Posts Tagged ‘stephen emmerson’


In Uncategorized on September 17, 2012 at 12:04 pm







Stephen Emmerson writes: The Last Ward is a series of 6 A3 posters and a 6 track CD. Each track title corresponds with one of the visual poem titles. They should be considered part of the same poem, working symbiotically rather than responding to one another.

      1. polygun
      2. speech is written in capitals
      3. time runs backwards as well as forwards and will one day meet
      4. pylons
      5. voices in radiator falling through sink
      6. you are not a concept i am familiar with



I think instructed reading, or innovative reading, is an interesting way to frame a work that may otherwise have been freed from authorial control. i.e. the audiovisual pieces are in one way open and abstract because they do not utilise a regular written language, however, by giving an instruction or guideline on how to read the work it becomes more definite.

The choreography of the reading came about as an attempt to examine the notion of reading as creativity. I am also interested in obstructing the reading of any given work, and I think it’s interesting to see how closely someone might follow any given set of essentially arbitrary rules.

The interest in sound and visual comes from reading as well. I mean when we read a text we are taking visual cues and transforming them into sound, and I see the audio aspect of this work as being a way to cue up the visuals and hopefully open up the possibility of a different way of reading.

The starting point for The Last Ward came from a quote by Trotsky. He said: ‘England is the last ward of the European madhouse’. I began this work during the riots last year.

Yes – all of these images began as writing, if you look closely you can see letters and parts of letters, fragments of typewriter keys, and pen strokes. Yet in these images there are repetitions of glyphs and patterns within those repetitions that to me at least makes this something very close to writing.

I think you give up a certain amount of specificity of meaning when you begin creating something like this – to some extent that’s the point, but at the same time I’m creating a frame to read or examine these works within, and knowing when and why they were written makes them much more specific to a certain time and place, and even pushes it towards certain critical boundaries. But the reader will know more about that than me.


There was a lot of editing, I mean I think it took the best part of a year to create the images and the audio. There were lots of different versions. It’s funny that you talk about endless new touches of paint, because sometimes that happened and pieces were ruined and I had to start the whole process over again. I think the details are very important, just like in any other kind of writing, the whole is nothing without them.

With the audio it was much the same, some of it was recorded live, but it might have taken many takes to get just right, some of the other pieces were more programmed, and that’s a totally different way of working.

The collaboration with Lucy Harvest Clarke is a work that does reveal the process to some extent. We started by taking a notebook page and folding it down the middle. Lucy wrote half a line, (3 – 6 words) and then turned the page over so that I couldn’t see what she’d written, and then I’d finish the line. It’s kind of like an exquisite corpse.

The first part of that work, which was published on VSK, was mostly written on train journeys so there’s loads of repeated imagery and words like ‘window’ and ‘pylon’ that keep cropping up. I think we were both shocked at just how complete those pieces turned out, being that we couldn’t see what the other was writing.

Having the hand written versions alongside the printed text brings a visual aspect to the work where the urgency of the writing is revealed. It also lets the reader into our state of mind at the time of writing whilst allowing the same words to be revealed as a different version of the same poem.


Even if I’m creating audiovisual work its still centred around language, so I feel it’s more centred around poetry than visual art per se.

For instance – in August I’m exhibiting a William Blake poem-installation in Camberwell that includes audiovisual work centred around a large pentagram with a typewriter at each point.

Stephen Emmerson, Albion, 2012

People coming to see the work will be invited to sit inside the pentagram and channel Blake whilst using the typewriters to create a text. Aside from channeling Blake, which is a reference to his paranormal conversations, this method can also be seen as a way of translating audiovisual work into text, the fact that I won’t be creating any of the text doesn’t necessarily mean that I am not the author, nor does it mean that I am more interested in the audiovisual than the text, it simply means I’m more interested in how people read, because again, this work is about reading, and about translating, and I think if you’re interested in that as an author then you are better off staying away from text.






THE LAST WARD by Stephen Emmerson is available for £6 (plus £1.50 UK P&P). Please email for postage details if ordering from outside the UK.

More about Stephen’s work is here.




In Uncategorized on June 12, 2012 at 7:00 pm



on the back telegraph pole slow

underneath the pylon truth

green tallow fly taking back tree

fell off field now & cycle pump

separating ice combined lapse

rib my metal roof last week behind ear

currency years at combined IQ of marble

if this were the final emergency exit window

it was undercranked fire extinguish home

slipped through as snow train coming


a grey lake break blue x carriage

I want you for my wake graffiti

persons cannot touch gas tower burns distance

pack it up pack it in so signal same again

one continuous fuck boils in milk then

“HOLD” MAKE “HOLD” hanging garment sky

always must’ve been within outdoor of us

reservoir writ large unended pattern time

depth to the neck terminating at Doncaster

double A double B double C & as water circles


I turned a sheep the Celsius tips return

one delta zero nine floating nipple sun

why don’t you just concrete it mixes

and it will be if breathing ‘fuck’

black bale snow pail now approaching Newark

bring me my jacket gum under the table

you got rubble trouble the shellsuit rips

the allotment changes hands pushchair farm/tyres

disposable/ disponible down with the sisters

a sheep turned like receiving a body



you just have to be telegraph enzyme patrol

brassic canal side cooked swan on water

monstrosity oeuf lumpy protest batter

feels hard today windfarm heart glue

a round house on glass wing decisions

with all windows a net cast dyes the world

and bricks in a V pylon song to the sea

and a dead lion tree volting foam axes

disbanded moss electric water face

come track come site & units to let


night is sighing 5 past your face

we want you to enjoy generator room blues

superbly stoned abandoned works are steal

your back street brisket is powered by dead skin

cupping the rose miles are equal to loss

there is a way to then wind yr own road

standing to the wind our morning ritual

this hay is fake I cannot tell from birds

some brown is wicked so often across fields

others just nib my hand on the fence


just like everything else into the sound place

held dapper gallery through chemical phone

your eyes are the eggs matches into my stricken

the untold version so open the magpies chest

land internal so a horse meat breath

lichen this to burnt circle landing

we are going home no wood becomes forest

12 deers & lighthouse liquid nose for glass

cannot deroof England then exit the window

imperial finish the bridge where they grow




hold on window perfect salmon face

the bush is spared a rose window does it

mass joke archive how erased villains warn

curtailed torso thrust a baptist shoe

your words hundred now a pillow wink inky

you can help by balance with kite

big hand old placid white spruce madras

I curtain blossom it itch gallic tincture

so that wood entrails because I can’t look

cornerstone led in love though lipsed with salt


constance is a hierarchy doused spider hour

under your slipping bag notching the paper cast

summertime awkwardly it is not Mars

with the peacocks all maybe thirsty for tit

you suggest like scarab or in tunnel cut

seven three seven two were not we breathing

sickly is tungsten is way outs arrow undressed

the hard flinched public for it divides en route

push apart to open pen ultimate in pencil

the first to be pressed to lock saw town


sorry about the table silicone distortion organ

you have your self puddled for what end ear or sink

moon closer than mocha to shortly arrive in Headcorn

so if a skull softens after all gears labelled

a handle is a handle even Frascati madam

perforated in blightly link without crown

I’d like to burn carpets are blister trains

bucket sand at your peril lumpy fact to work

red worms and reed worms that gone wither

capsize if it fits it to break then jump



More work by Lucy Harvest Clarke here and Stephen Emmerson here.