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Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E24: The Widening Landscape with Robin Rimbaud, a.k.a. Scanner

Colin Marshall sits down in London’s Tower Hamlets with composer and artist Robin Rimbaud, better known as Scanner. They discuss the usefulness of a new place’s disorientation; the fun of grasping that new place’s systems and making its connections; other skills in the set gained from a lifetime of travel; the “great change” he has observed living in east London for fourteen years, where he arrived in search of “light and high ceilings”; the value of his work’s taking him to places he doesn’t choose; what he learned long ago when his visiting American friend’s girlfriend reflexively called every difference in England “really stupid”; the ease of complaint and the difficulty of embracing these differences; the importance of pattern in all areas of life; the complex question of how to cross a street in Vietnam; travel as a means of seeing your own home; photography as a means of notetaking; his shelves of diaries, kept every single day since age twelve, and what it says about his overarching skill of discipline; self-documentation’s need of a system to give it meaning, and how his famous early Scanner work gave meaning to other people’s phone calls; the intriguing question of how, exactly, you ended up interested in something, friends with someone, or in a place; whether not liking a piece of culture just means you can’t connect anything else to it; the greater fascination of why others love something you don’t love, and the need to experience it all in order to value what you do love; why we had such strong allegiances to music as teenagers; Nick Drake, B.S. Johnson, and the non-connected creator alone against the world; how he facilitates connections himself by staying available at all times; what he listens to in London, especially the local accents and terms of address like “mate,” “love,” and “boss”; how friends visit London and fail to connect to the west end, whereas he remains excited by the rest of the city; and the joy of walking by the historic site of George Orwell’s arrest.

Download the interview here as an MP3 or on iTunes.

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