At the beginning of the year, I proposed to "research and develop a set of thinking, making, showing and documentation techniques that can represent the layered complexity of the Ghost Box as a point of departure, prompt or impetus for art making". Looking back on the wording of this (thank you Mark) it strikes me that it contains both the freedom I needed to continue exploring, as well as the possibility that the Ghost Box itself may not be present in the final work. Indeed, the work I'm planning to produce now has a far more tangential relationship with its impetus, though the Ghost Box has certainly been the main source of inspiration.
I began the project last year, collecting found footage sourced from internet archives that felt representative of the moments the Ghost Box evokes. When I met with Jennifer Lewandowski at PAC Home, I showed her the box and recorded our conversation. I then used sections of what we'd talked about as a soundtrack for the collected footage (above)
The images above are representative of the explorations I made of the locations mentioned in the Ghost Box, examined using Google Earth, Google images, internet archives of moving image, sound and photographs, the websites of the businesses that are in some of those locations now, and blogs about the history of the area and of various companies and their relocation. The process for each location involved examining it remotely, from my computer, using various search terms such as addresses, dates, names, sales information such as stock numbers and model names, as well as many combinations of those things. As a result, I now have a huge collection of downloaded images and maps, screenshots, web links, archived newspaper articles, old phone directory entries and numerous other information relating to each location (see example here). I really enjoyed this detective approach, but found the huge array of information a bit overwhelming. There was, however, something about the way that Google Earth warps images when zooming in and out, and the graphic-design-like aesthetic that results (see related blog post here) that I found really interesting. I had some of these images made into slides, which I projected in a group tutorial with Chris Cook. The feedback was mixed, perhaps in part because the slides bore little relation to the proposal I presented for the year. However, I think they are intriguing objects, in terms of the questions they raise about pre- and post-internet technology, archives v databases, and their potential for circular or 'carousel narrative' (related blog post here)
I was intrigued and amused, too, by the apparent dishonesty of some of the Sandhouse Hotel's images (above, bottom left), in which the colours are over saturated and the views through the window dubious. I used some of these website images to make the moving image piece Sandhouse Hotel (stills below left and centre, installed at Art Weekender below right, full video here)
I like this video. The emptiness of the interiors and views combined with the curtains suggests remembrance, transcendence, psychoanalytical or dream imagery, a portal, a poetic experience of an imagined interior.
I also mapped the locations mentioned in the box, such as below (left and centre: installed at TOPOS, Exeter, for Canteen. Right: installed at RWY project space)
But more recently, I've moved away from the literal contents of the box, and begun to explore what it evokes, as a moment of finding and revealing and as a potential for narrative. When I set up this archive (below) of all the contents of the Box, and all the work made so far (which was presented as labelled flash drives, except for the slides which were physically present), one of the comments from the group was "It's like you've decided to put it all back in the box and move on". He was right, and in reflecting on this, along with Chris Cook's comment a few weeks earlier ("I imagine you as a kind of magician, revealing and concealing things" - see related blog post here) I decided it was time the work moved on from the concrete information in the box itself.
Therefore, I've been exploring the narrative potential of furnishings, particularly wallpaper (see here, here, here and here) which emerged as a theme through the 1970s imagery I've been looking at. Additionally, the Catholic connection in the Ghost Box has proved fruitful, leading me to Antonia White to Charlotte Perkins Gilman and back to wallpaper, as well as relating strongly to the ideas of hiddenness, concealment, secrecy and privacy which the Ghost Box threw up. Interestingly, these concerns also resonate with Relic, and with some of the artists I cited as influences in my proposal: Louisa Fairclough, Christian Boltanski and Sophie Calle.
Below is documentation of an initial idea I had about using wallpaper in the work, which was set up for critique recently. It used Ebay-sourced 1972 wallpaper, spotlit and with speakers installed above, which went some way to creating the effect I wanted of the paper buzzing with static and whispers.