I write a diary every day, usually in biro, always in some kind of a hardcover A5 book. I’ve been writing them since 1995 with about ten books each year, so now I’ve got shelves of them. They take up quite a lot of space, and as physical things they’re very important to me. If there were a fire in the house I’d throw them out the window first and jump after them. I stick things in, I monitor my handwriting for mood, I put new covers on them, I shelve them, I browse their spines, I leaf through them.

Rather than writing about what’s happened every day, the important thing is that there’s something there to mark my participation in each day, or my presence during it. The days in the books have to bear witness to the living days. When I was working with Nick the other day trying to treat things like words and vice versa, I started to wonder how I could produce a diary by making daily things instead of writing them.

Just as my written diaries don’t always involve descriptions of the passing day, these daily things wouldn’t be restricted to describing the things or events taking place. Nevertheless it’s this category of things – the descriptive things – that I’ve been thinking about.

Here are the kinds of objects I think I could make to describe, say, an evening spent wiring a plug and drinking tea:

  • Something comprising the wired plug and the teacup I’d been using;
  • Something comprising a wired plug and a teacup, but examples of these things rather than the actual ones that appeared during the day, which I also had around the house;
  • Something comprising a wired plug and a teacup, but examples of these things rather than the actual ones that appeared during the day, which I didn’t have around the house and had to acquire especially;
  • Something comprising things that look like a wired plug and a teacup, but which are fabricated from modelling materials that started off without representational form (like a block of clay), which I had around the house anyway;
  • Something comprising things that look like a wired plug and a teacup, but which are fabricated from modelling materials that started off without representational form (like a block of clay), which I didn’t have around the house and had to acquire especially;
  • Something comprising things that look like a wired plug and a teacup, but which are fabricated from other things (like a hairbrush and a some drainpipe), which I had around the house anyway and were present during the wiring of the plug and the drinking of the tea;
  • Something comprising things that look like a wired plug and a teacup, but which are fabricated from other things (like a hairbrush and a some drainpipe), which I had around the house anyway and were absent during the wiring of the plug and the drinking of the tea;
  • Something comprising things that look like a wired plug and a teacup, but which are fabricated from other things (like a hairbrush and some guttering) which I didn’t have around the house and had to acquire especially;
  • Something comprising things that have the sense of a wired plug and a teacup, in all of the above seven permutations;
  • Something comprising things that have the sense of the wiring of the plug and the drinking of the tea, in all of the first seven permutations.

And then I wondered about where the thing could be made:

  • At the kitchen table where the plug wiring and tea drinking had taken place;
  • Somewhere else but in another ordinary living-space in the house;
  • Somewhere else that is designated specifically for making things.

I wondered whether the plug, the hairbrush and the clay were all as real as one another in all these scenarios, and whether their realness would change during the processes of making.

This is a photo of a camera Nick and I made last week to put next to my real camera. Because my camera was in the photo I had to take the photo with my phone camera, which isn’t a real camera so it isn’t as good.

cameras

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