Great visit from Val yesterday based in the studio. Conversation was varied and ideas are developing. Val had sent me a PowerPoint ahead of her visit, and from the notes I recorded had extracted “ Efficiency and Productivity” and “Overall System Performance”; both aims / benefits of ergonomic analysis.

I was wondering about efficiency in relation to art practice – it’s a term creative practitioners may not often think about. It sounds like a corporate ambition but actually as an artist I still need to get things done, get work made, get work ready and out for exhibition. Productivity, again, reminds me of the language of GDP and corporate targets: I had an ambition to be prolific with my work about Posture but what are the nuances between productivity and being prolific?Productivity implies a completed cycle – work developed, created and onto its destination or end user. Prolific, on the other hand, means just generating in quality. I’m probably digressing but I’m interested in the terms used in other professions and how they can be applied across to art practice.

As for overall system performance – I wondered if a system can apply to one person – the self employed artist? The system can be a combination of elements: method, technique, network, arrangement, regimen and how they work together to form the whole. The components of the system explored in ergonomic terms includes a review of task, equipment, environment, location, person / user and work organisation using a holistic approach of task analysis, observation, interviews, verbal protocols, questionnaire surveys, user participation and application of existing data. I’m already completely hooked; this is a new world, I am left wondering how this process will inform the work I go on to make.

So that I can develop a working knowledge of Ergonomic practice we are using an existing piece of work of mine, a video from 2003 to re-enact for analysis. Usually an ergonomist will focus on a regular / repeated / typical task for analysis. The artwork I have selected to work with – which I will discuss in more detail in another post – is not a typical work; there is repetition of sorts but not to the extent that I would have repeated the task or movements over a number of days, weeks or months.

Mine is a multidisciplinary practice: drawing, photography, moving image, installation, conversation, residency, research. The typical or regular feature is my conceptual approach; the subjects and to a certain extent the aesthetics change. The video I have chosen is a seminal work, and relates to a time when I first started to think about Postures of Making. It’s a piece of work I am very keen to learn more about, and understand from an ergonomics perspective.


The body in movement intrigues me greatly: the ways in which dexterity, knowledge and understanding come together particularly in art making, art practice, craft, performance; but also in wider contexts of manufacturing, domestic and work environments and even robotics. Observing the body engaged in a range of work, leisure and communication postures has been a focus of my work over the last 18 months or so. Postures of Making is giving me the opportunity to extend my work through a collaboration with Dr Valerie Woods, ergonomics scientist. Exploring what is happening inside the body from a musculoskeletal perspective will help me to go beyond aesthetics, feeding into a new body of work. Learning from Val about ergonomics and ergonomic analysis; using goniometers, task analysis and other scientific methods of measurement and enquiry will build upon and extend experience I have of working with professionals from other backgrounds including architecture and engineering. Two goniometers have arrived in the post, and although visually I can see how they might be used, it will be when Val and I work together that I will understand the data they will reveal.

This project has been buzzing around in the background for over 10 years: an idea, a notion, thought about, picked up and put down. Now it’s taken form and gained support I have been reading around the subject more fully, but feel a long way from understanding. Each discipline has its own language, and this is something I strive to understand; trying to identify common ground and approaches. As I write this I reflect on my own posture, how I sit on my ergonomically designed computer chair with one leg tucked underneath me and my shoulders aching. This project is going to take my practice and understanding of the body somewhere I cannot at this stage imagine.