Throughout his career, Martin Creed has found fascination in repetition and rhythm. The artist and musician won the Turner Prize in 2001 for Work No. 227: The lights going on and off, an empty room in which the lights switched on and off at five-second intervals, for example, while Work No. 1701 (screened at London’s The Infinite Mix last year) followed various people crossing a New York intersection. And his playful 2014 retrospective at the Hayward Gallery (titled What is the point of it?) encompassed similar themes of succession, cycle, and exercise.
The Scottish polymath has been releasing music since 1997, firstly as part of the trio Owada and then, from 1999 onwards, as a solo artist in his own right. In 2011, he founded the label Telephone Records and released debut album Love To You on Moshi Moshi a year later. “What the fuck am I doing”, Creed’s latest musical offering, sees him searching for order in his circular grapples with the self. Speaking about the track, Creed explains: “I find myself here in this world trapped inside me looking out and I don’t know what to do.”
“I can’t ignore myself, but I can’t go along with everything either, because I don’t trust myself, because I’m in here with my feelings telling me what to do, and I don’t know where they come from and they’re not reasonable, and before I know it I don’t know the difference between my head, my heart and my feet. But I don’t know what I’m saying, and now I’m wondering what I’m doing.”
Creed self-recorded the track, collaging together separate voice notes and various other effects and materials. “I tried not to tidy it up,” he explained. “It’s my state of mind as a person living in this world, as far as I can tell.” The video is self-shot, too, chronicling Creed’s self-interrogation via his reflection in a small, handheld mirror. “The video was made in Brick Lane, where I lived for years,” he says. “There’s a lot of people passing by. It feels like everything passes you by all the time as you look into yourself.”
Watch Creed trying to make sense of it all above.
Martin Creed Words and Music takes place at UCLan in Preston on April 25 and Kings Place, London on April 27
Follow Niall Flynn on Twitter here @nwflynn