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The Happy Jug: a novel

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

Published
Publication date2018
PublisherEntr'acte
Number of pages80
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

An autofiction libretto by Nathan Jones and CD made in collaboration with the sound artist Kepla.

Published by widely respected label Entr'acte, their first substantial text publication.

Published outcome condensing several performances, and also talks at FACT and the Bluecoat in 2016.

The story conflates the emotional load of Jones' wife's brain surgery in 2015, with the Labour defeat in the general election of that year, by blaming both "errors" on an inert object. It is an attempt to explore what this kind of warped thinking requires from textual form, and thereafter of the speaking voice. Woven through the narrative is an essay on the relationship between experience and knowledge under current conditions. Jones suggests that these conditions, where data and rhetoric are weaponised to the degree that everything is predetermined while always potentially untrue, sets the stage for a generalised disbelief in things as they happen to you.

There is therefore a strong resonance between the form, narrative and themes of this work. In turn, these resonate with a range of contemporary practices, such as the resurgence of autofiction in recent years, and the philosophies of Speculative Realism and New Materialism that propose unconventional agential qualities to matter. It represents a unique interdisciplinary intervention in the field of the Posthumanities. The text was shortlisted for a Semina prize from Bookworks in 2016.

The audio setting was produced as a collaboration between Jones and and the contemporary sound practitioner Kepla. All vocal parts were recorded by Jones, including post-production work designed to remediate the textual experiments in the book. This audio features the voice of Jones' wife Nina, recorded while she was convalescing from brain surgery. The entire sound work by Kepla is produced with an ear for the vulnerability and volatility implied in the political and medical components of the narrative.

Originally produced as a "posthuman play" in which the sound and voice combination were 'performed' by three concrete sculptures made by the artist Madeline Hall, animated by CGI and projection mapping by Chris Boyd and Simon Jones. In turn, this live work and the ideas of the book were developed with international artists and writers over the course of a 12 month performance residency programme curated by Jones, called Syndrome (2015-16). The book also includes some documentary images from when it was shown as a live work, awarded the Metal Time and Space Award in 2016. One critic, Tom Chivers described it as "the future of theatre or it's psychedelic death knell".

The book and CD are published by Entr'acte in 2018. It has been previewed and reviewed in popular sound cultures magazine The Wire, and streamed in its entirety on New New World Radio in May 2018.

Bibliographic note

Jones used this work as a component of his PhD research into Glitch Poetics, a term that suggests the necessity to revisit the interdisciplinary potential of error in the context of new media practices. This book and CD explore a range of errors and breakages for their textural and theoretical potential. The book takes up three moments of breakage in the author's life, and traces their potential as nodes for unconventional connections to take place across and between phenomena. It is framed as an