I wrote this ( below, past this bit of waffle) a couple of months ago as part of a piece of work called ‘Postcards’. It is yet to implemented as I am a bit stuck with the presentation. I would be willing to hear some new suggestions because my ideas have been wandering in aimless circles for some time now and I could use a jump start…
Steaming mists rising over the sky line of north London and a strong cup of tea.
Now I take pleasure in the icy streams of wet air and loosely lace up my boots around woolly socks and leg warmers, thick and colourful.
When people ask me about the journey, I tell them, and they want to know, about the roads, the buses, the trains and the hours that passed.
The photos line up. I slowly unravel it all and lay it out in a long thread that loops round from beginning to end.
‘Every story is a travel story’. Every image is a reflection of me, posturing behind the camera.
Each invisible city, journeyed to across vast unending deserts and sequestered between sand dunes.
‘The position of the poet in the act of looking is a spectacle in itself.’ The gaze of the traveller expands inwardly, contracting the landscape into the sentence that fits.
Yet, after all of this looking, its hard to stop ‘doing’ and ‘seeing’.
‘The awareness that what seemed to be a stain on the wall is in fact a work of art.’
‘Are you going to the theatre?’ I shake my head. ‘That’s ok, the world is your theatre.’
Finally alone in the city. Energy enters a hot and tired body through the feet. A holy, and communal quickening.
‘Come back in beautiful pieces’, he wrote.
Rearrange the pieces when everyone is gone. Set things out. Design the stage. Watch with caught breath.
Cocooned in the car, the stage set faces the sides of the road.
Now the land just stretches away on both sides and the road eats its own tail and goes on forever. Occasionally there is a house, a truck, a caravan and then nothing.
‘Place is whatever stable object captures our attention’
The fingered details of the walls in this dusty little corner.
‘Does your journey only take place in the past?’ asked The Great Khan
Like the city of Fedora, this trip is one of imagined possibilities, impossible by the time tomorrow arrives.
‘Time prevents people from living authentically.’ Damned sequence of figures. Lets put the timer on random.
‘Take note dear person, of your immediate position’.
Somewhere between sweltering heat and grey skies.
‘Glimpse yourself removed from the fatuous habits of progress as well as from the tragic implications of destiny, and see that you are an eternal creature fixed against the wide grin of the horizon.’
Funny, I had hoped that perpetual motion was the thing that would root me in the present.
Give me the monstrosity, the gargantuan ambition, to hitchhike the world. To thumb it down with flexible, wily didgets, like Sissy Hanshaw.
‘Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.’
So said Bokonon.
Ok, so here is my idea.
Put simply I have a set of images compiled from my nine months abroad which will be printed in the format of postcards. In order to be attractive – hopefully pick-up-able- they are images that suit a postcard size and format. They are also purposefully nondescript: not of any identifiable landmark, landscape, building or settlement. Holiday snapshots are usually lined up nicely in relation to one another. I went there and then on to here, and then there. Marc Auge describes the traveler’s space as ‘the archetype of non-place’ and this is what I want to look at: The idea that constant moving on disallows the traveler to experience ‘place’, creating only a pile of snapshots used to recount an itinerary.
Personally I prefer Michael de Certeau’s idea that ‘place is a practiced space’. Space is a place of velocities, distances and time, whilst a ‘place’ is stable; it is a defined location. Whilst spending time in a place allows one to explore all its nooks and crannies, space describes freedom, specifically of movement. What is good spatial practice?
To Certeau a text is a place and the act of reading is the space produced by the practice of place. This piece hopes to both reflect a spatial practice and instigate it. The postcards themselves will be free and placed where people are (hopefully) likely to pick them up whilst on their own journeys. I’m relying on other people like me who pick up free postcards with interesting images and then find them weeks later stuffed into books, handbags or on shelves. The piece of writing is formed out of short, postcard-sized messages. They need to be linked somehow with the images. I could just print them on the back. Or, I could put a link on the back of the postcard, perhaps in the short twitter format for those of you with snazzy phones, which would take you to the writing.
But, should you only get one of the snippets at random? A few? Personally, I feel you might want to read the whole thing, but then is it not reflecting the postcard format? Does that matter? And when you get down to it, I’m not very digitally minded so there might be something far cleverer that’s possible here.
Oh, and I have a website now which might come in handy with all this.