“You’re not writing anything the way you’re used to writing it. You’re not reading it that way either. Adding, subtracting, arranging. You’re not looking for a centre.”
These words are projected onto the white walls of the Confluence Gallery in Dawson City as you enter Triple Index: Equilateral Resource Centre for the General Public, presuming your participation before you even know you’re being asked of something.
Artists Amy Ball and Andrew de Freitas have transformed the space into what the brain might look like if you imagined it to occupy a single room. The formal qualities of the interior design are minimal and geometric, built entirely out of untreated lumber.
The furniture speaks to a modern sensibility with some obvious contradictions. There is a bench, bookshelves and a worktable, which in their simple design uphold the modernist primary principle of functionality, yet their enigmatic purpose is purely conceptual and does not necessarily strive for efficiency in the practical sense.
And though the structures maintain an honesty and integrity of materials, their assemblage is more thrifty and D.I.Y. than industrial.
There are only two “conventional” artworks hanging on the wall. One is a wooden triangle skeleton lined with red thread.
This piece hangs directly opposite to the door and serves as a sort of introduction to the exhibit—both triangles and red thread are recurring motifs throughout the exhibit, alluding to practices of making and perhaps symbolically to the body.
The other is a printed series of three triangles in red, yellow and blue. Each triangle contains sets of three words, which correspond to the weekly themes for the duration of Triple Index: “Liquid, Left, Spirit,” “Solid, Centre, Body,” and “Gas, Right, Mind.”
There are three main stations in the gallery. At the worktable, titled “Love Press Hate Clue,” you are invited to cut and rearrange clippings from local newspapers, which are provided weekly.
You can draw relationships between these fragments using pins and red thread, and are encouraged to “remain sensitive to the possibility of a new association.”
There is also the library, which consists of both objects and books, divided by three shelves corresponding to the weekly themes.
The shelves are relatively sparse, but contain a wide range of genres for a broad interpretation of the words in question. There is no label on the shelves to indicate what they are supposed to represent of the three, but require some reasoning and contemplation according to the titles to infer their category.
In the centre of the shelves which form a triangle, there is a low hexagonal table with black milk crates for seats, atop which sits a lonely voice recorder. During your browsing, you are asked to speak into the device any quotations that resonate with you, contributing to a collaborative recording that undermines individual authorship by way of fragmentation and extraction.
Finally, there is “The Triple Index” itself, where all public contributions culminate in the creation of a zine every Sunday evening. The scanner has been dubbed “Heart,” and can also be used to copy words and images from the library.
This publication can be delivered to your doorstep every Monday morning by bicycle.
This is a brilliantly simple experiment in community engagement and collaboration. The ambitiously academic nature of the project is undermined and placated by keeping the atmosphere casual; events such as potlucks, discussions and performances are periodically held in the gallery.
Participation is accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, and the possibilities of infinite connections and relationships between the fragmented pieces of data open these weekly overarching questions, which are so reduced to the fundamentals of themes themselves that they go right past cliché and on towards metaphysical, to extreme depths and complexities.
The worktable that incorporates local newspapers as further resources also provides a needed balance to these abstract topics by including current events in the discussion.
Triple Index can be seen at the Confluence Gallery until July 15. Gallery hours are Thursday to Sunday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.