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Free Art Free People

by Patrick Wood

"I looked directly at the setting sun through a blue lens"

Since the beginning of the 20th century, art has become increasingly vacuous. Generally speaking, artists have refrained from engagement with meaning, or have sought to ascribe meaning to the infantile, the absurd, the fantastic. This retreat from meaning is evident in all artistic activity, but seems most prevalent in the field of the plastic arts and their inane derivatives.

I looked directly at the setting sun through a blue lens. I looked away from the sun and closed my eyes. I saw a creature of light, like a vast insect, formed of seven suns moving westwards. The creature floated eastwards, dissolving in stages. The creature's disappearance allowed the stars to appear in bright daylight, as if I looked upon a night sky. I opened my eyes. The sun had set.

There is some virtue in the beauty of vision. The description above outlines a physical experience. This physical experience is translated into visionary terms. A mundane vision. Fancy language. A retreat from authenticity.

The communities of art and music are debased by their concern with glamour. This concern with glamour is a product of commercialisation. The communities of artists and musicians are debased by their overriding concern with money.

The relationship between art and commerce has long been a factor in the production of art. How many artists would produce work if there were no prospect of selling it? The relationship between art and commerce has strengthened in direct proportion to the retreat from meaning.


A ridiculous proposition. There is always a price to pay for engagement with works of art, even if entry to the gallery is free, even if access to the document necessary to justify the existence of the work does not presuppose a cash transaction.

We are for anonymity. We are against the cult of personality on the grounds of its vanity.

Anonymity can be put to far from noble use. A cloak for fools to hide their shame.

We are against narrative, for narratives are lies. We are for the impossibility of truth.

The flight from narrative often implies an inability to utilise an effective means of expression. To deny the possibility of truth is to render oneself a liar.

We are not free from shame. We are not free from preference. How can we speak of freedom?

We can speak of freedom in any way we choose to. We shall probably speak of freedom ironically.

We are against meaning. We are for the celebration of image.

There is no profit in the retreat from meaning. We might as well admit that everything has meaning. The absurd productions of artists have meaning. Their meaning is desire for riches.

We are for the mystical wing of Islam. We are against witches and pagans for they have had their wisdom from New Age peddlers. Similarly, we are against dope smoking, acid toting, so called shamans. We are against the Church of England, for a monarch stands at its head. We are against the Catholic Church and its hypocritical riches. We are Protestant in our Christianity, although we do not embrace the established sects. We are for the reality beyond the appearance.

All we know of "the mystical wing of Islam" is what we have read in a book. Witches and pagans have no provenance in the modern world. It is folly to confuse drug inspired experiences with the fruits of religious devotion. We know little more of the Church of England and the Catholic Church than we do of "the mystical wing of Islam". The problem with the reality beyond the appearance is that it might not be a reality at all.

We are against psychiatric drugs, with the exception of the benzodiazepines, for they go down well with a pint. We are against drugs that make your body twist and bow down.

Millions of people around the world benefit from taking psychiatric drugs. These drugs can be helpful in easing mental distress, and as such they should be applauded. A pint and a couple of Valium may have been a delight in the past, but who knows how it would strike us now? Drugs that make one twist and bow are drugs that have been put to an incorrect use.


Mongzone. A boy band consisting of people with severe learning disabilities (it must surely exist already, sponsored by a community arts initiative).

This is the kind of deplorable notion favoured by newspaper columnists. It rests upon the assumption that the writer and his readers share a favoured state of being that allows them to conceive of stigmatised groups of people as rightly inferior, fit subjects for derision, paternalism, or any kind of definition of the group as the other.

Goad the Loonies Night

Price list:

Come and watch the loonies dance : 1 (no dancing until the pound is paid)

Pook a loony with a stick: 10

Pook a loony in the eye with a stick: 250

The obvious reference to the viewing of the lunatics in Bedlam means that this scheme is of a different order to the idea behind the formation of Mongzone.

Replace backdrop banner reading Drink to Youth and Glamour with banner reading Death to Youth and Glamour by substituting Death for Drink.

List times, titles and descriptions of nasty programmes screened by Channel 5 (during the course of a week chosen at random).


Write underneath a copy of Linnell's portrait of William Blake: MY GRANDDAD.

A desire for connection with the visionary artist / poet. It seeks to elevate the artist by association with Blake, who is no longer a person, but an archetype.

A photocopy of Picasso's Guernica underneath the slogan STUPID AS A PAINTER.

Guernica is undoubtedly one of the most overrated paintings of all time, and Picasso is undoubtedly one of the most overrated painters. The reference to Duchamp seeks to elevate the artist by virtue of his knowledge of the concerns of the chess playing "genius" .

Postcard reproductions of notable works of art covered by white linen shrouds.


Finding a late Neolithic necklace made of red and black beads amongst neatly ordered grave goods. I take the necklace and wear it.

A dream fraudulently portrayed as a waking reality.

The Book of Platitudes

A story about the gathering of the people at the Bole Hills around sunset, most of the gathering proving to be (witless) pagans. Look into the sun. Turn left into the shaded lands. See there three violet globes hovering over the darkened horizon.

A dream or dope vision serving as the basis of a plan. An outline of the idea saves the artist from the labour of writing of the story. It is likely that the story would have proved tedious to read.

A story: the number of stairs leading upstairs keeps increasing

and then they start decreasing in number until there are no more stairs left to climb.

A notion born of a daydream. The story would probably have proved impossible to sustain.

The Way of Liberation

A series of single words



or word combinations


or words with immediate associations

WATER (the water of life)

with instructions to focus on each word or association for a given period of time and to note down the fruits of each meditation.

How difficult would it prove to perform this exercise? What would the performer of the programme be liberated from, other than their own self-determination? The idea could be translated into a money making scheme by a self-proclaimed New Age master.




It could be done if we wanted to bore everyone to tears. We could listen to the relevant Velvet Underground or Spacemen 3 tracks in our collection if we wanted to subject ourselves to the experiment. We could create tape loops and play them through a PA system to a gullible audience - the audience exists; even though it is small in number, it is large in significance in its collective mind.

DJ Madman

Search through one's CD collection, select tracks on the theme of madness, mental distress, and emotional turmoil and play them at random in a live setting or on a community radio programme. Try to obtain a grant from a national mental health charity to take the project forward. Compile a CD or cassette for sale.


To each spiritual epoch corresponds a new spiritual intent, which that epoch expresses by forms that are new, unexpected, surprising and in this way aggressive. ...Kandinsky














The artist has never been to Great Houghton. The artist has never been to Little Houghton. It seems sufficient to him that he is aware of the names of these places.









It seemed inevitable that Drum and Bass as a musical form would fail due to its inherent limitations. The more these limitations revealed themselves, the more the musical form was exploited by musicians and advertising directors.





This should be superimposed on a lithograph of an Ulster Bus, blue on blue.

An idea born from a memory of the picture cover to the Sex Pistols' Pretty Vacant (which transcended the vanity that was the Merry Pranksters' bus in the moment of its conception).


Dances with wolves




(give pill to cat)


Movement and light destroy the materiality of bodies.

Photographs taken running.

The physical activity would not appeal to the sedentary nature of the artist.

A small horse pissing through slightly extended thick black penis, feeding as it pisses. Enter photograph in the annual Countryfile competition.

Cut out photocopies of the photos of the horses (three of the larger horse, one of the smaller) and combine them.

A collection of photographs of Ian Lane entitled The Pork Butcher's Son.

The disgusting tendency of the artist to believe that everyone and everything is subject to his whim. Elevating association once more, this time with Picabia.

A collection of photographs of Alba entitled Cesare the Somnambulist.

If you want to change the way you look, don't look at yourself. Don't look at yourself in mirrors. Don't rehearse the way you look through recourse to reflection.

Attempt to photograph reflections in pewter tankard - the double beard, no face; the creases in pale blue pyjamas.

A simple experiment which need not be performed once it has been noted.

There is a spirit form visible in the photographs of me with full beard. The spirit form is visible with head forward and head back. The form is the same despite the movement between the poses. To better reveal the form:

1. Photocopy - enlargement x 205 = A4 image

2. Fold to highlight right corner, x 205 = A4 image

It should be clear by now, but continue for as long as necessary.

Explore the possibilities of all images the same size.

This is the virtue of postcards.

This is a focus on meaning.

This is a fantastic notion, indicative of a desire to escape the mundane and enter a world of the benign and fascinating transcendent.

Concrete wall near entrance to Endcliffe Park at Hunters Bar, behind stone structure. You could lie upon this wall and focus camera on slightly arching footbridge, taking deep focus images whenever anyone crosses the bridge.

You could indeed.

Photograph the massive cooling towers between Long Eaton and Loughborough on the train journey from Sheffield to London.

A random example of stark modern industry.

Photo location: power station to right of car park, Brown St / NCPM; turn, and the drums of the NCPM are the background. Dusk the best time, a grey sundown the best.

A realistic painting of a moving landscape (like the landscape seen through the window of a moving train) would resemble an abstract painting.

Video journey St. Pancras to Sheffield at real speed; speed up and slow down. 4 films: backwards, right; forwards right: backwards left; forwards left: or 8: window seat, far from window: or all seats on smoking carriage. One would serve as well as all. The journey at night. The journey in variable daylight. The eyes of people are drawn towards light.

There would be an audience for this film. The Electric Guitar Feedback and Drone soundtrack could accompany the film, or the two events could be performed separately, thus maximising income from ticket receipts. The same audience would attend both events.


Anti-neutral clothing: different shoes, one-legged trousers, one armed shirts; extended - half-beard, make-up (different coloured eyes, lips, random splurges). The aim should not be to beautify. (cf. Giacomo Balla, Il Vestito Antineutrale (Anti-Neutral Clothes)).

drawings by tracing and combining representations of fragments of machinery

Picabia again.

I meet Genesis P-Orridge (and others, including Cosey Fanny Tutti) at a studio in Brighton. We engage in some artwork together. I am in Brighton to take part in an event that is being staged in a former COUM Transmissions studio. I don't know if this is the reason for my meeting with Genesis, or if our meeting is a coincidence. The meeting with Genesis is friendly at first, but as our artwork progresses, he tries to persuade me to use a dark watery liquid in the work. The liquid has pieces of submerged wood in it. I refuse to use the liquid, wary of Genesis' sinister intent. We explore the magical power of incantations - the Lord's Prayer amongst them (I recognise this with gratitude).

A German (Nazi) youth, part of a group of people who live in a train station; he has no legs or genitals, nothing below (and including) his hips. He moves swiftly on his arms. His substitute limbs and hips come in the form of a flat piece of cardboard. He uses his cardboard prosthesis when his photograph is taken.

Further reading

Marc Spiegler, Money for old soap

The Independent on Sunday Review, 21 July 2002

Patrick Wood



This is a very curious piece of work for sure. I wonder if this would go well with the sort of thing at Perceptions Forum