Assumptions and Presumptions

Stephen Willats

2 December 2007 – 30 November 2007

Do we see the world we want to see? Is our perception of the people we encounter, a layering onto them of the relative framework of our own beliefs, norms and conventions? Do we reduce the infinite variability and complexity of the fabric of reality we experience through the creation of probability and prediction, to an acceptable certainty at any given moment? For example, is that person I just saw, actually the person I perceived them to be? Does the perception I have instantly created, match the perception the person has of themselves? What discrepancy is permissible in inter-personal relations? These are some of the polemical ideas that stimulated the creation of Assumptions and Presumptions.

The two stations Rayners Lane and Sudbury Town were chosen to represent the suburban environment and society in which most people live. Each of a group of ten participants agreed to act out an event in which they kept transforming their identity and behaviour in relation to another participant in the group, forming a temporary pairing. On one Saturday morning, the ten participants were each filmed walking several times into Rayners Lane Tube station each time with another member of the group, and each time altering their identity in some way. In the afternoon they were filmed in a similar manner walking out of Sudbury Town Tube station. The combinations and identities were chosen by the participants. When the film the was edited each individual in the group was given a colour code, which they keep throughout, so that the viewer can identify a particular individual as they take on different roles.

Assumptions and Presumptions is presented as an installation at both Rayners Lane and Sudbury Town Tube stations. Three films run in parallel; the entrance sequences, the journey and the exit sequences. There is no ‘correct’ interpretation of the work, or of the people represented in the films. The meaning that you find, the way you interpret and perceive each couple – the identities, intentions and interactions between the participants – will be up to you, the results of your own experiences and, ultimately, of your imagination.

This new work was commission as part of Thin Cities a series of works celebrating 100 years of the Piccadilly line.

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Visiting Information

Artworks for this project are available to visit at the following stations. Where more detailed visiting information is available, page links have been included in the list below.