Arthur Miller, the 49’ers and me

“Memory is a shuttle,” said Arthur Miller in 1987, “I’m moving along the lines of a paradox to a point that illuminates them. Any time you start to tell an event, you find yourself moving backward as well as forward. Arthur probably had bigger themes in mind than the San Francisco 49’ers, but they are who I’ve found myself thinking on today. Back in the mid-eighties in the UK, the latest tv channel filled it’s schedules with a challenging mix of odds and sods largely due to its remit to provide programming for minority groups. It also gave a home to tv shows from the USA which appeared to show another planet, not just another world. The most striking of these was an hour long highlights package from the NFL, complete with flashy graphics, expert editing and emotional soundtracking. I was hooked and needed a team. My best friend already had the most dominant team claimed as his (the Chicago Bears) so I took the guys in red and gold from the fancy sounding city.

I found myself thinking of my friend,and all the NFL gear we covered ourselves in during the mid/late eighties when I found the stories that give my recent work the hook it needs to hang on. My fragmented images to me appear as one world encroaching on another, or a mania for a project overtaking a mind, if I were to describe my workload. Where then to look for the location which best suggests this coming together of the virtual and the real, or the sane with the insane?

The images below are based on maps of San Francisco. The first is based on the route between 1751 Market Street, a location which briefly housed Luis Gongora, and Twitter HQ. The texts are taken from descriptions of life at 1751. Luis Gongora was  homeless when he was shot dead by the police in April this year. The police contest Gongora charged them. Six witnesses state otherwise. The second image is based on a map of Bernal Heights Park, the place where Alejandro Nieto was killed by police in March 2014. The text comes from reports into his death. The police were alerted to Nieto by a caller, a recently arrived tech-industry worker. Maybe Nieto did appear threatening, although nothing in his background suggested him to be so. He was a son. He was a volunteer. He was a Buddhist pacifist. He was 28. He was hit by bullets 15 times, and shot at 59 times. He was armed with a licensed taser which he carried for his job.

The sharp rise in tech-workers heading to San Francisco for jobs at Twitter, Google, AirBnB and others has created a situation whereby the newly arrived do not adapt to the city, instead their number and influence means the city adapts to them. The lack of affordable housing in the city now means one out of every two hundred sleeps in a tent. No one who earns a teacher’s wage can afford to live within the city. And what are these people more likely to do when they see people acting in ways their lives have not prepared them for? They call the police.






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