/Collected & Observed
Secondary Occupants/Collected & Observed is my current project but it is really more of an umbrella project that covers a number of smaller projects. I'm planning to keep working in this conceptual space a while longer.
Secondary Occupants/Collected & Observed is a continuation of my 2007-2008 project To Know the Spiders . In that work I mounted an exploration of the arachnids that occupy the peripheries of human architectural space. The process began with the collection and killing of a spider. The specimen was assigned a number and stored in a glass vial. I then studied its face under a microscope and from the resulting drawings created a portrait of the spider in the form of a fabric banner. The banner was then placed and photographed in the exact spot of collection. The banner illuminates the presence of a silent witness and sometime symbiotic partner while also serving as an ironic memorial to the spider that had to die for that understanding to be gained.
In the Secondary Occupants installations I expand the scope of the project to include multiple aspects of animal/architecture engagement. One line of investigation examines the way in which animals (vertebrate and invertebrate) play a part in physically and conceptually transforming interior spaces into exterior ones. In an inhabited home, the presence of these animals are a threat to the social and psychological frameworks that buttress us safely on the “inside.” In an abandoned house, the threat is carried out, and the domestic space is dismantled entirely. The centerpiece of the installation is the Abandoned House-Specimen Map Table, which depicts the floor plan of a typical early 20th century single family home. Graphics on the plan locate the areas where various animals were found. Lines from the occupied places run to the edge of the table where they continue as threads that go up to the ceiling. Hanging from the ends of the threads are fabric portrait banners that depict the animals associated with the occupied space.
In this project, I construct an unnamed fictional character as the author of the work. The aims and motivations of this author are not entirely clear. However, clues to the logic behind his thinking can be found in an assemblage of hundreds of photographs taken in the process of researching wildlife and architecture. I also present some of his reading and listening materials, which seem to constitute an intellectual history of pest control.