elenahpowell

A bit about objects

In Rambling on February 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I realised I haven’t actually written much about vesch and my objects (or perhaps more specifically my obsession with objects).

There’s a book I still haven’t finished, Michael Atavar’s How To Be An Artist, I’ve flicked through all of it and read about a third of it properly, it’s in my reading pile (you should see the size of the pile of books that I’m reading). Anyway, I’m losing whatever my point was. In the second section (developing your practice), there’s a page entitled ‘developing a vocabulary’, I’m just gonna type some of it out, because it’s worded better than I could manage.

In my experience your artist’s vocabulary comes out of you and your limitations. It’s not something out there, beyond yourself, in a fantasy world, way off. It’s close to home, under your nose, within reach, very obvious.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, that is your vocabulary.

There’s a whole list of examples (biggest reason why I love this book, it’s so full of lists), and there’s even one appropriate to me, “Perhaps your eyesight is poor – that is your vocabulary.”. But back to objects (have you noticed how easily distracted I get?). I think of objects as my vocabulary, they’re something I always go back to – perhaps understandably, they’re everywhere. I’ve always collected objects and I’ve always had a bit of an overactive imagination (I spent a lot of time talking to my toys/collections as a child!), so maybe it isn’t so strange that I have these…connections (I can’t find a better word) with objects.

Objects are tangible, undeniable proof, evidence, that I was there. Objects don’t lie. I have a plastic toy panda because I found it by the clock tower in town, I have plane tickets because I was on that plane, I have festival wristbands because I was there, I have shells and bits of string because I was on that beach. The best way I can describe is that my objects are a kind of back up for my memory, I don’t have a photographic memory (I forget large chunks of things actually), but I remember the insignificant details very clearly, and useful (or more often, amusing) as that may be, I’d like to remember more. I could probably tell you what colour shirt you were wearing, but I’ll have no idea what you were saying to me. I remember years ago going into a camera shop with my parents and walking out and asking them if they’d noticed that all five of the shop assistants were lined up in colour order behind the counter (lightest blue shirt to darkest blue).

Objects remind me of a moment, the context in which I collected it, where I was, who I was with. They’re my back up. If I’m suddenly not sure if I was somewhere, I go look through my collections (I keep notes of where/when I collect things…or mostly) and I look for something that proves I was there.

There’s an essay that I’m reading (I know, I know I’m meant to have finished it by now) by Mikhail Epstein, Things and Words: Towards a Lyrical Museum and the main thing that I remember from that is the idea of ‘living through’ an object. I have no idea how Epstein defines that (I’m too lazy to go find the book and look actually), but to me that implies – for want of a better word – storing memories in them, allowing them to replace my own memories.

My most valuable objects are the most ubiquitous, perhaps not in terms of monetary value, but definitely in terms of ‘lyrical’ value. My cameras do collect memories too, but they tend to travel with me more than objects I collect and so my cameras have become saturated with memories to the point that I can’t really distinguish them anymore. But the bottle caps and rubber bands and petals I collect are carried about until I get home, labelled in plastic bags and then put in a box only to come out when I need them.

I wasn’t planning on writing this now, and I’m not sure I’ve quite managed to write what I wanted to. And I’m meant to be doing Economics work right now, so I’ll stop for now. More about objects later perhaps. Oh! Something else a bit irrelevant to all this, but I have an interview at Manchester Met too now, 2nd March. I’m just waiting to hear back from Newport & Edinburgh College of Art now.

E.

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