James Lewis : Mouse cleaning

Pataphysics, a literary movement which argues the existence of reality, except as the interpretative projection of a phenomenal perspective - which is to say that reality is never as it is, but is always as if it is.
Q: Can fictitious reality also be applied to the concept of architecture? Can architecture become imaginary?

To examine/ analyse this, the exhibition applies this concept of the ‘pataphysical reality to cartoons, working with the following episode:
Set within the house of Mammy Two Shoes, Mouse cleaning is the 38th Tom and Jerry cartoon. This episode, whose title is a play on a domestic chore, follows the decline of the house as the battle between cat and mouse accelerates.
As the scenes unfold the viewer is led through an arrangement of rooms that seemingly makes sense architecturally, however this imagined building – the epicentre of the struggle between cat and mouse and the metaphor for communal living and social space – has superficially conformed to a set of rules that function in a fictional and actual reality. In this instance the way architecture is employed makes sense from an architectonical perspective, but not from a topographical one. Is it possible to draw a map of Tom and Jerry’s house? Or is it a psychological space, not an architecturally functional one?

Architecture here is background and yet a social denominator. This building defines the circumstances and the condition for all social interaction in the cartoon, and its function is made overly clear with the suspension of physical and biological laws. Yet as viewers, we are mesmerised into following this fiction. The laws of gravity, social convention, time and morality are transcended – neither Tom nor Jerry die, they are filled with boundless energy, have the ability to hover endlessly and never suffer the effects of aging.

When watching Tom and Jerry four alternate realities of the American home emerge:
the home in relationship to the human body, the home in relationship to the size of a cat, the home in relationship to the size of a mouse and the home in conjunction with the size of the objects contained within it, i.e. the final parallel world is that of the house in relationship to the size of the house. These four possible models exist simultaneously in, and of, each other, archived together in our prosthetic memory.


James Lewis
Mouse Cleaning, installation - detail, 2016
James Lewis
Mouse Cleaning, installation - detail, 2016
James Lewis
Mouse Cleaning, installation - detail, 2016
James Lewis
Mouse Cleaning, installation view, 2016
James Lewis
Mouse Cleaning, installation view, 2016