Blog

Telegraph Poles Keep Marching....

....over the horizon while soldiers lie dead and frozen, eaten by crows in Vasily Vereshchagin's huge (c.1.8m x 2.8m) oil painting, The Road of the War PrisonRusso-Turkish War.jpg

ers, painted in  1878–79.  I saw this picture in April when I was in New York for a conference and it has haunted me ever since.  The Russian artist Vereshchagin was working as a war-correspondent in the Russo-Turkish War. In the winter of ...


William Morris’s poem ‘Error and Loss’ and Scrambled Messages


In William Morris’s verse poignant situations arise from failed connections, producing the intense sadnesses of love.  He published ‘A Dark Wood’ in the Fortnightly Review in 1871 and included it under the title ‘Error and Loss’ in his final collection of poems Poems By the Way (1891).  The poem includes just three actors: the melancholy narrator who sits on the ‘leaf-strewn’ grass at the edge of a wood in autumn, a tearful maiden who ...


Archaeology: technology: telecommunications

archaeology technology telecommunications

The time has finally come. I can put it off no longer. It is time to write up my thesis. It's tricky though, reading back over work that feels like a lifetime ago and trying to step back from all the fiddly detail that is thesis and thinking 'where is the book?' 'what's my big point?' and 'why would anyone read it?' (let alone buy it). It's ok for literary types, they ...


Muddled Seriality

Muddled serialityThis is my model in air dough and extruded plastic of muddled seriality. I haven't had so much fun in ages.  Probably since about 1970, in fact.   I was one of the Scrambled Messages team who as asked to come up with a term from my own discipline that was difficult to communicate to other disciplines.  I teach English Literature and a term that is exercising me in my own research and writing at ...


Natalie Hume: Failure Non-Event

failure ModernityThe Non-Event was a day exploring failures of various kinds, in honour of the unsuccessful transatlantic telegraph cable-laying attempt in 1865. Cassie and Anne had invited participants from a range of different disciplines, and we were put in mixed teams before being asked to carry out some unusual tasks, including a game requiring us to send messages across the studio and the challenge of representing a particular concept using objects that we had selected from ...


Jim Dixon: Serial Failure

Jim Dixon small failureScrambled Messages, Day of Failure: Making session

I liked very much Mark’s brief talk to us about the Institute of Making and the benefits of thinking-while-doing. It struck a chord with some of my own work into durational experiences of space. Tasked simply with ‘making’, I wanted to avoid trying to make a visual representation of anything we had discussed in the day so far and instead to use making to try to create ...


Carmel Raz: Failing Better

Materials of the 'serial' tableWhen I joined the Scrambled Messages team for “Failure: a Complete Nonevent” at the Institute of Making, I never expected failing to be so much fun. Whether it was coming in last in the telegraphic contest after our chopstick slingshot broke (mission: convey “Hence, heap of wrath, foul indigested lump” to the team at the far end of the room), depicting an electric field using found objects, or creating an air-dough model of said “field ...


Eleanor Shipton: Failing Together

Participants at the materials stallsI was lucky enough to be one of the MA students invited to the Scrambled Messages ‘Non-Event’ at UCL’s Institute of Making on Monday 13th July. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The event certainly lived up to its expectations, with students - both MA and PhD - post-doctoral researchers and academics of different disciplines split into groups, performing tasks ranging from sending a message from one side of the Atlantic to the other ...