Before I begin, I need to tell you that it is, for the moment, only encompassing references from the West. And that when describing the monument, it is as if viewed from the south looking north. Later stages will deal with the other views.

Victory monument to the vanquishing of the artists by the engineers

1. If the engineers wish to erect a victory monument after vanquishing the artists, they might use paraphernalia according to the following instructions:

Place a concrete wedge measuring 22 feet wide and 18 feet front to back. It rises vertically for two feet at the western end and five and a half feet at the eastern end. Place the wedge directly on the paved area.

It is London paving, circa 1980, made of uniform concrete slabs, the size of tea towels, which are prone to splitting in the middle. Over time, as foot pressure, insect and possibly rodent life erode the subsoil, empty pockets, or chambers, form. Into these, rainwater gathers, forced upwards and out by pedestrian feet.

2. Five feet back from the eastern edge, centred, place a statue of Sylvia Robbins at a lectern, facing eastwards, away from the monument. The figure is three feet high, the body of the lectern coming to elbow height then, where nervous speakers rest papers, a lip, before the uppermost surface rises up and away for a short distance.

Place a statue of J. G. Ballard 5 feet back (diagonally) from the southwestern corner of the wedge facing inwards. He is bent forward, examining the words inscribed on the angled top surface of the wedge; ‘Will you be able to withstand the sudden liberation from this-is-all-there-is? Do we have enough human warmth to contend with the cosmic cold?’(1) The highest point is in the middle of his shoulder blades at the 8th thoracic vertebrae, where a sports coat is stretched taut and thin.

And five feet back, diagonally, from the northwestern corner of the wedge, place another J. G. Ballard. Again, the body is facing inwards, but this ballard is flexed backwards at the hinge of the 8th thoracic vertebrae. The highest point is a fat knot in an ink stained tie. The neck and shoulders angle easily down the back; the chin is tucked. This ballards facial area points skywards, a blobby swan is in its unseeing line of sight. The ballard loosely holds a video game controller in its left hand.

Both ballards (measured at the highest points) are five feet tall.

Place an iron plate, four feet square, on the back of the southwestern ballard and the chest of the northwestern ballard. Rising two feet from the centre of the inner edge is an iron rod, which meets another iron plate of the same proportions as the plates resting directly on the ballards. The top and bottom plates are aligned.

3. The plates and rods can be viewed as spacers, impersonally maintaining a distance between two points, in which case, they register as mere structure. Alternatively, they appear as vices. The most obvious story in this case is that they are compressing the ballards, forcing a connection (through projected sight lines) to the text and the blobby swan head, but it is possible that the energy flows in the other direction- the ballards are rejecting what they see and read and are recoiling, pushing back.

The problem of identifiable objects and structure is raised most acutely at this point. It is impossible to disentangle the modes of support that run through the monument project, bearing in mind that the structure extends beyond being able to stand up. (I am not proposing a simple pile). I am dispensing with allegory and metaphor - the things are what they are directly or are unambiguous (in their own terms) stand-ins. The ballards, for example, refer to J.G. Ballard, author and his work, which extends to a general notion of science fiction and urban concrete structures, flyovers, tower blocks etc. (and at a further remove, stomach churning descriptions of straight sex, and the weird contortion of reasoning that posits Star Trek as an inspiration of engineering by those who seek to eliminate arts and humanities subjects from universities); Sylvia Robbins, who I am sure is not very well known at all, was a whistleblowing engineer at Unisys working under contract to NASA on the Challenger space programme in the 1980s. The grapes are from a sealed environment experiment that hopes to get conditions exactly right so that we can sip wine as if from sun drenched fields of Southern France for eternity (it could have been a pool that produces all possible conditions at sea - that one is in Dorset). And so on. All things stand for what they are and bring with them their baggage unselfconsciously, ignoring the monument bind and audience knowledge. But then, when we try to comprehend practical apparatus, such as the spacer, it seems to slip away, as if it were not an artefact at all. It clings to the ballard as it presses it in place. With false modesty, it reminds us that without it, nothing would be there at all.  More work needs to be done on this point.

Moving on.

The summit of the Sylvia Robins (a thick, round helmet of hair) is seven feet from the ground, as are the tops of the Ballard vices. Squared-off. Place a slab measuring 12 feet by 10 feet on top of the three high points.

4. The new plateau creates the floor of an open chamber topped by a ceiling of the same dimensions, four feet above. Five feet from the western end of the chamber floor, a thick iron wall begins to rise, meeting the ceiling 6 feet from the eastern edge. As such, the chamber is split into two unequally sized rooms by a sloping divider that travels one foot horizontally over its rise.

A bunch of black grapes is in the western chamber (the smaller of the two). The grapes fill the space. Where walls would be, the grapes are sqished against them. A gloopy substance collects at floor level in a pool rising by one foot across the entire chamber, damed up against, and therefore reinforcing, the absent wall.

A tableau of an office in motion is in the second, larger chamber. A computer terminal and a weak potted spider plant, producing straggling offspring, are sliding off an office desk which is being tipped over by the angled room divider. An office chair pushed against the desk (the worker has finished their days’ work) has only the two back feet still touching the ground. Papers, folders and so on have fallen from the desk and are bunching up against the invisible walls as they close in.

5. In the centre of the platform created by the office and grape room ceiling, place, in a circle, the bases of the following: three L.S. Lowery chimneys from the set of drawings of Ancoats, displayed in Ancoats, Circa 1933, then an infamous Manchester slum. Specifically, ‘Canal and Mill Scene’, 1929. The smudgy smooth chimneys vary in circumference - exact dimensions are unknown.

Add to this a column modelling the eruption of a liquid substance, thick and dark, rising in a tight column as if on a day without wind before beginning to disperse into the atmosphere in a vaguely eastern direction. The top of the spreading pollutant is sliced off clean at the same level as the top of the Lowry chimney collection.

Joining the chimneys and the gusher is the contrail left by the space shuttle Challenger on 28th January, 1986.

The contrails begin with a fume cloud covering the eastern side of the base. It then rises for a short while in a straight line before a bloom. Above the bloom, the contrail is muddled and then splits in two, forming two swan necks that move outwards from the centre of the monument. As swan necks, they are malformed. The heads, which are cloudy blobs rather than heads, face away from each other and the monument.

The cylinder comprising the five elements rises twenty feet.

6. Returning the cylinder base:

Around the base on the western side are several figures of young people in crit poses. They sit on square exhibition plinths of varying sizes and dimensions as if they are the artworks. Tote bags and coffee cups surround them; they surround a stack of stacking chairs and a large plastic bin. The crit-ers are concentrating, not looking about them but closely at the base of the chimneys, which are decorated with frescos depicting a group of young engineering students posing for a photograph in a room containing balloons, crisps and 2 Litre bottles of lemonade. One crit student has their hand raised, gently touching the hard smiling cheek of one of the engineering students.

7. On the western side of the chimney bases, standing on the highest point of the challenger fume cloud, is the figure of Professor Challenger standing atop another stack of stacking chairs balanced on top of another studio bin. Upturned. The face of the figure is also upturned, angled towards the cloud produced by the gusher, which is accumulating alarmingly over his head.

8. All the crit figures are three feet high (where seated or bent, the depicted body is three feet long, from the foot to the top of the head). The plinths on which they are sitting are either 2 feet, or one foot, by the same; and either two feet or four feet in length, -and are placed long and low, or tall. Both studio bins are two feet high, with a top circumference of one and a half feet and one and a quarter at the base. The stack of stacking chairs is four feet tall and one and a quarter feet wide and deep.

9. Professor Challenger is four feet tall, his ad-hoc tower set on the highest point of the Challenger fume cloud, which is three feet from the eastern edge of the floor, which is the ceiling of the chamber containing the disrupted office, is ten and a half feet from that floor to the top of Professor Challengers centre parting.

On the highest platform, created by the top of the Lowry chimneys, the sliced flat top of the poisonous gusher, and in the company of the two-headed cloud swan is a tableau showing a group of three figures, each seven feet tall. At this precise moment, they are posing for a photograph to record the annual anointing of a new knight of holography.

10. Rendered in colour, deep skin tones over a green base, bristling black hair, and aroused pink ears, the figures are wearing identical grey suits.

The new knight and the anointer stand at the centre of the column created by the chimneys, gusher and fume cloud, looking east. The third figure, the photographer, is on the eastern edge facing the new knight and the anointer.

11. The new knight is holding a decorative sword by the hilt. The sword’s body is half out of its sheath, resting on the ground.

The sword is large; from the point of the sheath to the tip of the hilt, it is six feet tall. The new Knight’s hand is too small to close around it. His thumb is not visible, and his fingers, seemingly glued together, render his hand a poorly articulated toy with a feeble grasp. The anointer stands to his right and holds a frame containing a scroll decorated with vague medieval stylings.

12. The photographer does not fit the suit well; the fabric strains over her thighs and under her shoulder blades as she holds a camera, nothing special, to her eye. She is on the very edge of the platform, bent slightly at the knees and taking a fatal backwards step.

13. Because only victors pay for monuments, it must remain a sketch, a dark fantasy.

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