A Dolomite Crystal emerges from a block of Marble almost two hundred years after the block became façade, and about four hundred and eighty million years after its metamorphosis during the formation of the Appalachian mountains.
Extracted from the Earth by bodies extracted from society by the State*, the block is just one piece of a monument that slowly releases its saccharoidal edge into the world.
Toppled or being toppled. Bronze lumps like Ozymandias rolled into the sea only to be dredged out by city councils and others who hire conservators to polish graffiti and place relics in glass cabinets with lots of words for all to see.
Solidity is only aggregate held in place for a geological instant, and everything on Earth is permeable to a varying degree. We keep on making holes, filling holes, but the ground is moving too. A rock slide, a run-down – a show by – atmospheric pressure, magnetic currents, lunar tides and churning magma.
*[Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York (opened 1826) and HM Prison Portland in Dorset UK (opened 1848) were both constructed on quarry sites using unpaid penal labour. Inmates were tasked first with building their own prisons, marking the beginnings of the prison-industrial complex. Marble extracted at Sing Sing was used in various buildings and monuments in Manhattan, including Federal Hall on Wall Street and Grace Church on Broadway. In Dorset, England; the Verne Citadel and the Portland Breakwater, built to protect England from invasion, were constructed by convicts who were eventually ‘released’ to Australia.]
I crumble soil in my hands and a rat skeleton falls apart in my fingers. I pick a perfect sun-bleached jawbone out of the dust and put it in my pocket.
The sun breaks plastic down slowly into microscopic plastic aggregate that is suspended everywhere for ‘lifetimes’. (Geological time is edgeless)
“…and where is your edge?” ask the three hundred and eighty trillion viruses contained in what I consider to be me.
I study new edges of old places as I walk through them with many others. We use voices, hands and feet to hold space and take time, often we sit down and listen. I amalgamate these and other edges I look at on screens to make these transparent cuboid places that are not entirely fiction, not all fact.
I gather pieces of clear acrylic (perspex or plexi) from local fabricators’ scrap bins and sidewalks. Clear plastic used in the minimalist notation of an edge, the temporary window, the pass-thru, the sneeze-guard.
I make dimensional drawings with cardboard because I cannot shift scale in two dimensions. I cut each acrylic piece on a bandsaw and sand and sand and sand. There are so many edges! I wear a mask with special filters so none of the edge-dust gets into my lungs. I hold each edge together and carefully inject into the microscopic gap a chemical that melts the edges, welding them into one piece. I leave the different parts (wall, pedestal, stairs etc.) separate so when I tip the box that holds all the welded pieces to one side they all slide over in a jumble.
From the beginning I imagine them as containers for an unknown liquid. Each one an ‘inert’ system, like a cryogenic tank. I fill one up with water, then dirty the water with sludge. I try pond water, rain water, river water. Drain it out. I find some mineral oil in a tractor supply store and discover it is a byproduct of petroleum distillation from crude oil and has many uses, including being the filling inside the radiator that I hunch over all winter.
When I pour it in, the acrylic edges get confused. I can see with my eyes what’s happening but when I send people the pictures on my phone they ask for “a better image.” I think maybe the mineral oil has similar refractive properties to acrylic, meaning, the hard internal edges become volumes, reflections happen within reflections.
I cut a piece of plasterboard out of my wall and build a column up from the floor and down from the ceiling. In the middle of the column is a slice where I slot in the oil-filled tank like a slide into a slide projector. I clip a lamp to the top of the column pointing down into the hollow and switch all the lights off. The surface of the oil quivers. As the light moves through the moving oil a projection of liquid light ripples inside the column.
I think of stalactites and stalagmites, their time-scale and dripping sounds. I think of bacteria reproducing, of extremophiles (from the Latin extremus meaning “extreme” and the Greek philia (φιλία) meaning “love”) in lunar oceans ejaculating into outer space, the worlds within the worlds within the world within the world, a deepening of scale.
doubt systems, 2019
inkjet print of tobacco flower on transparency, aluminium; warped steel bolts collected from building sites — sliced, forged and nickel-plated into irregular discs — mounted on invisible magnets embedded in the wall;
repaired vending machine, sandblasted cans, dollar bills;
cast concrete slabs, water (one underneath vending machine);
cast concrete stack with cuts
resisting the centre, 2019
cast concrete with cuts, polished steel plates nineteen borrowed stage risers, one re-made stage riser cast concrete pieces (by door)
all bulbs removed from overhead lighting track apart from one nearest the door
LUCID COLLAPSE 1, 2018
“If you send me your address, I will send you some words in black-powder-fused-to-cellulose-pulp form aka lucidcollapse 1; an experiment in the physical consumption/excretion of (some) language”
Text available on request (to be mailed, provide address and postage cost only).
Lauren Burrow on lucid collapse:
“i read these texts like nodes on a continuum of linguistic activism … there’s no one meaning, and i have to produce that meaning for myself. rhythm is important – more important than linearity or chronology – embedding the question where does time or text or chronology or self ever really begin and end, decaying in the rocks and the earth as much as in the wires in silicone valley. sculpture wearing the clothes of literature and literature cloaked as sculpture”
new cells, new voids, 2018
hollow, screen-printed light-boxes containing barn lights in a sensory feedback loop; emergency glow sticks; tropane alkaloid producing solanum images in floor cavity c/o Dr. Sandra Knapp
the origin of the house in the basket, the origin of the basket in the web, building in darkness, instinctive dwelling with own bones in filth, cave floors dripping with freon, a thirsty hum, discarded appliances as exhausted bodies, (also) scale models of high rise buildings, continuous cycle of compression and depression, gases cooling warming, pavements drinking sweat, spit, piss, evaporation contained in systems spreads over the earth’s semi-permeable urban membrane, tough like 40N. For railways, manholes, footings, foundations, fingerprints from the other side, earth stretched out inhuman rendered,
acoustic crescendo from initial hollow, slow rhythm reflecting,
discarded fridges, contact microphones, mixing desk, harmoniser pedal, PA system
Atropa Belladonna as the Medean flower, the hag, crazed magician (re)producing poisonous berries, murderous pregnancies, swollen black bellies to burst in wet mouths reflecting light back into dimness, rubbing on thighs to fly nocturnal on sticks, darkness rippling along- side visions. Shadows as the space of illumina- tion, the archeology of architecture revealed as the removal of bodies, sexuality, knowledge, labour, the tomb that is the house that is possessed by the silenced screams of the heretic,
The substratum that is the gregorian drone, flesh of the unheard word, lingua ignota as the permission to overflow, flesh listening in- solitude slowly whispering solidarity, amidst the chastity of rotten air wafting from plague pits, words finally extrude under the spells of sickness, breaking silence with visions, blasted through cortical pulsing, her loss of self as universality opposing her interiority as affirmation of thisness and and the inevitable oscillation between these two states looping, spiralling fractals, resonating, tripping, pulsing
Confined to this building, we scan the ground for openings, finding five.
Five circular panels of stainless steel about the size of a handspan, each engraved with ten concentric circles.
Five digits one side. Ten Digits as a whole.
Two parts mixing in my two hands, kneading, working until consistency allows pushing into middle of panel, fingers flatten mixture print by print, filling one groove at a time until spread over the whole panel, covering it’s own fingerprint with hundreds of ours.
On the floor peeling off the mold, we listen to this perfectly concentric fingerprint that conceals the vessel, the network, the architectural hollow that is in permanent shadow (guts). Put a fingertip on this fingertip. Our ridges move over your ridges: it sounds. Receptor or erogenous zone. Orifice or neuron. Black hole or supernova. Spitting or swallowing. Action potential is above and below but who is receiving what? Whose receptors, whose fingertips? Who’s fingering who? Who’s feeling who?
In each one (of these five elements, phases, agents, movements, processes, planets, receptors, orifices, neurons) there are three screws. We take them out and pop the lid. Concealing the truth is darkness (and cobwebs) but we smell and feel the centre. Each one a vessel, which is really a tube, a network of tubes, not a pot or a hole: a vessel. Five vessels, cores, reaching for the centre, we know because the drill bit melts when we reach eight miles down, but we still have another 3,992 miles to go until we reach the – centre of what?
Dendrochronology is time according to trees, time as a series of concentric tubes. The earth is not flat or tube-like but a flexing spheroid. The eight mile core sample came out and we laid it out, every step another million years. A Correlated History. The annulus is the space in between concentric circles. Annulus, anus, Annus. That’s time. Rings around a hole. Time is space and volume. Steps. The first step reveals scraps of metal and plastic, nothing really, then for the next several millennia bits of broken pottery, a few steps, then finally some soil before the misery of agriculture, some chert flakes, cracked stones from campfires, a few more steps and we’re underwater, then molluscs and brachiopods and echinoderms for lots and lots of steps. After 380 steps we see a spider (?!), we put down a survey pin. But we’ve seen plenty by then. We’re not even an eighth of the the way there. It’s getting hot.
We look at these five core samples, laid next to each other in parallel, imagining an interpolated volume from these five sites (elements, phases, agents, movements, processes, planets, receptors, orifices, neurons) to the centre, what are we seeing, hearing? Grumbling magma. Nearly a straight line, we guess. They are so close relative to the size of earth, at most twenty feet away. Why are they not placed further apart on the Earth? Hm.
The number five makes us turn our gaze from the centre – us – to the edge – them. WE SEE. We are seers, like Giordano Bruno on the rooftop smoking, concentricity disappears in a single moment. The volume is becoming something substantial, warped pentagram projecting toward the outer reaches, the distance between the five (sites, tombstones, elements, phases, agents, movements, processes, planets, receptors, orifices, neurons) becomes greater until it reaches the edge of the universe, unspeakable infinity, but here is nowhere; you can’t measure distance at the edge of the universe because it’s not linear, you can’t place a point, only an idea.
So the volume of the five (sites, tombstones, elements, phases, agents, movements, processes, planets, receptors, orifices, neurons) dissolves (thankfully) and we’re left with the place and space they are in now. Polyurethane accumulating in the concentric grooves. Dull blots compared to the infinite space of a page. But they are not dull, and a page is not infinite. It’s a premonition. If you hang around long enough you’ll see.
As part of DRAB, Bard College 2017
Trigonotarbids Are Not True Spiders LED lights, ventilation cavities
what Poetry what Space what Language?
Talk given at The Slade School of Fine Art in London 2017
Interrogations into the history of poetry. The urgency of the delivery negates the individual behind the action, authorship gives way to gut feeling. Space and material become authors in the making of work, boundaries are the beginning of presence, not the edge of it. Moving spaces, adjusting poetry, entering language as a physical medium. Rotting down words into gesture, metaphor, intuition. Becoming not-human-at-all. A plasmoid translator: lightning as the Direct Action leaving fulgurites in the sand.
AUDRE LORDE – POETRY IS NOT A LUXURY 1985
JIMMIE DURHAM – A FRIEND OF MINE SAID THAT ART IS A EUROPEAN INVENTION 1994
BARNETT NEWMAN – THE FIRST MAN WAS AN ARTIST 1947
FRED MOTEN – IN THE BREAK: THE AESTHETICS OF THE BLACK RADICAL TRADITION 2003
MAX ROACH QUINTET W/ ABBEY LINCOLN – WE INSIST! LIVE 1964
The Stability of the System (with Sasha Litvintseva) 2016
The Stability of the System is an exploration into the material agency of images and of forms and their ability to call each other into being. The film begins with a mathematical point willing itself into dimensional existence, inventing/discovering space, then time. Shot on the volcanic island of Lanzarote, the film’s images are eruptions willed into existence by the creative act of the molten rock. The landscape absorbs all subjectivity, hallucinating itself in the monochrome of endless black lava fields and scorching white of a cloudless sky. In the end the filmmaker dissolves into the landscape, no longer able to see – the landscape sees for her.
AN-ArchaeologY, un-authored, self-published in 2013