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A conversation between Joseph Murray and Mark Aerial Waller

Joseph Murray: Hi Mark, during the installation I rememberyou described reconstructing the piece Midwatch after 10 years or so as beinglike trying to put a big puzzle back together. Could this idea of a puzzle alsobe applied to the relationships between the many referential elements withinthe show’

Mark Aerial Waller: When producing apiece of work I don’t see it as putting pieces of a puzzle together, it is morelike overlapping different coloured pieces of glass, producing a third colour.It’s more to do with being conscious, having memory whilst doing something, andanticipating the consequence of that happening after something else. Forinstance the video piece Midwatch came about after interviewing two veterans ofthe first British Nuclear tests for another film Glow Boys. The film is not anillustration of that interview, but a consequence of hearing their gallowshumour, I was also reading Moby Dick at that time and thought about the crazysea captain sailing his crew into certain death and how there seemed to be arelationship between him, the whale and the quest for nuclear power. I am notsure that there is a pre-determined way that something can fit next to orwithin something else in the work, it has more to do with the situation ofreading whilst listening to music and watching the news whilst being bombardedwith advertising and ideologies. The work also is the result of the struggle tomaterialise something of one’s own within a world of dominant ideologies andorthodoxy. The pieces that emerge form other experience and don’t discard thelink to their origin, be it culture, experience or history. So can seemreferential, but I think it is perhaps a mistake to see the work as requiring toread certain books or watch certain films. There is hopefully a present tenseto the work. I hope that the things brought forward from previous culture donot act as reference triggers, but are active operators, survivors of previous timesand other places.

JM: Midwatch bursting into the galleryspace reminds me of when I was a child at Universal Studios in Florida and Iwas on the Jaws ride, Jaws kept smashing through different materials to try toeat me and the other people on the ride. I wondered if you could say a bitabout its intrusion into the space and its relationship with the drawings.

MAW: For those of you who have not seen the show, Midwatch isa video work housed in a black oblong box, big enough for 5 people to sit intogether and watch the screen. It is positioned in an oblique angle to thewall, jutting into the room, like an uninvited guest in the show. I like tothink about the gallery space as a site for a fiction to occur, or have occurred,where the objects may become exhibits of a crime scene or archaeological site.The video itself is set in an inconsistent time, one character thinks that itis 1956, the other thinks that it is ‘Nelson’s Time’. It is shot in black and whiteon a very low-end miniature camera, which shares an aesthetic with the SonyPortapack; the camera of choice for the 1960’s/70’s video art pioneers. So theimplicit temporality is 70’s/50’s/1790’s, but quite clearly none of these atall. There is no attempt to make a period drama here. The fiction is inhonesty, roughly fabricated. Now, ten years on from first showing the piece, Iwanted to make clear the temporal inconsistency. In 2001, just after completingthe installation for the first time, the piece seemed too new to be able toproperly invade across time. Now that it has aged in the store it seems morecapable of operating as a remainder from the ‘old days’, uncomfortably findingitself in the present. The drawings are both completely separate and consistentwith Midwatch. These are graphite representations of a tombstone with offeringsplaced on top. Coins, earrings and a variety of unlikely small objects havebeen left there, posted in hope and faith to go across to death, and perhapsback, recharged, from some alternate space where the dead painter ‘lyingnearby’ resides. So Midwatch entering the scene could be seen as a response tothe coin offerings, like a returned call. The box itself is constructed fromshuttering ply, the type of wood used for covering broken shop windows, or forsealing vacant property, and this has been scorched black, except for an areain the shape of a battleships silhouette. During the research about nuclearwarfare and power I read about the silhouettes of bodies burnt into the granitein Nagasaki from the US nuclear assault. The method of the box finish is areminder of that.

JM: Thanks Mark. The show looks great!

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