Thursday, 8 October 2009

My Hour as Art: The Calculations of a Soft Machine.

[You can watch it here: -]

One must always bare in mind the often overlooked power of a single thoughtful person. Though we are often unaware of the impact we can potentially make, we must attempt to prepare ourselves. This thought was brought to me from my recent experience as a plinther. That is, being a lucky participant in One and Other, Antony Gormley’s new art installation.

Being up on the Forth Plinth in Trafalgar Square was one of the most unprepared moments of my life. It was like approaching one of the seven wonders, or the peak of a mountain; there is simply no way of knowing how you will react.

When confronted by such opportunities, a more refined soul might have gone up with a speech prepared. I might have preached, screamed, recited or otherwise constructed some form of sentiment that would have undoubtedly taken the moment away from me. I might well have run for an hour like a robot, speaking words that I’d pawed over for weeks in advance. Not so for the willful creature that I am.

Instead I listened a little too intently to a small voice from within that said ‘you need only ‘be’!’ I decided to go up, no props, no gimmicks - just a lone soft machine, held aloft for an hour.

I would say even now, that was/is enough.

Art itself (for the most part) cannot alter its form to better suit the audience before it. Once it is produced it is cast in that form. The painting cannot gain another few brushstrokes, to add more colour here or focus the eye there, just because the person seeing it would find it easier to understand. It can but assume a lasting posture and only stand by and weather the praise and criticism it receives with equal solemnity.

I went up there to ask the world questions more directly than most art does, to be a mirror that might allow people to see something of themselves whilst speaking a language they themselves spoke in. I went up there to do what art does, not interact with the audience around me, but to get the audience to engage with itself.

The truth is we make art to remind us of what will always remain important. We don’t make it as a target for our insults, or produce it so that it will locked away. We want it to be shown to an audience, to tell a story, to make a point, to request more of ourselves than is polite to ask in person. We use art to crack open the human spirit.

Of course I am referring to art as generalized art, that of the gallery displays (paintings primarily, or perhaps music also, certainly the photograph), rather than the more innovative methods that artists now engage in. I know full well that art does not stick to its definitions, by definition it is endlessly re-educating us of limitless features.

So, I got up on that stone pillar with the idea that I’d more clearly do what art does. So that I might connect more directly with people and get the message across. My mission was to Raise Awareness for Awareness. I wanted people simply to start asking themselves questions.

Back to the experience itself, once up there I lost my words and almost my balance.

We cannot know our qualities until we have been tested to our limit. So all I could comfortably expect of myself was that I would continue to breathe and that my heart would beat (albeit madly).

When I got up there I had no idea that I would lose much of myself to nerves. There is a lot to be said for the written language (and much has been); however, I more admire anyone who can stand to speak and explain their message with clarity. I do not have the ability to speak easily in public, though I do now intend to improve.

In any case I am happy that, with that small sight of my limits, I was inspired.

I’ve come off the plinth with a renewed acknowledgment of myself, but also of the influence and inspiration I have to offer. I met and spoke with many people and the reactions have been incredible.

People do want to talk, people do want to learn why things are the way they are. Even those who initially became hostile in the face of art, grew later (after conversation/explanation) to understand. They too added their own voice and perspective to the endeavor.

I may have been alone, an example of a young man with a lot (perhaps too much) on his mind; but no-one was unworthy of a place there on that plinth and those who asked questions took their place alongside me.

Now uniquely aware of how much impact a single soft machine can make when placed in the right location. My plan is to go on putting myself in challenging places, to do what I think is good and right and just. To ignore the voices that want me down on their level and to use my own to lift others out of the flood of indifference.

I’ve shaken a dozen hands, hugged people who were strangers, dealt with the irrepressible masses and I have come out of the experience; not better, nor worse, but different.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

The Post Before The Plinth

What talent would you most like to be known for?

I’m a writer. It is all I can do.

I’m happy with that, I get a lot of joy from writing. I get rid of a lot of sadness through it too.

However, I don’t think I’d like to be ‘known’ as the modern world likes to know its people. I don’t want celebrity.

Simple answer that one. I want people to say “There goes Jensen, he’s a writer.” That is how I want to be defined.

Although I’ve been advised that ‘talent’ is a bit limiting and that I might as well also ask what ‘action’ you might most like to be known for.



Right. I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals while I’m up on the plinth. I watched Kate last night at 12am and I was deeply inspired by her. I hope she is around on the day when I make it along. I want to shake her hand and thank her for calming me down a lot.

I have decided what I’m going to go up there and do. Aside from my mission to Raise Awareness for Awareness, my mother’s charity ‘Save the Family’ have given me a t-shirt and so I’m going up in that and will talk a little about them and their cause They really are a wonderful charity. I was loath to get up there without doing some sort of good that was tangible and potent. The last thing I wanted to do was be selfish and get up there just to do it for myself. I do want it to be fully aware of the experience but I want there to be a measurable benefit to the world as well, not just the potential for a little introspection.


These are the set of questions I want you to answer for yourselves, if you can. Take it as seriously as you like. Answer as many as you like. If you want some anonymity you can email me the answers rather than put them below in a comment. I will reply/comment to all responses that I receive. -

There is no rush to answer them. In fact, there is no need to answer them - just have a little think. Take some time out and consider things. Print them off and just put them in your purse/wallet. Take them out on the train, on a mountain, in a forest, or in the pub and just have a think. [They also work really well as conversation points with new people you meet]

Who are you?

Can you introduce yourself in a sentence, does it reveal who you are?

What is our origin?

Do you believe in god?

Do we have free will in our lives?

Is there a balance of good and evil, or does one outweigh the other?

To what extent do you feel that you can change the world?

Is there such a thing as Truth?

What would be the model you would choose to live to? (i.e… Do unto others…? Look after yourself?)

Do people have souls?

What is beauty?

What is consciousness?

What is freedom?

And Lastly.... Are you the same person now as you were when you began reading this/before you saw me on the plinth? Have you considered who you are?


Tuesday, 29 September 2009

you and me tube

Well, another day.

I’ve been thinking more and more and more and to a frenzying pace.

I’ve done a little youtube video to help stamp things down into the real-world a bit more. This is all very interesting and entertaining. Big up to the tweeters. Follow me @jensenwilder.

Question for the day.

What talent would you most like to be known for?

Sub Questions:

Why do old people still not have a hang of how to use a phone after it being around for as long as they have been alive????

Also why do I like Shakira's She Wolf synth singing randomness!?!?!?

And remember... grab whatever you it is you like to drink and have a right good think!

Monday, 28 September 2009

erm, honest then

What is your favorite animal?

My favorite animal would have to be the whale. We still know so little about them but what we do know is fascinating. It is such a romantic creature. Pulled along by the need to graze on little ocean critters. Knowing where it is thanks to its use of the earth’s magnetic field which it uses to navigate into all the open water on earth. During whaling attacks they will band together and will not dive (sadly) unless all in the pod do. In this way, we have lost a huge number of these leviathans. There are so many reasons why these creatures are my favorites. At least this answers the question.

Who was your first love?

Wow, first you need to define ‘love’. Nevermind. Ignoring that epic fail of a desire to pin down a feeling, I have to say it was the first girl I went nuts for Katie. I was head over heels and didn’t call it love at all. There was the dolphin necklace I gave her, the play we did together. I was 11. I think she was my first ‘love’, because to me - at this moment - love means that you recognize there is someone that you would choose above yourself.

Who would you thank most for who you are?

Wow, I think I asked this one without even considering what the answer might be, but it came to me.

Interesting question and I can come at it from many angles but I’m going to be honest. I think my ex, Much, has largely made me who I am. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting over the last 8 months and can come to that conclusion because a lot of my new understanding of myself and why I was so unhappy (chiefly jealous because I was unable to be creative). You can’t spend two and half years with someone you adore and not be changed. All I am now, I owe to her. So thank you Much. She picked me up at a time when I was down and out and needed help and lifted my spirits until we parted. That’s the thing. It isn’t always those people that you get on well with that have the most impact. I learnt more about myself from her, but she didn’t teach me herself. Nor is that a slight, I think we all learn more if we learn for ourselves. You live with someone who has that creative passion and the opportunity to achieve her aims and you either join in, or you start getting jealous. I think if I were honest there is a lot I have learnt too slowly in my life. That being said, it is a close thing. So I might just do a little list of people below here that I want to thank also.










other questions?

I wont add too many mind-melting questions, how about some interesting ones.

What is your favorite animal?

Who was your first love?

Who would you thank most for who you are?

That’s the thing. Thinking is enough without making things intense.

What other questions would you like to ask?

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Where did we get to?

Where did we get to?

Why do I sway toward the conclusion of a divine creation/will? Is it childhood teaching; or a force-infomed conclusion, like gravity?

I think it is more down to being conditioned to think in that way. Plato gave the idea of the guardians trapped in a cave and held like veal. Heads held stationary through their formative years, they garner their understanding of the world from the shadow of objects, the echo of voices, the flame that lights the walls. Then they are set loose from the cave and able to see the sun and things as they are. They are at first afraid and want to run back into the cave (great metaphor) but slowly they adjust. I think that idea prompted me to understand that we are at the mercy of our own histories, unless we condition ourselves not to be. Life is a process. That is what growth is, searching out that truth you are most comfortable with. Like shoots, we can crack concrete to reach what we need.

I don't think, after a great deal of reflection, that I can gather much inspiration for an immortal 'creator' in the Islamic/Judaic/Christianic-sense. (That I/J/C-sense I have been coherced into considering as the very definition of 'Deity'.) I tend to believe that if I can feel and understand the inherent issues of its existence, then I called out the flaw in that idea. In saying that, what I mean is that if I can deem the world out of balance (war, famine, suffering) then it is not the effort of a balanced, perfect, deity. If there is a god, it must be above good and evil (for me at least) and that comes in the form of balance to me. I need to think more about balance, but have a feeling someone will tell me. If anything I'm more attached to the idea of the absent creator that Olaf Stapledon called the 'Star Maker' (in the novel of the same name). In it his understanding is that the universe, from its smallest elements to the amoeba-like galaxies themselves, is working toward the enlightenment of becoming aware of their origin. Existence is given its rules and structure and then left to itself to progress to the point where it can come face to face with the creator. Not something involved, but something abstract - removed entirely from any kind of influence.

What does a creator mean? Does it require worship? Does it (the creative force) define goodness, or is goodness just goodness before it is defined? In short, is morality prescribed or inherent?

I think i've answered half of this already. What does the creator mean? Well, that's the thing. I'm not sure it means very much to me. I prefer Olaf's idea that we are not able to fathom it in a singular way - we are not connected enough as a universe to understand or perceive it. So that leads to the idea of whether it requires worship. If I am honest, we should be thankful, but I doubt prayer does much. So that leads on to the goodness idea, which I have certainly touched in the last answer. Finally we have the idea of morality, which I am still considering. Truth be told.

Why do I want there to be a god?? Is it to relinquish responsibility for my existence? Or to have an explaination for it, so that I have free reign to move forward with the question settled??

The answer to this wonderful and woeful question is... if I'm honest... I want to relinqish my responsibilities, it is an eaiser thing to live knowing that you can lay your inadiquacies on the shoulder of some external force. Blame is a great relief.

However, I'm going to choose not to do that. I'm going to push myself toward the more honorable end of instead blaming myself for my own failings. See where that gets me. I might prefer the outcome, I might just go back to laying it at the feet of some creature beyond me. Who knows?

Does my wish for there to be a rule (or order) to things come from a spirit of self-interest? Do I wish for rules so I can learn/utilise them for my own benefit?

Yes. I'm not wrong in determining and admitting that, given the chance, I'd taylor my life to better suit the rules of the game. I'm aware that, so far, I have learnt very few of these rules. I don't think I know any really. Lets see...

So that is my reasoning, so far.

New questions are coming.

Add your own.

Grab a cup of tea and have a nice sit and think. Better yet, a whiskey.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

One and Other: All Just Soft Machines

One and Other: All Just Soft Machines.

There is a certain weight applied to the spirit when one engages deeply with the process of consideration and analytics. There are questions that will send you mad with wondering. Questions you will waste away trying to answer, so I’ve made a loop-hole for myself. A safety rope of sorts.

‘The answer never matters as much as that you asked the question.’ (I hope I’m quoted for saying that, though I’m sure it is an unoriginal sentiment.)

That is my attempt to save my sanity. That is the line that will console me, through the darkest moments of my journey.

That is what this whole Raising Awareness for Awareness idea is all about. It is about getting people merely to consider the question, if only for a moment, of who and what they are. It is what Gormley is asking us 2,400 to do. It is the question that many will have asked and many will have simply bypassed and said ‘what can I get up there and do!’ I’m not convinced it is a point of ‘doing’, but of ‘being’. I am still more intent that the aim of this whole thing is to ‘ask’.

I hope people will say - ‘What am I?’ Who am I?‘ ‘Hey, what is my politics?’ ‘How do I feel about justice/death/religion/charity/piety/immorality/sexuality?’

In some it will prompt the asking of more questions, in others it will awaken the certainty that they do not wish to ask anything further of themselves.

The safety rope will hold me back from being lost in questioning for its own, energy-draining, sake. I will keep my focus on the idea that I am struggling forward, but forever secured by my belief in my chief aim. To tone my mind, like any other muscle. One step toward being fit in mind, body and human spirit.

My ‘loop-hole’, as I put it, isn’t to wriggle free from the responsibility that comes from my starting this quest. I will not shirk away from the fact that there will be people who will reach out for an answer and gather up some objectionable theories. There will always be people who think their truth must be imposed and world should suffer its implementation. However, I feel knowledge of ourselves will lead to knowledge of a great many things. I believe that with knowledge and consideration comes empathy; and with that, unity. We are One and we are Other.

The answers may differ, but the soft machine that calculates is always of the same construction; mind, body and human spirit (or whatever you call it).