GOLDSMITHS | BA Fine Art & History of Art 2021

Rosie Martin

March 2021

Beneath the ground, under floors, between walls, objects organise networks of bodies; individual subjectivities. It is a hybrid system; an object cartography that maps social, ideological, utility.

One wakes to drink from the tap and sit on the loo, check messages, emails, worlds of media. Extending beyond individual corporeal units, human action ripples beyond vision, through hidden objects that carry lived trace. These objects whir, hum, hiss, bearing the swell of information and waste. We flow through the infrastructure, an instinctual mechanism for the masses, human nature. GPS holds the individual from four hooks in the sky, tethered to cable bases that spin webs of copper and glass below the land and sea. Location is time-based. Satellite constellations guide, find, and place. Pipes hardwire pockets of domesticity. Clay roots map residential, commercial, natural, terrain. These roots bend with clenched nuts, knobbled knuckles, their contents pulled by gravity. Pipelines branch and meet. Private and public miasma mix, dissolving in the stream of a lost river. It hasn’t felt the sun across its silvery spine since 1859, when the first tunnels were made. Here, the past is held in the cement between brick cells, the pipe capillaries, the iron and steel exoskeleton. Containing the soup of the discarded, the consumed and excreted, simultaneous actions converge with a flush or a twist. In the sewer, darkness is perforated with flashes from dropped coins, fired bullets, lost jewellery. They wash up on the bank of the Thames and become objects of history. Fibrous wipes, silky condoms and tangled plastic congeal with fat poured down kitchen sinks, a bottleneck of action above-ground; to eat, to drink, to buy, to fuck, to shit. Strained with the heavy expanse of the city, the underground world weeps. Into the Thames the water leaks. At the mouth of a pothole, men in orange jackets and white hats venture below ground. They are here to break up the clogs, to patch up ruptured tunnels with plastic grafts. Water must not be lost and waste must be disposed, combed through sifting machines and chemical baths and used again and again in the toilets, showers, kitchens of the surface world. Once you’ve paid the water bill.

Rubbish chutes from flats and office blocks stretch like arteries in brick and glass legs. They transfer skins from meal deals, computer exoskeletons, batteries bleeding with lead and mercury.

The burnt out, redundant, and dangerous are re-located.

Land is filled. A circle of individuals decides what land this is.

On a waste horizon, arsenic seeps from a circuit board’s medalled chest.

Pesticides run through fields to find streams as the light from a supermarket fridge flickers. The air vent’s warm breath smells of freshly baked bread.

March 2021