Mendi + Keith Obadike
Keeping Up Appearances 2001, Mendi Obadike
Interaction of Coloreds 2002
Blackness for Sale, 2001
Text Multiple: Street Portrait
I enjoy the idea of doing a similar piece for another short street which is in Waterloo. And have these multiples accessible on both streets but for the wrong city. With a note on the back saying “for corrections contact emailIwouldmake@gmail.com” if I received corrections I could remake the work from others writing whether that be the home owners themselves or people who just happen to walk down the street.
Project 2 Ideas : Parent Video
- Having them read poem written about them before they had children and before they divorced, shot closeup or possibly layered audio tracks with just text visible
- Alter the poem somehow, change the meaning? Have different text between what is being read and what is shown.
- Play with the role of the narrator, inhabit that role?
- Write a companion piece?
While grappling with how to best connect this poem to a video work involving my parents and their relationship to it I began to lose steam and interest in the melodrama I felt rising out of this work’s potential reading of their relationship. How things change and people’s feelings in relation to each other change, this is what I felt was at the core of my concept, and it didn’t feel particularly interesting to me or fair as a half-assed portrayal of how love functions over time.
So I changed course. After receiving this email from my grandfather, I wanted to react to it as a prompt, make something that could stand as a visual representation of how I feel about it.
My grandfather is my family’s historian, and his desire to understand and record our lineage is something I admire deeply. But in my present moment and day to day, when I looked at this list of names I suppose I expected to feel connected to at least the idea of these names, who they represent, how their lived experience might have been, and how it relates with mine. But I didn’t. I felt the same amount of analytical detachment I feel reading a textbook. I felt that no matter how I could manifest these names into people, how much substance I could excavate out of any written or oral record of them that any of it would still feel like any other history personal or otherwise. That being biased, inconclusive, and narrow in its portrayal of life. I guess I feel the need to question the drive to understand, or “humanize” one’s personal history. Perhaps flat and declarative means of representing one’s history, like my grampas email, are more to the point than those that indulge narrative and romanticism. Point being the reminder of ones place in the continuity of life over time. If anything besides that resulted from me thinking about this list of names it was that I may be the last in this line of men because I do not want children.
With that being said I struggled with how to convey this feeling visually. I ended up deciding that my most beneficial plan of attack was to keep this line of names and dates as flat and neutral as it was presented to me. Because it is through flat and neutral means that these listed people will continue to exist to me. So I began investigating how this text could be pushed even further away from personhood, lineage and narrative and settled on colour. Specifically digitally rendered colour through hexadecimal codes. I knew that any digitally represented colour had a specific 6 digit line of code that could be copied and replicated to create the same colour on any platform (Photoshop, Website Design, Adobe Illustrator etc.) and so I decided this as my means of transcribing the written information of the original document. Originally I started inputting the birthdates of these people as the code (001999) and then repeating the number of years between the names as a system of creating colours representing people as far back as year 0 CE, so it went 40 years, 26, 25, 26, 31, 26, 27, 24, 31. But It wasn’t following how hex code language works and I only got a repeating pattern of colour that Illustrator was creating for me. (I should have posted this but I deleted it after I realized what was happening)
I then tried converting each year into a hexadecimal digit (there’s an equation I found online) and then grouping them by 6 so that I could have a complete code to make a colour for that group of names, but it still wasn’t working.
Finally, and as simple as it usually is, I found a text to hexadecimal code converter online. I then converted each name and date into code, took the first six digits and used those to create the colours. I played with the format, like whether or not to keep the original composition of the document sent to me, but it felt too clear still like it was a document that had been redacted or censored. So I chose the grid separated by names and dates and this is what resulted.