Before the audience, a large projection of a digital kefir grain appears. At the same time its interpreter, fitted with an earpiece, enters and takes a seat to the side. Slowly, the kefir grain begins to pulse and wordlessly perform a pre-prepared speech. Watching it’s movements and guided by audio only she can hear, the interpreter translates its movements for the audience.
Don’t be alarmed, our connection usually passes through your stomach.
I was cold and did not reply, so they broke down the wall and carried me away, all the while speaking to me…
Long ago in the light of the moon, they came to my house and poked a hole through the roof. They called out, “Are you in here?”
I tried to return answers but they couldn’t understand.
When the warm sun came up my hunger started. I could not forbear showing my impatience, and I put my finger to my mouth to signify I wanted to eat. Then, they understood me very well.
They brought me sugar. Spoons of raw sugar, spun to have most of the molasses removed. Pouring, now fully saturated, the space around became a thick syrup.
Spoonfuls fast from above, building up in crunchy mounds while I was still cold and slow to metabolise…
Low, soft foam seats with erect tails gather as a small herd on the gallery floor. Together, they form the hypnotic spot pattern of Bambi’s fur.
Conversations between different animal voices and a synthesiser play over the surrounding speakers. The sounds are collected from online archives and arranged almost operatically within the narrative and musical setting of Disney’s Bambi. The familiar, humanised representation of the animals is juxtaposed against their real and peculiar calls.
Without written or spoken human language, the viewer relies instead on the recognisable conversational rhythms, the emotive musical interludes and the near speech of the synthesiser to act as mediator and interpreter between the human and non-human. This absurd exchange emphasises both the impossibility of communication between animal protagonists and visitors, and the undeniable connection that already exists.
We can only guess what the dog is barking at.
The work concerns the then ongoing repair works to the Ben Pimlott building. It responds to the institution and borrows authority from the aesthetics of legal documents and architectural inspection reports.
At the request of the university due to a legal dispute, the independent health and safety report was concealed during the exhibition and locked in a safe. In line with the restriction placed on the public access to the work, the report was also placed in the safe during the examination of the work. The examiners, however, were given the option of signing non-disclosure agreements in order to receive the safe code from an independent overseer. To keep the anonymity of the examiners required by Goldsmiths University exam guidelines intact, the names were then redacted before being returned.
Outside the building in question, the sculpture responds to the recommendations of the report. It provides a supporting structure while blending into the institutional architecture and providing seating for visitors. Through these differing restrictions, examiners and exhibition visitors were offered separate ways to access the work.
Three screens displaying coloured number sequences (ascending, descending, randomised), three ticket machines with corresponding coloured tickets, and a memo entitled Recommendations on Management, Participation and Community Optimisation in the Queue are spread across the space, creating a dislocated queuing system for an exhibition space community.
Visitors are invited to take a number and join one of three queues. The memo offers instruction on positive queuing etiquette, claiming the experience as a beneficial one – when performed correctly. Set against this is the convoluted repurposing of terms dealing with the transmission of data packets and the management of machine interaction.
The possibility of a complete or optimum experience is queried as participants are reduced to an arbitrary number within the work, and it becomes clear that there is nothing at the front of the queue.
The looping text and two videos describe the symbiotic relationship between a building and its building maintenance unit (BMU).
As the camera scans the digital model, it mimics the movements of a BMU over the surface of a building, creating abstract landscapes while methodically revealing the object from two angles, itself now a looming piece of architecture.
Within the text the sentences also loop – repeated, reordered and rephrased in a slick, corporate tone. The text borrows terms from nature documentaries about the symbiotic life of a shrimp and gobi fish, combined with phrases lifted from BMU user manuals. The appropriated vocabulary offers a different context to consider architectural maintenance and care.
…often host mechanical devices on their roofs, usually hidden from view by parapet or fibreglass cover. Building maintenance units, however, are often just visible on top of their host.
While there are some BMUs which are able to duck down into slots or burrows on their roofs, others sit proudly and extended atop their host. This building maintenance unit and it’s building remain in constant contact; they are never without one another post-construction.
The symbiosis between architecture and BMUs is one of many relationships that can occur in a city. Buildings often host mechanical devices on their roofs, usually hidden by a parapet or covered by fibreglass. Building Maintenance Units, however, are often just visible on top of their host, and several kinds exist, tailored to suit their building.
Considering the never-ending construction and reconstruction, the effort to maintain the relationship is an entirely necessary one, for if left to fend for themselves the surrounding shifting sand may consume the pair at any given moment.
The pair form a life together, they remain together and reside together; they are never without one another post-construction.
By teaming up, they have given themselves the best chance of survival...
Youtube comments left under videos of growling stomachs and a biblical story combine to create a vorarephilic text. It is spoken intermittently over a backing track of digestive noises while waving orange protrusions beckon the viewer into an intestine-like tract.
The speaker’s voice moves back and forth between the role of predator and prey, compelling the listener to take on the opposing position: as one is shifted, the other party is forced to balance the movement. Quotes, viewer, and speaker disintegrate and mix together in the stomach of the text.
I would be bleached and blinded by stomach acid if I was swallowed whole, but in some worlds there’s no need for the giant to chew or digest their prey. You could sit there for three days, and be gently released, unharmed, in a warm pool of vomit. Whether you mind being swallowed or not, it doesn’t really matter. If you choose not to participate a giant might chase you down, and scoop you up anyway Consenting or not, digestion or no digestion. Maybe that’s what you want anyway…
…You’re standing there, looking good enough to eat. You don’t have to do anything, I’m just offering up the situation, but if you want to join in jump on board. Trust your gut, the math is simple: put me in your belly…
…I heard the voice from my stomach. It said, “Bodies swallowing other bodies.” You have a capacious belly, by the way, and I am excellent prey.
Sissy and Lyle met through a dating agency, the Salons of St Petersburg, connecting over the acoustic characteristics of specific strident sounds. Sissy, insurmountable and dissatisfied, studied bees, while Lyle, Slavic and disillusioned, is now exclusively a library assistant with one fat lip. Their house, when they finally achieved its purchase, was initially nothing noteworthy. Six miles from the post office – small and stripped bare – it was in need of restructuring…
…The seal is broken, and they exchange whips, scorns, and lashings, surrendering themselves to catcalls and contemptuous chiding. The sides are filled with hissing snakes rattling their glottises, angry voices and antisocial imbalance. Sissy and Lyle’s tongues become swollen and fat with every wave of air pushed past them, both struck with a sudden, unexplained lung capacity…
Facing one another are two tongues, slowly swelling and suddenly surging in movements suggestive of speech. The animations move to a recorded spoken text, which narrates the relationship between Sissy and Lyle. These two characters embody the sibilants hush and hiss. Living on opposite sides of a house, they compete and antagonise one another, their aggression building until they lose control and are consumed by sound.
Tension is created through sound and rhythm, between the spoken text’s physicality and momentum and the meditative, calm motions of the objects. Spoken word and image alternate between meaning and materiality, creating a play with sibilants that culminates in a cannibalistic sexual act.
The audience is given a round, home-made sweet wrapped in cellophane by an attendant as they enter the lecture theatre. Each person also receives the instruction, “you will be told when to unwrap it and when to eat it.” A woman is waiting on stage, and when the door is closed, she steps up to the podium and starts to read.
The text consists of fragments from different sources, the boundaries between which are dissolved through repeated editing. Now, they form something new and fluent that brings together quotation, the passing down and consumption of knowledge, and eating a sweet.
The speaker proclaims the authority of the words to the audience, and they open their sweets and eat them together. The artist’s intentions enter their bodies as text and sweetness.
[Read from page]
I have the honour of making this address today, and I have been asked to begin by stating that I did not choose these words, or compose this text.
[Pause, prepare yourself by skimming ahead]
"A writer’s genius", it says, "is as much evident in what they select as in what they originate."
[Look up, learned text in a lighter tone]
The author read somewhere of a scarcely imaginable scheme, in which the word of a professor is disseminated to their students by way of a rolled-up theorem. This is then swallowed, and the ball of digested information is driven by the student’s own pulse around their body, absorbing and expanding until it encircles them entirely.
[Pause, read again from the page]
These sweets were made for this address. A sticky one could resist, taking shape too exactly and fixing to my teeth. A sharp one, on the other hand, might scratch, leaving a serious blemish on the side of my mouth. One can’t ever be sure, with the unconscious bringing unwelcome and unvoiced associations to light. The basic parts of this author’s ‘sweet-word’ are tempered to a state of hard crack.
[Pick up your sweet]
Unwrap the sweet now.