Paul Steffan Jones III

 

 

Pre-Emptive Arrest

When I at last find you,

I will solve you,

I will find you a solution to crimes

not yet committed.

 

In the street light I watch you twitch

as I extract an admission of your guilt,

your resisted love for me.

 

The killers have holed up in Luddite foothills,

holding breathless fawns hostage.

They have booze, guns, money, girls,

and no hurry to give in to captivity.

 

I am on the case,

always on the case,

closing in on an invisible centre

where hearts beat like drums

and blood has gone wrong.

 

GDP

I see tinned value tomatoes

and back issues of the Big Issue

at the altar crossroads of hope

and limitless opportunity

 

I’m feeling cauterant

as our earned wealth

is dissipated

by Government policy

 

modern day slavery

up to the minute piracy

 

as the last wolf abdicates at

the funeral for funerals

 

and words such as “only”

“free” and “just”

are forbidden to be featured

in advertising

 

especially in a land

that’s now fit for billionaires

and their medieval version of justice

 

 

The Resignations

Why I hate authority figures

it’s a no-brainer

 

I bet they were pleased with themselves

when they worked out how to fire

a machine-gun successfully

through a propeller

 

tunnel beneath your enemy

in every era

and watch it on Endless TV

so where’s George Orwell

when we need him?

 

start digging your own tunnel

with nothing but your singularity

always deterrent

dream on

 

 

World War Nought

The fighting shit

how I dreamt up weaponry

how I participated in

the industrial and employment effort

to create a path from the jobcentre

straight to the regiments

and to mass produce arms

selling them to those who

prefer a military solution

to problems

the shit fighting

 

the fighting shit

I remember Scud missiles on TV

I think we were meant to laugh at them

they were not funny

the shit fighting

 

the fighting shit

there’s a black and white photograph

of my father in the mid 1950s

manning a Bofors Gun

aboard his ship

a martial cook blessed by padres

the shit fighting

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Glenn Ibbitson: Landscapes of Betrayal

 

Landscape of Betrayal

Landscape of Betrayal #2 graphite on 300gms watercolour paper A1 [crop]

My idea in this series was to create images using my own font based on the shapes of the negative spaces to create characters by inference. I find words and lettering in visual artworks somewhat dissatisfying. The written word in any font has accrued just too much linguistic meaning to be appreciated in purely aesthetic terms. I decided to reintroduce the visual by making the familiar unfamiliar through emphasis on shape and space. The importance of ‘negative space’ -the shapes of the gaps or voids created between two or more corporeal elements, is one of the fundamental [and more interesting] principles of abstract art and design. Emphasis on these empty spaces would produce latent characters; hidden in clear sight, a notion close to any illusionist’s heart.

I wanted to use ‘American typewriter bold’ as my foundation. Why choose this? I am of an age when my educational theses, my mailed letters and later the scripts and running schedules I worked to professionally, were all typed; tapped into life using either manual or electronic mechanical typewriters. It can never fail to bring to my mind George Orwell, clattering away on his Remington Home Portable.

‘American Typewriter’ is, to me, the most beautiful and evocative of fonts; even though in its current digital reincarnation, it is no longer a slab serif.*

Alphabet Construction:

Enclosed voids or closed counters provide specific identities for the following lower case letters:        a e g o

Open counters could indicate the presence of:     c h k m n s u v w y    Some of these gave a particularly striking arrowhead, pointing in different directions.

However, to separate b d p and q from each other, I would need to provide further information; some element of ‘positivity’. Terminals, or finials [font nomenclature varies depending on source] are a visually satisfying characteristic of American Typewriter, those comma-like flourishes at the ends of some letters.  These I decided to incorporate. to differentiate ascenders and descenders. They also gave me r with its finial, referred to endearingly as an ‘ear’. If terminals could be applied, I could combine a dot to identify j and this could also give me i and a full stop.  An exclamation mark? Add a positive ‘cap’, fading out from the top line. This could also identify l.

If I introduced such a fade-out I could see a way of identifying t and x. Fading effects pose a difficulty on a font. They run counter to the central concept of legibility through contrast and solidity. But this is a ‘code’ designed by an artist, a painter whose trade specialises in blending, grazing across and nuancing surfaces. My application would be through means transmitted by pen, pencil and brush. My motivation is to add another element to my visual armoury. Consequently, I decided to use the negative space around the point where the t crossbar cuts across the stem. This created four right-angled triangles pointing to a central point on the mean line and fading out to the edges of a square.

x is created in the same way, but  rotated 45 degrees on the character line.

z could be created in the same way [though not having yet used this letter, I am tempted to use a simple solid diagonal stroke simply on the grounds that it is so visually powerful].

The first published example of the ‘Recondite Font’ was posted online on December 9th 2017. A birthday card.

happy-birthday

I employed this system to transpose Winston Smith’s climactic dialogue as he cracks under the pressure of his psychological torture in Room 101. It is surely one of the greatest betrayals of love in literature.

Landscape of Betrayal 2

Landscape of Betrayal #1 graphite on 300gms watercolour paper A1 [crop]

The landscape is an anamorphic composition; a second element hidden in clear sight. This is a technique which I used several times on film and television setwork. A mobile camera would rove across a seemingly abstract design until reaching a point where an image would materialise. Perhaps the most famous example in art is the extruded shape at the feet of Holbein’s “Ambassadors”, which transforms into a skull. It is there as a ‘memento mori’ lying hidden unobtrusively until one moves close in to the lower left edge of the canvas and one’s own mortality is revealed.

holbein-ambassadors-basic

Holbein_Skull

Here, the scape transforms into a head, screaming his confession and betrayal under torture; the self as Winston Smith…

Landscape of Betrayal 3

Landscape of Betrayal #3 graphite on 300gms watercolour paper A1 [crop]

*a slab serif (also called mechanistic, square serif, antique or Egyptian) typeface is a type of serif typeface characterized by thick, block-like serifs                                               Typewriter slab serif typefaces are named for their use in strike-on typewriting. These faces originated in monospaced format with fixed-width, meaning that every character takes up exactly the same amount of horizontal space. This feature is necessitated by the nature of the typewriter apparatus.

Liam Ainscough

“I believe it is the role of the artist in our contemporary culture to engage with the audience in ways that are compelling and relevant to them.   My  work  explores  the  question of the continued  viability  of  painting  and  sculpture  in  a  gallery setting.

My  paintings  and  sculptures are  created as  a  means  of investigating  surveillance  and  social control.  I have experimented with the manipulation of imagery, scale and viewer participation, gauging whether this alters perceptions of the subject matter and the potential demise of the crafted art object in an age of information technology.”

Liam Ainscough: February 2018

 

 

 

In the modern age surveillance certainly has a technological dimension but there is always a human or an organization involved which shapes the direction and form of surveillance” (Prof Kirstie Ball, 2015, pers. comm.).

It was George Orwell’s book “1984” (published in 1949) which highlighted the dangers of total surveillance and control and introduced the world to the concept of “Big Brother”, but that was not the only intention of the author.  The novel was a commentary on Britain in 1949, four years after the end of the Second World War.  It explores the potential outcome of what might happen with a controlling state rebuilding itself whilst under further military threat from the Soviet Union.

I believe that it is the artist’s role to question and critique topics, to be commentators on the modern age, using a retrospective view to envisage possible futures, whether they be ominous or hopeful.  Orwell was the forerunner in such commentary.  Seventy years on, observations by Prof William Bogard and Prof David Lyon that the State has been acquiring analogue and/or digital data of all aspects of our lives, impacting on our liberty and privacy with an ever decreasing transparency of what happens to this data, could be said to be realisation of Orwell’s fictional prophecy on hypercontrol.

The use of CCTV has, in recent years, been introduced under the guise of our security but it comes at a price, as the UK is the most watched state in the world.  According to the British Security Industry Authority (BSIA) the July 2013 data, Britain has a CCTV camera for every 11 people.  In addition, a staggering 5.9 million closed-circuit television cameras have been installed in the country since the 1980s.   After 9/11 and the emerging threat to westerners from extremist groups, there has been a conscious effort by the Controlling States to have surveillance less in the shadows and more on display; as a presence of safety.  As a contradiction to this visibility, there has also been the rapid development and implementation of ways to exterminate from afar, without direct accountability via drones.

“Rare is the technology that can change the face of warfare……  War was possible exactly because it seemed so free of risk. The bar for war had been lowered, the remote-controlled age had begun, and the killer drones became an object of fascination inside the CIA” (Mazzetti, 2012, p. 100).

As with the advent of any new technology, it takes time for it to become public knowledge especially as they are used in a covert manner with little or no accountability. Through my research and practice I hope to bring this concept to the public domain.

Excerpts taken from the extended essay “Art of Surveillance” by Liam Ainscough.

Ball, K. (2015) Discussion on Surveillance [Conversation]. Personal communication. (23 December 2015).

Bogard, W. (1996) The Simulation of Surveillance, Hypercontrol in the Telematic societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dougan, M. (2013) 5.9. million CCTV cameras in the UK.  [Online video]. Available from <http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/23279409&gt; [Accessed 16 November 2015].

Lyon, R. (2007) Surveillance Studies: An Overview. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Mazzetti, M. (2012) The Way of the Knife. London: Scribe.