a few days left in May, but it is still May!)

You can vote for more than one, and the most popular shall win. Not sure you have time to take part (answer: you probably don't)? You can still vote. Not taking part? You can still vote. Not sure you want to take part? You can still vote. Not even sure what's going on here? You can still vote.

Poll #2093072 Tenovertwelve

What should be the title of the next tenovertwelve mix CD?

Go Dog Planet!
When the madness has died down
Tiny Audibles of Love
Spring is in the air (bee emoji) (flower emoji)
Running, Jumping, Standing Still
All Covered up
Little moths
Build it up, tear it down
More panic than anything else

*May have happened more than a month ago.