Exeter 2002

A number of TNWK projects have centred around the public space of a citys’ streets, its furniture, texts and customs. They begin by exploring together, walking and talking, observing and commenting, resulting in forms of collaborative note-taking … often making use of digital photography, videographic and sound recording equipment in preference to the solitary introspection of a more traditional flâneur. Other points of reference for this aspect of their practice include: the Situationist dérive, the reporters of the Mass Observation movement, post-Fluxus interventions into the everyday, and citizen reporting.

In May 2002 TNWK were artists-in-residence for the first annual festival of writing tEXt 2002 based around the Phoenix, Exeter. Inspired by the Exeter book of Anglo Saxon riddles housed in the Cathedral Library TNWK appointed themselves Municipal Riddlers to the city of Exeter and set out to write 20 contemporary riddles to replace the missing or untranslatable riddles from the original manuscript. These are missing due to the rough and careless use of the Exeter Riddle Book over the years including its use as a bread board and beer mat. TNWK’s Missing Riddles were written for specific items of generic street furniture found around Exeter – a post box, a road sign, a cash point machine etc etc and can now be found on this website. Each day during the week long residency TNWK explored the city by foot searching out potential riddle locations but also registering the citys’ texts and vocabularies of signage, advertising, graffiti and labelling. By the end of the residency they had amassed a pot of images and video footage which was possible to quickly assemble using an alphabetic constraint into a 5 minute video for projection as part of the festival’s closing club night. DJ Johnny d’Bini subsequently devised a sound mix for the permanent version of abecedary which is rapidly becoming an historical document of Exeter at a moment in time when the royal jubilee and England’s football dreams inflected the textual/visual landscape of public city spaces in early summer.

abcedary was exhibited as part of the Bury Text Festival at Bury Art Gallery 17 September – 27 November 2005