From ‘The View from Here’ to ‘Marks Make Meaning’

I’m excited to have been invited to talk and teach for a day at the University of Chichester Department of Fine Art. It’s giving me the opportunity to re-examine these images (the ones above, amongst others) that I made early in my PhD. They were exploratory pieces made expressly for me, and perhaps my supervisors, but certainly not for public exhibition, to think about interdisciplinary issues of architecture and archaeology to do with the site of London Stone. They were later incidentally, perhaps even accidentally, exhibited as part of a BBC / Bartlett / Slade collaboration called The View from Here. Figure 1 below shows what they looked like at the BBC.

View From Here BBCFigure 1. ‘The Decorative Frame’ at The View From Here ‘Research Spaces’ event, [here exhibited at the B.B.C.]. 2009.
Photograph: Tat Lam.

This is what I wrote at the time:

I would want to ask, what happens when someone is called an artist who does not habitually practice as an artist? Does it make any difference if they habitually practice as an architect? What is to be made of the accumulated skills, knowledges, acquired techniques and social networks which are apparently, and at best, made interchangeable by these careless category slippages or, at worst, rendered worthless by them?
It is this kind of category slippage which results in the sort of thing which happened in the pages of the View From Here catalogue; when I read the exhibition catalogue on the opening night of the exhibition I was surprised to find myself described as an artist. Now, my work had been made in a school of architecture by an architect (myself) and was designed for the investigation of archaeological practice, but this work was instead exhibited at the galleries of a school of art; the work was described as art and, crucially, its maker as artist. After the event I wondered why I had been so troubled by the situation I’ve just described, especially considering that my research is centred about and, even, seeks to promote disciplinary fluidity.
One might have thought, and I would argue, that for the word artist, or architect, or archaeologist to mean anything, that surely it must adhere, however broadly conceived, to certain sets of practices, techniques and aims which are differently centered from other disciplines even if those same practices, techniques and aims shift over time and through space.

To be clear, it is possible, but not easy, to produce meaningful interdisciplinary work (for example between architecture and archaeology,[1] between art and archaeology,[2] between art and architecture[3] etc) but my view was and still is that interdisciplinary work needs, even demands, recognisable disciplinary centres in the way that I’ve described above.

I am less troubled now by what happened at The View from Here than I was then, and drawings I have made subsequently (The Return of Jack and Becky, fig 2. amongst them), also about London Stone and the expanded places of its location, will be exhibited at the University of Brighton in March – once I’ve finished them.

PrintFigure 2. ‘The Return of Jack and Becky’ in Scandalous Artefacts: Visual and Analogical Practice Between Architecture and Archaeology [unpublished PhD] 2016.

Nine years after The View from Here exhibitions and four years since I began making The Return of Jack and Becky, the University of Chichester and University of Brighton events are nicely focussing for me once again the relationship of drawing to discipline to place.

 

____________________________________________________________

[1] Alessandro Zambelli, “Scandalous Artifacts: Practice between Archaeology and Architecture,” Architecture and Culture 1, no. 1-2 (2013).
[2] Mark Dion, Archaeology  (London: Black Dog, 1999).
[3] Jane Rendell, Art and Architecture: A Place Between  (London: I. B. Tauris, 2006).

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