Lorna Mills | commentary

Willing Maid, Spoken Fur

The racing kiosks Willing Maid and Spoken Fur are tall wooden plinths painted with a variety of coloured horizontal stripes. On top of each plinth is a television monitor "broadcasting" the same coloured horizontal stripes. The colour combinations are extracted from what I would call consumer coloration: striped scarves, rugby shirts, or the occasional corporate logo. With the stripe's continuity into the screen image, I have tried to create a closed, detached, self-contained system.

This raving formalism is relieved by a 3 minute, looped, text crawl that moves across the bottom of the screen, mimicking the text animations that are seen on many network newscasts. The text in the crawl consists of names of racehorses. (The peculiarity of these names is remarkable because the rules of racing require a distinct name for every registered horse.)

My motivations are not from any special interest in horse racing, but rather from a pleasure in language that comes from my activities as a reader, not as a writer. The names, hovering in a strange territory not generally traversed by proper nouns, encompass bad puns, cheesy sexual innuendo, wry allusions to world events, supplications for success (luck, love and money) as well as the truly inexplicable such as Roman Switch, Bolted Hear, Demaloot Demashoot, Rox of Pay, Infomint and perhaps, oddest of all, Autumnal Umbrellas. It isn't necessary for a viewer to know that they are names of horses; most people do recognize them as names of something or other (small towns? boats? strippers?).

The crawling text becomes gleefully absurd, mysterious and, ultimately, gregarious, running at the speed of casino culture, like a Racing Form attached to the end of Finnegan's Wake.

Lorna Mills

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