Tuesday, 31 August 2010

No sh*t Sherlock!

I really enjoyed the updated series of Sherlock Holmes recently shown on the BBC. While reading an article about it in the Gay Times of all places I was intigued by this description of the set for Holmes' flat

'The kitchen has been deployed as a lab, with the table covered in jars and stuff the production team has found on eBay, authentic things. This probably explains the authentically old smell. There’s a silver box with test tubes and a syringe. We’re on set for the crime-fighting duo’s first encounter so it’s explained that ‘there aren’t bullet holes in the wall yet’. Blimey. If you’re wondering whether that familiar tobacco pipe will be putting in an appearance, we spotted a box of NicoBud patches scattered with the piles of gun magazines and unanswered correspondence with a knife in it. '

This is exactly the kind of thing I am now looking at for my 'set' which I am planning to be displayed at Stoke Pottery Museum and Art Gallery for our collborative project. Well, when I say exactly, syringes and test tubes aren't really my thing, but, I am really interested in how items are put together to create a character or back story. I like the fact Sherlock's inquisitive nature is illustrated through his weird collection of belongings and his short temper is explained through nicotine patches and a stabbed message!

Upon my last visit to the museum I was able to view and photograph some of the many interesting historical items from the decorative arts store (see Treasures of the past ) which I am going to use to construct a dressing table/room. Not only do I want to display these beautiful objects but I want to show them in a way that will illustrate a story. I am using 'artifice' as my main theme, as I want to explore not just the moment of transformation a woman undergoes in her boudoir but also the true character behind the public facade.

In my last post about Stoke I mentioned how a room can be read like a crime scene. So with that in mind I decided to look a little further into crime scene investigation and I found an interesting paper with the snappy title, 'Crime scene and physical evidence awarness for non-forensic personnel'.

'Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will serve as silent evidence against him... This evidence does not forget, it is not confused with excitiment of the moment. It is not absent because human witnesses are. It is factual evidence. Physical evidence cannot be wrong. Only it's interpretation can err. Only human failure to find it study it and understand it can diminish its value'

Kirk Paul
Crime Investigation
John Wiley and Sons, Cananda Limited 1953

So how do you interpret physical evidence?

'Typically the recognition of physical evidence starts by observing the scene. Based on initial observations and taking into consideration the context of the case, possilbe scenarios, the nature of the incident, as well of characteristics of surface that may bear potential evidence'

I think it would be interesting to apply this information to one of my favourite photos from the Dressing Table Gallery focusing on the evidence and possible scenarios that could make up the individual's personality and circumstances.

How would Sherlock begin?. The most important thing Holmes does is to focus acutely on every detail and turn something commonplace and anonymous into something singular and significant. He then combines this with social and moral assumptions to produce his deduction. There is a great article called Sherlock Holmes ~ Modernist though, modernist cities & the solving intellect where you can read him doing just this.

So here goes:

I'd say this was a female aged between 23-30, who lives in a shared house. She is creative and inqusitive, and leads a busy lifestyle. She always has more than one project on the go and likes to keep busy. Family is very important to her as are friends. She is gregarious and slightly sentimental, but also can be scatty brained and forgetful.

Here's how I came to that conclusion:

The perfume featuring the cute character is aimed at young women in a 20-30 age bracket .
The amount of objects crammed into one area suggests space is an issue, which leads me to think given social assumptions, that she must live in a house with other people, so she only has one room.
I think she must be a busy person due to the haphazard way her belongings are placed down, suggesting she is always on the go. Someone who spent more time at home would have more time to display and maintain their belongings. Also someone who is active most of the time and has such a range of items stuffed together may be forgetful and easily loose things.

The ornamental figurines don't particularly fit with the other objects, so make me think they must be a gift or inherited from an older person, so family is important to her.
I think she likes to try out different looks and styles and enjoys sewing because she has a good supply of perfume and beauty products and there is a tape measure on the bed post.
Some items such as the fabric bee and frog ornament lead me to believe she may be setimental and these represent different moments in her life.

This has been a good challenge for me and this line of thought will definately feed into my work with Stoke Museum. I'd love to know how accurate I've been so I'm going to to try and find out from the person who took this photo....If anyone has a different analysis please let me know!


Kittie Howard said...

Nicely done! I tend to agree. Except I'd add that she's a working girl on a budget who likes to shop.

Gemma Parker said...

Good thinking. Thanks Kittie!