Disimprovements. Disimprovements. Disimprovements. Disimprovements.

Charlotte Prodger Northern Dancer

I’m part of a reading at the British Art Show 8‘s Edinburgh leg. This is happening on Saturday 5th March in Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. Maria Fusco has invited Sam Riviere, Daisy Lafarge and myself to respond with her to Charlotte Prodger’s work, Northern Dancer. Prodger’s work is a 4-screen installation which flashes up names from a lineage of racehorses, in a pattern worked out with a choreographer – it’s pretty visually dancey, black screens/white text pulsing. While the screens work, an audio text about Gertrude Stein being made to savagely edit one of her texts by her girlfriend Alice B. Toklas is played.

We’ve taken a lead from the purported Stein incident and the text patterning, and over 40 minutes we’ll be reading out our ‘disimproved’ texts, texts which have succumbed to sadistic rules set by our fellow readers.




The Number Shop: artspace & studios

Spotted on facebook earlier a nice SummerhallTV video of a good artspace close to where I live on Edinburgh’s Southside. Artist Alistair Grant is the self-starter director, and he talks candidly about his motivations and tactics in wresting a pretty extraordinary empty space from the council. It’s the way many great things start!

I’ve enjoyed The Number Shop exhibitions, and it’s a definite plus having interesting spaces for artists to use in Edinburgh (as Alistair says in the video) and even better when they’re five minutes away from where you live….

Here’s the video. I recommend finding them on facebook and trying to get along to one of their openings – welcoming and civilised affairs!

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/121145636″>Alistair Grant : The Number Shop</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/summerhalltv”>arts-news</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

A formless monster of dismaying length. (our lecture)

My collaboration with Zoe Fothergill is nearing its ruly/unruly climax. Here’s the event poster, designed by Wakaka co-host Chris Walker.

Facebook event here.

10 days to go!

Zoe F and Iain M poster

On 5 Nov 2012, at 19:06, zoe fothergill wrote:

excellent great response my dear

i ditto love the way levine talks about his work

i also find that more interesting than the work itself

and prob would have selected the same section re futility too

i totally agree that it is barely intelligible but not really in an interesting way

but also agree at times new languages evolve from this kind of mania

i find it diffcult and frustrating but still i’m pleased it exists

i geek too


i think you are right to question the quailty of the output

the relation between content and structure – meaning and form

but i guess i’m also interested in work that pushes past

to make the form the meaning or the structure the content.


i just ordered ‘a void’ – the ‘e’ less novel that focuses on the pursuit of e as the main thrust of the plot

intrigued to know whether it is unintelligible or if as you say re the 5hr opera

you got to ride with it

til it starts to infiltrate and reveal its inner logic.

in part i’m blown away by the fact it was written

for the sheer ‘what if ness’ of it

but even more so by the translation efforts

originally in french

then to english

and also spanish with no a instead

translators unsung heros

will report back.


ok so i say structure because i think it’s far more precise.

form has many more interpretations for me.

and oed agrees so it must be right – pasted below

but maybe the more openended nature of form appeals to you more

i guess for me structure feels more inside

more understanding relations within

and form is a step remove

surveying the whole

what say you?


thanks for including your poems

great examples of responses to struture/form

for me it always begs the question

when are rules freedom and when are they hinderance / stricture?

start without and impose as you go or start with and mould to fit?

i’m with you too that the second balances the relationship better

i love the interplay between prefixed and not vocab

oh so similar and yet not and yet sometimes yes

and then it building to a fuller interplay across the whole

that tantalisingly reveals itself – it’s fun it’s cheeky – i love it

while the first has a complex structure

it is almost invisible to me

so the second seems generous

with the listening/reader included

in the unravelling of the fun and games


did you see the andrew grassie show at trg

years ago now 08

one work driven by structure

that at trg was out of context

i would have loved to have seen in situ

was at mobile home in london

he hung a group show by open call

photographed it from 8 view points

then returned all the work

and made meticulous tiny paintings of the photos

then hung the photos in the 8 places

so that the exhibition space was practically empty

and yet the ghosts of the secret show

were presented in what i imagine to be

uncanny – making you double take in the space

couple images attached to aide explanation

the structure is elaborate

and maybe unnecessary

but i love its convolution

and for me it becomes the principal subject

anyways enough from me for now

soon soon



Definition of structure


1 the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of something complex:

the two sentences have equivalent structures

the company’s weakness is the inflexibility of its management structure

[mass noun] the quality of being organized: we shall use three headings to give some structure to the discussion

2 a building or other object constructed from several parts: the station is a magnificent structure and should not be demolished


Definition of form


1. the visible shape or configuration of something: the form, colour, and texture of the tree [mass noun]: the flowers of this shrub are remarkable both in form and colour

• the body or shape of a person or animal: his eyes scanned her slender form

• [mass noun] style, design, and arrangement in an artistic work as distinct from its content: these videos are a triumph of form over content

2. a particular way in which a thing exists or appears: essays in book form energy in the form of light

• any of the ways in which a word may be spelled, pronounced, or inflected: an adjectival form

• Philosophy the essential nature of a species or thing, especially (in Plato’s thought) regarded as an abstract ideal which real things imitate or participate in.

3. a type or variety of something: sponsorship is a form of advertising

• an artistic or literary genre: a form is as good as the writer who chooses it

• Botany a taxonomic category that ranks below variety, which contains organisms differing from the typical kind in some trivial, frequently impermanent, character, e.g. a colour variant. Also called forma.

4 [mass noun] the customary or correct method or procedure: an excessive concern for legal form and precedent

• [count noun] a ritual or convention: the outward forms of religion

• [count noun] a set order of words; a formula: a form of words

5. a printed document with blank spaces for information to be inserted: an application form

6. chiefly British a class or year in a school, usually given a specifying number: the fifth form

7. [mass noun] the state of a sports player or team with regard to their current standard of play: they are one of the best teams around on current form

• details of previous performances by a racehorse or greyhound: an interested bystander studying the form

• a person’s mood and state of health: she seemed to be on good form

• British informal a criminal record: they both had form

8. British a long bench without a back.

9. Printing, chiefly USvariant spelling of forme.

10. British a hare’s lair.

11. another term for shuttering.

Steven Cox show

Yo. Was out and about at some of the art openings in Edinburgh tonight. Thought I’d say a word about Steven Cox’s painting show, which is on this weekend only at The Old Ambulance Depot (btw, the old ambulance depot is a great space in a secret courtyard run by a design agency I think. seems to be accessible to art students and early career artists, which makes it doubly valuable).

Steven showed paintings done on small canvases (+one bigger one), which all were more or less brown. But wait! Don’t be fooled into thinking that would be boring – they were great, and because he’d carefully controlled the different processes between each painting, I felt like he achieved a huge variety of expression within what seemed like an impossible constraint. The subtle patterning of paint and organic-seeming change and flow within and between the nicely-spaced-out canvases gave me the feeling of listening to different expressions of the same musical idea, like a book of fugues. I should also say I loved the titles. There was one called ‘Days of Being Wild’ which, when you looked at the brown-ness in front of you seemed incongruous, but then forced your brain to start making a connection between the words and the image. I found myself thinking about black-outs, things your eyes might see if opened in the dark, shapes forming that might be imagined or might be as much as you can see of the real, and also feelings. There’s also the other meaning of ‘wild’ present, as in nature, where the brown makes a more literal sense. It felt pretty rich. I’m lucky – it was also the second great painting show I’d seen that night after Serge Charchoune at The Talbot Rice Gallery.


Here are all the titles in Steven’s show for interest. I recommend getting down if you can: 11am-6pm tomorrow, Sunday and Monday.


Worlds Apart



A Moveable Feast

The Younger

How Near How Far

Days of Being Wild

Roaming Wild Pastures

The Elder

Where It Belongs


Writing them all out just now, they made me think of the poem titles of Edwin Muir, the way they seem to sit in a mythic present, if such a thing is possible. I think the one in this picture might be ‘Roaming Wild Pastures’, but apologies if I’m wrong.

It’s noisy and You can listen LIVE (If you read this in the next 12 hours)

In the spirit of capturing the moment, Word,  a friend John Winslow, who’s studying at Edinburgh College of Art, is making noise (I think) for the next 12 hours and streaming it live on the internet.


I kind of love stuff like this – durational, random, mesmeric, irritating, connected, etc. I also love the fact that it’s being broadcast from the building next door to my flat. I suspect the window in the video looks onto my bedroom. It’s a crazy, mixed-up, broadcasting world we’re living in.

I’m looking forward to checking back to see what’s going on over the rest of the night, and what state the noise-makers descend into. At the moment it’s like a Bjorkian wet-dream in one of her more out-there moods.

Iain Morrison WAS GOING TO BE reading at CAESURA in July


See here for details

Hello, just a quick post to flag that I’m reading in a couple of months at the new CAESURA night at the Renroc Cafe in Edinburgh. Looking at the past two line-ups, it should be a good night. The estimable Greg Thomas is reading too. I’m lucky to know the chap. He’s a force for the good in Scotland’s text-art/art-text conversation and it looks from his blog like he’s getting close to the bone with some sinister skin graft effect poetry. Well, that’s probably saying too much. He’s very genial and not scary. Have a look.

NB NOW READING ON 29TH JUNE……..It’s 27th July. Would be good to see you if you’re around. I’m glad to have a date this far ahead with a bit of time to perhaps drive to a close some texts/poetry I have open. Montgomery Street’s turning into a bit of a wee cultural corner with The Old Ambulance Depot just round the corner and it linking up with the Leith Walk gallery/studio cluster. The event should appeal across disciplines as Graeme Smith who runs it is up for poetry+experiment.

Very Small Kitchen. I AM NOT A POET

The title for this blog post isn’t as nonsensical as it seems. Or rather, it kind of is in a delightful whimsy of naming as it’s what David Berridge, poet and avant-gardist based in London, calls his wordpress blog. The blog covers, as he says,  ‘Connections of language, writing, reading and art practice, inside and outside the VerySmallKitchen.’. That’s better than what I’ve come up with, isn’t it? This isn’t a competition, though, luckily for me, although some poets out there seem to be treating poetics as social warfare. Good luck to them etc. …cans of worms… where was I?

Oh yes, David Berridge. Look at the beautiful haikuey thing on his blog’s About section: ‘Let’s ban gravity/ Let’s ban the moon and/ Read all our spam’. That’s the kind of genteel aspirational anarchic spirit I enjoy.

I’m talking about David Berridge because he organised a season called I AM NOT A POET last Edinburgh Festival-time (Aug 2011) with Mirja Koponen at the sadly missed Total Kunst Gallery in the Forest centre. My friend Colin Herd was doing a durational performance in the gallery over 3 days which he invited a different poet into each day for a short reading. I was very grateful to be one of the poets alongside Jow Walton and Samantha Walton, in what was really my first public solo-reading venture of my own poetry straight-up. It was ok, my reading*, but one of the nice and unlooked-for bonuses was that David Berridge invited me to contribute, along with all the other artists involved in the season, a double-sided page of A4 to what he calls an ‘assembling’ publication – basically a sort of loose leaf folio with a title page at the front in pink (fortuitously enough for my blog :-)).

People submitted wonderful and diverse things. My contribution was a playful landscape of columns of text in which I was experimenting with mainly one-word lines with obvious rhymes. It was an early part of something I’ve developed further since (c.f. the three silly pillars reference in my earlier blog entry for those paying close attention!). I thought I’d share the publication link here as I loved and love being part of such a cool venture which felt like a welcome opportunity for a bit of spontaneous and carefree experiment. It’s a free download on issuu:


Colin Herd’s page, by the way, describes what he was doing for his installation, so if you read that, you’ll have an idea of the scene for my reading and for the sort of event I AM NOT A POET was. Which is to say, it’s own thing!

the first page of my poem in the assembling

*I admit, I did find it quite embarrassing that I’d chosen to start my reading by reading one of my fave poems by Colin –  in context with Colin having just intro-ed me, it seemed kind of strange and impudent! Colin said ‘nice one Iain, well done, liked the poem’ at the end, or some such nonplussed retort. It’s weird what you do in life that you think is a good idea. I guess you eventually hope you convince people you’re not a freak. I spend a lot of time back-pedalling away from social death when I first meet people, I’ve noticed….

Eye Ball Gritty at the Embassy Members’ Show

So, while this is posting, I’m quite possibly reading my poems live in an Edinburgh pub, as plugged a couple of posts ago – such is the joy of the scheduled post on WordPress. But, hot on the heels of that, there’s another artistic venture of mine about to pop-up in another Edinburgh venue. On Friday night, the Members’ Show at Edinburgh’s committee-run ‘Embassy Gallery’  opens and it includes a piece from the collaboration that I’m doing with Zoe Fothergill (see links page on this blog).

I’ll blog more about this later, but the project is working with different sorts of stereo viewer and looks at a sort of fetishisation of viewing that’s bound up in their existence. We’re currently waiting for some actually Viewmaster reels to come back from America with our combination of image and texts printed on to them by a company there. I think they more regularly make viewing reels from wedding photos etc, so this is probably a bit leftfield for them?!

Here’s one of the slides from one of the reels.


This text captures some of the fun we’re having with a ‘naughty pleasure’ angle. This technology was used by early photographers to show titillating images, and we wanted to capture some of that vibe.

You might be able to see this as a stereo image on your computer if you practise going cross-eyed. Try to do it so that you can see 3 images, and the one in the middle will be in stereo. But be careful now! I don’t want you to get eye-strain over this.

At the Embassy show, we’ll be projecting a reel’s worth of images (7) oscillating between the left and the right eye photos.


I went to the Sco Natio Gallery o Mo Art today. Ok, it wasn’t today, it was Monday (I wrote this in advance) and I actually went to the  Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, but the way they’d lined up all the ‘O’s on their branding amused me. I wonder if the ‘Oooo’ is the noise you’re meant to make as you go round the exhibits…

And well you might! The buildings and their parks alone never fail to impress and currently the Sculpture Show they’ve got on, nicely puts a focus on the works out in the grounds.

I currently work for another gallery in Edinburgh. Being back soundly in a visual arts environment is one of the drivers of my cultural traffic at the moment. I’m really enjoying re-immersing myself in (capital ‘A’) Art language, after being more in film and performance environments for a number of years.

One thing that today really came out, because of the excellent curation and the text in the galleries, was the way in which each art form is dancing the same social reality of its time, and that the innovations of form and technique can be put into the background once there’s been a bit of water under the bridge, so that you can see what really belongs together, and what’s being said.

There was one room in particular that lit this clearly for me, ‘Geometry of Fear’ I think it was called. It showcased work made by artists emerging in the 1950s and how their gaunt, scratched, scrambled figures seemed to speak of the fear of living in the shadow of the atomic bomb and imagined nuclear apocalypse with the memories of the atrocities of WW2 still fresh. I got a real jolt out of artists I hadn’t really cracked before, like Paolozzi.

I’d recommend seeing the show if you get the chance. It’s interesting and comprehensive on the different movements in sculpture – for example, discussing whether there could even be such a thing as Impressionist Sculpture given the insistent solidity of the form. There’s a brilliant surprise in the second room on your right (approached through the Ron Mueck), but maybe I won’t say what it was and spoil it 😉

Oooo! And they had this painting by John Maxwell on display that I’ve been wanting to see in real life for years. It was my desktop on my old computer.