Brexit, Swandown, Mark Fisher and Decisive Moments

I’ve been thinking about Brexit (again). Every time I think about it I feel genuinely distressed. I just can’t believe we’re seriously going to go ahead with this, that we have a group of MPs in power who are willing to see such a brutal act of national self harm against both current and future generations inflicted here. It’s more stupid than the Americans voting for Donald Trump and let’s face it, that was staggeringly stupid. And I can’t believe I find myself in the position of agreeing with people like Michael Heseltine and Ken Clarke. I feel an increasingly urgent need to get out of this country and not come back until it returns to it’s senses.

Representing Brexit visually is playing on my mind; I suppose it’s a good exercise for me in communicating ideas visually. For me, vortography was one of those ideas, but another was using tessellated maps. A few days ago I gave it a try: I used Google maps to print out the UK and started to cut out hexagons. The original idea was to flip the shapes around, swap them, mix them up a bit. I’d like to do some kind of stats to see visually what’s going on here in terms of where the vote for leave and remain was strongest and vary the size of the hexagons or introduce other shapes that fit the data in some way, but I don’t have time to play with it right now. When I was cutting out the map, I got to this point and I quite liked it. So for the moment I’ve left it there. Maybe it’s a bit naive, but it works for me as an idea to develop and build on.

january upload (3 of 103)

I’m also starting to think about decisive moments because I have assignment three coming up, and I thought back to the referendum and the TV coverage of the issues in the run-up to the vote. I recall seeing an interview with some Welsh teenagers. It was probably on BBC News. They were saying that they intended to vote to leave the EU because they couldn’t see what Europe had ever done for them. They were standing in front of a sports venue paid for by the EU, a venue that would never have been paid for were it up to politicians in Westminster. That was, to me, quite a decisive moment. So I’m rethinking ideas about what decisive moments are. I’ve looked at the work of a fellow student Kate Aston, and I really liked the idea she had for the third assignment, which was pregnancy tests. It’s so good because it’s an idea universally understood by both genders, a real decisive moment for both, and I really like the way it plays with what’s initially being presented in the course about decisive moments. I was initially thinking about psychogeography but now I’m coming away from those ideas. I think having to produce physical prints is making me think differently about what I can achieve with this as it broadens the scope of it for me and makes me think about the physicality of a final product as well as just a visual message.

I read or heard this somewhere; ‘When the present has given up on the future, we must listen for the relics of the future in the unactivated potentials of the past’. I think it’s a quote by Mark Fisher, so it’s probably from ‘Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures’ as that’s the only work of his I have.

I was watching Swandown; my tutor suggested it. Honestly, I liked it but I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the whole thing. But during Swandown, something stood out to me: someone was saying (about 52 mins in) that what we see is ‘the present surface of what came before’. That makes sense on so many levels that it feels really important. But these ideas keep bouncing around my skull and I feel some need to express them, to connect them. I’d have no idea how to represent them visually at the moment. I suppose part of it is about this nostalgia that seems to run through everything at the moment, and that, I suppose is where the link with Brexit comes in because I think it’s a longing for a past that never existed, one we have made up as a nation and yet have become nostalgic for. So we are trying to build futures on pasts that don’t exist. What we build won’t be the present surface of what came before, because the before we think we’re building on never actually happened.


Published by Sarah Cassin Scott


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