Daily blog posts at 08:30 BST/GMT during the festival
While archaeology is essentially a time-centric field, scarcely as archaeologist’s do we turn our lenses inward and interrogate the ways in which we perceive and project our own concepts of time. It is crucial in our discipline that we challenge the pedagogic and institutionalised preference for periodization and absolutism when it comes to interpreting and writing the past. I propose that we instead adopt innovative paths and patterns counter to our ordinary, ensconced views on time. By employing concepts of literary theory—like end-stopping and enjambment—I intend to use poetic expression, accompanied by visual art, as a means to demonstrate the superfluousness of some of our current conceptions of time in archaeology.
This will be explored by a series of blog posts each day during festival CHAT, starting on the 23 October, launched at 8:30 BST.
This Twitter thread is devoted to our collaborative work on how COVID-19 has altered the ways we encounter our material world. We will take attendees on an audio and visual tour of materiality and alterations to landscapes documented in the project collaborators’ communities and home countries across the United States and Chile. To interpret this data, we draw upon theoretical frameworks in the fields of collective memory, trauma studies, and psychogeography. The data include yard signs, chalk art, flyers, and other forms of artwork as well as public signage and material changes in how people navigate their communities (e.g. lockdowns, tracking people’s movements, etc.). We explore how these phenomena engaged notions of home, shelter, space, comfort, and community. The project collaborators will also reflect upon how we have used archaeological and anthropological methodologies of documenting and observing as a way of coping with the stress, uncertainty, and trauma of a global pandemic. A core approach to our work has been the recognition that we, too, are each part of the communities experiencing this trauma. Our analysis necessarily includes our own movements through emotional and physical space.
Cutting across the ‘COVID-19’ and ‘Drift’ themes of festivalCHAT, I share my lockdown perambulations where I measured the compass within an Ayrshire Farm. An Ayrshire Situationist is a journey recording climate, social history, wildlife and the zeitgeist via drawing and walking.
It was a sensory practice with metre and awareness, thinking about how we see and how we acknowledge place and environment. The farm has been here for a while, it’s features on a Blau Map from 1650. My family arrived here from Kintyre early in the 19th Century. In many ways it mirrors the difficulty of small scale farming in the 21st Century. I would like to walk to points on the compass again capturing the same place in a different season, post lockdown, however not post COVID-19.
We never established if cows were Dadaists or more prone to nihilism. The project captured so many elements of that time, both personal and collective, when the world literally slowed to a daunder, you could hear the grass growing and the silence was so audible. There was no traffic or trains, no aircrafts. We heard a cuckoo, saw the hare and deer, the curlews made a cameo. And now it feels like another time. How would the same journey feel in autumn?
Sunday 25 October10.00-11.00 GMT (London); 06:00-07:00 EST (New York)
Distance Drift is a form of synchronised walk I have developed for playful, collaborative, communal walking during lockdown. Participants follow the hashtag #DistanceDrift on Twitter to receive walking prompts which can be followed, indoors or out, in any location. The event has been running weekly on Sundays at 10am since the beginning of April.
For festivalCHAT, I propose a Distance Drift that draws upon the broad themes of the festival and connects with celebrations I am involved with on the same weekend. As part of a small team of academics and creatives, I am hosting events marking the 40th anniversary of the publication of Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker (see this blog ). This cult novel explores the landscape of the distant future following a nuclear disaster, with characters attempting to build an understanding of a past civilisation through scraps of folklore and scattered artefacts.
The festivalCHAT Distance Drift will invite participants to explore their immediate environment, indoors or out, seeking found objects to reinterpret and relabel. The aim is to defamilairise our everyday experiences in order to see the world around us afresh, looking to how strange our own world may appear in times to come.
To participate in this event, simply tune into the hashtag #DistanceDrift on Twitter at the stated time, and follow the prompts. Happy drifting!
Watch Soni’as film Scatching at Sams Itch for Riddley Walker at 40: