montage-modernity-and the wild west


montage with its spatial origins in dublin (joyce), paris (surrealism), berlin (dada, brecht, hartmann)) and moscow (eisenstein vertov), the increasingly fragmented world gives rise to the the technique of fragment. benjamin sees the passagenwork as a lexicon of capitalist modernity, its content indicates a modernity of contradictory forces, of rampant technological development in which the spectre of war and destruction is counterposed with the images of utopic wish fulfillment. at this point technique makes its most significant advances in the artistic realm. art becomes the avant guarde of a non-instrumental technique and points our apperception to a world reconfigured by the human imaginary. the constructive principle of montage sees the city as built up of fragments not as a seamless whole and politically contested -it emphasizes the disjunctive nature of its parts, its contradictions, the disruptions, the gaps and silences; all of which explodes the received social meanings of things. this dialectic of contradictory elements prepares the imagination for social and artistic intervention and for creating the potential for (political) action.

modernity undermines our mimetic faculty and with it the significance of experience. this ‘poverty of experience’ is brought about by the technical developments of reproduction and separates our individual experience from our integrated collective stock of experience. its outcome is alienation. benjamin maintains however, that this original mimetic relationship can still be recovered and the original relationship between imag(ination) and reality restored. mimesis allows us to discover correspondences and similarities between things that are apparently different. at this point, the experience of things becomes tangible, less abstract and arbitrary, not through the separate fragments themselves but ones consciously constructed into new formulations. it is this sense the mimetic faculty can be seen as the basis of montage construction.

the work is sited geographically and politically on the periphery, historically across geological time to the present, and will be explored across a number of scales.  sited in west penwith, cornwall, it can be understood to be at the edge of what is now seen as modern britain. it lies at the far west of england and is linked to london by a tenuous transport network. descendants of the ancient britons the cornish celts shared a common language with wales and are sometimes described as the west welsh. cut off from their land links in the middle ages during the eighth century by the anglo-saxon expansion.