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self initiated projects

British Museum 2014 Easter Residency

Delta. Multi-Perspective
WIP Show Tour
Terroir Transitions
Biotechnomini Market
Biohack Workshop
Synthetic Temperaments
Parallel Reality Tour
8 of 512
Stereochron Resident
POV Prisms
Deductive Printing
Socratic Search
British Museum Residency
A Place Called Love
Short Nose
Cold Brew Coffee Cart
Wisdom Blitz
Your Bank May Be Repossessed
Wayne McGregor Dance Lab
Wander Around Map
Long Thoughts
Now & Then
Exhibition in an Envelope
Wisdom Tooth
Pilgrims Way
Slower Failure
Work 1197
Arrows of London
Blackspot Cigarettes
100 Conversations
Switch to Manual

An ongoing, self declared/ unofficial, residency of The British Museum members room, galleries, court yard, corridors and Anthropology Library. Armed with a copy of A History of The World in 100 Objects, and an inquisitive mind, I set out to document a context for 10 key questions from which to explore speculations in future projects.

If we take a longer term view on an object or events affordances[1] we might be able to better map their effects upon us. Or indeed speculate upon the potential influence of the future affordance upon that event or object, as much as the object or events influence on the affordance[2].

Recent societies have sought to increasingly map spaces around them. Looking at such maps shows us that we tend to map what is important to us[3]. Such importances are then made common to all, such as the Greenwich Meridian[4]. If importances and maps of understanding can be written into reality, then does this mean space (mappable space/ human space) is merely a fiction?.

The lens through which we view the past present and future is framed by our existing belief systems. Which we are often born into [neoliberal capitalism/ democratic rule/ etc ]. Such belief systems can often write new, and incorrect, versions of history into accepted reality unwittingly[5].

A map renders visible a 'fixed truth'. Making abstract and invisible notions tangible and visible, and ultimately disputable. For if there is a fixed truth then there is also a fixed untruth. How might the creation of future maps become frames for historical events[6].

Spanish Catholic Missionaries arrived in Mexico in the 1520's along with the conquerors to undertake a far less violent transformation of society than their ship fellows. The missionaries were intent on instilling true faith, so regarded compulsory conversion as worthless. Their tools of persuasion were the churches and cathedrals they built. Such spaces became 'theatres for conversion' instilling the same awe in their visitors as the devotion they sought to their belief [system]. Similar notions can still be seen in the architecture of modern belief systems such as Apple Stores and International Art Galleries such as Moma or Tate.

The shifting parameters of time in the nineteenth century forced humanity to rethink from scratch the nature and meaning of human existence. The discovery of deep time, stretching back tens of millions of years, systematically destroyed the established historical and biblical framework of belief[7]. Could a similar understanding of consciousness, that potentially saw it traced back to being brought into existence at the very moment after the big bang, destroy established frameworks of humanities place within time and space?

The trade routes of the nineteenth century can be traced across both our landscape and society. For example the 'triangular trade' that carried European Goods to Africa, African Slaves to America and slave produced sugar back to Europe[8]. Now that we have moved from the trade of tangible goods to intangible trade of services and data can the routes and relationships still be traced and understood?

We have been wearing technology for centuries. The current fetish of investors for wearable technology could be traced far prior to silicon valley. Signals from our collective past can be read through objects such as ancient Persian rings, dating from 5th century BC, that saw the first shift from the confirmation of identity for documents migrating as external objects (then stamps seals) to wearable objects (rings inscripted with mongrams)[9].

Simply looking at cultures and societies such as Easter Island[10], where a relationship to the finite is installed in their very nature as a remote island, we can clearly see how our faith in extraction industries can quickly collapse when extraction reaches the end of it's supply. In Easter Island's case this led to the collapse of related belief systems (creation of stone statue monoliths celebrating the gods supply of resource to extract). Modern comparisons can now be seen in the growing lack of financial faith in carbon related business given it's own ultimate finite nature, whether the end of sustainable resource or politically imposed sanctions on use.

The items of merchandise within a museums gift shop are often as culturally important as the historical objects housed within the museum itself. The production of merchandise is a contemporary means of understanding and belief as real as that of Ancient Egypt or the Roman Empire. For it is these objects that we then use as conduits to recall our enlightenment experienced within the museum. The virtues of the ancient Greek World represented within a £5 miniature replica Arcadia horse. The spirit of protection taken directly out of King Tutankhamen tomb and encapsulated in 5cm tall mass produced bonze cast of Anubis from the Department of Egyptian Antiquities.

[1] Hebrew Astrolabe. Affordances are described as the qualities of an object that allow us to perform certain actions. X affords us the ability to do Y. In this case an astrolabe affords it's owner the ability to tell the time, survey geography, track global positioning, and cast horoscopes. It made a series of previously invisible qualities measurable for the first time. Such affordances in modern objects are commonly immediate, they are expected deliver the performance of their actions in real time. If we take a longer term view on such affordances we might be able to better map their effects on us however. For example a longer term affordance of Blackberry Phones might later be seen to have been a tipping point for our work lives to be invited into our personal lives. And in turn afforded an employer the ability to subconciously further maximise the value they extract from an employment contract.

[2] Ming Bank Note. When asked for his view on the success or failures of the French Revolution in 1972, 1983 years after its occurance Chinese premier Zhou Enlai famously responded "Well, it's too soon to tell". Perhaps we should apply such long term caution to measure, judge and define events of more world events, and our lives? Perhaps it is too soon to tell if constructs such as capitalism, money or religion are appropriate models for which humanity should guide itself.

[3] North American Buck Skin Map Trade routes over geography

[4] Ship's Chronometer from HMS Beagle French alternative

[5] Model Gandaus, Kalasha Pakistan Educations influence on interpretaion

[6] Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno's 2006 documentary focuses singularly on the French football player Zinedine Zidane during one 90 minute game. As such it provides a single frame for the event of the football game, a map for constricted version of an event.

[7] Olduvai Stone Chopping Tool

[8] Early Victorian Tea Set

[9] Gold Finger Ring, Iran 5th-4th century BC

[10] Hoa Hakananai's Easter Island Statue

[11] Anubis miniature