I turned to the suitcase. I recollected that I once had some old coins, mostly inherited I think and I was interested in any value they might have. After an Inquiry I found that they were worth nothing and become more intrigued with value and worth, monetary and otherwise, a global language. I placed the coins in the suitcase with everything else. I had no real plans for these objects in the suitcase, thinking I might be able to use it and the objects in the future. Keeping them for various reasons, some like photographs had memories or thoughts attached, some were sculptural, some were detritus, all had potential, as themselves or something else, to be reused, to have a place, practical and imaginary, raw materials. I made a commitment to this suitcase and the objects, giving myself something to work with, something physical, something I had not really done before. I was reminded of Gulliver’s Travels and a small section of the story where Gulliver was exploring the Grand Academy of Lagado. This was supposedly an institute of pioneering, innovative, brilliant minds with gargantuan ambitions never coming to fruition, self-appointed, megalomaniacs. The surrounding lands baron, raped by this institution for its impossible and impractical ideas. The passage that I was interested in was set in the school of languages where it was considered detrimental to ones health to speak for the corrosion to the lungs and words were but names for things, so to make discourse more expedient, such things pertaining to your business should be carried on your person. The problem being the greater the business and discourse the more items required. The major advantage of this is the expansion of our visual recognition of objects and the potential ubiquity of this language, transcending verbal dialects. This made me curious about my items as language, as physical things, something they had as potential.
Another book I was also reading was Bill Bryson’s ‘A Short History Of Nearly Everything’ I had a vague knowledge about the book and its subjects. Later I would find in chapter nine ‘The Mighty Atom’ whether you choose to believe it or not, dependent on your standings and disposition, we are informed about the circulation and finitude of atoms. You as a human composed of atoms, which will reassemble as something as else and have previously been something else, atomic reincarnation, which reminded me of the life and potential, contained within the objects. Throughout the project I continued to contextualise and assess an array of practitioners such as Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Joseph Kosuth, Gonzalez Torres and Michael Landy as well as a host of other resources I thought relevant to expand my knowledge and understanding of this work.
I endeavoured to reason with the objects and these ideas of value, exchange, language and potential and put the objects through processes of writing and photography. Exploring and exercising the properties of the objects and mediums, distilling their conceptualisation. I had also given myself the opportunity to involve writing in my work, again something I had not done before and this would be my last chance on this course. The translation and transformation the objects would undergo through these processes was something I wanted to investigate and rationalise, a form of exchange and language engaging their potential and value.
I rediscovered the objects through photography adding to their narratives, they had also created a photograph a material item with the potential for valuation, photography as a form and as a language had been made present. In relation to the objects themselves they spoke another language, another form of recognition, exposing the process of translation and transformation. Originally I printed these digital images from my printer preferring the self reliance and independence of making, this is not without its problems of quality, many of the images were printed with a black line across them but I have now had them printed professionally, making them recognisable as photographs, talking as photographs with the quality of a photograph. These photographs of objects were taken in the suitcase, utilising it to be a portable studio. The images were taken in two ways a contextual shot showing it within the suitcase and an isolated shot of just the object, I have yet to fix which set or mixture of shots to use and not all of the shots have come out, there is an incongruity and discontinuity, a feature of this language I am not afraid to present, making the medium more visible for it is and how it works, its language. The lighting conditions changed over the days I took these photographs making them quite irregular but again this is not something I need to eliminate in favour of the perfect photograph of illusion that does not exist, but this is something I will take into further consideration.
I was advised to photograph the texts going through yet another form of translation and transformation. This gives the texts uniformity in ratio, which was a presentational issue, but also language is now in another visual form, configuring a new relationship with the other mediums and itself, exploring languages and this exchange giving a new reading, another value. The photographs have come back with inconsistent focus but all remain decipherable. This sporadic focusing is something I think gives acceptance to the medium of the photograph and the contingent in which it was taken, perhaps exaggerating its language, which is the prominent proposition. However I am still undecided about this in the pieces final presentation and requires revaluation and discussion, I might yet redo the photographs, but their discontinuity I believe can be a favourable reading, giving the work an instability and the images an uncertainty. Also I have handled the photographs and enjoy seeing the finger prints, making them invitational objects, giving them a status of photography and objects, perhaps detrimental to their monetary value in a pristine art world but increasing their cognitive and intentional value in engagement. This transference to imagery also produces some obfuscation of the text, creating it into a subtext, the content of which becomes a secondary layer into the work perhaps which also gives me some distance from it and consequently I feel more comfortable with it I think.
The objects themselves discarded detritus and displaced, open the sociological discourse of consumerism and notions of value. Value although objective in some sense by the market is also subjective as a practice of everyday life, what do I need, what do I want, what can I afford, what is this worth and longevity, ideas of excess and necessity, of conditions and qualities of life. Within the equation of value is functionality and use, perhaps no longer seen in the items I had collated however it did not preclude them. Items can have multiple possibilities and like in ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ a recognition, a box can be seen, understood, interpretive and used time and time again, such items have a reuse and a language but also the creation of narratives through memories and thoughts that I entered into rhetoric and reinvested in these items. This might only be a subjective value, one of sentiment, perhaps empathised by many people but this also provides a catalyst for conversation from the visual understanding and associations, a form of exchange, something invaluable. These items and their writings I hope invite discourse and associations, this discourse is part of the work as there is a value of an opinion, dialectical learning and the practice of language. The writings in both style and content I hoped would provide evocation for this discourse as I speak of the items themselves in terms of their potential as both imaginary play things and practical possibilities in an uncertain, conversational manner. In the writing I interject moments about the process of writing whilst writing exploring the medium and acknowledging the contingent and hopefully being within it in the form of conversation but equally identifying the medium as a language, a communicative tool in relation to itself, the objects themselves and the photographs. The writings have become what I believe to be a sub text of the work in their content as in its entirety it is quite extensive, writing about all of the forty-four items. In the texts I also speak of my dubious recollections and this test of mnemonics also illuminates the fallibility of memory and gives the inanimate objects a strange sentience by their presence and existence, a life, a value. Permeating the writing are many of these concepts and ideas I have discussed, it is quite explicit in some ways of the working process and development. I wrote in quite an automatic and structural style, having a narrational progression and fluency, realising it to be more like a painting, drawing or sketch, once the brush was applied the mark was made, although of course the rule can and was on occasion bended in the interests of its creation and purpose just as it can be with anything else.
So with my collection of forty-four items, forty-four texts and hundreds of photographs I have to arrange this work. I think it is mutable and in flux with its fragility and uncertainty. All that I have allows for interchangeability, reconsideration and the portability of it all held in a suitcase, suggesting its contingency, movement and potential travel maybe across the globe to contend with languages, maybe requiring its adaptation. I have not really considered the suitcase as an object although it is, I did not write about it, instead thinking of it as the vessel but I would like to readdress this at some stage. I decided to remove some of the items as well creating disparities in relationships and hopefully exposing the mediums and languages, whilst also decreasing the density of the text, but realising I might lose the texts fluency I also provided a comments book which contained all the texts and their relative images. I hoped this book might also encourage conversation and response, having additions from the contingent and perhaps moulding around them, although I am still unsure about the inclusion of such a book in the coming exhibitions.
Since that time it was suggested to me that I put the objects on the wall changing the reading, placing it in a point of tension as an object and an image that has been translated and transformed through processes of linguistics.
I was concerned about one of the items in terms of health and safety but the conventions of something placed on a wall in an art or gallery context is untouchable so it serves a pragmatic and conceptual aim. I then decided I would place one photo of the text and one photo of an object alongside this object on the wall to work in juxtaposition, comparison and contrast. I am still unsure whether these images will be from the set or additional. I have also found a table to display the objects on something was discussed in my last tutorial that I needed to resolve and low and behold coming back from work on Saturday there was the table, a found table, fit for my use, its reuse, in keeping with the project. I have decided to put the suitcase and the remaining forty-three items on the table, as well as two stacks of photographs, which I have in this instance decided will be forty-three as well. In fact it makes sense for the photos on the wall to be the matching images and text to the object that is there. This way there should be parallels made between the objects, text and photographs.
This has been one of the most problematic and complex projects I have worked on during my studies on this course. It has now been considered, conceptualised and ready for their proposition in the coming exhibitions, but this is just an integer, a stage of presentation and display. I am still wrestling with titles and have two, which I might merge. Firstly however the piece will remain untitled as the main title and will instead have a sub title, a technique employed by Gonzalez Torres to suggest it’s instable, undefined incomplete state, subject to change, as this work might well be and is incorporating. The first sub title I was thinking about is ‘Stage’ this alludes to several elements in the work, not only its status but perhaps also the ideas of performance, audience and the practice, all the world is a stage. The second was ‘Subtext’ this was considering the layering of the work and the connotations of language, translation and sub language and is perhaps the more apt title. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, learning and hopefully evolving my practice, my work and the passing of time has a strange perception at this end. The are still small problems to address before the work is exhibited and it still requires work in certain areas for perhaps future presentations and propositions, but for this point and the immediate future points of display I am happy with all that I have done.