© DAVID CARR-SMITH 2009 : all images & text are copyrighted - please accredit text quotes - image repro must be negotiated via dave@artinst.entadsl.com

Key F11 for full-screen on/off
Click on images to enlarge


DAVID CARR-SMITH - IMPROVISATION / DESIGN / ART / KITSCH / CHANCE

"HOME" 

DEFINING MY LOCATION / MY NEEDS / MYSELF VIA MASS-MARKET PRODUCTS & TASTE

 

INDEX  
IMPROVISED-ARCH IN AMSTERDAM INDUSTRIAL SQUATS & COLLECTIVES

IMPROVISATION - PUBLIC & LEGAL - ALLOTMENTS  
IMPROVISED VILLAGES - WANDSWORTH / KEW BRIDGE
VERNACULAR & STYLE - BERDUN, HUESCA  
TEMPORARY-ARCHITECTURE - FRANK'S CAFE / SOUTHWARK LIDO 
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS & TASTE - LIV-RM
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS & TASTE - HOUSE
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA PERSONAL-CHOICES 
ART - GOTHIC INTO RENAISSANCE INTO 20thC
ART - 20thC COLLAGE INTO MASS-MEDIA  
GRAFFITI INTO STREET-ART  
KITSCH

CHANCE & DESIGN

.
.
.

THE BRITISH MASS-MARKET HOME - pt 1    ... in process

pt 1: "HOME" - THE 'LIVING-ROOM'   

pt 2: "HOME" - THE HOUSE 

.

THE LIVING-ROOM

LIVING-ROOM: BEACH AT CRACKINGTON HAVEN (CORNWELL)
(pic c mid-1980s)

A living-room's inaugural state of differentiation. To claim a controllable portion of the world to inhabit - not to be 'lost' in formlessness (a metaphysical being-state) or 'unprotected' (an atavistic survival strategy) - is surely an inherited desire.

These two people (like most house buyers) are probably not the makers* of this moated enclosure: a small portion of ubiquitous beach has been perceptually isolated and awarded an identity (as 'a floor' or 'platform' or analogous intentional object) simply by drawing around it with the most traditional of sand/seawater sculpting tools - a small spade. 

*Its makers may be those in the background, engaged on a new project.
.

.

.THE MASS-TASTE 'LIVING-ROOM' 

The main example shown below is the living-room of my parents 'retirement cottage'  - subsequent examples are treated as variations of this exemple:

.
THE ENSEMBLE:

The Living-Room is a focus of attempts to mediate (use, understand, placate) existential conditions 
- to Use - functionally relate to (engineering) 
- to Understand - to 'model' (design) 
- to Placate - to sublimate (kitsch)  

The traditional living-room is a very intimate and very absolute place, an experiential front-line between 'Me' and 'It'. An interface that actively filters and mediates interpretations of the 'external unknown', resolving stress. 

The examples below are 'neurotic' rather than assimilative, ensuring 'security'/'comfort' by filtering perceptions via a surface of highly focussed signifiers of reassuring aspects of the 'outside', reassuringly stereotyped (stereos = mass agreement). 

The living-room's space (structure/content) is manifold. Many directions to 'outside' branch from this junction, qualitatively different types of space meet here (together these constitute 'experience'). It is an entrepot of different dimensions/destinations that may be physical, or metaphysical, or mental.

LIVING-ROOM (COTTAGE): W END
(pic 1983) 

The living room of a city couple in their country 'retirement' cottage. 

LIVING-ROOM (COTTAGE): W END
(pic 1985)

In two years almost nothing has changed, apart from an updated tv a focus of small activities is the mantelpiece to the left of its clock and its adjoining shelves. The mantel's plant has vanished, its rose vase is slightly changed, a porcelain figure has descended from the shelves, and a photo has been added (making a balance of 3 items each side). On the shelves there have been a few little changes (some perhaps initiated by dusting): a text replaces the figure, a second family photo and a tiny ceramic pram have been added. Also a plate has been fixed to the left wall.

The 1983 living room feels 'in use' - the photo was taken from a chair; the 1985 the room seems 'intruded upon', in a state of 'readiness for use'. 

.

LIVING-ROOM (COTTAGE): EVENING: W END
(pic winter 1987) 

Another two years has passed and the room has still hardly changed. There has been no change or expansion of use beyond an augmentation of comfort, and indeed the signs for 'comfort': 1 a larger and more expensive fire emits not only physical infa-red (like the previous machine) but placebo comfort via a model atavistic fire; 2 a new seating 'suite' that looks more soft and plump than the old, more bed-like with its hard legs hidden by a ruffle like a 'fitted bed-cover'. The main function of a 'living-room' seems to be physical comfort which reduces/expunges awareness of body during passive consumption of mass-mediated entertainment and a setting that signals relaxed and mutual endorsement and augmentation of the rituals of sociality. 
.

LIVING-ROOM (COTTAGE): E END FIRE-PLACE
(pic 1991) 

A subsidiary 'set-piece' - a 'museum/store' of collected memory-evocative objects.

LIVING-ROOM (COTTAGE): N SIDE
(pic 1991) 

A subsidiary 'set-piece' - a 'museum/store' of collected memory-evocative objects (the clock was kept functioning at some expense though supplanted by the mantelpiece clock - see below).
.

.
HEARTH & WINDOWS (physical):

The hearth, central for body-need - however this vulgar need is sublimated into the mental/memory space of 'ancestral-hearth': rustic stone (three cast-cement parts!), electrically flaming logs, iron firedogs.

The windows. These openings admit to the physical outside - the most external of three 'layers': first the body, second the 'mental­capsule' of the room, third this 'physical-infinity'. As this external 'chaos' approaches the room it becomes 'a view' - it landscapes and then gardens itself; at the surface of entry mnemonic filter-converters: diamond-panes and curtain-frames, pass light but process the residual physical-actuality into fantasy-memories.

LIVING-ROOM (COTTAGE): W END HEARTH
(pic 1985)

.
CLOCK (metaphysical):

At the center of the clock there is a non-dimensional start of time; the hands accelerate outwards from this point of motion's entry, the issue of all occurrences. A terrifying signaler of utter un-existence beyond the surface of sight and of our identity's span of time! No wonder it is necessary to sublimate and/or disguise such an opening!

This example displays 'Roman' numerals on a brushed­-stainless face in a crafted-mahogany box. These meager reminders of property and schooling; 'modest-offerings-up' of 'responsibility'; 'solid good-quality workmanship' and 'knowledgeable good-taste' attempt to cajole, tame, flatter, dignify, educate and own(!) this terrible spatial out/in leak, while actually degrading perception of the phenomenon and diverting assimilation into euphemism. (For celebration of the marvellous issue of time see pre-19C clocks).

LIVING-ROOM (COTTAGE): W END MANTLEPIECE CLOCK
(pic 1985)

.
PICTURE (mental): 

If one cannot face the vertigo of present physical space one may mentally exit (out of ones hearth-warmed body) through this mental opening in the center of the wall, into the sentiment of a safely selected past, rendered with a reassuringly obvious 'authority' of skill. An 'Older England' - 'Land of the Free' (brushmarks) - "It used to be lovely to see them ploughing with horses" (never mind the ploughman - heavy, muddy, boring, long days of low paid labour). To the stereotype-tuned mindseye this picture is a mnemonic cloud-mill.

Note that the painting is 'mental' because this painter did not try to substantiate to himself a sensationally present place, but with habitual (and thus contentless) skill rendered a mind image. Indeed both the technique and subject are memory accumulated 'commonform' stereotypes distilled through many media. The result is not an experiential gradient - it is retrospective and its subject cannot be resolved in (present) attention.

LIVING-ROOM (COTTAGE): W END OVER-MANTLE PICTURE 
(pic 1985)

.

MASS-TASTE ' LIVING-ROOM' - TYPE PERSISTENCE

The ubiquitous reproduction of this domestic form seems both personal (EG 1 - a change of house type provokes conservatism rather than adaptation), and general (EG 2 - the same form is presented as a social mass-meaning in public 'domestic' venues - hotels, etc).


EG-1:  LIVING-ROOM (COTTAGE): W END
(pic 1985) 

The couple's retirement-cottage living-room [as shown in 'THE MASS-TASTE 'LIVING-ROOM'' above].

EG-1:  LIVING-ROOM (2: BUNGALOW)
(pic 1-12-1991)

Four years later and one of these persons is now living alone in a different house. However all the previous living-room's objects (even the carpet) now equip this new room. Apart from the new plug-in fire (this 'modern' central-heated home has no hearth), the biggest change is a sense of the awkwardness of their relocation into this recently built and more pragmatically chosen container - salvage of a room that cannot find its natural form in this new space.

This is an attempt to continue and sustain a familiar experience (begun long ago and probably most nearly matured in the previous home) by transplanting the most portable of its mnemonic signifiers. Here however their remembered positions and their cozy grouping lack a focus and clash with an unprecedented emptiness - both of life and a utilitarian container that is bereft of any of the natural and historical continuity and enrichings of their previous location, with which these objects had cooperated in conveyancing a personal content-dream that cushioned and sustained mere existence (the latter signified so aptly by the unconsciously-expressed emptiness of this new box-like room) - that included their 'traditional' arrangement (the forms of a customary behavior that is not only personal but also socially endorsed), memories of the context of their acquisition and the meanings of their styles.
.

EG-1:  LIVING-ROOM (2: BUNGALOW): FIRE 
(pic 10-92)

The signifier "Hearth/Fire" [ref 'HEARTH' below] has here become so attenuated as to resemble a 'working-model', a sort of 'doll-fire'; just 'another piece of furniture' (but of mysterious functionality!) in the room rather than an integral structural focus of the room (indeed of a whole house). This furniture-like incarnation has stripped this signifier of all its atavistic depth (its 'permanence' as a physical focus of human existence) and become a trite and silly, pretentious if not so negligible, ridiculously dressed up version of a simple machine for delivering warmth (which might - if severely practical - have made a small reconciliation with its brutal room-box).

Its 'designer' seems to have been somewhat aware of its furniture-likeness. Having decided to pretend that its infrared tubes and their protective grill could serve as the front of an 18thC log-burning grate s/he seems in doubt as to what a 'free-standing fireplace' might resemble. Its modelling is muddled with references (nb: its little legs) to free-standing furniture objects like 'cupboard/table' or 'display-cabinet'. Trapping a fire in a polished wooden cabinet seems even more bizarre than encasing a tv; it stimulates exotic analogues such as a museum display-case presenting the astonishing survival of a fully charged 18thC grate or a reliquary displaying the very logs that burned a saint. The inadequately researched or minimally stereotyped style-motifs of a certain type of vague and hesitant kitsch automatically act as phantasmagoric stimulants in a brain evolved with an imperative to interpret signs.
.

EG-2: GUESTHOUSE LIVING-ROOM: "SEAGULLS", ST IVES, CORNWELL
(pic 7-6-1999) 

The 'living-room' form shown previously is surprisingly persistent and ubiquitous - here it is in a small private 'Bed and Breakfast', presented to guests as if the archetypical shrine of comfort.

All the signifiers noted in the previous example are present; some in alternative guise, for instance the centered mirror. A mirror is the most common substitute for an over-mantel picture - it signifies an infinitisation of the room, endorsing it just as a picture endows its subject with an 'eternal form'.

.

EG-2: GUESTHOUSE BREAKFAST-ROOM: "SEAGULLS", ST IVES, CORNWELL
(pic 7-6-1999)

At its inner end the 'B&B' guests' 'living-room' transmutes into their 'breakfast-room'. A similar form to the 1st example (my parents' cottage) whose living-room had a semi-defined space at its inner end for an 'antique' dining table and chairs [no pic] - a 'formal' facility only for guests, family ate in the kitchen!

EG-3: HIRED TERRACE-COTTAGE LIVING-ROOM: "THIMBLE COTTAGE", GILSTEAD LANE, BINGLEY, N.YORKSHIRE
(pic 13-01-2009)

EG-3: HIRED TERRACE-COTTAGE LIVING-ROOM: "THIMBLE COTTAGE", GILSTEAD LANE, BINGLEY, N.YORKSHIRE
(pic 13-01-2009)

EG-3: HIRED TERRACE-COTTAGE LIVING-ROOM: "THIMBLE COTTAGE", GILSTEAD LANE, BINGLEY, N.YORKSHIRE
(pic 13-01-2009)

EG-3: HIRED TERRACE-COTTAGE LIVING-ROOM: "THIMBLE COTTAGE", GILSTEAD LANE, BINGLEY, N.YORKSHIRE
(pic 13-01-2009)

.

^ Top    
> "HOME" - pt 2: HOUSE >

> Next Section >

INDEX  
IMPROVISED-ARCH IN AMSTERDAM INDUSTRIAL SQUATS & COLLECTIVES

IMPROVISATION - PUBLIC & LEGAL - ALLOTMENTS  
IMPROVISED VILLAGES - WANDSWORTH / KEW BRIDGE
VERNACULAR & STYLE - BERDUN, HUESCA  

TEMPORARY-ARCHITECTURE - FRANK'S CAFE / SOUTHWARK LIDO 
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS & TASTE - LIV-RM
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS & TASTE - HOUSE
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA PERSONAL-CHOICES
ART - GOTHIC INTO RENAISSANCE INTO 20thC
ART - 20thC COLLAGE INTO MASS-MEDIA 

GRAFFITI INTO STREET-ART  
KITSCH

CHANCE & DESIGN