The Noticer Object Autobiographies

The Noticer Object Autobiographies from Simon Pope on Vimeo.

Talking from the point-of-view of the materials, describing the ways in which each interacts with each other in the construction of participants’ noticer objects.

I really resisted having my backing torn away, but in place of that I was rolled and adhered to another. It made it look better.

Rolled, cut, greased, covered, taped, sliced, pressed, worn.

Starting out big and now rather small I was stabbed and cut and pushed against something sticky. My edges, once smooth, are now jagged and rough. Poor craftsmanship has left me with a hole in my frames. Stabbed, cut, pushed, jagged, I now lie on the cold floor surrounded by round things. Stabbed, cut, pushed, jagged.

Rolled and unravelled, shaped, cut and torn. Fitted and measured, stretched and sliced. Folded and refolded, until the wool is formed, stuck in place, trapped, noticed.

Rectangle within rectangles was sliced out, then hung precariously together with sticky tape. I was influenced by the wall of black paper and so began rebuilding myself as a triangle. I kept my windows, celebrating them and allowing myself to be more accessible.

I am flexible, accommodating and pliable but to an extent there are some ways that i don’t like to be manipulated. I was cut down to a more manageable size using a box cutter; I put up some resistance, but the whole process was relatively quick. Then I was folded in four ways; again I put up some resistance to this folding—it didn’t seem natural to me. They used the box cutter to score the area to be folded. I was forced into an unnatural rectangular shape and quick;y secured with two bits of tape and then with a long strip of tape went along my edges to completely seal me in this new form; scissor blades were jabbed into me to make a hole. Then I was awkwardly impaled onto a stick and fixed permanently with some plasticene.

I am a clamp. I follow the rules and I force them on others. I force two together, normally because they fight to be apart. I am the enforcer of a forced marriage. I hold the scrum of players—locking together—locking my arms around until I unstructed to release them. So to end, I can be hot or cold, loose or tight. I might make a great ally in a fight.

I was in a box with all of my brothers and sisters and some rather asty looking fellas. And then I got plucked out and was forced into this marriage. And I not good at adapting or hiding my feelings on my face. Wood is meant to be hard and tough and strong. And I have to say I feel really let down. Every time we were put together—I didn’t want to be with him anyway—but he would get all pathetic and fall apart. And I was forced to hold everything together. Typical. I wanted to be something, part of something great.

I was quite rigid in my views, but happy. I was shocked when it happened so quickly. I was sawn roughly in half, splintered. Then she wrapped her arms around me and we danced. A new life.

I was free. I had a beginning and I had an end, with no rules between. And then I met you and we had… to get it together and we had ups and downs. And now I have rules, and community together.

I am clinging to you, but also clinging to myself. I am like smoke in a room that attaches itself to the objects that fill the space. You open a window to get rid of me but I reluctant to cooperate. I subdue you.

The light’s going, but I’m used to that; It comes back. But this is a mist descending, scraping, pressing, pressing into me. It’s rolling down me. I’m not sure. They seem to have stopped. No. It’s descending further. I must learn to breath through my back.

I feel like a parasite by nature. I have been unrolled, now I am attached to you. I have been packaged; now I am stretched, They are pressing me up. And now I am thinking, “what is the next step?”

Rings of Engagement


Interested in the word ‘participation’ I asked Simon to elaborate on ways in which the word can be interpreted and the value of the individual experience of the participator. He drew my attention to Suzanne Lacy’s rings of engagement, which in concentric circles transform the notion of different audiences into a diagram representing different groups’ level of interaction with a work of art. Lacy states that the ‘innermost circle represents those without whom the work could not exist’, the outermost circle being ‘audience of myth and memory’. I suppose, the question this poses (at least to me) is whether one could consider the perspective of ‘the audience of myth and memory’ as either part of the inner circle or a different diagramme completely, as although yes, the work could exist without their perspective, the work from their perspective could not exist without them.

Not Extra but Vital

Still from Terminal Station / Indiscretion of an American Wife
Still from Terminal Station / Indiscretion of an American Wife

“In this five-minute video essay, filmmaker Ernie Park compares two different versions of a 1953 film: one edited for Hollywood audiences and one for Italian filmgoers. By comparing two different versions of the same footage, the video essay comes across like a think piece on how seemingly cosmetic changes can affect meaning, tone, and content in movies.

Park, who goes by the name Kogonada, created this short video essay for the British Film Institute (here’s Park’s interview with NPR last week about the essay). The short film compares the Hollywood and neorealism by using David O. Selznick and Vittorio De Sica’s unsuccessful collaboration as a case study. In the early 1950s, legendary Hollywood producer Selznick, best known for his work on Gone with the Wind, commissioned Italian neorealist director De Sica to make a film. Because of unresolvable stylistic clashes, two films resulted from the footage:Terminal Station in Italy and Indiscretion of an American Wife in the U.S”.

I see/ not see

The art historian James Elkins writes about seeing. He challenges a number of taken-for-granted ideas about sight and vision. Here are three of his big ideas:

(1) Elkins says that a lot of what we call seeing is actually not-seeing – we screen out much that is actually  in our scope of vision, because we are unable to process the sheer amount of available visual  information. So as we see, we always simultaneously not-see. We are both sighted and blind at the same time.

(2) Elkins suggests that seeing is not simply what happens in the brain ‘inside ‘ us – it is what happens in between our eyes and objects. And this is not empty space but is actually light. Light joins our eyes and the object we are ‘seeing’. We are not separated from the objects we are looking at but are joined to them by and through light.

(3) Elkins maintains that objects look at us. A knife says pick me up. A cookie says eat me. An unused box reminds us of things we haven’t done. The object can resist being noticed, or invite us to notice it.

This is a challenging idea and Elkins proposes a reason for this:

” A psychoanalyst might say that we need to believe that vision is a one-way street and that objects are just the evasive recipients of our gaze in order to maintain the conviction that we are in control of our vision and ourselves. If I think of the world in the ordinary way I am  reassured. Everything is mine to command: if I want to see a movie I go and see it. if I want to look at my cat, I look at her. But this implies something darker: that if I resist the idea that objects look back at me and that I am tangled in a web of seeing, then I am also resisting the possibility that I may not be the autonomous, independent, stable self that I claim I am. I may not be coming to terms with the thought that I need these reciprocal gazes in order to go out and be myself.”  (p. 74)

Elkins, James (1996) The object stares back. San Diego: Harvest


Noticing from nothing

‘It is what people ‘know’ they experience when they encounter an artwork, even if they are not always able to say what it is that they know. This knowing ‘non-knowledge’ may open a few of the windows that have been closed by ordinary knowledge. […] This process is not only about what people ‘take away’ from a work of art, but also what they ‘bring forward’ in their experience of it.’

Wonderful Uncertainty, Raqs Media Collective

John Cage composed the piece 4”33 as a composition intended to force an unsuspecting audience to notice; in lieu of actual music each listener would begin to tune in to sounds that surrounded them; consequently each listener’s experience would be completely unique and each individual would, in turn, leave with a different account of the work. Richter composed his Cage series of paintings to similar effect; this is a series of work in which abstraction exists as the catalyst for possibility, the work can be interpreted infinitely. Presenting ‘empty’ work, Cage and by extension Richter as the composers create works in which they themselves do not dictate the listener/viewer’s experience. What the listener/viewer then brings forth or takes becomes wholly engrained in what the work is (at least, in an individual sense). Does one interpret the cracks in the paint or the texture of the canvas? Should one read into the colour or the composition? These questions are left unanswered by both Cage and Richter and thus are only answerable by whoever encounters the work and in what capacity they experience it.

Cage (1) - (6) 2006 by Gerhard Richter
Cage 1 – 6, 2006, Gerhard Richter www

Similarly the scholar’s rock, although it has no known creator, exists and is valued because of the possibilities it poses. The object in it’s abstract nature has the potential to become, or signify, absolutely anything to its viewer. It’s presence, solid and object-like, is in itself far more tangible than the likes of Cage’s 4”33, knowledge particularly regarding the object’s history is not certain at all. The jagged formations and entwining surfaces have been preserved for their thought provoking, mediative qualities and many of them have in fact been titled, on account of their resemblance to other objects. These objects of natural beauty and wonderment have been preserved  specifically because their finder (of thousands of years ago) saw the importance to do so; in the first instance they have no solid idea or concrete concept, and exist almost exclusively for the purpose of interpretation. Craig Burnett, who curated Structure & Absence describes the rocks as objects that ‘sustain the play between observation and imagination’.

Lingbi stone on old hardwood stand China, Qing dynasty (1644-1911)

These processes are involved emphatically with experience and share the notion of learning through noticing and having one’s eyes opened, as opposed to being taught, lectured, or engaged in a didactic process of viewing.



Every Saturday morning when my brother and I were growing up, we’d go to the newsagents to each buy a shiny pack of stickers for our collections. For me it was Top of the Pops and for him it was the Premiership League. He was more dedicated than me and would always stick them in the album provided, whilst I often found places like my desk, my door, my bunk bed, my books, my clothes and occasionally my body to house them. Their stickiness marked my habitat, leaving grey smudges where they had fallen off, slowly peeled away or been replaced; only a few ever remained clinging to where they had been originally stuck.