by Dominic Paterson
1st March 2011
Dominic Paterson spent the Summer of 2010 as our writer in residence. Here, in his essay, he looks into our archive at Quarry (2003) by Lucy Gunning.
As part of a writing residency with Picture This, I was invited to select a work from their archive and produce a text in response to it. I was generously provided with both a workspace and living accommodation in Bristol for the duration of my stay. The former, appropriately enough, was in the room where the Picture This archive also resided, while the latter was in the study of an artist who had temporarily left their home to take up a residency in the United States. I began by watching DVD copies of commissioned film works which Picture This had filed and stored in ‘R-Kive’ boxes, and eventually settled on Lucy Gunning’s 2003 work Quarry as the subject for this essay. As I began to dwell on the work, I found it increasingly difficult to separate my thoughts on it from the situation of the residency itself. The very fact of undertaking a residency – something familiar to many artists but novel for me – raised insistent questions. What does it mean to be resident in an archive? What might it mean to write about a work encountered in an archival situation, rather than in an exhibition or a studio? What is included in the archive and where are its limits? Is the text to be a reanimation or excavation of the work? How does my reading of the work relate to the circumstances that invite and frame this reading? And, not least, the question of where, if anywhere, such questions should reside in the essay itself…
My daily walk from the artist’s home in which I was briefly resident to the study temporarily set up for me in the archive was the first space in which these questions began to circle around and shape my understanding of Quarry. A sense of disorientation, most acutely felt as I tried to navigate Bristol’s seemingly centre-less urban space, often permeated these walks. The city’s various historical layers, created by geological, political and technological processes across centuries, became a site for physical and mental drifting around Quarry, the palimpsest-like quality of the city overwriting my sense of the film. Spaces such as the millennial shopping arcade of Cabot’s Circus, a Bristolian example of the “entropic corporate malling” found in many cities, prompted thoughts of other arcades, and other forms of entropy; these tangential thoughts are pursued in this text.(1) Quarry, as I hope to show, poses questions about spaces and the distance between them, about the connections between subjectivity and space, and about the narratives that animate human relationships to the material world(s) we inhabit. I am far from being able to claim a proper critical distance about the work or its themes: perhaps I am too close to it in some ways, and too removed in others. In any case, it is inextricably bound up, for me, with the experience of being resident in Bristol, just as my experience of the residency has also been shaped by Quarry. And this is all the more evident to me as that experience becomes archived and embedded in this text.
Lucy Gunning has suggested that although her work has often been addressed via the category of ‘video art,’ in fact “questions of space, architecture, installation and the physical siting of the works have always been crucial.”(2) Both the content and the form of 2003’s Quarry certainly bear this statement out. Commissioned by Picture This, Quarry was first shown in the large gallery space at Spike Island, Bristol. The work when installed consisted of two films, which were projected on the opposing sides of a large purpose-built wall, with raked stadium seating facing each side. One screen showed Blast, a 4½-minute looped film of a working quarry; the other showed Dr Chris Alabaster, a somewhat longer looped film of a domestic interior filled with an extensive collection of rocks and minerals presented to the camera and identified by their owner, the minerologist of the title. In this latter film the camera consistently pursues close-ups of the collection and the space where it resides, while the human occupation of that space is registered only in fragments – mainly through Alabaster’s hands as they reach for particular specimens from his collection, though occasionally by legs and feet too. We never see his face, or get a comprehensive view of the person whose voice we hear authoritatively explain what it is that we are seeing. The overwhelming sense is of an awkward, constricted environment through which the camera moves in a dizzying series of twists and turns as it attempts to capture the details of the scene that confronts it.
Watching the film set in Alabaster’s domestic interior, one's attention is continually shifting between the objects ostensibly offered to our view - the rocks and minerals in his collection - and the setting in which they are presented. In place of display cases or pedestals we see a cooker hob, a fridge, storage jars and other kitchen fixtures and fittings, all repurposed as shelving for the lumpen and crystalline forms of his collection. Though the scene is spectacular in its presentation of natural history overrunning the business of living in the present, and might suggest a degree of staging, Gunning has explained that she filmed Alabaster’s home exactly as she found it.(3) The display of the collection thus seems to effect a negation of domesticity, of everyday life and its routines. An already cramped bedsit is colonized by these inanimate but lifelike things, which not only dominate the surfaces and floors of the rooms we see, but also seem to be pushing both Alabaster and Gunning’s bodies out of the space and out of the frame.
The narrator’s physical presence remains peripheral to what is pictured, but his words are essential to our sense of the scene we are witness to. The objects Alabaster shows to Gunning, and to the viewer in turn, include such local oddities as ‘Bristol diamonds’ (quartz crystals once erroneously taken to be real diamonds), and more exotic lumps of lithium silicate, azurite, and malachite. Alabaster explains how such substances form, where they are found in mines, and we hear that his specimens have come from America, Spain, Namibia, China and elsewhere, so that vast temporal and geographic distances converge on the unlikely setting of this modest home. The collection, and Alabaster’s narration of it, suggest an official, scientific taxonomy – a museum discourse – yet the domestic setting and the personal tone inflecting Alabaster’s comments continually undercut this.
Indeed, the narrative by which Alabaster presents his collection is at once that of the academic specialist and the hobbyist or enthusiast. The various press releases, features, and reviews archived by Picture This along with the film, reflect this ambiguity, often differing on whether Alabaster comes across as an expert or an amateur. Sally O’Reilly, for instance, taking the latter view, noted his mispronunciation of ‘Arkansas’ and describes him as “a hobbyist who lives his life vicariously through second-hand information,” going on to note that “his obvious absorption is touching, yet his apparent isolation seems the overriding factor. The joy and satisfaction of the obsessive can never quite communicate itself to the uninitiated observer.”(4) One of the most interesting aspects of Dr Chris Alabaster is that it seems genuinely impossible to separate out Alabaster from our sense of his home and his collection, or to distinguish the discourse of natural history from that of the personal collection and its animating passion. The extraordinary coincidence of his surname with his field of interest nicely figures this condensation of the personal and the geological, the human and the inanimate.
As elsewhere in Gunning’s practice, then, the traces of subjectivity found in spatial and verbal awkwardness are prominent concerns here. A few examples suffice to clearly indicate the continued attention to such themes in her work. In Climbing Around My Room, one of Gunning’s best known films, a female figure circles a sparse domestic space using shelves, furniture and clothes hooks to avoid touching the floor or entering the centre of the room, an action which has been described as redolent of claustrophobia, of the repetitive movements of animals in captivity, and suggestive of “anxious or fearful motivation.”(5) Though in a markedly different register, this film shares the sense that emerges from Dr Chris Alabaster of a reciprocal framing and warping of the subject by space and of the space by the subject. In both cases interiority and exteriority come to seem co-extensive. Works that strongly feature the voice, such as The Horse-Impressionists (1994), which shows five respondents to Gunning’s classified ad asking for women “who can do the perfect vocal impression of a horse neighing,” and Malcolm, Lloyd, Angela, Norman and Jane (1997), which is made up of edited interviews with people who stammer, also speak to this psychological terrain. In these works the voice, normally taken as an instance of the exteriorization of our interior thoughts, comes to seem rather to be the opposite – the irruption from within of something alien to the subject’s consciousness.
The overall effect of what Gunning filmed in Dr Chris Alabaster, combined with the way she frames, edits and presents it, is properly uncanny – the familiar and the unfamiliar, the homely and the disquieting, are twisted together to create a sense of a space which is shaped by a subjective passion disruptive of the normative routines daily life. Uncanniness is felt also with regard to the collection itself: the specimens are miraculous, heterogeneous things, their forms testify to intense processes of pressure and growth, to immensities of time; they seem at once animate and inanimate.The objects Alabaster shows to the camera seem to intrude into ordinary reality, both his and ours, from another place altogether. That is to say, in its uncanniness, its sense of the otherness of the voice, and in its presentation of the disruption of the domestic, Gunning’s film is never far from the thematics which underpin a psychoanalytic view of the subject’s relation to space – something which will be touched on again later in this essay.
The question of how Alabaster’s collection, and the domestic interior it holds hostage, might relate to other spaces is raised implicitly in the film’s presentation back-to-back with Blast. This film, in contrast to the shifting close-ups of Dr Chris Alabaster, consists of a long unedited shot giving a relatively static view of a quarry face. Sky and trees are visible in the upper third of the image, but a density of rock strata imposingly fills the rest: imposingly and impassively asserting the weight of geological time. The hand-held camerawork, with its slight shifts and wobbles, asserts another time, however, that of the lived body. It is conspicuously a human, fragile, fallible presence that has witnessed this scene and recorded it.(6) On both screens, then, everyday human temporality and physicality is placed in relation to the millennia of natural history. But in contrast to Alabaster’s passionate investment in things, Blast presents a vision of destruction. From the beginning of Blast’s short loop a warning siren is heard, and a matter of seconds later the quarry face erupts in an explosion. The camera holds its view as the dust clears, and quarry workers, dwarfed by the scale of the rock, wander up to the site of the blast to inspect their handiwork and the useful debris produced as a result. This explosion might initially appear to be a dramatic, disruptive event, even as an instance of industrial sublimity, and the connotations of such earth-shaking violence in 2003 would of course extend to the spectacle of ‘shock and awe’ in Iraq. However, the way the shot is held until normality resumes and workers enter the frame, and the fact that this shift between the explosive and the quotidian is played out over and over in a loop, means that the overall effect of this part of the work is to create a sense of an endless cyclical shift between anticipation and aftermath, rather than to dramatise or politicise the explosion itself.
Both films, then, juxtapose the spectacular and the mundane, the aesthetic and the quotidian, or – to borrow Homi Bhabha’s useful terminology – the spaces of aura and agora, those of transcendence and those of negotiation, commerce and transaction.(7) The space of the sudden event is also that of daily routine, and of the stuff of ordinary commerce, whilst the space of daily domesticity is also the space of the arrestingly unusual.
As Michael Archer has noted in his perceptive commentary on Quarry, the installed form of the work, with its cinematic scale and use of stadium seating suggested that a relationship to spectacle, to the ordinary commercial sphere, was being evoked within the gallery setting.(8) It is a hallmark of Gunning’s use of installation that the attention to the spatial positioning of the body and to vision as embodied that is frequently part of the content of the work also informs the way the viewer encounters it. To give just two examples, in the 1995 installation of Eating the Apple (1993) at Adam Gallery, the video monitor was place inside a fireplace chimney and was viewable via a small mirror on the floor, whilst Intermediate II (2001), a film of a dance class shot from the street below, was installed so as to offer two ways for the viewer to position themselves, either within a room-like mirrored environment (doubling the space of the dance studio and making creating a field of vision in which the viewing subject is also viewed object en abyme), or watching the film on a monitor placed above head height, so that, as Archer describes “you have to adopt the same attitude as you would had you been standing in the camera position outside the dance school.”(9) Quarry positions the gallery-goer within the space of spectacle, but also asks them to move from one viewing position to another, to negotiate or articulate the space which links one screen to the other.
To summarize these initial observations, then: in Quarry the gallery space becomes entwined with that of spectacle, but also with industrial landscape and with a domestic interior which has become something like a natural history museum, an archive of objects taking precedence over normal life. One of the questions it posed in its installed form to the viewer (and a question it still poses for me as I encounter it in the archive) is simply how to understand the relationship one has to these spaces and the relationship they have to each other. Quarry establishes a set of themes or problematics which entwine with the questions I set out at the start, questions relating to domesticity, dwelling and the archive (figured here as the collection); to the juxtaposition of the very old and the distinctively modern (with that distinctiveness signalled by destructiveness); to a shifting between the close up and the distant. Related to all these is the way it frames two ways of seeing and inhabiting space, a kind of impartial distanced witnessing (of the quarry) and a mobile, twisting close-up subjective investment (sited in the home and the collection). In what follows I want to address this set of issues by turning to a number of texts which help expand on them, and which establish a textual drift or wandering that takes in the subjective circumstances of my residency, and the questions attendant on it, as well those issues which seem objectively proper to a reading of Quarry.
A sense of the crystalline prevails…
The simple rectangle of the movie contains the flux, no matter how many different orders one presents. But no sooner have we fixed the order in our mind than it dissolves into limbo. Tangled jungles, blind paths, secret passages, lost cities invade our perception. The sites in films are not to be located or trusted. All is out of proportion. Scale inflates or deflates into uneasy dimensions. We wander between the towering and the bottomless. We are lost between the abyss within us and the bottomless horizons outside us. Any film wraps us in uncertainty.
Robert Smithson, ‘A Cinematic Atopia’
Quarry’s striking juxtaposition of the very old and the very new, the natural and the industrial, has precedent in the work of Robert Smithson, himself a hobbyist of mineralogy, and therefore a habitué of quarries. Quarries themselves appear frequently in Smithson’s oeuvre as the sites for mirror pieces and photographic works, and as the sources for ‘Nonsite’ sculptures; crystal forms too can be found in many drawings and sculptural pieces. Smithson used such sites and such forms as metaphorical as well as material resources; in many of his texts natural history, particularly crystallography, furnished him with a language that displaced modernist approaches to reading art. Where the conventions of 1960s art criticism would dictate attention to the self-referential aspect of a work, an account of its pedigree in the history of artistic modernism, or perhaps to its relationship to the subjectivity of its creator, Smithson wrote instead in terms of entropy, Ice Ages, rock strata and crystal growth. Donald Judd, for example, is described as having a “crystalline state of mind … far removed from the organic floods of “action painting”,” while Judd’s sculpture is compared to “geological formations” in which space is treated “in the form of deposits.”(10) In his text ‘The Crystal Land’ Smithson describes a work of Judd’s as suggesting “a giant crystal from another planet,”(11) a formulation characteristic of Smithson’s frequent shifting between geological and sci-fi references in conceptualizing art work, including his own. Instead of the immediacy and newness required of modernist art, Smithson evokes the distant past and the far future in his readings of Judd and other contemporaries.
In many ways, the natural history museum rather than the art gallery provided Smithson with the model for the temporal and spatial confusions his work and writing pursued: “this sense of extreme past and future has its origin with the Museum of Natural History,” he wrote, “there the “cave-man” and the “space-man” may be seen under one roof.”(12) And just as this is a space where distant times co-exist, so too is it a place which continually evokes distant places. Smithson’s Nonsites, material samples of locations (such as quarries) which function as signs pointing from the gallery in which they are displayed back to the industrial landscapes from which they are taken, have been plausibly related to the artificial reproductions of natural topographies the artist would have seen in the Museum of Natural History.(13) Such displays, with their cheerful and blatant artificiality, functioned as a counter model to the art museum, which for Smithson, as for Theodor Adorno, possessed a mausoleum-like aspect.(14) Indeed, the only thing Smithson found to recommend the art museum was precisely its “nullity.”(15) Importantly, Smithson’s revaluation of such nullity into a positive feature turned not only on reading art and its spaces through natural history, but also on (dis)locating both art and nature in relation to the industrial, artificial, urban and suburban landscapes of post-war America.
Smithson, writing of the post-industrial New Jersey terrain through which he, Judd and their wives travelled on a rock-hunting trip to a disused quarry, suggested that the landscape had “a mineral presence” so that “from the shiny chrome diners to glass windows of shopping centers, a sense of the crystalline prevails.”(16) The peripheral territories which were to be of central importance to Smithson in his work of the late 1960s and early 1970s were thus figured from an early date by crystal structures. The usefulness of the quarry and the crystal as metaphorical touchstones for Smithson, moreover, extended beyond the linking of the spaces of art with those of industrialized nature and suburban architecture, and beyond the collapsing of past and future into an entropic present, to encompass also the decentred subjective relationship to both space and language which is amongst the most intriguing features of his work.
In a deliberate rhetorical escalation of the pathetic fallacy, Smithson’s 1968 essay “A Sedimentation of the Mind’ evokes a condition in which “one’s mind and the earth are in a constant state of erosion, mental rivers wear away abstract banks, brain waves undermine cliffs of thought, ideas decompose into stones of unknowing, and conceptual crystallizations break apart into deposits of gritty reason.”(17) Even more vividly, in the text ‘Spiral Jetty’ Smithson's evocation of shifting scales of spirals and crystal structures in the sculptural work is extended to the permeability of boundaries between his own body and such microcosmic and macrocosmic orders:
On the slopes of Rozel Point I closed my eyes and the sun burned crimson through the lids. I opened them and the Great Salt Lake was burning scarlet streaks. My sight was saturated by the color of red algae circulating in the heart of the lake, pumping into ruby currents, no they were veins and arteries sucking up the obscure sediments. My eyes became combustion chambers churning orbs of blood blazing by the light of the sun…. Perception was heaving, the stomach turning, I was on a geological fault that groaned within me…. I was slipping out of myself again, dissolving into a unicellular beginning, trying to locate the nucleus at the end of the spiral.(18)
Craig Owens fittingly describes Smithson’s writing on Spiral Jetty as creating a “dizzying experience of decentering” which is comparable to the instability of language itself in deconstructive accounts.(19) The brief selection of Smithson’s metaphorical uses of the language of crystallography set out here would certainly seem to bear this out. The crystalline seems to have had no fixed meaning for Smithson, but rather to appeal as a focus for shifting, even contradictory connotations. Though Smithson treated language as material (and vice versa) this was not in the service of establishing concrete meanings, as he made clear using precisely the example of mineralogy: “The names of minerals and the minerals themselves do not differ from each other, because at the bottom of both of the material and the print is the beginning of an abysmal number of fissures… Look at any word long enough and you will see it open up into a series of faults, into a terrain of particles each containing its own void.”(20) As Owens notes, such an approach to language is fragmentary as well as decentered, recalling Walter Benjamin’s theorisation of allegory. On Owens’s account, Smithson, like Benjamin’s allegorist, accumulated and deposited language as if it were so many geological layers.(21)
If in texts such as ‘Spiral Jetty’ Smithson used language to decenter and fragment readings of his sculptural work, then he could also use film in an analogous way. In the epigraph for this section Smithson describes a ‘cinematic atopia,’ a space of unease, of shifting proportions, where certainty dissolves. Accompanying this sense of dissolution is a sense of disorientation, something that the film Spiral Jetty amplifies, with its circling helicopter shots and continual shifts in point of view and sites (from industrial machinery to the Hall of Late Dinosaurs in the American Museum of Natural History).
From the centre of the Jetty, Smithson's voiceover drawls, every point of the compass reveals only “mud, salt crystals, rocks, water.” In such an undifferentiated landscape, it is implied, there can be no certainty that there is any meaningfully central point for the viewer to occupy. Smithson’s short film Swamp, made with Nancy Holt in 1971, deals in a similarly disorientated and disorientating perspective. Here the camerawoman Holt twists and turns through long marsh reeds that frequently obscure her (and our) view. Smithson’s voice can be heard directing her movements but, like Alabaster in Quarry, he is not seen. The twisting movement and sense of a constrictive environment pressing in on the camera also bears comparison to Gunning’s film. To be clear: this is not by any means a question of influence. Nor is it exactly a matter of shared thematics; Smithson’s interest in crystals and quarries and the appearance of both in Quarry is doubtless entirely coincidental. It seems to me that what is instructive in Smithson’s work for a reading of Quarry is the way it demonstrates what is at stake in throwing a specific set of spaces and times (touched on also by Quarry) into relation. The particular terms of this spatial and temporal displacement are tactical, chosen by Smithson to explode the central myths of modernist art and humanist subjectivity: the worlds of crystallography and of quarrying join with the decentering effects of language and the disorientating effects of spiraling motion (modeled on crystal growth), to force art into conjunction with industrial decay, suburban sprawl and deep time and thus to compromise the prestige and the autonomy of art object and aesthetic subject alike.(22)
While Smithson utilises a meandering through disparate times and spaces, and a collapsing of inner and outer worlds, as an essentially literary technique, such devices have also been utilised to offer provocative historical accounts of the emergence of modern human society. Philosopher Manuel De Landa shifts between micro and macro levels of analysis to argue that “species and ecosystems are the product of structure-generating processes that are basically the same as those which produce the different types of rocks that populate the world of ecology.”(23) In De Landa’s long historical view of linguistic, geological and biological systems, the development of human anatomy and human social structures is fundamentally similar to (if more complex than) the processes that form sedimentary rock or crystals. Following this approach, the appearance of bone as a material component of life some 500 million years ago is presented by De Landa as a “mineralization” in which organic matter comes to co-exist with the geological. Importantly for my argument here, this point is extended to the macro-level to include the formation of urban space as a further instance of mineralization. De Landa argues that the development of the endoskeleton:
is not the only geological infiltration that the human species has undergone. About eight thousand years ago, human populations began mineralizing again when they developed an urban exoskeleton: bricks of sun-dried clay became the building materials for their homes, which in turn surrounded and were surrounded by stone monuments and defensive walls.(24)
The city, then, is enmeshed with our very nature as physical beings and our cities, like our bodies and like our cultures, can be seen as kin to the crystals and rocks formed and hardened through history. Smithson’s approach accentuates characteristics found in Gunning’s work that are easily apparent but not necessarily easily interpreted, such as its juxtaposition of different temporalities, its sense of spaces permeated by subjectivity, and its use of an artwork to point beyond the gallery walls. De Landa’s deployment of similar temporal shifts suggests that the space which links the deep time of geology to the inner space of human subjectivity is the urban exoskeleton. Might the city, then, be a kind of absent centre in Quarry, the space traversed in the viewer’s turning from domesticity to landscape and industry?
In the midst of its far-flung ruins and debris, we calmly and adventurously go travelling…
The question 'Where is the centre of Bristol?' is still much debated. It is not a question of points on a map, but of an emotional heart perceived by Bristolians. Until the Second World War, it was undoubtedly the shopping centre around Wine Street and Castle Street (now Castle Park). With the removal of the shopping precinct to Broadmead, that focus was lost. The centre sits between the commercial core, the harbour and the College Green, yet is part of none of them and has no major public buildings. It is however the focus of Bristol's nightlife and entertainment. Like the Tin Man, Bristol may find one day that The Centre is the heart it had all along.
Andrew Foyle, Bristol (Pevsner Architectural Guides)
Not to find one’s way in a city may well be uninteresting and banal. It requires ignorance – nothing more. But to lose oneself in a city – as one loses oneself in a forest – this calls for a quite different schooling. Then, signboards and street names, passers-by, roofs, kiosks, and bars must speak to the wanderer like a twig snapping under his feet in the forest, like the startling call of a bittern in the distance, like the sudden stillness of a clearing with a lily standing erect at its centre.
Walter Benjamin, ‘Berlin Chronicle’
On more than one occasion in his writings, Smithson cited Blaise Pascal’s aphorism that “Nature is an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere,” sometimes paraphrasing it in the spirit of the inversions and reversals of his own work, for instance apropos a cartoon of Ad Reinhardt’s which Smithson reads as “an Art World that is an infinite sphere, whose circumference is everywhere but whose center is nowhere.”(25) Twisting Pascal’s words in this way Smithson participates in a distinctively modern discourse on the psycho-pathologies of space. Pascal, as Anthony Vidler sets out in his invaluable text Warped Space, was a touchstone of nineteenth-century accounts of new illnesses such as agoraphobia, owing to the biographical oddity that a traumatic near-death event had apparently led him “at times to see an imaginary precipice by his bedside, or at the foot of the chair on which he was sitting.”(26) With Pascal’s agoraphobic visions, domestic space opens onto the “uneasy dimensions” Smithson speaks of in his ‘cinematic atopia,’ the house becomes a site traversed by both the abyss within us and the bottomless horizons outside us.
What both Pascal and Smithson in their different ways demonstrate for Vidler is modernist culture’s “emphasis on the nature of space as a projection of the subject, and thus as a harbinger and repository of all the neuroses and phobias of that subject.”(27) Crucially, as Vidler shows, psychoanalysts as well as psychologists and social theorists consistently located the cause of the maladies attending these projections, particularly the diseases of agoraphobia and claustrophobia, firmly within the space of the modern city. In George Simmel’s view, for example, metropolitan subjects needed to establish an inner distance from the overwhelming proximity and overstimulation of the environment they occupied, yet such psychological defenses remained fragile, prone to pathological collapse or deformation. As Vidler explains, in Simmel’s account conditions such as Berührungsangst (‘fear of touching’) were “a product of the rapid oscillation between two characteristic moods of urban life: the over close identification with things and too great distance from them. In both cases, as with the symptoms of agoraphobia, the question was spatial at root, the result of the open spaces of the city.”(28) The urban subject’s attempts to achieve a manageable objective distance from the city always risk becoming alienation, and both interior and exterior spaces can become threatening. As with Quarry’s two sides, urban space as warped space is either distant and objectivized, but potentially abyssal, or it is close at hand, entwined with subjectivity, but potentially claustrophobic.
In Walter Benjamin’s multifaceted account of the modern city, nearness and distance are central concerns, and Benjamin’s thought further elucidates the possible connections between Quarry’s spatial sites and dynamics and the spaces of urban modernity. In Benjamin’s texts interior and exterior spaces are often described as swapping places, while the very new is often read as if it were archaic. In addition to these features, Benjamin’s use of the language of natural history, and his interest in the private collection in relation to bourgeois domesticity, make his thought of particular relevance to Quarry.
Benjamin frequently evoked the close-up or microscopic view as weapons serving to reveal an ‘optical unconscious’ parallel to that discovered by Freud and operating against the myths and values of bourgeois culture. On the other hand, however, he also often described the bourgeois lifeworld itself as a claustrophobic and suffocating surfeit of things, a material culture that presses too close. For Benjamin, the commercial spaces of modern cities, the private homes stuffed with commodities into which city-dwellers retreat, and the very interiority of those private individuals are profoundly related. “In kitsch,” he claims, “the world of things advances on the human being; it yields to his uncertain grasp and ultimately fashions its figures in his interior.”(29) This internalization of things is at once an immersion in commodity culture and the condition for an excavation of that culture from the memories of those who, like Benjamin himself, grew up within it. It is precisely in the figures Benjamin most closely identifies with the domestic space and the shopping arcade, namely the collector and the flâneur respectively, that models are found for alternative modes of relation to this lifeworld.
Dr Chris Alabaster could exemplify the figure of the collector as described by Benjamin, a figure conceived as “the true resident of the interior.”(30) Whereas the bourgeois interior of the 19th century is presented as a deathly space choked with commodities, the private collection establishes a different relationship to objects in which they take on new meaning. As Esther Leslie puts it, “the collector aspires to strip things of their commodity character, removing them from the endless circulation of commodity values. The collector places these rescued things in an intimate place, and thereby confers on them a lover’s value, as they are released from the ‘drudgery of being useful’.”(31) In this sense, collecting becomes a model for the activity of the materialist critic, who aims to read traces of utopian dreams as well as symptoms of alienation in everything from obsolete arcades to soft furnishings and adverts, and it is the very closeness of identification between collector and collection, the conferral of ‘a lover’s value’ that opens up this critical perspective. “Every passion borders on the chaotic,’ Benjamin says, describing the domestic disorder produced by the unpacking of his own treasured book collection, “but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories.”(32) Collecting in Benjamin’s view is a mnemonic practice that offers way of reading the histories embedded in objects: “for a true collector the whole background of an item adds up to a magic encyclopaedia whose quintessence is the fate of his object. In this circumscribed area, then, it may be surmised how the great physiognomists – and collectors are the physiognomists of the world of objects – turn into interpreters of fate.”(33) This relationship with objects is one in which utility is negated to allow for another, physiognomic perspective to emerge.
For Benjamin, the city is itself a collection or an archive of modernity, a site where, as Graeme Gilloch puts it “the social totality is crystallized in miniature.”(34) Physiognomy and archaeology are two key models for his project of reading the dualities of modernity in the material traces left of the past in the present form of the city. This urban physiognomy is related to the intimacy with which the collector engages his prized possessions; in Benjamin’s Arcades Project the arcades themselves are “examined as though they were properties in the hands of a collector.”(35) The physiognomy employed by the philosopher of urban modernity, then, like that practiced by the collector, is anything but passive or remote:
Static contemplation of distance, auratic perception, merely conspires with the deceptive façades of metropolitan architecture. What is required is not distance but proximity, a closeness to things, enlargement…. The physiognomical gaze is not merely microscopic or micrological; it is also destructive…. There must be a stripping away or crumbling of the exterior, an act of demolition.(36)
To this end Benjamin himself archived hundreds of “quarried citations” in order to interpret the fate of the arcades and the social forces they crystallized.(37) Such a practice of quarrying and archiving implies a process of fragmentation, recollection and reuse that echoes in its own way the characteristics of the modernity Benjamin seeks to describe. In relation to his treatment of domestic space, it also suggests that the collector as an archetype of the resident of the interior is valued because of the way their subjective passion acts destructively on both the reification of commodities and on the propriety of bourgeois dwelling within the capitalist city. Benjamin’s dialectical understanding of modernity is closely linked to his direct experience of four cities in particular, namely Berlin, Moscow, Naples and Paris, each of which revealed a different dimension of the transformations of human perception and of the possibilities for political change that had taken place since the 19th century. A brief discussion of how Benjamin read each of them further demonstrates how the space of the domestic interior and that of the city were complexly linked in his thought with forms of subjectivity.
Visiting Naples in 1924 Benjamin saw the city as a ruin, but one in which public and private spaces were excitingly porous, with life spilling out into the street, in sharp contrast to the well-furnished privacy and interiority of bourgeois life in northern Europe. Naples embodied for Benjamin the decayed, outmoded status of this pre-capitalist lifeworld, but it also represented the utopian possibility of another ordering of society in which the private individual is not sovereign, propriety doesn’t govern bodily or intellectual habits, and collectivity takes centre stage in both public and domestic space. In Naples, Benjamin writes “the house is far less the refuge into which people retreat than the inexhaustible reservoir from which they flood out” and equally “the street migrates into the living room.”(38) Such porosity seemed to offer a more livable balance between proximity and distance than achieved in capitalist urbanity.
Moscow on the other hand, as a revolutionary city, embodied the possibilities and dangers of destroying the bourgeois lifeworld altogether. With the abolition of private life, Benjamin notes, so too private space disappeared. The apartment was no longer the domain of one petty-bourgeois family but instead, occupied by several families, became like “a little town” or even “an army camp.”(39) Benjamin reveled in the anarchic displacement of domestic decorum that resulted:
An essential feature of the petty-bourgeois interior … was completeness: pictures must cover the walls, cushions the sofa, covers the cushions, ornaments must fill the mantelpiece, colored glass the windows. (Such petty-bourgeois rooms are battlefields over which the attack of commodity capital has advanced victoriously; nothing human can flourish there again.) Of all that, only a part here and there has been indiscriminately preserved. Weekly the furniture in the bare rooms is rearranged; this is the only luxury indulged in with them, and at the same time a radical means of expelling “cosiness” along with the melancholy with which it is paid for – from the house. People can bear to exist in it because they are estranged from it by their way of life. Their dwelling place is the office, the club, the street.(40)
If the home and private domesticity are thus eliminated, and work or the street is where Muscovites reside, the city streets themselves are estranged. To Benjamin, “the street is augmented by the dimension of landscape,” with open spaces, rural architectural styles, and the miserable weather combining to create the impression that “the Russian village is playing hide-and-seek” in Moscow.(41) Spaces in Benjamin seem always liable to turn into their opposites.
Benjamin’s writings on Naples and Moscow have the structure and tone of reportage. Berlin, on the other hand, was above all a lost world recovered by Benjamin in his recollection of memories, and his descriptions of the city take the form of evocative memoirs of childhood. This seemingly nostalgic relation to the city can be valuable, because, as Benjamin argues, memory has “the power to generate nearness. A room we inhabit whose walls are closer to us than to a visitor. This is what is homey about home.”(42) The Berlin of Benjamin’s childhood gives him a critical purchase on the relationship between bourgeois values and bourgeois spaces, because of its proximity in memory. Susan Buck-Morss makes a useful comparison with between Proustian ‘involuntary memories’ and Benjamin’s more critical project of remembrance, noting that the former are occasioned by rooms in which Proust had lived and “remain personal, locked in the private world of the bourgeois interior.”(43) Benjamin, in contrast, addresses the entwining of Berlin’s public spaces with his emergent subjectivity: “associated with these public spaces, memories of his earliest class awareness and sexual awareness become part of a common, socio-cultural past.”(44) This is not an exercise in personal nostalgia as a longing for home (as the word etymologically implies), but rather an attempt to excavate from oneself the traces of the social dreams embedded in things.
Paris, the ‘capital of the nineteenth century’ in Benjamin’s eyes, exemplifies the duality of emergent bourgeois capitalism as both earthly paradise and urban underworld. Here again relations of interior and exterior space are crucial: the covered shopping arcades of Paris, the subject of Benjamin’s most ambitious intellectual account of modernity, constituted in his view “nothing other than a street transformed into an interior setting.”(45) This formulation is identified particularly with the subjective attitude of the flâneur, the denizen of the arcades for whom “the street becomes a dwelling place” and who “is as much at home among house facades as a citizen is within his four walls.”(46) The flâneur, then, the Baudelairean man of leisure who, Benjamin pointedly says, “goes botanizing on the asphalt,” joins other archetypal figures including the ragpicker and the collector, who offer alternate modes of apprehending the city.(47) While the collector, as we have seen, brings things closer – both in coveting them and in remembering their histories – the flâneur has a more absent-minded, purposeless mode of engagement with the world, one which enables the city itself to be brought closer to home.
In the nineteenth century “the domestic interior would seem to have become the transparent, even inevitable, metaphor for bourgeois identity.”(48) Benjamin might seem to deal, therefore in conventional metaphors, but the persistence with which he associates domesticity and dwelling with what seem to be its opposites, indicates that he is set above all on disrupting the naturalness with which we associate our belonging in the world with our being at home in it. That Benjamin’s project is denaturalizing needs to be underscored because one of the most interesting features of his writing on the city, one which needs to be understood in its strategic dialectical dimension, is the frequency with which he deploys metaphors of natural history in accounting for the experience of modern urban space. “Landscape – this is what the city becomes for the flâneur,” Benjamin writes, “or, more precisely, the city splits into its dialectical poles. It becomes a landscape that opens up to him and a parlour that encloses him.”(49) Or, in a note for the Arcades Project which could almost anticipate Smithson’s use of the prehistoric: “When as children we were given those great collected editions, The Cosmos and Humanity, New Universe, or The Earth, would our gaze not fall first of all on the coloured [illustrations] of petrified landscapes or the “lakes and glaciers of the first ice age”? Such an idealized panorama of a scarcely past ur-epoch opens up when we gaze into the Passages [arcades] that have spread into every city. Here is housed the last dinosaur of Europe, the consumer.”(50) As Susan Buck-Morss has brilliantly demonstrated, the efficacy of this approach lies precisely in the extent to which it destablizes the naturalization of history in which it seems to partake. By misapplying binary pairs of linguistic terms, such as history/nature, or city/landscape, to referents strongly resistant to such applications, Benjamin institutes a critical form of ‘natural history’ in which both nature and history are brought into question.(51)
This denaturalizing critical distance is achieved by bringing things closer, whether in memory, in collecting, or in apprehending the city from mobile or unconventional perspectives - so that the alienating effects of capitalist spectacle are negated. Film too, Benjamin hoped, could function in support of this critical grasping of the conditions of modernity. In his famous polemic in support of film and photography as agents of the destruction of the ‘aura’ of the traditional artwork, Benjamin defines that aura as “the unique phenomenon of a distance however close it may be.”(52) This distance is constitutive of art’s separateness from the world, its ‘cult value’; “what we used to call art begins at a distance of two meters from the body.”(53) The following passage, which focuses on how film overcomes this distancing, is set out in terms that reverberate with the two sides of Quarry:
By close-ups of the things around us, by focusing on hidden details of familiar objects, by exploring commonplace milieus under the ingenious guidance of the camera, the film, on the one hand, extends our comprehension of the necessities which rule our lives; on the other hand, it manages to assure us of an immense and unexpected field of action. Our taverns and our metropolitan streets, our offices and furnished rooms, our railroad stations and our factories appeared to have us locked up hopelessly. Then came the film and burst this prison world asunder by the dynamite of a tenth of a second, so that now, in the midst of its far-flung ruins and debris, we calmly and adventurously go travelling.(54)
From the perspective of the early twenty-first century it is perhaps difficult to subscribe to this optimistic view of film’s potential to act as ‘dynamite,’ still less to see it as opening calm routes among the “ruins and debris” of our city streets. Ironically, whilst mainstream cinema is part of the spectacular visual regime of global capitalism, artists’ film has taken on something of the ‘aura’ of uniqueness which Benjamin’s Artwork essay saw the medium as banishing. In that sense, it perhaps maintains its distance. Yet Benjamin’s thought remains pertinent to an understanding of our modernity as well as his, not least because it is already deeply involved in these kinds of ironies and role reversals. To Benjamin’s dialectical philosophy, most phenomena had two aspects, one utopian, the other catastrophic; like Gunning’s Quarry, Benjamin’s thought is “Janus-faced,” the better to apprehend the ambiguities of modern subjectivity.(55)
To return, then, to the ambiguities of Quarry, and the four spaces it links – that of art, that of industrial production, that of spectacle, and that of uncanny domesticity – one might say that it presents at once the distanced vision associated by Benjamin with traditional aesthetics and the close-up which is characteristic of both the collector’s and the camera’s proximity to the world of things. And to go further, with the ground of Benjamin’s approach to these matters in mind, I would contend that the space that Quarry implicitly traverses (and which its viewers implicitly negotiate) is indeed that of the modern city. It is the city that, after all, necessitates the industrial exploitation of geological material out of which it builds both public and private spaces, and it is those spaces that have been consistently linked with forms of subjectivity that respond to the pressures of distance and proximity. Benjamin’s reading of these themes, which presents the city as both archaeological archive of modernity and as natural landscape, and which values both collecting and the filmic close-up as destructive of distance, suggests that Quarry might be understood as a figuring of the conditions which bind subjects and spaces, and of the forces which break or reconfigure those bonds. Its double scene of industrial shock and domestic disorder certainly seems to address such conditions and such forces.
The ordering of domestic space is also, of course, a complex ordering and disciplining of gender’s relation to space. As Mark Wigley has argued in a reading of influential classical and Renaissance architectural texts, individual gendered subjectivity, and the very sense of sexuality as a private dimension of that subjectivity, are functions of a reciprocal shaping of space and subject. Indeed, domestic routines and architectural divisions produce a gendered living space in which the very discourses of privacy take shape. Of particular importance in this regard is the emergence in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries of the study. Here family documents were produced and securely archived by the paterfamilias, the order of the house documented in its hidden centre, “a locked chest in his study.”(56) Genealogy emerges as a male preserve, therefore, one exercised in a withdrawal from the family, and only publicised as confirmation of the status of the male private individual, in the form of memoirs for example. Aptly, it is in a study which itself housed an extensive collection – that of Sigmund Freud, the paterfamilias of psychoanalysis – that this domestic decorum was breached, and private interiority and public identity were thrown into disorderly conjunction, with sexuality pervading both. It is with a brief consideration of psychoanalysis and the archive that this essay concludes.
Nothing is less reliable, nothing is less clear today than the word “archive.” […] Nothing is more troubled and more troubling.(57)
In its looping repetitions, the Blast section of Quarry ends up conveying a sense of a daily shock that has become accommodated. In this it could perhaps figure precisely the accommodation that our culture has made with the shock of psychoanalysis as well as our habituation to the industrial reshaping of the natural world. Of this accommodation, Jacques Derrida writes that, “if one took psychoanalysis into account, seriously, effectively, practically, this would be a nearly unimaginable earthquake. Indescribable. Even for psychoanalysts. There are times when this seismic threat passes through ourselves, through the interior of each individual.”(58) However, Derrida goes on, even ardent followers of psychoanalysis “in their lives, in their current language, in their social experience, they act as if nothing had happened…”(59) Psychoanalysis, in other words, has been domesticated. Derrida’s complex reading of this domestication, set out in a number of texts, addresses psychoanalysis from the double perspective of someone writing in the aftermath of the Freudian event, and someone writing in anticipation of the coming of that event as a radical disruption of our sense of subjectivity.
In his book Archive Fever Derrida gives particular attention to the relationship between psychoanalysis and its archive, often figuring this through the status of Freud’s last home, in London’s Maresfield Gardens, as a museum. Derrida suggests that the meaning of ‘archive’ “comes to it from the Greek archeion: initially a house, a domicile, an address, the residence of the superior magistrates, the archons, those who commanded…. It is thus, in this domiciliation, in this house arrest, that archives take place.”(60) Despite its homely location, the archivization of psychoanalysis is shown by Derrida to be deeply problematic, given the ways in which Freud’s most challenging concepts undermine conventional understandings of the archive itself.
While the archive might be thought of as an extension of memory, a place in which memories are preserved and made repeatable, Derrida complicates any such understanding by pointing to Freudian repression as a kind of archiving without memory, and to the Freudian death drive as an ‘archiviolithic’ force which aims to erase or eradicate not only memory, but also any archive of its own traces. On the one hand, “there is no archive without a place of consignation, without a technique of repetition, and without a certain exteriority,” and yet “repetition itself, the logic of repetition, indeed the repetition compulsion, remains, according to Freud, indissociable from the death drive.”(61) Moreover, because psychoanalysis is identified so closely with Freud, its archive cannot be limited to public statements such as texts, but could also potentially include private comments, thoughts, desires. The trouble with the Freudian archive, then, is that we can never be sure of its limits – would it include the unconscious archives of Freud or indeed of the interpreter of his archive? – or of its coherence, given that a key tenet of Freudian theory posits an archive-destroying force at the centre of subjectivity. Derrida’s insistence on the archive after psychoanalysis as fundamentally troubled and troubling thus serves above all to de-naturalise and break with our archetypal view of archives; he shows the work that must be done to make archives authoritative and keep their house in order.
This de-naturalisation operates both with and against Freud, deploying Freudian concepts such as death drive to displace the idea, also set forth by Freud, of the archive as “a quasi-infinity of layers, of archival strata” which can be excavated and interpreted by a method metaphorically figured as geological or archaeological.(62) Derrida cites a passage from ‘The Aetiology of Hysteria’ in which Freud uses precisely this metaphor, presenting the work of psychoanalytic interpretation as a matter of clearing away debris in order to find what is buried in the archival strata. “If his work is crowned with success, the discoveries are self-explanatory,” Freud writes, concluding his evocation of analytic proficiency with the exclamation “Saxa loquuntur!” [stones talk!].”(63) For Derrida, this jubilant phrase signals Freud’s wish for an immediate archive and one in which the psychoanalytic troubling of the archival is forgotten. In this formulation “the very success of the dig must sign the effacement of the archivist: the origin then speaks by itself. The arkhe appears in the nude, without archive. It presents itself and comments on itself by itself.”(64) But as Derrida shows with particular force regarding the archiving of psychoanalysis, the archive is anything but transparent or able to speak for itself, and the role of the archivist in constructing meaning from it is crucial.
The section of Quarry in which Dr Chris Alabaster loquaciously presents his collection could be usefully read through the issues Derrida raises, for here we have, in close proximity, both the archive as natural and domiciled, and as that which is formed, arranged and spoken through a subjective passion which renders the domestic space uncanny. Quite clearly the stones do not speak for themselves, but are doubly framed by Alabaster and then by Gunning in Quarry. Further, the ‘archive fever’ identified by Derrida is contagious in that its troubling questions can be linked to the two models of the archival present in Quarry, that of an objective witnessing and recording of an event (which takes place, coincidentally, at a site in which geological strata are very much present), and that of collection and ownership (where the archivist is partially effaced yet continually present). It also pervades my response to Quarry and its archival condition, for here too it is far from clear if the work can speak for itself, or if an archival interpretation might return to any point of origin, whether in the work or in Gunning’s conception of it.
Like Freud, Benjamin deployed archaeology as a metaphor for historical interpretation, but with a different twist. In a short fragment, unpublished in his lifetime but reclaimed from his archive, Benjamin sketched the following scene:
He who seeks to approach his own buried past must conduct himself like a man digging. Above all, he must not be afraid to return again and again to the same matter; to scatter it as one scatters earth, to turn it over as one turns over soil. For the “matter itself” is no more than the strata which yield their long-sought secrets only to the most meticulous investigation. That is to say, they yield those images that, severed from all earlier associations, reside as treasures in the sober rooms of our later insights – like torsos in a collector’s gallery.(65)
Memory, on this reading, involves both rupture and fragmentation, breaking through and scattering, the upshot of which is analogous to the private collection. Meticulous though it must be, such investigation is also exploratory, “the cautious probing of the spade in the dark loam.”(66) The circumstances of investigation must therefore become part of it, and “genuine memory must yield an image of the person who remembers, in the same way a good archaeological report not only informs us about the strata which first had to be broken through.”(67) I find that my own quarrying through Gunning’s work has inevitably followed such a course, and that Quarry’s place in the Picture This archive, the situation of a writing residency, and the experience of encountering an unfamiliar city shaped and decentred by historical forces, have all become part of the collection of fragments I have gathered and presented in this text. One of the pleasures of Quarry has therefore become the way in which its own play with points of view figures the possibilities for viewing and encountering it, whether in the gallery or in the archive, whether as distanced observer or subjective enthusiast. Chris Alabaster’s collection might, I suspect, be the part of Quarry that this text comes closest to.
It may seem a mere projection to link Gunning’s work of 2003 with Smithson’s of the 1960s and 70s, or to nominate urban space as the missing centre of Quarry; both moves may be entirely subjective responses to the gap opened up by a long-shot of a quarry and a close-up of the interior of a house. But if the route from Quarry’s outside to its inside views passes across the city, then on the accounts set out here this is fitting enough. The decentred or a-centric urban space has been, after all, the domain of the anxiously projecting decentred subject, forever caught between claustrophobia and agoraphobia, between what presses too close and what remains too open. Quarry doesn’t speak of these themes explicitly, but by addressing, in very direct and economical ways, the entwining of proximity and distance, the animate and the inanimate, the interior and the exterior, it already takes place in the field of a characteristically modern conflation of space and subjectivity. For me Quarry continues to figure and speak to these matters from within the archive in which it is housed.
(1) Andreas Huyssen, Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003), p. 71.
(2) ‘Conversation: Rachel Withers and Lucy Gunning,’ in Rosalind Horne (ed.) Lucy Gunning, (London: Matt’s Gallery, 2007), p. 7.
(3) Lucy Gunning, 'Rock of the New' Venue, 19-25 Sept., 2003, p. 52.
(4) Sally O'Reilly, ‘Lucy Gunning,’ Art Monthly, No. 271 (November, 2003), p. 16.
(5) David Lomas, ‘Psychic Disturbance and Interiority in Surrealism and Contemporary Art,’ Subversive Spaces, (Manchester: Whitworth Art Gallery, 2009), p. 23.
(6) Discussing the 2001 work Intermediate II Gunning has indicated that she is interested in positioning the viewer as a ‘co-witness’: “The hand-held technique heightens one’s awareness of a presence behind the camera, and to some degree the viewer takes my position in relation to the subject, not as a voyeur but as something else – a witness, maybe.” ‘Conversation: Rachel Withers and Lucy Gunning,’ p. 14.
(7) Bhabha, ‘Aura and Agora: On Negotiating Rapture and Speaking Between,’ in Negotiating Rapture: The Power of Art to Transform Lives, Chicago: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, (1996), pp. 8-16.
(8) Michael Archer, ‘Mortal,’ in Rosalind Horne (ed.) Lucy Gunning, p. 54.
(9) Ibid., p. 57.
(10) Smithson, ‘Donald Judd,’ in Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, (London: University of California Press, 1996), p. 5, 6.
(11) Smithson, ‘The Crystal Land,’ in ibid., p. 7.
(12) Robert Smithson, ‘Entropy and the New Monuments,’ in ibid., p. 15.
(13) Ann Reynolds, ‘Reproducing Nature: The Museum of Natural History as Nonsite,’ October, Vol. 45 (Summer, 1988), pp. 109-127.
(14) Theodor Adorno, ‘Valéry Proust Museum,’ in Prisms, (Letchworth: Spearman, 1967).
(15) Smithson, ‘What is a Museum?’ in Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, p. 43.
(16) Smithson, ‘The Crystal Land,’ p. 8.
(17) Smithson, ‘A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects,’ p. 100.
(18)Smithson, ‘The Spiral Jetty,’ in Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, p. 148-149.
(19) Craig Owens, ‘Earthwords,’ in Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power, and Culture, (London: University of California Press, 1994), p. 41.
(20) Smithson, cited in Owens, p. 43.
(21) Owens, pp. 42-43.
(22) On the relationship between Smithson’s spirals and crystal growth see Thomas Crow, ‘Cosmic Exile: Prophetic Turns in the Life and Art of Robert Smithson,’ in Eugenie Tsai (ed.), Robert Smithson (Los Angeles: The Museum of Contemporary Art, 2004), p. 54.
(23) Manuel De Landa, A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History, (New York: Zone, 2005), p. 135-136.
(24) Ibid., p. 27.
(25) Robert Smithson, ‘A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art,’ in Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, p. 88.
(26) Anthony Vidler, Warped Space: Art, Architecture, and Anxiety in Modern Culture, (London: MIT Press, 2000), p. 19.
(27) Ibid., p. vii.
(28) Ibid., p. 68.
(29) Walter Benjamin, ‘Dream Kitsch,’ in Selected Writings, Vol. 2, Part 1, edited by Michael Jennings, Howard Eiland and Gary Smith, (London: Belknap, 2005) p. 5.
(30) Ursula Marx et al., (eds), Walter Benjamin’s Archive: Images, Texts, Signs, (London: Verso, 2007), p. 267.
(31) Esther Leslie, ‘Walter Benjamin and the Cheerful Destruction of the Self,’ at www.militantesthetix.co.uk/waltbenj/cheerful.html (accessed 28/10/2010).
(32) Benjamin, ‘Unpacking My Library,’ in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (London: Pimlico, 1999), p. 61-62.
(33) Ibid., p. 62.
(34) Graeme Gilloch, Myth and Metropolis: Walter Benjamin and the City, (Cambridge, Polity: 1997), p. 5
(35) Ursula Marx et al., (eds), Walter Benjamin’s, p. 267.
(36) Gilloch, Myth and Metropolis, p. 170.
(37) Ursula Marx et al., (eds), Walter Benjamin’s Archive, p. 252.
(38) Benjamin (with Asja Lacis), ‘Naples,’ in Selected Writings, Vol. 1, edited by Marcus Bullock and Michael Jennings, (London: Belknap, 2004) p. 419, 420.
(39) Benjamin, ‘Moscow’ in Selected Writings, Vol. 2, Part 1, p. 30.
(40) Ibid., p. 30.
(41) Ibid., p. 41.
(42) Benjamin, ‘The Great Art of Making Things Seem Closer Together,’ Selected Writings, Vol. 2, Part 1, p. 248.
(43) Susan Buck-Morss, The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project, (Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1991), p. 38.
(44) Ibid., p. 39.
(45) Gilloch, Myth and Metropolis, p. 8.
(46) Benjamin, ‘The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire,’ in Michael W. Jennings (ed.), The Writer of Modern Life, (London: Belknap, 2006), p. 68.
(48) Susan Sidlauskas, ‘Psyche and Sympathy: Staging Interiority in the Early Modern Home,’ in Christopher Reed (ed.) Not at Home: The Suppression of Domesticity in Modern Art and Architecture, London: Thames and Hudson, 1996), p. 65.
(49) Benjamin, ‘The Return of the Flâneur’, in Selected Writings, Vol. 2, Part 1, p. 263.
(50) Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, V, p. 1045 (a?, 3), cited in Susan Buck-Morss, The Dialectics of Seeing, p. 65.
(51) Ibid., p. 59-60.
(52) Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,’ in Illuminations, p. 216.
(53) Benjamin, ‘Dream Kitsch,’ in Selected Writings, Vol. 2, Part 1, p. 4.
(54) Walter Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,’ p. 229.
(55) Gilloch, Myth and Metropolis, p. 66.
(56) Mark Wigley, ‘Untitled: The Housing of Gender,’ in Beatriz Colomina (ed.), Sexuality and Space, (New York: Princeton, 1992), p. 348.
(57) Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, (London: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 90.
(58) Jacques Derrida and Elisabeth Roudinesco, For What Tomorrow… A Dialogue, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004), p. 179.
(59) Derrida, For What Tomorrow… A Dialogue, p. 179.
(60) Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever, p. 2-3.
(61) Ibid., p. 11-12
(62) Ibid., p. 22
(63) Ibid., p. 93
(64) Ibid., p. 92-93
(65) Walter Benjamin, ‘Excavation and Memory,’ in Selected Writings, Vol. 2, Part 2, edited by Michael Jennings, Howard Eiland and Gary Smith, (London: Belknap, 2005), p. 576
Lucy Gunning produced Quarry as a result of three month Moving Image Residency, which was co-organised by Picture This and Spike Island, Bristol.
Dr Dominic Paterson works at the University of Glasgow where he teaches 20th and 21st century art and theory.