|Pleats of Matter - Sam Burford|
The second sensingsite symposium event was held at Parasol unit on Monday and Tuesday 16-17 April 2013. Following on from the success of sensingsite 1 in Spring 2012, the hosting of the event by Parasol unit allowed for performance presentations in the gallery alongside more conventional papers. This gave a dynamic atmosphere of genuine dialogue concerning research practice alongside conventional research paper based delivery.
Programme and Abstracts
Monday 15th April 10am – 4pm
Bram Thomas Arnold (Falmouth University), Katrina Brown (Falmouth University), Sam Burford (Chelsea College of Art and Design), Magz Hall (CRiSAP/LCC), and Tansy Spinks (CRiSAP/LCC)
Tuesday 16th April 10am – 4pm
John Hillman (Falmouth University), Jane Madsen (Bartlett School of Architecture/UCL), Idit Nathan (Central Saint Martins), Corinne Silva (PARC/LCC), and Mark Peter Wright (CRiSAP/LCC)
Walking literature through the self and the landscape
Bram Thomas Arnold
‘How to Walk’ is a ten-part inter-textual drawing in which I use my own writing practice to blend extracts from Minshull (Minshull: 2000) into an annotated text that exists simultaneously as practice and research. It describes a landscape and creates a map of the literature of walking whilst annotating the walk my research is founded upon. It leads viewers on a journey from London to Switzerland, creating that landscape as a place, whilst locating itself within the context of walking literature. I will present several extracts from this project interwoven between passages that contextualize my practice within a theoretical framework.
Taking Bourriaud’s notion in The Radicant, in which he maps out how the journey-form has become a significant form of place making, I will add to this map with key recent works exploring walking, place and landscape from Sideways Festival, Belgium, 2012. Bourriaud has created a space where “the journey has become a [art] form in its own right” (Bourriaud: 2009: 118). I will refine this notion with specificity towards arts practices that are peripatetic.
My writing practice owes a debt to the methodological developments within Autoethnography. Ellis has defined autoethnography as the writing of “autobiographies that self consciously explore the interplay of the introspective, personally engaged self with cultural descriptions mediated through language, history and ethnographic exploration.”(Denzin & Lincoln: 2000: 742)
Bourriaud, Nicolas, 2009. The Radicant, First English print. ed. Lukas & Sternberg, New York.
Chang, Heewon., 2009. Autoethnography as method. Left Coast Press., California.
Denzin & Lincoln, 2000. Handbook of qualitative research, 2nd ed. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, Calif. ;
Minshull, D. 2000. The Vintage book of walking: an anthology. Vintage, London.
Material as Site
‘what remains and is to come’ is an arts research project working with the materials of paper, charcoal, body, breath and digital technology. The project is a collaborative dialogue between Katrina Brown and Rosanna Irvine – a working together in which we each bring the materials and concerns of our research practices. With no prior intent around the types or forms of outcomes, a range of works has emerged: a live performance event and installation, text based works in digital media, a sound score and a growing archive of digital images. what remains and is to come approaches paper, charcoal, body and breath in their material capacities rather than as ‘tools’ for a particular intent. In this way materials can be understood as the ‘site’ of this enquiry: an enquiry that systematically investigates the properties of these materials in action, in relation and in potential.
I will speak about my practical investigation into drawing as a way of working with and unfolding the intersection of body and surface. In particular exploring material and agential qualities of flat two-dimensional surfaces in relation to choreographic processes.
Digital images, video and textual works from what remains and is to come will be projected throughout the presentation. My spoken text and these projections from the collaborative project will be presented as two co-existing strands of theorizing: opening up lines of thought around material capacities; ‘surface depth’; how things come into being.
Pleats of Matter
By removing the immersive & demanding nature of cinema we can engage with the concept of cinema as a form of unified prosthetic memory – a store of ours fears, desires and dreams – a set of memories that we share with countless strangers.
Using movies and other iconic mass media as a starting point, I make handmade cameras to transform brief, transient moments of cinematic time into static images – aggregating time into a horizontal trace – a form of Simultaneous Cinema – where an entire film can be both seen at once and conversely, not at all. What is left is a trace of motion, light, colour and memory.
My current research practice involves translating these timelapse photographs into three-dimensional relief maps, which are then materialised into 3d printed objects. These objects – in the guise of architectural models – represent a fictive landscape whose underlying shape and structure can be directly related to a cinematic moment in time.
Through my research, I am exploring how these combined activities produce an intersection of cinema, memory, time and materiality with a sense of place.
‘Radio After Radio : Redefining Radio Art in the light of new media technology’ accurately reflects my PhD theory and practice and the current expanded terrain of radio art I have been exploring. I have been working in the field of radio art considering how the convergence of new media technologies have redefined radio art and in what ways this has extend the boundaries of the art form.
My practice-based research explores the rich history of radio as an artistic medium and the relationship between the artist and technology, emphasising the role of the artist as a mediator between broadcast institutions and a listening public. It considers how radio art might be defined in relation to sound art, music and media art, mapping the shifting parameters of radio art in the digital era prompting a consideration of how radio has moved from the shared ‘live’ event to one consumed ‘on demand’ by a fragmented audience. I have explored the implications of this transition through my radio practice which focuses upon the productive tensions which characterise the artist’s engagement with radio technology, specifically between the autonomous potentialities offered by the reappropriation of obsolete technology and the new infrastructures and networks promised by the exponential development of new media.
A final practice output and pre-recorded work, ‘Switch Off (Dead Air)’ will be realised as surround sound radio art work, incorporating elements from a series of live radio actions, which move towards investigating tensions at the core of our contemporary understanding of ‘radio’. Switch Off takes as its overarching theme the imagined futures of FM analogue radio when abandoned by sanctioned broadcasters, presenting future sonic possibilities of analogue radio after ‘switch off’ .
The body of the work is made up of eight fictive trace stations which offer possible futures for FM radio long after it has been vacated by public and commercial concerns. They employ differing types of radio art practice which recall its past uses to focus on its future. I have developed a body of work, which considers radio art -as-event from a number of perspectives in practice, through broadcast actions, interactions, installations, micro broadcasts and interviews.
These eight speculative trace stations Radio Mind, Numbers, Lone Broadcast, Sound station, Babble Station, Commercial Breaks, Radio Jam and Radio Recall are divergent radiophonic works where fragments of familiar, strange, overlooked and unheard sounds coalesce with experimental drama and radio art.
These fictional stations represent different aspects of how FM radio could sound in the future and form the basis for generating a loose dramaturgical structure. Each trace stations functions as an abstracted self-contained narrative as well as being part of the overall suite. Allowing me to explore the boundaries of radio art practice and explore the five recurrent facets of experimental radio practice I have identified.
Ten things to take with me: a community education project to re-image space & memory
Based within the context of community learning projects this paper will investigate the work and challenges associated with using photography as a tool to articulate research ideas. The study is ongoing and has been undertaken as part of a PhD research project entitled: Representing communities and the post-industrial landscape in the shadow of the “Cornish Alps” currently in its second year. This research aims to establish whether representations of the landscape impact on the community living in it. The focus of the enquiry is to identify whether a process of representation alters the relationship between people and place asking whether practice can “interpellate a subject of the signifier” (Burgin, 2011).
Don Slater states; a “diorama – like most illusionism, and particularly like photography – is a demonstration of a technical power to transform the material of the world into representation.” (Slater, 1995) By considering the “Cornish Alps” as a diorama, a representation of landscape, the focus of the research will be to engage with the socio-economic relations (Benjamin, 1931) in the region and the relationship between a subject and its representation and establish whether arts practice can have a transformative impact on these conditions.
Through community based workshops and photographic assignments participants have presented their memories, their lives and the places where they live using digital photography. “Ten things” refers to the series of images they have produced and the personal responses they have given when presenting their work. Through their photographs, the research examines how the participants have developed and modified their vision of the world around them and seeks to identify whether and how the creative practice of photography can be used as a research tool and where it may sit within a wider context of arts based practice research.
Benjamin, W (1931). ‘A Short History of Photography’ One Way Street. London: New Left Books (1979)
Burgin, V (2011). Parallel Texts. London: Reaktion Books
Slater, D. ‘Photography and Modern Vision’, in Jenks, C, (Ed), (1995). Visual Culture.
The Space of Collapse: A Two Part Terrain
This research explores collapse across two terrains through European history, literature and philosophy, and at a specific site, Portland on the coast of Dorset, UK. Collapse is analysed as history, architecture, material and concept and was initiated by encountering Heinrich von Kleist’s (1777 – 1811) empirical observation that an arch remains standing because the stones want to collapse at the same time. This image constructed by Kleist brings into being the unsaid of architecture: that an arch as something technical, devised and engineered may collapse – consequently his remark is provocative and transgressive. Kleist’s seemingly empirical reflection holds in it the seeds of its own philosophical, metaphorical and material destruction. Collapse became a recurrent trope for Kleist. These terrains of collapse identify Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as recognisably modern and I argue that the disastrous 1755 Lisbon earthquake precipitated changes in philosophical and scientific thought. Following the calamitous Lisbon earthquake Kant concentrated on scientific inquiry, this became a decisive moment for the progression of his critical thinking. The disrupted landscape of Portland is a material demonstration of Kleist’s notion of immanent and actual collapse. These two terrains demonstrate collapse as material for modernist thought.
Portland as a site made by architecture’s uses applies the concept of collapse to space, time and material. Recurrent costal landslips exposed the strata of Portland’s Jurassic limestone showing its potential as architectural material. Four centuries of quarrying have left Portland scarred by dislocation and absence. I have been exploring the island of Portland as an unstable space of collapse. Portland’s landscape has been created by the removal of its stone, it is a built environment made from the voids left by quarrying. In my practice for the PhD, the time-based medium of 16mm film is used to survey Portland as place and material inscribed by time. Film installations showing technical and material images of the quarried stone, the spaces in the quarries, and the geology of the cracks in the cliff faces are viewed as sites of immanent collapse.
Sites and Sights at the Throw of a Die – Making Sense of Place Through Play
‘The lieux we speak of then are mixed, hybrid, mutant, bound intimately with life and death, with time and eternity, enveloped in a Mobius strip of the collective and the individual, the sacred and the profane, the immutable and the mobile.’
‘Seven Walks in a Holy City’ investigates Jerusalem, the City I grew up in. Through the walks, I interact with the memory laden landscape with its layering of the ancient, the holy and the contested.
By introducing game devices such as dice that indicate directions and cards that determine routes and thematic focal points, ‘Seven Walks in a Holy City’ relies on chance to actively and subversively revisit the past and challenge positions and narratives of power. ‘Seven Walks in a Holy City’ follows in the footsteps of writers such as Nora (1989), Massey (2005) and de Certeau (1984) offering ‘experienced insights’ (Kaprow 1992) linking past and present, as the walker’s senses ‘play‘ with and ‘profane’ (Agamben 2007) the ‘irreducibles’ of the urban contested terrain. Using moving image, stills and text, my presentation will reflect on what findings and ‘new knowledge’ is produced through my playful artistic practice and its methodologies.
‘Seven Walks in a Holy City’ is part of a practice-led Fine Art research based at Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design at the University of the Arts London, where I am a PhD candidate. Titled Art Of Play In Zones Of Conflict – The Case of Israel Palestine, my research project examines multi media contemporary artworks that are embodied and playfully interactive in the context of zones of conflict.
Imported Landscapes: Material and Imaginative Geographies
The plate of Africa is moving at a rate of 1cm per year against and underneath the Eurasian plate. In 10 – 15 million years, the Mediterranean Sea will no longer exist.
The landscapes of southern Spain and northern Morocco share many geographical features including climate, flora and fauna, as well as a history of trade, migration and invasion. In 711, Berber tribes straddled the Mediterranean Sea to build a Muslim empire. The Muslims were forced out in the 1400s yet connections continue; during the last century Spain colonized northern Morocco. Today many Moroccans provide cheap labour for southern Spain’s agricultural industry, some of whom invest their earnings in property along the rapidly developing northern Moroccan coast.
To consider these connected and overlapping Mediterranean landscapes I travelled along the northern Moroccan coast from Tangier to the Algerian border, and made a series of landscape photographs. I then re-shaped the Spanish landscape by installing three of these pictures on billboards in specific locations in the region of Murcia. The act of placing one landscape inside another – the southern hemisphere into the northern – creates a space to contemplate not only their shared topography but also the complex web of their ongoing connection of trade, mobility and colonisation.
In this presentation I use image and sound alongside verbal narration to investigate how landscape photographs can be both material and imaginative, the performance of photographing landscape, and how the photographic gesture not only translates but also contributes to the formation of landscape.
I am a London-based artist, currently completing a practice-led PhD at University of the Arts London (London College of Communication), based at PARC Photography and the Archive Research Centre.
Full Stops and Sonic Lines
My practice led research has developed unique associative strategies in approaching the making of sounds as live, site-specific performances. The soundworks operate as an interface between the space and the experiencer within the space.
Specific locations are chosen (or assigned), for reasons of historical and architectural interest including impromptu, everyday situations and sites. In each case, the approach to and treatment of the sounds is informed by associative aspects of the site allowing ideas for specific sound making to be triggered by prior exploration of, for example, historical, visual and aural characteristics of the location. Treating site as a ‘ground,’ the aim, as a performer, is to research, listen, intervene and add sonic layers to the sounds within the space resulting in a new condition of site for the experiencer; that of a heightened awareness of the space through the affect of sound.
Locating the practice within the contextual background of the dialogues of site-specific art, I have undertaken a series of performances that seek to push the boundaries of expectation in terms of sonically orientated artworks in non-traditional art spaces. These sonic elements are explored and achieved through the use of sound making devices which have included an instrument (violin), voice, amplification, contact microphones, digital sound layering equipment and, on occasion, other participants.
I propose to devise a sound work specifically in response to the artworks of Navid Nuur, currently exhibiting at The Parasol Unit to effectively present a form of ‘performance of place’ by treating sound as a carrier of thoughts.
The Multiple Sites of Listening
Mark Peter Wright
What does a practice of listening sound, look and feel like? What is its affect? How can it be documented and re-presented? How can it be written and discussed?
Mark Peter Wright will present outputs from his current practice-based PhD being undertaken at CRiSAP, London College of Communication. The research interrogates the political and cultural aesthetics of subjectivity and place; and develops an original understanding of listening as both a research methodology and artistic practice. Through film, audio and spoken word, Wright’s presentation will introduce the idea of listening as a site in itself.