“The daily papers talk of everything except the daily. The papers annoy me, they teach me nothing. What they recount doesn’t concern me, doesn’t ask me questions and doesn’t answer the questions I ask or would like to ask.
What’s really going on, what we’re experiencing, the rest, all the rest, where is it? How should we take account of, question, describe what happens every day and recurs every day: the banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the infra-ordinary, the background noise, the habitual?
To question the habitual. But that’s just it, we’re habituated by it. We don’t question it, it doesn’t question us, it doesn’t seem to pose a problem, we live it without thinking, is if it carried with it neither questions nor answers, as if it weren’t the bearer of any information. This is no longer even conditioning, its anaesthesia. We sleep through our lives in a dreamless sleep, but where is our life? Where is our body? Where is our space?
How are we to speak of these ‘common things’, how to track them down rather, flush them out, wrest them from the dross in which they remain mired, how to give them a meaning, a tongue, to let them, finally, speak of what is, of what are.
What’s needed perhaps is finally to found our own anthropology, one that will speak about us, will look in ourselves for what for so long we’ve been pillaging from others. Not the exotic any more, but the endotic.
To question what seems so much a matter of course that we’ve forgotten its origins. To rediscover something of the astonishment that Jules Verne or his readers may have felt faced with an apparatus capable of reproducing and transporting sounds. For that astonishment existed, along with thousands of others, and its they which have moulded us.
What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms. To question that which seems to have ceased forever to astonish us. We live, true, we breathe, true; we walk, we open doors, we go down staircases, we sit at a table in order to eat, we lie down on a bed in order to sleep. How? Where? When? Why?
Describe your street. Describe another street. Compare.
Make an inventory of your pockets, of your bag. Ask yourself about the provenance, the use, what will become of each of the objects you take out.
Question your teaspoons.
What is there under your wallpaper?
How many movements does it take to dial a phone number? Why?”
Georeges Perec in Everyday Life Reader. p.177-178
This research was given to me in a workshop by Amy Laurence, artist and curator, and has inspired me to create a projection on a residency im working in Accrington Library. The piece I have created is a poem. The process is this: I hand painted the poem I wrote using Indian ink, questioning and instructing and observing. Then photographed the paintings. Then I made these into a slide for projecting at the top of the front entrance door to the library and burned onto DVD. I will soon upload the video.
Thank you- especially Sophie Skellern for helping me made a DVD and bring technical, Amy Laurence for this text, and Perec for writing this.