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Old Father Thames - movement institute

Part 1 Project 2000
Gemma Conroy
University of Greenwich, UK
Playing with Old Father Thames:
Bodybuilding fluid – a movement institute

As the river changes its nature (with reports of rising levels of oestrogen and fish changing sex), " the fluid is more of a support and medium for his power than the phallus(a)":

The landscape of Greenwich was firstly ingested, digested and "oozingly egested(b)". This ‘globular massacre’ involved fluid recycling with disgorged remnants sequestered onto the surface from phallomorphic extensions (Slide1). The process was implanted onto the beach by the Oxo Tower (Slide2) to create ‘a pleasure palace’, viewing and playing on the twisting ecstatic bodies (Slide8).

Piering (sic.) out into the river the delicate pods are held in and capture the movement of the river (Slides 3-5). They filter and expand in the water with oil producing algae. Series section: "dancing over a separation as if on shifting ground whose boundary is remembered and transgressed endlessly"(Slides 6-8).Skin Slippage Detail: The structure vibrates, the skin stretched…partially disembodied, a shift occurs… causing the Clitellum to excrete the impermeable slippage fluid (Slides9-13). Detail of Capsule of Implantation: The rigorous movements of the pods with the tide and the phallomorphic extensions/rudders…moving ceaselessly from the one to the other. Section through Pod: Once ‘drunk’… it becomes more fluid, rotating in a penetrative manner, from the experience of ecstasy and seduction… The beach on the South Bank is mediated to the architectural form…the relocation of the dislocated on a wet landscape/table…a modelling occurrence, creating spaces and occupying spaces (Slides14-16).

(a) Luce Irigaray’s ‘The Marine lover of Friedrich Nietzsche.’
(b) Felix Gutarri’s ‘Chaosmosis’.

Gemma Conroy

Gemma Conroy’s Movement Institute: Playing with Old Father Thames:

This entry is from a student who had originally trained and worked as a technician, she had failed her second year yet repeated and now in her final degree submission has created an imaginative, poetic and rigourously drawn project; and an impressive attempt to comprehend and reconstitute a challenging programme.

In our atelier we set the students a very provocative starting point to create an image of a site laboratory based on a tripalium of metaphor, allegory and satire! The students were also given a chapter of Chaosmosis by Felix Gutarri entitled 'machinic orality’ where the spewing out of text and ingestion of food takes place at the same time. Gemma’s first ‘site surfer ‘ or analyser used acids to breakdown the Greenwich Maritime site this was soon known as the ‘Globular Massacre’! She crossed this work with a very rich text, Luce Irigaray’s ‘The Marine lover of Friedrich Nietzsche.’ John Hejduk has written of the breath of the female and Gemma took his soul sound metaphor (in ‘The Education of the Architect’), and made it fluid. The main project was to create an institute of movement: studying from body to landscape engaging the river, in Gemma’s case crossing sexual thrill while lapping at a deep body Laban. To quote the students own rich text: ‘Opening a threshold to conditions of the environment, creating a surface of the incomplete and in doing so interpreting, translating, moving and fabricating all to become what it is'.

The fluid materiality of the project created technology challenges. These were investigated with our tutor Laura Strachan from environmental consultants Atelier 10: with oil producing algae, and self lubricating skins. The structure has parallels with the Chinese fishing nets of Cochin, or an oestrogen immersed and ingested structure and pod of the ‘London Eye’.

• Page Hits: 1448         • Entry Date: 09 February 2000         • Last Update: 10 May 2001