"I wish you could see my home. It's so exciting"
"The time is out of joint"
'Brass Waterbed' is a digitally animated video piece that draws inspiration from; memories, both false and otherwise; houses, homes, and properties; nostalgia and hauntology; and the music of Prince.
What can you remember about the past? How did you feel a year ago? What happened five years ago? Ten? Some of us keep some form of diary, but for most of us, the past is a foreign country. It is a truism to say our past shapes our present, and in turn, our future. This is true at a personal level and a wider societal level. So what does it mean if we cannot remember what we did or how we felt in the past? Does it shape us in the same way? Did we learn anything from it? How can we tell? What if we remember our past incorrectly? What if that didn't really happen?
I am making digitally animated recreations of every bedroom in which I have lived throughout my life. I am rendering the rooms in as much detail as I can recall. Where I can not remember, I leave spaces blank, make adjustments, embellishments, and reuse pieces and features from other rooms and memories. I have chosen the bedroom as site of some of our most personal memories. It is a recollection and rendering of furniture, fittings, and magnolia paint that will be familiar to many. I hope to evoke personal, architectural, and cultural memories, and how unfixed our memory of space is.
In doing so, I am a spectre passing from room to room, a ghost passing through digital space, walls, memories and time. 'Hauntology' refers to the return or persistence of elements from the past, as in the manner of a ghost. The ghost has no being in itself but marks a relationship to what is no longer (the traumatic, a compulsion to repeat, a fatal pattern) The future is also experienced as a haunting; that which has not happened but already impinges on the present. An attractor, an anticipation shaping current events.
What haunts us is not the past but the lost futures that we had anticipated. Is this how you thought things would turn out?
More broadly, has this persistence of the past taken away our capacity to conceive of a world radically different from the one in which we currently live? One that is not framed by the neoliberalism of the present or a nostalgia for a style of social democracy that is long gone. Writer Mark Fisher wrote of 'capitalist realism', "the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it"
Can we imagine a world where we have enough? Where we have a home and security? Where we can thrive?
These are questions that are especially pertinent as many of us sit in our homes, houses, apartments, and bedsits, wondering what will happen next. I hope this piece will provide a new angle of thought for these questions.
The piece is influenced by Mike Kelley's 'Educational Complex' which also dealt with personal, architectural and cultural memory.