'Mining Paradise' is a work that has evolved from an ongoing project called 'Paradise Found'. This concerns the social and geographical re-mapping of the United Kingdom made into text, photographs, digital imagery and multi-media environments. The piece involves my fascination with 'the ideal' lifestyle and how place constructs our desires and sense of difference. The project began by personally photographing places called Paradise throughout London. Subsequently I posted many one-film 'holiday' cameras to residents in 'Paradise' throughout Britain. I asked people to identify their section of paradise and to consider whether it is an ideal environment. Following the return of many photographs and written responses these were merged with literary examples ranging from John Milton's 'Paradise Lost/Regained' (1795) to Barbara Cartland's 'Paradise Found' (1986) - so forming an ever more fantastical portrait of the United Kingdom. This work is being made into an interactive CD-ROM (early versions available) and a web site, www.paradisefound.org.uk to be launched in July 2001. The potential energy found in this abandoned industrial site at Neunkirchen makes it the ideal place to also start the physical construction of this alternative Paradise.
However, due to planning restrictions Paradise needs to fit into a 6m x 2.45m container, therefore it will just be the first room (in the first building) of this new society. It will be a twisted composition of what people think Paradise should be in 2001. Therefore this 'nerve centre' featuring much of the material submitted will be both an artwork and a curatorial experiment. Those who encounter the environment may see it as an archaeological dig in a state of flux between present/future, personal/political, virtual and real. Actual decoration work may still be taking place in the room and the sound of industrial machinery & computers will suggest that a much larger world is being built outside.
The 'web cameras' from the Gegenort headquarters will show scenes inside the container, with visitors being able to search the new archive while trying to avoid the ongoing building activity. However the piece will not be looking back at 'lost' and untenable states but suggesting future possibilities. It will look to the future by acknowledging that new beginnings emerge from the dejected, broken and infirm. It is primarily a sculptural (even theatrical) installation with each element (including the 'robot' workers) made from everyday materials found during the search for Paradise. The visitors will be able to walk through the room both in a virtual sense and in its' somewhat less developed actuality. Before the exhibition via the web site and at the venue (particularly local) people are invited to submit their reflections on Paradise, these will then be added to the space before completion. However, with these conflicting suggestions 'progress' on the room itself is slow, there is always one more thing to add before the room can be finished. Although 'The Gegenort Room' is an ever-expanding (infinite?) mine of ideas as a consequence it cannot escape beyond the four walls without using new technology. Mining Paradise will use the collective contributions to create an exchange between the Utopian imagination and its' restrictive reality.