A Crack in the Voice

performances at FACT and the Bluecoat, Liverpool 2017

No bodies survive intact in this equation, wherein time itself is accorded the status of a fold of silk, which can just as simply open, wind, knot or ripple, thickening, as spread in any singular direction.

In this story, I discuss a crack in one such symbolic body, as it was revealed to me during the making of The Happy Jug. The play, as with this story, concerns the simultaneity of the break and the leak in the information age – and the radical proposal of time this requires…. Rather than following this outward trajectory of the spreading leakage as it blurred through medical records into democratic procedure (paths which continue to spread to this day) the story here follows the crack itself, inward through the recording and circumstances of the play, carving Nina’s voice open to the dreaming mind.



Nodes is an ongoing theatre/performance writing project by myself and Mark Greenwood.


We recently appeared on the Verb with
‘two minutes of lang-bliss’

And we have also shown at Rich Mix LDN, and 24 Kitchen Street and The Cornerstone Theatre in Liverpool.

Social‐science fiction for the North West of England. Written and devised by Mark Greenwood and Nathan Jones with a cohort of actors, the play revisits iconic Liverpool 1980s culture through a radically dystopian vision of speech.

Future City: unpacking the library

I made this performance for Liverpool Biennial’s Future City symposium.

The brief was to work with a newly gathered ‘Future Library’ consisting of 122 texts,
and create a 15 minute performance.

My approach was to appropriate selections from the library, using the word “NOW” to cut through the vast amount of texts and create a script of constant immanence.

I worked with actors Nicholas Burke, Maisie Newman and Lydia-Grace Searle to realise the script as a performance.



Live Writing

Some images of the Live Writing software I developed at Mercy with Mark Greenwood and Sam Meech.  The interface is made by Sam Meech using Isadora.  We’re really keen that people take advantage of this software and help us explore its potentials.

The Live Writing interface essentially allows for writing-as-peformance – not only at the level of textual production, but by allowing a live animation, degredation, affecting, throbbing and sensory involvement of text.  It flashes, pulses, falls apart, merges and fogs live poetry.

So far, performances using the software have taken us to a DIY gig in Leeds, a rave in Park Hill Flats in Sheffield, and the Liverpool Biennial Launch Party in 2012.

You can download this software patch for Isadora here: http://www.mediafire.com/download/gn9l2rp1v7im7o6/LiveWriting_3.0_kaospad.izz

You will need to download Isadora, and Pete Warden’s Freeframe Plugins also: http://troikatronix.com/download/isadora-download/

Get in touch with enquiries.

Nuance, Nuisance, Jouissance _ TALK

A performance paper I delivered at Brunel University.

The complete title is “Nuance, Nuisance, Jouissance: notes towards a noise poetic”

There is a lot of, hopefully productive, wordplay and mixing-up
of terminologies, texts and disciplines in this talk, so bear with me!




Notes Towards a Noise Poetic by Nathan Jones




Artaud, A. The Theatre and its Double, (Paris: Grove Press, 1958)

Andrews, B. Paradise and Method: Poetry and Praxis, (Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1996)

Beckett, S. Molloy, (London: Grove Press, 1994)

Bergvall, C. 2010, Performance at Revolutions in Form, (Liverpool: the Bluecoat, October 2011)

Certeau, M. de, The Practice of Everyday Life, (London: University of California Press, 1984)

Franzen, J. Freedom (Canada: Harper Collins, 2010)

Goulish, M. 39 Microlectures, (London, Routledge 2000)

Grimm, JL, and WC Grimm. Hansel and Gretel, (1892)

Kristeva, J. The Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982)

Frederique, L. Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society (Palgrave Macmillan 2004)

McCaffery, S. Prior to Meaning: The Prosemantic and Poetics (Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2001)

Paulson, W. The Noise of Culture: Literary Texts in a World of Information, (New York: Cornell University Press, 1988)

Perloff, M. “Multiple Pleats”: Some Applications Of Michel Serres’s Poetics.” Journal Article. Project MUSE, 2000 < HYPERLINK “http://muse.jhu.edu/”http://muse.jhu.edu/> [ accessed 17 May 2012]

Queyras, S. ‘Lyric Conceptualism: A Manifesto in Progress’ Online Posting, 9 April 2012 <URL http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2012/04/lyric-conceptualism-a-manifesto-in-progress/>
Sade, M. de, 120 Days of Sodom, trans Havoc, James, (London: Solar Books, 2008)

Serres, Michel. The Parasite, (University of Minnesota Press, 2007)

Sutherland, K. Hot White Andy (Brighton: Barque Press, 2009)

Trecartin, R., Trill-ogy Comp. (2009) < HYPERLINK “http://ubuweb.com/film/trecartin.html”http://ubuweb.com/film/trecartin.html> [accessed 17 May 2012]

Voegelin, S. Towards a Philosophy of Sound, (New York: Continuum, 2010)

Wordsworth, W. ‘The Recluse’ <URL HYPERLINK “http://www.bartleby.com/145/ww301.html”http://www.bartleby.com/145/ww301.html> [accessed 17 April 2012]


Last Words Forever

At Cafe Oto for Mercy’s ELECTRONIC VOICE PHENOMENA show May 2012.

The latest iteration of this bass-noise and lyric performance,
with a backing track from Tom Smith and analogue controls this time by Andy Hunt.

Was an exhausting performance for some reason, under the lights
and with the interface not fully responding as it should.
You can hear that from the slurring of the words and stammering.

You can hear a recording of the end of this work ‘as it could have been’ here:


Performance at Maintenant _ with Richard Barrett

Developed a collaborative work with poet Richard Barrett
and performed it at the illustrious Maintenant Camerade series curated by Steven Fowler.

The conceit was that Richard wrote some poems and I performed an inflationary gesture on them
using a variety of appropriatory, improvisation and glitch techniques to fill the pages with text.
In performance we reflected this composition process, where I read relentlessly margin to margin
and Richard picked out his original poem from this ‘noise’.


Here’s one of the poems, which are published by Red Ceilings press here.
Richard’s original text is in bold.

image by Alexander Kell

Vision/Fragment _ with Tom Rea Smith

Poetry performance with analogue-glitch av interface.

A visceral vocal reading of corrupted and perverted lyric poems accompanied by a soundtrack by Tom Rea Smith,
played through a compressor, so the vocal ‘cuts-out’ or ‘pushes-back’ the soundtrack, creating a live glitch interface.

The performance was augmented by live writing, using specially commissioned software, developed with by Sam Meech.

Performed at the Bluecoat in Oct 2011 a trailer for the performance here:

The full audio of the Bluecoat performance is available for download here:

The basis for this work was some research I had been doing into the idea of a subversive, noisy-text
and applying a glitch philosophy to a poetic.

In composition, I used GTR Language Workbench to expose existing text works by The Great Romantic poets to new vocabularies, transmute and shatter them, and ‘performed’ my own improvised writing-through on these texts to pervert and distort their original meaning.  The resulting script is hopefully then an accurate and honest hybrid collaboration of computer-glitch and human improvised practice.

Source texts I used also included literary reviews, which I took up onstage and performed an improvised reading on, and a script for hypnosis which I infected with philosophical and personal vocabularies.

In performance I used this text and my vocal performance to produce a continuous ‘slippage’ of meaning, drawing the audience into an active participation of meaning creation, hopefully on their own terms.

After the performance at the Bluecoat. Mark Leahy was kind enough to send a short impressionistic piece of writing for me which captured some of the techniques around ‘cutting lose’ which I had hoped for.

“he rocks, his body working with his voice … and when he draws a breath / pauses … the sounds flush out again, sweeping past him into our space, and we hear crackle and hum and the voice tells us things, it informs, it imparts news, it has this character of authority …
behind him a projection screen jumps and scatters with highlighted and carved words, plucked from the run and spill of text, pixelated and pulsing in response to the struggle between two sound/ voice channels … this verbal swell carries threads of myth and legend, flickers of stories glint and emerge, then are swept back into the ebb as other lines and words and echoes swamp them …” MARK LEAHY

Generous Illusions _ performance lecture

an extremely ambitious piece, delivered with a wonderful combination of confidence and sensitivity.” Paul Luckraft, Oxford Contemporary Art

A ‘performance lecture’ which I originally wrote as part of a residency at the Bluecoat
and performed with a voice-responsive visual by Scott Spencer and audio by Carl Brown.

The piece is an experiment in combining several modes of speech.
From the emotional response the time in which it was written,
to a discussion of the role of poetry in the fine arts.

Among other things, the text references the birth of my daughter, abstraction, adaptation,
and the freedom of the audience within performance.

It also features several poems, including Slow Magic and The Orphan.

The latest version includes an intro adapted from a John Le Carre novel:

“Are you familiar with this habit of speech? The times when we resort entirely to oblique allusion, offering a raw material which the consumer, not the purveyor, must refine.

I could still hear her voice. See the rows of little teeth like houses hanging in the rain; I tried to imagine my life without creativity. I realised that it was too late, as it always had been, because I had gone to it for the little it could give me, and it had taken the little I had. Like a doubting cleric, I felt that whatever my small heart contained was safely locked in the palace of my retreat; now it is gone.”

Here is a clip from the Liverpool performance


Knowledge Lives Everywhere _ at FACT

I was asked to create a new performance for the speech moment
at FACT’s ‘Knowledge Lives Everywhere’ exhibition.

The show was curated by the participation team, so I developed a little intervention
where visitors to the show got to craft my speech before I read it.
Visitors selected from a series of coloured cards, which had texts from different sources on.

Yellow was from Mike Stubb’s (Director of FACT) previous speech
Red was from philosophical texts by De Certeau, Foucault, Deleuze
Grey was from online searches, etc…

You can read the resulting text below, which I performed in an instinctive way,
manufacturing a sort of flow to an inherently nonsensical text,
with a disruptive vocal processing by Rob from Hive.

images © Minako Jackson from artinliverpool.com

(I hadn’t planned to be so colour coded with the exhibition branding, but it was a nice coincidence!)

The Text:


Welcome to FACT on this very special day as we celebrate

Knowledge Lives Everywhere!

For me this image symbolises the point at which I arrived

But how can this effect how we learn?

The product of a process of deviation from rule-governed and falsifiable practices, overflowing,

for FACT this project is hugely significant.

Such a notion is not a matter of opinion at all, but an idea pure and simple.

We have seen this over the years with ground breaking projects such as

Aesthetics examined in the logic of sensation,

and homes sheltering housing residents.

What does this mean now? It means

the object of a pure and unconditioned intellectual delight is the moral law.

Long before it was even a twinkle in an architect’s eye

unique projects and ideas have turned FACT into a playground of ideas –

the scientist and the common man come together

to lay the first foundations of all assurance on what is a matter of FACT.

This city is a fabulous place for creative collaboration.

Young people

over the course of the part 12 years

have been effected by chromatic vibration

sharing FACT through

the ability not to compare conceptions with the objects, but mearely with our faculties of recognition.

Men lack the knowledge and capacity to maintain their power,

within things cognisable of three kinds: matters of opinion, matters of faith, and matters of FACT.

I am delighted that you could be part of this historical occassion

where we will imagine and build models of our thoughts emotions and memories as playable systems

of privation, repression, eros and thantos,

representing this eco-system of

objects of an emperical knowledge that is at least intrinsically possible.

I should be glad then, if you would write to me and give me your views on this subject.

However, it wasn’t just the technology or aesthetic. One of the most significant things was that

guest artists, groups, visitors, and communities of interest could explore

how different pieces of the system interact with each other.

It’s that simple!

Artworks that celebrate creativity as

the metaphor of an eco-system

question the dominance of conceptual stability, organisation and unity.

Everywhere visitors get inspired by experiments

and learn that

this family resists modernisation

and technological breakthroughs, developed by video-sythesis and analogue keying.

Step inside.

Experts and their knowledge can never corrupt that love.

A living legacy.

Finally, I wanted to show you this image, which has inspired me personally:

the insinuation of the ordinary into established scientific fields

entering into everyday life and exerting influence on ordinary healthy intellegence,

an elastic fluid interpreting all other substances and completely permeating them.

Enjoy the exhibition, enjoy the city!


The cards from the speech will go to Mike Stubbs, as a gift. The remaining cards will be used in the next performance.

Noah’s Ark – film

Here is a trailer for the film, which is available for film festivals:
(you can see more about the film on the Noah’s Ark film website)

I produced a new poetic monologue for Sam’s film, reflecting his process of re-sampling,
by taking existing poems and journalistic texts and running them through transformative processes.

Hopefully the result is suitably intense and organic.
On the film we also worked with Carl Brown who wrote an original song and scored the entire piece.

I have performed this voice-over live several times, during a mini-tour of the North West
in Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Cumbria
and in London, including one show as part of the London Word Festival
where our hosts Henningham Family Press launched the handmade book
of the text, featuring stills from the film.


Equinox _ with Andre Guedes

Andre Guedes is an artist from Lisbon.
He asked me to adapt a letter into a performance text.

The letter was originally a request to all tenents of the Bluecoat prior to refurbishment
which Andre found during his research in the organisation’s archive.

We kept the sinister and threatening undertones of the text,
transfering them into a more personal setting.

The result is an original and quite enigmatic text.

This is a technique I have used in other written work since,
including the adaptation of the Noah’s Ark story for film.

Equinox was performed by a dance pupil in Summer 2009
where the text was also available to take away.

We also adapted the artwork for an exhibition at Lost Soul and Stranger Service station,
showing it alongside a crushed brick from a ‘lost wing’ of the Bluecoat.


Here is the text:

Dear John,

I have to write this letter. I just do. Last night, we went out to the lake and threw stones into the black slick. We’re going to do it. Our fortunes have become distorted for now, and they will be obliterated completely before they are reassembled as anything a duck can land on. Of course, I said we should leave you be for a while, until January at least. But that’s the end. I won’t see you again after that, even if I want to.

Plans and preparations need to be made so we can get rid of you quickly and without too much fuss. Perhaps you can drop hints that you are too sad to carry on. Then all that’s left is to make sure you’re calm, and that you don’t ruin anything. It’s funny really – we will be the ones ruining something. But you can’t ruin that. Just make sure you take your stuff.

Dan has another place. I don’t know if I trust him so hurry and be quiet about it.

There is more news. This, too, will not come as news to you. There are meetings on these evenings, where you can speak and ask questions. I don’t know what you would ask. Maybe that could be your first question! I’m sorry, it’s horrible really. But perhaps it will clear your throat of the feeling of sickness.


O, what a strange shape those disjointed days make.

Anyway, there will be the newspaper articles as well, saying that you have gone away. It’s part of our duty, we think. That will make it clear locally, at least, that you aren’t involved in anything.

Meantime there’s going to be a reading or a series of readings for us all, held by some of the boys. There are people that you like to speak with, even after all this. Maybe someone will sing.


The Coming _ with Sarah Nicolls

This is the second performance at the opening of a Mercy WIYRT show in London.

I wrote the piece specifically for a collaboration with Sarah,
and the very particular dynamic and range of sounds her amazing piano-machine brings.

Sarah and I also worked-up a score for this piece, which you can see a few example pages of below. This piece has been exhibited at Lost Soul and Stranger Service Station




The Bell _ with Wave Machines

The piece was written in partnership with Wave Machines in Autumn 2008
for a performance at St Brides Church in Liverpool –
the bell you can hear is a sample from that church.

With the writing I tried to push as much emotional and physical potential in as I could.
The piece worked really well, and remains the best performance I have given.

Here’s a video of one of several performances of The Bell that I have done with Wave Machines,
filmed by the irrepressible Sam Meech.

We are at one of Mercy’s amazing WIYRT shows, at St Leonards Church in Shoreditch,
with an introductory walk by bride Karen McLeod
and a brilliant performance from John Smith on the balcony afterwards.

I also directed and produced this show in collaboration with Wave Machines, for Mercy.


The Bell has been the focus for several Mercy productions.
Here is another video by Tim Brunsden of Liverpool Stories, showing the piece within a concept we did for Tate Liverpool.