G O N E (preserve us) | Three Channel Video and Sound Installation | Duration: 8 minutes | 2017
Camera: Russell Cleave, Holly Knowles, Sophie Mellor
Sound: Dajain Daley
With: Sion Lewin, Sue Pengelly, Hazel Gibson
Special Thanks To: Sophie Mellor, Simon Poulter, Images Nightclub, KARST, Fabian’s Film, The Sustainable Earth Institute (SEI)
Text by Lizzie Lloyd www.lizzielloyd.tumblr.com
A Word of Warning
As if it has been pulled inexorably here the metal box, more like a coffin, lies between me and the shore. Its pewter sheen, tinged rust coloured in places, complements the rocks and the sea and the sky and the crazy paving around about. Not that it fits in. Not at all. Its hefty, angular bulk, and shiny surface combine to form a protrusion on the shore. This foreign body feels neither of me nor of the landscape. It waits.
– We do nothingi
Her disembodied hands speak; rather than being polished, choreographed, and precise in the manner of a magician’s, hers waft nervously. They evoke the uncertainty of the pasts and futures of which they speak. One is cupped like an offering. The other draws lines in the air around the stone; it traces its veins. Suddenly one hand flattens and pushes something invisible assuredly aside, brushing away the now in favour of
– way way way way back.
Every now and then her hand rings the stone, holding it by its outer edges. Then her left hand turns over, palm side up, in explication. Rolling repeatedly at the wrist, they’re trying to tell me something. Her fingers curve gently, transforming themselves into something close to a point. I’m talking about this rock, they tell me. They carry on like this until, suddenly, one hand becomes stiff, fingers stretched out, palm side down now. It picks up a rock, holding it as you might a sandwich, and jiggles it up and down, turning it over for examination. It’s drawing comparison.
An index finger describes the stone’s outline through the air, very quickly: a signature squiggle.
(– Emotional imprint.)
Put this way suggests that the passage of hands were played out over some time. In fact it is barely a few seconds. That is some time
– I suppose.
But see how slowly words move images? How that lingering gaze watches while ferns unfurl and cobwebs come in to focus and the features of an out-of-place Pharaoh emerge from their pea-green surround?
– People will travel here
with crunching irregular foot falls, faltering, over loose ground. These footsteps measure the passing of time as might a dying clock; heard, even when not seen. Lungs heave. And in the background sounds the fitful wind’s adventuring: here a sigh of resignation, there an open roar. It sweeps across expanses and catches in crevices fit for fingers alone. All the while, the air of the sea dutifully in- and ex- hales.
– I get my breath back
and window panes catch. Sliding between behind and before, light’s reflection acts as a veil. It obscures in part, rather than enlightening, whatever is trapped on the other side, the side from which I am set apart. So instead a dip-dyed line of horizon pushes to the fore –ombre they’d call it of hair. It’s blurred smokily by the accumulation of salt residue and cobwebs and grime on glass.
– What you probably notice,
among other things, are weeds. They are framed by a niche in the wall: a black background, an open mouth. I should like to name those wayward plants. Brick breakers, are they? Instead I file this scene under, ‘Still Life with Weeds’.
One web’s tendrils, a few days old now,
– I suppose,
float. Their silvery silk threads fizz, entangled one around the next. These aren’t glassy fresh and brushed smooth, but opaque, clouded by the days that have passed since first secreted. Suspended on a seam of air they stretch out as if ready to lasso a present in the process of materialising. A future then?
–There are a lot of possibilities.
Can you be more specific? Not really, because the thing about specificity is that it tends to shut down possibilities.
Reflection, however, liberates. In reflection you can unfold a whole host of possibilities and hold them in your mind’s eye all at once. A red telephone box and telegraph pole and a cobweb and the sky can all be pulled taut, their jostling halted, flattened, neutralised.
They are quietened.
– When I think about the past
I think, my generation will be the last for whom the words ‘TO CALL LIFT HANDLE’ resonate – Can I get a lift? What, now? Yes, now. You did say call for a lift… I’m at the bus station… But it’s raining…
Where I live public phones are all but obsolescent. What few remain are smeared with graffiti. They attract stickers and business cards for taxi ranks or massage parlours; their floors are dusted with cubes of shattered safety glass and they smell sharply of booze and piss. I hurry past. Elsewhere I’ve seen them painted deep pub-green and used as glorified planters for living walls. They are set alongside green carpets of fake grass scattered with sponsored deckchairs. In this instance telephone boxes brighten up shopping streets – a vintage nod to better times – and flood us with a sense of well being.
– I’d find it difficult.
Is this the future of this place?
– There’s been a landslide here.
A landslide is a collapsing of earth which sees mud and silt and dislodged rock cascade. Landslides are described as failures, as evidence of weakness and instability as if strength and success are measured by intransigent constancy. Surely not.
I’d rather call it by another name: a time-slide. A time-slide would encompass all manner of things: people, and objects and images, and words all caught up in the gathering concentration of an action concertinaing, by turns exposing and submerging itself, in pleats.
– When someone passes
it is the inevitability of gravity to which, finally, the stuff of the earth succumbs. Gravity has the last word. But, hear, I have another one or two… Because gravity exerts itself on words too. And the spaces between them.
– At some point they must drop out,
released in halting succession. I imagine them ping-ponging off cliffs and notches and getting lost in crevices. The mores of polite turn-taking require that I speak. When
– it’s time to get a move on
I hold this out as an offering. And what follows knows itself only in bits and pieces, couplings of words perhaps that I have heard or spoken before, but otherwise they taste quite unfamiliar here, uttered aloud. They don’t quite fit my mouth. And so spill. And because I don’t know where else the stream will go, which is something I know I should embrace, but I don’t. By way of deliberate derailment,
an encumbrance is dropped somewhere along the wedge of shore. Tape is stretched and pressed loosely over and around the boulder; it is striped black and yellow: the colourway of warning. It announces itself as a foreign body and therefore, on this isle, a potential risk – aliens unwelcome, steer clear, ‘need not apply’. Hazard. But whose hazard?
Something wholly mundane escapes me – it usually involves the weather or mention of my children (perhaps I too should be wrapped up in warning tape). This is a habit of mine I which I struggle to break. For whatever reason, it’s not my job to speculate, I do it. And I know I should stop now, but I don’t know how to wind up my thought because I don’t know what my thought is, because really I don’t feel like I have one, and so I end up speaking words that aren’t actually words, just nearly words and asking, you know?
– I don’t know.
Nor do I but when these three perspectives abut a panoramic interchange of pasts, presents and futures form. They give the reassuring impression of a document of a place.
– where would the records be?
Snagged on rocks that are stacked and held in place by chicken wire or tethered to trails of wet chain-link. These seem puny in the face of it.
And a lonesome obtrusion, roughly wrapped, lingers –
A word of warning.
i All passages in italics are spoken by others.