Earlier this year I was invited to Norwich to talk about the palimpsest, the subject of my early work but a topic to which I had not returned in recent years. At the symposium I met a talented young designer and filmmaker, Michael James Lewis, who challenged me to consider how the metaphor of the palimpsest might help us think about the contemporary digital age, in particular cloud computing and remote data storage. He did indeed get me thinking, so during the summer he came to visit me in Cambridge and we recorded a long interview on the topic as part of his project, ‘The Cloud is More than Air and Water’. Michael has now turned the interview into a sound piece intercut with his own work and backed by new music composed by his collaborator, Matt Parker, out of sounds recorded at a data storage site. Part I of the recording is now available here, with Part II following shortly.
I’ve just spent a fantastic day in Norwich at a symposium on the palimpsest, organised as part of Adam Pugh’s exciting Invisible Fabrick project. It was one of those days that refreshes the intellectual soul – not an academic conference but a symposium attended by academics, art practitioners, curators and the public. A diverse mix of interested and interesting minds that always makes for stimulating discussion and debate. I had the pleasure of revisiting my early work on palimpsests and the palimpsest, and was also prompted by great questions to think about how that textual metaphor might be extended, or possibly extenuated, by our modern day digitial hyperreal world. The highlight of the day was what I’m already thinking of as Patrick Coyle‘s ’round table with a difference’! Rather than the usual academic way of ending the day, with a panel reflecting on the ideas that have been raised, Patrick took us on a creative ‘tourk’ (talk and walk) from the symposium venue to the site of the evening’s book launch, layering into his own creative work reflections on the day’s proceedings. Entertaining, ingenious and utterly original. I’ll definitely be booking him to wrap up proceedings at the next conference I organise!