I have a garage full of old furniture. Some has been given to me, some found next to wheelie bins in access lanes around the city, some bought from Ebay and Facebook marketplace and collected or delivered in various vehicles. The majority of it is brown, of course, though some of that brown is wood and some only pretending to be. I have collected stories along with these things, like the claim that one of the desks was constructed for use on a ship, and that's why it comes apart. She may be right, as it isn't a design that you would expect to come apart. Or the house in Paignton, through a gate and up three steep flights of steps, where a woman lived until she was 96, carrying her shopping up the steps that made me pant, just a little. They didn't want to take all her things to a car boot sale. It was a difficult enough time as it was, without all that. I saw the sea from her window, sparkling in the distance. Or the dark green storage-container-cum-junk-shop on a trading estate I've driven past countless times without noticing it, where the woman was holding the fort for the owner. She met him years ago now. He's hoping to get it going as a proper little shop; he's having a sign made. You wouldn't believe the things he's got back there.
When I am ready to dismember, disconnect, drill into, saw, repair, adapt and/or combine these items, I will be thinking about the Ghost Box and its layers of possibility. Each of these cabinets and cupboards and tables has similar layers, a "web of significance"* that could be considered interpretive, as Geertz has said of culture more generally, and to which I would add allegorical, discursive, hermeneutic, illustrative, suggestive; as are those stories I have collected that will haunt the furniture they came with, along with the stories that will be interpreted and references that will be found in their forms by others. And to their palimpsests I will add my interpretations of the Ghost Box, pulling their large woody bodies into the modest paper scope of the box, allowing those father/daughter materials to reconnect, and making niches for my expansions of the box to nestle within, "assembling and encountering as (a) method... of discovering... human socio-psychological processes around memory, persistence, repetition, return... a dialectic of time, space and the archive."** As Simon Starling says, objects can be used to "generate fragmentary narratives"^, and this narrative I am working with is itself a fragment and a mystery ("a little theatrical machine that manufactures analogy",^^ as well as being both expanded and fragmented by my investigations.
* Geertz, C. (1973). Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture
** Pollock, G. (2007) Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum: Time, Space and the Archive
^ Starling,S. (2013) cited in Green, A. (2018) When Artists Curate
^^ Ranciere, J (2009) cited in Green, A. (2018) When Artists Curate