All posts by Alice Walton

Come In

By way of welcome to those still arriving.

As Summer School approaches and we invite people to the Noticer I’ve been wondering what encountering it for the first time might be like. How have we made sense of it to date or is it less about sense and more about recognising and allowing space for a need to deposit a collection of resonant things in proximity to one another?

While many of the posts have sort to make connections across the various ideas being shared the reality of a blog is a much more linear affair – and a dense one at that! So how does one encounter and, if not make sense of, make friends with this proliferation of stuff so as to be able to join in? Might it be that we (posters to date) have been aided in this task by the fact that we know one another and have a sense of each other’s interests, specialisms, practices etc? How do we invite others in? How might we come to know you?

It seems to me that the impulse here is in the ‘bringing’ or the ‘offering up’ more than any notion of consumption. And perhaps this is the Noticers particular invitation; to value what(ever) arrives with it, to allow disparate ideas and experiences to find a non-hierarchical space in which to co-exist for a time. It should allow for different knowledge and different knowing, it may re-test well versed ideas or suggest other possibilities, or not do either of these things. What I think it does do is recognise the often joyous, affirming, sometimes almost physical and active state of recognition. What we are encouraged to do is to respond.


The Power of Objects and The Persistence of Ideas

Perhaps because I have been thinking about gathering as an active process that holds within it a history and particular genealogy I increasingly ‘picture’ the relationship between things visually, as a web (Meshwork – Ingold) that recognises where ideas hail from as well as what they are. A person (or thing – the Noticer) might be the reason that things find their way together and in a particular order but might not that responsibility also necessarily rest with the objects/ideas themselves and the very many connections and recommendations that led to their discovery? What and who is the driver for our desire to make connections and is it (when is it) a social, connected impulse as it is here on this blog?

I recently gave Leanne a book, The Company She Keeps, Celine Condorelli, that I haven’t read yet (see Leanne’s comment on Co-operation) but which I believe talks about friendship, perhaps in relation to making, talking, working:

‘Perhaps one of my favourite definitions of cultural production is of “making things public”: the process of connecting things, establishing relationships, which in many ways means befriending issues, people, contexts. Friendship in this sense is both a set-up for working and a dimension of production.’

My picture of the things I’m thinking about and am interested in always comes with a picture of and interest in the person from whom it arrived.

To Gather (Magnetic, Sticky, Persistent)

The Noticer is drawing together a collection of terms for or descriptions of the power of things and ideas to adhere. My own preoccupation has been with the notion of things gathering, whether in a ‘ball gathering moss’ kind of way, through a seeming need for like things to lean towards/rest together or thanks to an immanent property or symbolic alignment (see Carol Bove). Lizzie’s sticky ideas have been mentioned in a number of posts – ideas following you, reoccurring until they cohere and possibly make sense. Jane Bennett (Pats post) talks at length about the ‘call of things’ and I often return to something Leanne said a long time ago about ‘returning’ as a way of testing and getting to know something. All of these ideas obviously fit very snuggly with Jo and Tash’s sense of the magnetic possibilities for both this blog and the coming Summer School. What will it feel like to collect a group of individuals, each with their own skin of gathered (iron filling like) preoccupations (ideas, language, responsibilities, prejudices and preferences), into one gravitational swirl? What will it mean, how will it transmit? What will come out?

And slightly tangential:
‘In Our Time’ about the sun ‘Thanks to the nuclear fusion reactions taking place at its core, the Sun has been shining for four and a half billion years’.


Image: Carol Bove from Unmonumental


In a recent conversation about ways in which artists look in order to find things out as a part of their process of making, Jo shared her practice of looking away from the work and then back again quickly in an attempt to trick herself into seeing anew/again/afresh….the following quote seemed relevant:

‘Closing the eyes can be adopted as a critical operation for seeing that which the retina refuses to acknowledge’
Emma Cocker, Tactics For Not Knowing. Preparing For the Unexpected