How to put up a shelf (III)
(2011)

wood, steel brackets, screws, paper, paint, video camera, projector, tools, The Mackintosh Building

Part III of an ongoing series of investigations into the process by which a utilitarian, ubiquitous object comes into being and is understood.


Further Information

‘How to put up a shelf (III)’ is my response to discovering that I was not permitted to attach a shelf  to the wall of the iconic Mackintosh Building because of fears that damage would occur. Undeterred, I devised this work as a means of putting a shelf on the Mackintosh without needing to come into physical contact with the World Heritage Status building: I therefore videoed a shelf being erected against a black background, and then projected the resultant film onto the Western elevation at night.


The ‘How to put up a shelf’ series – background

Before I became an artist, I was an handyman. When people used to discover this about me, over half would ask the same question:

– So do you put up shelves and that sort of thing?
– Yes…

In order to discover why that question arose so frequently, I devised an experiment to investigate in detail how I put up a shelf.

I videoed myself putting up a shelf in my studio, and then reviewed the footage, recording all the decisions, no matter how small, that I could see myself making. Taking a decision to comprise a question and an answer (Q. Do I want that? + A. Yes. = D. I want that), I wrote what I believed were the questions I was asking during the process, e.g. ‘Is it level?’, ‘Is the drill set to the correct speed?’.

The resultant list of 553 questions became the first part of my open-ended preoccupation with shelves.