Hidden in a small private woodland, off a public footpath, several miles from any town, overlooking an artificial lake, itself a product of the Derbyshire Dales industrial past, stands a lone wooden shack, barely large enough for four people to stand in. The shack is a bird hide, from which twitchers can monitor the avian comings and goings on the lake. Set into a narrow wooden shelf, beneath the hide’s long, thin windows, is a compass showing the cardinal points. Contained within the hide are two A4 notebooks, in which a log has been kept, a diligent record of the species and numbers of birds frequenting the lake, dating back to 2004. Human beings are natural archivers, recorders, creators and organisers of data, from which, I assume, we must gain a Darwinian advantage over our competitors. The variety of means through which this inclination manifests, as a collector (as well as creator) of narratives, endlessly fascinates me. Also contained within the hide and the notebooks is evidence of behaviour for which the hide was not designed. Sketches and scribblings amongst the sober recordings suggest it is not only bird-watchers who visit the hide. A doodle of a duck smoking a joint hints at other, more illicit, uses.
In 2001 James Merrick created his abstract graphic novel Paving Stones. Now, sixteen years later, CJ Robinson produces Paving Stones II in homage to his friend, colleague and occasional collaborator. Paving Stones II uses images and text borrowed from … Continue reading
The difference between looking and seeing.
By definition, to look is considered to be the more conscious act. We see things that come into our vision, unexpectedly, we look with intent. This suggests that looking is the more purposeful, dynamic activity, involving thought and will. We turn our gaze to a specific thing. Seeing, it seems, can be almost accidental, and does not require thought. But, a deeper meaning of ‘to see’ is to reflect on something and to gain an understanding of something. It doesn’t have to have been visually seen. As in “oh, I see,” it involves a realisation, a moment when we cross a threshold from something unknown to something known. You can look without seeing, but can you see without looking? It is this deeper meaning to which I am referring with the series of installations and photographs Look and See. (I owe a debt to Roy Voss, my tutor from the University of the West of England, where I studied a Masters Degree from 2006 to 2009, whose work I am openly referencing with this series.)
First begun in 2009 with La Chamade the Francois Sagan Series is now complete with the seventh book Silken Eyes and Other Stories. Each taking a late 1970’s Penguin edition of a different Francois Sagan novel as a starting point, the series serves as an exploration of the inner conflict and contradiction within the human mind. Each book is a facsimile of the original with all text removed other than sentences beginning with a particular pronoun, in La Chamade‘s case for example, only sentences beginning ‘She…’ remain. The text is placed where it was in the original to be surrounded by blank space, again perhaps reflecting the fits and starts of a conflicting consciousness, and the effect is to turn a novel of solid prose into a fragmentary concrete poetry. The meaning of the original texts is transformed by removing them from their familiar contexts and the result over the course of the series, which is often amusing, is to bring all the separate narratives together into a singular narrative seen from several contradictory points of view.
The seven titles in the series are:
La Chamade (She…)
Sunlight on Cold Water (He…)
Wonderful Clouds (I…)
A Certain Smile (We…)
Scars on the Soul (They…)
Lost Profile (You…)
Silken Eyes and Other Stories (It…)
All seven are available for £25 each in a limited edition of 100 from: http://www.blurb.co.uk/user/CJRobinson
As part of the Still Points;Moving World exhibition in Bath, UK, from May 23rd to June 8th, James Merrick has been given a space which used to be the changing rooms in the Old Officer’s Club department store on Stall Street. A text generated from the Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, Merrick’s contribution (Octavio Paz, Single Words, Left Aligned, 1957-1987) is a digital projection originally created in 2009, but when projected onto the mirrors of the changing rooms the piece is utterly transformed and made anew, proving the original premise of the piece that the work and the words change depending on the context in which it is shown.
Marcel Duchamp suggested that art could be reduced to the choices made by the artist: I choose to use this colour paint; I choose to use that bottle rack. With Octavio Paz… James Merrick uses the choices made by a long dead poet over a thirty year period to produce the work for him.