13.10.18 Course work.
This is a negative space cast of the stone tool I found last summer. Transparent, coloured, and actually edible too - food-grade geletine and glycerine, which is what I happened to have readily available at home. The space of a shape not present reflects the mythic qualities this object has taken on for me. 'Mythic', because the longer I spend in its company the less I understand it. While it's been in my possession, and without realising until now, I have invented a narrative and character beyond it's orginal intent.
To begin with it was a lucky find. Then a link to an understanding of materials as a means of survival - something to contrast against our era of plenty: A tool used to line between a very different, older humanity, to the contemporary one where mobile phones are today's tools of survival.
Now I have begun to consider bending that meaning further: How do I re-present this object through my cultural lens in the hope of understanding more about what it is to be human now.
It is interesting to consider this problem as an object removed from context. I think it is safe to say that in no longer being a viable tool, in having been 'discovered' and removed from where I found it, this thing is far away from its original context.
Susan Stewart in 'Separation and Restoration' talks about the souvenir and to a lesser extent about ancient objects, both of which embody nostalgia and the exotic. She quotes Baudrillard to say that the exotic object fascinates by means of its anteriority which is linked to the posessor's lost otherness - "since contemporary mythology places the objects in a childhood remote from the abstractions of contemporary consumer society, such objects allow one to be a tourist of one's own life, or allow the tourist to appropriate, consume and thereby tame the cultural other."
Instinctively, I don't want to acknowledge a touristic attitude with it's implications of a lack of depth and imperialistic attitude on my part, but am I indeed trying to own and tame my species' heritage? The experience of survival reliant on the production and use of stone tools is unrecogniseable to contemporary experience, yet, explicit in this recognition is the understanding that our knowledge and culture must be inherited from that unknowable past, is an understanding that involves uncomfortable mind-boggling perceptions of time and chance.
In furthering the links between the souvenir and cultural imperialism Stewart mentions "the exotic object represents distance appropriated ~ thus placed within an intimate distance; space is transformed into interiority, into personal space, just as time is transformed into interiority in the case of the antique object or the souvenir - a worthless object that is transformed by a narrative attached to it by the owner. ~ Like all curiosities these souvenirs function to generate narrative."
I think I am forced to return myself to my first paragraph and admit souvenir status. However, I am unsure of its status as a piece of exotica. However, I do know that I want to lend it weirdness; retaining objectness whilst highlighting temporal displacement.
Susan Stewart 'Separation and Restoration' in Ruins: Documents of Contemporary Art. Ed. Brian Dillon. 2011 Whitechapel Gallery Ventures Ltd.