Preston, Julieanna, Stuart Foster, Jessica Payne and Wendy Neale. "somewhat: unpacking foreign bodies” in ULTIMA THULE 1 (1) (electronic journal) (2011).
This visual essay builds upon the coincidence of The Drowned Giant(1) and our experience of unpacking and installing the somewhat different: Contemporary Design and the Powers of Convention exhibition in the Great Hall of the former National Museum, Wellington. Our story is constructed as a visual hybrid of ficto-criticism “that moves between the poles of fiction (invention/ speculation) and criticism (deduction/ explication), of subjectivity (interiority) and objectivity (exteriority). It is writing that brings the creative and the critical together—not simply in the sense of placing them side by side, but in the sense of mutating them both, to say something else.”(2) Our story operates in accordance with Gareth Griffiths’ account of a postmodern text as it ‘concerns [itself] with the accidental, the apparently contingent, the less (or more) than logical, the fact refusing to be contained, the fortuitous occurrence, the “random” event, the unplaceable object (in time or space).”(3) The visuals factually report upon the shipping crates as if they were the body of the giant under close inspection. This approach critiques the exhibition as a foreign body and its contents as consumable internal objects. More so, the visuals reveal that once the design artefacts were removed and the crates were relieved of their primary obligation to be mere protective packaging, the crates tendered a proposition about interiority. They asked a generative question: What could live in here? In this way, we offer our own form of resistance, the power to wonder, as an antidote to apathetic despair at the loss of the object.
(1) JG Ballard, J. G. “The Drowned Giant.” In Chronopolis and Other Stories, 33-42. New York: Pulman’s, 1971.
(2) Nettleback, Amanda. “Notes Toward and Introduction.” In The Space Between: Australian Women Writing Fictocriticism. Heather Kerr and Amanda Netteleback (Eds.). Nedlands, Western Australia: University of Western Australia Press, 1998, 4.
(3) Nettleback, Amanda. “Notes Toward and Introduction.” In The Space Between: Australian Women Writing Fictocriticism. Heather Kerr and Amanda Netteleback (Eds.). Nedlands, Western Australia: University of Western Australia Press, 1998, 3.