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Blog : notes on 'note taking'

Consideration of the archival process has made me aware that the activity of 'note taking', which I first developed during a 'public art consultation' in West Bromwich in 1999, could mirror the stratergy I use to work with the Lambeth Archive.

During the public art consultation in West Bromwich I sat through lectures by the architects (Will Alsop) involved in the scheme, town planners, developers and 'public artists'. Early on in the proceedings I realised that my colleagues in the audience were taking notes. Then I began to wonder what these notes could possibly be about - for those of us employed in the role of artists there seemed very little that might be considered note worthy - I decided to take notes myself - these notes however would pick up on the random buzz words, the sentence fillers, the language which described nothing - quickly my page began to fill and soon people were turning to look at me perhaps wondering what could possibly be so interesting.

During the ubiquitous sandwiches laid on lunch – I went with one of the organisers of the conference to the tallest building in West Bromwich with my notes and a video camera – standing in front of the camera I read the notes verbatim beginning with the first line I'd written down 'Agenda 21, a list of numbers'. At the end of the day as conclusions were being drawn I announced that 'none of these words are my own' and played the video to the delegates.

Two years later in 2001 I was invited to an event in Newcastle called Team Build, a weekend delegation of artists, practitioners, and curators interested in 'Socially Engaged Practice' organised by Anna Best. This time I introduced myself not as an artist but simply as someone taking notes. I employed the same strategy as I had two years previously playing the finished video to the delegates.

From 2003 I began to expand the note taking process to encompass a wider array of sources; a tour Guide in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Victor Burgin lecture at the Tate; Carey Young at the ICA ; a lyric from the band Handsome Boy Modelling School – these notes were edited down and put together and then used as the basis of a performance with Dave Carbone. They were shouted repeatedly towards the fast rock drumming of Dave Carbone. We continued until my voice began to go and Daves arms became too tired to drum.

Transcription for reminisce this (drum lecture) 2003

Reminisce this•
The polychromatic city of happiness•
He spent almost three years painting in blue•
They are very poor•
Amongst the tenth most expensive painting in the world•
Because he didn't paint very many•
This one is called the mad man•
And suddenly he just started to paint in pink•
He is a radical person•
He wants to make something different•
It's not necessary to paint a person with two arms•
Its just lines, you cannot really understand•
The one on the left is a man with a hat•
First radical then a little bit softer•
depending upon the market•

the first slide was taken by me•
I spend half my time in London and half my time in Geneva•
the kind of merged life that I have•
executive lounging suites•
coffees cost 4 pounds each•
these lads have very recently•
how does it remain protest•
Commodify ethics•
the word revolution comes up a lot•
thinking about imagination•
some help with the focus•
this is a study for the piece downstairs•
notion of the void•
chunk of bliss•
I find it slightly alarming•
trying to disintegrate the gallery onto some new level•
I think I'll end on that note•

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