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Jacob Love’s “CONTENT: learning about pleasure”

On my birthday, about a month ago, I decided to stop by Jacob Love’s exhibit of his latest work, which was part of Deptford X. CONTENT: learning about pleasure was on view for three or so days at The Church at the St. James Hatcham Building, which was an interesting space in itself, although I couldn’t tell you why I’m drawn to repurposed religious spaces, only that I am.

The show spanned different mediums, but let’s face it: I was drawn to it mostly because of the photography. The photographs were scenic and wide-spanning, but also very intimate and sensual. I mean that in the sense that it makes me feel very tied to my body and a sort of corporeal experience that’s heavy with sensuousness, but also somehow not necessarily tied with eroticism, but also certainly not completely devoid of it.

The photos, incidentally, were taken with a robotic camera showing “a perspective not possible with human vision.” They were stitched together using algorithms and software, somehow recreating a sense experience that feels close and familiar, though in actuality, something that wouldn’t even be phenomenologically possible to witness.

There’s a creepy sense of surveillance, too, I thought, but I’m unsure if that was intentional. According to Love’s notes, the show on the whole deals with “notions of synthetic experience.” This is more obvious with the rest of the show, which include video installations and digital collage-images that deal with more generated imagery. It’s an exploration of “unconscious processes at work when we read images,” and how those processes affect “our pleasure, attention, and agency.” Presumably, the effects go unnoticed.

The installations use found content that “generate physiological bodily responses” — some cringing, a jerk of the shoulder, something warm that flows through your body, and so on. Though immersive — or perhaps because of its scale and nature — the work confronts us with questions of the invisible mechanisms at work that elicit these types of responses.

As this is a work in progress, the continuation of the explorations of these questions is something I’m keen to see. There is something curious and decidedly ominous about “learning about pleasure” from what is essentially machinery and systems outside “genuine” bodily human experience, but I can’t help but think that it is also something that is inevitable, and in many ways, already at work.

Broadstairs Day with Daniella

I was looking through all the photos I’ve accumulated over the last few weeks (months, really) and before I become even more helplessly buried under this avalanche, I shall begin posting them in increments, out of order, which is how memory works sometimes anyway. Lots of things have happened recently, but let me rewind back to a day in August in which England was sunny; in which Daniella and I actually woke up on time and made our way to a beach in Kent; in which all we did was talk and bask and swim and eat.

It was a nice discovery that there are beaches that are just about an hour away from London by train. They do not hold a candle to the beaches in the Philippines (and, I’m sure, to the ones in Greece where Dani grew up), but it was nice to be by saltwater in the sun.

If you told me a year ago that I would be somewhere in the North Sea, floating in the water like a starfish, eating gelato and calamari, drinking semi-warm tequila-laced beer and G&Ts, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.


Back in London, we ate breakfast for supper behind a really nice, really earnest (read: emo) installation by Tracey Emin, who turns out is a Tory, which makes me feel a little sad, which I guess is fitting, considering how her work makes me feel.

On the way home, I read a bit of Lavinia Greenlaw’s “The Importance of Music to Girls,” which I still haven’t finished, but — and I could be wrong — I feel like there’s still a bit of time.

Motion sickness

Currently on a train to Edinburgh, which seems to be a funny place to sort of find the only time you can sit down and think. Last week, my dad and sister arrived from Manila — presumably to visit me, but also they have timed their holiday, fortuitously, with the Wimbledon matches this year — and that coincided with the end of my first year at uni, for which I had to write an essay, which took up most of the time of the weeks leading up to it.

(Unnecessarily long lead-up, but basically I have been busy with school and fambly time and so, the train ride it is.)

I first flew in on the 10th of October, but am done with my first year of school, which is a little weird (for some reason), but here we are. We handed our third essay for the year on the 18th and met up for drinks after. An England match was on and the pub we were in erupted in celebrations when “we” won. So, uh, so did we, but I suppose for different reasons.


(If anyone was interested in reading my Unit I essay, which is my favourite one of the three I wrote, I uploaded it here. And like… it’s not super good, but I got okay marks on it, so it’s like 🤷‍♀️ but also, I’m 🎉🎉🎉

It’s about decolonisation and linguistics and deconstruction and Martha Atienza and ati-atihan… essentially.)

Zaxx came over my house yesterday (I did three loads of laundry and said hi to my plants and housemates), and she asked me if I felt smarter, and although I would have usually waffled and hemmed and hawed, my answer this time was an unequivocal “yes.” Because I do feel smarter, but whether it’s the kind of smart that’s useful or not, that’s still up for debate, haha.

Anyway, I was in a not-so-good place in the weeks leading up to summer. Basically, I was a useless lump that couldn’t be bothered to do anything other than the bare minimum, but was somehow roused from that when Isa and Crae came for a visit.

And, also, seeing Rostam perform and him opening and closing with “Don’t Let It Get to You,” which I was so glad I showed up for because I was thinking of flaking… on plans with myself.

To be honest, I am convinced more and more that depressive episodes are really cyclical, and although medication helps to manage it, there is a a possibility that it will never go away. Soooo I think I’ve learned how to sort of come to terms with that (and spoke a bit about it here, thanks to Gabbie) and just ride things out. I think that learning that you can resurface has helped me manage my stupid fucking headspace when it gets annoying and suffocating.

Isa and Crae have returned to Manila and my dad and sister are here for about two more weeks. I still feel a little bit untethered… but I think I’m breathing a little better, so that’s something.

So, I’ve taken my family around a fair bit. We’ve gone around West, East, South East, and even Brighton, and now on the way to Edinburgh. We’ve still got a few places to tick off, but I think we’ve covered pretty good ground.

The first book I finished reading after all of my research reading was John Berger’s “Hold Everything Dear,” which was beautiful (as usual) and timely (even though it was written more than a decade ago; which is like… depressing, a bit, since the world is still where it is, or possibly even in a worse place) and also still the kind of writing I wish I could do. I feel selfish a lot of the time… or more like self-centered and navel-gaze-y. Which, to be honest, isn’t much different from how I feel like I was prior to my move.

But my point is that Berger makes it feel like it’s possible to comment on current events and important things with a specificity and a perspective that doesn’t teeter on self-centeredness. And it feels important and compassionate and right. And I’d like to write like that, someday, I think. (My brain is too noisy or too quiet and it doesn’t feel like I have anything to say, really.) I’m happy that I get to read what he has to say, though. He’s written so much, but it also never feels like there’s quite enough of it to go around.

I was happy in the city

I think I mess up with updating this thing when I think about how the posts should come up chronologically, and honestly, it probably doesn’t have to. I don’t care, you don’t care. We’re all just plodding along life, as it were.

Like, I don’t think I want to keep writing in this if it’s going to just be a litany of posts that go “Oh, yeah, and this happened,” you know? Sometimes I think that I’ve forgotten how to think, which is silly, but entirely possible. If you asked me what I did the day before yesterday, I’m not sure I’d really know what to tell you.

(I paused and thought about it, and I did laundry and went to class, which was about Judith Butler and feminism and gender and materialism, which was amazing, but also disappointing because not a single male classmate showed up. Which, I understand, has more to do with the level of Other Things they had to do than, like, a statement or whatever. But still.)

Today, however, is a Thursday. And I went to help out at the VE studio, which is what I do on most Thursdays, and it was nice because they told me how helpful it was when I’m around and that I smelled nice and that my lipstick was nice. It was also nice (!) that I had a bowl that I always “build” and get when I’m here (brown rice, tomatoes, kale, red onion + tahini) and that I’ve been thinking about for a while, since I, in theory, can only get it on Thursdays. It was also nice because there was a labrador on my train here (it got off at Paddington station) and also because there was a pug (named Osc/kar?) in the studio, who was vacuuming the floor with his snout but also let me pet him.

I think I’ve mostly been thinking about where I fit in the world, a little bit. Which sounds a little ridiculous? Like a vague, pa-deep/pa-profound thought plopped in the middle of a running list of mundane everyday things, but really, that’s where I am situated most of the time, I think. Not a bad place to be, just a little anxious about trying to lasso in all the disparate pieces that I feel like I’m holding onto.

I’ve been really distressed about it. So much so that I wrote to St. Vincent about it, appealing for an answer, Libra to Libra. (It’s a thing, I’m not crazy.) I guess part of me knows that I don’t have to know, but also part of me is a super controlling freak who has to know exactly what is going on, just because.

A) Packaged coconut… super sad. B) Me, dressed not like a 12-year-old. For once!

But I guess it’s also a bit silly to treat the situation as though, if I know or find out, then I’d be at peace and know what to do. Because I know that’s not true. Maybe it would be actually a little more damaging to know where you’re at but not have any control over it. And I say maybe, but I know that that’s what’s going to happen. Knowing you don’t have any control over something you’re worried about doesn’t mean you stop worrying about it.

So maybe, this place of obliviousness is a good thing? IDK. I think I’m just trying to sort through life stuff as they come… and I think I’m not doing a very good job… but I also think that maybe not a lot of us are. And that sounds sad, but I think I’m at a point where I’m ready to take a little bit of comfort in that.

P.S. Happy Pride from our laundry line 💘

Hi from Londontown

It’s been about six and a half months since I moved here1 (although, I suppose I mean closer to five months and a quarter, since I flew home for nearly three weeks over Easter break) and I haven’t said shit except to round up a few of my favourite things from last year. Is there a reason for this other than laziness and busy-ness? Probably not.

I realised, too, that I do tend to equate the lack of “productivity” with laziness, which isn’t a good idea now that I’ve become much less sedentary than before. I am so tired all the time, but I still don’t think I do enough. Isn’t that weird? Having down time doesn’t mean you’re lazy, you knob. But at the same time, there is always something to be done, it feels like.

For the record, I am in the middle of a research masters in the general field of art, theory, and philosophy. It sounds daunting and useless (i.e. impractical, etc.)… and it is. I have been having a trying time reading the assigned texts and trying to parse everything and thinking of the theories, but I am also having—in the words of Angela Chase—A Time. A general question that people have been asking has to do with my plans after the research masters (and potential PhD, we’ll see), and I mean, that’s an understandable curiosity. But I don’t think that these avenues are really a step towards anything more practical, and most people just pursue them because they have insatiable curiosity (a.k.a. an obsessive tendency that can’t quite be tamped down). And, I realised that further studies, especially in arts and humanities, is sometimes a thing to do for itself, and not necessarily as a stepping stone for something that is a) well-paid, or b) “useful,” in the apocalyptic sense of the word. Let’s just say that if a zombie attack does happen at some point in the near future, academics are the last people you’d want on your team. Maybe. Who knows? When the world is in shambles because of zombies, let me die in a book club, honestly.

They let us do something at the Tate, if you can believe that.

Right now, I am actually probably the busiest I’ve ever been, but in the midst of the flurry of activity, I feel both a) super fucking tired, and b) more or less energised. I think I prefer this feeling over that of purposeless aimlessness (with a sprinkling of restlessness and the lack of desire to accomplish anything), which was more or less my default setting for a while.

Aside from school, I’ve been juggling some personal work (because I gotta earn dem monies), a book club (because I’m pretty fucking stupid with no sense of time and also because I’ve been meaning to read Proust anyway), a move (to an actual house! I can’t wait?), another class I signed up for (because why not), interning with some of my heroes (!!!), some health issues (hahaha), and a lot of other things I’ve decided I can’t say “no” to. Suffice to say, I sometimes feel like I am drowning, to be honest, but again, this feels more like something I’d elect for myself rather than those periods where I can’t bring myself to get out of bed. Which, embarrassingly enough, has happened to me for days on end. Even here, where I’ve been the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

It’s not that lonely, although of course that doesn’t mean I don’t miss people and doggos and bidets/esperesso machines from home. I think I’ve always needed to go away to sort of find my footing. It’s a place of privilege, sure, but I haven’t felt like myself in a real long while, and despite a lot of issues surrounding this admittedly massive move, it feels really good, and I’m so happy I came here.

1 In case it’s not gleanable from the title, “here” is London. Yep.