Trading Camouflage for Camouflage

16 Mar 2012 | Mathew Trivett - Nottingham, England

Today I began the process of producing a series of rounders bats (similar to a baseball bat) for a forthcoming research method involving game play and sports on the wasteland that reference the idea of the adventure playgrounds, reckie and the 'dangerous' play areas of youth.

This sporting event moreover serves another function as a research method; it is designed to create a temporary space with an alterior rule-set unbound from the daily drift of dog-walkers, joggers, speeding cars and shield bugs.  It is in the social and physical space of play that we plan to find tactics for a more public conversation about our work and research into wastelands.

In creating the space for this game to take place, we are attempting where possible to produce the equipment from materials found on site.  On the Nottingham site, there is a large amount of buddleia, a fast growing shrub that spreads rapidly on uncontrolled land.  Buddleia does not grow as a tree but shoots a number of trunks from a low stem and so I set about trying to find a suitably thick trunk or branch from which to make a bat.  Finding a suitable section, I began felling this branch in order to dry it and then eventually turn it on a lathe into the bats.  I realised at the mid-point that this thick branch was concealing a shelter on the other side of the pavement that runs directly alongside this.  This is a shelter that I know well, it is a shelter that is invariably constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed on a permanent basis.

Below is a photograph I took of this shelter in 2010, over two years ago now, behind it you can see the buddleia and directly behind this is a pedestrian path.

This realisation that I had accidentally part-revealed that which was designed to remain hidden has left me a little uncomfortable about my action, maybe on a rudimentary level because this shelter could be read as the wasteland itself;

a shelter that is invariably constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed on a permanent basis

And that in revealing its whereabouts that in some way I am de-stabilising further its inherent instability.  It is an ongoing set of questions within the network around ownership, cultural capital and our responsibilities as researchers, anthropologists and artists.  Whilst much of our research might be construed as forms of activism or reclaiming / recapitalising of spaces, interim use; this is not my direct intention through the research but more to understand the axis of conditions that produce what we have come to describe as a wasteland.

I will be thinking more carefully about where I source buddleia wood from in future, I did however not take the full branch and so left new building materials for shelter reconstruction on the site which could be seen as compensation?

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