"Suppose you liked eating off the floor (some people are that clean, I’m told) — it could be carpeted with food at all times."

Day Two – Saturday 31st May: Timelapse and Notes

Posted: May 31st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Day 2, timelapse | 3 Comments »

I arrived at Locksmith with the world’s most disappointing sandwich and sludgy coffee. I had freshly sprained a joint in my lower back from some iffy breakfalling at aikido earlier in the morning. I sat in one of the ubiquitous yellow chairs and ate my sanga. A lovely guy came in straight away, as I was eating. He was an artist whose show was opening that arvo down the road. We had one of those conversations where neither person knows exactly what’s going on but the experience is enjoyable and companionably meaningful. I think he was inviting me to his opening for a wine. I think I was stumbling through a sketchy explanation of Push and Pull, gently urging him to touch stuff while he was in the space.

Minutes later Lachlan and Sally came to visit. Together we tugged things around the room and opened the space into an airy loungeroom. Lach was on his way to work and it had just started pouring with rain, so we stood and watched Botany Road for a while. I took them on an anecdotal tour of the room and its now-effaced iterations. “Here’s where there were knives hammered into the wall,” I pointed, “and here’s where Lucas projected the Kaprow presentation.”

Soon after, a couple walked into the gallery and stood in the middle of the room. The man began to pick things up, and at one point approached a chair as if to move it out of his path. The woman nudged and hissed, “Ask her if it’s OK to touch anything!” I said, “Oh, please, do what you like, that’s the point!” I told them about my obsession with the yellowness of the room. The guy said, “I’m going to find everything I can that is yellow and stack in the centre of the room. That way there’ll only be one place where you’ll see yellow and everywhere else will be safe.”

At this point Rene came in after the second class of aikido. He looked around and then sat on the couch. I talked to him about the opening night and the first day, about how Alba and I had worked to domesticate the space, how we secretly made a rubbish bag and threw stuff out that we thought was unseemly. Rene had a lunch date with friends, so he outsourced his contribution. “What I’d like to see,” he said, conducting his hands around the room, Kaprow style, “is the space to be more cluttered. I’d like it to be difficult to move through the space, so that the pushing and pulling occurs as people move objects to create a path.” After he left I obliged, pulling the car bumpers and chairs from their neat stacks and tugging them into unwieldy arrangements. I noticed that the yellow-stack guy had literally found everything yellow – including scraps of paper with the smallest glyphs of yellow ink and individual lemony strings from party poppers. I was impressed with his finicky detailing.

For hours the space was empty and I hammered out some writing on the laptop. By this stage my back was in a state of acute pain and I was finding it difficult to move around. Sam came through briefly. I was disappointed by what seemed an unrelenting duration of mediocre soft-cock rock on the radio. At the point that I was desperate for company, a door-to-door salesman poked his head around the upturned sideboard, offering me twenty pairs of socks for twenty dollars. The socks were vac-packed in transparent plastic cases and were a boiled-sweet selection of pinks and oranges and pine-lime. I wanted to ask him to donate a palette of socks to the exhibition so I could make sock puppets, but I was unsure as to the appropriateness of the request.

After an hour of no contact I re-arranged the room again, this time composing the yellow chairs in three semi-circles at the front door, as though for a school assembly. I dragged other objects up to the chairs so that the gallery was blocked from its entrance and furniture would need to be clambered over in order to find me. I lay on the couch and started to read my book of essays by Charles Olson. As a PhD student, Olson researched Melville extensively. I read a strange essay about sailors who ate bread soaked in seawater and then became so thirsty they killed a blackbird to drink its blood. My back was hurting so much I couldn’t concentrate on the essay. Nick and Joel came in with sausage-stinking pide. I left in a nanosecond.

Astrid leaves <- – – – – – – – – – – – -> Nick arrives

Frame-by-frame inspection of the timelapse shows that Astrid’s so-called nanosecond is actually 30 frames, or just under 8 minutes after Joel and I walked in the room (the stench of sausage pide was only the most prevalent of the aromas coming from our post-soccer game bodies). Since a nanosecond is a billionth of a second this means that when Astrid says she left in a nanosecond she is exaggerating more than a little bit,  she is exaggerating by something like 480 billion nanoseconds. And in the pantheon of Astridian exaggeration 480 billion is probably about the median. Although really Astrid is compressing time (8 minutes in one nanosecond) rather than exaggerating it (which implies multiplication). And in the compression of the afternoon into a timelapse of 70 seconds, Joel and I arriving and Astrid leaving does happen incredibly quickly. And more importantly, after having been in the space for so many hours without a great deal of action and with acute back-pain steadily intensifying, to Astrid’s sense of the temporal experience, she did leave in a nanosecond. The word exaggerate comes from the Latin agger which means heap, and so aggerare is heap up or pile up, accumulate, which is perhaps one of the ways to describe, as David Antin says, the inexhaustible peculiarities of the experience of time. The timelapse videos are so titillating partly because the way they fold (or pile, or condense) time is contrary to ordinary experience. Not that the ordinary experience of time happens uniformly, not at all, and you can see in the timelapse that as Astrid sits there alone for hours without moving much at all, her experience of time is unfolded, stretched, slow. That is, it’s boring. No wonder she was stir crazy when Joel and I turned up. But in other moments, especially in the timelapse from the opening night, you see that time gets folded in all the activity. For me, the opening night started at 6:01pm when Hilik’s started banging knives into the wall and then all those hours just fold into the enjoyment of things happening. Then it’s 10pm and the experience of time is something like disappearance. This elasticity of time seems to have a foundational relationship with movement, that is, in general, that which constricts movement seems to slow the experience of time (for example, being in a prison cell) and that which allows movement seems more likely to fold it.

Joel and Astrid left together I remember now. I sat there on the couch eating my sausage pide. Neither Sam nor Yasmin were home and nobody was coming in. Time was beginning to unfold and stretch and my body was beginning to ache and pain from soccer. In this situation there is only one thing to do: turn everything upside down. So when I finished my pide I got to work turning the whole room upside down. It was probably about 5pm when I started this, and as it went past 6pm and almost to 7pm I was becoming increasingly engaged with my own neuroses. I was exhausted, my face was sunburnt and my head was throbbing but still I insisted on methodically turning everything upside down. I turned the TV upside down in the front window. I turned basically all the posters and papers on the wall around. I screwed the terra-cotta pot in upside down above the doorway to living room. I hung the fan upside down on the wall. I gaffa-taped the turntables to the sibeboard cabinet (one) and then turned it on its side (two) and then tried to turn it upside down propped on two milk crates. The turntables crashed onto the floor (three). Just before this another one of Zanny’s students turned up with a friend. She had her camera at the ready but was very unsure about what she was going to write about for her assessment. It seemed like she was finding the whole thing arduous and I didn’t know what to say so I handed her the Push & Pull folder from the Kaprow Estate. I think witnessing my idiotic attempts to tape the record players to the sideboard allowed her and her friend to feel free with the space and they composed a colourful wall piece with gaffa tape, fluro card paper, a CD, a vinyl record and the fake plant leaves. I tried the same stupid gaffa tape trick with the massage table and the ceramic plates, with the same failed result. So I turned the carpet, the table, the chairs and the plates upside down as best I could. In turning the couch upside down the plastic packet with all the screws and nuts and washes fell off, complete with instructions. So I put the couch together and put it upside down. The finishing touch was the umbrella on the table. Sam had come home fresh from having won $150 dollars at a poker competition with his brother. He bought beer and lent me his phone camera to take photos of the upside down room. I call this composition turn the world upside down (for pat.a.) because Pat and I used to play games where we’d sneak into the others’ room when they weren’t home and turn things upside down.


3 Comments on “Day Two – Saturday 31st May: Timelapse and Notes”

  1. 1 Tom said at 9:22 pm on May 31st, 2009:

    Yeah 15sec’s is much better I think you could even go down to 10. I love the way nick eats his pide and then its “right to work everything upside down!”

  2. 2 Zoe said at 10:57 pm on May 31st, 2009:

    Itchy head and back, Astrid?

  3. 3 Lai Sun Keane said at 5:11 am on June 3rd, 2009:

    Is Push and Pull Redfern “happening”? Staging a Push and Pull exhibition has its risks – Barbra T Smith’s found that out the hard way when her reinvention of this art form was said to be “not happening”. New York “happened” even with the restrictions created by the confines of an established art gallery. In staging Push and Pull for the first time in Australia, Locksmith Project Space promises to make it “happen” for all Australians.

    It all begins on Botany Road with a blank canvas – a small-ish white room in a former locksmith shop in the Sydney suburb of Redfern. Visitors are encouraged to bring anything to fill this space and vice versa, to take anything they fancy when they leave. At the info session (day zero), I brought two milk crates, two decorative meshed wire circles and three plastic fronds (yes, I was tipped off). Creating Push and Pull is more than normal art – it’s a community experience – and that was a key part of what is happening in Redfern. Throughout the night, more and more people turned up and naturally more and more items ended up in this room. Someone started hammering knives into the walls, another person started to draw giraffes and another composed a poem about egg tart using transferable alphabets. It resembled a junkyard or maybe a shared student accommodation depending on how anal retentive a person you are.

    Four days later, I returned with 20 other students and found that the room was filled to the brim with abandoned upturned furniture plus crockery of all shapes and sizes. I noticed that my milk crates were now book shelves with comic books neatly lined in them. The plastic fronds had become part of a collage and the metal circles were no where to be found. There was hardly any room to move without bumping into another person or an object or worse get your eyes poked out by one of the many knives strewn around the room.

    We sat down in the yellow kindy chairs (Kaprow would disapprove!) to watch Scott perform his piece called “How to explain art to a dog” in honour of Joseph Beuys whose work was called “How to explain pictures to a dead hare.” While it was amateurish, Scott’s performance was appropriate because Kaprow, the father (where is the mother Lucas asked) of Happenings would approve of the fun and spontaneous nature of the performance.

    Later, we decided to collectively transform the room and leave our mark – the class of After Modern Sculpture COFA Semester One of 2009. Some ideas were considered like arranging the room to resemble an auditorium. In the end, we decided to push and pull everything that was not bolted down into the middle of the room to build a tower. After a few nervous moments balancing the IKEA couch on top of the structure, we built a spectacular stack of objects which would make Richard Serra proud.

    Everyone hung around taking photos and analysing what had just happened. Some of them started sketching the image of our “sculpture” on the wall. They seemed to not be able to part without leaving their individual traces and imprints even though knowing full well that another group of visitors will erase them once again! The process of pushing and pulling continues.

    – Lai Sun Keane


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