Leaving a trace

The sounds, images and objects in BAS8 provide a rich vein of writing inspiration, not least All That Is Solid by John Akomfrah and Trevor Mathison. This piece combines new and archival footage to look at how sound is essentially transient and thus unable to record history effectively. The piece makes much use of foggy, misty imagery, and given the current political shift towards the (Far) Right, this evokes Hitler’s ominous ‘Night and Fog‘ decree, not dissimilar to more recent US ‘Rendition’ policy. For me, using images of war, poverty and modern black history make such links even more evident, even if the medium itself can be seen as insubstantial.


Stills from All That Is Solid showing remote-viewing of combat and bombardment.

I found these images to be some of the most affecting – after all, for all their graininess, they depict real warfare (and presumably death given that some of the figures are engulfed in flame). Pixelated they might be, but this is not a video game.

And so, taking an artwork that highlights its own ephemeral nature (even if it highly noticeable and communicative to its gallery audience) as inspiration for writing, I aim to produce something that, being on the page, achieves greater permanence. We shall see if that turns out to be the case. It is called Revenant vibrations and is formed of seven short sections forming a poem-sequence. I aim to release the whole piece into the wild for publication – until then, here is a brief extract:

children watch with eyes that fear the teacher,
all thumbsuck and colourblind,
not yet cowed by watchtowers,
their bridges still unblurred –
girders cantilever,
tilt to permit this, not that;
RP vowels and consonants
delineate the shift.

Early in the editing stage…