Ultimately, though, it does not provide much in the way of substance. It is a chimera and a fleeting flim-flam. Like its lineage of portable, demountable sideshows and pan-alley attractions it declares its impermanent spirit. It speaks to the ephemeral and quixotic encounter, which will be further explored in Coley’s school of architecture in Another Lecture in which the impossibly shonky, the heroic ‘found’ public object and temporary architecture of transition are given authority and weight by academic and theoretical celebration.
If one is looking for a kindly legacy here, it is found in the humorous and sympathetic project by Richard Wentworth of ‘found sculptures’ in his Making Do and Getting By series of photographs: his homage to the ingenuity and make-do balance and opportunistic ephemeral street ‘sculptures’ enacted by a non-specialist public. Coley’s lecture, by contrast, is a satirical observance of the failure and diminishment of craft in urban design and architecture.
Like the Scot’s Church in Melbourne, here made into an approximate model that refers to its home in Scotland, Another Lecture folds Melbourne and Coley’s hometown of Glasgow together in shared moments of urban dysfunction and dishevelment. Which is more human? To err, as these failures of design suggest, or to ascend to certainty, and perhaps arrogance, as we are invited to do on Coley’s platforms. This is the debate established and enacted by his Appearances.
Rather than ‘architecture and morality’ being up for grabs, I think, eventually, through the public square we have come to a place of situational ethics. Another Lecture and the visitor operations on and off plinths, the meandering through the enfolded public/private space, are Coley’s nod to the recent situationist revival in sculptural practice, which celebrates the transitory, participatory and intangible. Appearances travels across a century of sculptural practice that relates to the language of objects, things and bodies, using architecture and its forms as a renewed devise for interrogation.