Referencing the 1950s â€˜ARTnewsâ€™ series, Paints a Picture, where repeat visits to the studio of an artist (Albers, De Kooning, Mitchell, Pollock, etc.) resulted in a published text describing the development of a single artwork. Five writers were invited to observe via webcam the development of the 3 month long Performance Publishing: Regents Trading Estate by artist, Maurice Carlin.
Limanskaya solar power station, Wikimedia Commons
During the summer of 2013 Maurice Carlin worked in a council-owned warehouse in Salford in the North of England, taking analogue relief prints of the floor surface on advertising display board. Performance Publishing: Regents Trading Estate references an embryonic form of publishing developed by the ancient Chinese to take copies from inscriptions on stone monuments, around 100 AD. The artist has a long-standing engagement with material that has slipped out of usage but still within living memory, in this case industrial space. In parallel with the out-of-time industrial space there is an unpicking of the mechanisms of image making. Here image making and performance collide. Throughout the history of performance art there has been the headache of inadequacy of document to communicate it’s ephemeral nature. In this case documentation is taken to extreme – live stream, Tumblr, cheap paper publication, analogue and digital limited edition print. With a ubiquitous and prolific broad offering of documentation, distribution is foregrounded, informing content through context rather than negating the importance of information therein. Certainly there is the sense of an appearance of openness to this ubiquitous distribution. However: the platforms provided by new technologies do not necessarily break with the historical and socially constructed boundaries of the gallery institution. Each context for each particular audience has it’s limitations. With Trading Estate Carlin takes the relationship between the body and the print through an analogue process of equivalence. The print is a reciprocal record, a 1:1 scale of the body of the artist and his context, the post-industrial empty warehouse floor. Working within standardised ISO paper sizes (including A4, B3, C4, etc.) the size of the print B0 (1400 3 1000 mm) makes the largest standard format roughly three quarters of the artist’s height. The limits of publishing have been established on this ratio to human scale from the smallest at A10 (74 3 52 mm) which is the smallest standard commonly used for stamps and coupons, and designated for machine print only, too small for human writing. This idea of the ‘manageable’ is key to what and how publishing operates. From the manageable size to the manageable distance from information, from memory. Karen Archey, in her text confronts the question of memorialising the unmanageable abjectness of living memory. The dissonance of space and living memory can be seen through the writer’s struggle to externalise the self through publication. The webcam is treated as a municipal, public space for commentary. Previously the artist has undertaken printing on the busy shopping streets of Manchester (Corrupted Images, 2012) and in a sense his online web-streaming host for the Trading Estate; ‘Eyeson247: Intelligent Surveillance Solutions’ forms a similar context to the high street. Carlin’s project sat beside live-streams including Pet-au-Purrs Kanine Kampus, a service that enables dog owners to keep one window open on their desktop to view their pet and join web chats with the grooming staff. A systematic tiling of muddled information including adverts, links to social media, information about the artwork and the host had to be navigated by a virtual audience. Rather than acting as a frame, Eyeon247, like the public realm brought with it a disparate assortment of neighbours which bear upon the artwork. The visitor to the Trading Estate web stream was offered a view of customarily mundane activities, pacing back and forth, checking emails, and meetings. One window, a locked off frame of the printing block showed the repetitive production process, the artist dragged CMYK ink approximately the reach of his arms, first above his head, in front of his chest, then down below his knees. The other camera displayed a more total view of the space and occasionally performed in nausea-inducing ‘patrol’ mode from left to right. The whole process of the production of an artwork, from the usually invisible administration to the alchemical mark making was made visible and public online. Maurice observes how the analogue visitors to the space must appear on the web stream to their virtual counterparts, stepping carefully along the borders of the prints. They are trapped in a grid matrix, like avatars in a video game. Outside the viewable area of the webcam the grid collapses
Kite aerial thermogram of the site of Ogilface Castle, Scotland, Wikimedia commons
into a loose collage of prints patchworked jauntily across one another. The virtual visitor will miss this, but as Joanne McNeil acknowledges in her text, something is always missing from the larger picture. The origins of Performance Publishing project lies in a series of text based events ‘Reading for Reading Sake’ organised by Maurice, myself and Megan Wakefield between 2010 and 2012. The project had iterations in the UK at Flat Time House and The Pigeon Wing (both in London) Arnolfini and Spike Island (both in Bristol), One Thoresby Street at the side-show of the British Art Show 7 (Nottingham), Text Festival (Bury), a number of shows on Resonance FM, Charlie Woolley’s neu! Radio at [space] (London) and Islington Mill (Salford). We organised exhibitions, performances, screenings, tours, reading groups and workshops, bringing together what was at the time a critical mass of artists and writers considering the time based nature of the printed word and addressing a ‘writerly reader.’ 1 Screenings of commissions travelled internationally to the Berlinale Film Festival (Berlin) and Vox Populi Gallery (Philadelphia). Participants ranged from artists and art writers to graphic designers, book-makers, librarians, novelists and journalists. Carlin’s work for Reading for Reading Sake included The Demolition of Dale Garage: A Commemorative Bookmaking Performance (Islington Mill, 2010). Instigated by the reception of a letter from his local council, Salford, informing him that Dale Garage, a building adjacent to his home and workplace Victorian cotton mill turned art centre Islington Mill, was earmarked for demolition. The Commemorative Bookmaking Performance for Dale Garage played out a failed attempt to copy this letter. Not unlike Shakespeare’s ‘Bad Quarto’s’ discussed in Huw Lemmey’s text for this publication, a ‘Chinese whispers’ of analogue typewritten transcription translated the errors in the reproduction of the letter repeatedly, deconstructing the information in the letter and reducing it to nothing but the floating syllables. There was an edition of the publication limited to the number of the live audience members, each one gifted their corresponding copy to mark the memorial of the building. Reading for Reading Sake: UNFIXED, a group exhibition organized by Maurice and I took place at Flat Time House (London, 2010) the former home and studio, now archive for artist John Latham. Informed by Latham’s healthy suspicion of books as symbols of fixed knowledge, we questioned how to situate and embody the moment of publication.
the friend and sometimes the anonymous observer’s comments are documented through the web chat which runs throughout this publication alongside the commissioned essays. The essays include discussions on the appropriateness of formats syndicated in the Trading Estate work – live stream, Tumblr, cheap paper publication, analogue and digital limited edition print. The technique of production, method of engagement with reader and their appropriateness are the artist’s terms for making (a) public.
The printed word, inscribed for its purpose in a particular moment lays unchanged, whilst the universe moves on regardless. How can artists reactivate the fixedness of publications and make the words move with the universe? 2 A publication is a release, a making public of information for which Carlin incorporates the political efficacy of the spoken word and the retentiveness of context. The body is central to the live and time-based medium of this publishing moment. Both Trading Estate and Dale Garage memorialise a forgotten industrial space: a space dedicated to the machine, as it finds itself redundant in a post-industrial age. This transition, marking a shift from commodity to information circulation is published in the order of the tertiary sector: abstract information. The concept of inviting writers to respond to the work by visiting on and offline was not only an appropriate methodology for time based work such as Carlin produces. In addition it is a nod to a precedent of art historical writing foregrounding Abstract Expressionist performative image-making. The ‘Paints a Picture’ series commissioned by ARTnews in the 1950s involved critics writing in a diarist style relating visits to the studio of Pollock and De Kooning among others. The criticism of the artwork emerged over several conversations with the artist as the critic encountered the painting at various stages. These stages are traced, in the case of Trading Estate, not just through the physical meeting in the studio, but via webcam. The critic,
‘Writerly text: A text that aspires to the proper goal of literature and criticism: “…to make the reader no longer a consumer but a producer of the text.” Writerly texts and ways of reading constitute, in short, an active rather than passive way of interacting with a culture and its texts. A culture and its texts, Barthes writes, should never be accepted in their given forms and traditions. As opposed to the “readerly texts” as “product,” the “writerly text is ourselves writing, before the infinite play of the world is traversed, intersected, stopped, plasticized by some singular system (Ideology, Genus, Criticism) which reduces the plurality of entrances, the opening of networks, the infinity of languages.” Thus reading becomes for Barthes “not a parasitical act, the reactive complement of a writing,” but rather a “form of work”.’
Demolition of Dale Garage publication Maurice Carlin, 2010
Press release, Reading for Reading Sake: UNFIXED, Flat Time House, London, 2–4 December 2010.
Above: View of Performance Publishing: Regents Trading Estate from mezzanine platform © Gwen Jones Below: Audience viewing Performance Publishing: Regents Trading Estate from off-camera mezanine platform © Gwen Jones
Bad Digital Quarto
It’s a truism to say we live in an exciting era for publishing. A myriad of new models are emerging as we develop new technologies, and, as in the past, our existing protocols and codes are incapable or not flexible enough to cope with them. A practical example: what constitutes an ‘edition’ when the data can be changed instantaneously, and that change can be enacted immediately across the globe, and even onto pre-existing editions? It seems our conception of publishing has to be reformed taking into account the postprint publishing environment. Carlin’s continued practice around the nature of the relationship between what is printed and what is published address these fluctuations, and explores print’s developing history and archaeology whilst new protocols are being written, but before the ink is yet dry. Every book tells the story of every book. Perhaps it can seem today that the book is such a perfectly produced platform for the mass-distribution of knowledge, information and passions that it could only have been the product of a single, and singular, vision. It can be packed into a case, smuggled across a border, flung from a train, drenched in a monsoon, and passed from hand to hand to hand, and still retain all its practical functionality, its remarkably user-friendly interface still operating in low-light conditions, miles from any power source, transmitting its information with as much clarity as the moment it left the printers. It seems supremely designed, but each part of it, from its binding to its contents, its page numbers to its colophon, is the result of a multitude of tiny innovations and developments spread across the entire history of the printing trade. The book is an evolving form, and each new edition holds that history in each component. The form of the book might seem to be a singular vision, but in reality it’s a collection of protocols established between a community of producers and consumers. It’s a landscape of information technology waiting to be excavated. Most commercially produced titles, for instance, hold a blurb, usually on the back dust-jacket. The back-cover copy today serves as an inducement for the customer to buy the book; it’s usually a brief preçis, with a pull quote from the text, or a review of endorsement. Dig through history however and its roots are quite different. The prebinding of books with hardcovers as an industry standard is a reasonably recent development; before the 1820s books were often sold as loose leaves of paper (sometimes stitched), with binding arrangements left up to the bookseller and buyer to agree upon privately. The trades of printer and binder were quite separate, and both printer and binder had a high degree of personal and political discretion as to whether or not they took on a job. Whilst today the publisher co-ordinates both roles, and hence holds the power and responsibility of what is published, the protocol was once divided between those who physically produced and bound the text. The printer would read the text thoroughly prior to printing; but so too would the binder, to ensure he was happy to put his name to the finished book. As part of this process the binder would often write a short preçis of the book for future information. From this root, via the production of the dust-jacket after the invention of the steam-powered printing press, through to the first promotional quote, and finally to the invention of the term ‘blurb’, is a single example of the developing protocols whose origins are hidden under layers of their own history. Text itself can be seen to follow this pattern. Information is always corrupted in its reproduction; the history of printing is the story of the constant quest to reproduce a text with increased accuracy. Before printing this was notoriously difficult; each new hand compounds earlier errors when manually copying manuscripts. Today archaeologists of information dig through hand-written manuscripts, comparing and contrasting version, weighing up provenance in an attempt to find the most accurate version of the original. This work is called palaeography – the exploration of ancient writing, the search for uncorrupted authenticity. ‘Performance Publishing’ by Maurice Carlin is an archaeology of printed layers. Like each book it is a work that documents its own history through stratum of data transcribed and transmitted, and notes each error and each change in
protocol. Carlin spent the summer of 2013 in a vast warehouse in Salford, England producing a series of prints as part of a public performance. Each print was produced as a relief print of the floor of the warehouse, made by dragging CMYK inks across thick paper laid upon the floor. The process was experimental; early prints started with a few simple layers, whilst later ones took on vivid hues and more complex patterns as Carlin dragged more and more colour over each print. The result was a process of incremental analogue recording of the warehouse space, with more data produced daily as Carlin started and finished another sheet. When I visited the work, prints fanned out in situ across the warehouse. From the ground, walking over the blanket of prints, each seemed almost random and totally disconnected from its neighbour, as though the experimental technique had disconnected each from the other. From the viewing gallery raised a storey higher, however, the fidelity of the recording was obvious. The patterns and textures of the floor were clearly picked out, not least the lines which crossed the warehouse where one section of the poured concrete floor met another and produced a ridge imperceptible to the eye but clearly highlighted by Carlin’s printing technique. It was a patchwork of data, and whilst the basic analogue printing technique produced a vast amount of errors and visual noise, it was clearly recognisable as a physical recording of the space. There are some basic truths to palaeography. The more version, the more corruptions. The further you go chronologically from the source, the less accurately data is transmitted. Errors compound. As academics work through texts written and copied before the invention of movable type, they always bear these basic tendencies in mind. The invention of the printing press complicates this, however; errors on earlier editions can be revisited, improved upon. Factual mistakes are corrected; libels erased. The stratum of information and the errors they contain are disturbed. The layers, previously to neatly delineate by time, are shaken and intermingled. For future archaeologists of data sifting through these layers in order to make sense of them becomes harder. It was to simplify this job that the protocol of editions became formalised and made concrete in the row of neat numbers that appear on modern colophon. An example of this can be found in the first copies of Shakespeare’s plays. Cheap bootleg copies of popular works such as Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet were printed and circulated whilst Shakespeare was alive. These were printed as ‘quartos’: large sheets of paper printed with 8 pages of text, four to a side, then folded, so that they appeared for sale as a four-paged, eight-sided booklet, approximately the size as a modern A4 sheet. Shakespeare never actually published any of his own work. Elizabethan playwrights were notoriously worried about being published; they made their living from selling their plays to their own company of players. Without copyright protection there was nothing they could do to prevent another company performing their work if they got their hands on a script. They were therefore wary of providing even their own actors with complete copies, instead providing each player only with their part, with the addition of cues. Shakespeare’s quartos, then, were pirated copies, produced without consent. It is still a matter of dispute just how they were produced; some scholars think they were written from memory by actors looking to boost their paltry wages, whilst others think they were produced by pirates in the audience taking notes in shorthand and reproducing them in long-form for printers at a later date. The arguments for the two positions revolve around the nature and quality of the errors, and whether they indicate flaws in memorial transcription or shorthand transcription. The definitive version of Shakespeare’s plays weren’t published until the ‘First Folio’, a collection of 36 plays, seven years after his death, in 1623. There is no extant version of any of Shakespeare’s work in his own hand; not a single line. All we have are layers of printed texts, and even chronology offers
little guarantee of accuracy or provenance. The layers sit confused, and littered with the transcription errors of the quartos. To me Carlin’s prints represent a shorthand version of Hamlet, where the act of transcription is recorded just as strongly as what is being transcribed. Each layer of ink is a layer of data and it would take an archaeologist, or a very particular palaeographer, to pull each compounded flaw from each truthful representation. Only when viewed as a whole do the larger patterns emerge. This transcript of the space was published online, in the form of a webcam broadcasting the space constantly whilst Carlin worked on the prints. The work became published when it became available en masse, on demand in our web browser. Perhaps this can be seen as an attempt to elide the boundaries between a printed work and a performance on my part, but I felt clearly that it was in the act of publishing that the work became vital. The hazy, fuzzy webcam video was not a broadcast of a performance but a published print in itself, and a new edition of the work was released, with slight improvements and amendments, each time the image refreshed itself. Available online was a digital bad quarto. The quality of the digitisation of the printed work, like a lot of digitisation of pre-existing publications, was poor; colour reproduced inaccurately and the nuance of the analogue transcription was all but invisible. Layers or error compounded themselves, producing a confused image of the original, but also in the process an exciting attempt to conceptualise the new relationships between digital technology and the act of printing – a series of rich aesthetic misprints and misunderstandings.
A page from the First Quarto of Hamlet, often called the ‘Bad Quarto’, showing its rendering of the ‘To be, or not to be’ speech, Wikimedia Commons
© Gwen Jones
The Dust of the Future
The way a series of art editions tends to work is that the plate is demolished after the last print. Maurice Carlin thinks of the warehouse Regents Trading Estate as his plate. It will expire. Excavators and wrecking ball cranes are scheduled to arrive in 2016. Now as part of a three month residency there, Carlin is scanning the space. The scans make up a patchwork of sheets spread out on the floor. This project is like balancing a footprint on top of a shoe. The copies are camouflage right on top the original. ‘Performance Publishing’ obscures as it represents, a dual-process of imitation and obscuration. And anyway, on my laptop screen, the paper and the floor are made up of the same pixels. As the title suggests, it is a performance. It is also recorded live. I can periscope in from across the Atlantic. Connected by camera to a destination 3,000 miles away, I watch Carlin in two windows – the right is a panorama of the warehouse; beside it is another livestream view of the back of Carlin’s head while he drags paint against one of those sheets on the floor, creating a relief-print of what is underneath. To scan is to glance hastily. My colloquial use of the word ‘scan’ as a noun – a copy – comes from computing, but in Carlin’s practice, making these prints is ancient. Rubbings from stone inscriptions trace back two thousand years, beginning with the Han Dynasty in China. One by one, using handheld scanner, Carlin uploads images of each completed sheet creating an infinite scroll on the project’s corresponding website. Despite the very analog way he created them, on the internet the images appear born digital. The images look more like geophysical surveys rather than poor renderings of reliefs of the floor in a warehouse in Manchester. In the livestream, Carlin, a spectral blurry figure, paces around the room in the panoramic view before kneeling down with a squeegee to create another scan. I drop by now and then, for visits of five minutes, sometimes more, sometimes less. I could never visit so often in physical space, no way would time, transportation, and personal affairs permit it. But travel by browser window enables different structures of access. The cameras also let me keep my presence secret. I am a fly on the wall for each of these initial studio visits. That makes it easier to observe the artist’s labor that goes beyond making art – that is to say, the pacing, the checking email, the staring into space. The websites says I am one of two anonymous people watching the livestream, but there are no other bodies in the room, so it is almost like seeing the artist alone. It is now mid-August, the second month of ‘Performance Publishing’. I have two laptops set up, one with the livestream page in full view. Instead of switching browser tabs, from my work back to the studio, I look with my eyes left to watch what is happening in the warehouse. Watching someone else alone at work makes me more conscious of my own workaday actions. If this performance happened years ago I could watch it like it happened now, but I wouldn’t be able to chat with the artist. So after weeks of lurking, I finally send Carlin a message. He greets me, the absent participant, and says there is a ‘bad covers band’ playing nearby. All I can hear is the chime of each new chat message. Carlin says the sound of the warehouse is what stood out first, ‘I started to hear the space, it’s huge with flat surfaces everywhere so completely echoey, and you don’t really notice this till it’s quiet, it’s been like that most days, I enjoy it when it gets to that time, but you can hear the slightest sound, so sounds that buildings probably make all the time are amplified 3 10 here.’ The sound of the warehouse, like the face of the artist, and space behind the camera, is one of those things that the livestream image does not convey. I can, however, see quite clearly the squares of relief-prints on the floor that are continually accumulating. Those sheets echo the textures underneath, amplifying and abstracting details we would not see with our eyes – even in person – like cracks and concaves. The sheets cover the textures of the floor and represent that texture. Details that are normally unseen are made ultravisible by Carlin’s project as he masks the actual floor surface.
The next time I visit, the warehouse is covered in Carlin’s CMYK relief-prints. The representation appears to totally cancel out that which it is representing. But that is just another example of the camera’s incomplete translation of the setting. There is floorspace uncovered, it just isn’t on my screen. One day, the right camera is set to rotate around the warehouse and I can see how much remains uncovered. In person, we exchange words with speech. These words disappear in air or are captured as fragments in fallible human memory. The website for the ‘Performance Publishing’ livestream does not archive the video, however it saves the conversations in the little chatbox on the page. The performance will end but the discussion about it will remain. The echoes of the warehouse will be forgotten except as side note in the commentary. Carlin is publishing not just the textures of the floor but his candid thoughts about his process. Taken as whole – the livestream, the chat, the prints, and the website – we see the artist’s sleight of hand. Viewed on or offline, something is always missing from the larger picture. This handmade work that appears digital and the mimicry of machines by way of ancient printmaking, is a comment on the very nature by which physical and digital worlds are interwoven and interdependent. The dust of the future lies underneath the relief-prints Carlin created. When the warehouse is gone, fragile paper and immaterial images of it will persist.
How do we get inside? One in the pink Two in the stink Is space the place? 1 Space is the place that I will go when I fell all alone Nobody calls me on the phone and I fell all alone Meditating in the zone, all alone Space is the place where I will go. What do insides feel like? The insides feel stony and huge. A somnambulist, darkness overcomes me when I touch them. When I run my hands over the insides they feel like an entire rooms’ walls covered in filthy braille, my entire body covered in soot. Since dirty hands are an early symptom of contamination, I wash them to preserve my strength. The building used to be a factory. I heard they used to slaughter pigs and make Chinese sausage here. We were alone. She threw me on the table and it promptly collapsed, my body laid prone on the dirt floor. It smelled of gristle and cigarettes yet bore the softness of wax. I dug in my nails amidst a bestial fuck-it-all moment, and out bled an incarnadine vein: The floor! It was brick! Obscured by years of culminating blankets of dessicated swine fat. Oh, the reveal! Where located is the entrance to man? Fuck if I know. How do you hold it all in? Well let me tell you – I’m a WASP! No, but really, why would anyone want to hold it all out? I wake up every morning at 6:30 a m and have a cup of coffee, rub out my morning wood to the New York Times, and write my dissertation. I check my email once for fifteen-minutes precisely at 12 noon, then proceed to reactivate my social network activity inhibitor. My email. I told you no one texts me except for you. Inside city limits? Feckless trees perforate the streets inside city limits, makes me cry. It’s very difficult as a woman to see something so hard go so flaccid, and even harder as a human to watch these inert sylvanisms unfold with bated, if not suffocated breath. Virgil said it was the responsibility of the poet-farmer to inscribe the pastoral onto pages read by city dwellers to save them from depressions that result from living inside concrete cubes. The first morning I woke up in Chinatown, I wondered, ‘Why does it smell like cat food in my bedroom?’ and, ‘Why do I live here?’ I’ve yet to answer these questions, but I do know now that poetry is an answer to another question, the one involving that ever-present void at which life chips away to reveal more void.
What do buildings sing about? Their timbre, their trestles! How their steel nestles Shear walls, sheer insides! You can see ins, I can see out White Columms Is the emptiness closed or open? I wanted to let you know that I was lying when I told you on the phone Sunday that writing went more quickly than usual. I’m still staring down a blank page a day and a half later. Rather, I spent Sunday and Monday retracing our steps and pathetically questioning the meaning of all of your actions’ minutiae. Did you put your arm around me, or mine around you? Is it possible to not hug back? Seeing you makes my anxiety heave – every conception of truth I know becomes unstable, I feel pock-marked and diseased. I’ve spent every minute of every day seizing in my brain and abdomen; wherever we keep love. This is a new feeling to me. It was the turn of the year last I felt it. You had done it to me before, too. I realized back then that we call this disease Liebesschmerz, German for ‘love pain.’ It speaks more to my condition than the English ‘heart-break’ – my heart isn’t broken, it’s in a constant state of vibration and incandescence and momentarily trapped by a lack of confidence and validation; its flourishing stunted by my fear of you continuing to hold me at arm’s length. I left for Europe shortly after my initial diagnosis, and you left me for some jejune other woman, a discounted me. My Liebesschmerz left me for Weltschmerz, my dejection and anger toward the world occupying the space carved out in the shape of you. Was it an inside job? whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/inside.html An Inside Job? US officials are compiling what one called ‘growing’ evidence that other hijackings may have been planned for September 11. Officials from both… Can I get to know your insides? And if at first your soft lip purples from all the playing, don’t worry: what didn’t Amyntas do, trying to learn to play? 2 What are a few of your favorite things? hymns gossamer limn cage imbroglio itinerant saturnine catechisms
2. Ecologue II, Virgil
Maurice Carlin’s interest in the act of publishing and more importantly how information is produced, transmitted and disseminated (physically and digitally) within contemporary culture is focused on a new form of spatial practice. This practice is considerate of how one experiences and engages with art in our ever-expanding global world, i.e. the relative distance between user and object. In traditional art practices one assumes this distance is close in both time and space however in our contemporary world it is quickly collapsing and what is seen or better yet experienced is oftentimes a mediated version of the work itself through the medium of the internet, social media, print or text. For Carlin, the physical space of the project (its making and display) is contested and through the act of publishing he is able to mediate between these two differing realms – analog and digital, respectively. Carlin’s three-month-long work derived from the constant negotiation between analog and digital production is aptly titled Performance Publishing, and functions as both an artwork and a platform through which information/ media is created locally while simultaneously transferred globally via webcam to a multitude of sources worldwide. The work, which consists of Carlin’s detailed rubbings of the warehouse’s floor surface in the physical sense, is just as much about the process of making as it is the transmission of the image to a larger public beyond the limits of the gallery’s walls. Using the space of the warehouse as both the site for production and display, Carlin invites users inside the space physically through exhibition and digitally by means of virtual reality. The space holds typical gallery hours on a weekly basis and by appointment for local art enthusiasts and passerbys alike who are interested in viewing the artist’s work in person. Alternately, the performance can be viewed remotely – outside of the physical space of the warehouse, through strategically placed webcams that focus on both the individual prints that vary in hue and opacity (positioned by Carlin himself) and the overall composition of work laid precisely in a grid-like formation within the space. Both vantage points position the viewer as separate or distant from the work itself either perched high above the production floor on a mezzanine level or hundreds of miles away onscreen, while also creating two very different public spaces that function similarly. Performance Publishing positions the viewer or observer as being distant from the work whether in person or virtually via computer. Though in doing so, it also engages with these distinct realms as both public endeavors and spaces for communication, dialogue and interaction. Through the act of performance and place-making via publishing, Carlin’s process becomes a very public exploit. This very public act of production is something that is not entirely new to contemporary art practices; for example, performance, public and street art all have similar agendas based on the physical siting of an event or project and/or the physical interactions between maker and observer or object and user though yield different results. Carlin’s form of spatial practice considers traditional forms of exhibition and display as much as it does new ways for seeing or experiencing oftentimes mediated by a second or third-party such as the internet. The very act of placing the camera at the site of production enables Carlin to produce an effect and a practice that at times is controlled but ultimately allows for direct translation from artist’s hand to observer’s eye mediated by the artist himself rather than disparate sources. This practice does not favor one realm over another rather Carlin works among and between these two realms to produce work that is capable of standing on its own both physically as well as digitally. The prints are effectively brought to life through the transmission of the performance and the resultant act of publishing. Here, Carlin is able to open up a larger discourse around production of an artwork and to engage with and create a democratic space of public shared knowledge. A chat feature on the website enables Carlin to interact with participants directly, answering questions and opening up a dialogue about the project, related themes, and
ideas for conversation. Combining antique methods of production and current-day technologies and modalities such as our ever-connected social world, Carlin compresses the physical space of the warehouse and the digital space of the internet in addition to the distance between producer and observer. This interplay between the two realms (physical and digital) and their spatial effects on the viewer makes for a compelling format of process, time-based publishing. Carlin’s use of the webcam allows for simultaneous production and publishing, and in this way, the physical distance is minimized as participants, such as a writer like myself in Los Angeles can be remotely experiencing and documenting a project taking place in England. Mediating between these two publics or spaces – the real and the virtual – warehouse and website, creates interesting contrasts, comparisons and binaries in which we can begin to understand the project outside the context of a localized site and into an expanded spatial practice. In this way, the warehouse operates as a site for both production, connecting the project to its physical site and reproduction, transmitting the project to remote sites beyond the confines of the building. The prints themselves, physical objects or tracings reflective of site, take on diverse meaning independent of site and context once they leave the physical space of production. How we engage with the work changes once it is documented, reproduced and disseminated via Carlin’s adapted process that mediates between production and exhibition. These composite prints made in reference to a specific locale conjure up imagery from topological drawings and terrain maps to digital scans, photographs, and abstracted paintings. Consequently, our perception and experience of the work as observers changes based on these shifting environments. In traditional practice, the way we experience an artwork is oftentimes by sight and what we see digitally or virtually is a reproduction or modification of the original images. However, in Performance Publishing Carlin flattens the real and the virtual into a singular image where no one image is favored and we can’t distinguish between the two. Our reading as a public is affected based on how the information is disseminated but the meaning behind the work and its intended medium is not compromised. This translation from one environment to another – physical to digital, becomes a performative act that Carlin both orchestrates and mediates effectively through the performance of publishing.
Produced as part of Performance Publishing: Regent Trading Estate, a three month performance work by Maurice Carlin 21 June – 2 9 September 2013 Unit 5, Regents Trading Estate Salford M5 4DE Publication edited by Helen Kaplinsky Contributing writers: Karen Archey, Helen Kaplinksy, Huw Lemmy, Joanne McNeil and Danielle Rago Designed by Joe Hales Printed by Orphans Press Ltd Thanks to: Andy Blundell, Rivca Burns, Bill Campbell, Mark Carlin, Kwong Lee from Castlefield Gallery, Joby Catto, Anna Columbine, Karen Hirst, Sara Noonan & Dave Norbury from Salford City Council, Anthony Panaro & Scott Buckley from EyesOn247 Jamie Hargreaves, Callum Higgins, Sam Hughes, Carol Huston, John Powell Jones, JK Lujeva, Shereen Perera, Sophie Palmer, Lauren Smith, Mike Stephens, Jack Welsh, David Williams.
With support from: