I presented my project idea to the Elsewhere staff this morning for approval. A few details have changed by luckily they are happy for me to go ahead with it! here it is…
Nicola Winstanley- Proposal Working title: Definite Articles. 14th Sept- 11th October
Inspiration: While snooping around the top level I came across Jeremiah sorting through boxes and wondering what to do with the scraps of paper, bits of broken plastic and ceramic. I recognised his innate feeling of frustration in not being able to categorize these pieces. When I asked Jeremiah what he was planning to do with the uncategorizable items he said he didn’t know- they would probably go back into boxes. I think this is an opportunity to substantiate these objects, and create a space where people can come in the future to seek affirmation about ambiguous items.
Categorization: It is human nature to categorize. This is how we learn as children and how we make sense of the world around us. Categorization is the process in which ideas and objects are recognised, differentiated and understood. Category illuminates a relationship between the subjects and objects of knowledge. Categorising is an essential process at Elsewhere.
Inquiry: I would like to extrapolate the instantaneous process our brains perform when we see an object- particularly an ambiguous scrap or shard. When we fail to group an object with others, or cannot see its place amongst the collection, I would like to create new methods of recognition. To force-categorise the uncategorisable.
Stage 1: I would like to build a filtering system, where objects will be placed into/onto the structure and scrutinised in terms of their danger level, emotional resonance, perceived gender, etc. The use of subjective questions like ‘perceived gender’ will hopefully make for some interesting groupings. The user will use their own judgement for each filtering level to move the object on to the next question. The new categories will then be displayed in the museum space and hopefully will make it easier to place ambiguous objects in the future. There will always be the option ‘none’ for objects to move down the system. The items that have been decided as ‘none’ all the way down the system have failed to categorise and will move on to stage 2.
Stage 2: Forced categorisation. -Desperate categorisation. In an attempt to find meaning and a place for everything that has failed to be categorised, as a last resort they are turned into definite articles. For example: a bag of dust fails to be categorised. I could then form a cup and saucer out of the dust so it can be observed as a cup and saucer and processed as kitchenware. The dust will then be displayed with the cups and saucers.
Questions to be explored:
- In my work I usually select sections of materials and build something preconceived. What if the materials dictated the outcome?
- What is the most effective method of filtering the objects?
- When an item breaks or tears, why do we feel the need to put them back together?
- What criteria does it take to invent a new system of categorization?
- Will the new categories be adopted by the museum?
Location: I would like to use the document room up on the top level. I think the location is ideal for this experiment. Here I am close to the boxes I saw Jeremiah sorting through, and materials for building. The room already has the feel of a place for administration, for sorting and documenting. Also. I like the idea that when a person down in the museum encounters an object they would like to recategorize they would have to make a sort of pilgrimage all the way up to the top level, passing by everything and their categories before they can perform their task. The force-categorised items will be displayed with their likenesses in the museum.
Materials: I expect it would involve some wood and tubing possibly. Also some clear plastic or glass containers for the newly categorised items. Then some shelves to display the categorised items on.