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Standard Definition

by Steven Ball

click and catch switch you speakered him I microphoned then space the boom I hummed your plop you switched my splash they writed click they spotified he sayed his click and singed a crack goed past a strum runned a rumble we lockdown hush whimper dull breath pandemic me you’re vaccinate they haved a whack you people it they disastered keyboard your click environmented barrymored and swimming pooled he middled classed
Green Lane standard definition blurry artefacts sun winter, bright confected view overhead position out of sight of animal trending south east front elevation spindly tree branches green lane light aerial along the footpath old woodland strip dual carriageway twenty years ago a camcorder traffic passing on both sides overhead bare branches road markings Green Lane winter hospital white architecture subdivided surface mesh green open space crows and cars roofs and chimneys red bricks and tiles cars and buses perspective illusion fast tracking 360 degrees subsurface texture map leaking node space render white walls white washed pipes and asphalt around the block surface mesh scattering in three dimensions against the sky along the Wrythe trending north over roof chimney pots loft extension leylandia cypress parking bay privet hedge rendering red brick rows approximating landscape painting tracking south west towards the weald contemporary and decades old rasterised pull back frame global illumination unbroken terrain model matrix depopulated landscape painting
so it’s in the Gulf of Panama they say they’ll make a place based on cryptocurrency as units of exchange so they buy a luxury liner that docks at Amsterdam to sail north through the Atlantic then due south to Pan Am the ship slides out of harbour on Sunday after two some twenty years ago with just a basic crew few passengers, the bars well stocked the kitchens full of food they loiter on the lido deck and sleep in ocean view they hug the coast of Norway Bergen and Lofoten then they dock in Tromsø where passengers embark cruising Trondheim Fjord north west Norwiegan Sea deep water trench and peak tides rising twice a day bustle in the dining room clanking clatter cutlery illuminated disco floor the deck shines with water crowded rows of tables chairs scrape orange carpet the waiter comes bringing a tray of piles of plates and bowls ornate staircases jewelled with lights joggers on the upper deck late afternoon and through the night hours staring out to sea north of Jan Mayen Island and ice is all around it cracks and growls, and roars and howls it makes a mournful sound called to the muster station the captain makes the call as though in an emergency confined to quarters all from windward blown to leeward the plague runs through the ship the passengers all quarantined within the lower decks day after night, night after day they’re stuck, no breath no motion as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean upon the seventh seasick day they make their port of call a sand so white, and sea so blue no landing there at all and now that they can’t disembark for fear the plague would spread a ghostly island nation of the living and the dead worth their weight in crypto gold but no one leaves alive the plague ship floats forever off the coast of Panama
the land takes the people they play on ancient instruments of string and horn and hide they connect to nature sounds of water, wind, and fire in rivers, forests, burial mounds they spell their names with runes they wear antlers on their heads submerged in streams they’re part of nature it feeds them in their dreams primal folk spirit connecting nature and tradition their blood is in the soil and soil is in their blood their blood is in the soil the soil is in their blood the prehistoric music that they play on dead wild animals elemental sounds brought to streams woodland and earthworks ancient nomenclature animal horn helmetted watercourse close to nature sleep in nature dreams of nature primal percussive tradition spirit folk soil blood rural tradition, pure healthy soil violent and beautiful nature in the beech forest the hill speaks to her uncivilised writing of the vanished land of forefathers and its return Earth, nature, animal trees and mountains organic farming, living space autochthonous zones pure organic soil uncivilised landscapes vanished forefathers ground writing vegetation, geology fork foot hand soil land to be worked soil to be trod in ordure and decay lives poetry landscape fertility and nationality soil blood health humus and England the rocks speak a different language limestone and chalk walls and houses grow out of the ground soil trod soil work soil blood fertile and national humus and English limestone chalk dream of the village grown from earth roll across the wold confusion of ground and land and country and nation landscape names a not belonging it’s not a theology of the wild with wondrous evocations of spiritual nature or enchantment of golden moments of primordial light and energy no-one belongs no spirits here no wild enchanted golden energy why is the land protected and who decides who can or cannot be in this place and what can or cannot they do there are no insiders there are no outsiders no outsiders to place there is no truth in land no blood in the soil it is all thrown together never was ever planned come out of land they are imposed upon it who makes the myths? and to what end? let the land take the people inside outside no grounded truth no myths no genius in the locus no spirit in the place to paint, plant, or design myths emplaced no genius humus and English dreaming nature prehistorical musical uncivilised landscapes ungrounded truth no-one belongs what authority resides soil trod soil work soil blood played on dead animals pure organic soil elemental sounds ground writing vanished forefathers brought to streams woodland and earthworks vegetation, geology ancient nomenclature dream of village animal horn helmetted grown from earth fertile and national limestone chalk no spirits here no golden energy myths emplaced inside outside the watercourse nature enchanted spirit sleep nature primal percussion tradition spirit folk soil blood roll across the wold


Standard Definition is a collection of four new songs written and recorded in 2021.

Two of the songs, Landscape Painting and Terminal Passage, are the first of what will become an occasional series of song videos made in response to material that I captured on miniDV digital video tape in the first decade of the twenty first century.

The songs describe those videos and extrapolate new narratives from them.

The miniDV digital video tape format became largely redundant following the development of domestic High Definition (HD) formats, its image resolution became know as Standard Definition to distinguish it from HD, and lends its name to this collection.

The original videos have now been reworked with new material appended and performed with the songs which become an integral structuring component.
The videos can be viewed here - standard-definition.info

Landscape Painting revisits representations of the landscape of my early childhood, Terminal Passage is an imaginary tale of the fate of an ocean liner that sails from Amsterdam in the age of cryptocurrencies and the pandemic (with apologies to S.T. Coleridge).

Of the remaining two songs Click and Catch Switch echoes children’s language development and the Romanian Surrealist poet Ghérasim Luca, in whose writing nouns often become verbs. No Blood, No Soil consists of a series of reflections on statements around the politically vexed notion of connection to place.

Originally released on Linear Obsessional LOR168


released May 15, 2021


all rights reserved



Steven Ball London, UK

Steven Ball has been working as an artist since the early 1980s, in film, video, sound, installation, and performance, and has been a member of the post-punk DIY group Storm Bugs. In 2014 he started writing and recording songs as a solo project, being particularly concerned with experimenting with which kinds of texts might constitute a song lyric. ... more

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