Paul Purgas

Paul Purgas

Purgas started from a music background from 90’s drum and bass. He was fascinated by the underground resistance in Detroit 1989 which was empowered by the black political movement with the aesthetic of a militant sonic language. This interest changed his way of thinking about urbanism. Purgas introduction to architecture was brought about by the hyper modern moment in the Detroit techno scene born out of Jeff Mills, Because of this, Purgas decided to study architecture. The musical Avant Garde and radical performance art also became an influence from his studies. The Finnish band Pansonic was another influence that he discovered around this time. Purgas was involved with DIY electronics and was fixated on the pure sound of electricity. Following this is the pure material qualities of electric sound. He later studied at the University of Westminster and was taught by Cedric Price died who was interested in psychedelic architecture. He instilled the idea in Purgas that everything he would study would be transferable in anything else. What is taught will eventually be useful and will be able to communicate through drawing and sound etc. It was in the Royal College where Purgas realised that he would not like to be an architect. The joke was that architects woking with large firms were “CAD Monkeys” and that all they would contribute to a project was the railings in a toilet.

Left the Royal College, left London and moved back to Bristol and managed to get post as curatorial assistant in Arnolfini. Here, he found himself digging into the archives. From this he was rethinking the place of experimental music. He found that within Arnolfini, there were set environments for different disciplines of work and that seemed detrimental to progressing in art. He found that the freedom he was looking for is found in the past.

Alongside being a curator for the gallery, Purgas was also making music. He was working with purist constituents of sound: sound wave and white noise. He used that with his band as a  fundamental limitation. He managed to make albums out of 3 sounds. Ourdas was also interested in the history of rock bands and how often they would record on location instead of in a studio. Therefore, he found a mansion in Gloucester which was the largest gothic mansion in the country, yet was never completed due to lack of funds. Part of the appeal was the various elements that that were exposed, this made it exciting in the context that they were working in. The house was a method of imprinting on the sonics itself.

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He was later invited by Tate Britain to be apart of performing architecture, looking for people trying to perform qualities of architectural spaces. The questions he asked himself was:What can we do? Where can we go? Where could we take it? The next location was a nuclear power station in Snowdonia. There was authorisation to build a massive station there in 50’s but now the space is being constantly dismantled. This arc of breakdown is due to continue until 2030. In this sense, the space has completed its life cycle. Purgas showed us the sounds he created in the space, it was a very dark and heavy sound that pulsed almost like a lament.

He was then approached by the architecture foundation “Sounding Spaces” which formed a subtext to all this spacial work. The idea of sound, space and supernatural otherness was fascinating at the time. This followed the idea that architecture is living somehow. Purgas hoped to animate the building that somehow defies logic. His theory was that everything has a fundamental frequency where everything will accumulate. This would be true with buildings, all that is required is the removal or enhancement of certain frequencies.

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He was then approached by Transmedi Art who invited him to make commissions with radio broadcasting. This prompted Purgas to work with the sound of Earth and its signals, picking up historical ideas to rework or remix it. He set up improvised performance  in Berlin in real time and outputted mixing desk into a van which transmitted to France then to Poland and then to concert hall. The idea was to use the atmosphere as a signal processor.

He later worked with a Turkish sound artist thinking about the ideas of metrics and imagined time structures chronicling international and biographical events. They were  designing and building a physical system, working with vocalist too. They were using pure tones and sound waves that mimic what Purgas was doing electronically with the final discord of the voice.

Finally, Purgas spoke to us about his latest work that is at a very early stage which was looking at adversarial neural networks and how AI learn. He told us that multiple networks learn and cross reference information, whereas adversarial elements are competing to arrive at decisions in a competitive manner. Purgas is exploring how AI could work to extrapolate that into a compositional system. Because this is relatively uncharted territory it is difficult finding people with the skills. He now is working with the Wilkes Super computer in Cambridge. He wishes to build these systems using the Wilkes super cluster as brain.

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Evan Ifekoya

Ifekoya introduced the talk by stating that she would show us a sound essay that weaves together more recent work with things she is thinking about at the moment. The video is very slow and through this she is questioning what it means to listen and decenter the visual.

Alot of the time music is intersected with speech and layered so the audience perhaps is unsettled. Throughout the layering of speech becomes almost impossible to comprehend and actually hearLater, repetition of a chant is merged into a beat in a hypnotic fashion. Echoes of dialogue that distort the piece can be heard with clarity. There is a talk of time based realities, this is what I managed to pick up:

You translate vibrations that’s why you see hear… you are vibrations. You are inside the vibrations. You are vibrations beings.

Now there are images of tropical fish and footage of a blue ring octopus when discussing characteristics of zombies. Heavy beats play which then introduce a voice that speaks a language I cannot understand.

Ringing bells then play and another octopus is featured. Dance music is introduced and there appears to be different genres of music playing throughout. Over the top of this, a commentary of sound and noise production/understanding.

On the whole I didn’t really grasp what Ifekoya was trying to communicate but, in that case, the work was not meant for me. I found it interesting the seemingly disconnected pieces had different interpretations by the audience that the artist did not consider but were ultimately still valid. This made me consider if there truly has to be a justification of the decisions an artist makes or is it perfectly fine for a work just to be.

Tim Stoner

Stoner began by talking to us about some drawings he did when he was 18 and grew up i London. They are mostly of trees and parks. He had an inclination to be an artist but it was not a profession that was a popular choice in school.  He began his practice with drawings of motifs that we collect and inhabit us. He found that there is an importance of drawing and drawing our surroundings. Stoner knew he was good at drawing but knew other things were happening in art and that this wasn’t enough. His current practice includes the plane of what is seen, understood, imagined and announced. He frequently went on the train to London go to the Docklands and painted more of an idea of a place rather than depicting it accurately.  In the beginning,  a lot of his paintings were about traveling and speed of being on a train but not anything more complicated than that. Only when he attended the Royal College of Art that he realised he had been quite blinkered from the art world. He said that most people entered the college as abstract painters and came out as figurative. Stoner became interested in the psychological anchor of relationships to people and slippage of painting. He endeavored to try and find moment of how the painting slips out of you and represents totality of experience.

Stoner left the Royal College and was working as painter and decorator. He came across an opportunity to go to Spain  for 3 months as someone had dropped out of the program. Stoner began creating paintings about beauty and desire and at the time he wasn’t looking at the world as something good. After his 3 month stay he applied to an academy in Amsterdam and got the position he wanted. Initially, there was a real chaos present in his work and it soon collapsed. In his first year he decided to go back to himself  and started painting from family snapshots. He wanted the image to be flat but special at once. By back-lighting the piece this could solve the problem. Second year came together wanted painting to be like camouflage and wanted paintings to have positivity of a projected perfect lifestyle but also had nuclear end of the world thing going on.

At one time he endeavored to paint a couple fucking for some reason. After a while his painting became quite folksy with a wicker man vibe going on. Stoner went on to say that if you can’t make art then you cannot call yourself an artist. He came back to London studio in Bethnal Green and continued with the theme of the work in Holland that was still l really precise and accurate. He really stripped things down rigorously and pondered what is enough in painting. Stoner told us that when you’re a student you have an idea that everyone is going to want to work with you but it is not like that.

Eventually Stoner felt underwhelmed with his painting . He wanted to abandon his work and move to Spain – which he did. His neighbors were into farming and that was an inspiration to the paintings he was creating around this time. He was a lot more hands on with his work, scraping paint off and chucking paint on etc. He had a show in London in 2012 and hated it. This inspired him to destroy everything in his studio. He reverted back to drawing and drew things that he would naturally see on his way to the studio etc or generally around his travels. The aim was to make his work the subject and the relationship he had to it be the focus of his practice. In this way the place becomes really significant. In particular, Stoner enjoys the space where city turns to the countryside and vice versa. This prompted him to start to think of  the archaeological form of painting and scraping etc. In particular he is interested in how images are woven together and the entanglement of the image. Throughout all this, he is trying to find the elemental part of the painting and that a painting isn’t just picture or a depiction but an experience.

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Holly Pester

Pester introduced the talk by stating that she explores poetry, research and her sense of self. As an author she actively participates in her work taking the form of Subject. She introduced us to Map she created that acts as a cosmology to her practice: in the middle are the objects/things that are the focus of her obsessions.  Outside the middle column are the methods or modes that have are followed to explore the central topics. Pester is particularly fascinated with the relationships between these things that she is drawn to and how she can engage with them in her practice. Some of these Methodologies include cadence and hallucinations and her interests include bogs, clairvoyance, posture etc. Through this pursuit, Pester does not attempt to emphasis the self/the person.

Pester has touched on various artists and writers that have enabled and provoked particular ways of thinking. She found it important to acknowledge and locate the lineage of thinking and honour the texts and works created in line with her interests.  Hannah Weiner’s “I see words” – and the practice of Hannah Weiner –  was a particular interest. Weiner suffered from schizophrenia and an example of a symptom of her condition is that she sees texts coming out people heads. Weiner claimed this symptom as  clairvoyancy and logged her findings in her “clairvoyancy journals”. What Pester is intrigued by is the archiving of a bodily state into a mode of composition and how the text negotiates with this very particular, personal language.

“The Fast” is another text by Weiner that Pester studied and is interested in. Pester traveled to San Diego to read this piece and Pester traced the entries of Weiner as she starved herself, locked herself in the room and documented her experiences. Pester noticed how a strange attachment is formed when you study a persons very personal account of events. Pester told us how Weiner was seeing witches coming out of the taps and found herself (after time) agreeing with Weiner when she thought it was a good idea to move into the kitchen sink so it would allow her to drink and piss simultaneously . Pester found that Weiner’s voice within the text was haunting the material and also Pester herself.

telephone Holly Pester

Pester read snippets of essays that she has written. She described her work as “hallucinatory lyric” despite the fact she does not hallucinated but does experience Hypnogogia (the vibrant space between sleeping and waking). When Pester hears things during this state, she is interested in this arena as a research space.

“Voices confuse a sense of myself”

“Voices of an expression as a different state of being”

“Mad utterances to be not mine”

Moving from Hallucination to gossip, Pester showed us a clip, that was quite old, installed inside telephone box on the gates of the Royal Academy. The piece was titled An Epic of Gossip and acted as a  “a storage tank of reserved otherness”. Some snippets of dialogue include “Its coming apart”and “you or the phone?”. Pester here was interested in this described otherness and the Lacanian idea of letting the other into your unconscious space of speech. As two people were on the phone, the friendship between the duo is a a space that allows the rehearsing of politics within our speech; after all your friends are the closest version to you.

Pester later worked on a book project after taking a residency ins the Woman’s Art Library at Goldsmiths which focuses on woman’s literature  mainly from 60’s through to the 80’s. She focused on an archival reading strategy centered around gossip which is the connector of data and information. The result of “Fan Fiction of the Archive” was a book of poetry, short stories and experimental fictions.

Holly Pester Archive Research

Pester then read from her poem “Two Sculptures” and these lines, I felt, were especially poignant:  “Everyone works in memory of victims”, “can anyone cut this cream cake”, “my birth chart is braided”. Here, the fact that someones birth is predetermined and woven to already to an already specified design is what especially piqued my interest. This action is a very feminine practice and suggests that care has similarly been woven into the creation of life.

Within Pester’s group Common Rest project, she and seven other artists used lullabies as method to draw on – and to think about – care, friendship and the politics of care and labour. They composed lullabies outside of the domestic normative space whilst attempting to maintain the spellbinding magic of the lullaby (that perhaps acts as a curse as well). Each song was a duet and they worked together to create an immersive, surreal piece. The group tackled themes such as: activism, mental health, abortion, love, the sea, spines, money, dogs, education and beds amongst other things.The piece we listened to called Rush was very repetitive, immersive and surreal and featured the layering of one specific sound which were in fact “elevated particles of speech”.

Pester than told us how she then focused on nervousness as a state of being and how she hopes to convert this into a mode of knowledge. She questions how this nervousness can be transformed into resistance. Below are some snippets of Nervousness as Style.

“I do include worry pressure anxiety and apprehension”

“Becoming a body in a sea/scene of bodies and functions”

“To be this much in love is to be sick and I love to be sick”

“Being a out exuberance and material together”

Pester than spoke about how she explored de-creativity to cultivation. Charlotte Bronte’s Villette was influential to this mode of thought. During the novel, the protagonist is so overcome with emotion regarding some love letters she has received she cannot bare to read them. Therefore, she wraps them in a handkerchief, dips them in oil, puts them in a glass and seals them with wax, and then they are finally buried in the ground resembling a grave. It is this raptured obsession that Pester finds so engaging and the archival quality of the protagonist’s actions. The letters inhabit a space that is not destructive but not creative either, they are placed in stasis.

Common Rest Holly Pester

Morgan Quaintance

Morgan Quaintance is based in London and holds the positions of writer, musician, curator and broadcaster. He regularly writes for Art Monthly and contributes to E-Flux’s online publishing portal art agenda. He has also founded a curatorial collective entitled DAM PROJECTS.


Quaintance began in 2009 in a band called “Does It Offend You, Yeah?” and got kicked out of Glastonbury for inviting people to come on stage and smash things up. He soon left the band because he wasn’t using his mind and essentially just wanted to “change gears”. More specifically he wanted to return to studying curating.  Therefore, he returned to the  Royal College under the ‘Inspire Scheme’ which is an scheme that acknowledges the lack of ethnic workers in the art world. This involved going to work within institutions where you are training for the job. However, he felt that this scheme wasn’t the best fit for him as his his own voice was not correctly represented because the internet was not considered seriously enough.

Quaintance found that he wanted to write for Art Monthly and wanted to have peole listen to his voice. He found that he had to fight for every publishing opportunity he got and had to constantly push his way through to achieving his goals. He found that he had to create his own context for criticism but found it difficult to write about work he didn’t  respond to as there is always a justification that would need to be explained. He told us that there are two main points to consider when critiquing art:

  1.  does the work fulfill its intention?
  2. On a formal level is the work interesting aesthetically?

Alongside this is where does the work place in relation to art history?

Quaintance graduated in 2011 and knew that he wanted to branch out into radio. He was initially frustrated that he was only present on radio for a maximum of 30 minutes. He asked Art Monthly to extend this time but he was told he was not quite ready. He even went to the extent of asking to do it with no pay. Later he started to contemplate curating again and spent time researching artists and interviewing them and the bodies of work they were interested in.

Below are some exhibitions Quaintance has participated in:

Pre Owned: Looks Good Man 

“was a group exhibition inspired by the temporary networks of association or meaning that are produced when culturally aware web surfers visit disparate websites, or drift through the internet.

The exhibition sought to use the characteristics of this browsing, specifically drawing on recurrent themes of search that seem to direct such activity, as a curatorial model informing the selection criteria for artworks on display.”


DAM Projects: Letters from Istanbul

“Inspired in part by British broadcaster Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America, a series of radio essays on American history, current affairs, and politics, Letter from Istanbul was a group exhibition as dispatch, a project that took a look at art, culture, history and politics in the city of Istanbul. Rather than an essentialist survey of the metropolis and its artists, the exhibition presented a snapshot of projects, people and the histories and institutions structuring aspects of their socio-cultural present.

In order to create a space in which contemporary art and reportage coexisted, the display featured information regarding the social and political currents charging the city (photographs, video, media materials, etc.) alongside artworks.

In addition to the exhibition, curator Morgan Quaintance produced a documentary featuring interviews with cultural producers in the city, shot over two weeks during the recent referendum. Two radio programmes of interviews with sociologists and theorists discussing queer sexualities, women’s voice talk shows, current party politics, crime and the neoliberal city in Turkey were also broadcast on Resonance 104.4FM.”


Information regarding exhibitions found from:

Born in Flames

Today we watched “Born in Flames” by Lizzie Borden a documentary style film which tackled themes such as racism and sexism in an alternative United States socialist democracy in 1983.


The plot concerns two feminist groups, each based in New York, speaking their concerns to the public through illegal radio stations. One is led by an outspoken white lesbian named Isabel (operating radio Ragazza) and the other group is led by Honey, an African American (operating Phoenix radio). Once a well-known political activist called Adelaide Norris is arrested and consequently dies under suspicious circumstances the community is drawn to action. At the same time, The Women’s Army led by Hilary Hurst are under investigation by the FBI following their feminist actions regarding protest due to lack of work, and ultimately respect, in society.

As a whole, the story involves the perspectives of several other women coming together and choosing to work separately in the face of extreme sexism. The main focus appears to be that action is key rather then discussion and hesitation. Additionally, the unity of women is stressed throughout in the hope of a cohesive moment inevitably toppling the sexism that so prominently exists around them.

The women come to realise that the weight of change rests solely on their shoulders as it becomes clear the government will do nothing to help. This form of unity is gradually referred to as terrorism yet is still undercut by sexist comments despite this label. For example, a news reporter hints that perhaps the police are searching for their phone numbers in an unprofessional manner.


Ultimately, both radio stations are burned down (again in suspicious circumstances) and the two stations (Ragazza and Phoenix) collaborate as one radio broadcasting station operating from moving vans. They also join The Women’s Army which send a group of Feminist Terrorists to interrupt a broadcast of the President proposing woman should be paid in their completion of housework. This is followed by bombing the antenna of the World Trade Center as a preventative method to stop such other destructive messaged being relayed to the public.

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I found this film very empowering especially considering the strength possessed by these women to fight for their cause. One scene I felt was especially powerful was when a woman was being harassed on the street by two men to the point she was struggling on the floor and a large group of The Women’s Army came to her rescue on bikes blowing on whistles. What was especially interesting to me was the scream the woman was making echoed the sound of the whistles themselves. This could perhaps refer to the fact that in the yes of the film, it is truly up to women to rescue themselves from complete subservience. Although this film was produced in 1983 it is interesting, and also horrendous, that it holds so much relevancy to today.



Frank Wasser

Frank Wasser is an artist and writer who currently resides in London. His studio work has followed a few different paths and currently he is working on a feature length film script for a film called “Holyhead”. One of his influences for this is “The Exterminating Angel” a 1962 surrealist film by Luis Buñuel. He explained that his pieces of writings draws attention to some ways of thinking when producing art, this can be noted on a text piece he wrote which was “written” by a fictional professor regarding Jurassic Park. This focus on pop culture also extends to Wasser’s interest in logos and trademarks and the deconstruction of them. The aim being here is that he hopes to breakdown the current obsession of today’s culture.

Wasser is particularly interested in text pieces and began creating these kinds of pieces in Times New Roman. He is also interested in spectacles and challenging ideas and authorities such as art and education institutions. One of the pieces he had created at the beginning of his career was an installation of a dusty cabinet, which was thrown out of a government building, with his birth certificate attached. This was in part, part of a protest which he and a friend participated in to do with the national college of art that broke away causing backlash. As another form of protest, Wasser ran for student president in order to combat the associations that a student president would have to be a jock or somebody similar. He succeeded in this yet said that he didn’t get very far to achieving the goals he set out to accomplish. Wasser was interested in housing issues during this time and told us that he was aware that the properties rented to students at uni were sucking up money. This led to activism surrounding the area he grew up in. There were plans to move the art school from central Dublin which would be devastating for the area.

Wasser’s text pieces came into more of a fruition when working within institutions and community art groups. However, where artists might document and archive their work, Wasser does not, the only record of his work are from people who have experienced them in person and documented them of their own accord. In this way, Wasser is interested in how his work interacts with culture.


Later on in his practice, Wasser considered how images and text can be formatted in various ways. During around the same time, there were three threads of practice which involved art, writing, screenplay development and working as an educator. These modes of work informed each other and contributed to a wider understanding of his practice. From this Wasser was involved with the Schools and Educators Residency at the Tate. The workshops he partook in forms the discussion to making his own work within the institution. This residency lasted a year. Frequently he found he was asked to make a lot of the same work and even at present his work is a permanent fixture at the Tate. More recently he completed a piece of work at Somerset House where a child speaks about views of the future from the perspective of a fictional character and from the perspective of Wasser himself.


During the talk Wasser performed one of his pieces which featured himself slumped over, lifeless, while a film was showed featuring snippets of himself inside a building with people and quick interjections of text. This was broken up by the sound of heartbeats, and what sounded like a chainsaw, alternating in quick succession. The effect was that the piece was very stressed, oppressive and uncomfortable. I did not quite understand the intention of the piece yet it nevertheless made me feel a particular way so I believe whatever was intended, was successful. This form of work did not influence my practice particularly.