[-empyre-] proposalproposal +++ Quarryscar - Andrew Gryf Paterson
andrew gryf paterson
agryfp at gmail.com
Fri Sep 27 16:41:37 AEST 2019
Followers, fellows and contributors to the UNFINISHED series of the past
almost month, Greetings!
It has been a remarkable set of threads to wear on the eyes, in the mind,
and woven through the hard disks, drives and devices we hold close and
probably dear. Thanks so much to Shu Lea for hosting and her care in
facilitating the beginnings and endings. I have been lurking mostly during
busy presence-focused weeks here in FI.
I wish to address in this thread of unfinishedness what I hope is the
familiar trope or concept of *What is left behind* in ephemeral practices,
and *What remains* from our actions or conceptions. Since sometime 2003-4,
in my biography, now here & <www.agryfp.info> I have used the following
statement "What is left behind as social, digital, material and ephemeral
residue of 'being t/here' has been a consistent concern"
I offer an unfinished process, one that in the background has been a
guiding motivation of some kind for me: 'castles in the air' (ref: title of
a traditional scottish song, as recorded by James Ballantyne, 19th C., a
popular image or ‘meme’ ever since) that was poetic, virtual, and
personally or collectively historical.
+++ Quarryscar (1999) +++
My example, ‘Quarryscar’ is a project that I conceived 20 years ago, and
was the basis of 2 funding applications to Scottish Arts Council Public
Arts fund, which they wisely *I still reckon* turned down their financial
support. At the time I only had the vision, not the skill or capacity
arguably to realise the project. My budget was laughable, my production
schedule naive. Although I was disappointed it didn't happen at that time,
I am happy it still stands unfinished, archived as something
'not-yet-become' (ref: Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope Vol.1), as a
motivator to keep going, stored with unrealised potential..
More recently, in 2016, I put online to my archive.org account the related
files [linked above]. On this archive page is a collection of files (see
righthand panel on the link above) which relate to a digital 3D
visualisation project to virtually 'fill in' Craigfoot Quarry that exists
in the 'Castle Craig' spur of the South-facing Ochil Hills above
Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, Central Scotland.
(I also uploaded a photo album of scanned newspaper articles to FB [& today
will also upload to archive]:
Anyways, to return back in time back then in 1999 when the project was
conceived, I was living again, age 24-5, at my parents house in
Tillicoultry, after returning from a 5-month travel to Finland, without own
apartment or work (I lived in Glasgow previously), but dreaming of
undertaking master studies in virtual reality environments. Living again,
almost directly under the quarry, approx 400m away from the quarry
entrance, the glen and the quarry influenced me again as it had in my late
teenage years. To reveal something personal, a vulnerability added to the
unsuccessful funding application documents: The quarry was also the site of
a recorded as accidental death of my aunt in the early 1990s, in which she
fell from the top edge of the quarry to the bottom. The physical scar in
the landscape, was also, for my immediate family, an emotional one to also
bear witness in the everyday life. I was certain, then, that my project
concept was also my way to recognise & acknowledge the impact my aunt's
death had in my family, aswell as process this 'in the face' of living with
this scar, for the first time directly every day since I left to Glasgow,
and it's School of Art in autumn 1993.
My project proposed to involve the combination of landscape 3D contour
data, photogrammetry, digital animation graphics & modelling. Ambitious
technically, indeed, arguably unfeasable without large cultural grants 5 or
10 times more that I was asking for. The making of, or the result of the
artefacts proposed, was also to encourage discussions with local members of
the community about local history; ecological activism; industrial surface
mining & extraction as aggregate stone matter (mostly to built roads);
visual, ecological, particle and/or noise pollution.
There was also an intriguing historical archaeological reference that a
renowned old Pict fortress of the Maeatae tribe sat on the brow of land
that was carved away by the quarry.. One that overlooked their supposed
southern boundary to (Brythonic) Goddodin Manaw lands, and further beyond
over the Firth of Forth waters and Antonine’s wall the Northen limit of
Roman occupation and colonisation on the British Isle(s).
While there was evidence of small scale quarrying since 1880s, the
Craigfoot Quarry opened in 1930 by R.W. Menzies, exploiting a fault of
Quartz-Dolerite, also known as Whinstone. There was further evidence in
local Alloa Advertiser newspapers of local residential & municipal protests
at the expansion of the quarry from mid to later decades of the 20th
Century, as the quarry size permanently affected the South -facing vista of
the Ochil Hills.
To return to the imaginary and the poetic reference of the *castle in the
air or sky*.. The ancient indigenous castle that used to have material and
emotional ground underneath it to exist, but little else now as resource.
Instead of making roads & highways, I was thinking instead of informative
routes and dialogical ways of engaging present, personal & collective past
and imaginary futures. It is a path that I have continued ever since,
especially in my Msc thesis from University of Teesside, and my very
longplay Doctor of Arts study at Media Lab, University of Art and Design
Helsinki, now Aalto University ARTS Media dept. I present myself and will
do in defence, as being invested in ‘autoarchaeologies’ (abstract as slides
below in reference links).
I reflect 20 years later, that it was probably for the best that this
project's imaginary of filling in the land lies undone.
Firstly, it probably wouldn't have been that useful for my close family to
make a public art work from this context & location. Even if it might have
been a process I needed to engage with conceptually, it would have been
difficult to not reveal the personal side of my relationship to the quarry
if the project became public. My aunt’s death was a small note only in the
local newspaper at the time, and I hardly discussed it with my friends of
the time. It was buried under or among the psycho-dramatic aggregate of
small town life, hanging out on the street in shop-door gangs, getting
wasted more or less, and eventually absorbed into provincial
Scottish/Northern British Happy Hardcore or London-style Hardcore Jungle
techno-utopias of Rave Culture (The later I nowadays claim ‘saved my/our
life(s)’ from cynicism and apathy of post-Thacherite social collapse).. The
themes seeped into my Art School application portfolio, and out a little
within my Fine Art Printmaking degree work..
A virtual, digital skin, covering up the gap in the photographic landscape,
even if semi-realistic visually, I learned later after studying computer
graphics & virtual environments in 2000-2001, is still uncanny valley
never-mind uncanny quarry.
The quarry was closed, as I write, at least 5 years ago. Physical
land-scaping of the site--or it's filling in and re-landscaping to be
precise--is only now happening with the gentle and slow processes of mother
nature, healing at it's own pace. Certainly not by Tillicoultry Quarries
Ltd. it seems, 20 years later, despite historical requirements or
conditions to do so, in exchange for planning permissions granted by the
local municipality Central Region or Clackmannanshire Council to expand the
quarry at different times of its later history, when environmentalism was a
recurring concern among local resident 'citizens'.
In writing this elaborated statement, the unfinished nature of the project,
exposure and reflection now meets the current times. If the project is ever
attempted in the future, and it is certainly very feasible technically 20
years later, the question is, would it make any difference? Is it possible
to mix the poetic and the literal concrete?
When scars exist on our flesh and blood bodies we accept them as survivor
marks of some pain and healing. When scars exist in our emotional
landscape, we encourage revisiting them and gradually putting them to rest,
to fill them in, let’s say, connecting to the Quarryscar imaginary that has
‘not-yet-become’.. Can we accept this in our ecological and physical
When is activism about the land done? Like, done. Over. Is it ever?
After all natureculture and the ecosystems are forever and ongoing, we are
part of, but will carry on regardless without us humans in the energy links
Thanks for reading this far, I now hand these words over for you.
Master thesis & contemporary research related to stratigraphical metaphors
Supplementary materials which reference to the location & context in 1999:
andrew gryf patersonm.fi +358 50402 3828 [permanent,
socialmedia id: agryfp
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