Video, 28.30 mins, 2013

Denkmal [1] focuses on an outdated computer monitor screen on which a succession of objects are placed, one on top of each other. These objects (which range from postage stamps to a typewriter, a record and an abacus, amongst others) have all been superseded, to some extent, by digital technology. A child’s hands can be seen at various points, engaging with the screen and with these obsolete objects. This tactile engagement deliberately echoes the way children were taught basic skills by using Maria Montessori’s instructional ‘Personal Care Frames.’ [2] As each new object is added to the growing accumulation on the screen the viewer hears a description of the next, as yet invisible, item. This conflation of different temporal moments deliberately parallels the filmic structure of Hollis Frampton’s 1971 film (nostalgia). (nostalgia) documents a sequence of photographs from Frampton’s personal collection being burnt, in turn, on a hot plate, whilst an anecdotal narrative describes the next photograph the viewer will see, and so on. For Denkmal, Davis invited three writers [3] to describe the aforementioned collection of objects solely through touch and sound; forgoing the conventional means used to evaluate and assess an object, including context, function, commercial or historical value and visual appearance. If nostalgia is a longing for the past, Denkmal instead reimagines how objects that are already redundant (or on the verge of being made so), could be critically re-evaluated in the present.

1. Denkmal is German for Memorial or Sculpture.
2. Maria Montessori’s ‘Personal Care Frames’ are simple wooden frames with fabric and clothing fixtures stretched across them to teach children how to button and unbutton clothing, tie shoelaces etc.
3. The three writers were: Ellie Herring (Design Historian), Maria Fusco (Writer, Editor, Critic) and Dominic Paterson (Art Historian).

Technical information:
video H264
1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p)
25 fps
aspect ratio 16:9
duration 28.30 mins
audio 16 bit, 2 channel, 48000 Hrz