The other night in the wee small hours, on a sudden whim, I decided to follow someone on the Twitter. Many times.
I’d been looking to see if an old friend was on and forgot how many people in the world tend to share names. I’m lucky, Dai being a Welsh name and Lowe more typical of the East Midlands, the combination of the two is relatively rare and last time I looked (years ago, admittedly) there were only three of me: myself, a Canadian guy and a ‘flood control officer’ in Kentucky. The other two are not such prolific posters (ie media whores) as your humble correspondent, so I’m pretty easy to find; whether that is a good or a bad thing is up to you. We Zen Nihilists try to avoid value judgements.
Anyhoo, this retriggered the old obsession with the idea of collecting whole sets. It’s been said that it’s a more male tendency; a guy likes a performance of a Beethoven symphony, so he goes out and buys the full cycle of nine from some orchestra and conductor, while a woman is more likely to buy that performance and maybe check out other symphonies and interpretations thereof, one by one.
I explored one version of this idea, and any other things it might bring up or resonate with in a purely conceptual artwork, when I suggested that I would like to buy as many houses with the address 30 Victoria Street as possible. Riffing on Snoopy’s comment, Thomas Wolfe was right: you can’t go home again, I liked the idea of collecting umpteen houses with the same address of my Eighties Warwick home, which, by their disparate locations and despite their probable similarity in style (mostly being built around the turn of the 19th/20th Century), would represent an exaggeratedly futile exercise in nostalgia.
As with many of my ideas around 2002, this was designed to wind up my Goldsmiths-educated gf, la japonesa, with her rather fixed ideas of what could and couldn’t be conceptual artworks. With a straight face, I insisted that the act of buying the properties was the artwork and needed only to be known about by its ‘audience’. When she asked what could be done with the properties, I rejected the idea that each should be in itself an art gallery, as prostituting the work (I also rejected the idea that each should be a brothel, as too tasteless a joke for this high-minded piece). I did rather like the idea that each should be let out at well below market rates but only to families with the (randomly-chosen) surname of Brown.
As usual with these wind-up ideas, I then began to see all sorts of more serious resonances. The name of Queen Victoria ties in with a time of empire building, which the purchase of umpteen properties could be seen to represent; the streets are most often terraced housing of a comfortable, petit-bourgeios style, and so on.
I’m not sure what, if any, resonances there are in following every Mike or Michael Lacey on the Twitter. It took a while to come up with a name that has absolutely no relevance to anyone I actually know or know of. I rejected all female names (though there is one Mike Lacey that seems to be a woman), for fears of being accused of some form of stalking even weirder than usual.
So, as another of these performance art pieces, I’m following 121 Mike Laceys. So far only one has followed me back. One of them has the phrase everything happens for a reason as his tagline, and another admits to being a conspiracy theory nut. It’s intriguing to wonder what they make of a foodie-tweeting fruitcake following them and a hundred other people linked only by a name. Of course for the sake of purity I should have set up a Twitter account which only follows Michael Laceys, but if there’s one thing that I do allow to override my artistic integrity it’s my indolence. Now all I need is a title for the piece … any suggestions?
*The title of this blog refers to an Oddly Enough column by Paul Jennings in The Observer, c 1956, entitled Rush Me The Full Kit!, itself referencing marketing blurbs. You can’t beat a good obscure reference when you’re stuck for ideas! Democratic musings next Wednesday, honest.