Gabriel Gee. The Elizabethan collar: the collar gives a perspective, it offers an entry into the world, it is akin to a window open onto the world, a monade connected to the labyrinth of the city beneath it; but it also shuts the vision, it prevents from gaining a panoramic view, it protects you from scratching your hitching bits, while condemning your vision and actions to a fragmented framework.

Conor McFeely: Initial tests with the collar suggested a range of possible readings, from a type of siphon or filter allowing a conduction of sorts in both directions. I would occasionally see that clown like dog limping along wearing one of these odd funnels and found it quite disturbing, that is the idea of this restriction and the blinkered vision imposed by it. The peripheral vision is limited and the result of that is usually a form of agitation causing the occupant to turn your head continually. The structure naturally implies a projection or movement which if extended outwards suggests an ever expanding scanner or radar. At the other end of course it shrinks back to nothing. But it was the separation caused by it that first attracted me. It almost decapitates the body and creates an acephalic. It alienates one part of the person from the other. The body is almost denied by the contraption and at the same time protected. R.D. Laing talks about the unembodied self. A sense of self that is detached from the body so that the body is felt as an object among other objects in the world rather than the core of oneself in the world. This type of experience is referred to as depersonalisation disorder. This might be a refuge of sorts but it makes it difficult to distinguish between the inner and outer world experiences. The collars were used in work from “Inside His Masters Voice”. The book by Lem, ‘His Masters Voice” refers to a failed scientific project to decode a neutrino signal from space. It also recalls the old record label. The addition of the word “Inside” suggested a backwards glance at history. The sound used in conjunction with the collars contains the voice of Oppenheimer.

G.G:. The words of J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) evoke the inception of nuclear weapons in America in the 1940s. The fragmentation of the self the collar exposes appears to be tied to an underlying cycle of creation and destruction. Behind the Elizabethan collar, there might be an impossible individual quest to grasp the fullness of the world, either at its inception through the big bang, or at its ending through the black hole. This tension between fullness and void is further emphasised by the Japanese voices in the soundtrack of the piece, which, as you pointed out to me, were extracted from the video game the Simms, and allude to the creation of a nonsensical language.

CMF : I am conscious that we can observe this quest you mention being central to much art practice. It can appear to be an angst driven attempt to establish certainty. A desire to structure some meaning and purpose, intended or accidental. This is tempered by an understanding of the absurdity of the quest. That is, there seems to be an accompanying scream (possibly of laughter) that knows this articulation is simply a new form responding to a timeless quandary. So we create new orders to make sense of this. This includes political, scientific and other experiments. In the Simms world with its laws, codes of behaviour and unintelligible language, questions of morality come into play quite quickly. How and why do we reward or punish? How does a society develop its value system? What is a transgression? The tone of Oppenheimer seems to be one of reflective regret. The bomb changed the world we live in permanently as did the political experiment in Germany that brought this about. There is an irony in the nature of the soundtracks’ Japanese style voice over-laid with Oppenheimer’s low apologetic delivery. The mechanics aside, visual aesthetics are a large part of the work.

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