Reflection on Process
The process of creating regular impulse responses to a stimulus was both challenging and liberating, in equal measures. After deciding, within the first few weeks of the course, what my major project would be, the surprise of having the assessment changed mid-semester, and introducing the suitcase object as the locus of reaction, left me feeling for some time that I was floundering. I considered that to be a good thing and that I was being pushed healthily away from usual inclinations and places of comfort.
As soon as I was able to inhabit a mode of working quickly and without self-critique the ideas for impulse responses came quickly. Unfortunately I was able to neither actualise all of these nor to go as deep with some of them as I would have wished to. Fortunately though, they have thrown up new opportunities for future work.
To describe coarsely the progression of my work, I moved from an initial concern with the physicality of the objects to the memories of the objects, their inter-relations and the stories - factual, fictional, crypto-fictional, cartographic, and otherwise - that they could be used to tell. Finally I returned to the physicality in attempt to perhaps integrate the two approaches into one outcome.
The source objects of my enquiry were heavily charged. The only thing random about the means in which they were co-opted into this project was that the suitcase already contained its contents. Four hundred postcards, mostly dating from the early 1970s until the mid 1990s, mostly unused, were stored inside a small Duro laminated cardboard suitcase which was monogrammed. The suitcase took on the position of wunderkammer. It housed wonders from around the world, available to its owner at any time, for reminiscence, for bragging, for the process of collecting in-itself.
There arose multiple levels on which to engage with the material:
Physically (burn, compress, pulp and reconstitute)
Postally (send to the destination they depict, deposit in a dead letter office, send and track, mail back to myself from some other location)
Cartographically (mapping depicted locations)
Memory (what were they trying to tell me, what memories were bundled in them)
Textually (handwritten text on some cards, add text, build an overarching text out of composite parts taken from the cards.
Spatially (the suitcase representing the inner world/life, the postcards representing the world external to solitary personal existence).
Philosophically (the postcards existed as Schroedinger’s Cats whilst housed in the suitcase - were they there? were they stamped and addressed and ready for postage? Until the suitcase was opened they would exist a state of suspended animation.
My final landing point was a rumination on the worlds represented by the suitcase and the postcards. I recovered the worlds depicted in the postcards by removing them from the suitcase. They were affixed to a wall below which sat the suitcase, now empty. In being released from the case they were beginning the process of emancipation. They were still in the same room, it was true, but they were now free to be viewed separate from the housing which had hidden them away.
The postcards overlooked the now unnecessary suitcase, which presently emanated the ambient sounds of the place it initially inhabited. This marked a move to truth in its situation and a move away from the fantastic role that the suitcase and postcards had together played. The suitcase was now honest in its relation to space. It housed the sound that had housed it. The postcards were free to be seen. Perhaps free to be inscribed and to travel.
The process of developing these responses and final outcome became exorcising. It almost lead me to a point of destroying the entire collection so as to be rid of it. Or of pulping it all and reconstituting as something new, something positive.
In terms of craft, the process underlined the importance of rapid, instinctual doing as a vital stage in creating.