Taking Place

‘Taking Place’, 2019

This is one of ten lightboxes I made for an off-site show in March. Each box comprised a static back-lit transparency with short texts. The format and writing style was intended to evoke ‘80s videogames familiar to some. Many texts explicitly referred to their install locations (various odd corners throughout this unusual gallery) and/or proposed a specific alternative to the readers’ immediate experience of a fun, bright, noisy art show.

  •  ‘You face the south wall of a large industrial room. There are large and colourful objects nearby. Birds roost among the derelict pipes and wires in the ceiling above. Some broken glass is on the ground near your feet.’
  • ‘The happy people are closer now. They are talking and laughing but you cannot understand them. The people don’t see you standing here.’
  • ‘The tall window looks out on a vast grey ocean. Far below, footprints in the gravel beach lead away from a small boat drawn up above the surf. You are alone.’

This was for an offsite show that was loosely themed around ‘Consumption’. I enjoyed the struggle to address this theme which seemed fairly alien to my practice. I imagined these texts and this distributed format could say something about, or somehow hijack the readers’ experience/use/consumption of the show as a whole, but on reflection there are broader ideas of more interest.

They connect with my thoughts about confusion and non-linearity (see post ‘Destructive Writing’) and some notional ‘authority voice’. One thing to note is that short-form texts like the one pictured, and like my earlier ‘You Are Safe’ work, and familiar from various earlier conceptual artists (see post ‘Texts’) tend to operate as imperatives: they claim attention by being consumed in a single glance and somewhat involuntarily. They are forced into the reader, they drive-out nuance, they are exclusive …

Imposing a moment of fiction is interesting to me, perhaps as a way to draw attention to other more prosaic fictions or motives, or to glimpse something in the gap between them.

Another thought was about audience participation. As most explicitly attempted using the lightbox pictured above, momentarily limiting the reader’s world to just this ‘large switch’ seems to compel them to flip it… at least it does to me.

So yeah this post is about my work, but really I’m interested in ideas about authority and fiction and control.


and choice.

Nobody flipped the switch during the show.

It wasn’t connected to anything anyway.