I have now been to maybe one third of the tube stops and my thoughts have begun to change a little. As soon as I started collecting I realised it would be a shame to dish out objects straight away as this would prevent me from doing anymore work with them. The thought of keeping these objects and collating them into a big collection is very appealing and I don’t want to just fling them out into the world again. It would be hard to push my ideas further if I had to restart collecting to have material to play with.
Problems have also started to arise in regard to the rules I have set myself. Firstly, the fact that it has to be the first item I see. Sometimes the first is super boring, e.g a hairband or a pen and I am sure I can find something more interesting. Ignoring these boring objects is something I have tried to refrain from doing as I have noticed that they start to say something about the area: usually the smaller, more generic objects come from touristy/corporate areas where there is less personality so therefore less personal items. However, this also becomes a bit of an issue when I choose to walk between stations rather than get back on the tube – this can be more practical but what is the first item I see if I am going from the opposite direction? Secretly I kind of enjoy this problem, though, as it means I get to be a bit more selective – if I initially find something that I’m not completely happy with I can discard it for something better that I find closer, because technically that is more fitting with the rules anyway.
This enjoyment made me realise that following the rules is perhaps not even that important. As long as the audience think I have followed them then I retain my power as artist. For all they know the web is actually a lie and the objects are all things I already had. It was pointed out in m y grout crit that this means I don’t necessarily even have to collect; maybe the rules are the piece and that is enough.
This is an interesting thing to think about in the context of my work: what is “the artwork”? Is it the objects and what I do with them? The photos of the objects? The rules? The web/system I create? Or something else entirely? At this point I like the idea of my lists and map becoming works in themselves. I also see the journey I am making as a big part of the artwork and have been encouraged to look into artists such as Richard Long who think about ‘dematerialisation’.
This is something I will definitely think about more once I have collected all the items, although it is important to think about now in terms of documentation. If the journey is the ‘work’ should I be filming it? Or are the photos from each place enough? (e.g the only documentation of Richard Long’s journey in “untitled – Ben Nevis Hitch-Hike” is the photos of the ground and sky from each stop). Are these photos that I’m taking even important? Do I even need them if I am taking the physical objects?
I don’t want the concept of artist control/gameplay to be lost in playing with all these other elements but I also feel like maybe once I have completed the monster task of collection I will be able to refine my focus again. For now it is difficult to see exactly what this piece of work is doing but it is impossible to move on without this step.