Posts Tagged ‘Space’
The Intangible Archive is the project that I’ve been working on, with sound artist/composer Philip Reeder. I presented on it last week at the Association of Art Historians conference, and I’m on my way to San Diego to present at Museums and the Web 2012. Rather than a linear, temporal sound walk, it’s a spatial way of engaging with memory. It’s an extension of the archive, where I’ve re-archived memories according to their links with place. People can search the archive by walking around St Ives, looking for memories to listen to. It comes out of my practice, which asks people to articulate their memories and finds creative ways of sharing those memories with others. Sharing memories with others is a form of re-archiving; augmenting the memories others through encounter. This creates a multiple, distributed archive, where there are many different forms of remembered encounter, each one unique, connected to place, and archived in the memory of each person that searches for fragments of the archive to make their own story of place. Voices that don’t often get heard getting their say in history. Making archival silence into archival noise.
The Intangible Archive is an archive without walls. It’s a way of encountering memories from the archive, outside of the archive itself. Using mobile technology and headphones, participants can create their own history of place by walking around St Ives. A soundtrack composed by Philip Reeder, from field recordings of St Ives, plays while participants walk, and at certain points, voices from the Memory Bay oral history archive will speak. Instead of being told a particular history from a particular point of view, the direction of walking determines the narrative.
There are more video snippets at
I found this under construction next to the research building today. Three performance students making a site specific work. It’s a viewing station, built entirely from things found on campus. The idea is that, when it’s finished, you can look through holes or viewing tubes, and instead of seeing the expansive view over Penryn and Falmouth, you only see specific sites/sights. What you see will also have it’s own story attached. So, instead of seeing the macroscopic view of the landscape, you see a microscopic view of the very site/sight specific. Thereby using space and place to create narratives. Apparently, they’ve had the all-clear from health and safety, so it will be there indefinitely. It’s also rather well constructed, and much sturdier than it looks. Although it looks like it’s held together by luck and imagination.
The St. Ives Archive is housed [housed; where the memory lives; the dwelling place for the memories; where memory sleeps until it is disturbed and rearranged to become history] in the Upper Chapel Room, St. Andrew’s Street. If you walk along the seafront towards the train station, you’ll find the St. Ives Society of Artists clinging to the very edge between land and sea. If you walk the other way, past the cafes and shops, weaving in and out between the holiday-makers in the summer, or trying to escape the penetrating winds in the winter, you’ll find the 15th Century church, and the harbour, and beyond that, Porthmeor beach and Tate St. Ives.
The building itself is constructed in granite, its walls almost half a metre thick. The Upper Chapel Room is found by going through a small set of blue double doors at the side, ascending the steep carpeted staircase and at the top, turn right and go through the glazed wooden door off the small landing. The space itself reveals its construction, white-painted beams hold-up the Methodist‘s architectural simplicity, the attic-like space filled with light by the large windows at each end [three per wall, two small with four sections, two with eight panes, two with six, and a larger window in the between, three instead of two wide, and an extra row of two-by-six windows on top].
It’s not an very big space, neither is it small. The room is the whole of the floor, save for a small landing with a toilet and a cupboard, and at the far corner, a latch door leads to a little kitchen with its assortment of mugs, tea-bags and tea-towels, and a kettle that seems slow to boil [though not as slow as the one in the kitchen in the house in which I live].
At the kitchen end, is a computer that stores the oral history archive and slide-shows of photos, and next to it is the microfiche machine. Microfiche is still an esoteric thing of great mystery to me. I only partly understand it. We need to become better acquainted, the microfiche and I. Working clockwise around the room from the microfiche on the back wall next to the kitchen, there is the Family History Corner. This is for actual genealogy, rather than the genealogy of ideas or knowledge. Along the long wall that faces the door, are cupboard-topped shelves that reach from floor to ceiling, except because the roof is sloped, there is a gap. I’ve often thought it might be a good place to sleep [sleep with sleeping memories], rather than just daydreaming.
On the shelves are a rainbow of ring-binders, filed not quite according to their position on the spectrum. They are filed according to subject, and to each subject a colour is assigned. It starts with blue for Family History at the far end, then red for Buildings, purple for History, green for Maritime, and yellow, for sun, sand and Tourism. Black ringbinders are for the serious matter of the arts. Grey archive boxes contain monochrome memories in black and white photos. See-through plastic boxes hold precious glass plates and photographic negatives; look through to see.
Turning to face in the opposite direction is the other wall with the big windows which face the sea, with St. Eia’s Church to the left and the Society of Artists to the right. You can just see the see in the middle, between the rooftops opposite. You can also see Godrevy, dunes, sand, but no lighthouse. Along this wall are computers. These are necessary for lots of reasons, yet the data stored in the memory of the volunteers is far easier to access, and can be retrieved using simple voice activated commands. This is much more user friendly, and needs no special training to use. The search results are filtered, and come with intelligent metadata, and recommendations for further searches. Apparently, this is also how the Semantic web, or Web 3.0 will work. There are no accession numbers, or filing systems required. However, the system of memories is unique, sophisticated and individualised.
Turning again to the other long wall, there is a fireplace, not in use for fireside tales, with a sign above that says ‘THIS IS A DISUSED MINESHAFT it has been fenced for your protection PLEASE HELP TO KEEP IT SAFE’. Next to this there are three filing cabinets, two brownish beige and one royal blue. From left to right, they respectively contain administrative things, Artists and Sculptors and General Art (A-Z), and Volunteers and Displays and Writers and Poets. Next to filing cabinets is a dividing wall of desks and photocopier at ninety degrees to the wall, ending in a display table with local history books and postcards of local views for sale. The door to the stairs is on the other side of this half-wall. This divides the volunteer’s working area from the public’s working area. This separation is further defined by the difference between the assorted proper desks on the one side, and smaller tables, each with two assorted chairs, on the other. The visitors’ side tables, three of them, are an interwar shade of lemon syllabub. Modern red and black chairs sit in pairs with the lemony tables. The half-glazed door leads out on to the landing again, and on the landing is the cupboard where books are stored, and not unlike in Borges’ Library of Babel, the toilet.
But as Bachelard said, one never goes downstairs from the attic.
This afternoon, Janet was kind enough to talk me on a tour of St. Ives. We wandered along Fore Street to the St. Ives Society of Artists in the old Mariner’s Church, then to Porthmeor Studios. We visited John Emmanuel’s studio at Number Two, which is a really incredible space. Built of stone and wood, its large windows look out over Porthmeor beach in the late afternoon December sun. The St. Ives School of Painting at the other end is currently being renovated, and when that’s finished, work will begin on the other studios. The higgledy piggledy studios used to be fish cellars and net lofts, bits built here and there, as required, at different times, making dating the building extremely complicated, although building along Porthmeor beach began around 1840. Ben Nicholson and Patrick Heron worked at Studio Number Five.
We continued along Back Road East, then Back Road West, down smaller lanes, surprising some cats and wandering into the nooks and crannies of the town to have a peek. These spaces are not quite public, but at the same time not private. Liminal spaces, the spaces in between.
We also met Alban, a film maker. He makes brilliant short films about the town, which you can find at here, at St. Ives TV.
As we carried on, I mentioned a video I’d seen of St. Ives following a fire in July 1970, and asked Janet where it was. She told me that it destroyed four restaurants and twelve flats on Fore Street, and showed me the newspaper clippings back at the archive, as well as a copy of the Fire Service’s report about the incident. The aerial photo showing the devastation was fascinating. As was the Daily Mirror’s take on the fire, Inferno at St Ives: Hippies raise alarm as fire sweeps resort.
As we walked back to the archive, Janet pointed out the Salvation Army building that was rebuilt in 1916 following a fire. At this point, Fore Street was still the main street through the town. Wharf Road was built in 1922; until then, the town ran down to the beach.
So, I’m a little late in posting this as there has been so much to take in in my first couple of weeks at the St. Ives Archive. Janet Axten and the archive’s volunteers have been really brilliant and helpful in introducing me to the archive, and I’ve even got my own badge, which I’m really pleased about.
The archive was set up in 1996 and has been developing steadily ever since. Currently based in the Upper Chapel Room in St. Andrew’s Street, there are plans for further development, and therefore it’s a very exciting time to get involved.
I’ve been introduced to so many interesting people, I’m creating new networks and connections and becoming part of the community here at the archive, as at the same time I begin to explore the historical connections of the creative community in St. Ives. I’m really starting to understand better what I’m trying to do, here, and how by extending my research networks I can extend my research. I’ve also been considering what John Hall has said about the autobiographical nature of research. Previously, I was aware that this research allows me to explore and combine my interests in education,cultural heritage and technology, but I think I realise now that my research is autobiographical on so many levels.
The town has got its own internet TV channel, St. Ives TV and the archive is hoping to produce one film a month on something from the town’s history, so I’m hoping to be able to get involved in that.
Mary has kindly invited me to the 91st anniversary meeting of the Old Cornwall Society in January. This will not only give me a chance to hear her speak in Cornish dialect, which she’s written several books on, but also hear some other talks.
Janet has suggested that I attend the meetings for the planning of the St. Ives Festival, which happens every September. This will be a great way of meeting people involved, and I hope to have a project to launch at the festival. I’m excited.
The cyclical originates in nature, and the linear from social practice and human activity.
Time and space, the cyclical and the linear, exert a reciprocal action: they measure themselves against one another; each one makes itself and is made a measuring measure; everything is cyclical repitition linear repetitions. A dialectical relation (unity in opposition) thus acquires meaning and import, which is to say generality. One reaches, by this road as by others, the depths of the dialectic.
Rhythm appears as regulated time, governed by rational laws, but in contact with what is least rational in human being: the lived, the carnal, the body.
Rhythms escape logic, and nevertheless contain logic,, a possible calculus of numbers and numerical relations.
One meaning of the research, a philosophical goal, is to be found here: the relation of the logical (logic) and the dialectical (dialectic), which is to say of the identical and the contradictory.
It was necessary to set up list of oppositions and dualities that enter into analysis by rejecting first the old comparison of dialogue (two voices) and dialectic (three terms).
Triadic nature of the dialectic, trinity etc. Lefebvre describes this tendency towards the dialectic in analysis of the relation or constitution of three terms which change according to circumstance, as mythomania, which ‘seeks to grasp a moving but determinate complexity (determination not entailing determinism).
The notion of rhythm brings with it or requires some complementary considerations: the implied but different notions of polyrhythmia, eurhythmia and arryhythmia. It elevates them to a theoretical level, starting from the lived. Polyrhythmia? It suffices to consult one’s body; thus the everyday reveals itself to be a polyrhythmia from the first listening. Eurythmia? Rhythms unite with one another in the state of health, in normal (which is to say normed!) everydayness; when they are discordant, there is suffering, a pathological state (of which arrhythmia is generally, at the same time, symptom, cause and effect). The discordance of rhythms brings previously eurhythmic organisations towards fatal disorder. Polyrhythmia analyses itself.
The aim of this project is to create a reactive sound installation, using sensors to detect the presence of an audience.
I want to start a ‘conversation’ between the archive and passers by, located in a specific place.
Located outside, a motion sensor will trigger a device to play a series of mp3s of oral history clips from the Memory Bay archive. These clips will be randomised. I hope to edit the clips in order that they relate to each other to create the illusion of conversation.
I hope that these ‘conversations’ will trigger conversations in passers by, creating a talking point.
It would be interesting to have a simultaneous recording device running to capture people’s reactions, however this may present ethical issues. A QR code/web address on a nearby wall could lead people to give feedback online.
I may need some technical advice
Equipment (small costs involved)
Location: need to be able to safely install equipment so it’s weather and vandal proof.
Edited sound clips.
I would like to build on this further in the future if it is successful, creating more Talking Points around town, possibly with the facility for people to record their own reactions.
Further still, I would like to create multiple randomised conversations at each point. This would include recording other ‘ordinary’ people’s voices talking about place, who are then ‘involved’ in the conversation.
I would also like to project images of people talking on to layers of mosquito net, giving the illusion of depth, and people floating in space. Perhaps this could be done using a shop window.
Across the country, people are worrying about their high street. Shops have closed, sites bought for regeneration sit empty while recession-shy developers wait for the right time, and people spend more timeat out-of-town retail parks or buying online.
But these empty spaces in town centres are still useful. They’re perfect places for short, temporary projects that embrace the meanwhile – the time between the last commercial activity and whatever comes next.
And a nation of meanwhile shopkeepers have been learning the skills to use these spaces, to be nimble and grab every opportunity while they can.
Western seaside resorts are multilayered places, redolent with meaning for the present and memory of the past.
Seaside architecture, combined with a multiplicity of images related to the seaside, define its meaning and consumption.
Discussion of arguments surrounding the perception and consumption of nature. Can nature be consumed? If not, how is it used, experienced, represented, perceived?
The visual sense was increasingly hegemonic in the sensing of the natural world, and nature, including the sea, was transformed in to an overridingly visual spectacle. In turn , the fundamental process of tourist consumption became capturing the gaze, each one of which could ‘literally take a split second’. Everything else in the tourist experience and tourist services was relegated as subsidiary.
Once the middle and working classes were able to holiday by the sea, one persistent conflict revolved around whether resorts were select and respectable or popular and open to all comers. … A higher social tone could be attempted, for example, by resisting the the freeing of restrictions on bathing, entertainment and transport that might lure working class visitors and opposing the development of facilities, including piers in the second half of the nineteenth century and holiday camps in the interwar period of the next century, thought to endanger a resort‘s reputation by making it more popular.
Buying a room in a hotel, a ticket for a seaside attraction or simply sunbathing on a beach [also] involves buying into a more general idea of the seaside or a particular resort. We consume a reality and an image, and the two may not match.
These guys are my heros. They create audio-visual narratives projected on to 3D objects, using mapping.
The talk they gave on their work was really interesting. They showcased a piece created for a chateau in Nantes, as well as their up and coming indoor work that will be shown as part of One Dot Zero at the South Bank in London on the 13th November.