“The Whale” composed and performed by Zashiki Warashi Taiko & Flute duo
“The Whale and the Thames” Written and narrated by Chiara Ambrosio
A conversation with Simon Seddon at Pollocks Toy Shop
The city has a deep mind hidden away from its body- recoiled from its muddy veins and sinews- a deep mind that holds itself apart like a secret incantation, only partly understood. It stirs in its tall glass womb, probing its own hidden depths to learn how deep it can burrow without flesh to bind it.
The deep mind sees the skin of the city, fragile paper shroud stretched by humble hands touched by the ages; it watches it tear and stain with the dirty small print of tiny bodies and brief lives that hardly leave a mark, and yet are caught, one way or another, in the fabric of this story. It tries to understand, but subtle interventions and small transgressions cannot be deciphered by the deep mind, its synapses blinded by their own scope and ambition, missing the smallest signals like the smallest fish slipping through the trawling nets.
The city has a deep mind that watches it grow old, then young again, in an endless cycle of death and rebirth. It casts its shadow over the fractured ages that only the deep mind can grasp all at once, sweeping over them all like a cloud, teasing out what remains like splinters sticking out from unpolished wooden floorboards, absorbing them in the network.
The city has a deep mind that spins an invisible story, longer than all of the ages of the city put together. It started before the clay turned to brick, and now it lingers, unsure of what comes next because the signals have grown unclear.
The city has a deep mind that dreams itself awake at night.
It searches for its reflection on the slumbering dark waters of the flowing river, finding only the face of another- but somewhere deep beyond it a promise of itself, someday, when the visions of sleep become the bare white bones over which to start building anew.
This month’s credits:
A walk with Jack Nicholls
“Deepmind” written and narrated by Chiara Ambrosio
“Deep Mind” composed and performed by Bird Radio
The longer you dig, the further they burrow, these London bones.
Brittle and smooth, bleached by the tides, they rattle with every pull and heave.
They float on the surface of the swollen river, exoskeletons given to the air, just beyond reach.
Unable to support motion, they drift with the currents instead, choking their spent stories down in the mud, until a tug draws them back to the light, sputtering, tattered and broken.
Mute runes, your discarded meaning will come alight again once pieced back together by fingers dirty from the digging.
They cut a hole inside the concrete floor in front of the tallest building, the one that casts its shadow over the belfry of the cathedral, dampening the ring of its bells.
Inside the hole, a tangle of roots, wet and hard, heaved, breathless from the burrowing, like sweating tissue inside an open wound.
A musty odour rolled out and over the pavement of the city towards the dark river, summoned by its changing tides, leaving a dark imprint on the white concrete as it flowed.
I stared into the hole at the roots.
Enveloped in darkness, clusters of light emerged like boats out at sea- fishing boats blinking their lights over a vast and immense expanse of space.
A city seen from above, in its complexity and multiplicity, flattened, unraveled, cast out as a net in which constellations are caught.
Like when observing a galaxy, more becomes visible the further away we get.
Moving vehicles are light signals, pulsating through the night, roads the lit-up arteries that connect urban organs together and keep them irrigated and alive.
When seen from above these electric networks appear as mystical and poetic systems, devoid of their mechanics.
Night reveals the delicate essence, the tenuous connections, but it also erases nuances: the small details need to be stumbled upon in order to become visible again.
Come back to the ground, and look up: the sky is never black, but a milky hue that absorbs all the light spilling out from streetlamps and windows, suffocating the stars, lost in that bright labyrinth.
And the roots that heave below the pavement, waiting for a crack to return and reclaim the surface with their throbbing, uncontainable grace.
Every little twig will burn.
It fades into view-
My home, my vessel, airborne and unmoored.
The city, my body, my story.
A place and a time, to settle over all other places and times
Like dust on a table.
No more than a mote, but I move through these streets like electricity, for a while,
And they are crowded with the living and the dead,
And their stories, buried in the ground, will turn to brick
and rise once more.
A fold in time,
And the years gather together on the shores of this river,
watching a familiar face appear, once more,
against the darkening sky.
Same eyes, same hat, same words in the mouth,
hands folding yellowing paper-
ancient secrets, simple spells, still hidden, still crumpled, still lonely.
Turn the pages of the night,
a black book on which silver ink glistens, tracing shapes twice forgotten-
A bird, a flight, a wilderness before the flood.
Backs turn as I walk by.
The city, our stories, our darkness,
A gathering of elements on the horizon,
Fire and ice rewriting the boundaries of our loneliness
While we stand in doorways, waiting for the storm to blow over.
This month’s credits:
“A Fold in Time” written and narrated by Chiara Ambrosio with an improvisation by Zashiki Warashi Taiko and Flute duo.
“Walking Ella, one morning in Haggerston Park”, a conversation with filmmaker and activist Andrea Luka Zimmerman
“Shackle the Dust” written and performed by Bird Radio, featuring Camberwell College of Art improvisation group Stairway to Limbo.