(2014) FAVOURED OBJECTS (with Martin Stevens)

Martin Stevens: What is a favoured object?

Sasha Opeiko: How do we decide that some piece of junk should be brought to the other for inspection? As if you might favour a particular attribute of the thing more than I do, but what is the difference? Possession is viscous, fluid, reflective…
You brought me flat objects to incorporate in my stack of flat things, so it is not necessarily my stack anymore, especially because I’d since forgotten that I was working on it; it’s kind of a dis-possessed project.

MS: We went on quite a few walks looking for flat things to incorporate into the new 2’x2’ stack, the largest you’d attempted. I think we were also finding out if we could work together.

SO: In retrospect, I see you’ve contributed levels into this object and you’ve provided insights with regard to its formation.  Sometimes I do not know what I favour in a thing, I lose orientation of my desire for it. At such points I hand the responsibility of desire over to you.  However, this only happens in work, when we are working on a project, as if there is something that must be sustained, like the constructive desire has to be maintained somehow.

MS: We seem to care about the same things at the same times. We had seen a 5 inch TV in a junk shop where we do a lot of our drifting and shopping and simultaneously decided we wanted to do something with it, noticing that its telltale TV shape could be defeated.
Soon after we came into the possession of two 5 inch TVs. We placed them in various configurations on the floor. We leaned a plastic Fresnel lens from the TV top to a juncture at the wall. The wall constrained the vantage point and the screen image collapsed into a point, forming a cone of static. All that was left then was to formalize that experience.
To me there are few ‘why’s’ to that experience – just the ‘how to’s ‘. The pieces fall into place over strange extended periods. Without you or me there to answer each other’s questions and critique each other’s thought processes, there would be no object. Neither of us would have built these floor TV boxes any more than we would’ve begun immersing strange objects in wax.

I am informed by your intellectual processes and these give me a builder’s stance. Both of us have knowledge of certain constructed physicalities we wish to see in the world but that do not yet exist. We both keep saying “Hey we should…” but every time there is no we yet.

How did the projection piece develop, given that there were so many components?

SO: “These constructed physicalities we wish to see” – I think these desired objects vary between speed, texture, colour, scale, et cetera; but our decisions seem to be guided by what would be too much, by what not to do for fear of loading the object with arbitrary cues.  We reduce and isolate, but we also invent contexts in which this reduction can happen, and that requires labor, resources, process, error –  working.  I like your observation that there is no we yet at the conception of an idea with regard to what might be worth pursuing.   “We should” is determined by “it can”, “it is”, “it might”.  The projection piece, Third Line, was more complicated because the work component was very large. Instead of a quality of one object to keep our minds on, we had hundreds (photos + haikus).  Even so, we were still guided by a uniform quality in the sense that our haiku process was formulaic/methodical, the photography of found objects and surfaces had to be consistently compatible from one image to the next, and the entire video had to be paced and composed so that no one element was more important than another.   I am not sure why the project needed 4 components, but it wouldn’t have been a very perceptually interesting experience otherwise.

I think we felt that each component by itself wasn’t doing enough.  Maybe it was contrary to what I mentioned earlier about being wary of excessive information – in this case our material would have been misrepresented unless something was added.  Do we mediate quantities? Why?

MS: Quantities and singularities are not in opposition. I have always been interested in duplicates and series – the things that talk to each other as much as to themselves. I reacted to your painting initially because of  the serial nature of it, then the primacy of the one. Third Line for me also adds the interaction of the audience – passing a medial threshold from left to right, text to image… Its physical guts still entail interaction with the immediacy of rough and non-clever surfaces – paper, knotty pine, a wretched table with scraps of plastic and offal.  The rotten, gouged out trash of the photos and the pulled-from-page phrases are matched by their physical upkeep.

That said, we have also now created a system of projection that we will re-purpose with alternate content. Although we are fans of detritus, we are highly technological. Still, for us technology is just for manipulation of scruffy ideas; like this audio thing we finished today – an old recording now buried in some demolished stonework we dragged from an abandoned industrial site a few months ago. The technology at hand can be perceived as highly privileged, but we like to keep it as basic as possible. It only functions to enhance whatever we‘re thinking.

SO: Technology is a tool, an extension of control. We’re extending our limbs to the objects, but in doing so, the objects seem to acquire limbs also. [there may be a Marxist materialist idea/quote to insert here] Maybe what we’re making are tools or limbs in themselves, not devices in the sense of a designed aid that overtly performs a task, but rather something that activates an intellectual experience.  We try to point to a small reveal of whatever indefinable universe sits under the acquired ideological anxious habits people work so hard to maintain.

It also seems to be of significance that even before we started working together, we have always placed some trust in synchronicity and happenstance.  We will stumble onto the desired object or solution sooner or later. Within a week we find 3 elongated strips of various materials that just happen to be of the same width, and a few more in the coming weeks.  Maybe that isn’t the best example, but how does one make sense of such events and why do we place confidence in an unpredictable system?

Perhaps an unpredictable system is more believable, but how? I sometimes feel that I don’t wait for things, or I don’t rely on something to come along, it just happens to find me like a stray cat. What does synchronicity do for us? How have you worked with it in the past?

MS: “Why do we place confidence in an unpredictable system?” Chance has played a major role in all my work, be it in the actions taken during process or the choice to follow a particular thread that creates a body of work. “Synchronicity itself implies wholeness and therefore meaningful relationships between causally unconnected events.”[1] “(It) implies a cosmos in which seemingly unrelated events are woven together to form a continuous world… Such a cosmos does not square with classical, mechanistic physics that view the universe as a loose assemblage of objects, forces and energy.” [2]
The Duchampian notion of re-contextualizing the found object, found palettes, literary games, these systems and many others have found a way to inform me by introducing synchronistic chance into the process of object making. We are pulled or directed by irrational decisions while following a seemingly rational course. As Jasper Johns advised, “Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it”.

Maybe not unpredictable then, but paradoxical.
It’s important to remember that Time plays a very important role in this process. Letting the next decision sit for a day or two, letting the non-rational guide you to an intuitive solution, leaving room for the next chance element to enter. These chance factors make it possible for one to be more authentic with the object at hand instead of letting the conscious mind misinterpret the object by way of Ego.

[1] Combs, Allan and Mark Holland. Synchronicity. Marlowe & Co.: New York, 1996. xxxi.
[2] Ibid 11

“No two people will see the same object: that’s a truism…What makes it more than a common truth is that it applies just as well within a single person. (We) are divided and at times…modes of seeing are so distinct from each other that they could belong to different people. At other moments they coalesce, but (one is) normally aware that differing viewpoints collide in the ways (one sees)….I hope to be flexible in seeing, to think in as a liquid a way as i can, and even to risk incoherence.”

Elkins, James.  The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing.
New York: Harcourt Brace, 1997. 41.