Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Raul Ortega Ayala at Economist Plaza

Doctor Who used to travel around time and space in a machine called the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space, factlovers!) and he would explain the peculiar attribute of this time travelling box - that is, it having an inside way bigger than its outside - by saying that it was 'dimensionally transcendental' (sad but true again, factlovers...).
I am reminded of all this complete guff tonight when I drop into the Economist Plaza to catch a work by Raul Ortega Ayala. It's a passenger lift, with mirrored internal walls and Raul's familiar arrangement of post-it notes inside.
I'm wondering how he got hold of a passenger lift, because those things don't come cheap. I run into Dave Hoyland and we go and look at it. There are two windows in the closed outer doors, just like a normal lift, and you can peer in through these. The first thing you see, which is quite surprising, is your own face looking back at you from the mirrored wall opposite. Then you notice the face of the person beside you in the other window, and then you notice a field of post-it notes stretching away, like cornfields. It's bigger on the inside than on the outside! It even looks a bit like a TARDIS from the outside too, the way it just sits there, a solid block with two lit windows, incongruous yet strangely resonant of the surrounding office blocks and their own passenger lifts...Like this little TARDIS got the right form to blend in but the location dial was slightly awry and instead of landing neatly in a lift shaft, it's ended up out here, with people coming up and peering in.
OK, that's enough of the Doctor Who thing now...
Anyway, Dave and I are looking in the windows and looking at each other and Beth Greenacre comes up. I have to ask - how did Raul get hold of a passenger lift? 'He didn't,' says Beth, 'he made this.' Apparently he delivered it pretty much flatpacked.
Dave then says that he has noticed some lifts that are made by a company called Shindler. As in Shindler's Lifts. Though I'm not actually sure I believe him on this...
I bump into Pearse from the Rokeby bar. What do you think of this? I ask him.
'I helped build the bloody thing,' he says. So, obviously he really likes it. I haven't seen him for a while - he's been busy working on film productions. He seems to be VERY SUCCESSFUL at the moment. (There you go, that's a fiver, thanks, Pearse).
Pearse also has an idea for the blog next year. Instead of writing everything up, just post a spreadsheet - you know, amount of beers consumed, people in attendance, quality of work (on a simple 1 to 10 scale). We both get quite taken with this but call a halt to it when we have talked ourselves to the bit where we are plotting scores of galleries over a twelve month period across a map of London with different colours signifying...
Well, like I say, we called a halt.
I stroll around a bit looking at the lift from all sides, thinking about the rolling landscape within. It's a really nice piece, turning an object like a lift, which pretty much embodies the very notion of claustrophobia, into a boundless, infinite summer landscape. A place of awkward discomfort and anxiety has become a comforting vision of nature. And a passenger lift, here, in the square is good. So close in look and feel to its surroundings, that it's enough to give a hint that there could be something special in all the grey stone offices and corridors if you looked at them in the just right way. I know Raul is a great believer in the power of creativity being generated by the more unlikely places, like offices and the corporate working environment.
I go and catch Raul and shake his hand. He seems very happy, roaring with laughter after everything he says (maybe he's just pissed, I think). I say it's great when you look in and you can see another person in the other window.
'Ah yes,' he says 'you can maybe flirt with them a little.'
I explain calmly that when I was looking in the window it was Dave Hoyland in the other one.
Raul lets out another big laugh.

lift pics


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