In Search of A/The Point of Life

Archive for February, 2011

Mathematically-speaking, we SHOULD take 4 hours to run 42.1km. Non-mathematically-speaking, we may take 40 hours.

Reproduced from SAFRA Bay run 2009 results

How long will we take to complete 42.2km at the Nondon Marathon on 17 April 2011? We will finish, by hook or by crook or by crawling. But the million-pound (or £1500) question is, in what time? To be sure, every run is different, and every race – a particular competitive run session with a specific start and finish across a set route; a heightened run session – comes with its own sets of quirks. The variables are infinite (climate, route, scenery, traffic, fellow runners, clothes we wear, if the race is well-sign-posted, audience/spectator-support, number of yummmmmyyyyy jelly-babies [and Snicker bars] we manage to pop into our mouth en route at feeding stations, et al), but we can begin by examining our running and race history: (Go ahead and mock, spit, laugh at us, but you would have realised by now that we are painfully slow coaches, such slow runners we are that we are probably better off walking, but at least we have lasting power for the endurance race of our lifetimes…)

1) 2010 March: 10km race by the Friends of Medicin Sans Frontieres Nondon:  This was an easy race of 10km which we completed in 52 minutes, which works out to be a speed of 11.54km per hour (or 7.17 miles per hour), or a pace of  5 minutes 12seconds for every 1km (0.822 minutes per mile)  It began as a crisp early Spring morning but turned 8 degree celsius, so we were dressed in short-sleeved and long tights, although we were carrying the burden of stomach cramps (!!! TMI !!!). In this race, we raised money for the Medecins Sans Frontieres. We had been kidnapped before the run, was released on time by The Good Pirate.

2) 2010 September: 42.2km: Farnham Pilgrims’ Marathon, Surrey. This was our first ever full marathon, which we ‘accomplished’ (sic) in a disgraceful 5 hours 29 minutes! We have plenty of excuses, however: 1) it was off-road in a hilly terrain  – we stopped to WALK at a steep hill climb at a point (it was said that most runners had to add 30 minutes to any of their times for this race) 2) We had spent the entire summer running all over Nondon, in a bid to train for our first ever marathon. However, in the final 2 months, we were brought down by injury (tendonitis and shin splint), which came with us to Farnham. Yet we do not fret, and were delighted to have completed the race. All in all, it was a most wonderful experience, against the gorgeous and meaningful mise-en-scene that the pilgrims had once walked, the fellow runners a tremendous joy to be with, and beautifully organised. We also raised a weeeee bit of money for the Farnham hospices.

3) In a previous life: 2009 August, Singapore, 21km (13.1 miles) SAFRA Bay Run Half-Marathon: This was our first ever race since casually picking up running in January 2009 in a previous life, at the same time of still being chlorine addicts.  We took 2 hours 21 minutes – which is the amount of time taken by the world’s elite runners to complete FULL marathons!! However, we were not displeased, with the high humidity, and at 30 degree-celsius of the (paradisal) tropics. We are proud however of the fact that in our final 4km sprint, we managed to bypass 655 men and women (and yes, allowed 20 to bypass us). Running alongside more than 20,000 people of all size, shape, age and colour was also tremendously enjoyable. By default, happiness and pleasure are inevitably short-lived- but our entire 2 hours 21 minutes was a skyrocketing morphine-high. It was an extraordinary trip.

So. How on (google)earth would we fare on 17 April 2011?

1) For the first / last 450 days of our lives, we have been working hard at our running. Outside of a race, our comfortable pace is approximately 10kmh – 10.5kmh. At this pace, there is neither exertion nor discomfort. (Under artificial conditions, inside the gym, our average is around 10.5kmh – 12kmh, though this figure we should ignore, since it is climate-controlled, and we are running on machines that move nowhere, hence using different muscles of our body. The psychology of such locomotion differs from that outdoors as well)

2) Since February, we have been training longer distances (20km and above), but our fourth toe on our right feet has been harvesting a blister (!!! TMI !!!) This has never happened previously so we are slightly worried, wondering if we should go ahead and buy a new pair of shoes of a slightly larger size. Yet, already armed with three pairs of trainers, we do not want to buy another pair right now. Then there is also a new bone-like thing sticking out of our left feet recently, that prevents us from wearing any shoe without feeling pain. (!!! TMI !!!) Again this is new, and did not happen in our Summer training.

3) The past year of running means that our technique would have improved, but at the same time, we are aging as we speak.  We are juvenile at 430-days-old, but because we have only 1000 days in our lifespan, we are nearly middle-aged. While we come with the charms and beauties of a mature wine and even more mature blue cheese (as well as iron-will power, truckloads of stubbornness, and plenty of drive), we might not win a spring chicken in a photo-finish. We will come back to this issue of running and mortality in a separate post.

4) As anybody knows, there’s such a silly law called the law of diminishing returns. Whichever sillier eejit came up with it, we have no idea, but when it comes to a slowburning, longhaul endeavour as a long-distance run, no one is sparred from this law. We can get increasingly worn out and deriving less and less satisfaction from the run over hours and distances. And from experience, we know that we are excellent practitioners of the law. This can translate what should take 4 hours into to a pathetic epic 5 hours (first 10km takes 1 hour, because we are warming up and do not want to over-exert; for the next 10 km we dip a little, as we are still conserving our energy at 1 hour 10 minutes; then the 30th km takes 1 hour 20 minutes, and for the final 12km, we have the sudden epiphany that we have to get our arses moving, and hasten a little but alas it is too late as our glycogen-levels would have deteriorated so we complete it in 1 hour 30 minutes).

So there we have it. On 17 February Sunday, we may take anything from 4 hours, or, 40 hours.

But let us think of positive thoughts. Next year, in our final year of existence, we would like to sign up for the midnight sun run in Norway. How beautiful and hyperreal an experience it would be. And, with all that sunlight one cannot possibly sleep anyways, so why not go for a run. For a few hours, the duration of a sleep. We currently devote about 8 hours of exercise each week (at least an hour a day); training for a marathon means a minimum of 10 hours or exercise each week. We must not neglect our run in other dimensions, so this running about in Life 1.0 may be taking up just too much time. We decide that the half is the best distance for us, also since we can sustain happiness for a maximum of 2 hours at any one go. Anything beyond that, at 4-5 hours for instance, the law of diminishing return sets in and the dreaded dip, the hitting-of-wall happens. 10km races are too fast/short. Hence, we intend to take part in the 2012 Bath Half Marathon. With a companion.

WE ARE STILL TRYING TO RAISE MONEY FOR OUR RUN FOR SHELTER FOR THE 2011 NONDON MARATHON! DO LEND US A HAND! OR TOE! OR DOLE! OR DOUGH!

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COME TO THE SYMPOSIUM + PRIVATE VIEW OF OUR GROUP SHOW at WC1H 0AB 3rd MARCH! We’ll be there to sell signed prints to raise funds for our run for Shelter, and premiere a new work.

Surplus to Requirements?

Exhibition and Symposium 2nd – 4th March 2011. The recent student demonstrations were reported in the mainstream media as demonstrations about the coalition government’s proposed rise in tuition fees.  There was scant debate about the huge cuts and fundamental changes to arts and humanities funding that are also part of the proposed changes. Is this because as a nation we don’t care about these subjects?  ‘Surplus to Requirements?’ is a three day event organised by the Slade PhD students that will comprise an exhibition, installations, performances and presentations given by students and invited artists, theorists and curators, around the theme of the ‘value’ and significance of art and research in the current political and economic climate.  It will ask what criteria are being used to ‘measure’ art’s value and contribution to society?  It will explore ideas around expenditure and consumption, the role of the art object as a commodity. Is art superfluous or an essential part of society? How do we measure excess in these terms?  In counterpoint to the commodification of art, the importance of bodily and material aspects will be explored, using theorists such as Adorno, Grosz, Deleuze and Guattari, Bataille, Marcuse and Marx.

Guest speakers for the symposium on Thursday 3rd March are:

Dave Beech – Artist in the Collective Freee and Chelsea College of Art & Design; Sue Golding – University of Greenwich; Mel Gooding – Art critic, writer, and curator; Jen Harvie – Queen Mary University of London; Robert Hewison – City University London and Associate of think tank Demos; Sarat Maharaj – Lund University and Malmö Art Academy, Sweden; Peter Osborne – Kingston University London and editor of Radical Philosophy

Attendance at the one-day symposium is free but please e-mail surplus@london.com to reserve a place.
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Again. For, we insist. SCREW WINTER, SCREW PATCHINESS, SCREW FLUCTUATING MOODS, SCREW NON-CLOSURES, SCREW HESITATION, SCREW INDECISION, ENOUGH HEE-HAWING – IT’S TIME TO MOVE ON. WE HEREBY OFFICIALLY DECLARE THAT SPRING IS HERE IN NONDON (WC1, to be precise).

PS We are STILL running for Shelter at the 2011 Nondon Marathon! We have to raise £1500 so please help us get there!

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SCREW WINTER, SCREW UNSTABLE TEMPERATURES, SCREW BLOWING HOT & COLD, SCREW PATCHINESS, SCREW FLUCTUATING MOODS, SCREW NON-CLOSURES, SCREW HESITATION, SCREW INDECISION, ENOUGH HEE-HAWING – IT’S TIME TO MOVE ON. WE HEREBY OFFICIALLY DECLARE THAT SPRING IS HERE IN NONDON (WC1, to be precise).

PS We are STILL running for Shelter at the 2011 Nondon Marathon! We have to raise £1500 so please help us get there!

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MONSTER (a poem of love and its opposites). HAPPY VALENTINES DAY.

Premiered at Oxford University UK, at the ‘Human- Machines, Mechanized Modernity, and Mass Subjectivity between Asia, the Soviet Union, and North America in the Twentieth Century’ conference, June 18-20, 2009. Music by Philip Tan. Special thanks to Aaron Moore, Tina Chen, Sarah Teasley. Created by a predecessor of Kaidie’s in a previous life, Kai Syng Tan, May 2009 Singapore. The opening lines in the 2nd act of the film are taken from Cascando by our most beloved Samuel Beckket.

Monster is a video poem seen from the point of view of an elderly woman, who really is an imagination by the artist of herself in the near future. Monster addresses man’s eternal obsession in modifying his body and nature in a compulsive bid to ‘improve’ himself. Such notions as the frailty of the body & flesh, and how our body-machines decay and imaginations of means through which we sustain/prolong/improve on them, are teased out. With the classic allegory of Frankenstein as a point of departure, the work posits the Man vs. Machine/Monster argument as a complex and layered relationship that is at once dependent, violent, obsessive, loving and destructive. While ‘I’ (Man) have created ‘you’ (Machine) out of a need for survival, ‘you’ have fought with me against (my) nature, but entrapped me nonetheless; my selfishness, greed, ambition and insatiability has led me to create an indomitable Monster/Mutant that is increasingly out of control – yet I remain faithful, and continue to love, nurture, and protect you. And I get hungrier still. This man/machine dance/wrestle is a powerplay that is paradoxical, grotesque and tender at the same time. Incorporating text, performance and animation, Monster is accompanied by a haunting soundscape made up of sounds from construction sites – an all-too familiar sound that fills the artist’s ears in the high-tech Asian miracle city that she hails from. The shiny images of the city-state in a relentless process of construction and rebuilding are juxtaposed with personal, intimate images of everyday objects photographed in the artist’s home – used, forgotten, dusty as they are. We go up close to the skin of an elderly lady, whose life overlaps that of her daughter’s. Happy Valentine’s.

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‘For by stroking of him I have found out electricity’…

One of our best running buddies, James Odling-Smee, shared the following poem by English poet Christopher Smart (11 April 1722 – 21 May 1771) with us. We find out on that democratic encyclopedia that Smart was a popular poet, and berate ourselves for not having known him before. Not being believers, and not knowing the work of Smart well enough, we will refrain from analysing the subtext of this work, but we truly enjoy this as a beautiful ode to our favourite animal, the cat. Enjoy. (Thank you James!)

A front paw of Chico, the many-toed cat of another of our running buddy, artist and writer ANJI REYNER. Thank you Anji! (We will be seeing more of Chico in Kaidie's adventures! Stay tuned).

For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry (excerpt, Jubilate Agno, 1759 -1763) Christopher Smart

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider’d God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord’s poor and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually–Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is afraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God’s light about him both wax and fire.
For the Electrical fire is the spiritual substance, which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, tho he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.

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WHY WE ARE RUNNING FOR SHELTER

We exist/live/run, in order to look for the Meaning of Life, and we run not only in real life (what we call ‘Life 1.0′) but online (what we call ‘Life 2.0′), as well as in hybrid realities of mobile Internet (what we call ‘Life 3.0′). As we run across the various dimensions, we call our running ‘trans-dimensional running’ (ASTOUNDINGLY CREATIVE NAMING INNIT!!!). While it would made our lives easier if we only sat at our armchair and desktop too cook up a fabulous tale that works perfectly on paper (and screen), we have taken upon ourselves (how grand!) to take up running in real life as well (big deal!). We reckon that while we are at it, we might as well make it meaningful for others as well (hopefully, although we [think we] harbour no delusions of self-aggrandisement as to how much our existence makes any difference to anybody else).

Charities exist to fight for meaningful causes. When faced with the necessity to make a decision as to which charity to run for in the upcoming 2011 Nondon Marathon (IN 70 DAYS!!), we selected Wateraid and Shelter , as we reasoned that water and housing are but the most fundamental needs of any being. When Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity got back to us, we were absolutely delighted.

As restless and insatiable beings, we have always been peripatetic, as we traverse the worlds and lifetimes, necessarily in solitude, but doing our best in each life and dimension as well as we can. This is by no means a unique position – with today’s highly mobile population, and with the ubiquity of smart mobile gadgets, we have become location-independent as ‘digital nomads’, in this Life 3.0. Which wonderfully coincides with our own attempts to continually strip ourselves of baggage (in a previous life, giving up the paintbrush and canvas in 1995, for the film camera, then the video camera, and today, with only our laptop as not only our studio, but our life itself, as we store our data on the invisible ‘cloud’ online. A compulsive reduction of clutter, and the active application of the [Buddhist] dictum of non-attachment that nonetheless lies in direct contradiction with the instinct to hoard, to hold on to things… Short of stripping ourselves of ourselves, what next?????????????????????). Yet we are well aware that this discussion is rich. There are many, many who are not itinerant by choice, for a vast complex web of reasons. How can those who have the ability to make such a choice, respond to those who do not?

As runners, we do the only thing we can do, that is, to run. As we have said repeatedly, our running is but a small (and futile?) gesture in the scheme of things, but a small step towards an attempt to not be a part of a/the problem. If that is at all possible.

With the political and economic climate still looking difficult, please help us support the work of Shelter.  The images show us the affordability – or rather, un-affordability-  of living in London for those claiming housing benefit for the next 5 years, when the cuts by the ConDem Government takes place. This research has been compiled by Alex Fenton, research associate of the  Centre for Housing and Planning Research of the University of Cambridge (5 November 2010). As Nondoners, we are concerned. Nondoners forced out of Nondon because of prohibitive prices – where can these Nondoners go? Will this become a Nondon that is populated only by a certain group of the society?? Where can these Nondoners run to? What would that Nondon be like??? What sort of Nondon do we want???

Let us all run for Shelter, now.

For high resolution maps and full analysis, please visit the Shelter website!

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IN 2011 JANUARY 11, WE (Kaidie, Kai die, Kai live, Kai Syng Tan, dead Kai) POPPED UP AT ASIA TATLER (Singapore).

As you well know, we are highflying, highlycultured, highlycultivated, highbrowed and hightea-ed. At the same time, we are thick as a slice of 14-month-old Tesco’s nofrills white-sliced bread (made of highly-refined plain flour!!), and our humour, as you our dear Reader knows well by now, is lowbrow and scatological. Yeah baby. Nonetheless, at the very least we do have a sense of humour. We are uncertain if many other people can say the same. Our life as it is has been fluctuating high-and-low as usual, but a few weeks ago it was temporarily associated with the high society, as we (all of us - Kai, Kaidie, Kai Syng, Kai Die, Kai Live, Kai Lives) were featured in the Tatler Asia (Singapore) magazine. Not our usual strasse shall we say, as our usual strasse is concrete (specifically on the pavements of lovely large cities) as well as ones-and-zeroes (on the information superhighway). Here is the lowdown (how could we possibly resist such a cheap pun??).



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