Requited - Toy Interior from robin morrissey on Vimeo.

Robin Morrissey
MY TOY INTERIOR: A VIDEO ESSAY


There is a curious way in which writing becomes idealized form. A mysterious process through which the lines become transformed into boundaries which beg to be transgressed, reformulated, upon which we make our attempts at their erasure (or to mark ourselves in), that makes them all the more integral to the unspoken fictional nature of language.

First, though, let me begin properly. I actually just wanted to invite you over. I wanted to invite you for cocktails, or coffee, for tea and a frame of reference or knowing, maybe later a game of charades, or an account of a memory that arose in the space between reading, or talking. I say this to explain how earlier, I went looking for a space. A kind of space I’d like to meet you in, and see you in a way I hadn’t seen you before, when before we’d only see each other in the neutral and estranged space of work.

I read something, then decided I’d portrait us, to make us “what is sequestered” (to use Ashbery’s piece about a little man in a tiny mirror) and, therefore, to solidify our friendship. An afternoon that would form as though a scene from a film, a Sherman, a something more, in your mind. But, we’d just be getting together, you know, to share things and names of things in our common, but until now unuttered, language.

Our words will contain knowledge that is felt to be known, like a secret longing for miniature Barbie shoes, a fetish I have always had and have always wanted to tell someone. In there, her tiny, white, high-heeled shoes fit perfectly on a red sofa. And about which you will consider:

[how] the miniature perfects the experience it so carefully reproduces… [an]idealized form of the miniature then articulates as it exemplifies (we are so) a sense of
individual interiority as separate from and superior to the world. (from
Gillian Brown, The Consent of the Governed, Cambridge: Harvard, 2001, 86)

And, yet another fragment, whose own end has been elided:

For the miniature, in its exaggeration of interiority and its relation to the space and time of the individual perceiving subject, threatens the infinity of ...(from Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection, Durham: Duke, 1993, 44)

… its meaning? Ours in it? It reminds me of freedom in temporality. In which we met so many possibilities in a perfect room. A place at which you are beguiled, surprised, shocked, exposed, known, understood, complicated, redeemed. An eternal internal of a “virgin snow … [that] shows up the bloody footprints.”[1]

It is the perfect place to meet. A fantastic frame of room. The wide open floor and statues a gallery for the transient pieces in which two people sit gesturing. The furniture is an arrangement of a new feeling. The next idea. I wanted another us, the doubles that say what we mostly can’t or don’t, in the noir space.

In this– miniature – replication of someone else’s home, certain realities are much bigger than what you’ll see here. While we speak with our high heels on the sofa, though, what becomes the referential field for we two?

We cannot agree with Susan Stewart’s idea that “the ways in which the physical world can be miniaturized are not carried over into devices for the linguistic depiction of the miniature” (45). Yet, I wonder what depiction to use for the small work by Gao Chang-Jun and Shen You-Gen, sitting still as royalty in deep mahogany at the far wall.

Those two created in idea and language yet another little toy: an eternal expanding universe driven by quintessence. Their faces, which you cannot see, say nothing, though they are very interested in what you were saying about your new form for poetic narrative: a moebius of the aleatory dialectics of astrology and Tarot. A narrative I Ching of the post-American unconscious, with its system of defeated language and lost connection to meaning, how you told them you wished to plot it as it continues to wade terror- and grief-stricken through a koan-like, self-denying fall.

Yet, quintessence, this beautiful element to another universe, is “the fifth and highest element after air and earth and fire and water [that] was believed to be the substance composing all heavenly bodies” (http://wordnet.princeton.edu/ 12 May 2009). The invisible vibration of white carpet against the green curtains that frame the statues, how on either side of the fireplace a certain sense of wonder is visible, as in the eternal faces of Chang-Jun and You-Gen. We listen attentively with our skirts pulled around our legs, and our high heels on the sofa. An expanding form – as though they were, we were, material there on the sofa sipping tea, all of us there and invisible vibrating frequencies of quintessence, this language of modeling, layering, doubling, multiplying what is and what isn’t seen there.

There we sit and face each like two mirrors, expanding form.

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[1] Alfred Hitchcock on why blondes makes the best victims.




Robin Morrissey lives and walks in Chicago, IL. Recent work includes a ten-minute staged adaptation of Sophocles' Antigone at Caffeine Theatre in 2008, and installation actions for the "No Project" and "Park Yourself" events, curated by Chicago artist Jenny Roberts. Morrissey's previous installations have shown in Antwerp, BELGIUM, Ann Arbor, MI, and Chicago, IL; her poetry has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Chinquapuin, Berkeley Campus Writers Anthology, and phoebe. She is a responsible and active member of the Columbia College Chicago Adjunct community.