Observation Sculpture: 210872
ICES Music Train – London to Edinburgh to York by train.
Distance: approximately 560 miles
Duration: including period in Edinburgh, approximately 17hrs 20mins.
Observe: Keep, follow, adhere to, perform daily; perceive, mark, watch, take notice of,
become conscious of; examine and note without aid of experiment; make remarks on.
8.35am porter looking through window
someone stops to look, to observe the observers
WAITING FOR THE TRAIN TO LEAVE (written on a small blackboard)
8.40 positioned next to open carriage
equipment being set up
“Jesus, those guys are nice” (American accent)
“goodness me” (with perfume)
Daily Mirror offered to us for ten bob
8.45 “Santa Lucia” (beautiful)
someone patted me on the head
“it won’t go on the door!” “Put it up against the wall and try to hide it”
“what are they doing that for?”
9.00 a game of draughts
9.05 Wood Green
9.25 “very pretty dear, oh, very pretty”
9.30 draughts completed – all yellow
“positive effects”, shuffles from side to side, “quite an advance this”
horse with white feet
blonde hair yellow mac
Carlo eating sandwiches moves blackboard
“look at that”
9.35 we’re given a leaflet about a book being produced on the train
a train passes
train picks up speed
it becomes difficult to write
10.10 someone tells us it’s nice to see us here
a girl stands holding the bars of a carriage window looking out
barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel
Carlo reading a leaflet
Ren gets up
Carlo folds leaflet
Woolworths in yellow
someone passes, denim dragging his feet
man with his foot on a line
lots of patches on lots of bums
someone looking over my shoulder
now she’s gone
someone with a Davy Crockett hat
a large blue diesel passes slowly but stationary
10.20 sound from the next carriage – whirring clapping
a girl in silk passes
Carlo goes to the toilet
10.30 and I’ve been stamped
half an acre of cabbages
10.35 and above everything the music of the track
a gate in the middle of a field
some guy with a balloon in his ear
10.45 cranes and cranes
he faces us bends his knees twice and carries on
she leans on the seat and smiles
10.55 scratch my head
signal at red
smoke in the next carriage
Carlo shuts the door
another carriage another world
11.05 Carlo reclines
tree tractor bridge elm fence pool cars barrels chimneys
pinks nets greens sand grass furrows grass pylon pylon
pylon pylon bales
washing on the line – blue sheet white sheet
grass hills like ant hills
he hangs on to his camera
cabbage gone to seed
piles of gravel
11.15 gravel pit
tufts of grass
cricket on a football pitch
piles of coal
she turns around, eyes over back of the seat
11.20 empty trucks, another line
he looks over my shoulder
signal box smoke
lines and lines
11.25 we stop
sitting on the arm of the seat eating an apple
taps his foot, small bites, looks up
water, out of the corner of my eye
apple, licks his lips, gives us the core
11.30 tractor red and yellow cart
11.35 roses climbing up a fence
six fat chimneys puffing smoke
horse and foal
11.55 black hood sits with us
sun on golden corn
hollow tree trunk
“did I tell you that story”
old lady pegging out a skirt to dry doesn’t look up
he leans on the seat, smokes his cigarette
12.00 he observes me then looks elsewhere
a girl sits with Carlo, talking, he points to Ren and I
no, we nearly stop
we move slowly
sounds electronic next door like a water whistle
row of terraced houses
pulling into York station
pulse, photo-electric cells
12.05pm she bangs a guitar – complex of pings and booms emitted
she is young
she writes: I like to see these men
we’re still in York
12.15 someone points
we’re being shown nice books of Icelandic art
I’m being patted on the head again
12.20 a light-meter about three inches from my nose
12.25 Ren turns over a page, looks at what he’s written
three men question the young girl
pages turn over by themselves
12.30 someone is looking at this page as I write
pole after pole
silver tube going over a bridge – lorry on the move
book clasped close to her breast
they look at us as they pass
12.40 conversation on paper:
Your work seems consistent. Is it?
Present, I mean to say.
Yes, it’s somehow unavoidable. Are you performing on the train?
Not performing, but participating. Any more questions?
I take it you are not British? Do you find much difference between the work you’ve encountered here and that at home?
Generally, in a universal sense, no. But specifically, yes. Actually, I teach English literature – tres academic in a posh school, hee!
What ages do you teach?
9th-12th grade, 13-18 year olds. Do you do this every day?
Not always in white suits. I teach art in a college.
We all have our realities, don’t we. What have you learnt thus far from the Ices Festival?
One thing: although friendliness may not be universal it runs at least from London to Edinburgh!
Lovely. What are your companions doing writing and writing?
There’s something about words. Although they can be used to divide everything, they can also be used to link things. So our writing helps us to concentrate, to engage with what is happening. Do you have to go? You seem a little tense?
Strange. I don’t feel tense. I just don’t want to miss anything, so I keep looking around. I agree about writing and concentration. Do you have another coloured pen? Do you have to go?
1. No, only a pencil. 2. Only to Edinburgh. Do you know anything about the Richard Demarco gallery in Edinburgh?
1. I have this pen. 2. Yes. We were going to do a piece there, but arrangements were too complicated. Do you want some cheese? Where do you live?
Does that mean you aren’t doing a piece at the gallery, or you are, despite the complications? I’m afraid I don’t like cheese – though I don’t know why I should be – afraid, that is. A place called Epping. A small suburban village on the A11, twelve miles north of London.
We’re not doing a piece; I’m glad as I want some time to walk about in Edinburgh. My ancestors came from there. We were in Epping on Thursday, doing a farm work. We had a meditative, quiet time. The land about there is so beautiful. Exit Farm, Dial House, is where we were.
You must have met Jerry at Dial House. He’s a friend of mine. The second part of our work consists of sightseeing in Edinburgh – taking photos, buying mementoes – without these suits but with slight modifications to our appearance – for instance, silver hair. What part of the States are you from?
Jerry is a beautiful person. I’m too serious. Fran is much more fun. She’s a good talker.
Fran: I will listen!
How can anyone be too serious? In a sense wearing the suit and the hood makes other people concentrate on our function (observing, listening, accepting) and not on our individual appearance. Although I think our eyes take on some importance seen though these holes.
Fran: you should mask your eyes! Words are wonderful. So are we.
2.00 still in Newcastle
2.10 pen ran out
red balloon floats along the tracks back towards London
2.12 moving again
tracks from door to door
station without a roof
bridge over the Tyne
2.15 underneath the arches
2.30 HAVING A VERY PLEASANT TIME
smooth straight fast
2.40 a guy in purple almost loses his hat
Carlo lies down on the seat
Ren writes on a card
2.45 another hat almost lost
hand on hip
me. window. track. field. telegraph pole. turn to look at sea. tree. clouds. blue blue sky
2.50 blue sky, three inches wide along the tracks
2.55 fire in the field
3.00 pine wood
3.15 small concrete hut with windows boarded up and a tin chimney
3.30 hills and hills and hills
4.15 empty buildings, outskirts of a large town
no it can’t be
ivy on rock
1.55am my watch stopped somewhere on the way back and York suddenly appeared out of the dawn fog
YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR TRAIN AND SLEEP IT