Foundation 33 Multi-Disciplinary Art & Design (46 page article) / IDEA International graphic art and design magazine / Issue 301 11.03

Published and printed by Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing Co, Ltd
Edit and layout by Foundation 33
Art direction, Daniel Eatock
Graphic Design, Mark Hopkins
Design and layout contribution, Sam Solhaug
Photography, Carlo Draisci and David Grandorge
Written contribution, 33 notes by Anna Gerber

Available at Magma and other bookstores

33 Notes
by Anna Gerber

1. 33 Notes is a collection of inter-connected ideas, inspired by the idea of Foundation 33 having to trawl through their bulging archives and excavate their work in order to create something "new". To re-classify, re-present, re-order, re-visit material, ideas, years worth of thoughts and collections.
Ultimately, considering the process that leads to the emergence of "new work". Going through my own archives, looking through dusty folders sourcing material for these notes, I found a new narrative emerged.

2. "In the case of everything perfect we are accustomed to abstaining from asking how it became. We rejoice in the present fact as though it came out of the ground by magic." - Nietzsche.

3. Extra Art: A Survey of Artists' Ephemera, 1960-1999 was an exhibition and book that chose the all too often neglected debris of artists' ephemera as its subject. The ephemera included: exhibition invitations, posters, ads, stickers, buttons, and other miscellaneous objects such as napkins, notes, torn bits of paper. The ephemera, often considered an invisible landscape preceding an artist's "real work", was subjected to an inversion that made the process more important than the "finished" piece.

4. "No truth but in things." - William Carlos Williams.

5. Scraps, found objects, memories, things, bits... We grow attached to these "things", these seemingly meaningless objects, often feeling a compulsion to hang onto them, to keep them. In archiving this flotsam, this jetsam, we are keeping these "things" alive, active. And in turn, if left to gestate, if revisited at random, if left to evolve in the dark, they inspire, provoke, even materialise into (other) ideas, into new things, new versions of their earlier incarnations.

6. This time last year, I was receiving heaps of submissions for my book, All Messed Up: Unpredictable Graphics. Gradually becoming more and more overwhelmed with the sheer volume of parcels, packages, boxes, I found myself looking at the way the submissions were arriving (the packaging, the marks, handwriting), the journeys they had made, with more clarity and attentiveness than the submissions themselves. I started to think about the possibility of objects containing stories or perhaps even their own memories. In the realm of travel, in the fog of transit, the work had been rendered of secondary importance to its container. Things are always becoming other things.

7. A few months ago, I found a bit of beautiful cream and red floral 1940's piece of wallpaper sticking out from behind my radiator. I've kept it, archived it, and every time I look at it, I ponder its meaning - asking myself what was here before. What story does a space contain before you? Before you become part of its memory?

8. In 1997, the Photographers Gallery held an exhibit called "Collected", a series of site-specific projects from collections around London. People were asked to go to different sites, making the journey a central part of the exhibit. Like the submissions, the journey the visitors were invited to undertake, became more interesting, more significant, than the work they were meant to be seeing.

9. "Photographs are of course artifacts. But their appeal is that they also seem, in a world littered with photographic relics, to have the status of found objects - unpremeditated slices of the world." - Susan Sontag.

10. As we grow, we amass more, we collect more, we keep more. And in archiving, we create systems and order. In order to know where it is, how it began, how it became and to remind ourselves that it still is. And then, with time, as with everything, it starts to yellow.

11. "Why do I love these found notes so much?  I think I'm simply curious about the human experience.  Found stuff offers a shortcut directly into people's deepest fears and desires.  I feel most alive when I'm glimpsing at another person's life, when they are at their most honest and raw." --- Davy Rothbart, editor Found Magazine.

12.  An archive, like any system, possesses an imaginary infrastructure. It is an invisible space that we adhere to, that we follow. An imaginary space that guides and orders, that allows us to gain access to the world, that serves as a vessel through which we can come to "know" the world.

13. The journal Inventory was set up as a collective in 1995. To make an inventory is to write, record, classify, to catalogue (in their words) "the social material life that exists around us." The aim of the journal is to do away with the distinctions and hierarchies between (and of) objects, to give the material past a sense of equality.

14. When asked to put on an exhibit at the Wallace Collection museum, Andrea Fraser chose the original house that was transformed into the museum as her subject. She compiled an inventory of the house's contents as they were back in the 1890s. She displayed the full set of inventories in the rooms they pertained to, reminding the visitors of what came before.

15. American writer Rick Moody created a narrative out of his own personalised inventory. "Primary Sources", is an autobiographical short story written in the form of a bibliography with footnotes. An autobiographical list where Moody includes more than 50 books and albums. For some of the entries, he adds nostalgic associations and memories piecing together a story drawn from a list.

16. "Naming something from a description of it. Naming something from a picture of it. Naming something as a result of feeling it. Naming something as a result of hearing it."- Jonathan Miller.

17. There is a website that stores passenger lists from every single flight, ship, train. The lists are there to find people. To locate them. To me, the lists are endless names, endless numbers, strange documents of time and space, empty vessels of information that suspend these voyagers forever in transit on those planes, ships, trains, turning them into ghosts caught between here and there. After studying these lists, I forgot what they even related to, as I too was suspended between departure and arrival.

18. "By index I mean that type of sign which arises as the physical manifestation of a cause, of which traces, imprints and clues are examples." ‹ Rosalind E. Krauss.

19. Phyllis Pearsall covered 3,000 miles on foot and walked for eighteen hours a day to amass all the necessary information about London's 23,000 streets for the first edition of the London A-Z which was published in 1936. In getting where we want to go in London, she is always ahead of us, behind us, making the journey for, with, before us.

20. An old friend came to visit recently and as I was helping her plan the places she wanted to see, the two of us hunched over a tatty map of London, there were so many times when the map seemed to bear little or no resemblance to what we were looking for. But then I realised that streets don't have names when you are walking. Instead, they are lined with places, colours, with signs, familiar faces, but never names. The map felt like a poor representation, even a false one, of London, like it was a prankster-plan of the city.

21. "Space is an enduring reality: each of our impressions banishes the one that came before, nothing remains in our mind, and there would be no way of understanding the fact that we can retain the past, if it did not in effect preserve itself in the material surroundings." ‹ Sébastien Marot.

22. In 1999, Emma Kay wrote Worldview - a history of the world written entirely from memory. In this work, she made no reference to any research or resource material. Having remembered the history of the world, in 2001, she set herself a new challenge : to write the Bible from memory. And in doing so, she allowed the process of trying to document the Bible to have more meaning than the story she was trying to (re)tell.

23. We remember through our own particular, unique filters. Our memories become our view of the world. Our way of seeing. They're neither right or wrong, they are just as we remember them.

24. "For me voluntary memory, which is, above all, memory of the intellect and of the eyes, gives us only the appearance, not the reality, of the past. But when a smell or a taste, rediscovered in totally different circumstances, reveals the past for us, in spite of ourselves, we feel how different this past is from what we thought we remembered, and what our voluntary memory painted for us, like bad painters who have their colours but no truth." - Marcel Proust.

25. In 1976, the Institute for Art and Urban Resources took over a derelict building in Long Island City, and turned it into a site for 75 artists. Most of the artists did site specific projects that explored, worked with and absorbed the ghost of the building, its remnants, its history, its memories. From the rubble, they re-built the building many times over, their imaginations serving as restoration devices. In imagining the building as it was, this process blindly traced the plans of the original building.

26. When reading Gandhi's autobiography Experiments With the Truth recently, I learned that when he was a child he liked to take objects apart, to see how they looked as elements, as collections of individual disconnected pieces. To see the fragments in order to understand how to reconnect them again.

27. For his most famous work, Gordon Matta-Clark, bisected a house in order to expose and draw attention to the architectural content, waste, material and composition of the building. He described his work as the process of "undoing" - a celebration of revealing the invisible, ghostly presence at the core of any structure.

28. "The procedure of excavation succeeds therefore in bringing the building into the consciousness of the viewer in the form of a ghost." - Rosalind E. Krauss.

29. When I try to imagine what process looks like, I see drawers crammed with unused material; heaps of unseen photographs that were shot in order to reach "the one"; so many words written that will never be read; timber and nails obscured, reclusive, in exile behind walls plastered and painted. I think about the left-overs, the not good enoughs, the nearly-rans, the mistakes, the obstacles, the accidents that "got in the way" but showed the way.

30. "When something moves away from being 'by-product' or 'spin-off' or 'accidental side-effect' and becomes instead part of the available vocabulary, it still retains some of the resonances of its accidental origins." - Brian Eno.

31. "Daily life is becoming a kaleidoscope of incidents and accidents,catastrophes and cataclysms, in which we are endlessly running up against the unexpected, which occurs out of the blue, so to speak." - Paul Virilio.

32. The journey is never judged as important as the "getting there". In destination we trust, seems to be our motto. We rarely hear stories behind stories behind stories, how things became the things they are. It seems as though process is secondary to the end result, the "getting there" less important than the "being there".

33. To see how we got here, or to find out how they got there, see page 5