Most of what I have to tell is words and yet I know this [internet] is a medium where, without photographs, there is often little appeal. Or proof, as though that is somehow necessary. I think my least favorite phrase (not that I hear it often, but) is ‘photos or it didn’t happen!’. What? No. Most of my life I do not spend documenting my life. Most of it, alas, will pass away, never to be reassembled. I give in to the obsessive occupation with fragments of others’ lives, garbage, papers. I certainly give in to the compulsion to collect similar things together. And to record things. But still within the compulsion to remember and record I am selecting. No photographs are available. Part of the tragedy of the conservation of mass is that it cannot be conserved in the same form. Looking through a box of photographs at a flea market today I was struck by finding the same postcards here (Ghent) as I did in Nottingham. Of course. People would have bought the same ones. They would not all have had cameras (these were late 19th/early 20th century cards). Would have taken them home, testimony to a particular time, visit, memory. And there they sit, without context and evidently multiple, on a table in two places at once in my mind. Of course the photograph is not necessarily more particular. I have a photograph of two priests in a train station and no idea who they are or where or why the picture was taken. But still: it is the one photograph. Somehow these small objects of mass reproduction seem so hopeful on their owners’ behalves. And yet there they are, with none of that particular travel or those people attached to them; almost no scent whatsoever.
All that to say I am working on 111O/5 and some books for MIEL and I want to tell about it—because it feels so good to make them. But there are no pictures. There’s nothing to Draw Internet Vagabonds In. I can’t make it as pretty as a room decorated in Cath Kidston wallpaper and all-white furniture. I find that a strange and frustrating and often an immersive compulsion: to make a visual object in order to show the work is happening. Or even—the feeling that I sometimes have that I ‘must’ talk about and show about the work. Even though there is for the most part nothing interesting to see: my computer screen, my faulty and elderly copy of Illustrator.
I want to talk about it here, mention it here, because I am, in doing the work, remembering the why of it which is in the end to make artifacts, i.e. to make objects that will be appealing, graceful, interesting, complex, difficult, whatever, all the things I value—to contain others’ work that I find beautiful, compelling, desirable, etc., and that that is also an art. And a bit of a trick, collecting the things I desire and making myself little ways to keep them; making them ‘real’ in the way a book is ‘real’. Much more to come this spring and summer. I hope that you will be here then, even be interested in the work when it comes out, despite the fact that for the moment I cannot ‘produce content’ for the kinds of overbearingly styled photographs that seem to draw so much attention in the worlds of the domestic, the arts, and design these days.
That last sentence is wry, not bitter, for the record—and to make it clear, in this toneless medium, what I mean.