Monday, 31 August 2009

I have a book on vampires in my toilet. although not usually a great fan of research I am finding it interesting to dip in and out of. Apparently in Greece, in order to keep vampires at bay, the local people will sprinkle mustard seed on their roof. The efficacy of the seed is not due to its chemical composition or religious significance but rather it is expected that the vampire will pause to count the seed and thus be exposed on the roof when the sun rises. Vampire as Autist? it seems strange. Coincidently I was introduced to an online test for autism the other day by friends who where proud to have scored highly. I was more than a little disappointed to only achieve 22 which ranked me alongside male and female computer scientists. My companion (a 9) and I watched Dracula: Prince of Darkness, the sequel to the previous Dracula film in which Christopher Lee was turned to dust by Peter Cushing. In this version The Count was soon romping around after his ashes had been mixed with copious amounts of frothy pink blood. The film itself was all tension and build up but ended suddenly with a ridiculous chase and Dracula was easily dispatched. He ended up drowning in the frozen waters surrounding his castle. No doubt he will be defrosted soon.

The Bingo caller from Whitstable keeps resurfacing in my mind he is an almost hypnotic presence, I will have to return soon to see if he is still there.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Café Artistique

The dreaded moment of my first conversation approaches. It was not without trepidation that I made some tentative posts on the Axis website today in response to topics given to me. Mr Plowman has yet to respond and he remains a shadowy figure. I reproduce the subject of our conversation here in the hope that repetition may make the fear lessen.

‘Today, artists complain that they have no practical impact on society, that their projects fail, that they cannot change the world. But, fundamentally, every work is senseless and every project fails…Art is a wonderful place where you can reflect on the failure of utopia – repeating time and again, it is something that is almost impossible outside of art.’

Boris Groys, Tate Etc. Summer ‘09

• It is commonly said that you learn more from your failures than successes, so does making work that celebrates our limitations and frustrations teach us something about ourselves?

• At what point do ‘interventions’ become so discreet that they barely engage with the audience at all?

• How much does art rely on interaction with an audience?

Monday, 24 August 2009

Lucy Harrison hello Alex, seems we're both showing in Bath at the same time- I went last week and your project sounds great! Maybe see you there some time. Lucy

Alex Pearl Hi Lucy that would be lovely, that reminds me I have to finish a few things off... Do our shows open on the same night? Do you have to be "in conversation" with someone? or was I the only idiot that said yes?

Lucy Harrison Mine opens before yours, on Oct 14th which is slightly worrying as you seem much more sorted than me! yes I am in conversation with David Pinder. Yours with JJ should be good too, do you know him? Lucy

Prompted by Lucy's Facebook wall posts, I have finally finished a rough version of my show for Bath on "Sketch Up" and sent it by ftp to Bath. My experience with the free software has made me think more carefully about the description New Media Artist. If it means someone who can lose whole files with a click of a button, turn buiildings inside out, is proud when he is finally able to spend an hour at the computer without screaming "oh you bloody bastard bugger" or something similar - then I am a New Media Artist.

Lucy's message cheered me a little, though I think her idea that I was more sorted was a little misplaced. She seems keen on the idea of conversation, a concept I still have trouble grasping.

I am spending a lot of time in graveyards at the moment, my companion seems drawn to them. We sat in the shade and I practiced talking about things.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Last night a bird flew into my window. It was some sort of dove or pigeon or something very like, I think, because it left a perfect greasy imprint of its body on the glass. One wing was outstretched in full flight and its head turned sharply to the left on impact. I asked my assistant to hold a piece of black card outside in order that I could record the pitiful pattern of feathers on my phone. It looked like a ghost, which proved to be accurate as we later found its body in the grounds.

While away I have received a number of messages from my companion. It seems that she has been suffering from a number of fainting fits, I fear anaemia and have asked her to see the doctor. She also sent me a strange Vampire story set in a hospital, it was written by an old friend of hers.

It occurred to me that most Vampire films feature a book, which the hero reads to explain what is going on. Usually after an extremely stupid phase our hero realises that the sudden deaths due to exsanguination are somehow linked to the tall pale man with blood on his chin. That is one of the reasons I like the films they have a built in inevitability that reminds me of the everyday. The book also (usually) contains further information as to how the fiend may be despatched. It’s all quite straightforward really.

The books I am currently reading include Graham Greene’s Travels with my Aunt and The Third Man. The first was recommended, perhaps for obvious reasons, the second I’ve wanted to read for a long time. I saw the film many years ago after a trip to Vienna with my parents. It was a good film but recently the book has come to interest me more as: “it was never written to be read but only to be seen”. It is a secret, phantom novel, an eminence grise for the film, or at least it was for a little while, my copy was published in 1950.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

My mother sits next to her bed relatively hale and hearty next to her cadaverous roommates. They seem paler every time I visit. She delightedly told me that the “vampires” had visited earlier but had passed her by; I hope they continue to do so.

Letter received Monday 17th August

Dearest Alex

I lived with three people in Newcastle for a while in a place called Fenham. It’s the place I told you about-I wanted to live there-there were pretty Victorian villas with names such as Sydney Grove and a shop that sold beadies (Indian twig cigarettes-that I had first tried in New York) and it seemed exciting to me. The first time we went there to look at the house-I looked out of a bedroom window and saw a man running down the back street holding a TV.

Anyway two of my flatmates came very close to one another and I with the other-we sort of split off maybe because of the dynamic of living with three others that’s the natural way it works out. The two who worked together adopted the sort of parent role and bought proper food from Marks & Spencer and my friend (Peta) and I where the sort of annoying naughty irresponsible scatty ones that got on the others tits.

One time when Jamie my then boyfriend was staying with me the tow other flatmates (who I will call the parents from now on) claimed that they had both felt a terrible spirit in the form of a heavy weight on their chests just as they woke up.

A hippy meeting of the type I had come to loathe after my brief stay in a commune in France, ensued where we had to touch a papier-mâché chilli pepper when we wanted to talk as no ‘talking stick’ was available. It was decided by the parents that we would have a ‘cleansing ritual’ and that as Jamie had brought the bad spirit it he had to carry the ‘smudge stick’ as you are not and have never been a hippy I will have to explain that this is a bundle of rosemary and cleanses bad energy.

This all makes me sound very cynical-but as you know I am the most credulous person alive.

Here are some accounts of the ghostly feeling of pressure on the chest I found when I looked on the web…

“I went to bed with a good book and eventually drifted off to sleep. Some hours later I awoke unable to breathe. I could see that a ghostly figure was sitting on my chest! There was an immense weight pinning me to the bed. I thought I was dying by having the breath squeezed out of my body. Somehow I managed to throw myself out of bed and staggered downstairs gulping in air as I went. I never slept there again.

Sleep Apoplexy

“There's a part of the brain at the back of the head that inhibits body movement when we sleep. If it didn't, we'd act out our dreams and thrash wildly around in bed. Many people experience “sleep paralysis” when the conscious mind wakes up before this restraining function does. The result is a feeling of immobility and suffocation.

I have written for many years for a number of national papers answering people’s letters about the paranormal. This phenomena, of being pinned to the bed by a ghost, is one of the most common ones I receive. Occasionally the “ghost” does all sorts of terrible things to the person concerned. “

Lots of love
Annabel xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, 17 August 2009

After Cornwall I had planned to travel north to visit my parents. My journey began badly as I lost a day stranded in a small village in Suffolk. Buses failed to turn up and trains were cancelled due to industrial action. Despite leaving at five I was still without transport by ten and gave up. It seems the further east I go the worse public transport becomes. The following day I did finally manage to catch a train north. My itinerary was to take me via Peterborough, Doncaster and Stoke on Trent. However, it soon became apparent that Doncaster was closed to me and I would instead be going to Nuneaton. It was while waiting in one such station that I received the news that my mother had taken ill and been rushed to hospital.

Image taken from my new Automatic Film, The Great Central

Whilst holidaying in Cornwall, between large meals and some desultory swimming, I set about organising my affairs. We had planned a sort of Hammer Horror tour; apparently a Zombie film had been made in one of the local quarries. But apart from an overwhelming feeling of death at Mousehole and an extremely bizarre dog show there were no signs of the living dead anywhere. I soon became distracted by other things, mainly trying not to make a noise while going to the toilet. Normally this is not a huge problem but the B&B where we stayed had little soundproofing and our toilet was directly above the breakfast table.

I have been “organising my affairs” largely by making lists and then remaking them adding new things each time, it is an endless task as more items are added before the list is ever cleared.

Transcribed from notebook (16/08/09)
Edit films for The Great Central – make three? Triptych?
Do drawings + invoice
Choose film for Cell outside screening, automatic??? Stars???
Bath Show, do plan, DO PLAN, edit writing, new film?? “in conversation” – look up JJ
Cardiff in conversation look up Plowman? Talk about what??
Write blog
Invoice Leicester
Invoice Bedford
Ideas for Whitstable??
Instructing assistant to fly planes, sing, do magic
Pebbles film - ? made - any good?
Pepper’s ghost
The Bingo Caller
Display locations – seaside telescope (ebay?) – pub?, Theatre? Need another visit?

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Email received whilst in Cornwall

Dear Alex,
Upon my return from the Basque country to the Island of Great Britain, I stumbled across something that you may or may not have heard
about. It was through researching my current fixation of bodily hair and fur that I read with much excitement about the Greek Isalnd of
Santorini. In reading this information I thought of you and your current obsession with Vampires. I do hope this will enlighten you.

An interesting description of the process by which a victim of vampire becomes a vrykolakas from a priest on the island of Crete was
published in 1898 :

"It is a popular belief that most of the dead, those who have lived bad lives or who have been excommunicated....become vrykolakes; that
is to say, after the separation of the soul from the body there enters into the latter an evil spirit which takes the place of the soul....
it keeps the body as its dwelling place, and it runs swift as lightning wherever it lists....And the trouble is that it does not remain
solitary, but makes everyone, who dies while it is about, like to itself, so that in a short space of time it gets together a large train
of followers. The common practice of the vrykolakes is to seat themselves upon those who are still asleep and by their great weight to
create an agonizing sense of oppression. There is great danger that the sufferer might himself expire, and himself too be turned into a
vrykolakas....This monster, as time goes on, becomes more audacious and blood-thirsty, so that it is able to devastate whole villages."
This quote is found in "Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion" by John Lawson, and in "The Vampire in Europe" by Montague
I particularly enjoyed the idea of the Vrykolakes using their body weight to sit upon their victim until they too became a vampire. There
is alot of information to be had about them.
I do hope you and your companion are enjoying Cornwall.
Much Love to you both, Hayley xx

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Thwarted by the train strikes I will not be attending For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn at g39 in Cardiff. ( This is rather disappointing as I was quite looking forward to spending an evening in the binge drinking capital of Europe. However I have been invited to be in conversation with someone (as yet unconfirmed) at Axis' Café Artistique in that very same city in September. I am perturbed at the number of 'in conversations' I have to do in the next few months as I am not sure I have that much conversation to go around.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009


The Train to Leicester was very full. I had had to delay my journey a couple of days due to industrial action and was beginning to wonder if many of my fellow passengers would have preferred to have been on that canceled train. To make us feel sympathetic to the rail workers cause we were subjected to a two carriage train with no working toilets and a haphazard reservation system which meant that more than once new passengers had to negotiate to attain their allotted seats. After a bad tempered journey I was met by Eric who hefted my bags into his estate with preternatural strength. I was in Leicester to make a film for the opening of Eric's new gallery and studios The Great Central. The idea was that I would document the space using my Automatic film kit prior to its destruction and rebirth as a gallery. I didn't realise how pressing the refit was until I announced I had finished filming. With a large sledgehammer and a manic gleam Eric and Steve (who had seemed very calm and gentle up to this point) attacked a dividing wall with great gusto. Within five minutes the whole gallery space was opened up and the floor looked surprisingly like an installation I had seen in San Francisco early this year.

I am home now mulling over two hours of video that i must somehow craft into three short films. Whitstable must, temporarily, be pushed to the back of my mind although some ideas to do with performing women, vampiric control and magic are beginning to fester there.