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Ship's Log

Updated: Jun 18

What follows is the archival record of six Instagram posts made for a takeover in May 2020 on @creeksideartists.




++ship's log 1++

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Initial communications dispatched.

Vessel, can we land? (@e_artsprojects)

Transmission sent and accepted. Guidance systems active.

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Contact made with research teams. Signs of life detected. Reciprocated. (@ssea.school #lsfrc)

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What the ..! Shif.. bzz bzz.. our bodies are diss.. pathways are nonsensical.. 😱

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\

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Commentary:

I'm going to use my takeover over the next three days to share a fictionalised report of a collaborative curatorial project that has been my primary art-focus over the last two years.

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Initially a proposal was made to Exposed Arts Projects in October 2018 to make an exhibition and events series with artists and academics from SSEA and the London Science Fiction Research Community. The core idea was to use a fictional landscape I had been developing as a starting point and binding factor for our exhibition. Exposed Arts accepted the proposal and we began to collaboratively build the project.

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For this landscape, although we continue to use the metaphor of a spacecraft, it is a spaceship that follows a different set of metaphysical and ontological rules. For example it is possible to walk up a corridor and be suddenly in a mountain range. Alternatively you might find yourself in the mess hall or medi-bay.





++ship's log 2++

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Orientation & language - new networks. Mutant algae.

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Random encounter table populated with nodes + offshoots of them.

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The ship who sang. First constallation of crew members. (@stone_katie @alexanderpage98 @mndrage @lizzy_laurance @francisgenerowe @sinjin_li @e_artsprojects & Cailin B-O'D)

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\

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Commentary:

Instigated by Sasha from Exposed Arts Projects, we began a series of meetings at roughly six week intervals. It was scary to watch friends from different areas of my life meet together, and although sometimes it felt like being at my own birthday party (in a negative sense), powerful new connections emerged.

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We gave presentations to each other and created mind maps on large sheets of paper. References to pop culture, artworks, and academic texts flew thick and fast. Dates were shifted and then committed to.

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This was the visioning stage and characterised by a weighty sense of abstraction obfuscating everything: we were navigating a landscape that could not be seen.




++ship's log 3++

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Docking bay malfunction. Scanners down &

...Some loss of life. Octopedal earth sculptures and recovered textual fragments.

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The ship itself is conscious. Searching for trace elements:

Low energy struggles.

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A powerful sense of kinship.

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Commentary:

As visioning shifted into planning, we began to have a more clear sense of the various elements of the project that would take form at Exposed Arts in Kensington. Enabled by the longer gestation period, we began to see the individual parts as a more integrated whole.

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It was however also a time of uncertainty. Because of the extension of the dates from those originally proposed, SSEA as a group had to step back. However SSEA members @mndrage and @lizzy_laurance became more integrally involved.

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We began to look at funding options and in particular had meetings about making an application to the Arts Council @aceagrams. However, despite losing some sleep, we didn't have the labour capacity to commit to the daunting application process. Myself and @francisgenerowewere able to get a small HARI grant from @royalhollowayfor the LARPosium part of the project.

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I made an curiously structured zine that contained segments of fiction set onboard the spacecraft L'enfant which I published in a tiny run in order to give a copy to each crew member. This contained images of sculptural installations about L'enfant I had made on a residency @studiogaronnein France.




++ship's log 4++

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The spacecraft L'enfant.

Copy that: Long Form.

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Like all of them: Pearl has been caught in the vortex of L’enfant like a scrap of polythene snagged on wire and bleached by time.

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Blips on the scanner - @holly_hunger, @veritycoward, @_james_kelly__, @body_drift, Morris W. - join & re-knit dead skin.

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Commentary:

Bringing in fresh energy was a powerful boost to the project. It buoyed me up that further incredibly talented people were open-minded enough to enter something so formless.

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I was also tired at this stage from holding space for a long time. Working through new inductions/introductions required more admin/emails/doodles& meetings.

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Along with a site visit to Exposed Arts, we met often at each others homes. We went to see an experimental opera together but it was divisive.

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The project began to take a very crisp tri-partite form: We divided into three teams: the physical space team, the monastery team, and the LARPosium team. These boundaries were permeable.




++ship's log 5++

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A time of heightened productivity. Generous crops yielded from the various solar farms. Religious structures forming and re-forming.

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Supplies restocked. Fleas and flies.

Hexagram = coming together:.:

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Commentary:

Dates were set for the last week of April and first week of May for the exhibition at Exposed Arts Projects. These dates correlated with half a moon cycle, and with the festival of Beltane at the mid-point. This middle day would be for the LARPosium, a public live action role-play crossed with an academic conference devised by@francisgenerowe.

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The monastery team began to meet regularly in order to develop a mythology and religious practices that would be the foundation for a two week durational performance stretching over the course of the exhibition.

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The physical space team were also meeting regularly to decide how to confront a unique set of problems: making individual artworks that linked into the overarching theme (and especially the fictional characteristics of each of the rooms) as well as forming a container for the live events.

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By bringing together a gorgeous set of six index tiles designed by@sinjin_li, a metaphysical schema developed by@lizzy_laurance, and spacecraft rooms arranged by myself and Francis, suddenly a set of six organising principles manifested for the exhibition. To me this felt like a hugely liberating moment.




++ship's log 6++

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Events beyond anyone's control.

Catastrophic engine failure. Organic machinery out-of-lock. Widespread tangled roots in the lower decks.

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Hex : Gathering together. Cohesion. Binding.

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Charting a path forward through the ship-encrusted muck and slime.

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\

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Commentary:

We realised that over a year's worth of preparation and planning would be affected by the paradigmatic shifts to our reality caused by Covid-19. We had not yet released publicity for Companion Voyages so were able to remain fluid in our plans without worrying about the effect on our audience.

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We had frank and kind conversations laying out the possible next steps. The cancellation was disheartening and the future uncertain.

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However from this position positive things began to take shape. We decided to make an online iteration of our work based on the logic of six rooms. We expanded the time-frame we were working within. Sing brought confidence to this by designing layouts and Sasha began to actualise the designs as part of the Exposed Arts website.

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The monastery project could not translate to an online space, but sculptural works and the LARPosium could, albeit in vastly trans-mutated forms.

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Sasha and Exposed Arts have been encouraging in asserting that there will be a physical version of the show when the paradigm shifts again.

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These six posts have been a rough draft of my memories of events. They leave many gaps which future iterations will attempt to recognise and resolve. The works that the others have made are tremendous but I cannot share them at this stage so please keep an ear out for future announcements. We will go online June 15th.

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Transmission over.

© 2018 by Llew Watkins.

Dressing up Bars. Hinterland Shift. Llew Watkins artist website.

Writing, art, sculpture.