Sunday, 20 September 2009


I forgot to post a link to this:

Actually I didn't so much forget as I was disappointed that the site had misrepresented my work.

Less than a year ago I was invited to be involved in a project of proposals for artworks to be sited on the moon. There were no plans to actually carry out the proposals but it was always intended that there would be a website to present them. I really liked the futility of the idea of working towards something which would never be completed, so I agreed. After indulging a number of ridiculously megalomaniacal thoughts (well why not, it’s the moon after all?!) a better idea began to germinate.

A year previously I had been invited to be a speaker at a conference in Latvia and as an exercise to break the ice, the delegates were asked to find something on their person - an object of some kind - which expressed something about them. We were then asked to place these objects on the table, and one by one we were asked to talk about ourselves with reference to the object we had chosen. I hate these kinds of group activities and I tried quickly to think of some alternative and unconventional thing that I could contribute – the more objectionable or subversive the better. After rummaging in my bag for what felt like too long as other people placed pens, cameras, notebooks and pieces of jewelry on the table I happened to feel the grubby granularity of dirt at the bottom of my bag. Great, a piece of dirt, I thought, perfect! I carefully lifted up the grain of dirt between thumb and forefinger and placed it upon the table amongst the other assorted objects.

One by one each person spoke about themselves and their objects and one by one the items disappeared from the table. As this was going on, I was finding it very difficult to concentrate on what each person was saying, caught up as I was with the thought of my tiny speck of dirt and all the wonderful clever things I could say about it and its inextricable relevance to the context of the conference. Eventually there was an all-but-empty table in front of us and to my simultaneous surprise, disappointment and relief the convener gave some concluding remarks and proceeded to the next item on the agenda.

At that moment the realisation hit me: my grain of dirt was simply too small to be seen. For all intents and purposes the table was empty and there was no one else left to speak. I was saved! No need to show off or embarrass myself and no need to continue with the mental gymnastics necessary to make sense of this insignificant speck of dirt. But my relief was short lived. Inevitably someone had been paying attention to what was going on; someone with a need for fairness, balance and equality; someone who had registered a nagging absence in the numbers. I felt it before they spoke, a faint rising consciousness of having been found out and the realization that my quiet but glorious moment of reprieve was about to end. “Where’s your object?” they asked inquisitively, pointing a finger and interrupting the convener. Suddenly all eyes were on me and everyone was murmuring-

“Oh yes, what about you, where’s your object?”

No matter I thought, I’ve had plenty of time to work out what I’m going to say, it won't be that difficult. Confidently, I reached across the table to the tiny dot I could see waiting for me. With a moistened index finger I touched the speck and lifted it up to inspect it more closely.

“Here’s my object, it’s.. it’s a.. it’s a poppy seed!”

Proposal for 14ºN 32ºW Project:
To exhaustively document a single poppy seed using the most wide-ranging and exacting technologies currently available.
This documentation would take the form of measurements etc, of all dimensions, weight, surface-hardness (Mohs), moisture content, density, chemical composition, spectral properties, calorific value, surface-area, genus, year of production, country and region of origin, DNA etc. As many of these measurements as possible would be taken directly from the seed itself. The more invasive/destructive measurements would necessitate the use of seeds taken from the same batch (preferably the same plant).
The poppy seed would also be thoroughly mapped using 3D mapping, X-ray and conventional photography.
The resulting documentation would then be carefully archived and placed in safe storage on Earth. The poppy-seed itself would then be transported and deposited as near to the centre of location 14ºN 32ºW of the Moon as convenient.
J. Hamlyn, 2009

Friday, 18 September 2009

Can Creativity Be Taught?

In a far-flung corner of the internet I recently became caught up in a blog debate which started as a discussion about whether it’s possible to teach creativity. You can find the full (and rather lengthy) discussion at the following web address:

My interlocutor (Dyske Suematsu) has another site ( with many essays on a range of subjects including philosophy, art and politics. This one in particular provoked me:

Perhaps I’m simply being over sensitive – you’ll have to make up your own mind.