Chart Room
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Installation view: The Plotting Table, by Max Couper 1994
Stellar chart assemblage. Collection of the London Borough of Wandsworth, permanently on loan.
Two charts of graphite, acrylic, pen and chalk dust on watercolour paper. Steel chart-table with movable plotting and measuring instrument.
206 X 466 X 236.5cm (6ft 9in X 15ft 3.5in X 7ft 9in)

"The table was made to go with the chart. This piece started one evening when I was sitting on the deck of the barge with about a dozen friends having a party at midnight. Someone pointed out that opposite us on the Crouch, there is a straight sea wall, which is several miles long, and that if you just put your head up to the stars and bring your eyes down slowly, you could sense the curvature of the earth. You are very rarely at that sort of vantage point on land with a straight line in front of you several miles long. The earth is dropping off a few feet per mile, which is easily enough to see the curve. The reason that you need to look down and try to sense it is because automatically your eyes try to correct it, and thinks it straight.

What I found interesting was the idea of actually being able to sense you were standing on something that was spherical. That everything else is dropping away from you. We know that - it is one of the first things that we are told as a child - but to actually sense it is a totally different thing. It made me start to think a lot about the way that we are actually on our own point, as the ship was, literally. The two co-ordinates of that point, for each of us, is a point in space and a point in time. It is the same for every animal. Those are our twin co-ordinates."

Max Couper, November, 1997

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