Glorious Descent

Glorious Descent
Acrylic on canvas 60 x 40cm

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Geospatial teacup pyramid

I began a new job this week, a glorified waitress at the Sydney Convention Centre.
In the initial hours of my first shift I was herded like a sheep around the centre, which was large enough to have its own post code. I found myself questioning the desire to be part of such a flock, even if it meant I could effortlessly leave it behind at the end of the working day. For whilst it would certainly leave plenty of mental space and energy for better things in life, it was proving positively soul destroying.

The experience was like the first day of school, the uniform drowned me, I didn't have the correct stationary, nobody spoke to me and worst of all, at lunch time I found myself standing in the middle of the canteen, tray in hand, with no table to sit at. Being the crazy girl with no make up on or straightened slick hair I found myself stumbling into a chair and imitating Drew Barrymore from the film Never been kissed, spilling my green cordial onto the table.

However, after such an uninspiring introduction to the centre, I did find the afternoon more intriguing. Simply because of the fact that I opened my eyes to the convention that I was working with. Even now, after a number of days at the convention , I can't tell you precisely what it is on, but that is half the appeal. Something to do with geography, digital mapping, engineering and data, I think. Purely alien yet wonderful to me.
Though what remains disheartening is that in one instance, as I was standing before a water station reading a banner on one of the pavilions, I asked my waiter buddy what she thought a geospatial solution might be. She looked at me as If I had spoken in another language, glassy eyed, she shrugged her shoulders and went back to inspecting her acrylic nails. How does one reconcile themself with this situation ? True, the work is tiresome and ordinary, but within the environment there is something to think about and better still talk about with your colleague. But there was simply no connection.
In a similar instance I found myself serving double smoked ham with Camembert and seeded mustard baguettes, when a delegate asked my colleague what the food was. She bluntly responded "Pork" and turned away, leaving the man looking half heatedly at his sandwich. I guess I should have been impressed that she didn't say "Pig". But where I ask you, is the care ? The slightest interest in the cheese, if not in the act of serving it. How can you not be excited about cheese ? Whilst heartened that I could at least be stimulated by the elusiveness of a geospatial device and care about the cheese even though I couldn't eat it, I found myself very lonely in the experience. And so as I diligently performed my waiting tasks, scurrying around like an ant, trying to care about the arrangement of napkins. I feared that perhaps this job could in fact reduce my mental capacity for art rather than leave space for it, simply beacuase no one else seemed to care. If people aren't open to the changing environment of their work, the food they serve or the people they interact with, then where is the shared experience ? And where does that leave art ? If it comes down to the nature of the work itself then what sort of work should an artist do ?

But, there was light at the end of the tunnel as the final task of the day was building a teacup and saucer pyramid. The meadative power of its construction was wonderful, oh the intricacy ! oh the repetition, oh the pristine whiteness of the china ! What a practical and artistic feat in which to conclude the day. It was then that I considered the geospatial solution that I had recognised in the fulfilling practice of building such a hospitable artwork.


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