Paving: outside my comfort zone
My week started with a trip to Crews Hill to visit a paving centre. Crews Hill has a place in my heart after a trip there with Hannah Scott during my preparation for my MA Art and Science degree show in April 2018, where Hannah filmed me digging up heavy clay in a light hazy drizzle. This time around I got completely fascinated by the myriad different paving slabs, textures, materials - so many options, so much thought, expertise and resource put into this world which I had never even thought about before. I was reminded of an early meeting with Andrea Siodmok of Policy Lab, who described the experience of moving just a degree outside your comfort zone and the slight dizzying feeling you get when you realised you have stepped into another world you know nothing about, and there are people here who have been burrowing away for years.
On the train there and back I read again Bruno Latour’s We Have Never Been Modern, and I recalled his description of the interplay on the surface of his newspaper of chemical reactions in the ozone with political reactions in France, “a single thread linking together the most distant sky and some factory in the Lyon suburbs, dangers on a global scale and the impending local elections or next board meeting”.
Local geography and very-far-away geography
During the week I created a flier for a show I am planning at The Mill community centre in Walthamstow which will feature the Government Art Collection’s work Joke Stack by the artist Peter Liversidge.
I worked through plans with the team at Yonder for the E17 Art Trail show I am curating at this cavernous climbing centre in Blackhorse Road, including developing the idea of a participatory wall mural which shows the soil geology of where Yonder is located. I met the photographer Simon Warren and reviewed his prints of Walthamstow Riders and how they might be exhibited in the show.
Ellie Armstrong and I chaired the Art (And/or) Science Reading Group which provides a fascinating discussion on the Hubble telescope and Mars Rover, and the link to art imagery from the American West, especially Ansel Adams and Albert Bierstadt.
I met Clive Grinyer, ex Design Council, for an inspiring discussion on future directions of government labs. The conversation is both revelatory and emotionally exhausting - I head back home in a daze - but it provided an excellent opportunity for me to shake around the various thoughts in my head and work with someone to see where those thoughts settle, and what means for me and where I work. This is a theme repeated during the week with another inspiring conversation with Andrea.
I worked with Nina Cutler and Ben Dorgan to do user research with policymakers on the policy consultation process and the possible role that data science could play in this. I spoke with Marcus at Beam Laser Cutting to think through how to present CNC-milled woodcuts of street scenes for a forthcoming event on designing for streets, with the aim of enabling haptic exploration of streets. I planned a polaroid wall to create a visual record of everyone who works in my area.
At various times during the week I’ve been reading:
We Have Never Been Modern (1991), Bruno Latour
Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming (2013), Anthony Dunne Fiona Raby
The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400-1000 (2009), Chris Wickham
From Ice Age to Wetlands: The Lea Valley’s Return to Nature (2017), Jim Lewis