Posts Tagged ‘Abigail Perry’

24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86400 seconds.

As that final hour hit we knew we’d done it, we’d completed what we set out to accomplish so many months back. Our bodies had slowly deteriorated until we were unsure where we were anymore. 24 hours, 1440 minutes and 86400 seconds is the amount of time I was in the library on the 3rd May 2013. We arrived at 23:00PM that night and we began our performance 00.00AM on the dot. I realise now how naïve I was when I signed myself up for this because this has been one of the most challenging performances I’ve completed.

Upon arriving we set up our equipment, tested our ear pieces and prepared ourselves for 24 hours of intensity. As the countdown began to midnight we stood in our positions ready to begin our work. The one thing on my mind was that during the next 24 hours, everyone entering the building would be so oblivious to what they could possibly be a part of during that day.

Unfortunately we had to lose the projection and the sound that we had originally planned to have due to technical difficulties however it was only a scrap of what our idea was all about. The main concept of our work was to document a day in the library and collect words and conversations and type them up. During the times when this could not be done we would read from books related to how we personally were feeling, using other voices to voice ourselves.

We warned everyone of our presence with posters around the library and we also had information typed up for people to read to prevent them from starting a conversation with us.

‘BABEL: Lost Words’, University of Lincoln Library, 2013


‘Poster One’, Abigail Perry, 2013.


‘Poster Two’, Abigail Perry, 2013.

Tiredness crept in and it was a battle to stay awake which was expected. We prepared ourselves in any way we could and luckily the prep got us by. We arranged our time so that one person was always on their break for an hour, then we would swap round. Waking – Typing – Break. We were  able to get some footage of the 24 hour process which I have cut, edited and attached. The interesting thing about looking at this footage is the you can see how we were all affected by the tiredness.

We were acknowledged by almost everyone that entered the library and some had a look at what we were typing and the pages we had already created. Others were not so interested but that is to be expected. We were very lucky in that no one complained about the typewriter as it a very noisy contraption despite the sounds being far from irritating, but more musical.

At 23:30PM on the 4th May 2013, we packed the typewriter and cleared the desk and awaited our audience for the final element to our performance where we binded the book using the ribbons that we had worn around our neck through the entire process. We did this as a symbolic attempt to show how we all made the book and all went through the process together. We then walked with the book to the next floor of the library and placed the book amongst the rest of the history books. We chose history because that was exactly what the book is, a part of history. We have taken the library and placed it amongst history, that same history that is situated in the library. A paradox. An infinite paradox.

I would like to end this experience from the words of the man who was at the very beginning of our process, Borges, and how he states that “I suspect that the human species — the unique species — is about to be extinguished, but the Library will endure”1 and so we like to think that now it has taken it’s place, our book will endure as long as the library itself does.

Perry, A (2013) Lincoln University 24 Hour Typewriting Challenge, Online:

  1. Borges, J. L (2000) The Library of Babel, New Hampshire: David R. Godine []
Posted: May 10th, 2013
Categories: Babel: Lost Words, Borges, Library
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00.52AM on Saturday morning. I have no idea how i’m writing this post right now as I have just completed my 24 hour performance in the library. I’m experiencing more pain than I would’ve imagined I could feel, this could be the dramatic side of me coming out, or I genuinely have completed something quite marvellous. My body feels like it’s been in a battle with a raging dragon that has set me on fire a few times and I’ve tried everything in grasp to fight it off and I succeeded, now that could be my nerd side coming out. I don’t think i’ll be rushing to do something like this again in a while, but I would definitely do it again, in a different context.

Posted: May 10th, 2013
Categories: Babel: Lost Words
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If you have to change a sculpture for a site, there is something wrong with the sculpture.

‘If you have to change a sculpture for a site, there is something wrong with the sculpture.’1 You have a site, you must not change it for the walls, the ground, the space around you, is what makes the site itself.  What we should remember is that a site is not a blank space but a real place. We should experience it in the ‘here and now’.

What makes a space significant? Is it the people that use it, the meaning of the space or the idea that you can do anything within the space? Maybe neither, maybe all but what I do know is the significance of our space, the library. It is a significant space because it has the power to strip the identities from everybody who uses it. But what if for one day, this wasn’t the case. What if, for one day, for 24 hours, you were human.

‘Audience need not be categorized, or even consider themselves, as ‘audience’.2 Pearson is addressing that in a performance, the audience need not be given a label or even recognized as spectators. Some may not even know they are witnessing or being part of a performance. This relates to what we have in mind for the library and how we will be performing and what relationship we will have to our audience. The library groups want to give their audiences a real experiences of the site specific art and ‘with the cooperation of the artist in many cases, art is now being offered the ‘real’ aesthetic experiences of site-specific copies.’3

The group and I have been very inspired by Berger’s book Ways Of Seeing as well as our original source, Borges and The Library Of Babel as it allowed us to see the library in a different and more artistic way to how we had previously seen it. Progressing on from our initial ideas we have developed an idea to connect both life, with the library. We have managed to get hold of typewriters which we will each be sat at for an hour at a time. We will also be wearing ear pieces that connects us to another group member who is repeating conversations to us, these conversations will then be typed up. In our recent lessons the group and I have designed the human heart made from human emotions. Instead of simply typing out words, we have used photos of words we have found from book with in the library.  Depending on when and how long the performance will be, we wish to show the progress of the library throughout a time span. This progress will start with the library as members of the public see it and eventually will change to become more noticed and more human. We will be collecting conversations throughout the day and typing them up on typewriters which will give the library it’s own memory. A heart beat will slowly start to play throughout the library. starting very quietly, almost unnoticeable and gradually increasing in sound. By the end of the day, the beating heart will be projected to the outside of the library. This symbolizes the completion of humanizing the library. Theoretically we would like to be able to produce a book at the end of the process that logs that one day in the library. It will contain the words of every person we choose to hear and instead of their words being lost, we will save them and make them a piece of history.

‘Typewriting 1′, Abigail Perry, 2013.


‘Typewriting 2′, Abigail Perry, 2013.

The day will be generated into sections, with something happening at certain points in the day.

Phase 1, 12:00am – 12:00pm. There will be two people situated in the library on the first floor dressed in old Victorian clothing, sat in front of typewriters. There will also be two people, also dressed in Victorian clothing, roaming the library listening and reporting conversations back to the couple on typewriters, which they will then type up. The conversations will be sent through a microphone and ear piece and the typing will not stop unless there is no conversation.

Phase 2, 12:00pm. A heart beat will start playing through the entrance of the library. This is to signify the beginning of the library’s transformation.

Phase 3, 20:00pm. A heart specifically made for us will be projected on the library wall. This nears us to the end of the transformation. The heart is made of words we have found in the library from books that relate to humans.

beatinwordheart from Adam York Gregory on Vimeo.4

Phase 4, 23:45pm. We will finish our work and regroup together. The papers will be sorted from the typewriters and we will use black tires from around our necks to bind the pages together. The book will then be given its own catalogue number and placed on the shelves ready for midnight to hit and the end of the performance to happen.

In order to document the 24 hour performance we will set up cameras around the typewriters to record the constancy of the typing and also as a way to see how many people enter the building and leave, their reactions to us and whether they choose to acknowledge us or ignore us. When the performance is over we will speed up the video which will show a very smooth transition from the beginning of the performance to the end and how we as the performers react to the levels of tiredness, hunger and social thirst. No-one said it would be easy but what it will be is brilliant and most definitely worth a watch.

The interesting part of this idea is that if someone was to read our book at the end and see a conversation they had had, would they remember saying it or would they have been dehumanized by entering the library that they have no memory of what they did or what they said?

  1. Kwon, M, (2002), One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity, pp. 11,  USA: MIT press []
  2. Pearson, M, (2010), Site – Specific Performance, New York: Palgrave Macmillan []
  3. Kwon, M, (2002)  One Place After Another: : Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity, pp. 32, USA: MIT press []
  4. Gregory, Adam York, (2013) accessed  2nd April 2013, online: []
Posted: March 19th, 2013
Categories: Babel: Lost Words, Library
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Images were first made to conjure up the appearance of something that was absent.

“We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves.”1 I have found recently that I am being influenced by the way Berger attempts to view art. He allows us to see things differently to how they are and also how they can relate to ourselves. It then makes me ask the question: Do we see things differently to others because of how we interpret what we see? I like this because the question does not need an answer but merely an experiment of some sort.

We are taking this notion of human identity and how everything and everyone in the library, on one day, will have an identity that is usually lost within the library. In a basic sum up, we want to humanize the library. How do we make something build from brick and lifeless material, human? Simply by making it seen. “The eye of the other combines our own eye to make it fully credible that we are part of the visual world.”2 We don’t intend for the library to sprout legs and start physically coming to life, but we are however attempting to give the building an identity, a meaning and a purpose.

So how does this make the library human? We are showing that for one day, everything both in the library and about the library will be remembered. That one day will make the library come alive and remain alive in the form of a ‘book’ that will be written by ourselves the very same day. Everyone who walks into the library, will come out as a human but in a different way to normal, in a way they the library is what made them human rather than them becoming human upon leaving the library.

On the night of our performance we will be using projections and sound and headsets and all sorts of technology to make this happen. It is still under development but the team and I are in full swing. Operation, make that library human.

  1. Berger, J (1972) Ways Of Seeing, p. 9, Great Britain: British Broadcasting corporation []
  2. Berger, J (1972) Ways Of Seeing, p. 9, Great Britain: British Broadcasting corporation []
Posted: March 5th, 2013
Categories: Babel: Lost Words, Library, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,
Comments: 1 Comment.

Art is not what you see, but how you see it.

John Berger in his book Ways of Seeing suggests that “the way we see things is determined by what we know”1. and I couldn’t help but relate this to the video we were shown recently about Marina Abramović and her art. Marina is a very different artist to what I have experienced before and in all honesty, I was a bit taken back by what I was watching. The way she presents her art is very extreme and in some cases, uncomfortable for those watching her. Her performance art challenges ‘limits of sensorial, physical, and psychological experience’2 through a vast range of styles.

“What I learned was that… if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you.” … “I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the audience. Everyone ran away, to escape an actual confrontation.”3

In another interview with Marina Abramović she states:

“I test the limits of myself in order to transform myself, but I also take the energy from the audience and transform it. It goes back to them in a different way. This is why people in the audience often cry or become angry or whatever. A powerful performance will transform everyone in the room.”4

Of course our performance in the Library will be of no relation to the extremity of Marina’s work however her ideas are inspirational to young performers all around the world. She carries a message with every performance she does which always has such a big impact on the audience and sometimes without them fully understanding why. A good performance should have a good audience and performer relationship but how this is established is entirely down the the performer/s. Abramović, in most of her performances has the ability to close herself off and allow herself to become one with her performance space. I feel this element of her performance is one I can take for mine. If I am to recreate the idea of the human librarian I want to take away the aspect of confining myself to the performance space. Before this, I have to develop what my performance space will be.

I have attached a short video with this piece of writing for anyone who wishes to explore Marina’s work or would like to see and example. Some may not entirely understand it but for some, it may encourage them to want to understand it. As I have said previously, I had not experienced or come across Marina Abramović before our seminar however now I can’t stop exploring her work and her history. Her work is not for the faint hearted however it is very interesting for those willing to let themselves get into it.

  1. Berger, John, (1972) Ways Of Seeing, London: British Broadcasting cooperation and Penguin Books []
  2. Fisher, Jennifer (2012)  Proprioceptive Friction Waiting in Line to Sit with Marina Abramovic, The Senses and Society, 7, 2, pp. 153 – 157 []
  3. Daneri, Anna et al (2002), Marina Abramović, London: Edizioni Charta Srl []
  4. O’Hagen, (2010) The Guardian/ The Observer, Online: (Accessed 19th February 2013 []
  5. Anon, (2007), Marina Abramović – Rhythm 10 (“The Star”, 1999) Online: (Accessed 19th February 2013 []
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