Following a day at PSL on Wednesday April 1st Penny Whitehead, Daniel Simpkins and ourselves No Fixed Abode began to discuss initial ideas. We all showed an interest in activating the waterways around the space for many reasons, perhaps most importantly though the area epitomises the modern, high-rise, luxury living by the water which is a common development strategy in almost every city that you go to, and ultimately, is the reason for a space like PSL coming about.
We have spoken about working together to extract some of the history around the waterways in the area and to examine the nuances of their demands upon the narrative of it. We aim to continue to redefine what our responsibility as artists is (or isn’t) within the area and within that narrative.
At the moment we are considering making a raft as part of our engagement. We not only like the physicality of constructing a raft but we feel it is something which would act as a tool for critique. We have a text below which is something that we wrote and got this idea underway. Its a loose allegorical account with the raft acting as a symbol of self-initiation.
These are our initial ideas and outlines from one afternoon in the space, let us know what you think.
The raft also offers allegorical reflections on the self-initiators. The raft is the buoyant platform of those with limited resource and funds. There are now best practice examples of how they are produced but this is only between those who have the means to be able to view the examles of others. For the rest, the design and the function is borne out of pure experimentation and necessity.
The raft is a self styled means of transport, and of communication and exchange. They can only be made from the reources and skills that are available, and must serve as many functions as are required for survival and be strong enough to withstand the terrain. The raft must be proportionate in scale to those that have invested into it, and will potentially use it at one time, whilst retaining enough space to transport cargo or more people that will need to to come on board for the benefit of all of those to whom it belongs. This cannot be emphasized enough. It is this extra space which encourages exchange, and it is this which serves the dual purpose of protection and replenishment.
When in motion, the oarsmen must propel the raft along the lines which they have been before as experience provides them with the knowledge that these offer the strongest chance of survival. The only exeption to this is if, at the point of reception and exchange, alternative routes are demonstrated. There are however, conditions to this. If this exchange is by word of mouth, the information posited must be trusted by concensus. If the exchange is through demonstration then more trust can be shown. However, if the demonstration is as a guest on anothers raft, then one must assess the structure of ones own raft in comparison. Maybe ones own raft can be customised, or maybe a combination of the two routes may offer the best result. Maybe increased knowledge and an exchange of resource might mean that a second raft could be engineered. Maybe it would simply be best to start again. This would be the decision of some of the most experienced oarsmen. Whatever the case ones raft must never sink as even a near death experience would hinder progress in the future.
All rafts which have lasted have a mast and a flag. The mast must be long enough so that the flag can be seen from afar but must not be so high that snags on low branches. It must be attached to the raft securely but not take up valuable space. The flag must not be white or be red. It must reference the identity of the oarsmen. It too must be large enough to be seen from afar but not to large so as to be a hinderance on progress.
When a raft is moored at the destination it must be harnessed securely enough so as to not drift away. It must be anchored closely enough for others to look at it and so as to allow others to board it and to be hosted. This proximity is particularly important when anchored alongside other rafts. It must be close enough to the other rafts to allow for others to traverse them all, but be be far enough apart so as to not become one indefinable mega-platform.
This particular raft has been made by the hands of a few. The platform is buoyed by 6 of the most ubiquitous of resource: the oil drum. The oil drums are cleaned out before use but can often be seen to leave traces of oil on the surface of the water. Tethered to these is the plaform, which is made of medium-density fibreboard. This is far from the best material for the job and requires regular filling, and is often replaced. It is however available in abundnace.
The mast is hugely disproporationate. As thin as an adults finger and standing 25 feet in the air. As the mast is so long, physics dictates that even the slightest of uneven waters causes the flag to be whipped eratically to and fro, giving the flag no chance of being decipherable. As the flag flies so highly and is subject to low branches, strong winds and aggressive jolting, it is regularly severed from the mast. However, this problem was overcome by securing it with gold chain. This was sacrificed by one of the oarsmen who received it as a token of an exchange with others. The flag will be held in place forever but sadly it is extremely disheveled.