This is the first in a series of “notes” related to the ART WRITING FIELD STATION in Leeds on March 27th 2010. The notes are not what precedes the event, nor are they what comes during or afterwards, be that a written document, a sound recording, an oral tale or private memory.
Rather, the notes are writings that, taking place at a fixed moment in the process they are part of, evidence all others. This first set of notes, by Mary Paterson , is published under a title, below, that willfully demonstrates this transgressive chronology of notes.
More information about Mary’s work can be seen here.
NOTES TOWARDS A NAVIGATION THROUGH UNBOUND: FROM U FOR UNBOUND TO A FOR AUTHORITY
In 2009 I began a residency at the Live Art Development Agency.
res•i•den•cy [rez-i-duh n-see] –noun,plural-cies.
1. residence (def. 3).
2. the position or tenure of a medical resident.
3. (formerly) the official residence of a representative of the British governor general at a native Indian court.
4. (formerly) an administrative division of the Dutch East Indies.
[["residency." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 31 Mar. 2010. .]
I have been looking at Unbound, which is the Agency’s online publication and distribution arm. Unbound is an online shop for books, documentation and the paraphernalia surrounding live art. It is also a commissioning platform for new works, and as such it stocks art historical text books like (for example) Body Art by Amelia Jones, as well as limited edition, commissioned artworks made to mark the Live Art Development Agency’s 10th birthday, which are exclusive to Unbound.
res•i•den•cy ['re-z&-d&n-sE] –noun, plural -cies
1. an often official place of residence
2. the condition of being a resident of a particular place
["residency." Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law. Merriam-Webster, Inc. 31 Mar. 2010. .]
At the Art Writing Field Station event in Leeds last week, I presented some notes towards the text I’m writing for the residency. I described Unbound as my field of study. “Imagine that we are looking.” I wrote, “Imagine that this is what we find – a series of resources labelled Unbound; a metaphorical sheaf of published and commissioned paraphernalia connected to the suggestion of live art. Imagine that this website Unbound is the field of study.”
But a field of study is normally a finite entity, and Unbound is not finite in two important ways. Firstly, it is effectual: unlike an archive, it does not simply claim to record a set of influences, but also to define those influences and shape the discipline. Secondly, it points to resources, but does not map their contents. You have to click on the elegant photographs, enter your credit card details, and wait for a parcel before you can access the knowledge described on Unbound.
res•i•den•cy [rez-əd-ən-sē] –n, pl -cies
: a period of advanced medical training and education that normally follows graduation from medical school and licensing to practice medicine and that consists of supervised practice of a specialty in a hospital and in its outpatient department and instruction from specialists on the hospital staff
["residency." Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Inc. 31 Mar. 2010. .]
But it is this oblique relationship to knowledge that interests me about Unbound.
residency: The position or term of a medical resident; The position of a musical artist who commonly performs at a particular venue; The condition of being a resident of a particular place; The home or residence of a person, especially in the colonies
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/residency accessed 31st March 2010
Unbound does not represent knowledge, but it does give information about it. And information is, of course, another kind of intellectual resource; arguably, one that is more relevant to contemporary living than the weighty facts of knowledge.
I remember sitting round the kitchen table when I was 11 or 12, helping my brother learn the capital cities of the world so that he could pass an exam. He was sliding round the kitchen in his socks and he learnt the capital cities by rote, to the rhythm of his body making laps of the table.
No-one needs this kind of knowledge anymore. It’s all available on the internet, and so accessing the internet is more important than being able to remember words or phrases. This amounts to a change in status that I think of as a change of location. The names of the capital cities of the world are no longer resident in the bodies of schoolchildren. Instead, they live in a shared, virtual system that everyone can access, but which no-one needs to possess. It is a change in status from knowledge to information.
residency: The location that a student is deemed to live for the purpose of funding.
www.learnnowbc.ca/course_finder/glossary.aspx accessed 31st March 2010
What does it mean to have access to “a shared, virtual system”? Is it the same thing as “virtual memory”? Or “cultural knowledge”? Or “common sense”?
residency: Please refer to the Residency Classification Guidelines.
www.umich.edu/~regoff/tuition/explanation.html accessed 31st March 2010
In Leeds, I asked Simon Zimmerman to read out the text I had written, which was about memory and meaning. I asked him to insert some of his memories into my text. He talked about childhood games with his sister, and about travelling on buses with his aunt. When he spoke his memories he lifted his head from the script, and the left corner of his mouth rose in a shy smile. Everyone in the room was captivated.
residency: they tax anyone who lives there, regardless of citizenship;
www.answers.com/topic/multiple-citizenship accessed 31st March 2010
It reminded me of the time when something traumatic happened to a friend of mine. The event was so traumatic, that to describe it was to hold an audience’s attention. After I had described the event to people, they would retell the story elsewhere. Soon, people who did not know my friend would tell the story of the traumatic event. Sometimes I would find myself in a crowd of people where I was known as the person who had a friend who had been affected by this traumatic event. One or two people admitted that they were jealous of me for being so close to such a shocking incident. Nevertheless, they restyled my feelings into their own language. The event had become “common knowledge”, or “cultural memory”, or perhaps “virtual sense.”
Main Entry: domicile/ Part of Speech: noun/ Definition: human habitat/ Synonyms: abode, accommodation, apartment, castle, co-op, commorancy, condo, condominium, crash pad, dump, dwelling, habitation, home, house, joint, legal residence, mansion, pad, rack, residence, residency, roof over head, roost, settlement
http://thesaurus.com/browse/residency, accessed 31st March 2010
After Simon had finished speaking at Art Writing Field Station, we had a short discussion. Emma Cocker (who made a presentation later that morning in relation to rhizomatic diagrams on graph paper that refer, obliquely, to the knowledge and information of her studio and her practice) said that she had been thinking about ‘residency.’ She said (rhetorically): ‘What does it mean to take residency inside someone else’s text?’ Simon said that he was interested in parasitic writing – writing that lives off another source.
Main Entry: dwelling/ Part of Speech: noun/ Definition: home/ Synonyms: abode, castle, commorancy, den, digs, domicile, dump, establishment, habitat, habitation, haunt, hole in the wall, house, lodging, pad, quarters, residence, residency
http://thesaurus.com/browse/residency, accessed 31st March 2010
Aren’t we all parasites? Quotations, definitions, references, libraries, archives, styles, fashions, networks, nods, winks … the building blocks of culture are other people’s ideas. Or, as it says on the gates of the British Library, ‘An original idea. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them’ (Stephen Fry). Or to put it another way, we’re all ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ (Isaac Newton). Or, to put it another way, the moment when you know you are an adult, when you know that you are symbolically present and able to participate in your culture, is when you realise that everyone else is making it up as well (Mary Paterson). Authority is the relative value that we ascribe to cultural artefacts, which turns them into shared experience, implicit or otherwise.
1. an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.
2. a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any useful or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others.
3. (in ancient Greece) a person who received free meals in return for amusing or impudent conversation, flattering remarks, etc.
Perhaps the difference between being a parasite and being a resident is ‘any useful or proper return.’ While a residency is defined by its location, a parasite is defined by its (lack of) production. My work in relation to Unbound is parasitical. It uses the resources to gain nutriment, without offering any of its own. But it is also about location – the location of knowledge, the location of information, and the location of meaning.
The Parasite is the name of several fictional characters that appears in Superman comic book stories published by DC Comics. …
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasite_(comics) accessed 31st March 2010