Akeroyd Collection


Shimabuku, Exchange a mobile phone for a stone tool, 2014

In this short video, a seemingly simple instruction sets the tone, context and action for what is about to unfold. We read the words: ‘Exchange a mobile phone for a stone tool’, before the next slide commands; ‘Walk to the place where salmon once swam’, so that we might; ‘hear the sound of the river stream’. What follows is a silent slide reel of still images that trace a young woman’s journey from the city to a natural river, at a gentle and contemplative pace. In her hand, we see two similar, yet distinct objects. One a black, plastic, shiny-screened mobile phone device, the other a piece of slate or stone, smoothed by the tumbling water of perhaps centuries, into an ergonomic handheld shape. They are similar in size and colour and yet we know they are worlds apart in terms of their age and function. The mobile device has arguably become a contemporary talisman and an object of affirmation and connectedness. It lends both a sense of security and comfort in the hand as much as it offers connectedness to the world around us. In similar ways, lithomancy, a divinatory interest in stones, may once have held a similar position among people, offering a sense of function, comfort, and connectedness.

The film thus ruminates on ideas of animism (imbibing inanimate objects with soul), reification (the transformation of the living into things) and prosopopoeia (a figure of speech that represents a thing as having a voice). It may also be a plea to escape the particular trappings of our modern preoccupation with ‘connection’ to consider the interconnectedness of all things. Things that may even exceed our advanced technologies and yet rely similarly on a type of faith. Holding onto a stone tool may offer as much if not more than its contemporary counterpart, proposing our human desire for connection is ancient and as much haptic as it is intellectual. As writer and curator, Nicolas Bourriaud has said of Shimabuku’s work more broadly; ‘this notion of co-activity reinforces the primacy of the encounter over the form’.

MediumVideo, framed printed matter
Duration5 minutes 40 seconds
Editionof 4 + 2 APs