I am at the beginning of a Fellowship with Random String, a programme produced by Ludic Rooms, a non-profit postdigital arts organisation based in Coventry. The fellowship runs from November 2018 – March 2019. This blog will be an anchor point over the next 5 months; a place for me to discuss and reflect on discoveries I make and new experiences I encounter.
The Random String Fellowship programme is a unique opportunity for practising artists and creatives from any discipline, including visual arts, music, literature and performing arts, who are interested in embarking on their first technology-focused creative enquiry. The fellowship promises to enable practising artists to play, learn and develop ideas for new work using interactive technology. Fellowships are supported by assigned mentors who will be a point of contact throughout the programme. There will be skill sharing sessions as well as opportunities to go and see exhibitions etc. Fellowships commenced with a day long symposium which provided a plethora of inspiration and contextual information, (which I will speak more about in a later blog post). There are 8 Fellows in total, all of whom get to meet each other as well as mentors and Random String staff during an upcoming 2 day residential at the end of November. It will be interesting to see the diversity of the backgrounds of the other selected Fellows, especially as the Fellowship was open to multi-disciplinary practices. I wonder how we will each impact on each others work, and whether there will be any collaboration.
I should give a brief introduction to my art practice for those who are not familiar with my work / previous blogs, so that my start point is clear whilst illustrating the lens through which I view the world. This should then clearly establish the contextual position from which the direction that my experimentation will take is informed.
Up until this point in time my practice has been driven by perception through bodily experience, concerned with notions of the abject, autonomous body. Through my exploration of the materiality of the body I attempt to connect with the innately performative body in view of it’s visceral, abject qualities. Through the re-presentation of bodily materials (such as hair or skin), that have universal familiarity through subjective experience, I am interested in how the gap between viewer and artwork or artist can be bridged; the viewer becomes hyper-aware of their own body, therefore having an empathetic, perceived physical experience.
Satellite, 2018, Menstrual fluid & resin.
I often use my body within my practice as a way of reclaiming space and time. This reclamation is motivated by my desire to challenge, illuminate and confront the expectations of women to exist within a restrictive framework of socially expected behaviour in a patriarchal society. I am fascinated with the public-private and appropriate-inappropriate dichotomy that surrounds discussions in relation to the body. My questioning is driven by assumed acceptable modes of behaviour in society, specifically when discussing the concept of the female in public space.
As a mother I feel much conflict between the label of mother and how I feel as a mother, artist, feminist, etc. The notion of what qualities society thinks makes a ‘good’ mother is problematic and I wonder how the role is performed on a day to day basis.
Mothers pride, 2017, 9 hour durational performance, Buzzcut Festival, Glasgow. Photo credit: Beth Chalmers.
Through the juxtaposition of the immediacy of the body as battery of memory, as site and material, and domestic, seemingly nostalgic, memory-imbued objects which often carry immersive qualities through scent, (such as bread, milk or soap) I am interested in how time and memory become elastic; and how meaning is an inherently subjective perspective.
My practice is seeded in a fine art background, which extends beyond singular methods of making. I often make objects and images using the body/body matter; over the past 3 years I have been working in an increasingly performative / action-based / durational way, with time being a material of importance in my explorations. With a practice that is predominantly process driven I have been curious as to where both the body and the performance space begins and ends. Previously this has been challenged through installACTION whilst examining the residual traces from performative action, but I am looking to challenge this further.
I have never worked with technology (beyond a digital camera) as a main medium in my practice. I have previously been resistant to technology/digital elements; often attempting to create situations that are rooted in the physical and the here and now opposed to virtual spaces, holding the physicality of the body and the fabric of time as an element of importance. I have previously expressed my unease with technology through the dissertation I wrote during my BA(hons) Fine Art and also through the performance for camera made in 2016 called Made Up. I am aware though that my opinion towards technology may be bias due to my parental fear of losing my children to the screen forever! I now accept that times have changed and that technology is actually a large and valid part of our everyday lives. As we live so much of our lives digitally I am interested in how my practice may evolve if technology were to be introduced. I am curious to explore how technology may be considered to be an extension of the body, how it may not actually be as separate from us as I have previously thought. I need to explore this medium to truly understand it’s capacities. I am aware that there are so many technological tools that I don’t even know exist, and so keeping an open mind as I navigate my way through this fellowship is crucial. I have some initial questions on my mind during this beginning part… How can I explore the body through technology? What data can my body produce? Are our bodies separate from technology or does technology become an extension of both our body and our being? Big questions… but it is this standpoint that I take to commence this period of experimentation, which I hope to keep as open as possible, giving focus to testing and exploring opposed to end outcomes.