I spoke to Ian about his new installation. The first thing he talked about was a quote from Diane di Prima's poem 'Rant':
THE ONLY WAR THAT MATTERS IS THE WAR AGAINST
ALL OTHER WARS ARE SUBSUMED IN IT
Notes on because because because because because:
A chain of events, generated live, playing forever without repetition. A ball falls into a system of obstacles, making them visible as it makes contact. The code is within the system, the system is within a room. The room itself is not hidden, made into a black box. We see the projected installation always in relation to the physical world, the walls and ceiling, the reflection in the window. It lights up the architecture of the space, through its off-centre angles, its distortions and edges. A connection is made between the two worlds. The work makes me reflect on connections, on chance, on cause and effect. Is what we call 'chance' the code within our world?
I woke up this morning in the remnants of a dream. I was left with only the fading recollection of a sentence in my mind: "Fourteen haikus on being alive". It occurred to me that this peculiar idea might be some divine solution to writing about Ian's work. But as I awoke I quickly grew doubtful. I am not a poet, nor am I prone to writing haikus, and I imagined that I might run a considerable risk of ridicule were I to try and compose fourteen haikus to accompany Ian's exhibition. And as sleep receded the relevance of haikus about being alive to Ian's work seemed less clear.
Still in bed I browsed Instagram and saw a number of references to Japanese poetry on random, unconnected accounts. I took these as signals. Sometimes my unconscious knows more than I do.
I located the only book of haikus that I own, The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches by Matsuo Bashō. Like many of the books I own, I have not read it yet. I sat down and took fourteen unconnected lines at random from the book and wrote them down:
Wait a while
A distinctive character of its own
The beauty of the entire scene can only be compared to
October when the sky was terribly uncertain.
Being weak in wisdom and unfavoured by divine gift,
I could not refrain from weeping, when I saw the remains of the
Wild cries of a cat.
I gathered from their whispers that
They had found a wealth of symbolic meaning.
The autumn deepens,
Hardly an inch long.
I would like to say that here is the most beautiful spot,
And in its deep air I somehow wondered.
Inviting a tempest.
This 'poem' born of my casual experiment in bibliomancy speaks to me in mysterious and unexpected ways about Ian's work, but not just his work - about my own experience of his work, this week, in October 2020, in London, in connection with everything else. Any attempt I make to unpack this poem does nothing more than reduce it, so I leave it here in the spirit of open imagining.
Browsing Instagram I see several posts quoting Diane di Prima's poetry. I automatically assume Mark Zuckerberg has somehow tapped into my iPhone recording of Ian and me talking on Tuesday, perhaps correlating that with a subsequent Google search I made. But soon I realise that Diane di Prima has passed away, just yesterday. It is still October and the sky is still terribly uncertain, and the war against the imagination continues.
— Edwin Rostron, October 2020
Edwin Rostron is an artist, writer and curator based in London. He runs Edge of Frame, a blog and ongoing programme of screening events focusing on experimental animation, and teaches on the Animation Programme at the Royal College of Art