Edges and membranes in my art, my work and my life – Arvon thanks to VASW

Thanks to a bursary from VASW, I will be attending an Arvon course in Janaury 2014. The booklist is challenging, so I made a start by reading my favourite writer, to get in the mood. This blogpost is what has happened, already…..

Reading Ali Smiths Artful is inspirational. I have struggled for some time to read books. My mind wanders, meanders, often to the computer, the screen, to forage for further information. She writes a section about edges and wham – I’m in there. (Actually I’m not, I’m here writing madly because I’m inspired!). I know myself by thinking back to the art I made in the past, the way I think. This is a list of things it reminds me of:

  • My first ever website – the domain was hybrideyes.com. Was interested in the hybrid – neither one thing or another
  • It was called Grey Matter – I’ve always been interested in the middle place, the boundary between one thing and another.
  • Neutrality – not uncaring or unthinking, but considering
  • Neither black nor white -grey
  • Grey matter refers to the mind
  • I care about things, they matter
  • During my MA I made work about genetic work ref. Dolly the sheep. Cloning – hybrid human and animal. Or animal and animal. Skin-changing.
  • Metamorphosis
  • I explored the screen as a tool, a membrane, between real and virtual
  • An edge
  • I’ve always suffered from vertigo – I am super-aware of edges
  • I love to look out but need to be grounded, literally, feet firmly planted on solid ground
  • I made video installations that were viewed through peep holes – the wall as membrane
  • I worked with screens but felt confined by them
  • screen 2
  • I became interested in virtual identity online
    • Ali Smith touches on this – how the screen allows judgemental behaviour easily (in my mind too easily)
    • I became intrigued by the subtle edge between real and implied and the words that did that
    • I wrote a condolence letter to a friend who had suffered a bereavement, but she did not know it was from me, because my handwriting is so illegible
    • I thought deeply about this – that if I can only now write legibly on a computer, does that mean I can no longer write a heartfelt letter. Hand-written letters are used for emotional letters, a print out will not do. And my letters were indecipherable.
    • In response to reading hundreds of love letters between my parents, I wanted to understand why and how the hand-written letter holds so much kudos in terms of intimacy.
    • I made a video about writing an intimate letter by hand. I filmed myself writing a love letter, but the viewer would struggle to read it. So it had subtitles. It was destined for an exhibition in Georgia, so it also had a Georgian voice-over. Layered, like a ream of paper. A palimpsest
    • Paper as membrane as opposed to screen as membrane
    • Writing on skin, vellum, reclaiming the visceral, the corporeal word, written on the body. Jeannette Winterson.
    • I scanned some of my parents love letters and transferred them to fine sheets of gelatine – my dead parents words reunited on flesh
  • letter 1 love letter
    • The film The Pillow Book – erotic, writing, text, symbols, power,
    • I gradually stopped making artworks
    • My studio was burgled, I lost data, millions of words
    • I wrote about that, to soothe my mind, to heal my virtual lobotomy.
    • I began to commission artworks outside gallery walls.
    • I explored liminal spaces, outside and insider
    • I began a phd – I became interested in how people engage with art in non-gallery contexts, how by removing the walls the work became embedded in place.
    • How does the viewer negotiate the nature and the art in it? How do they interact?
    • Where are the edges? How can the inanimate relate to the living organic?
    • Technology, nature, art, the edges of them.
    • Annie Cattrell’s work Echo. A cast of an ancient geological strata in a forest. The casting material separated by a plastic membrane, like a screen, one side virtual (the mould being made) the other actual (the rocks).
    • Now Echo Hosts moss growing on it, even though it is fibreglass. Dead leaves collect in corners, time has passed and the silver sculpture has taken on the patina of its surroundings. No longer an object in a place, now it is that place.
  •     echo
    • I did a photographic project, whereby Suze Adams and I met by the River Severn, she on one bank me on the other. We took photos across the river as the bore passed between us. Our gazes created a bridge, Heidegger’s bridge. We connected the river banks. Magical.
    • Most recently, I’ve been taking photos of places in front of me, and behind me
    • This is typical of me – I like to see both sides
    • I mediate. I bridge.
    • I’m the youngest of three, I watch, I look, I locate myself. It is how I learn.
    • And back to the screen, the issue of judging. It makes me uncomfortable, all this judging. All the TV programmes that rely on humiliating people, criticising sarcastically. I don’t watch them. They hide behind the screen. If they spoke to people in public like that they would not be so smug, because others would decry their nastiness.
    • We can do better than that.
    • Mind the gap
    • Touch the screen
    • Feel it
    • There are humans on both sides, it’s only a membrane
    • There is always a grey area, to be explored and enjoyed.
  • skins

Published by carolyn black

I'm an artist and also commission contemporary art in unusual locations. As a producer, I fundraise, curate, project manage and deliver projects. I'm also a writer and film-maker.

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