Turpentine (sometimes known colloquially as turps), is a volatile liquid distilled from resin obtained from live conifers (especially pine trees). It is used as a solvent, as paint thinner and also medicinally (for cuts, abrasions, and the treatment of lice). It’s a very useful substance. As with everything, there are downsides: it can irritate the skin and eyes, damage the lungs and central nervous system when inhaled, and cause renal failure when ingested. It’s also combustible. Along with the promise of sex and drugs, it is also the reason I went to art college – I love the smell. It reminds me of the wonder I experienced on realising it was possible to spend the whole day making art.
Map of part of my journey to art college
In The Heat of the Morning is the opening track on David Bowie’s album, Bowie At The Beeb (2000). This version wipes the floor with all others – less mannered, freer, more yearning. Unfortunately, I can’t find an online version of it. But I did find a rather fine cover version by Last Shadow Puppets. You can listen to it here.
It is a basic art-world orthodoxy, echoed just about everywhere, that contemporary art is ungraspably complex and diverse. The variety of contemporary forms, techniques, and subject-matter in art is indeed bewildering. The conventional media of painting, sculpture and print-making have been overlaid with installation and ‘new media’, which can encompass anything from online art to computer-controlled sound environments. Artists cultivate for themselves images that range from traditional guru or shaman roles to beady-eyed, tongue-in-cheek chancer and careerist, and personas that include starstruck adolescent girls and engorged, axe-wielding psychotics. Art’s concerns are also various, touching upon feminism, identity politics, mass culture, shopping and trauma. Perhaps art’s fundamental condition is to be unknowable (that concepts embodied in visual form can encompass contradiction), or perhaps those that hold to this view are helping to conceal a different uniformity.
(excerpt from Contemporary Art: A Very Short Introduction (2006) by Julian Stallabrass)
Can You Hear Me, 2012
Can You Hear Me is the penultimate track on David Bowie’s 1975 album, Young Americans.
In my humble opinion the album is best heard in its vinyl incarnation, in one sitting (although skipping the execrable Across The Universe is allowed/ recommended), with a glass of wine in one hand and a packet of B&H in the other.
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David Bowie week has also been celebrated in fine style by Cardinal Guzman. You should also visit Deanne’s Obsolescence Project and definitely take a look at this post and David’s Spanish Stroll, where more fantastic photographic Bowie-related posts have been made.
David Bowie week’s been a lot of fun for me, but I realised yesterday that not that long ago I was posting an image every couple of days and this week I’ve been doing two a day. This has got to stop. So, next week is…Kajagoogoo week.
In The Heat Of The Morning (I), 2012
These were both taken outside Byron’s Hamburgers, Covent Garden, London, UK.
According to Nicholas Pegg’s quite brilliant guide, The Complete David Bowie, In The Heat Of The Morning “made its studio debut as part of Bowie’s first BBC radio session on 18 December 1967 in an embryonic form.” The version I’ve got is another BBC radio session from 13 May 1968. But still early stuff. I’ve been known to sing it around the house for hours on end, striking mod poses.
The images above also remind me of Sinatra for some reason, and the long hot happy afternoons in my parents’ bungalow in Ferndown when I was small. Back then he spent a lot of time on the record player did Frank. For years I couldn’t stand him, but I’ve warmed to him – is lush orchestration something one grows into?
Anyways, I hereby dedicate this post to my Mum and Dad!
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David Bowie week is also being celebrated in spectacular style over at Cardinal Guzman‘s blog – I urge you to check it out. You should also visit Deanne’s Obsolescence Project and David’s Spanish Stroll, where more Bowie-related shenanigans are happening.
What In The World, 2012
What in the World is the third track on David Bowie’s 1977 album, Low.
It’s possibly my favourite of his albums – definitely one I go back to most often. I love the fact that the album title was just intended as a visual pun. Bowie appears on the cover in profile (in character as Thomas Jerome Newton from The Man Who Fell To Earth, Bowie fact fans. He’d already used a still from said film on the cover of Stationtostation the previous year, of course, of course, of course).
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David Bowie week is also being celebrated over at Cardinal Guzman‘s blog – great photographs to be seen. You might want to check it out.
Joe The Lion, 2012
Joe The Lion is the second track on David Bowie’s 1977 album, “‘Heroes”.
According to several sources, including Wikipedia, the track was inspired in part by the performance artist Chris Burden. Burden seems to have been interested in using visceral experiences as works of art – he famously had himself shot in the arm at close range, and on seperate occasions (come on!) had himself nailed to a VW Beetle, and disguised under a tarpaulin on a busy freeway (my personal favourite – high stakes indeed).
In 1999, I got to see Burden in action at the Tate Gallery (as Tate Britain was known in those days (and where I was working as a fundraiser). He was working on a sculpture, When Robots Rule: The Two Minute Airplane Factory, which was a great idea – a completely automated toy airplane factory, which would also launch the planes as it finished them. It didn’t work for a significant portion of the exhibition’s length, and I’m not sure it ever did fly a plane, but a thing of beauty it was – and an interesting performance with all the technicians working to get the thing going.
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I’m still experiencing connection problems, so apologies if I’ve not made it to your blog in the last day or so – I’m crawling round the internet like a drunk spider.
Hallo Spaceboy (I), 2012
Well, it’s David Bowie week here at The Future Is Papier Mâché, so I thought I’d kick things off with something a little different. For me, a lot of Bowie’s work is about identity and representation, hence the masks. And he’s always been interested in what the future, holds and what could be more futuristic than dressing the family up in Bacofoil?
Hallo Spaceboy is the sixth track on Bowie’s 1995 album, 1. Outside. The track was later remixed by The Pet Shop Boys and released as a single, but for me the original’s driving neo-industrial, drum and bass rhythm and lack of real melody is the better version. The album it’s taken from is a standout in his late career – preposterously pretentious (I like), amusical (in places), and lyrically Burroughsian.