Lines and correspondances
a line is an arc in time

Gavin Morrison and Alec Finlay

I have become convinced that most lines don’t exist.
I’m sitting overlooking the sea and out there is a line, the great curve of the extent of the visible. It’s commonly talked of in the definite article: the horizon. But mine is not yours; it is not a line but a limit in line form, a boundary generated by a parallax of bodily position and geography. And so what happens when no-one is gazing upon its fictive truth, where does the line truly dwell? And there are other such lines, even more deeply imbedded within the collision of the universe and individuated being. Take the famous paradox that Zeno of Elea devised of the race between a tortoise and Achilles. In the spirit of fairness Achilles allows the tortoise to start further along the racecourse, but the result, according to Zeno, is that Achilles can never overtake the tortoise. For when Achilles reaches where the tortoise started the tortoise will have progressed a little further and when Achilles reaches the point where the tortoise had progressed to the tortoise must be further than that. So the tortoise can never be overtaken. This failure of the fleet-of-foot Achilles is also a line. It is an asymptote; a line that progresses nearer and nearer to a limit but never reaches it. It is a line based in the infinite, perfect in its ideal existence. These great arcs, the horizon and the asymptote, incise through and beyond time substantiating our precipitous existence on the edge being.

Marseille, March 2005

each of brushed by pollen written in dust

Dear Mr Finlay, it is raining in the Alps as I write this, and your poem confounds my spirits. The last of the snow and ice is being stripped from the surrounding precipitous rocks. The coming of spring here is not the bucolic idyll of blossom on trees and rabbits in the meadow; it’s dirty and ravishes these already mournful mountains. This seasonal moment of transience is imbued with the substance of pessimism, and one I feel your work often shares in. This is not meant as derogatory, it is the fundamental unsettlement that change brings, a sense of hollowness in the present and the uncertainty of the future. Your work is like this, always moving that is and never deferring to an ideal. Sometimes literally as with the Letterboxing but also internally like in the circle-poems: where the end dissolves into the beginning. And from this arises your solemn realism typified in a commitment to express the brute facts and the myriad of their connectivities. Perhaps the word pessimism may be slightly unpalatable to you but there is an undeniable darkness that is layered through your work, at times it arises from a solitude that edges towards loneliness but even in the group works you instigate (such as with the Renga Platform) the individual is accentuated, still ultimately alone though not lonely. Throughout this I see you transcending the base negativity of pessimism by this commitment to the individual and the resultant weighting of responsibility upon them. This is what occurred to me yesterday, while climbing on the mountain, when I noticed in a few of the remaining snowfields that the surface was sprinkled with a fine film of pollen; the speculative endeavors of nature towards a possible future.

La Grave, March 2005

alone inside an illness
can the rain not rain?
wind through the branches becomes the silences

Yes, Dear Eck,

Your reply – almost verbose within our correspondence – casts your presence in increasing clarity and the content of those words reminds me of the first poem that I can remember writing. It totaled five words, which caused my teacher to suspect that I was swinging the lead somewhat. The poem ran: ‘Always rain in my brain.’ and it still raises a sardonic smile with me; it is comfortably far from good poetry so as to allow its naïve commitment to the internality of existence to be brutally expressed. And this clutch of lines, which I received from you this morning, truly enlivens that territory of melancholy on the cusp of solipsism which I so longed for with my juvenile verse. Your words are undoubtedly strong, and strongly felt, and resound through us all. Yet it is often easier for us to obviate the impact of their sentiment through generating a cacophony of distractions. But you are a voyager who casts off the reassurance of everyday dalliances to venture deep into the aural void that is flawlessly fractured by the wind in the branches. Like John Cage’s commitment to silence or, even better, the humming of Glenn Gould as he played Bach you are one of a community that realizes the world is not a defective version of an ideal but rather the ideal is a rarified version of the actual. The distinction may be felt to be slight but it is actually momentous. As we understand silence as the null value, the baseline reading where no signal is present you turn up the levels, amplifying the residual noise, articulating the tension between the ideal and the actual but you also make tangible the character of that silence. You reveal it as the silence within, the nothingness which constitutes us but one which is in actuality a tightly woven matrix that renders us as essentially composite beings; products of our slightest histories and circumstantial contexts. So continue forth on your intrepid expeditions into and through the terror of silence, and as you pass, letting the music that the silence contains escape, please remember to send back missives of your discoveries from those inner-lands.

Aberdeen, April 2005

us as we are
the spiral intaglio of the ear
this is my listening face

Eck, this morning, while drinking weak coffee in a decrepit railway hotel and musing over your most recent correspondence, it occurred to me that your work’s loneliness is mitigated by a haphazard creation of communities. I touched on it before but I feel stirred to deliberate further on the arbitrary means which result in disparate individuals becoming the narrators of your forms and ideas. It is often started by a postcard solicitation asking for a contribution to a future anthology: a photograph of a section of the sky to appear in a book of Wind Blown Clouds, or a poem in a slightly mutated haiku form on the subject of soccer for Football Haiku. Those postcards say just enough, their elegance in form is in perfect symmetry to the ideas they articulate; a simple proposition that almost anyone can partake in. And once they are released into the world you partially abdicate responsibility, it rests with the world to whether anyone is so moved to contribute and what they contribute. In allowing just enough conceptual space for the respondents to personalize their submission there is a melding of authorship through these books; your presence never totally recedes but never dominates. I know that through this method unexpected correspondences and friendships have been generated, but this is not an imperative of the process. Rather it seems sufficient that anyone so moved to collaborate does so within the confines of the project, their presence is complete in their submission. And within that gesture of contributing there is a tacit acknowledgement of the validity of the project idea and a desire to share. But with this generative strategy there is an inherent risk; it is poised on the brink of failure. It is quite possible no one will reply. But such is the risk for one who goes into the world asking, listening and waiting.

Aberdeen, April 2005

you are invited
artist projects

artist biographies