Celebrities Sighted + Adjective (1)
Ken Livingstone, mayoral candidate - Beslimed (Kingston Station)
Arthur Darvill, actor - Apathetic (Kings Cross St. Pancras underground)
Andrew Buchan, actor - Wearied (Marylebone Station)
Ken Livingstone (2), ex-mayor, ex-mayoral candidate - Beslimed (Westminster Station underground)
Kaya Scodelario, actor - Tentative (Tufnell Park Station)
Peter Capaldi, actor, hero to many - Imperious (Great Marlborough Street)
Nicholas Serota, art world head honcho - Harried (York Way)
Tim Minchin, comedian, musician - Agitated (Kings Cross)
These were just chance encounters. Please don’t stalk these people.
It’s been on my mind, an ocean bulging over the land, ready to swallow everything up.
MTV, what have you done to me?
Save my soul, set me free!
Set me free! What have you done to me?
I can’t breathe! I can’t see!
World War III, when are you coming for me?
Been kicking up sparks, we set the flames free
The windows are locked now so what’ll it be?
A house on fire or a rising sea?
Repeated etchings on lining paper.
I’ve written about drones before, hovering over endless suburban wildernesses like fat heavy flies. They are creepy not only because they are essentially drifting mechanical eyes, but they are flown by pilots thousands of miles away with coffee breath and flickering screens.
I read an article by Nicola Abé in de Spiegel about drone operators and I think they’ve come to encapsulate the world we live in:
Bryant was one [of the pilots], and he remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers away. There was a flat-roofed house made of mud, with a shed used to hold goats in the crosshairs, as Bryant recalls. When he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser. The pilot next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact.
"These moments are like in slow motion," he says today. Images taken with an infrared camera attached to the drone appeared on his monitor, transmitted by satellite, with a two-to-five-second time delay.
With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.
Second zero was the moment in which Bryant’s digital world collided with the read on in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-al-Sharif.
Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.
"Did we just kill a kid?" he asked the man sitting next to him.
"Yeah I guess that was a kid," the pilot replied.
"Was that a kid?" they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.
Then, someone they didn’t know answered, someone sitting a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. "No. That was a dog," the person wrote.
I don’t want to comment on the efficacy, morality or legality of the Obama administration’s widespread use of drone aircraft. It is a covert war waged in a world where despite the domination of mass-communication, everything seems ever more opaque and distant. I find the idea of flying weaponised eyes a terrifying one.
Holkham Bay, Norfolk. Walking towards the sea.
'Myra' (1997) - Marcus Harvey
I remember seeing this painting when I was eight or nine, at a time when I wasn’t interesting in art, and it is still lodged in my mind. Its menace hits you like a wave and up close it’s almost too much, children’s handprints like pixels of a fuzzy screen grab. I understand the controversy surrounding the work and the hatred it has received, some feeling it takes advantage of something truly awful, or utters the unutterable. On the contrary, it captures a sliver of the magnitude of humanity’s capacity for evil. It is an exceptionally powerful painting that will live with me and haunt me for the rest of my life.
London has an amazing sound. The drifting music and voices of the museum subway.