THAT'S PROMO AT ICE! 2K19
Sketchbook writing 2019 (updated 2020)
I took a trip to ExCel London to participate in, and observe ICE 2019: a gambling, payments, and online gaming convention.
How is morality structured? You have to be prepared to strike hot sensitivity on the quest for Art. I wondered how I was going to act towards the echo chamber of capitalistic values where my body is a transitional object for males to dominate: a sex doll in a cell with flesh, hair, bone, blood?
An employee. She was leaning on a fresh Cadillac. A plastic shotgun in the front seat for passers-by to perform for the camera. Behind, a screen featuring herself as a cartoon graphic spinning off Grand Theft Auto. The area had been created around this labourer's digital image. Paper money was strewn over the bonnet. As a ten year old, I never passed a level in Grand Theft Auto; I just learned from my older brother and his friends that it was fun to keep mowing down hookers after screwing them in the car, to reclaim their wages upon pixel murder.
From behind velvet ropes, I watched a black guy grin for the camera, without a pause, picking up the gun and pressing the shaft in between her breasts. He wore a suit and a lanyard like the other 44,000. I noticed from the real surprise in her face, a spectacle emerging between her instinct to shy away from the stranger forcing a gun into her, to being model bait for the entertainment value - performing her job. Consumption and attraction bridging personal experience by means of a costume. Her character was simply female. She raised her hands in the air, feigned a shocked face masking her authentic shock, with curled down edges - flash -the photo was taken, rape culture merchandise born. I didn’t have the courage to ask the man if he really wanted to shoot that woman because that’s how he feels about women. His condition was rooted in the reality of his dominance and sexual violence; the gun shaft his erect penis. I asked the actress if that was a normal gesture, whether the gun often gets turned on her by men in tableaux of murder. He was enacting a story of representation through play, 'as if' she was better dead. Her answer was simply that he was the first one of the day and she hoped he was the last one too. I asked the guard to take our photo:
Skins are thin at the moment. That’s to do with all the packaging on top of hurt communities — deep-set traumas are exposed eventually like veins of gold to be stockpiled and re-marketed. Violence is the claim to authority via a process of shaming and as society eroticises violence through monetary systems the answer is that freebies cost a fortune in the struggle, nothing is ever for free. The real problem is how we learn to evolve our personal formats of realisation, to discover how much debt in truth we owe ourselves first and foremost. With the rising use of Altcoins, our traceless impact invalidates concerns of real suppression in society. The data spun does not fully exist as the entire web itself cannot be determined. 95% of the web is unindexed. The internet is partly natural resource but it cannot go extinct like a species. It is an infinite tool of human experimentation, like the imagination but built in a lab using electricity.
There were numerous activities. Representatives of male nations from Asia, Europe, USA, Whatever. Big handshake moments paused for documentation, the odd woman. I went for basic reasons, not for salacious purposes. So when I took a photograph of a man taking a photograph of a man between two models, I needed that man there because I was capturing his casual attitude, his model of fetishism and objectification through an image.
I said hi to my older brother at the event, in front of a slot machine. A woman was handing out leaflets:
My brother works for a FinTech company. Whenever he ran into someone he knew amongst the swarm he became part of something real, felt happier - he knew someone knew him, he existed, was recognisable, individuated. Salesmen inject their energy into a superfluous vessel and form a relationship with an object that relies on their voice for existence, a ventriloquist of invisible matter that makes meaning matter. The object of desire is for the salesman to channel with purpose enough for a wage worthy of spending on objects. As a maker of objects, I know something kind of like this feeling in the studio. When the product would never get made unless you motivated your own internal salesperson. At times of incompleteness, you have to sell yourself a 'self' to get something done. To move on with temporary feelings that nourish but also drain.
I pulled myself into action on the second day feeling mightily depressed about what I’d seen the day before. I wore my,
t-shirt instead of the Mickey Mouse one and placed the lanyard around my neck like some holy but hellish tradition. I had to find something that would give me hope amongst the sea of excess. I lay down a collection of studio-made objects on surfaces in the various fragments of Casino showrooms: poker tables, flooring samples, pool tables. There must be an alternate reality in this electric showroom.
I arranged a broken telephone wire made from clay with a shoelace in the middle, a series of photocopied images of cartoon magicians' hands, a glove puppet with huge lips.
I also picked up a calendar full of bikini girls which they were handing out at the convention. I took it to the toilet and ripped out their faces to scatter them around the event like a confetti of missing people. Or maybe they were headshots from the other end of a smoking gun, a bulging lens of misanthropy.
I was still wearing my wig, carrying a holder and Dslr camera looking for fellow passengers of this transparent, exhibitionist journey to take 'my' photo. I trundled through the carpeted space with Michael Jackson and other Paedophile's singing in my ear. Thousands were drinking morning gratuity booze, pockets filled with cards from Vistaprint to go through the motions, to go home somewhere still seeking a well of connections in an opaque economy. I met a man who deals with Pornhub payments.
Just as I was leaving, I committed to myself that there had to be something other than bullshit to find. My truth debt had to be reduced. The space was like being in a multi-mega-casino-sink hole and I was gambling with bits of burnt rubble. The longer I spent, the more excess emerged, voiding me of critical knowings and cladding me with disorientation and sensations of anxiety. This hub was an uncertain place filled with mass amnesia where, ‘boys will be boys’ professionally speaking for all of civilisation.
Now the ExCel has been repurposed as the critical care Covid-19 unit, the NHS Nightingale Hospital.
As I knelt on the floor with drunk legs walking past in packs...
I unpacked my artist toolbox:
A few people watched perplexed because it was near their stand. Unjustly, they would ask me to leave without knowing what I was doing in the first place. It gave me a chance to experience a form of openly judgmental social engagement - the gravity at the end of the spectrum to the open-access of creativity and connection. My disbelief was not suspended appropriately for the area. I wanted to interact with this wave of avoidance, beyond expectation and without a standard, because I was witnessing a dangerous norm that immerses, at a very core level, my spirit and body in resolute extinction and I had to understand its textures because this market place affects me even if I was never there. It’s a broken system and only through sustainable communication can we hope for living with instinctive acceptance rather than war, with women placed as common usage between male on male violence. Quite suddenly a woman noticed me and delicately came over and bent down inquisitively to look at my artefacts. She calmly asked what I was doing. I told her I was an artist. She advised I come over and take a look at her stall, she had an artist with her. So I gathered my things and removed my wig. What I found was a pinprick in my heart that could tear an entire universe of negative truths apart to reveal a priceless and alternate momentum in humanity that may just solve the war of the world. She was very surprised that so few people were interested in their company's free gift: hand-drawn book covers by their artistic director created on the spot in the midst of the chaotic neon strip. However, as I had learned from another FinTech soldier the day before in a queue to receive a free coffee,
“People want new. We want our clients to feel special. So instead of doing Christmas corporate gifts, we did a summer hamper with water bottles, umbrellas, and towels.”
The competition was between handmade and alienated. But I guess one businessman’s beach is another tribe's cemetery.
The artist had his pencil case, a wooden bow tie, and a smile. Zhivko Zhelev was his name and he creates cartoons and graphics for an online casino software provider, BetiXon. Naturally he offered me his pencil case, some paper and we spent time together making drawings; magically creating invisible walls of memory through sacred imagination and soft human hands.