A train comes into the station, the floor shakes, the monologue is temporarily drowned out. I am sitting opposite artist Dave Charlesworth as part of a performance at Banner Repeater, an artist-run project space and reading room at Hackney Downs station. Images are projected sequentially onto the wall as Charlesworth narrates over the top. Images of geological, industrial and pastoral motifs mirror the content of the text. The language and dialect is slippery, full of digressions, dead ends, revisions and developments in register.
“This isn’t the starting point I had hoped for, and we have to face it, this place isn’t really condusive for this kind of thing.” Geological motifs and the residue of processes such as the ‘calcification of a waterfall’, are juxtaposed with the pedicured suburban space of high streets and garden lawns. The work constantly shifts from the macroscopic to the microscopic, like looking through both ends of a binocular at once. The movement of people, and the development of vernacular is alluded to through the processes of ecological migration.
‘Aquifer’ (Wet underground layer of permeable rock), Fulgurites (natural hollow glass tubes formed in silica, caused by lightning strikes); the text is full of words and phrases from scientific journals, which to the uninitiated – like me – become abstract and musical. The constant shifting in the text becomes a kind of sediment; new buildings built out of the remnants of old ruins.
“An architecture that was once triumphant now seemed indignant.” Our built environment is a physical residue of the same processes of ecological migration, a city centre is a kind of calcified deposit of the movement of people through it. Owen Hatherley notes in ‘A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain’, our interest in the ‘ruin’ is a space for speculation, a quest for constant renewal and a need to re-inscribe our immediate environment with new ideas and new forms. The ‘ruin’ has become an archetype, a connecting link between our current aspirations and historical failures.
‘One to One/One to Many’ explores the land as a space imbued with physical and abstract sediment as a space to interrogate the accruement and retrenchment of the built environment, and by extension our ideologies. Artists such as Tris Vonna Michell, Yonatan Vinitsky and Mark Leckey (perhaps the main influence) are making interesting work in this area. By mixing appropriated and historical motifs to catalyse or re-animate the archive as a space for alternative histories and anecdotes, history becomes a kind of code, and the residual imagery is re-deployed within elliptical and lyrical narratives.
“The city’s council defaulting on it’s last energy bill. The death of the current, from volts to the inevitable citizen revolts.” A train comes back into the station, with commuters traveling into the city; a whole system built on abstractions, concrete skyscrapers built on liquid capital. Like the calcified waterfall, everything that moves leaves a trace, once the electricity has been turned off, what is left? One to One reminds us that global and macroscopic movement, leaves localised traces, that are both abstract and concrete.
One to One/One to Many: Dave Charlesworth at Banner Repeater