Absorbent Surface

Müleskind – First Pass (1hr deadline, Kassel, August 2007)

An absorbent surface, dirtied by numerous hands or the repeated passage of familiar digits. A workstation, sandy with dust, but only in the far reaches – the areas just beyond reach of the main seating position. This was a fountainhead that loomed outward like shadow – simply the discoloration of overuse. At the near edge, the right-angle corner of the table bears a gap, where the wood has swollen and delicately parted, somewhat like the expectant gap between upper and lower rows of teeth, caught mid-word, or out of control within a paused syllable. Traces of covering varnish adorn this precise crevasse, nudging the line back and forth – broken symmetry of shark’s teeth – pellet flakes of waxy pigment hovering on the surface of shadow. A swoosh of woodgrain has collected various crumbs and detritus – different materials, from the porous to the diamond-hard, resting amongst lint fertilizer, sown, inopportunely, unlikely to be classed as anything but fallow. The tabletop, its wide silverside surface of broad cross-sections, seems to be inflated with a collective energy; the summer sunlight, regularly passing over its southern edges with a gesture like a swiping hand.; a year-old spillage of water that had waited, unattended, until what hadn’t soaked in had evaporated into points; the erratic habits of the radiator positioned between the table legs, which had smoked the tight-wound wood until it had begun to loosen, until it had thinned its resins, opening stratified pores, draining colour and resilience. For the first moments the action had no effect, yet with continued, insistent application, the forefinger began to deposit itself there on the surface. Black bands, irregular slivers shaped slightly by the bowl of the fingertip, begin to roll between the two bodies, as if welling up in the heat generated by the exchange. At first it was unclear as to which of the two surfaces, or even the matter held off behind, may have elicited these shards – the tassels of tobacco found on the tip of the tongue a short few moments after inhaling a rolled cigarette. Perhaps it was only in conjunction that such excretions could have emerged. The dark hairs, the wire fragments, seemed like a waste matter of boredom, or the oily consequence of mindless, indifferent repetition. Some began to coil and fold into units, some rise on the heat and turbulence of the passing skin to find other, safer zones in which to cool. Still more find their way into the meandering networks of the woodgrain, either falling through the suspended darkness to some unknown section of the table structure (wood as an erratic construction of air) or remaining close to the surface and the light, acting very much like the lightless areas that no doubt occupied the spaces just beneath, becoming the top line of emptiness – black threads of skin, printing the table and confirming its characteristics pattern and its uniqueness, holding to its exterior borders.