Andrew Clifford’s “Magnetic North” essay, on my installation Popular Archeology, is now online. The installation was the first show in the Letting Space series curated by Sophie Jerram and Mark Amery. Andrew’s essay nicely situates the installation in the context of a bunch of other media-obsessed and medial projects, articulates its relationship to popular culture (long live the mixtape), and links it to a much longer tradition – vanitas and the ars morendi. Oddly, I hadn’t though of making this link, but it of course makes perfect sense and reminds me that I was once told by Miriama Young that the word cassette derives from the French “casse” or “caisse” meaning “casket” (among other things).
Andrew’s descriptions of the installation are rich and apt. Here’s one of my favourite passages: “Repeated listening to any fragment only makes it stranger, like trying to identify a mumbled word on a recording, or reciting a phrase until it becomes meaningless.” This suggests a link to the Formalists, perhaps making the installation a Shklovskian gesture for the 21stC: “The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar,’ to make focus difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged.” (“Art as Technique”, 1917).
The essay also features some wonderful photos of the installation taken by Boofa (thanks again!).