Peripheral Vision

 Camden Street, Dublin; photo / courtesy the author
Camden Street, Dublin; photo / courtesy the author

Via 2 was a site-specific art exhibition that took place in 2004 on Dublin's Camden Street. It was organized by Via, a collaborative artist-led initiative created "to explore through art issues surrounding history, culture and art practice within the context of the changing identity of Dublin city."1
This was the publicity statement for Via 2:

Via 2 will take place on Camden Street, Dublin, starting 24 April, in the form of a large-scale public exhibition of visual art situated in places that people visit everyday such as their local café, thrift store or fast food outlet, offering its viewers a unique opportunity to experience art as an integral part of their everyday experience. Via 2 will consist of non-permanent artistic interventions making reference to their readymade surroundings. The Camden Street location reflects new and exciting changes taking place in Irish society as a whole. Camden Street is an immensely interesting and diverse place, steeped in local history yet constantly in a state of change.2



In January 2004 I submitted the following installation proposal to Via 2.

Proposed location: Douglas Interiors, 32 Lower Camden Street, Dublin 2
Title of submitted work: Peripheral Vision
Artist's name: Benjamin Robinson
Description of Work
The work consists of four black and white images of the Artist's face that have been torn in half and had a collage of an image of brickwork placed over the eyes. The halves have been laminated and holes punched in their tops. Metal rings have been attached to the laminates through the holes and threaded onto a freestanding wire frame to form a miniature vertical Venetian blind.
Artist's Statement
The work is about perception as surface between and within worlds, shutting out and shutting in, where internal and external, centre and periphery meet, in the limits and extremities of each other.
Installation Instructions
Work to be placed in one of Douglas Interiors' display windows.

 Douglas Interiors, Camden Street; photo / courtesy the author
Douglas Interiors, Camden Street; photo / courtesy the author

Following the rejection of Peripheral Vision I dismantled it and packed it away in a shoebox with various other abandoned / unfinished works. When I came across my written proposal, recently, I was prompted to reassess it in the light of its faded rebuff. At this point in time the work was (as it still is) being stored, along with various other odds and ends, in my mother's house, while my own home is being renovated. After searching through a number of boxes I located the errant artwork in a small curtained cabinet in one of the upstairs bedrooms.
 Benjamin Robinson: Curtained Cabinet, 2010; photo / courtesy the author
Benjamin Robinson: Curtained Cabinet, 2010; photo / courtesy the author

Like all redundancies the work was marked by dereliction and denunciation, refutation casting a pall over its site-specific obsolescence. It was as if the work had taken upon itself the burden of failure, brooding on the sudden onset of a pernicious lack of vocation. Yet within its curtained enclosure the disembodied fragments were conspiring. In a fit of vengeful zeal I sought out the agents of its demise, but discovered to my chagrin that Via's domain name had changed hands, and via.ie/ was now home to Via Business & IT Consulting, a firm providing "comprehensive, cost-saving solutions for all types of organizations, including: I.T. expertise to provide significant cost savings; Engaging a trusted expert to review and source technology; Offering complete end-to-end services."3
I scoured ‘Testimonials', ‘Via Team', ‘News and Views', ‘Talk to Via on Skype', ‘Curious? Let's have coffee' for a vestige of collaborative artist-led initiative. Widening my search I found remnants of Via strung out across the Web like threads of an unraveling curtain, but try as I might I could find no trace of the living entity that had consigned my proposal to the scrap heap.
Back at the curtained cabinet Via's online transmogrification had inspired: as part of a comprehensive, cost-saving solution, within the context of the changing identity of Dublin city, the redeployment of Peripheral Vision as a site-ambiguous artistic intervention making reference to its readymade surroundings.



 Benjamin Robinson: Peripheral Vision, Curtained Cabinet, 2010; photo / courtesy the author
Benjamin Robinson: Peripheral Vision, Curtained Cabinet, 2010; photo / courtesy the author

Unveiled in its digital splendour, Peripheral Vision posits an audacious act of exchange: by facilitating its transformation Via's online absence has, in act of collaborative reparation, restored the work's integrity and vitality.
I have no idea if Via still exists, but if it does I feel sure it would appreciate Peripheral Vision's struggle to free itself of its absence from a site-specific exploration of issues surrounding history, culture and art practice,4 and take, perhaps, some solace from its virtual rebirth.
Benjamin Robinson lives in Dublin.
1. Via publicity statement taken from http://www.recirca.com/backissues/c107/see.shtml

2. Taken from http://www.recirca.com/backissues/c107/see.shtml

3. Via Business & IT Consulting publicity statement taken from http://via.ie/. The services of Via Business & IT Consulting were not engaged for either the writing of this article or the reconfiguration of Peripheral Vision.

4. Within the context of the changing identity of Peripheral Vision, the exploration of issues surrounding history, culture and art practice continues apace.