To Be This Good...Rock of Ages


The popular images of fantastic worlds where gratuitous pleasure is provided for every whim are not met by the often mundane experience of, for example, communicating on the internet, or the relative drudgery of complex computer programming.

These virtual worlds exist as mind sets, where an understanding of multi-dimensional spaces is as necessary a skill as reading is for the grasp of literature. Each layer of connection of this abstract virtuality may have a dimension perpendicular to the one you may currently occupy, leading to exploration of what may usefully, but extravagantly be termed parallel universes.

In 'To be this good ..... Rock of Ages' these extra dimensions are illustrated as poems. These poems may be read linearly (from beginning to end), or as a series of keywords that create a poem in a different strata. By picking the key words through the text a further sentence is created. The interference of words across the seven computers which are shown on projected image on the wall creates yet another strata. The musical clues linking the keywords together provides another strand not above or below the others, but picking its way between them, providing further clues and a soundtrack. A deeper strand also exists buried in the text.

All of this would have little purpose, but for the references that emerge from the texts. The poems themselves are based on the nursery rhyme 'Mondays child.......' and each computer displays a short poem based on the attributes associated with a particular day. All the poems have been constructed to be read individually or as part of a set, almost like reading a horoscope where one may be interested in one's own forecast, but may also read the forecasts of others to build a picture of a future.

The whole installation can, in turn, be read like an arcade, in which the child on the wall is playing a game while the other computers are running on automatic. When a mouse on any of the computers is clicked the focus of the game shifts, the child stops playing and turns to watch you as you become the player. As with any game this offers a reward in the final page, through the identification of someone's birthday. Each of these selected randomly from a database of birthdays. As in any maze, the final sense of achievement comes not from reaching this goal, but from the passage undertaken while in the maze.

An interactive computer installation shown as part of the V-Topia exhibition at the Tramway Gallery Glasgow in Summer 1994 and at the Bluecoat Gallery Liverpool in Spring 1995.

Documentation of the V-topia exhibition is available on the Film & Video Umbrella website here.

The piece was originally commissioned by Moviola, Tramway Gallery & the Film & Video Umbrella