Placements #6-#8 take place in the same site: a small section of the top floor corridor, it has three doors (one leading to a turret staircase, one on towards a couple of rooms and the staff room, one to one of the main corridor with staff offices). It also has a large window space onto the East Quad and a banister which links the space to the floor beneath (so the whole window is accessible and the corridor is in fact a bit like a mezzanine floor).
Because of the three doors I always had a sense it acts like an interchange, a hinge, a joint towards articulating different flows through the department, but also to provide access to the one social space the department has (it has a sink, a microwave, kettle and hot drink supplies plus fridge plus ‘casual seating’).
Placements #4 and #5 also took place here (see the previous post on this set of investigations/interventions here).
I investigate the layout and the door and view aspects of the link corridor for a few days. I locate myself in the corridor space a couple of times when my office colleagues aren’t in and my office remains locked. A few people pass, some comment, most of the people passing however are students on the way to the tutorial room next to the staff room.
What interests me in particular is the reinforced glass of each door: it provides a view through the door, you see the other side, possibly also who approaches, departs. You do see it however with an overlaid grid which provides a curious sense of vision: a cage, a prison door, yet the glass clearly is to facilitate anticipation, movement.
View through reinforced glass into staff corridor
Over a couple of days I photograph each view through the glass, experiments a bit with what views are active at what distances from the door itself, how the view shifts and alters by turning, walking towards the doors. Doing so clarifies the purpose of the what I would like to achieve: I want to play with the expectation of what is behind the door, to alter, disrupt, question that if you walk through the door that you know what you will find behind it.
> it plays with the routine nature of walks/ routes made along the corridors: the layout is familiar, the route is purposeful. Most of it happens without explicit attention to the route, the path, the walk between A and B.
> it also plays with the importance of distance and proximity. For some of the doors the view barely changes between far away and close to the door, for others it reveals entirely new views when you turn towards the door or step closer.
The photographs I take contain a mixture of approaches that explore the above: one is a long exposure shot of moving towards the door, another one is a composite of three images overlaid to mimic the turning towards the door. Two are views of the door being open, two are shots of a close up of being at the door and looking through. Another reveals myself looking through the door.
– these make seven images for six locations. I don’t not install the long exposure image.
Placement #6 lasts 10 minutes on Thursday, 30 November: I place two images in two different doors. I walk away. Return soon after and remove them. — The questions it poses for me are about audience and authorship: what is this visible placing to achieve? for whom?
I go away with these questions and devise a performance schedule. The aims: to place something for a while, without explanation or authorship and to remove it fairly soon: it emerges, is visible but remains a passing feature. If I want to explore the expectations of knowing what is on the other side of the door, I devise the following:
Installation a: the view is the assumed and experienced view behind the photograph. Thus the photograph provides a small instance of distanciation, mediation, a viewpoint along and within the already experienced viewpoints of moving through the door. The photograph however places it outside the routine, it disrupts the routine (albeit it slightly).
Installation b: the same photographs are employed but on different doors. Thus the view is familiar but not the view behind that door. Also: the photographs as tool are already encountered (potentially) and thus provide another layer of routine/disruption.
I want the photos to emerge at the end of one day, be present during the next day and to be gone in the morning of the other day, so that they are in situ during one entire workday, and that their installation/removal isn’t particularly visible, i.e. I do not want to leave much trace of authorship in this process.
The final point is difficult to enact: I am far more nervous than I had anticipated. I am nervous for a variety of reasons: part is excitement as I think the photographs and the series of interventions is good, I am curious what it will do during its unfolding; the other reason is the more familiar one of my intervening in the space in a role that isn’t explicit but also not commonly employed in that space.
Placement #7 is set up over a period of sixty minutes at the end of Monday 4 December and remains in place until 9:45am on Wednesday morning. The one that is the strongest one in my mind, the one which shows the grid and is gridded again by the actual glass is the most difficult to place, it is also one where my actions are most visible along the corridor. I try several times, abandon it. On one occasion I hide around the corner, am discovered by someone who knows what I am doing, laugh, have a chat, place it finally when hardly anyone is left.
I want to leave them alone and do not appear the next day until around lunchtime. On walking towards the staff room I see someone investigating the photographs on the door (the one I placed last), I smile, move on, resolve myself not to talk about them, hear two people talking about them just as I enter the staff room. One of them asks me if I know anything about the photographs, I say nothing. She continues: are these yours? I feel I could have stayed silent but not when asked so directly, so I say yes. She and her colleague talk about how much they like them and what interesting intervention it is.
I leave them for the entire day and in the morning show them to a colleague who is based elsewhere – I let her go up on her own, investigate them. Then I turn up and remove them. Noone notices us.
There are no photos placed during the workday of Wednesday, 6 December.
Placement #8, the same images but in different order (except for the staff corridor view which still looks out onto the staff corridor), installing them on the evening of Wednesday 6 December. The department is busy with people but all are elsewhere, late in the day, around 6pm I set up the photos anew, don’t talk to anyone about it. But we find a clothing label elsewhere in the department and someone asks if that was me too. We laugh. During the day I walk past a few times, don’t notice anyone around, don’t feel much of a pull of the images (or field of authorship). I leave in the evening and return on Friday morning (not very early) and remove them without anyone being around. Once I removed them I see people moving about: they had been in a meeting in another part of the department, so it was good timing.
Some installation shots of placement #8:
With my office colleague I discuss this series in more detail:
- the unknown encounters that people may have with the images
- if I in a few months conclude this, will there be a memory of it
- she suggests that people may want to talk about it, hear about it in a seminar
- I realise that I have no longer a problem with being known as the one who did/does this
- I yet haven’t used the motion image: should I place it singularly?
- there was also an idea of setting them up as a straight set on a wall within the link corridor
- I took a couple of images of the installation but didn’t fully record it visually (I felt it was going to add to much of my own presence to it), but: I do have a few images that in themselves will work again as a further instantiation, moving along (akin to how placement #3 and #4 worked).