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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, July 30, 2007
    Recording the Ordinary

    Every time artist Ellie Harrison has a cup of tea (or a different type of hot drink) she notes down the thought which is most on her mind during the first few sips. You can see it all on her Tea Blog, each entry colour coded to reflect the type of drink she consumed. The result, a delight of mundane detail which builds into something quite other.

    Ellie's art is all about exploring what Georges Perec called the Infra-Ordinary, responding to his plea for the necessity to observe, contemplate and analyse the things we see around us day in, day out. In her notes to her Day-to-Day Data exhibition Ellie notes that
    [Perec] urges us to consider the significance of the actions, objects and experiences that we take for granted each day, as he believes them to be the only things in life we can ever hope to understand. It is impossible to perceive the entirety of the world because of the distant, removed way in which we, as individuals, view it. It seems logical that the things we have most contact with are the things of which we have greater knowledge. It is therefore possible to see why everyday life is an instinctive focus of the Day-to-Day Data artists' work.
    Through the application of a scientific or methodical approach to objects, events or experiences which a normal scientist (or normal person, for that matter) may well overlook, the Day-to-Day Data artists create an absurd or humorous new vision of the everyday life we are all accustomed to.
    Beside her tea blog, another example of this is Ellie's Daily Data Log where she recorded details of steps she walked and other exercise taken, latitude, longitude, temperature, bodily functions (solids, fluids, sneezes, gaseous), her 'global outlook' at 20.00 (on a scale of 1 to 10, after watching the early evening news) and Personal Outlook at the end of the day, plus lists of all foods eaten and people spoken to. She compiled this for a year and exhibited the results via a specially created multimedia Data Display Wall.

    I'm taking the Day-to-Day Data exhibition catalogue with me on my writing retreat this week, because I think there's some rich resources there in preparation for considering the meaning of Heaven in Ordinary.