sean mcalister
@jason bruges studio @project context @matzine @musarc @meta architecture

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departure lounge
1 January 2013

as of september 2012 i have ported/copied/re-established my blogging activities to

miss someone
11 May 2012

when you miss someone, there produces a slight gap in time, where one should have a heartbeat or a pause between beats, and when you miss someone there are non-moments when neither exist!

no one knows where these beats and non-beats go. some speculate that they seek the person their conductor misses, in order to give them an extra piece of life to help them

of course, if two people miss each other exactly the same, beats and non-beats, misser and missie sort of cancel each other out and then the whole phenomena feels less anxious and more comfortable - when a sense of balance in the heart area exists!

the end

a scribbled drawing of a ship looming above a wave-riding maelstrom


corpus sonus, by musarc
29 April 2012

musarc's loaded dictaphones: key apparatus for corpus sonus. photography by chryssa panoussiadou 

i sang bass in this recording of musarc's performance, in margate's turner contemporary, 20th april 2012. recorded by joseph kohlmier.

musarc choir encompassing our conductor, cathy heller jones, while we practise and perform. turner contemporary gallery, margate. photography by chryssa panoussiadou

the first part is musarc singing in a large gallery space, standing in a circle, facing inward with audience scattered around us, their backs the the wall. our conductor, cathy heller jones, instructs us to synchronise record on the dictaphones.

a dictaphone silhouette traces musarc's first position for the performance. photography by chryssa panoussiadou

the second part of the performance begins when we stop singing and stop recording, rewind, press play, set the dictaphone at our feet and disperse into the audience. we assumed pseudo-formal poses while we, along with the audience, listened back to the tapes. the out-of-sync tapes satanic or at least darkly-heavenly tone. the performance ends when the last tape reaches the end.

the score for corpus sonus, by joseph kohlmier

corpus sonus
 is a revisited version of william byrd's ave verum corpus. the original concept of this revisit was introduced by the talented sam belinfonte with contributions from Original idea by Sam Belinfante with contributions from Toby O’Connor, Cathy Heller Jones, Maria Smith, John Bingham-Hall, Esther Waterfield, Joseph Kohlmaier, Hannes Voss, Mela Boev and the ensemble. musarc performed this new commission at margate's turner contemporary gallery, on occasion of the gallery's first birthday.

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the listening project trailer
29 March 2012

working as a freelance designer with jason bruges studio, i was one of two people designing the names and lighting for bbc radio 4. more info to follow!

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sight mind dream test
19 February 2012

above : "The high speed flash head was tested for 700 shots, one every 5 seconds, to detect irregularities in Flash power and light characteristics" from vimeo page description of the fascinating digital mediators factum arte

"the idea that i might already have gone blind struck me with sudden terror.... i might only be using people's words and voices to reconstruct the lost world of reality, just as our mind, at the moment we fall asleep, forms images resembling those of real life from the phosphenes that dance before our closing eyes. i stood on the threshold of reality and imagination, and i began to doubt which was which"

Figyes Karinthy [2008] Journey Round My skull. New york: nyrb classics
as quoted in oliver sacks [2010] The Mind's Eye, Picador, London, p180

"How often, asleep at night, am I convinced of just such familiar events — that I am here in my dressing gown, sitting by the fire —when in fact I am lying undressed in bed! Yet at the moment my eyes are certainly wide awake when I look at this piece of paper; I shake my head and it is not asleep; as I stretch out and feel my hand I do so deliberately, and I know what I am doing. All this would not happen with such distinctness to someone asleep. Indeed! As if I did not remember other occasions when I have been tricked by exactly similar thoughts while asleep! As I think about this more carefully, I see plainly that there are never any sure signs by means of which being awake can be distinguished from being asleep. The result is that I begin to feel dazed, and this very feeling only reinforces the notion that I may be asleep."

Rene Descartes [1641] Meditations on First Philosophy 
as quoted in christopher grau's short essay dream skepticism

left : "The CLAUSS RODEON HD head in action with a Canon 7D and 600mm f:4 lens"
right : "Simulation of panoramic heads position and movement during recording: camera head and follow-on high speed flash head" from vimeo page descriptions of factum arte

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hoarding hyperdetritus,
datamining dirty digital debris,
my sticky sockets soaked in sumptuous stimuli. indeed!

the peripheral versus the decentralised,
inspect inspiring ignored ignitions with
one extract, one reference and, one word;

anomalous visuals

tenderpixel + squidsoup

the matrix

pie architecture

Isidro Blasco

naja - deOstos


lee mawdsley

derek sivers + kurt vonnegut

laura oldfield ford

Erik Desmazières

olly moss


virginia woolf

francois morellet

Darren Solomon

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to stir the viewers' fantasy
15 January 2012

title is a comment about to piranesi's etchings, found in
ficacci, l, [2001]. giovanni battista piranesi: selected etchings, taschen, italy p.12

image is a would-be 'pixelated' noise screen my computer gave me today when i tried to play a video file, which required a codec i didn't have.

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escape into purity
10 January 2012

escape into purity, by wolfgang bauer
as quoted in jan turnovsky's 'the poetics of a wall projection,' from wolfgang bauer's 1981 book 'das herz'

i am pursued by a horde of analogies
i want to escape
their sweet utility
on which i have gorged myself
for too long.

i know that the tree is a tree-of-life
that life is a dream
that the soul is as deep as the sea
and death a constant companion

i that the heavens are a tapestry
that the buzzing of bees a song
and that there are two sides to every coin
that woman is a goddess
reality an illusion...
the city a sea of houses
the night a mantle
the sun a ball
the moon a sickle.
out with you,
you cooing metaphors
i want to make poetry:

under the blue sky
in a green meadow
sits a beautiful woman
in her hand is a bunch of daisies
her dress is blue.
in a dark room a man
sits and eats his soup
he quickly empties the bowl
wipes his mouth and
goes down into the cellar.

the pretty woman comes home
the man is already sitting with his wine
she makes him a bite to eat
oh, how fine.

how beautiful and simple is the world
how joyous a life
without metaphors.

the art of fiction
excerpts from an interview with jorges luis borges, as quoted in 'the paris review's transcribed-interview of as 1966. the interviewer is ronald christ

What made you decide to study Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse?

I began by being very interested in metaphor. And then in some book or other—I think in Andrew Lang's History of English Literature—I read about the kennings, metaphors of Old English, and in a far more complex fashion of Old Norse poetry. Then I went in for the study of Old English. Nowadays, or rather today, after several years of study, I'm no longer interested in the metaphors because I think that they were rather a weariness of the flesh to the poets themselves—at least to the Old English poets.

To repeat them, you mean?

To repeat them, to use them over and over again and to keep on speaking of thehranrad[FLAT THINGIE OVER 2ND A], waelrad[FLAT THINGIE OVER 2ND A], or “road of the whale” instead of “the sea”—that kind of thing—and “the seawood,” “the stallion of the sea” instead of “the ship.” So I decided finally to stop using them, the metaphors, that is; but in the meanwhile I had begun studying the language, and I fell in love with it


I remember a joke of Oscar Wilde's: a friend of his had a tie with yellow, red, and so on in it, and Wilde said, Oh, my dear fellow, only a deaf man could wear a tie like that!

He might have been talking about the yellow necktie I have on now.

Ah, well. I remember telling that story to a lady who missed the whole point. She said, “Of course, it must be because being deaf he couldn't hear what people were saying about his necktie.” That might have amused Oscar Wilde, no?

I'd like to have heard his reply to that.

Yes, of course. I never heard of such a case of something being so perfectly misunderstood. The perfection of stupidity. Of course, Wilde's remark is a witty translation of an idea; in Spanish as well as English you speak of a “loud color.” A “loud color” is a common phrase, but then the things that are said in literature are always the same. What is important is the way they are said. Looking for metaphors, for example: When I was a young man I was always hunting for new metaphors. Then I found out that really good metaphors are always the same. I mean you compare time to a road, death to sleeping, life to dreaming, and those are the great metaphors in literature because they correspond to something essential. If you invent metaphors, they are apt to be surprising during the fraction of a second, but they strike no deep emotion whatever. If you think of life as a dream, that is a thought, a thought that is real, or at least that most men are bound to have, no? “What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed.” I think that's better than the idea of shocking people, than finding connections between things that have never been connected before, because there is no real connection, so the whole thing is a kind of juggling.

Juggling just words?

Just words. I wouldn't even call them real metaphors because in a real metaphor both terms are really linked together. I have found one exception—a strange, new, and beautiful metaphor from Old Norse poetry. In Old English poetry a battle is spoken of as the “play of swords” or the “encounter of spears.” But in Old Norse, and I think, also, in Celtic poetry, a battle is called a “web of men.” That is strange, no? Because in a web you have a pattern, a weaving of men, un tejido. I suppose in medieval battle you got a kind of web because of having the swords and spears on opposite sides and so on. So there you have, I think, a new metaphor; and, of course, with a nightmare touch about it, no? The idea of a web made of living men, of living things, and still being a web, still being a pattern. It is a strange idea, no?

It corresponds, in a general way, to the metaphor George Eliot uses in Middlemarch, that society is a web and one cannot disentangle a strand without touching all the others.

[With great interest] Who said that?

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the fleet-ditch
21 November 2011

the stretch of fleet river, between holborn and the thames, was culverted in 1737. 
pope is so sharply funny, satirically damning of the fleet, a pleasure to read this extract.
how concealed from daily notice the fleet river is these days,
and how apt an intersection, the holborn viaduct.
an intuition; there is something buried here worth digging for.


This labour past, by Bridewell all descend,
(As morning prayer, and flagellation end)
To where Fleet-ditch with disemboguing streams
Rolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames,
The king of dikes! than whom no sluice of mud
With deeper sable blots the silver flood.
'Here strip, my children! here at once leap in,
Here prove who best can dash through thick and thin,
And who the most in love of dirt excel,
Or dark dexterity of groping well.
Who flings most filth, and wide pollutes around
The stream, be his the weekly journals bound;
A pig of lead to him who dives the best;
A peck of coals a-piece shall glad the rest.


photograph - a brickwork collage of the south-west viaduct gatehouse, 2011
image - a drawing of the fleet river by 'mr crosby,' 1844
text - an extract from the dunciad, alexander pope, 1728

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my plus one
14 November 2011

my date and i, we arrive at the wedding, 12th november 2010

my sister married a year ago, this month.
at the wedding reception i pretended
that my camera was a girlfriend or date.
the evident yearning for social,
and otherwise interpersonal intimacy,
through contrived anthropomorphising,
spins perversion, amusement and analogous-thought
into warm and shocking revolutions

performance artist, and good friend, kate janes explores similar self-aware, self-conscious things in her work.

photograph from kate's website

This work is called ‘Hostess’ and consists of a series of photographs of papier mache heads on sticks which are guests at a fantasy dinner party, where I am the perfect hostess, confident, witty and the centre of attention. This is in somewhat stark contrast to reality and these images depict an afternoon where I called the shots.

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holborn viaduct - gatehouse
3 November 2011

architect drawing of former viaduct building facade, facing farringdon road, 1870s

section of mid-19th century viaduct gatehouse building, later demolished mid-20th century, image from the london metropolitan archives

the ordnance survey 1st edition 25" map of 1873, apparently not to scale

stephen and i embarked on an archaeological voyage last night, with the holborn viaduct gatehouses centred in our spyglass. these images and captions are courtesy of the city of london planning department. i'm really excited by the prospect of a project here, so let this post act as a lite introduction to something much greater

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editors’ choice : raga man
29 October 2011

image taken from page 3 of matzine#09

Raga Man, a submission by Robert Fieldhouse to the Copy Paste issue; I really like it. Playful, cunning and quick, this poem delights, beguiles and tickles. These stunted stanzas follow formats seemingly simple, allowing the conscience an unencumbered phonetic, rhythmic pleasure. It reminds me of the Oulipo experiments:

“the seeking of new structures and patterns that may be used by writers in any way they enjoy.” Constraints are used to trigger new ideas and the Oulipo group is an ongoing source of novel techniques, often based on mathematical ideas — such as counting letters and syllables, substitution algorithms, permutations, palindromes, and even chess problems.”

…from Joanna Growney’s blog poetrywithmathematics, also reference in a post from my blog, Dec 2010. As an editor of Matzine it warmed my heart how this submitted piece merrily shook hands with Stephen Mackie’s chosen theme Copy Paste. Reading, I feel like like the words, the words’ meanings and the newly formed verses were each in some way copied and pasted. How abstract a thing to communicate.  The references, the less-obvious poetic formulas, the subject-weaves; I am content to carousel these lines with simple survey, though perhaps there are deeper dimensions to be enjoyed upon more rigorous readings of Robert’s Raga Man

as published on the matzine website

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matzine goes guerilla

last night stephen mackie & i, armed with needles & thread strung past issues of matzine on a wall at zap architectures after party, in the basement of hoxton Gallery. the party was to celebrate the opening of the pavilion of protest earlier that day, exhibited in riba's prestigious florence hall. a bit of more guerilla-exposure tactics athankyouverymuch.

the above thing is an interactive panorama viewer, called photosynth. it's a bit clumsy in some ways, not sure i like it

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josef, jorge & the bezold effect
22 October 2011

jorge louis borges speaks in 1966 while josef albers speaks in 1968. but here they speak to each other today, based on a loosely arranged script machine.

the bezold effect is an optical phenomena which albers used in his teaching. it describes how one colour appears to change lightness or hue intensity when adjacent to a contrasting colour.

page spread as they are presented in matzine#10

i have found no evidence that these great minds ever met in person. like some sort of
necro-networking nitwit i’m strangely star-struck by bringing these voices into close proximity. i mean, these dead-guys really seem to be talking, arguing and believably ignoring each other! imagine the bizarre weaves of conversation that other script machines could conjure

the script machine

re-aligned columns, a fictional encounter between josef & jorge

* this post is a replicate of my submission to matzine#10

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"...the sovereign of clocks and shadows..."
22 August 2011

i return to you years later,
grey & lovely city
unchanging city
buried in the waters of the past

i'm not longer the student
of philosohpy, poetry & curiosity,
i'm not the young poet who wrote
too many lines
and wandered in the maze
of narrow streets and illusions
the sovereign of clocks and shadows
has touched my brow with his hand

but still i'm guided by a star
by brightness, and only brightness
can undo or save me

star by adam zagajewski. i read this on a wall in london's underground tube network, on my way home from leeds & birmingham [as part of project context]. i have a fit of goosebumps on every pass. i'd suggest scanning this interview with zagajewski, it takes my mind to far away places and spreads my eyes apart.

i've been blogging less than i use to because my time is spent elsewhere, in those hidden places for where only few keys exist; sketch books, conversations... but these two photographs above are my studies following josef albers' 'interaction of colour'. the top colour study is from chapter 9 entitled 'colour mixture in paper - illusion of transparence' and the bottom photograph is from chapter 14 'colour intervals and transformation'

the virtuous hunt 
for ways of seeing 
spears bounty abound;
a game no trap ensnares

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