Hatch Twelve: Polly Wiltshire and Tina Carter

Text: Wayne Burrows
Photography: Julian Hughes

Polly Wiltshire and Tina Carter: Use the Force(s)

Popping up at random points around the building all day, to present a different five minute performance on the hour, every hour, Polly Wiltshire and Tina Carter’s Use The Force(s) is something like a Hatch: Twelve cuckoo clock, marking the passing of time with their own spin on the spirit of Wilf Lunn and Johnny Ball. Which is to say, their twelve appearances take cues from silent comedy and popular TV science, illustrating a range of scientific (and not so scientific) forces in ways that would arguably be educational if they were only a little more reliable and a touch less eccentric in their construction.

Due to the unpredictable nature of their appearances, I can only claim to have caught a handful of the twelve segments making up this contribution to the day, and while those were mainly in and around the cafe-bar area of the building, Carter and Wiltshire seemed to have licence to appear pretty much anywhere they chose, from a doorway to a storeroom to a cafe table. As it happened, at the turn of every hour, the two women would wander in wearing white coats and (sometimes) carrying clip-boards, then discuss either what they’re going to do, or some scientific matter between themselves.

Generally they appeared to disagree and the discussions, while inaudible, often seemed to get a touch heated. As the clock turned to the hour, they’d immediately stride into action and execute some kind of demonstration of an unnamed scientific principle, which could be anything from a refereed arm-wrestle to show the difference between strong and weak nuclear force to a full blown Frankenstein routine for the force of evil. It’s a series of variations on what might well be a mute Royal Society Christmas Lecture or a ‘Brian Cox explaining Black Holes with his arms’ routine on the BBC.

Mainly comic in intent, and certainly not prone to take their contributions too seriously, Wiltshire and Carter turn up as a kind of marker, especially when their performances intersect with GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN’s penitential Weigh Me Down, whose stream of apologies punctuates the irregular duo’s far less serious (or strenuous) physical routines with ever more accumulations of wrongdoing. The contrast between GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN’s marathon and these bright little sprints becomes an aspect of the performance, as though mischievously short b-movies are deliberately casting their white-coated shadows over a self-conscious epic.

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