I recently had my first mentoring session with Ben Sadler. Ben is an artist who, alongside his own practice, works collaboratively with Phil Duckworth as Juneau Projects.

As this was our first mentoring meeting it was an opportunity to talk to Ben about my practice so that he could get to know me and my work, whilst better understanding my intentions with the fellowship.

I talked about how I’d been thinking about the connection in my mind with the way Dom Breadmore had spoken (during the residential in November) about inputs and outputs in technology, and how I’d been considering the body as a system of processes – a machine even, also with inputs and outputs. I had been thinking about how the body works in a very similar way to the electronic circuits we had made with the Teensy. When discussing this Ben mentioned that the body itself has an electric current and that it is also a conductor of electricity. This reminded me of a conversation I had had with Dom about using conductive thread stitched into my skin, like the sutures or hair that I had used in my work previously. The thinking behind this was that there would be a part of the body that would be even more conductive and could somehow create an output triggered maybe by proximity. Whilst discussing this with Ben he mentioned the Theremin; an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the thereminist (performer). What I really enjoy about the Theremin is that it makes the space between seem tangible. The space between the Theremin and the hand is active, whereas so often when the body is performative the body is the point of focus. With the Theremin invisible energies become notable, and we connect to them through the act of listening as well as watching. The space we occupy is easy to not notice, but for me when I am making installaction / durational works, the space is as important as time or materials. Even if there are spaces in the room where there is seemingly nothing / emptiness – it will be because I am using emptiness as a material.

Clara Rockmore, Theremin performer. b.9 March 1911 d.10 May 1998.

As the conversation with Ben developed I realised that I was hoping to create a large circuit through installation and action, and that my body could/would be an extension or part of that circuit.  When talking about Following IN//Footsteps OF Ben pointed out that through that work I had in fact created a circuit. The repetitive action, the dragging of the shoes behind me as they were sutured to my ankles, the sound of the bottle of milk increasing in pitch as the milk spilled whilst it was dragged between my legs and anchored within my vagina, the holding up of my arm until it wasn’t possible; this entire cycle of action was a circuit of inputs and outputs. I suppose what I hope to do is to introduce technology to that method of making. Through discussions there are lots of opportunities to introduce tech, but it is a question of where / how would it be relevant. I must remember that it is important for the work to be led by the concept opposed to the tech; i.e: I must make sure that I am not shoehorning tech into my work. It is my hope that whilst experimenting with tech that the horizon of my practice will be widened and that I will find a method that will add to the conversation within my work, opposed to just including tech for the sake of it.

Following IN//Footsteps OF (2018) Photo credit: Julia Bauer.

I suppose the anchor point for this fellowship is that I want to experiment with a different way of engaging with the body. I want to use technology to see what my body can produce, whether that is sound, or data… to be honest I have no idea what my body may produce, but my main point is that I am hoping to discover new ways of working through this experimentation. I feel that it is the sort of thing that I need to just play and experiment to find out what could be possible. By trying to predict the outcomes I would be limiting myself and boxing in my practice.

As a starting point for my bodily collection through tech I aim to experiment with sound. Using various methods of collection I hope to give my body a voice – although not a vocal one! It is more about creating soundscapes through my body. This will allow for me to learn some tech skills whilst providing me with some material to experiment and play with.


Shortly before Christmas Dom Breadmore invited Fellows to meet at Ludic Rooms, Coventry for an introductory workshop using a Teensy, officially defined as ‘a complete USB-based microcontroller development system’. In basic terms a Teensy is a board which can be programmed using Arduino software to generate a set of outputs when fed with inputs. A simple example of this, (which was what we did in the workshop) is that it can be programmed to make an LED light flash in a specific rhythm when provided with a power source. This is just one small example as the potential possibilities are endless.

Each of the Fellows received a bag of equipment to use with the Teensy. Wires, a breadboard which we use with the teensy without the need for soldering, LEDs as well as a Teensy Audio Shield which adds extra functionality to the Teensy allowing sound to be stored and playedwithout the ongoing need for a computer. It felt like Christmas had come early!

I recognise that there is an initial nervousness about learning these new skills.I instantly feel intimidated by my lack of knowledge, but I recognise the need to accept this uncomfortable feeling as this is where I learn and grow. Also, there is a real sense of satisfaction when I am able to carry out a task that I have been taught – everybody was very excited when the rhythm of the blinking LED matched the code we had typed into the Arduino program!

I had previously considered tech to be far away from human experience, and so I was very surprised with the physicality of making / building a circuit. Whilst it seems like a simple thing to do – it is dependant on motor skills. There was a strong sense of making in the process – like craft based work. The making was a very tactile experience – again my perceptions of tech are being challenged, even on the very basic level of building circuits.


At the end of November all fellows attended a residential at Hawkwood College in the Cotswolds where we were introduced to the mentors for the first time. This residential felt like it marked a starting point as this was the first opportunity we had to introduce ourselves and our practices to each other.

Being in a setting away from home and the normalities of daily life meant we were able to really focus on the fellowship; both the ideas that were introduced and the new connections made with the other fellows and mentors, as well as Dom Breadmore and Anne Forgan of Ludic Rooms, Coventry. I really feel that there is so much to gain from spending time with people over an extended period such as the two days and one night we spent at the residential opposed to just meeting for a day of presentations. Whilst it is really interesting hearing everyone speak about their practices, there is something very valuable in those in-between moments. It was during the cake and coffee breaks (there was lots of coffee and even more cake!!) and over the table during meal times where conversation was really valuable. Those are the moments where the nerves of speaking in front of a group dissipate and where through speaking and listening and laughing that connections are made. I found it to be an enriching experience, listening to others speak about the lenses through which they see the world and make their work. As an artist who spends a lot of time sat in a studio at the bottom of my garden on the side of a hill, I really do value those opportunities to speak with and listen to others. I will never get bored of learning about the processes of others; I find that looking outward and hearing about others’ processes enables me to better reflect on my own practice, and prompts me to question why I make the choices I do make in my practice. Surprisingly I found it particularly useful to be around people who have never seen or heard of my practice. It meant that I had to be able to articulate the concepts and projects that I work with in my practice clearly. This served as a valuable experience as I had to carefully choose my words, and through doing that I had to clarify my practice to myself. I find that speaking about your practice can really help with reflection on your practice. I sometimes find that as I am speaking about my practice I have an internal monologue responding to what I say… I sometimes think to myself, ‘why did you say that, that’s not what you think at all!!!’. It’s through this internal questioning and reflection that comes through conversation that a space is made for growth. I think that conversation is the only way to have realisations of this kind – I believe that this is why so much growth and development happens whilst studying; having to articulate your work clearly during tutorials, critiques and presentations prompts you to have this reflective development and self awareness. Outside of studying this is difficult to maintain, especially on the side of a hill with only sheep for neighbours!!

Thinking back to the residential, when thinking about technology and introducing it to our practices, I really valued Dom’s illustration of inputs/outputs. With a human figure drawn out on the floor, we were handed post it notes on which we were told to write inputs or outputs and to place them on the drawn body where we felt appropriate. This exercise really brought to mind the experiential aspect to working with technology. The question, ‘what do you want people to experience?’ really brought to mind how this was very much about human experience, which contradicts my previous thoughts of technology as being a removal of the human. This felt reassuring to me. I am keen to create immersive experiential spaces in my work, and the way that Dom spoke about inputs and outputs aligned with thoughts Ive had in relation to installaction; thinking about how an action then has consequential experience for both artist and viewer. Dom stressed on the importance of the consideration for human experience – this alone has made me feel that technology is much more accessible to me now, just by altering my viewpoint / perspective on it. As I stood looking at the visual of the body with all these varying inputs/outputs I was reminded of the way that I have always associated the body as a system of processes and a point of transformation. I am fascinated that we occupy this corporeal space which is always working and processing, both using matter and generating it. This connection between the body and technology has sparked my thinking, and I am curious to see how this can be explored further.

During the residential, mentors spoke about their practices and the technology that they make use of, and Dom introduced us to varying technologies ranging from the various types of mics and LEDs to touch sensitive technologies, conductive paints and Arduino. Dom’s comment, ‘If you can think of it, it can probably be achieved through these technologies’ was particularly inspiring and I felt slightly dazzled by the endless potential! The more I heard of these different technologies, the more seduced by them I felt – my inner child felt like I had just arrived at a theme park and wanted to have a go on all the rides! I wanted to play with contact mics, conductive paint, live coding, laser cutting, all of the things, all at the same time! Obviously, this is not possible and whilst I want to cast my net out wide and be experimental, I also need to anchor myself and maintain a focus. I need to remind myself that the tech is there to support the concepts and ideas, opposed to just playing with the tech just for the sake of it. I am hoping that my first mentoring session will help me to regain my focus and move forward whilst still being experimental.