Cause and effect

I’ve been commissioned by Andre de Jong at the artist-led space VINYL to produce a piece of work for this Autumn, the set-up being that I’ve been paired with artist Nita Newman and Andre’s leaving us to riff off each other and see what happens.

A while ago Nita and I went for a stroll around Digbeth looking for inspiration. We explored a few different spaces and ideas, but we kept coming back to the Duddeston viaduct: 355 yards of futile endeavour.

Duddeston viaduct

… originally built to connect the GWR‘s B&OJR line to the LNWR‘s Curzon Street station. As stated elsewhere, the GWR fell victim to the LNWR’s politicking which meant that whilst the LNWR stopped the GWR gaining access to their station, the LNWR still demanded the viaduct be built even though they knew it would never be

Nita’s developing a site specific audio composition (call for participants currently on her website at, so I’m taking my cues as being the following:

  • effort
  • journeying
  • separation
  • railways and engineering

I have some proto ideas that I’m investigating for feasibility since they’ll involve some data-streaming from a moving bicycle.

In the meantime I’ve also been doing some exploring of old railway lines and cunning mechanisms.

Stop. Look. Listen.



mill pr0n

mill pr0n

mill pr0n

mill pr0n

Crossing the threshold: Lynn’s Diner

This possibly won’t mean anything to you unless you took part in the Uncertain Eastside Walk and Talk event, but I have recently had occasion to cross the threshold of Lynn’s(sp?) Diner. [edit: ah, it’s “Lyn’s”]

hot. spot.

hot. spot.


4 of the 5 main food groups


Visual treat: holographic image of some coke cans

I’ll say no more except to encourage you to try the same one day.

Testing potential: Hedge Enquiry at Edible Eastside

I was one of a group of artists selected to join Hedge Enquiry test the potential of the Edible Eastside site: “a quarter of an acre of canal-side land, a former distribution depot, which we are converting into a ‘pop-up’ edible park using temporary containers and raised beds.”

concrete garden

The concrete garden starts to take shape

I’ve visited the site a couple of times before and been very excited by the concept of transforming the derelict brownfield site into an urban garden and shared community space. I’m yet more excited now to see the transformation starting to take place! The site has been cleared; beds raised; the tea urn plugged in; and chooks and cats installed.

With the first growing season about to gain momentum, Hedge Enquiry are investigating possibilities for the arts programme and had invited us lot in to have a good old poke around and imagine what might be.

Growing season

The first green shoots are starting to push through

I went along looking forward to an opportunity to spend some time with a space and allowing whatever revealed itself to trigger some creative propositions.

It was nice to have the chance to do this without agenda or expectations hanging over us. That said, I currently come pre-packaged with my own aims and objectives.

I’m still questioning what my practice looks like having absorbed the experiences of BARG and fizzPOP, wanting to make work that applies some of the thinking and skills I’ve gained through both of these. I very deliberately didn’t bring any tech with me though. This was time to be spent looking, sensing and working in my sketchbook.

I also had the Splacist manifesto in the back of my mind. Here are the bits that resonated for me today:

  • We will link and shift; across time, space, people, places and processes.
  • We will expose and re-see.
  • We will work on and across edges. We will push them. We will blur them.
  • We will reveal beautiful moments.
  • We will find our own energy sources.

Today I have been thinking about: revealing the unseen; biomass accumulation; solar power; canal power; secret gardens; weather stations; timekeeping; flows; encroachment; and flags. Lots of flags.

All comparisons between The High Line and Duddeston viaduct end here:

Try going via the Koganecho Bazaar instead.


The High Line
Duddeston Viaduct
Redhawk Logistica’s Duddeston Viaduct project

The British Library’s Legal Deposit Office gets Document One

*glows with pride*


The Spotted Dog reference library gets Document One

The Spotted Dog pub on Warwick Street is home to John Tighe and an impressive collection of texts, maps, posters and other printed matter that get produced from locations unseen when relevant to the conversation. Interesting conversations have a habit of happening here…

Whilst not within the Eastside boundary I have been investigating, The Spotted Dog (and I know there are two in the area!) gets a mention both in Ben Waddington’s November 1st 1860 and and in Joe Holyoak’s Eastsiders. These are the texts in Uncertain Eastside – Document One

It seems only right and proper then that there is now a copy of Document One housed at The Spotted Dog. Feel free to pop in, have a browse and have a natter.

Should you wish to invest in a copy of your own, the publication is available to buy from here.

Uncertain Eastside – Document One: 2009

It’s a very great pleasure to be able to announce the release of my first publication.

Having a quick flick through the 112 pages.

As shown by the rather long list on the title page, other people have put loads of effort into this as well. Thank you to everyone who has supported this project.

Uncertain Eastside – Document One: 2009 brings together activity from my first year of investigating my relationship to BCC‘s ‘Eastside’ regeneration zone and logging the micro and macro changes in the landscape as time passes. It’s Eastside in three parts: past, present and future.

Bursting with goodness over three acts!

The book starts with a manufactured history contributed by the indescribable Ben Waddington: a day as seen from the perspective of a family living in Digbeth. Pay attention – this text is as much about the present day and October the 18th, 2009, as it is about November the 1st, 1860.

Next, now firmly in 2009, the book gives an overview of my alternative cartography of the regeneration zone’s perimeter and a selection of 83 lush colour photos selected from the 1000+ submitted by participants of the Walk and Talk event.

The book finishes off with a text from much-respected architect and urban designer Joe Holyoak and Tracey Fletcher from the Eastside Sustainability Advisory Group. Written 8 years ago it describes a day in the life of a family inhabiting an Eastside of the future. 2012 now seems both just around the corner and impossibly distant.

You can buy copies of Uncertain Eastside from where there is also a link that allows you to preview the book’s contents.

Magcloud are running a special offer until the end of the year that means you only pay $22.15 (≈£14) rather than $28.00 (≈£17.50). Your order is then printed up and delivered to you within about a week, so there’s time to get some as Christmas presents!

Again, a special thank you to everyone who has taken part in the making of this publication: Pete Ashton, Karen Cameron, Mike Cummins, Ida Deodathsingh, Emma (editorialgirl), Tracey Fletcher, Joanna Geary, Nicky Getgood, Michael Grimes, Marian Hall, Libby Heighway, Mark Hill (cybrum), Joe Holyoak, Alex Hughes, Nancy Langfeldt, Ben Mabbett, Steve Scott, Tim Stock, Chris Tomlinson, Ben Waddington and Simon Whitehouse.

Plans are afoot for Document Two. Watch this space…

Preparing to publish

A while ago I talked about getting closer to finishing the Uncertain Eastside publication triggered by my work in and around Birmingham City Council’s Eastside regeneration area.

In the intervening weeks I have registered as a publisher (under the name Present Position) and have been duly uniquely identified and allocated ISBN numbers etc etc. I have had adventures with barcodes, sent off for and received a proof print, and tweaked, augmented and improved the contents.

A quick flick through the first proof copy

Over the last few days I have shared the first proof with a handful of people and had some nice, encouraging responses in return. A good example was last night, chatting with Nicky Getgood and Digbeth publican John Tighe. (John’s pub, The Spotted Dog, is mentioned a couple of times in texts by Ben Waddington and Joe Holyoak, so I’d wanted to check a few details with him.)


As John had a good ol’ look through the proof, he came across the photo above by Mark Hill, one of the Walk and Talk participants. I’d wondered about the building in the background before, but never quite got around to finding out about it. Well thanks to Nicky I now know it was built by a breakaway (Catholic?) group who built their own building to worship in …but then made up with the main Church before it was put into use. As a result the building was never consecrated and is now full of tyres!

We’ve also established that my publication does not make Birmingham look like Barcelona…

A preview of Digbeth not looking like Barcelona

A preview of Digbeth not looking like Barcelona

I’ve just uploaded my modifications and am about to order what I hope will be the final proof.

All being well, Uncertain Eastside – Document One: 2009 should be available for purchase towards the end of next week.

Theremin Day

For the last month or so I’ve been helping Mr Underwood get the planning together for Theremin Day: an afternoon workshop building an optical theremin followed by an evening of film and performance, including a live set on theremin from Ms Hypnotique

Hard work, but what a great day!

The workshop had a great vibe, especially as the sounds of working optical theremin began to mingle with those of drilling and the occasional piano performance:


Pretty much everyone got their noise boxes finished and working, with some great playing styles starting to emerge:

noise boxes from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

After the workshop we did a quick changeover and re-arranged The Edge ready for the evening performances. There was much packing away of soldering tools; construction of staging; testing of audio and visual equipment. It all stopped when Susi started to play on her theremin. What an amazing sound: so different to anything else. Everyone was transfixed!


The evening event kicked off with a selection of short films exploring the historical, technical and fun sides of the theremin. This was then followed by a set from 8bit Pete and his Thingamagoops. This included a live mic off to the side of the stage where people could come up and contribute to the maelstrom of bleepy noises and flashy lights with the workshop-built theremin(s). [What is the plural?!]

Next up was Mr Underwood’s performance of Steve Reich’s Pendulum Music for optical theremin and torch. Brilliant. Pete Ashton has posted a nice video extract.

After that was the theremin set from Ms Hypnotique who performed a wide range of music for us. In her own words, the set list was described as: “Varese, Walter Carlos and forgotten scifi soundtracks”. She did an excellent job of interspersing the music with interesting explanations and anecdotes – entertaining and educational!

Here are my photos from the evening event followed by a couple of videos of Ms Hypnotique playing. The last video is how she ended the set. Perfect!

Ms Hypnotique performs from a visual score from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

Ms Hypnotique knows her audience from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

Thanks to everyone who supported and participated in the day.

Christmas posting

For those of you wanting to make sure you get your Uncertain Eastside limited edition prints in time for Christmas, please be aware that the Royal Mail’s advertised last posting day for 1st Class is the 21st December.

Uncertain Eastside prints tubed up and ready to go

Uncertain Eastside prints tubed up and ready to go

Detail from Uncertain Eastside print (B series: 6 overlaid circuits)

Detail from Uncertain Eastside print (B series: 6 overlaid circuits)

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