I visited an exhibition of work by Mark Boyle in London at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1969. I was fascinated, met Mark Boyle, and made plans with him for a large exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. The exhibition opened in 1970, and edition hansjrg mayer published a book on Boyle at the same time. I provided a short interpretation, which was issued as a separate supplement. After the exhibition I kept in touch with Boyle and eventually found myself wanting to work out and extend my interpretation of his work in a second book. With the encouragement of the collector Martin Ackerman and particularly of Hansjrg Mayer, who was again prepared to be both designer and publisher, this project gradually took form. Boyle was unstinting in his help, among other things by sending me letters containing notes on his life and his work. These notes were usually written in great haste and under pressure, and it was certainly not his intention that parts of them would be published. Nevertheless, while writing the book I discovered that I could not rework his notes or summarise them in my own words without distorting the content. The content is simply too closely interwoven with Boyle's spontaneous formulation of it. Because I could not leave this material unused, I decided to include large parts of the letters as well as parts of the first book, which meant that Boyle himself would be making a substantial contribution to this volume. In the end he accepted this approach, although with considerable hesitation. Needless to say, the final responsibility for the approach is entirely mine.
J. L. Locher

world map


'The whole function of the artist in the world is to be a seeing and feeling creature; to be an instrument of such tenderness and sensitiveness, that no shadow, no hue, no line, no instantaneous and evanescent expression of the visible things around him, or any of the emotions which they are capable of conveying to the spirit which has been given him, shall either be left unrecorded, or fade from the book of record. It is not his business either to think, to judge, to argue, or to know. His place is neither in the closet, nor on the bench, nor at the bar, nor in the library. They are for other men, and other work. He may think, in a by-way; reason now and then, when he has nothing better to do; know such fragments of knowledge as he can gather without stooping, or reach without pains; but none of these things are to be his care. The work of his life is to be two-fold only; to see, to feel.'(1)

'The more a painter accepts nature as he finds it, the more unexpected beauty he discovers in what he at first despised; but once let him arrogate the right of rejection, and he will gradually contract his circle of enjoyment, until what he supposed to be nobleness of selection ends in narrowness of perception. Dwelling perpetually upon one class of ideas, his art becomes at once monstrous and morbid; until at last he cannot faithfully represent even what he chooses to retain; his discrimination contracts into darkness, and his fastidiousness fades into fatuity.' (2)

John Ruskin wrote these words in the middle of the last century to describe the artist's pursuit and the danger he is exposed to if he does not accept reality as it is. They reflect one of the main concepts of art in his time but are still valid today, more than a hundred years later. 'To see, to feel,' and in principle to accept whatever the senses observe, governs many artists in our time, too, and is explicitly approached by Mark Boyle's Journey to the Surface of the Earth.

Between August of 1968 and July of 1969, Boyle asked arbitrarily chosen persons, who were blindfolded, to throw or shoot a dart at a large map of the world hanging on a wall. Using this random procedure, he collected a thousand places scattered over the whole earth. He wants to go to all of these places.
On a map of the world the point of a dart covers a rather large area, but what Boyle is concerned with is a spot not larger than a square measuring 6 by 6 feet. To localize this spot, the same random procedure is repeated in each case on maps made on an increasingly larger scale until it yields a spot that can be identified and reached. When he arrives there, a right-angle is thrown spinning up in the air. Its position when it falls establishes one of the corners of the square required, and the rest of the square is marked off.
After the exact place had been determined in this way, Boyle attempts to register a large variety of sensory experiences he can undergo on, or in the immediate vicinity of this piece of the surface of the earth. He has developed a programme for this purpose, which he described in 1970 as follows:

'Once the actual square has been selected a multi sensual presentation of the site will be made. This will be done in the medium most suited to the problems posed by the individual site. But usually the multi sensual presentation of each 6 ft. square site will include most of the following studies.

1. Take the actual surface coating of earth, dust, sand, mud, stone, pebbles, snow, grass or whatever. Hold it in the shape it was in on the site. Fix it. Make it permanent.

2. Take an earth core showing the composition of the earth from the surface to a depth of 6 feet.

3. Make a study of the effect of elemental forces working on the site.

4. Make a film involving a 360 pan from the centre of the site.

5. From the centre of the site, setting angle, lens, direction and motor speed of the camera at random, make a film for a random duration (e.g., select randomly a length between one frame and 100 feet of film).

1. Make a surface study with film or by casting the surface.

2. Make a hologram of the water.

3. Take water samples at various depths.

4. Make an underwater film of coloured dyes in the water to show turbulence.

1. Film sky from the centre of the square 24 hours at 1 frame per 30 seconds, so that in 2 minutes the cloud formation of that whole day can be seen.

2. Make a turbulence study, for example, filming the result of releasing variously coloured smoke at each corner of the site.

Assemble a film on all the elements.


1. In the surface presentations preserve all the plants so that their actual colour, shape, texture, etc., are fixed permanently.

2. Collect seeds on the site.

3. Plant random gardens.

Make a film on all classes of botanical life.


1. In the surface presentation preserve all traces of animal life.

2. Film animal movement on the site, in the air above, in the sea, on or in the earth.

Make a film on all classes of animal life.


Perform random check on physical responses of Mark Boyle and Joan Hills to each site. Study with film and tape the nearest inhabited spot to the site. Treat this community (e.g., family, village, or city) as a biological entity. Examine the animal biologically (i.e., its skeletal system, its nervous system, its digestive system, its circulatory system, its reproductive system, its excretory system, its intelligence and its unconscious). This material will form the basis for the performance of REQUIEM FOR AN UNKNOWN CITIZEN.' (3)

When he arrives at one of the thousand randomly chosen places, one of the most important and usually one of the first things Boyle does is what he has indicated under Solids nr. I: 'Take the actual surface coating of earth, dust, sand, mud, stone, pebbles, snow, grass or whatever. Hold it in the shape it was in on the site. Fix it. Make it permanent.'
For this purpose he makes use of a procedure he developed himself and which enables him literally to lift up the loose upper layer of the square with all its components in place, even the coating of dust, while he transfers the exact shapes of the immovable elements - the solid base, for instance large rocks or the hard pavement of a road. With a kind of resin he fixes all this on fibreglass with wooden supports, so that it can be transported and exhibited. A very thin transparent layer of resin - invisible to the naked eye on the final result - gives exact fixation of the removable layer precisely at it was, and was observed, at the start of the procedure. The surface of the place, as it appeared at a particular moment, is consolidated and made permanent. Due to the resin, nothing can move again. Even the colours cannot change any more, because the resin shields them from the effects of the atmosphere. The colour of the immovable underground, only the shape of which has been fixed, is painted in from the back as realistically as possible; from the back to avoid affecting the authentic colour of the transferred loose upper layer. The result is always amazingly realistic. It seems as though the entire spot - including the solid base - has been cut out and presented to us as an object.

The surface of the spot is not represented but is literally presented in itself as an aesthetic object. Boyle wants to offer us each of his thousand sites in this way. He chose the dimensions of 6 by 6 feet because a square of this size can be conveniently handled and exhibited.

Besides the fixation of a surface situation - Boyle sometimes calls this making a 'earthprobe' - he also, as his programme indicates, uses other techniques - particularly filming and tape-recording - to collect innumerable observations: observations on the weather, the plants, the animals, and the people related to a given spot, and also on the bodily reactions of himself and his co-workers at that spot. Boyle's objective is to make a 'multi sensual presentation' of each of the thousand randomly determined places: not simply a record of the experience of looking at the surface but rather the recording of a multiplicity - he would prefer all - of the sensory experiences evoked at or in the vicinity of the site. As with the earthprobes, in the recording he strives to make the technique he uses so transparent that in the result we can undergo only what was actually observed and experienced. Ideally, the way in which the fixation was achieved would not obstruct our experience. He speaks of 'presentation', because what he wants is not to portray a given piece of reality but just to present it to us literally as it appeared to him. He says: 'Most of all you suspect the way you formulate. And finally you say there is this, there is this, there is this.' (4)

streetAn event that Boyle organized in 1964 helps to clarify his approach to reality, his attempts to present reality itself to us. He called this event Street. One Sunday afternoon he led a group of people, whom he had invited, to a narrow lane in London. They arrived at the rear entrance of a house marked Theatre. Entering it, they passed through a hall and came to a space where chairs stood facing a closed plush curtain. Boyle then invited his guests to take seats in what had been arranged like a small playhouse. But when the curtain was opened, they found themselves looking out through an ordinary shop window into the street. Boyle had temporarily transformed an empty store into a small theatre where the performance that was offered was whatever happened beyond the shop window at the moment when the curtain was opened. The group looked through the shop window into the street. What happened on the street, what occurred there of itself, was presented as a fascinating spectacle; we can also say: as an aesthetically charged event.

'The most complete change an individual can effect in his environment, short of destroying it, is to change his attitude to it. This is my objective . . . From the beginning we are taught to choose, to select, to separate good from bad, best from better: our entire upbringing and education are directed towards planting the proper snobberies, the right preferences. I believe it is important to accept everything and beyond that to 'dig' everything with the same concentrated attention that we devote to what we consider to be a good painting or a good film . . . I am certain that, as a result, we will go about so alert that we will discover the excitement of continuously 'digging' our environment as an object/experience/drama from which we can extract an aesthetic impulse so brilliant and strong that the environment itself is transformed.' (5)

Boyle wrote this in 1966. Since then, he has been increasingly convinced that everything we see around us is equally important. If we can only keep ourselves completely open, everything can, according to him, be an event or an object that gives us an aesthetic sensation. It was from this attitude toward life and this idea of reality that he conceived the plan for his Journey to the Surface of the Earth. He wants to be re-educated and deconditioned by his journey, so that he might be open to everything, able to overcome the prejudices and preferences of his education and upbringing, and continually aware that reality contains an infinite number of unique experiences. There are so incredibly many experiences that it is impossible to keep hold of all of them. Each fixation means a choice. Because, according to Boyle, this involves a choice between what in principle are equally unique and therefore equivalent experiences, he uses random procedures to indicate what must be fixated. In developing the random method which yielded the places for his journey, he took into account the two ways in which reality is limited for mankind: on the one hand the temporal limitation, the limited number of years we live, and on the other the spatial limitation, the surface of the earth on which we live. He let blindfolded persons throw and shoot darts at a map of the world a thousand times to acquire a thousand sites - a large number but not, he hopes, too large to manage in a single lifetime - and to have them distributed over the entire surface of the earth.

David Thompson has said that Boyle's view of reality can be called romantic: '. . .a view, or an experience, of totality, which (as I understand the word in its nondebased sense) represents the romantic stance to the world - the stance which does not recognize boundaries, which embraces rather than divides, which accepts but does not abstract.' (6) We can indeed place Boyle's handling of reality in a tradition which originated from the fundamental change in European art around 1800, a time usually referred to as the romantic period.
Important material concerning this perspective in which Boyle's work can be placed, is provided in Bernard Smith's fascinating book European Vision and the South Pacific, 1768-1850. Smith analyses the exploratory voyages to the South Pacific in relation to the radical change which occurred in the visual arts during these years, a shift which led at the same time to a change in the relationship between art and science.

Professional artists accompanied these explorers, not at the initiative of an artists' association but on the recommendation of the famous Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge. Artists were taken along to provide exact, detailed, and objective recording of observations. This meant that the artists were to do the opposite of what they were accustomed to do, because in the art of the eighteenth century it was not usual to represent all of the individual details of visible reality. The objective was rather to distinguish the universal order which, it was thought, lay behind all visible details. The perfect forms of this order could be understood by studying the masterpieces of the artists of Greece and Rome and their followers in the Renaissance period. What this amounted to was that when artists wanted to represent reality, they used certain familiar forms of stylisation. The scientists of the Royal Society, to the contrary, did not want to go on investigating reality on the basis of existing systematic principles but rather to analyse the specific characteristics of things for this purpose. The basis was to be not a preconceived universal order underlying things but the order the investigator can distinguish in the individual and transient existence of the things themselves.

The artists who sailed on these exploratory voyages to the South Pacific found that the new scientific requirement conflicted with the traditional criteria of the art world at that time. This conflict was finally won by the demands of science. The artists relinquished the principles of neo-classicism and concentrated on empirical representation. This led to what Smith calls the 'typical landscape', the objective being to depict each place as a typical entity with its own climate, surface configuration, vegetation, fauna, and human type. The empirical picture they gave of the South Pacific, which was widely disseminated and exerted an enormous influence, contributed appreciably to the genesis of a new representation of landscape, which in turn formed part of an over-all change in the visual arts around 1800: a general tendency to discard the uniform neo-classical image of reality and break through to the pluriform picture of reality maintained in the natural sciences. This process of change, which resulted in increasing concentration on the many individual forms of reality, is summarized by Smith at the end of his book in a description of the contrast between the ideas of leading art theoreticians of the eighteenth century and those of the nineteenth century, the former represented by Dr. Johnson and Reynolds and the latter by Ruskin:

'In 1759 Dr. Johnson, through the mouth of one of his characters in "Rasselas", claimed that it was not the business of a poet "to number the streaks of the tulip, or describe the different shades in the verdure of the forest". And some years later Reynolds made it quite clear that such interests were still less the business of the landscape-painter who sought perfection in the highest branches of his art. One hundred years after Dr. Johnson had summed up the neo-classical position in his memorable statement, Ruskin, with an authority equal to that both of Reynolds and Johnson, expressed the opposite view in a statement equally memorable. "If you can paint one leaf", he wrote, "you can paint the world".' (7)

This radical change is also discussed in Kurt Badt's book John Constable's Clouds, which describes how the increasing interest in individual and transient forms of reality led to a special interest in cloud formations. We see this in innumerable artists on the Continent as well as in England, but particularly clearly in Constable. It was characteristic of Constable that he began to read scientific studies on clouds and that in one respect he considered his own representations of clouds and that in one respect he considered his own representations of clouds as a contribution to science. For this purpose he often made notes on the back of his paintings to indicate the date, the time of day, and the prevailing weather conditions. Badt quotes Constable: 'I hope to show that landscape painting is a regular thought profession, that it is scientific as well as poetic; that imagination alone never did, and never can, produce works that are to stand by a comparison with realities.' (8) From Ruskin, Badt cites a passage in which the author says that the essence of the art of his time is: '. . .to lay the foundation of happiness in things which momentarily change or fade.' (9) He also points out that the German Carus thought that the new landscape art should '. . . take the life of the earth as its proper subject . . .' (10)

In his well-known book The Great Chain of Being, Lovejoy says in the chapter on 'Romanticism and Plenitude' that in Romanticism the aim of art was '. . . neither the attainment of some single ideal perfection of form in a small number of fixed genres nor the gratification of that least common denominator of aesthetic susceptibility which is shared by all mankind in all ages, but rather the fullest possible expression of the abundance of differentness that there is, actually or potentially, in nature and human nature . . .' (11) An interpretation of reality as a multiplicity of unique phenomena became one of the main themes of art after the radical changes around 1800. This interpretation manifested itself in a concentration on all facets of our life - 'human nature' - including the multiplicity of our environment - 'nature', which for the visual arts means: the concrete visual phenomena among which we live.

Throughout the nineteenth century an impassioned attempt was made to grasp concrete visual phenomena. New techniques were developed, such as photography and filming, but efforts were also made to adapt existing techniques for this purpose. The new interpretation even penetrated into the tradition-dominated painting of the French Salons. In his review of the Salon of 1863 the French critic Castagnary referred to a new movement in which the painters were concerned with '. . . s'attaquer au paysage; prendre pour objet de son art les aspects changeants de la terre et du ciel . . .' (12) The changing appearance of the earth and the sky was also the subject of an impressionist like Monet. At the very end of the century, in the 1890s, Monet tried to use the traditional painting technique to show that every part of our surroundings has a different appearance at different times of the day and under different weather conditions. To this end he made series of paintings of the same view of a row of poplars, a cathedral, or the Thames, in an attempt to record a different moment in each painting.
In the twentieth century, too, the passion for the multiform visual phenomena around us continued to be one of the main themes of art. We see this in the further development of photography and filming, but we also see it in a new technique like that of the 'ready-made': the transformation of ordinary everyday objects into art, not by depicting them but by detaching them from their normal context and function and presenting them in such a way that they become exclusively something to look at. In various recent trends, and partly as a continuation of the ready-made approach, an even more comprehensive search is being made for reality itself.

It is clear that Boyle belongs to this tradition. His work is far removed from the ideas of Dr. Johnson and Reynolds, but has a great deal to do with Ruskin and Constable. It is an extreme but consistent continuation of the romantic attempt to grasp the life of the earth and everything on it. The programme for his Journey to the Surface of the Earth, moreover, is closely related to what Smith's artists of the 'typical landscape' were aiming at. For Boyle, too, each place has a typically authentic unity and is composed of a number of unique elements, each of which must be experienced and recorded on its own merit.

Boyle's primary concentration on the particularity of individual phenomena does not mean that he sees no system of order between them. Quite the contrary; he is extremely conscious of it. He is fascinated and filled with wonder by the uniqueness of each phenomenon, but equally - and in a certain sense even more so - by the amazing way in which things belong together, interact with each other, and supplement each other. This interrelationship, which is not abstract but is manifested in the things themselves, he sees as extending over the entire earth. For him, the main importance of a precise analysis of each phenomenon is the light it can throw on the universal relationship between all phenomena. 'If you study how it is somewhere, sometime, maybe you are better able to begin to know how it is, anywhere, anytime', he wrote in 1970. (13) To make a contribution to an understanding of 'anywhere, anytime', is in fact the deeper motivation of his work. Interestingly enough, this too can be placed within the perspective of the romantic tradition.
In connection with a painting made by David in 1818, Lindsay speaks of 'the breakdown of baroque and classical form'. But he adds: 'The casual patterns into which life settles or falls away, are seized on for the significance they yield of new spontaneous movements toward a new system of order.' (14) Romanticism broke the traditional image of a universal order so that a new order could be found. The idea that study of the particular can lead to a new understanding of a general structure, the universal, was a typically romantic view. We have already seen it in Ruskin's statement 'If you can paint one leaf, you can paint the world', but it is also found in many other romantics. Lovejoy reminds us that Friedrich Schlegel wanted romantic poetry to be universal '. . . not in the restrictive sense, seeking uniformity of norms and universality of appeal, but in the expansive sense of aiming at the apprehension and expression of every mode of human experience. Nothing should be too strange or too remote, nothing too lofty or too low, to be included in its scope; . . . "From the romantic point of view", wrote Schlegel, "the abnormal species (Abarten) of literature also have their value - even the eccentric and monstrous - as materials and preparatory exercises for universality - provided only that there is something in them, that they are really original".' (15) This is a programme which in its total comprehensiveness clearly corresponds with the one Boyle has laid out for himself.

Large parts of the surface of the earth lack vegetation, stones, or a cover of some other hard material, and are therefore extremely susceptible to change. In the autumn of 1969, Boyle decided to make a series of studies of the effect of the elements on sensitive surfaces of this kind. He chose a site on the beach near Camber on the south coast of England, and spent an entire week using his method to remove the upper layer of this spot after each change of the tide, and in succeeding months he fixed each of them to a permanent hard base with resin. As he himself wrote:

'The objective was to examine the effect of the elemental forces on the site; and to lift the actual sand off the surface and to fix it in its exact place and shape. Camber Beach was chosen because it was extensive, with a considerable area between high and low tide marks. The sands are situated between the sea and Romney Marsh, a very extensive area of flat country. For this reason there is no protection from the wind from any direction. A site was chosen about midway between high and low water just landward of a large sandbank. The site was not chosen at random. It was selected deliberately to give maximum time to work on the site, in an area that always seemed to be rippled (as was 90% of the beach). The series started on the first of November 1969. It was a week of ferocious gales - force 9 gusting to 10 much of the time. The wind swept all around the compass. When it came from the southwest the Beach Caf, where the series was being assembled, was half buried in sand. The ripple variation on the site was considerable and the sand bar moved about in the storm, with the result that, where the series started to landward of it, on some days the square was actually on the bar either on its seaward or landward slope. Some days there was a considerable amount of animal and vegetable material on, or in the vicinity of, the square, with the result that sea-birds moved across the surface of the square. On other days the marks of annelids and crabs appeared in the sand. All of these were fixed, the actual grains of sand these creatures touched being in their correct position in the final study. So that to a very large extent the studies are microscopically accurate, and the individual crystals of quartz and salt can be isolated.' (16)

The variations in the appearance of the surface brought about during this week by the changing tide, the changing weather, and the varying behaviour of animals, were recorded exactly in fourteen studies. These fourteen studies, which he can exhibit like paintings, he calls the Tidal Series. From the historical point of view we can interpret them as a consistent development of the approach Monet adopted at the end of the last century in his series of paintings of the same subject at different times.

'When Constable said that he tried to forget that he had ever seen a picture as he sat down to paint from nature, or Monet that he wished he had been born blind and then suddenly received his sight, they were not merely placing a high premium on originality. They were stressing the importance of confronting reality afresh, of consciously stripping their minds, and their brushes, of secondhand knowledge and ready made formulae, (17) This was written by Linda Nochlin in her study on nineteenth-century realism. John Rewald said that Czanne once remarked of Monet: 'He is nothing but an eye, yet what an eye.' (18) In comparison with Czanne's own work, in which composition and form are so important, this is indeed a correct characterisation. But in comparison with Boyle's work, Monet's paintings show more than just the act of looking. Of all appearances of his subject, Monet chose to depict only those he found most interesting. And in addition, he allowed the way in which he recorded these moments, his form, to play a part in the result. Highly personal and nervous brush strokes do much to determine the effect of his paintings.
Nochlin calls the approach of Constable and Monet 'radical and extreme'. That certainly holds for their time. What Boyle is now doing within this tradition is, however, even more radical. He is to a much more extreme degree 'nothing but an eye'. He attempts to be so completely only an eye that everything he sees is equally important. For him, one moment is no more important or interesting as visual experience than another. To convey this, he nominated the thousand destinations of his Journey via a random procedure. When he made a conscious choice of the site for the Tidal Series, he tried to avoid any effect of personal preference by determining the moment of fixation on the basis of an objective factor - the turning of the tide. Furthermore, Boyle has gone far in suppressing form. The technique he uses is literally transparent. In Monet we see a facet of reality as evoked by a certain layer of paint; in Boyle the resin which fixates the sand is invisible to the eye. What we see is the actual surface of the chosen site, with the grains of sand, in their original position. Every detail is congealed and transferred, even down to the microscopical level: the ripple-marks made by the wind and the water, but also the traces - often incredibly small - of raindrops, of such animal life as birds, crabs, and worms, of such vegetation as seaweed, and of shells and other things.

Compared with Monet, Boyles' approach is much more that of the scientist. It is therefore hardly surprising that David Berkeley of Bell Laboratories in the United States, after spending hours studying the Tidal Series through a microscope, advised Boyle to publish the series in a geophysical journal. Art and science come very close together here.
Nevertheless, an essential difference remains. Although there is a distinct correspondence in method and realisation, there is a fundamental difference in aim. In the sciences, and especially in the natural sciences, the ultimate objective of the recording of observations is to arrive at a general understanding or an interpretation of these observations as a basis for interfering with reality, controlling it, and, when considered necessary, changing it. Boyle, on the contrary, only wants to make himself aware of reality as it appears, of the innumerable unique moments it contains, and of the extraordinary way in which all existing things belong together. He wants to try to hold this reality for a while, to keep the moment from disappearing completely, forever. Of course, it still does disappear completely and forever and he is very conscious that in looking to experience the instant he is immediately involved with a new instant and a new experience with accretions of time and place. However, what he is primarily concerned with is acceptance and 'motiveless appraisal', not interference with or changing or reality. To him, making experiences conscious is an end in itself. He presents his Tidal Series simply to see it, to become conscious of the fascinating spectacle of the continually changing shape and appearance of the same spot on a beach.

Kurt Badt has pointed out that Constable's attempt to pin down the temporary manifestations of nature involved a disturbance of the balance between form and content. Form came into conflict with content and became a problem. How indeed could brief impressions be recorded in a lasting form? 'How could permanent pictures be produced from momentary impressions, pictures which should contain the whole force of the instantaneous experience of nature and yet at the same time have a final and lasting quality?' (19) The problem Badt points to here does not apply solely to Constable, but is in fact one of the main problems of the whole realistic tradition since the romantic period. The objective was to experience continuously changing reality itself rather than a 'formed' reality. But as soon as the aim was to transmit this experience to others, a form became necessary. Without the use of a form with some degree of permanence it is impossible to convey something to others. The use of some kind of form remained, and is always, inevitable. Nevertheless, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries we see unceasing attempts to suppress form, to reduce its visibility as far as possible in the final work of art. One of the well-known solutions was to make a painting have the same effect as a glance through a window. This could only be achieved, however, by the development of special techniques. Paradoxically, the suppression of form in the final result meant intense concentration on the form during the realisation of the work. It proved difficult to develop a form that would be truly transparent in the result, and despite some relatively successful attempts, transparency has never been achieved. In the end the techniques always had a weight, a form, of their own, and fell short of transparency.

The inescapability of form is even expressed in one of the most transparent forms of art: the ready-made of the dadaists and the surrealists. At first sight, form seems to have been avoided: only the thing itself is shown. Nonetheless, this too is an illusion. Even the ready-made is not simply a piece of unformed reality; it involves manipulation that generates something. Duchamp called a bottle rack a ready-made after he had brought it up from the wine cellar and placed it on a piece of furniture in a room or put it on a pedestal in a museum. This transformed it from a utilitarian object into something only to be looked at, the point being that even an ordinary bottle rack can be admired as a fascinating visual entity, an aspect we usually fail to notice when we use it.
Lvi-Strauss once pointed out that the ready-made never concerns a single object but always at least two. Two everyday objects are related to each other in an unusual, unexpected way. Duchamp lifted the bottle rack out of its normal context and function and related it to another piece of reality. This unexpected relationship brings out new and previously latent aspects of the object. It is not the bottle rack as such which is presented to us but the created - formed - new relationship between the bottle rack and the piece of furniture or pedestal it is placed on. 'J'insiste beaucoup l-dessus ce n'est pas chaque objet lui-mme qui est uvre d'art, ce sont certaines dispositions, certains arrangements, certains rapprochements entre les objets. Exactement comme les mots du langage . . . Dans les 'ready-made', que ceux qui les ont invents en aient pleinement conscient ou non . . ., ce sont les 'phrases' faites avec des objets qui ont un sens, et non pas l'objet seul, quoi qu'on ait voulu faire ou dire. C'est un objet dans un contexte d'objets . . .' (20)

In Boyles's work we see, worked out in an extreme but consistent way, the content of Romanticism. At the same time, it pinpoints this central problem of the realistic tradition. In him too we find on the one hand a distrust of form ('most of all you suspect the way you formulate') and fanatic attempts to present only reality itself, and on the other hand, just because of that, a fierce concentration on the techniques, the form, by which this aim can be realised. In this respect he has already achieved a great deal. But when we become familiar with his work we become aware that in his case, too, the way in which he presents things - his formulation - does not disappear and in the end still has a presence of its own, which evades the subservient function assigned to it.

In his event Street the formulation consisted of the suggestion of a staged performance. By presenting what occurred on the street as a performance in a theatre, Boyle showed his companions how, for him, the experiencing of street life has its own tension and meaning; how the street, besides its other functions, is to him a fascinating spectacle.
For Boyle himself the essence of this event lay in what took place in the street. The point for him was that the people in his audience were looking not at actors on a stage or at a film but literally at street life itself, as it occurred in reality without interference or formulation. Indeed, what happened on the street occurred there spontaneously, without the control of a playwright or director. Nevertheless, it was not the same for the onlookers behind the shop window as for the individuals who were part of it. The audience did not, for instance, experience the wind, the warmth or coolness of the air, the smells and most of the sounds. Instead, they observed many things of which the people on the street, were probably barely conscious or did not notice at all. In particular their total picture was quite different, since it was charged with a special tension generated by the way Boyle presented this piece of reality. For the group looking on, what happened in the street could not be experienced apart from the implanted suggestion of a theatre. It was not the life in the street itself but the unexpected connection with the theatre form that induced an aesthetic sensation.

In 1978 Boyle says: 'I did bring the other people but I think it was to make it more like a theatre to me. Alone and with Joan I have performed this piece thousands of times without the audience. I do believe strongly that an artist's task is to delight himself first, because if he is not delighted why should anyone else be? But you still need the form to hold the delight.'

The earthprobes involve the same tension between form and reality. A formulation is required to show us what we can experience aesthetically the surface on which we move about every day. The form Boyle has chosen for this purpose involves the fixation of pieces of that surface with resin. The resin is transparent, just as the shop window was transparent. But there is more to it than simply fixation: the randomly chosen spot is removed from its natural surroundings and exhibited like a painting. Just as the suggestion of the theatre gave what happened on the street the effect of a play, so also the wall of a room or museum makes the piece of the surface of the earth hanging on it into a work of art. This aspect of the formulation is certainly not transparent. It is inescapably an important element in the experiencing of Boyle's earthprobes. Lvi-Strauss has compared the artist with the hobbyist who constructs a mode rduit, a small-scale model of a car, train, boat, or the like. The hobbyist's aim is to acquire knowledge in a way that causes the least possible change in the thing he is interested in. Via the minitiature imitation he learns to know things. Not to change or improve them: learning to know things better is here an end in itself. As a result, the modle rduit of the hobbyist has an aesthetic tension: in this respect it functions in the same way as a work of art. According to Lvi-Strauss, just as the modle rduit of the hobbyist has something of a work of art, the work of art is conversely, in a certain sense, a modle rduit. This holds, for instance, for a portrait by Clouet in which the face is smaller than life size. But it also holds for a monumental work life the Sistine chapel: '. . . les peintures de la chapelle Sixtine sont un modle rduit en dpit le leurs dimensions imposantes, puisque le thme qu'elles illustrent est celui de la fin des temps.' (21) In every work of art the mere use of a particular material and a particular technique brings about a reduction. Painting uses only colour and shape on a flat surface; sculpture uses mainly volumes. In both, other elements such as sound, smells, and tactile perceptions are reduced. Furthermore, both involve a reduction of time. Things are lifted out of the progression of time and congealed into an isolated entity that can be observed at a glance.

Despite Boyles' attempts to show the phenomena themselves, his works too involve a reduction of reality. The onlookers behind the shop window could look at the occurrences on the street but not participate in them. The piece of the surface of the earth hanging on a wall can be studied closely but not walked on. In both cases reality is reduced to a display. Because this is the result not of a reduction in scale or material but of an isolating and fixating manipulation, we might speak here of a life-size modle rduit.

When we look at a painting by Monet we see it as a piece of reality presented to us in a different physical form. The visual appearance of a landscape, for instance, is conveyed by - translated into - paint on canvas. The closer we are to the painting, the more conscious we become of the paint.
In an earthprobe by Boyle a piece of the surface of the earth is conveyed by a layer of resin. But here it is not the visual appearance that is conveyed by the resin but literally the surface itself. Because the layer of resin is invisible, we are not conscious of it and have the feeling that we are looking directly at a piece of reality in its own physical shape. This feeling persists even when we come very close to the earthprobe, and even when we examine it through a microscope. As long as we look, and particularly as long as we look closely, we do not see a piece of artificially formed reality. But we have only to stretch out a hand and touch the surface to discover that here too there has been manipulation and a change has occurred. The dust, the sand, the pebbles, the leaves, feel different than they do in reality. Everything has been hardened and fixated by the resin. We can no longer let the sand glide through our fingers and we can no longer pick up the pebbles. Moreover, all the components have taken on a neutral temperature. Boyle wants to let us look at the surface of the earth itself, to let us see what an amazing visual beauty that self possesses. But he too can only do that by a manipulation, by creating a situation in which other sensory experiences have to be reduced in order to make us conscious of what is there to be seen.

When we walk along a muddy path in a garden we are not aware, or are at most partially aware, of its visual presence, because it is part of a reality that contains so much more. But the section of a muddy path we see as an earthprobe hanging vertically on the wall of a room in a museum, we can only experience visually and therefore become very conscious of its visual presence. Just because this surface has been detached from its natural surroundings and is now hanging on a neutral museum wall as an independent and permanent object, we can take our time in looking at the total picture and each individual detail. The absence of the natural surroundings means that the visual presence of the surface is accentuated, can in fact only now be properly experienced. We also experience this accentuation of the visual as the result of a human act, which adds still another dimension. In looking at the earthprobe we cannot help being surprised not only by the exhibited surface itself but also that it was technically possible to transfer it and exhibit it like a painting.

Since the romantic period, the attempt to show reality itself as a work of art has been encouraged by the idea that, in principle, reality is equally accessible to everyone. Therefore, this attempt now has not only an aesthetic but also social content. The underlying idea is that when reality is shown as a work of art, art is at the same time made accessible to everyone, and thus the gulf between art and the general public is bridged. Nevertheless, this was and is an illusion. There is no single reality that is the same for everyone. There are only forms of reality that differ from culture to culture, from group to group, and sometimes even from individual to individual. To reach a broad public, what is required is not reality itself but a widely familiar form of it. However, since the Renaissance and to a still greater degree since the romantic period, art has been concerned not with familiar forms but rather with unusual forms having direct validity only for some individuals or small groups. Precisely the romantic attempt to break free of all existing formulations and to break through to the concrete visual phenomena could only lead to highly unusual new forms.

Boyle too is partially impelled by a sense of social engagement in his attempt to show reality itself. But his works too have not yet become a popular art form. For many they remain incomprehensible. An earthprobe like the Garden Path in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague is hardly ever experienced by the general public in the intended way: as the splendour of a random piece of the surface of the earth. There are people accustomed to looking at modern art who find this earthprobe beautiful. But most of them experience it on the basis of what they know about pictures made with sand and other materials by painters like Burri and Tapies and are not aware that what they are looking at is not a free abstract composition incorporating materials such as earth and stones but is earth and stones just as they occurred in reality. Even the few who realise this are almost always inclined to interpret and admire what they are looking at as a carefully selected place, and to think that the artist is deliberately showing the segment of the path - marked off by two rows of stones - as a central form. They do not realise that the subject here is a randomly selected piece of the surface of the earth. Often, however, the public considers Garden Path downright ugly. If they read it as a free composition with earth and stones, they find it strange that an artist would choose to work with such materials. If they realise that it really is part of a path as it was at a given moment, they cannot understand why such a banal piece of reality had to be made permanent. What the latter group is usually impressed by is the technique used to accomplish the earthprobe.
Something which is exceptional and new at a given time and, as a result, is completely incomprehensible for society as a whole, need not always remain so. The cityscapes of the impressionists were initially considered strange and unintelligible, but at present they are so easily recognisable and so generally admired for their beauty that we can barely believe that they were originally found so repulsive. It is quite possible that the pieces of reality Boyle offers us will finally become as easily accessible and popular as the impressionist paintings. There are signs pointing in this direction. An increasing number of people - particularly whose who have otherwise had little contact with art - now become fascinated with them almost immediately. But despite this increasing interest, Boyle's work is still far short of being a truly popular art form.
Boyle's work are not yet automatically penetrable for most people. They do not contain the reality but only special forms of it that are not yet common coin and must become familiar before they can be fully experienced. Once the ideas and objectives underlying them are known, however, they can become intensely meaningful. When that has occurred, an earthprobe by Boyle is not only an intriguing autonomous object but makes palpable a particular storey about our reality, a story telling us that even the most ordinary facets of our surroundings are fascinating and - as Boyle himself says - can give an electrifying experience. It shows us that it is not necessary to seek nostalgically for pieces of nature not yet affected by urbanisation and industrialisation. Fascination lies everywhere and can be found at any moment. If we can only free ourselves of our preconceptions, everything immediately around us can evoke as powerful a sensation as wide vistas, unspoiled forests, or high mountains. In connection with an exhibition of Boyle's work in the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, Guy Brett commented: '. . . it is really a presentation of commonplace things in terms where they become a great spectacle.' (22)

Duchamp was explicitly concerned with the linguistic problem inherent in his ready-mades: how arbitrary everyday things could be transformed into the equivalent of 'sentences'. He was not interested in the original properties of the things he took for his ready-mades. He used random things to underline the fact that he was concerned not with a specific subject but with language. Reality as much he ignored. His attitude toward it was one of an ironic disinterest.

Boyle, to the contrary, is concerned precisely and only with reality as such. He therefore attempts to divest himself of every kind of form, including the linguistic. He entertains no irony. He has a passion for reality. This passion, furthermore, has a dramatic tension, because he feels that it is not only possible but even imperative to undergo everything we can observe and experience as a 'great spectacle'. He thinks that only by accepting all the aspects of our world as fascinating and intensely meaningful can we break through our alienation from reality. His attempts to make his acceptance concrete lead, however, to romantic paradoxes. He wants to break through to reality itself, but this invariably proves to be impossible. He wants to visit and record his thousand places during his life. But many of these places lie in the oceans, and as yet, despite many efforts, he has not been able to find a method to capture the surface of water. Many of the other places are situated in regions which are inhospitable or politically disturbed and therefore difficult to reach. The technological problems he must solve before he can complete his Journey to the Surface of the Earth are so great that he is continually occupied with them. This too has something paradoxical, because the objective of this concentration on the technical realisation, and thus the form, is exactly to destroy this form as an independent element, in other words, to make it imperceptible, which ultimately always proves impossible to achieve. As Boyle says in one of his texts: 'You don't want any image, you want to be transparent,. . . And you know as you say it that all you're doing is to make another kind of image . . .' (23) He is painfully aware that the effort - which dominates all his work - to pin down elusive unique moments in a transparent way is in fact a vain effort. The melancholy inherent in this insight emerges clearly from a memory of an experience he had in his childhood:

'We were on this beach at Seamill on the Firth of Clyde one summer during the war. It was duncoloured and windswept. I remember that it was golden, warm and limitless. I even remember in particular one day when the beach was white and fresh with startlingly blonde children in the distance, shouting and clambering over black rocks. Their voices were brittle and clear. They sounded like seagulls, and we were running to play with them when we were called into the house. "Don't tell me about they kids on the rocks", Mrs Davidson cleaning and cooking, humming on an endless monotone, and my mother. "Your dinner's getting cold, they'll be there again in the afternoon". But we knew, and they knew, if they stopped to think about it, that they wouldn't, not only that afternoon but any other, and it suddenly occurred to me in a caf in South Ken, one morning in 1963, that I never am going to meet those children, and if I did I wouldn't recognise them, and even if by some incredible chance I did recognise them, they would not sound like the gulls.' (24)

According to Boyle, experiences must be accepted. For they never come a second time in the same way. And he knows that in their entirety they cannot be held on to. Even if his mother had not called him and he had had his present technical equipment at hand, this moving moment would have escaped him. At most he could have pinned down only a few fragments of it. Once out of their context, they would inevitably have acquired new, unexpected meanings, but without that special sensation, that light, and that sound of the gulls. Nonetheless, Boyle continues to seek fervently for ways to catch and present exactly those original sensations. This ceaseless striving for the unattainable, this paradox, gives his story about our reality a personal drama that evokes a lyric tension. This tension, this extra dimension, developed by itself, without any conscious effort.

Both the obsessiveness and the desperation of Boyle's attempts to accept all aspects of reality and to present them transparently, emerge particularly strongly in the introduction to the programme for his Journey to the Surface of the Earth, which he wrote and published in 1970:

'In a condition of adamant doubt you are asked for explanations when all you want is someone to explain anything. And you are asked for purposes when you are learning to accept that a purpose is not going to emerge ever. And you are asked for a statement of intent when the head seethes with all your fluctuating statements of the past instantly and meticulously taken down and which you use constantly, with increasing derision, in evidence against yourself. And you remember years ago deciding that art, if the word had any meaning, should be waged like war and how, according to all the strategists, you had to locate the enemy and evaluate your own forces and assess the terrain and clarify your objectives and work out your strategy and your tactics and, whatever you do, do not forget your logistics, and how after months of thinking you succeeded with point one and it's not the dealers or the critics or the intellectuals or the government or 'them' and it's not even like Father Xmas your father all the time but the only enemy is yourself and maybe it doesn't matter too much whether you win or lose.

Everything you have undertaken has been so far from perfect, so seriously marred, that to exhibit it with no matter how many disclaimers must remain an unexpungeable arrogance. You don't even think that what you do is art but just the most exciting thing you can manage and how inadequate in a world of such magnificence and you remember visiting Christopher in hospital after the accident and the old man opposite with the regularity of a metronome sobbing, hour after hour, a little cry, every time he exhaled, unintelligible, purity of style, like a hammer on the head, and the nurse at last going over, and the old man says he was trying to go to sleep. And you've made these pathetically inadequate studies in your own neighbourhood, and the beach studies, and studies of natural phenomena and induced reaction with earth, air, fire, and water, and presentations of insects, reptiles, and water creatures, and the physical nature of the human body and some experiments in the area of the unconscious and you know that all these, however random, may be flawed by the influence of your ego and your upbringing. And even the studies in your own neighbourhood selected with a dart in the map are affected because you chose the district in the first place and if you extend it to the whole of London you have to admit you chose to live in an urban environment, and so you have no alternative but to make your selections from the whole earth. And while you're at it you are going to make films and you're going to make this film on evolution which will include every living thing, and this film on the elements which will include every known element, and performances of Requiem for an unknown citizen which will star the entire human race in their conscious and unconscious aspect and their physical and social condition. And you're going to do this earth probe and you send hundreds of people a dart each so they can take part and the GPO refuses to deliver half the invitations because the dart was a dangerous eclosure and they're going to be blindfold throwing the darts at this huge map of the world and the surface of the earth is 70% water someone said and supposing all the darts went into the sea would that not make me look a complete fool and then the first dart is being thrown and there are all these people waiting to come in and the important thing is that no-one gets hurt with one of these bloody darts and its Iceland and it's going to be all right.

And during the exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London you blindfold the public soon after they come in, and you put a gun in their hands, and you lead them and you point the gun more or less in the direction of the unknown target, and they fire this dart and take off the blindfold, and they realise they've fired at this huge map of the world, and you have quickly discovered that it's almost no good trying to offer explanations, that the day of explanations is over, and you long ago discovered preaching is an ineffective moral gesture, before you even got started on that career, and that if there's one thing you can't possibly do it's to 'tell how it is'. Do you see what I mean, that's my whole life finding out how it is and when you're telling, in the end, you're telling how it is to be telling how it is, until feedback sets in, in the form of a harsh scream.

And it is not for want of acceptable explanations. There's a super-abundance of explanations and purposes to suit any inquisition, any situation. That isn't the problem. The problem is to select from an almost infinite spectrum of reasons why . . . and Christopher comes in and says "I can't understand why you're so hung up with the idea of objectivity. Objectivity is motiveless appraisal, and I can't see how any appraisal can be motiveless". And the same day Dave Jeffries and Philippa are round the house discussing the light/sound machine. Dave says you can't measure any electric circuit with absolute accuracy because the application of the meter affects the circuit and later that evening the police come round to collect Christopher because he's supposed to be mad and he's just escaped from this asylum they put him in two days ago, and Christopher jumps through the glass of a third floor window at the back, and when you get round there, for one marvellous moment, you think he's made it, and there's this image of him vaulting over the wall in the moonlight, and then you see his feet sticking up out of the area and while you're holding him and feeling the warm blood soaking your clothes, and you're crying and loving him, and sure he's dying, and your thighs are all sticky with his blood, and he comes round for a moment and starts to apologise for breaking the window, and says he just wanted to be free. And you can't even begin to explain to him or yourself, and you weren't even able to explain adequately to the judge that sent him there in the first place, why he should be free, and why he didn't want to have them with their drugs and their electric shock treatment buggering around with his ideas even if they are hallucinations, and who's to say, and anyway maybe London needs people acting strange and going about with weird ideas - a very gentle man. And he thinks he's an angel, and you come away from the Chelsea v. Arsenal game with him and Sebastian and all three of you howling with laughter at the idea of Michael the Archangel being a Chelsea supporter and so what? I know someone who thinks he's the Archbishop of bloody Canterbury, and someone else who thinks he's Mark Boyle, and Des Bonner says "who do we think we are?" . . .

And Miriam brought David Berkely round from Bell Laboratories in the States, and David spends some hours examining one of the beach studies through a microscope, and then suggests I should give up the whole art bit and do the Journey to the Surface of the Earth as a scientific project, and suggests I should write up the tidal series for one of the geophysical magazines, with a page of high contrast photos to show the individual grains of quartz and salt. And Cameron takes the high contrast scientific shots and this dealer sees them and says the photos aren't any use because they're too painterly. And they're both right, and everyone is right, even the ones that are wrong are right. Did you see that interview with Jung on TV when John Freeman asked if he believed in God, and the old man says "I believe in the belief in God".

And how can you offer explanations? You can say "I've tried to make my work as objective as possible, as far as I can be sure there's nothing of me in there", but you must always have the suspicion that although each individual work is entirely random, the whole project, and the desire and determination to do it, are deeply subjective and David Berkeley says that in the final analysis he, as a scientist, has the same problem.

And in the midst of all this questioning there are these people analysing, parsing, and explaining what you're on about, and believe me, they are dear, kind, sincere people whether they're for or against you, and you divide them up into those who are seriously trying to discover about themselves and their role and the world and those who are concerned with their posture and whether they can be seen liking or disliking the right scenes, and you think about Mike Ratledge and Robert and Kevin and Hugh and working with the Soft Machine and their shattering, acetylene music and how can anyone hear it live and then ask for explanations. How could anyone go to Beethoven and say 'Why'? How can you go to a girl with her baby and say 'Why'? But they do. And there is an answer. There are a million answers. The answers are all around you. The head is drenched with thoughts and images that supercede one another with such rapidity that writing and even speaking become intolerable except as a sort of recreational activity, or as a social constitutional of a kind that appals you more and more.

You don't want any image, you want to be transparent, a projection almost seen on a cloud of cigarette smoke. And you know as you say it that all you're doing is to make another kind of image, perhaps more suited to your circumstances than any other. You're saying I am what I produce. I am a circuit of no importance. My anonymity is valuable to me.

You would like to have a bitter image of yourself. But you're not even bitter any longer. You have no ambitions. You've seen it all and you knew before you saw it that their Hilton Hotels and their Cadillacs were going to add up to precisely nothing. You're an onion, and to find the inner, essential onion you strip away the layers protecting the centre, to discover that at the centre there are only more layers and beyond them a smell and a blur of tears.

You remember fragments of 50,000 experiences, and you suspect them, and you suspect the conscious and unconscious forces that keep dredging them up. They're all part of the proper snobberies, the prejudices and preferences built in by your heredity and your upbringing. Most of all you suspect the way you formulate. And finally you say there is this, there is this, there is this. As far as I can be sure there is nothing of me in there. They present as accurately and objectively as I can manage certain sites randomly selected, isolated at one moment. The next moment the sites are different. In half an hour they are transformed. And you have the situation as it was at that instant, perhaps already partially invalidated by its permanence and its isolation; and you film it so you can also study the movement across the site and the way it changes and you go back weeks later to photograph the changes and you get attacked by this big spotty dog and then it pisses on the edge of the site and you and the dog move off in your separate directions, relieved, and you get home and you develop the film and beyond the site, and beyond the dog pissing on the edge of it, you see this sign saying "Where really good signs are made".

And the question arises "to what extent is it necessary to isolate in order to examine". I've isolated fragments, the organic and the inorganic, the natural phenomenon and the induced reaction, the human and the elemental. I've tried to integrate in order to examine. If you study how it is somewhere, sometime, maybe you are better able to begin to know how it is, anywhere, anytime. Maybe it's only by way of isolating anything that you can begin to cope with the concept of isolating everything.

And in the end all you can say is, "I know what I'm on about, and Joan knows what she's on about, and Johnny and Des know what they're on about and we're going to do this journey, making multi sensual presentations of 1,000 random sites across the surface of the earth and we'll put the actual description of what we're going to do on each site at the end of this bit and it doesn't matter if nobody reads the book because I don't know why the things I'm on about should interest anyone else.

And maybe my telegram was right and there is a multi cellular animal called humanity and maybe Johnny is right when he says we're developing a nervous system for it and maybe we need to develop an efficient digestive system for it, and a circulatory system, and a skeletal system, and an excretory system so that when some atrocity happens or when anyone anywhere gets hurt we immediately feel the pain of it. So that we can handle the food and distribute it, not just adequately, but equally to each cell. So that we can handle the effluent without polluting the whole place. Maybe we should recognise the animal and recognise that the evolution of this animal could be the purpose that has to be discovered. Maybe we have to accelerate evolution. Maybe everyone has to accept only the distortion of their own senses, so that humanity can adapt and survive because each one of us is able to offer, as far as possible, objective information to the racial unconscious. Maybe we also need to supply the racial unconscious with an adequate dream.' (25)

When Boyle's work is written about or spoken about, the earthprobes are usually given the most attention. The reason for this is that they are exhibited most frequently. Because, like paintings, they are easy to present, they tend to dominate exhibitions of his work. In addition, both museums and private individuals have begun to collect them as independent works of art. This has led to a somewhat distorted image, because Boyle is continually occupied with other studies as well, although so far with less concrete results: '. . . studies of natural phenomena and induced reaction with earth, air, fire, and water, and presentations of insects, reptiles, and water creatures, and the physical nature of the human body and some experiments in the area of the unconscious . . .' He opens himself in all directions and addresses himself to all of existence. What he is ultimately concerned with is a presentation of the complex whole comprising all of human experience. This is clearly expressed in the above citation and in the already quoted programme for his Journey to the Surface of the Earth, where the fixation of a piece of that surface is only mentioned as part of a whole series of procedures together yielding a 'multi sensual presentation' of a place.

It is characteristic of Boyle that a multi sensual presentation is not restricted to directly observable reality. He also wants to penetrate areas not immediately accessible to our perceptions, for instance everything that takes place on the microscopical level or the many invisible and unconscious processes that control our existence. He attempts to make presentations of these too.

For this purpose, a life size modle rduit does not suffice. The presentation of such areas requires a more far-reaching manipulation or formulation than simply isolation and fixation. Microscopically small things must be enlarged, the inaudible amplified, and the invisible made visible. This involves the use of not only photography and filming but also the microprojector, tape recorder, amplifier, graphics, and theatre forms.

All this suggests a radical departure from life-size presentations, but the difference is mainly a question of degree; it is not fundamental. With the microprojector he shows the fascinating processes occurring in a drop of water but invisible to the naked eye. But with an earthprobe, too, he makes us conscious of an unsuspected 'great spectacle', a visual complexity that escapes us in ordinary life. Although more equipment is used in the former, both cases are concerned with a special, all-embracing way of looking at things, one which is intended to expand the ordinary, limited, and selective contact with reality. It concerns a way of looking that regards each phenomenon as a 'sensation', that attempts to find a 'flash of eternity' in everything. The remarkable thing is that in widely different aspects and on very different levels of reality, this approach generates structures that appear to be interrelated. The extraordinary richness of detail of an ordinary garden path reveals structures that refer to the swarming microscopic life in a drop of water as well as to the immense masses of stars in the firmament, everything being part of one continuous whole.

In the early 1960s, in parallel with the techniques for his earthprobes, Boyle also developed his methods to present elementary processes. He tells how he experimented with slides and film around 1962, and discovered that an accidentally burned slide, one which would normally have been thrown away, proved to contain a fascinating and unique image. He then deliberately burned slides and projected them. At first, this only yielded static pictures of the process of incineration. But after some time he succeeded in projecting the process itself. He also succeeded in projecting other processes, for instance chemical reactions between substances and - with the help of a microprojector - various forms of microscopic life.

In 1964 he began to use these projections as part of some of the performances he organised. And gradually he began to regard them as an independent art form. He organised a few performances for which Cornelius Cardew or Peter Schmidt supplied the sound. After that, he decided that the projected processes could best be accompanied by their own sounds, which he attempted to record via contact microphones. In some cases he mixed these sounds with elemental sound, for instance of a storm or a volcanic eruption recorded on tape.

In the beginning he did not know what to call this presentation of images and sounds or what to do with the result. It did not seem to have any relationship with an existing art form. But suddenly he realised that with the sound from the amplifier and the light from the projector he was accentuating aspects of reality or showing them in a pronounced way that was partially reminiscent of Son et Lumiere performances. 'And there was a convention. It was normal at places like the Tower of London to put on a popular performance describing the features and history of the buildings, with an actor like Lawrence Olivier doing the words and a searchlight picking out the features. It was called Son et Lumiere at the Tower of London or whatever. It seemed appropriate to borrow the words Son et Lumiere for our show, particularly because it did describe the show fairly.' (26) Boyle developed a Son et Lumiere programme for three aspects of reality: one for the elements Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, one for Insects, Reptiles, and Water Creatures, and one for Bodily Fluids and Functions.