Day-to-Day Data
Mary Yacoob
Title: Trace Elements
Location: Page-based comm
ission for the Publication

Mary has created a series of intricate pen and ink drawings which record her observations of minute details from within her daily routine. She has painstakingly documented the number of dust particles on her television screen after 24 hours, the height of curves in her duvet cover after an afternoon nap and the number and size of toothpaste flecks on her bathroom mirror after brushing her teeth. She has used the data collected to make three beautiful graph or map-like images. In the publication, the drawings have been reproduced life size, one filling each of the three pages.
detail from Number and Size of Toothpaste Flecks on Bathroom Mirror...
detail from Number and Size of Toothpaste Flecks on Bathroom Mirror...
The drawings consist of maps of surfaces that reveal signs of human presence in the domestic sphere. Actions that form part of our daily habits and routine, leaving behind clues that can be traced and recorded. The dust, partly formed by our skin cells, that clings to all surfaces, or the disruption of bedcovers after taking an afternoon nap, are signifiers of transformation that form part of our evolving landscape. My work investigates how diagrams and maps – usually used to create universal reference guides – can be used to notate these ephemeral occurrences. In this way, I explore how recording the details of everyday life can intensify our experience of that which is deemed ordinary or disclose obscure narratives.

Tracing an activity has several stages: discovering a scarcely detectable process; observing its development; making a mark; and creating a record. At the same time, counting, measuring, and classifying may reveal a rhythm or pattern at work. This kind of intense scrutiny of the mundane can elicit a sense of the uncanny.

Perhaps our instinct to order and classify stems from our struggle to make sense of the stream of information, memories and experiences which we are subjected to on a daily basis. We develop systems as a kind of coping mechanism. They enable us to relate to the world via filtering processes. Though focused, these systems will always be fragmentary and provisional.

I am interested in how appropriating scientific ordering systems into an art context calls into question their use in the drive for timeless objectivity, and instead brings into play ambiguity and subjectivity. Rather than using them to establish proofs, ordering systems can be used as frameworks within which to observe and describe the poetic in the everyday.

Mary Yacoob
April 2005

< Previous Artist