Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Guessing Games

Saturday 31st July Reflecting on objects: an activity in three parts:

Part 1 Guessing Games

A small, green 1960s Antler suitcase lined with pink, watered satin bought from a Charity Shop for £1. Inside, a variety of mystery objects. Reach your hand in and pick one. Don’t think too much about which to pick, just take the first one your hand encounters. Take it out carefully so that no one else can see it and then look at it yourself, all the while keeping it hidden from others.

Next describe the object trying not to say what its function is (if it has one). What is it like? What shape is it? What colour? When someone guesses correctly place the object in the middle of the table until we have a collection.

Part 2 Relating to objects and to each other

Now, give your object to someone else who in turn gives theirs to another. Study your new object and think about something in your life it relates to. Then tell your story.

Part 3 Mini-installation

Place your story-object on the small, strange, two-tier metal trolley-on-a-lead that happens to be in the corner of the room. Everyone places their object until we have a mini-installation. We look at it, we discuss it. Look how the grain in the wood of the paintbrush handle echoes that of the lines on the curtain-rail finial. ‘Finial’? A word for the decorative end of a pole or banister for example. A new word I’d not heard before springing up from someone in the group.

Finally, we stand back and admire our new installation of objects, which have had an encounter with each other and with our lives as we have had with each other.

I could list the objects but to do so would not do them justice and it would spoil the games in case you are thinking of coming along to take part yourself.

But there is one I can name: a small, wooden Japanese Kokeshi doll. Next Sunday I will be bringing along more of my collection of Kokeshi and describing some of my mixed feelings about these strange and beautiful objects: Collectors’ Corner 2.30pm Sunday 8th August.

Thanks to all those who took part last Saturday, it was all fun and enlightening.

Susan Diab

Monday, 2 August 2010


My game set up by Eva.

I took a piece of my own work to the gallery on Sunday. It's a sort of game which first began in 2005 when I was exploring ideas about mapping and wayfinding. It started with the board. I was thinking about how blind people find their way around familiar places. I had been talking to blind friends about their strategies of counting paces; listening for changes in sounds; feeling changes in the air temperature, wind strength, the ground beneath their feet; all those things which sighted people don't think about most of the time. I used some tactile maps as references to mark out a trail on a big piece of board. That was the start of my game. I've added to it over the years and each time I set it up it's different. This week I brought it to the gallery to let other people decide how it should be set up.

Talking about how she decides on the way her installations will develop, Tomoko Takahashi has said that there is always a kind of story behind it - she sets up a background and starts imagining things. That was exactly what a little girl called Eva did with my game. Hers was a story of goodies and baddies and a great flood which the goodies had to escape from in boats which sailed across my board leaving a trail of markers for  people following on behind. Then they made a blockade to keep the baddies out of their area and set up (slightly wonky) red windmills to generate their electricity.

Sunday, 1 August 2010


Above and below: photographs of objects at a fleamarket, Rachel Cohen.
Brighton based artist, Rachel Cohen, brought her collection of quirky photographs of objects displayed at fleamarkets to the De La Warr Pavilion this afternoon. The Collectors Corner presentation brought up questions regarding how we make decisions about ordering and organising things and the individuality of this process. Rachel told us how she had spent hours organising the photographs into an order which would "flow" for the slideshow, grouping the objects in the images by theme (such as religious icons), function (, shape or material. Then a second layer of organising was demonstrated within the pictures, this time not under Rachel's control, instead decided by the stall-holders themselves as they chose how to display the objects on their stalls, whether in chaotic heaps, colourful groups or ordered as rows or grids.

It was interesting to think about how Tomoko Takahashi decides how to position and "display" the objects in her installations and the "internal logic" which governs her decisions about the careful placement of individual items in her seemingly chaotic arrangements.

Rachel Cohen website