In some recent studio time I set up an investigation space, for managing and developing from material from my observations. I did some reading about artists’ use of archive; I am in the process of data analysis and as such this is a space of active enquiry rather than record. I am calling it an investigation room, and using notecards and bulletin boards, as seen in TV portrayals of murder investigations.
The bookshelves house a set of images, writings and recordings from my observations of mathematicians in the wild, alongside records of each development from this material. This room is portable, to be packed away and unpacked again from the bookshelves at its centre, and each packing and unpacking will alter and develop the material. A scrawled diagram from an observed mathematician’s notes might expand to fill a wall on one unpacking; this blowing-up, an expansion that first re-assigns importance and then re-assigns meaning through the cues of placement, opens up the material to new and unexpected readings (I have been writing about the understandings made possible through the assignment of art-object status using linguistic pragmatic theory in a paper I’m giving soon). Packed away, the shelves house the same stacks of papers and notes as are seen on the bookshelves of mathematicians’ offices, shorthands and sketches that might unpack to something more, if, and only if, the (cognitive) environment is right.