678: Distance Travelled Time Taken

678 Distance Travelled Time Taken

2007 – 2012
used window envelopes, pva glue, 3 extending metal poles
300 x 300 x 300 cm approximately
Installation assembled at The Gallery HAC Harrow Arts Centre London 2013

‘Distance Travelled Time Taken’ is an installation that addresses Ann Kopka’s engagement with the research, process and transformation of discarded everyday ephemera and disposable objects of little or no intrinsic value. Through the concept of ‘making something out of nothing’ Ann seeks to draw attention to the throwaway nature of consumer society and question our perception of its value systems.

‘Distance Travelled, Time Taken’ is made from thousands of used window envelopes collected by Ann, her family and friends in homes, offices and schools. The willingness to save used window envelopes was clearly captivating and rapidly spread from person to person as a network of collectors grew across the country and mountains of window envelopes began to appear on Ann’s doorstep.

The windows were hand cut from the envelopes and glued together by Ann to form chains eventually reaching a mile long. The collectors constantly asked to be kept informed when certain ‘milestones’ had been reached. This spurred on both collectors and Ann. Without this enthusiastic and encouraging support this project would not have been realised.

However Ann had not anticipated the disappointment that would be expressed by some of the collectors once enough envelopes had been received or the disappointment of others who wished that they had made a contribution. Ann resisted the pressure to continue and felt the ‘mile’ to be an appropriate cut off point if the project was to be completed: from conception to completion took about five years.

Dispatched with a lick and opened with a rip, each envelope has travelled on its own unique voyage through the post connecting people together in a web of communication. The handmade links of this installation evoke both the distance travelled and the time taken to realise the work and provide a playful antithesis to the technology of electronic mail.