The bait ball of wires survives another day, it seems to be quite at home. The pipes are not. Yet. So I will continue to coerce them, appealing to their empty insides with forms which may enable them to hold water again, for a bit.
Having the wires moving in on themselves, and some lengths of pipes in the space with them, I can see the materials for what they are.
Sweep steps. Take out bin. Map the space in more detail. Pipes and wires. 8 pipes, 26.1 metres, 8.2 litres or water (20.5% of average water volume of one human) . 25 wires, unmeasured.
Laying the equivalent wires on the ground below the permanent ones it’s like they dropped to the ground, messy and decorative, no function.
Re-reading chapter on wires in Paraphernalia by Steven Connor:
“Wires are magical objects because they are so small, and capable of wreaking effects far disproportionate to their size and fragility….
Wires effect their actions very largely invisibly, like our veins and nerves. Whenever a wire becomes visible, ideas of injury and obscenity stir…. This is why, for the most part, wires are so elaborately and decently..’clad’; it means that we can be spared the sight and touch of the wire itself, the copper performing it’s ferocious, invisible and unthinkinably rapid business inside the wire.”
Having spent some time untangling the wires I found here, and tidying the space, I tidied up the wires.
Like a shoal of sardines in a tight ball of motion, but I see copper at it’s heart, not silver. Suddenly I can see the mass of wires here.
Measure out the water into one place too. There is no running water, the water is still. Now the wires are flowing.
Close door. Sweep floor. Sit on floor. Look around. A loitering group of plastic milk bottles peer curiously around a wall. Put some of my copper pots by them. Are they inviting the plastic bottles out or herding them back in?
This space is small and quiet, with even smaller, quieter spaces leading off it, but the floor is large enough.
Wires, cables, switches, plumbing encircle the top of the space- out of reach of floodwater which might have visited this subterranean space in the past. Exposed but whitewashed. Disappearing and reappearing at will through the ceiling, walls and window frame. How many people would be effected by the cutting of a single one, or how many of these cable and pipes are empty, old, obsolete?
A toolbag, tools, extension cords.
Footsteps and voices from above. Shiny new hinges on the door. A boarded up sink, there is is no running water.
Well Susan Hiller in conversation with David Cross. Does it get any better? Hiller has now for me, taken over the mitre from the late Louise Borgeouis as the sovereign of contemporary conceptual art. Hiller’s range of interests stretches broader than those of Borgeouis too, appealing to the sociologist in me a lot.
David Cross fielded the questions, and was as engaged and energetic as ever, and it was great seeing the sparks of energy fly at the points where their interests met ( social justice, global environmental concern and in particular the limitations and possibilities of words and history. Or is it just me and my own interests that is finding these links..) I am so happy that Cross is a tutor here at Camberwell, as I have long been excited by Cornford and Cross’s works. Seeing these two powerhouses together was great.
Before noting down the conversation between Susan Hiller and David Cross, I want to quote some points Hiller made towards the end of the event which really struck a chord with me.
Firstly, she said that
‘it isn’t art unless you have something to show someone. Art is a discourse, and you need to start the conversation by showing something to the other person.’
I love this clarification- it doesn’t mean that everything you show people is necessarily going to start the discourse you intended it to start when you made it, but it does mean that, for me, I can see a point in making something, in creating an object or an arrangement of objects might help further the discourse, and that lying in bed appreciating the light falling on my elbow crease for hours is not going to help anyone.