Author: S.T. Lore
Client: Tim Johnson & Tolarno for PARIS PHOTO 2015
Format: Exhibited A4 sheet
'This text was written for Paris Photo 2015 at the Grand Palais (unfortunately shut down by the Paris bombings). It accompanied a suite of photographs taken in 1972 by the Australian Artist — Tim Johnson. What initially looks like a perverted surveillance series, belonged to a far more conceptual approach of art happenings called 'DISCLOSURES'. Tim explored how people reacted during various interactions by rearranging each others’ clothing, or by, either men or women or both lying motionless on the floor while Tim lifted up shirts or pulled down their pants. This photographic series called 'PUBLIC FITTING' was taken over a series of 20 non-consecutive days in 1972 with a large frame Pentax Camera. He noticed the wind also stripped our municipal facade of control to reveal something more child-like and innocent (not just underwear). Although showing women with their skirts blowing in the air, it was demonstrating how nature determines the behaviour of people in the public sphere. Tim Johnson is one cool cat. He is the father of twin 7 years old boys. He is in his late 60's and when we hung out he gave me a small painting of the Russian Poet Gogol in exchange for my writing. He does more spiritual paintings now-a-days and this gift represents his Buddhist philosophy. He also collects artefacts of his idols / heroes. He has an original Rimbaud personal diary; a document of Red Cloud's treaty signature with the US Government. And last I heard he was trying to buy a piece of Gogol's skull from auction ...'
Beside you sits a photocopy catalogue of UFO sightings, a stone sculpture from the East and a cardboard tray of printed cards … each one oddly coinciding with Sinatra’s first visit to Australia, only a few years after the publication of The Female Eunuch. Let me just say … that these documents, are not, in any way, motivated by ‘desire’ … and any reading of financial interest or puerile symbolism occupy the shallowest valley. To the untrained eye, acts that appear overtly sexual, more truly represent human beings interacting with a mystical force. A notarized dairy verifies that each act (altogether 20 in total) was predetermined by occurrence of specific meteorological phenomena. Recorded in ritualistic fashion as squalls, breezes, gales, or (the most powerful of all), as a cyclone, with this time ahead of us, we can look over the innocent reactions, the child-like visages smeared by make-up, and the entire business may help erode voguish belief systems. For we “can never understand anything by agreeing, by making definitions. Only by turning over the possibilities.”1
Violently detained in the future, a political correspondent offers me this advice: ‘disseminate this material within a week, or you’re completely out of date.” And if I am a student of history, she is perhaps compelled by contemporary aesthetics. Swept up in the hallucination of the moment (or that is the impression I am given) our discussion is amiable, but somewhat awkward, and full of her own reactionary media concerns — crushing the anti-liberal movements. But if these represent proposed solutions, I find many improbable. By posing as a futurist, I have bored of the crunching algorithmic analysis of human movement studies (our true behaviour patterns forever being ignored, passed over, as inherently fragile and somewhat illusory human gestures). And while the storm has long passed by, restoring a semblance of civilization to this small city, I hold the grey toned fragments in my lap (a crude homage to figures carved in Cambodian stone; or ornately woven into Hindu tapestries). The gales that once drove oceanic discovery, formed interior deserts, and determined materials used in our grandest architecture, deliver me upon the ice, and I stand with the polar bear, watching the ascent of the irradiating sun.
It is unlikely we can expose any one true way of perceiving all this mess. For if we meet again it will be a chance collision inside the supra megacities of Mexico City, Shanghai or the urban spread of Chennai being the latest to rise. Utilising accrued data of surveilled intelligence, a sophisticated game model (coded by a power-law curve corrupting the Pareto principle) predicts the elite 5% will pit themselves against the useless 95%. And with our increasing dependence on robotics, the advance of autistic gene mutations, delicate spheres of human consciousness, along with any appreciation of natural mystery, will decline, leaving inhabitants to be captured by the ingenuity of their own devices. My softest answer to this remains simple: ‘I am unconcerned. I have consumed large amounts of an illegal drug called Norma Gene and am sufficiently inoculated against this looming virus. Intoxicated by the refraction of light on my retina, I step out into the evening breeze and enjoy recording the joyful disarray of naive reactions, occurring, right here, down in the gutter.”
*1 Title and quote from Insignificance. A 1981 play script by Terry Johnson. Directed in 1985 by Nicholas Roeg.