PROJECTS N1 How to be a good witness
  N2 Networks of surrender



15 minutes and 7 seconds
10:49PM, 18-01-11
Recorded on two bar stools


I asked whether you remember your dreams and you said that you sometimes write them down.

Have you ever tried writing them down?


If you wake up in the morning and you write it down you are more likely to remember it the next day. And then you will remember more, and then you will remember more. You try to reach a point where you create a level of consciousness.

Was this something you practiced?

We wanted to be conscious while we were flying. That was the aim. To try to get to that point.

This was something you could cultivate, get better at, almost like a skill.


Do you still do it?

No. But you can do it on a small scale. If you sit there and plug it into your memory you will be more likely to remember it. So you can build it that way.

I tend not to normally remember my dreams. But something that does happen to me is that images come out of nowhere during the middle of the day. And then I realize that it’s something I have dreamt.

How do you realize that it’s something you have dreamt?

There is something about the image that gets superimposed on top of what I am seeing and in that flash it starts to drag other images as if they are attached by a string. These images are the other moments in the dream. [pause] I don’t know what triggers them.

Do you think that they are arbitrary triggers? Could it be anything?

I wish I knew more about how my brain works to answer that but I do know that I am always really surprised by it.

I think it’s interesting that you relate it to a dream. Other people might just say that its déjà vu.

I was speaking to a lady near where I live, and she was saying that for her déjà vu means that you have been here before, which is related to ideas of reincarnation. And then of course there is the Phillip K Dick book VALIS which says that in déjà vu and these other dream states what is actually happening is that we forget to forget - all time is simultaneous. There is no progression or memory because there is no past or future, everything happens in an instant. And in that instant everything reveals itself.


The strange thing about these photographs is that they are memories in which it is difficult to determine the time in which they occur because they have duration and we are used to seeing images in an instant. So they have a strange spectral quality. They are ghostly images.
There is something in the instant and the duration and the duration as a translation and transformation. But I don’t know what it means.


Because I do think that the effect when you look at those images is the sense that you have seen it before. That you have been on [inaudible] before.

That is really interesting. So maybe déjà vu is when your memory of something is quite fuzzy and then a similar situation happens. It doesn’t have surface detail for you to latch on to - it’s just similar enough that you think it has happened before.

There is an openness?

Yes! There is openness to your perception.

It allows the up-swelling of memory through the neurons to imprint itself on the sense perception, since it is your brain that fills in the detail.

It creates that sensation through its spectral quality and lack of detail.

I also think there is a third quality which is to do with a sense of stillness or - you wouldn’t say that they are alive images would you? Maybe they are dead images? Can an image die?


Maybe it’s more about whether it is real or not real. Maybe it is not a real image. Maybe it has to do with the fact that it hasn’t really happened. Which takes it back to performance, is it real?

And to the trauma of an event which is always missing, all you get is this after-effect.

The after-effect - that sense of seeing something when you close your eyes. It is  still there overlaid on your eyelids. And it’s not clear, it’s indistinct, it’s obscure.

You know what is interesting, what you just made me think of is that these photographs are just pure aura because the after-effect is aura.

That’s nice because it’s the idea that the reflection on your eyelid is the obscura projecting back on the screen.

The eyelid is the black screen. I immediately think that when you stare at the sun or when you stare at something bright that the cornea - or is it the rods - get so stimulated that you can still see it even when you look away - like it’s burnt. You can’t not see it. Because normally the way you choose to not see something is to edit it, to close your eyelids.

That’s the dream problem.

Yes because by closing your eyes you are supposed to be protected from the image.

Yes you can’t insulate yourself.

It’s inescapable. It’s trauma. It’s inside of you now.

Yes. That’s right. Because it’s inside you not even as a memory but as the pure overstimulation of a nerve. Its almost like it’s a physical imprint as opposed to it being an image that is intangible, such as an image in your mind, it has become physicalized and internalized.

In a way it’s the perfect thing to suggest because the obscura treats the inside of the room like a photographic surface almost like a light sensitive emulsion that is able to record or receive the impression of the light and even after the shutter closes, it is still there. That is the really fucked up thing about the obscura, the image doesn’t disappear when the shutter is closed.

Yes. And the great thing about it is that is ‘within’, not in the sense that it just got recorded on a digital chip but it is actually in the space of the machine.

The image lingers.

People say ‘burnt in my memory’.

When the images are burnt in, their edges blur.

That is the characteristic of the photographs.

They are burnt in by the light.





9:43PM, 30-03-11
Recorded at a table for four


Clenched fist and a clenched jaw. 

I’ve been having problems sleeping.

Last time we talked about dreams, but perhaps this time it is about being dreamlessness, to not sleep.

The poster has this quality. The poster is not a dream, that image is not a dreamlike image, it’s intense.

Yes, the strange intensity of wakefulness.


One thing that I’ve always liked about that image is that it’s taken from a pretty far distance. In a lot of ways perspective is negated because it’s obvious that someone is observing that act from quite a way away. So then the distance starts to add to its removed nature.

That’s really nice I hadn’t thought of that. That’s the reason why it goes so beautifully with the text, because you’re not participating in the act yet, it’s definitely that feeling of observation, of speculation.  It’s the moment that I get to decide, “Do I participate? Or do I back away and leave it alone?” So the distance between the event and the action is integral.

The resolution of the image is also really important, because we don’t know whether the people are in a state of rage or they’re in a state of euphoria.

[content omitted]

It’s interesting because the threshold is a moment of transition. The first reading is that the threshold is a moment of personal transformation, from wake to sleep or from one form of consciousness to another form of consciousness. But I guess because the image is of people in the midst of a revolution or a riot or an uprising, it is also a collective sense as well, it moves between a personal reading and a social reading as well.  So the threshold is a social threshold not just a personal one.

Somehow the distance in relation to the text was something I hadn’t worked out. The question is whether you join in, whether you participate or walk away. That’s what it is, that’s the mechanism of the image, that moment of panic.

The image is the invitation in. It’s on that threshold.




8:20PM, 01-06-11
Recorded on three bar stools


So it’s not the appropriate ending, it’s the appropriate continuation.

[content omitted]

Maybe I missed this, and maybe it’s obvious, but in the script in the first edition of the conversation, we talked about the space of the truck and the relationship of capturing an exterior into the interior, but I don’t think we’ve ever talked about it in terms of the idea of a ‘conversation’. The conversation, which becomes broadcast, shared, or somehow exposed or made public. We’ve never talked about that relationship. Clearly it was voyeurism, it was a penetration into a private space but it’s also mutually about the conversation. How do we begin to talk about the generosity of giving an idea to someone else and not saying, “this idea is my idea, you do it” or “this is the way it’s going to be done”. But instead, “I’m going to give you this idea, do what you will with it”.

We want conversations and we curate a series of events and conversations, or even a series of projects or collaborations between people, and maybe that’s the proposal – we bring together a series of architects from Sydney, from other parts of the world and connect them together on a project…

[another wine is ordered]

What we are proposing is work. We get people together. Person A, meet Person B, that’s our job, right? To link them up and bring them together in some way, so it’s fine to write a brief and send it out, but it’s about the way that these conversations become curated…

…that’s the curating.

And the thing that will make it successful, that made the Prague projects successful is there was a routine…


…you get this, you give us this, we photograph this and...


…it gets published here.

It’s very procedural, isn’t it?

[content omitted]

Yeah, I agree and the important thing…the cake display thing is fucked up because everyone is asked to do whatever you fucking want, right? The whole point about Prague, which is different, is that in the end the whole package goes to someone else and it gets filtered through the camera obscura, you establish this consistency. So the equivalent would be, imagine doing the cake display where everyone submits an idea for a project, but then it’s one person drawing it up and one person making the models. All looking exactly the same, but they’re different.

Exactly. It’s the transitory period.

And the people that don’t succeed are the ones that try to hold on too hard…it’s not authorship…they’re trying to hold on to some sort of fake authenticity.

We’re setting up networks of surrender.