When I asked people for ideas to help explore Chester, Sarah May @Sarah_May1 mentioned walking and Romans… after a bit of thinking, I decided to put together a walk covering … Continue reading Investigating Chester: Walking the Roman Landscape, 30 August 2020
We’re moving to Chester where I’m starting a new job. Now, Chester’s not exactly new to me, I grew up in a village not far away, but I’ve barely been … Continue reading Help me investigate Chester!
I wasn’t going to post this, but someone who took part and who I saw last weekend for the first time since told me they thought it was interesting so I might as well! Details about HouseRules are here. The works constitute an alternative archaeological record of the Eastway underpass in the Olympic Park,made as part of HouseRules back in May.
I tried to describe the site rather than just drawing a line on a map and did not edit:
The most solid edge of the site is formed by a barrier of large panels, concrete tongue and groove, holding back the bank of the Eastway while holding up the Eastway itself. The barrier spreads, perhaps, beyond the site, or is the site, the boundary, the limit. Deceptively linear, the surface of this edge rises and falls with the interface of each pair of panels while where concrete has decayed or been intentionally broken we see further texture. A hierarchy, stratigraphy, of paint schemes places micro-layers over the boundary edge, but all are within the site as below, between giant letters, we see through to the pebble matrix of the original concrete. The real edge? The beyond? The exception that proves the ruler, a hole in almost the furthest panel north at the edge of the concrete road above takes us 30 cm further to a curved, moist, metal edge. Beyond the moisture, everything else. The whole emits a cool breeze. We must call this edge indeterminate. Oh, but above the panels, below the road, steel grilles and a void behind. No idea what’s behind there, it’s too high to see, wrong angle, but there’s something further for sure. At least now we…know…that…we…don’t…know, as they say, or keep saying. We must call this edge indeterminate.
Can’t see the north boundary of the site so we have to infer. Marks on the floor of a former wall base in the north-east. That’ll do (but less ambivalent). This edge then formerly hard, in part, now not. Characterised by, if anything, seepage of the outside in or the failure of the inside to be so. Bicycle track in mud a main entry point, a thin strip of access between the inaccessible and the wrong way. Up the whole line, concrete flags run into soil, debris, fallen leaves (a year-round feature). Beyond, well, not site, but it’s dirtier, things dumped beyond the boundary maybe, or pushed there. As for the world, so for this underpass. Tree roots break the line, of course, and occasionally branches of the trees themselves. The other corner we cannot discern. The boundary line is obscured by, or becomes, or is a pile of reclaimed wood waiting for use. It belongs to the man who owns one of the boats. The line runs from a scrape of past to a pile of future. How…cheesy of it. We must call this edge indeterminate, but it has the novelty of performing four dimensions. That’s something.
We’ll call this metal fence the southern boundary. It seems to hold out, or in, very little. Gravel, spider webs, dead leaves, rubbish, weeds, all exist on both sides, but then they’re small and the fence is much more hole than fence. Bikes are only ever on our side, and we have way more copies of Time magazine. We’ve got loads of copies of Time magazine. Big plants are only on the other side, but they lean in. The fence turns a corner and carries on, fencing its merry way somewhere else, around the plants I suppose. This boundary is not indeterminate, although, although, climbing plants growing from beyond it have twisted around the spikes of the fence in the south-west corner. But they can’t all be indeterminate.
Western boundary, water boundary, western water boundary is predominantly made of air. For the most part we can discern the line between which molecules are ours and which are not by the not-straight line on the floor between our site and a double row of cobbles that I generously assign to the rest of the world. The line is occasionally broken. Poured concrete doesn’t care. There used to be a wall here of some kind but now only the base remains. The air hasn’t moved.
Up is infinity and the Eastway. There are small holes between structural elements, but it is by and large solid, although in two parts, lanes, divided by a big gap of nothing much, today sunlight. People have been there and tested it, either personally or via their agents. Most of the concrete-encased beams of the structure bear the marks of muddy footballs and occasionally there is chalked writing. People have tested this boundary and found it hard, despite the massive hole.
The bottom, the floor, base is the most indeterminate of all. There are concrete flags and poured concrete, sure, and tile and it’s holding us up and we can’t see through it. But, first but, there are drains, drains that go where we don’t know. And that’s excitingly indeterminate because although we don’t now where they go, we know that they go somewhere. But also, the biggest but, bigger but, there are also fucking ants’ nests. The limits of our site are only known to fucking ants. I can’t top that.
An alternative to putting a grid through the site, I reduced it to its spaces.
I created a temporary, ephemeral archive of the site on my body.
Next weekend, Sunday 1 September, I will be in Bristol to take part in the In The City series of events organised by The Parlour Showrooms. As part of a weekend dedicated to work and tools, I will be speaking in a session called ‘Tea Break Talk: Tools of the City and Movements of Work’ alongside artists Clare Thornton and Paul Hurley and Sang-gye of Tibetan Therapies. More information here: http://inthecityseries.co.uk/programme
My role in the discussion will focus on how and why tools are created and used and how tools, bodies and natural and built landscapes intersect. Full details revealed on the day but I’ll be starting with Japanese macaques washing potatoes and ending on why we don’t wait for the green man before crossing the road.
Tickets available here: http://inthecityseries.co.uk/tickets-august