Note Archive: #objects

Process: Soliloquy

Reflecting Out Loud
Constructing the Soliloquy project, 2016.

Glimpse

Museums are odd spaces, if you stop to think about it. Objects enclosed in glass boxes, protected from the touch, sound and breath of the general populace. We can see them, carefully presented in a dimmed artificial light, but these objects are now immune to human life – often the very thing that brought them into being in the beginning.

The continued existential question of our kind – who are we? why are we here? – is why such spaces exist. Why objects are presented, stripped bare from their original maker (except maybe recent history) and allowed to coalesce with our own consciousness. Campaigns such as Fashion Revolution day hint that this is a cultural model – a removal of the very hands that created something, to sell us an idea of who we are. An idea we piece together from the fragments we've absorbed before. Is authorship even valuable, when we feverishly impose our own meaning onto something anyway?

Stripped bare of context, the objects in glass boxes become an exercise in aesthetics. A mummified cat, sacred from what I know of Ancient Egypt, becomes reduced to a reminder of basket weave patterns. I might muse about the time/skill that went in or the beliefs of the people who made it, but as a product of this civilisation, museums can become nothing more than "inspiration" – a search for an idea to merge with my collected consciousness, and trigger the creation of something that I can embed with meaning. Potential is everywhere and over-abundance seems inevitable.

Museums are odd spaces, but I enjoy them anyway. I like the sense of stillness and the concrete answers they (try to) present, as a form of refuge from my own questioning mind. They are places where history is fixed; in everything but the stories we go on to tell.


Ancient Egypt & Ancient Greece
At the British Museum, London

The Chaos Of Memory

So… my good intentions of blogging have fallen by the wayside, though for valid reason lately. It’s partly because I quite enjoy silence on occasion and partly because I finally decided to apply for the MA I discovered last year. A course which encourages a balance between theory and practice (i.e. perfect for me) and I hesitated on thanks to my social survival mammoth overriding the more reliable gut instinct.

Last month I was fortunate enough to get an interview for the aforementioned MA and a week later, offered a place. This part is irrelevant because what I’m actually sharing today is the week-long project I completed for the interview. Something different from most of my previous work and bizarrely, falls in line with where my perspective has shifted – a more encompassing approach, which extends beyond what is generally considered fashion practice.

The task was to produce a response to Archiving the Future, an essay by Pil and Galia Kollectiv. It took me a few times to even vaguely understand all the ideas, followed by a lot of highlighting, scribbling and general regression into school-time revision mode. It probably helped that I genuinely read theory books for fun on occasion. The idea took a few days to formulate: photograph of an object, coupled with a story and presented in the form of an advertisement. I produced three images for the interview, mostly because I thought a series lent itself well to the idea of collecting.

At risk of being super ‘pretentious art school’ sounding, here is a brief explanation of the idea:

  • Photographs of objects - subtle reference to “The Treachery of Images (Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe)” by Rene Magritte… an actual object would be real, but a photograph of an object shows it did exist, is (or was?) real and tangible, so could have a history. By photographing it, the functionality of the object is removed and the original/historical meaning or context has a layer obscuring it. It creates distance from the origin and allows the collector to become author.
  • Invented stories - this element is derived from the “invention of a lost meaning” idea within the actual essay. Again, it is used to indicate that the object does have a history, however that history is being invented by the collector rather than based on the truth. It is being rewritten and ties in with the idea that the act of collecting is attributing value rather than the object itself providing that.
  • Advertisement presentation - finally, this component is deriving from Benjamin’s idea that collecting operates in a different mode to advertising. It is taking it from private to common, by taking objects owned by collector (personal) to being within a platform designed from mass viewing (public). This element also places a subtle question on the position of collecting as outside capitalist ideologies (as suggested in essay), especially if collecting does rely on industrialisation to strip an object of its meaning.

It’s probably easier to follow after reading the Kollectiv essay, but hopefully it makes some sense. Jon & I realised that the objects are ultimately irrelevant, because the idea questions authenticity in value. However, we decided that the objects are describing the collector (me in this instance) which ultimately helped solve the criteria of selection – it became a visceral act, rather than guided by strong intellectual components. Of course, I chose objects which were secondhand or old, allowing the falsified story to seem plausible.

Anyway, I just wanted to share them because I was quite pleased with how they turned out. Funnily, I found the Significant Objects project after I came up with the idea and the similarities are uncanny. The key differences being the final presentation (they listed on ebay, whereas mine are meant as adverts) and the number of writers.

Of course, getting onto the MA itself was wholly unexpected, but I’m approaching everything from the mentality of gradual evolution, kaizen, so who knows what will happen. It will be a challenge which is exciting and nerve-wracking in equal parts. I’m told that’s a good thing though.

A Temporary Fix

Last month saw a snap happy trip to Oxfordshire. In lieu of words today, I'll share a few photographs from Upton House with you.