Note To Self:
In 2006 I was invited to make a piece of work for an exhibition at g/39. The project I made was called 'Note To Self'. It invited people to write a letter to the 'them' of 5 years time... and to take part in an experiment with time travel. (more info below). When the exhibition closed I kept all 170 letters, unread, in my studio. Now that it is 2011 and 5 years have passed the letters have been returned.
Over the last 5 years I have occasionally glanced at the box of letters under my desk and wondered how 'real life/ real time' events tallied with the hopes and aspirations recorded in the letters. What twists of chance - or fate, have changed people's lives in ways that perhaps could not have been imagined in 2006.
I have always found deep winter to be a time of reflection ( this was part of the inspiration of the work), perhaps the recipt of this letter may spark a revelation for the next five years, an evaluation, or even a sigh of relief that, that chapter is closed.
Either way, I hope the intervention of this, perhaps foregotten about letter, into peoples 2011 lives evokes of feeling of moving through time, of connecting to a specific moment on an ordinary day 5 years before.
If you have recived your letter, please feel free to email me and tell me how you felt on encountering the 'you' of 2005 stating whether or not you would like me to publish your response online.
Note to Self:
g/39, Feb 2006
“Note To Self:” explored the possibility of time travel within ones own lifetime. Visitors to the gallery were invited to write a letter to the ‘them’ of 5 years time. The subject of the letter was open and letters will not be read by anyone other than the author. I imagined that people would either project onto their future self or reflect on their current situation. In January 2011 I will post all of the un- read letters back to the gallery visitor, who will, at once be catapulted back to the (most probably) rainy afternoon they spent at g/39 writing their letter. At the moment of reading their “note to self:” the author will be confronted by both their hopes and dreams of 2006 and the reality of their current situation. (Which I hope will far exceed their projection!)
This process, for me, raises questions about the unpredictability of life and also the possibly of loss, change of direction or the effect of chance or chaos on ones life. The fact that none of us really know which direction our lives will take. At the same time we all, in some way, project onto the future, define and imagine the shape of our lives to come and in many ways those projections do shape our lives.
Even before writing the letter visitors had to work out where they would be living or where they would send the letter to. Do we assume we will be in the same house or hope that families or friends have a greater stability or perhaps we hope our lives will change and that we will be somewhere else. This commitment to writing an address is, for me, a profound statement about the direction of ones life.
Time travel occurs at two points in the process, however the second moment is probably the most moving. The moment of writing the letter invites people to imagine either what or who they will be or to record something of who they are now. At the point of receiving the letter I imagine there will be the sense of a collision of time, a sense of loss of the self that we were and also the feeling of inhabiting that person for a moment. Of understanding who we were. In many ways this process is not dissimilar to photography, when one captures an image, in order to show the future self something of the present, however writing a letter re-negotiates time differently to the image. It has many more layers and the lack of image creates a space to imagine being that person at that time, as opposed to seeing the picture of that person at that time.
Project © Jennie Savage 2005