The Travels of The Toucher, Assembly House, Leeds 2015-12-15
The Travels of The Toucher
Dillan Marsh & Eleanor Clare
Video projection with audio played through a bass amp, 45 sec. loop
Framed digital C-print, 60x85cm
Audio, played through a mini guitar amp, 5.20min. loop
Digital photograph on 32 inch monitor
Stud wall with two poke holes cut through it
Five terracotta clay objects on different sized plinths
Framed painting, acrylic on two 21x15cm sheets of paper
Work lamp, lighting back yard
Publication, in edition of 50
Eleanor Clare & Dillan Marsh: The Travels of The Toucher
With cardboard boxes over their heads, and two holes punched out for their arms, they began with wet clay, and without any other idea than to see what came by handling it. What they arrived at was not a sculpture, but a way to begin. The forms were destroyed and remodelled – the possibility to reform them was always there. It was a way to get to the thing.
On a wet and windy day, they journeyed out to Tigh na Cailleach, home of the Old Woman of the Glen, just before she withdrew into her shelter for the winter. They were not sure what they might find, or what to do when they got there. They were walking a path that had been walked for thousands of years. They were looking for the very beginnings of meaning and making: to connect thousands of years ago with today. They wanted to find it, but when they found it, they didn’t know what to do next. Not there at the shrine, nor in the studio with the clay.
About Time is a satellite programme of contemporary art running from October 2015 – January 2016. It is curated by a consortium of Leeds-based artists and curators led by Mexico, Pavilion and SPUR with contributions from Assembly House Leeds, Basement Arts, Black Dogs, Leeds Animation Workshop, Left Bank, Pyramid of Arts, Seize, Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun and many others. Coinciding with the launch of the British Art Show 8, this city-wide initiative features commissioned artworks, texts and events which aim to highlight the work of artists, cultural producers and curatorial projects based in Leeds, alongside their international peers. The programme takes place across a diverse set of venues including artist-led spaces, museums and heritage buildings.
Through the grainy unsteady image and the sound, distorted by low quality compression, it
seems like something is trying to break through. The first few seconds sound like noise
pulled through a synthesizer, screaming and kicking as it emerges, fighting for life in its new
digital form. Something about it is alarming, frightening, tortured and angry. It is half-formed,
raw and unrefined. Streaks of red and white light flash across the screen.
It is an arena for action. Something about this situation that is chaotic; yet there is an
element of control. The driver makes tight circles around a central axis. At first this is
demarcated by a traffic cone, but as things proceed, the silhouette of a young man moves into the
centre. The car stops and revs up, creating billows of smoke in the air, obliterating vision for
a few moments. As the car skids and screeches, I feel a sense of alarm. This is coming close to
disaster for the lone, central figure, potential victim of the anonymous driver, a sacrifice for
the entertainment of onlookers. I can sense also the collusion. One figure willingly places his
trust in the other. There is a tension between these two.
A smoky, fiery object is spinning recklessly. One might say things had spun out of control.
Not quite though; for to completely lose control would mean total destruction. It would mean the
end. It all went up in flames. This is a sudden, intense and short lived burst of energy. More
like a supernova than the sun, and more akin to a meteor careering around a planet, than a planet
orbiting the sun. It was more than this, though. This scene was not simply about objects in space;
it was human. It was a game or a task, perhaps even a ritual.
Although I can identify it as a human activity, shot through with the implications of one's
relationship to another, from my vantage point it also seemed anonymous. In the dark, these
figures could be anyone, totally unrecognisable by the light of day. In this moment they had a
relationship to one another. Certainly for the two central protagonists, it was one of great
significance and trust. At any other time, on any other level, it was unclear. In this sense, the
action had become symbolic. The figures could be understood as archetypes. Ones which, for reasons
I cannot yet identify, I associate with the masculine.
In the threat of a loss of control, images had already flooded my mind. I remember as the
helicopters circled in the air above my house one evening in August. I had no idea why it was
happening, but this circling was incessant, the noise repeatedly coming close and fading away,
swelling and receding, but never quite out of my consciousness. It always gives me a slight sense
of unease, the idea of something being under surveillance, coupled with the notion that something
might be wrong. Why this surveillance from such a great height? It is a safe distance for the one
who watches. Then I remembered the destruction that had taken place, just minutes away from my home.
The aerial images of buildings and cars set alight, and rioters surging through the streets, anonymous
from this point of view. London's Burning.