Joris Van de Moortel, noise/music chemistry, and The Wire magazine on the artist’s palette

Extreme detail of Van de Moortel’s ‘Bomb Culture’ (2019)

Noise, forever fizzing at the edges of musical vocabulary, forms the topic of an essay I’ve written for Joris Van de Moortel‘s new artist’s book ‘A Dubious Pilgrimage‘, out now. Van de Moortel is an artist/musician who terms his performances ‘Messes’, riffing on the Catholic Mass but with messier sacraments that assail guitars, amplifiers and other unsuspecting instruments to the point of overload.

The essay is titled “Van de Moortel’s Goception in the Mess: Byways in the History of Noise’s Ongoing Transmutation into Music”, and this noise/music transmutation is viewed through the lens of the literary work of a Victorian chemist and would-be poet John Carrington Sellars titled ‘Chemistianity (Popular Knowledge of Chemistry)‘ (1873). The made-up word ‘goception’ is deployed by Sellars in that work to signify chemical reaction – a neologism precariously invented by him to achieve poetic flow.

With chemical reactions – or ‘goceptions’ – in mind, a longer blogpost over at the main Miraculous Agitations blog examines some instances where artists have used physical copies of The Wire magazine as raw ingredient in artworks. The Wire is a catalyst Joris Van de Moortel often uses in his creative work, most explicitly in his ‘A love affair with Excess’ series where distressed snippets of text from The Wire‘s ‘Excess All Areas’ special 2019 issue are squirrelled into mixed-media artworks. My ‘Bomb Culture’ history of musical explosions text was thereby transformed into an artwork infused with Van de Moortel’s own performative lore.

Strangely, a Wire magazine feature I’d written eight years previously was artfully collaged in Allen Fisher‘s concrete poetry book ‘SPUTTOR‘ (2014). But maybe this isn’t so strange given The Wire situating itself within experimental culture? The fact that I’m by no means a regular contributor to the magazine suggests this is just the tip of an iceberg, and that artistic, collage, poetic/concretic, decoupage and personalisation uses of The Wire are to be expected?  An interesting topic to investigate…

Read more at the main Miraculous Agitations blog.  Joris Van de Moortel’s A Dubious Pilgrimage‘ is available now.

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