Saturday, July 03, 2004

quick tour of Leeds

The UK's favorite city
down where the people change
my own narrative
river
river boat
morally English
goth lites under the bridge
goth lites at the Corn Exchange
shopping centre
river city (!)

Day 4 : Leeds, wandering

As the pain wearies me, I become increasingly aware of my physicality within the city, so my walk was today was about me, about how I fit in to the city. I took a random route and stopped off to look in shops, to go for lunch, to talk to friends. I went about looking to collaborate with the city, wihtin the reflections and its people. Using purely quicktime movies to document I was able to drift within my own narrative, the discourse entirely selfish.

musings on an umbrella....

The weather doesn't know what to do with itself. I am walking to the gallery and one minute I am sweating and fishing out my sunglasses, the next huddled under my umbrella as the rain thrashes down as I walk the deserted campus. The umbrella has become an icon to my time with this part of Left. Discussing it with people, it is interesting how this iconic yet simple and almost domestic object can actually be quite powerful. There are a number of things which arise when I consider this.

Having a long standing interest in what we wear and how it offers a form of non verbal communication between us and the world around us, I am fascinated by the lack of ingeniuity or concern over the umbrella. There is standard issue black and a few variations in between. People balk at the idea of wearing an uncool rain coat but would often not think twice about what this appendage they are holding might say about them. It has long been an icon of the British gentleman, the sturdy black umbrella with a wooden handle and in times past it was an essential accessory for the woman to have a specific parasol in the sun or rain. Now it seems to be a necessary evil much of the time and I can't understand why you should want to put a black piece of fabric over your head when it rains, surely you would want something to brighten up the otherwise dull day?

When it rains your vision is framed by the umbrella. Should you choose to use one you become instantly restricted in your field of vision and you are also intwined with the elements as you have to fight the wind and rian to hold it steady and keep dry. The city becomes framed by the fabric and your presence within the city defined by it.

This leads on to the point that came up which mosts interests me, the idea of personal space. When one walks in the city there is an undetermined amount of personal space which you are designated by society. This is sometimes disregarded and can cause upset or anger, but it is a highly personal thing and can be different from one person to the next. But when you put up an umbrella this space is instantly defined physically. You suddenly have a set boundary around you and people do not cross this, even when they know you. As the curator at the Met Gallery was saying yesterday, when you stop to talk to someone in the rain they won't come under the umbrella unless asked, it is a visible boundary in the city space.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Day 4 : Kellerberrin



















Day 3 : Leeds



digital pluralism

Its funny how you mentioned that you had in mind me and the people of Kellerberrin as the audience for your work- not those in Leeds. Thats exactly how I've been feeling, as if I'm performing for an audience I'll never see. I think the things I've noticed, the correspondence I've sent off, its all reflective and highly conscious of being for an "other". I feel like my work has constantly referenced an "exoticism", it might be subdued by I seem to constantly have in mind a type of poetic theme whereby I'm positioning (pitching) myself "romanticly" for the Leeds audience. This is bizarre as I cant reflect on what your seeing over there, but I can, and have, interacted first hand with an audience here- an audience, even though I'm putting my work in front of them, that I don't feel concerned about- its a strange position and I think it talks about the way we consider media today, how the screen or how we're referenced in digital space takes on an overidding concern over that of physical interaction? Not sure about this but I feel transplaced by the exercise that has been LEFT, I feel a certain emphasis in myself to make the work understandable to who I considering online rather than who's looking at it insitu, here- now. Maybe I'm not ignoring the "here" completely but I definately feel like a man constantly at the post box, aware that its red and on the street corner but much more fascinated by what I'm putting in the box, whats in the envelope and what the journey entails for that envelope- "the afterlife of my observations" if you will. This (LEFT) has been a very interesting, if not very confusing, "show". It makes me dizzy to think who/ or what I'm doing this for- where is the work situated- its impossible to pin and I know it shouldn't be desirable to do so, but if its relevant to art to understand the audience, to know where youre pitching, to maintain an anxious interactive engagement between private and public space, then how do you do that when your work is co-existing in a variety of time and space logs which all branch out in various directions simultaneously and in no particular order. Its intruiging, fascinating and unsettling. To keep it all in order a friend suggested this marching "sound off" to me to pace my walking for this show, it goes something like this- "...left, left, he had a good home and he left...left, left..."

country walking

Went out for a long walk in the paddocks of the farm I'm staying on this morning. Absolutely freezing wind blowing as I trudged past old homesteads, water tanks and gates off their hinges. Stunning colours, rolling flats and gravel tracks peeled out in front of me. The sunrise this morning was two slits of orange coming out from behind grey clouds, greeted standing next to an outdoor fire, still red embers from the night before and remnants of music, chat and drink laying around. Got to the top of a small hill only to see dark clouds gathering on the horizon, these soon came in and torrential rain ensued. Was back at the farmstay in time but the walking for today seems over, at least until later. Its been raining for four hours now with no sign of letting up.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Day 3 : Kellerberrin






Not lost enough, day 2 : Leeds

My city is predictable today. It isn’t inspiring me, I can’t see beyond what I know. I couldn’t help projecting my route ahead in my mind, as I walked along, getting lost only in my own thoughts and narratives, expertly navigating the streets I am starting to know so well. I kept trying to pull myself back to the exercise, to look and observe, to notice what I was within. I wanted to speak to somebody and I thought about stopping to converse with the newspaper seller. I didn’t, I didn’t know what to say to him. This was before I read your post about talking to the people in Kellerberrin, I just had a feeling I should do this but didn’t know where to start.

So I carried on walking. After leaving the gallery and turning left and left again I took to the roads. Today I would only walk on roads and I wanted to imagine Leeds is just one straight road too, just one that twists and turns and crosses over itself. Somebody suggested this to me yesterday in the gallery and it kind of stuck in my head. So I set out to only walk in a straight line or if that wasn’t possible to turn only left.

The streets buzzed around me. They were busy. The giant TV screen, erected to show the Euro 2004 games blurts out inane childrens TV, subtitled, a small group of homeless people sit at the other end of the square watching it. The fountain bubbles, this was the compensation for the loss of the gardens that once stood here, a popular spot for the homeless and destitute and art students! I began to document the world as it appears in the streets of Leeds. The restaurants, banks, shops and street names that reflect the fact that we do not live in isolation from one another. The Irish Bank, Quebec Street, Prague shoe shop. It became benal quite quickly but I persevered, fairly unimpressed by my own observations.

It was only on leaving the central shopping area and head back to the gallery that I began to take note. A helicopter was flying overhead, circling the pedestrian areas from the sky. The centre was being marked out by its movements, transposing itself in to the air. It’s kind of like when you see a house marked out on the floor it seems so small, when the helicopter moves in the air it seems to be going nowhere yet it is encompassing it all in a few short strokes.

getting moving...

RAIN a quicktime from the walk yesterday

FOOTSTEPS a quicktime from the walk yesterday

DRAIN a quicktime from the walk yesterday


Click on the text above and it will take you to the quicktimes I've made of the walk yesterday. I have some more to work on from today. Let me know what you think of these. I like the abstract nature of them and they had to be short to be able to upload them to the web. I've also integratd them in to the text from the Day 1 walk. I wonder if they clarify things or make them more confusing for the viewer? I have found that I am thinking a lot about the audience for this work in terms of you and the residents of Kellerberrin, I think many of the images I have taken are to do with what I think you may find interesting and what might illustrate or offer questions to the residents of Kellerberrin. It is interesting that I am not thinking about residents of Leeds as being the audience, which of course they could be both by watching me walk and through seeing this blog, or the gallery installation.

Afternoon musings

Have spent the afternoon commenting on some of your posts, which I got involved in , and also developing a slide show of my images which I ran on the projector in the window box for a hour or so late this arvo. They cast a shadow like reflection on the glass which overlays their reflective surroundings. I'll send you a couple of images to show you. Am having trouble with my digital camera which is not helping proceedings- ah technology.

day 2: Kellerberrin











mainstreet conversations

Great to read so much from you, sorry to hear of your continuing migraine problems. The weather there looks crap, its the middle of winter here and a bit cool- around 20 c. Anyway today I have concentrated less on walking extensively and become more involved in what is the busy mainstreet town today. I have been rambling the mainstreet and have become immersed in a few conversations with people and am feeling this is the path today's work is taking me on. Just talked to an Arts administration student who is on her way from Perth to work at an arts festival in Darwin, travelling by car with her mum who is 55 and just quit work. Also talked to two guys originally from Sweden who are now Kellerberrin residents, one was called teardrops because of the tattoos under his eyes, one for each family member he has lost- one in 1978, 88, and 98. He also had tats all over the rest of him but he said these were just social rebellion. They were both happy now, although they had done gaol time, and not interested in returning to Sweden at any stage, happy and blessed they said in the lifestyle they had here. Also talked to a farmer who has 40 odd kms of farm and is out spraying it with nutrients and insecticide until september. Another farmer said she was planting 10,000 trees a day all this week in an effort to combat salination problems in the soil. Its only 2 pm here so will write of more through the day.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Day 1 : Leeds

Leaving the gallery I turn left and left again, leading me down the back of the tower block that houses the gallery. I am struck immediately by the green stretch of grass in front of me, grass that serves no real purpose in terms of leisure or commerce and characterises this area of the city where the hospital and university campuses dominate. The grass infiltrated my mind and the idea of such spaces being out of bounds, restricted ‘keep off’. The pattern for my drift was set. I would walk towards areas that I felt I shouldn’t go, places that made me feel uncomfortable and areas of green.

I am trying to walk without a particular set of rules. I usually configure a rule base to my walking but this time I am trying to work spontaneously to the surroundings, leaping from some kind of environmental inspiration. Initially I had intended to follow my feet as it has been raining all day and beneath my umbrella I can’t see that much. In fact the sun came out and I wished I had brought my sunglasses for the occasion, so I took the grass and the feelings and off I go.

The first loop of my walk took me in to the University grounds. This is the campus of the main University as opposed to the Metropolitan Uni. It is a mix of Victorian architecture and 1960’s concrete aspirations towards Utopia. I was in the grounds for a long time, this area is full of places you shouldn’t or don’t think you should go. Hidden paths, underground roads,car parks and exterior stairwells. Despite the complexity of the architecture, the winding passageways and so on it was quite uneventful. It rained a lot and I became fascinated by the excessive leakage of waterin all directions. I stopped off to buy some coke from the student union shop and on departing the building went left and left again.

Eventually, after about 30-40 minutes of walking I left the University grounds and my drift took me out in to a new area of town, one that I don’t know too well and I began to feel like I was at last able to drift without any preconception as to where my route was taking me.

I passed a man lingering on the side of the road and plunged on down the street. Things started to become a little shady and despite the sun coming out again, my remit of walking where I felt uncomfortable became increasingly fulfilled. There were endless possibilities in the estates as to where I could walk. I was still favouring green and using grass areas to make short cuts or break up my walking patterns. But here my walking changed because I felt distinctly out of place. I cut down in to the valley and began to question the line between uncomfortable and unsafe. Here I think I was unsafe. A horse grazed in the middle of the field chained to a small child size football goal post. Two men were working on the other side of the field, dressed in overalls, one red and one blue. They seemed to be raking the ground, looking for something? My path, once across the field only allowed me to disappear down a muddy track in to a wood. All around me there was debris, this seemed to be a place frequented by somebody or some people and I felt like it wasn’t where I wanted to be. I made a decision to cut away from that direction and clambered through the overgrown grass back to the road. There was stuff littered all the way through the grass. A travellers land, somebody’s home at some time, left ruined now and ugly.

Across the main road I was back in the council estate. The heavy rain had made everything smell really intense. It brings out the smell of headrows and the trees, the birds are singing really loud. In the estate I can smell rice cooking, I keep smelling it as I move from one courtyard to the next. The combinations on the paths are endless. I can go anywhere, yet nowhere. I turn in to one area and there is a house with a pile of wood as high as the first floor outside it. I realise this isn’t a pile of wood but a shrine of some sort with a praise to God resting on the top of it. I want to take a photo but I am becoming increasingly wary of taking the camera or my phone out. I try to take a picture with my phone but I don’t think it will come out too well. All around the small square the windows are covered with net curtains, no one or everyone could be watching me right now.

Further in to the estate and I am starting to notice the inconsistency in the state of the houses. One house is really nice, with a well-kept garden and neat paintwork. The next is half boarded up and overgrown with weeds and foxgloves. I almost jump in to one of the gardens as a huge Rottweiller dog leaps at me. I only notice it is on a chain when it flies back again as it reaches the end of its tether. I can’t help but yelp and a small dark skinned woman appears at the door, saucepan in hand to chastise the dog and apologise to me.

My heart is pounding so hard by now that I think it is time to leave the estate. As I weave my way through the alleys and courtyards (there are no streets here), approaching the heart of the estate, the floor is increasingly littered with unidentified household debris and bin bags. The houses are deteriorating and a small pale girl stares at me. There may be more than the 200 inhabitants of Kellerberrin in this one estate but the residents know instantly I shouldn’t be here.

It takes me a while to leave. I am still carrying the coke can I bought from the Uni and I fill it with some wild daisies I find down another alley. I had to take this route because the one I chose was a dead end. But it brings me back to the main road that I need to be on. The man I passed earlier is still there, in exactly the same place.

Arrival





I will start a drift based walk this afternoon. I've arrived at the gallery and have set up the space to work in. I have an internet connection which is great and I have projected the blog on to the far wall in front of me. The scale is huge. It is so exciting when people move in the space, it is if you are walking amongst the words and you can see yourself walking down the street in Kellerberrin.







it's raining but I'm going to keep walking...

Morning rain, it's still warmish though, but I have put my scarf on all the same (please remember that it is nearly July and supposed to be summer here). I am becoming quite akin with my brolly. I really like it, which is good as it is raining a lot at the moment. I feel sorry for a girl walking down the street towards me. She looks like she is moving house.










Ready to fight

I'm nearly there. Just a few loose ends of HTML to clean up and the boots will be on. It's a nasty day here. The sky is grey and it is raining. I start in the gallery today so I can really get going with the equipment they have there. I will trying out some sound recording as well as imagery. I will try a camera but I am tempted to stick to the camera on my phone. There is something about the portability of it and the discreet nature in which I can use it that I really like. People don't look at you any way near as much taking photos with a phone.

I have been responding to your posts with comments, hopefully you'll have got them by email as well.

Am currently sitting in the window box at IASKA on a cushion, laptop on knees with projector at full screen in front of me- I'm typing as the odd interloper checks over my shoulder. Many roadtrains are rumbling past as the sun goes down behind the hill to my right. Its been a lovely ramble around the back "streets" of Kellerberrin today. The odd conversation but mainly no one on the streets today. There is life in the old town at times though- many long haul trains running on their way to Perth. Few people looking over my shoulder now. Man its quite warm in this box. Getting thirsty- may have to pop up "the" pub- Will sit here for a half hour more and run through the site so people can read. Anyway i'll post this as is- where did you post the images I sent yesterday, can't spot them. Take care.





multiple=abstraction

I love your line..."abstracting it across a thousand miles brings it back to a simple action". Wicked!

the prospector's pilgrimage

No matter where you are I think you always "subconciously" adjust the way you carry yourself to fit in- pretty ridiculous in a town with only a couple of hundred people- they know your not form here. But none the less perhaps you can at least seem comfortable and therefore "non threatening". We had our first public showing of our blog here in Kellerberrin last night. I am showing on a screen in the front window of the gallery every night for an hour so- around 5-6pm - when there is actually a few people around doing there thing. It looked good and a few people had a look. Thursday, Fri and Sat the gallery is open in the afternoons so I'll be showing and working in the gallery for a bit longer then. I'll send you a couple of photos today. Quote for the day..."The goegraphical pilgramage is the symbolic acting of an inner journey. The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgramage. One can have one without the other. It is best to have both." Thomas Merton. Its 11.47am and the "Prospector", the train from Perth to Kalgoorlie, is passing by the window of the gallery on its way from here to there. Happy walking.

walking scales

Vast scale is right- its about 2,500 kms from one end of my state (shire in UK) to the other, about 2 and a half days drive straight through. I think I read somewhere you could fit the UK landmass in Western Australia about 8 times. So in this kind of scale walks quickly become treks or pilgrimages. I was reading this morning in a local history book that it wasn't unusual in pioneering days (early 1900s) for people to walk a twenty mile round trip for groceries and/or water. Thats a fair hike so I dont think I'll complain about walking down the shops anymore. Kellerberrin sits about a days walk from any other town, about 30 or 40 kms either way. There is some towns with great names around here...Doodlakine, Koolyanobbing, Wyalkatchem, Burracoppin, Mukinbudin...fantastic! Hang on my boys just chuckin a wobbly! Where was I, oh yeah, a lot of these names are english castrations of local Aboriginal names for these places...the names usually mean a place where an animal can be found- Kellerberrin is named after a particularly ferocious ant. The funny thing is it describes the landscape well, and you've got to look out for these ants when your walking- they like a bit of flesh- so perhaps walking with a gait with eyes down does not denote a morbid man but just a man looking out for his toes! As I wrote yeaterday there is just one road coming in and out of town but there is a few side dirt tracks and rail crossings and these are what I'm going to explore today. My family and I are staying in a homestead about 15 kms north of town so I've checked out a few tracks already and there is some fantastic scenery and old ramshackle buildings around. Where are you in relation to the gallery at Leeds Uni- what do you have to walk through to get to the gallery? A you developing a methodology as you go? I have to admit I walking in the WA countryside in awesome and spacious but I do miss the winding lanes of the UK.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The scale that you are dealing with baffles me. My small island stretches its arms and legs across the world yet the vast landscape of continents like Australia and even Europe befuddle my senses. I am not used to being able to keep going for 17 hours and not hitting water, in fact I imagine you can go for longer than that and not hit civilisation in WA. The towns and cities of Yorkshire are strung out like pearls along the main motor and water ways. These are places that were built out of industry and tenacity but its a very different tenacity to the one shown by the residents of Kelleberin.

Thinking about Gait. I walk differently according to the place I am in. I can remember getting lost in Glasgow once. I had ventured well beyond my sphere of reference in the city centre and west end. I was looking for a wholesalers to buy some teddy bears for a piece of art work. I got so lost, I was walking through council estates that led out in to the wild edges. Barren lands that are not quite rural and not quite urban, instead they feature warehouses and go-karting tracks. Across to my left every other house was boarded up, nudging its neigbour's net curtains for space. Despite the vast areas of nothing here, the houses still sit on top of each other in the same formation and design as in the inner city. My walk was jarred, at times uncertain, at others falsely confident. Look like you don't belong and it is even worse.

In Leeds it is the same. Things throw me out of kinter and others make me absurdly confident. It brings me back to the idea of context. That even something as machinistic as walking can be intimately altered by your surroundings. Yet abstracting it across thousands of miles could bring it back to the simple action.

Ric's on the road

With one road where do you walk? Are you crossing through the wheat fields or do you go on forever looking for a left turn?

Day 1 : Kellerberrin





















Ric - sorry for the delay in getting these on the site. I'll try and get the others up more quickly. Don't they look great? I'll also try and get the spinning wheel turned round tonight. Rather like it on it's side though...

when the exit sign is on the blink

The idea of the only road, in being the only road out is accentuated a thousand times over in a small town like Kellerberrin. This town is situated on the "Great Eastern HIghway", some 300 kms (200 miles) east of Perth. One road thru town, one in and the same one out. Well at least it makes directions easy, but the interesting thing is that it feels endless- the space is eternal all around you and as such yes you still feel like the focal point of the universe, the orientation point (the commander in cheif as Bakhtin put it) but you feel like a mighty small orientation point and this town- on this street- its exactly like the built facade on the set of a western movie- there is literally nothing behind it- except a beautiful little community- thats all that holds it together. Walking in such surrounds that are liable to blow away in the dust of the next roadtrain is so not like walking in Glasgow or London or a heavy encompassing environment... it not better or worse...its different, emotionally, spiritually- I feel tendered when I'm walking around the uk, tied to something, grounded- there's nothing to tie you to anything out here- the wind really does blow thru your ears and lick at your heals.

Gait- as tactical methodology

One of the dozen or shops on the "high" street of Kellerberrin is a book exchange- open three days a week- in which I happened to wander on my stroll down high street today. In it I found a home medicine book from the 1940s (Home Doctor Illustrated). I turned immediately to a page on gait, a word I hadn't heard for a while and one which "opens up" (gate) all sorts of readings. Gait of course relates to the way one carries oneself when walking- the physiological reading of one's walking action to ascertain a deposition or illness. Here's how t reads..."GAIT The style or manner in which a person walks gives much valuable information about the illness from which they may be suffering. The gait is especially important in cases of nervous desease- but it may also be an index of character. The man who slouches along with bent shoulders and head down, looking on the ground, is seldom one who is making a success of his life, whilst the man who steps it out gaily with head erect and shoulders well pulled back is the man who is likely to get on in the world...The correct gait is one in which the body is held erect, the head neither upturned nor with the eyes fixed on the ground, the shoulders well pulled back to allow for the expansion of the lungs, the arms swinging easily at the sides and the movement of walking from the hips, not from the knees. A faulty gait may be due to such things as tuberculosis of the knee joint or St. Vitus's dance or acute rheumatism...In disseminated sclerosis the gait is of a spastic type, the patient drags his feet along, toes scraping the ground at every step. In tabes dorsalis the patient raiseshis feet very suddenly, often higher than usual, and then jerks them forward, he is not sure as to where to place his feet and waves them about in the air...

Monday, June 28, 2004

going in is always going out

I feel that the town or city I live in is the centre of the universe. Everything radiates from that point, which is of course my central point of location. When I moved back to Leeds my focal point had to move with me but it took many months to do so, and at times I still find myself locating 'me' in Glasgow. What I wonder is do you still feel like that when you live on the road to no-where? when nobody passes you by unless they are lost and the roads in are always the roads out to the same place you just came from? Does that affect the way you walk?

on the road

well today I leave for Kelleberrin, a small town three hours due east of Perth in the "wheat belt" area of Western Australia. This is where I'll be walking from tomorrow. Will write again when I get there. Good to be online and communicating- the site looks great Luce!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

no we don't get plane trails

and thats lucky because I wouldn't know how to post images of them anyway. Western Australia is on the route to no-where so unless a plane is lost then it doesn't fly over us high enough to create a vapour trail. Perth is the last stop from anywhere- when you fall asleep on a plane and forget to get off, Perth is where you end up.