Going back in time… a chance to look at two projects from the archive

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Back in April 2006, I asked a group of local craftsmen to create the three contrasting houses of folklore, in a gallery setting. The project was stimulated by council plans for urban renewal at a site nearby. The research stages of the project  brought valuable opportunities to observe each craftsman at work, to document their embodied skills, and listen to their opinions about relationships between art, craft and making a living.

The ‘pig’ scale of the finished installation allowed each perfect little house to be experienced close up. People could pat the thatched roof and sniff its grassy scent, slide their hands along the cool elegant surface of the polished wood, examine the slate’s veins of fossils, or count the run of the dry gritty bricks, as they imagined living inside each space. To add tension and context, a looped film sequence of the recent demolition of three 1960’s residential ‘slum’ tower blocks nearby, was also shown.

Here is a short video about building the houses over 3 days in the gallery.

The skills of the craftsmen were self-evident and brought tacit integrity to the work. The communal familiarity of the story, and the sensual intimacy of the installation combined to show visitors to the gallery that the materiality of man-made things: in this case the houses’ qualities of construction, materials, odour, touch and feel, are our practical means to objectify myth, morality, identity, community and  social values.  How ideas, experiences and emotions are made tangible …… real.

After three weeks, I became ‘The Big Bad Wolf’ when the houses were broken up, to make way for the next exhibition.

Project Credits:

Project concept, design and management, photography and video creation by Fiona Candy. Thanks to Barry Milne, Barry Turner, Dominic Rogan, Harold Wignall; Ben Casey; John Turner Ltd; Jenny Rutter at Pad Gallery, Preston; Arts Council England. “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” played by Henry Hall’s BBC Dance Orchestra (1930).

You can see more about this project, and others at: http://www.a-brand.co.uk   (NB: the a-brand site requires Flash. Click on the hammer on the workbench for Huff & Puff)

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Harris

Visiting Exhibition

Where visitors were both spectators and exhibits.

100 individual photographic portraits of visitors to the Harris Museum and Art Gallery were made during the week before Christmas. These were later brought together at life size, to form a 35 metre digital inkjet montage, displayed on the connective central stairways of this well known, imposing public building.

Other visitors responding  to the finished ‘people-scape’ in situ,  told us that they recognised several of the people in the photographs. They were ‘familiar strangers’, having previously been noticed in the building or out and about in the city.

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The stairway portraits revealed subtle inter-connections between the people using the building and confirmed their subjects’ status as rightful visitors and members of the Harris’ community.  Each seemed to be enquiring via the directness of their gaze, about the intentions of others,  as they travelled up and down the stairs, past the photographs. A chance to politely stare at fellow members of the public.

The images also recorded clothing, jewellery, hats and hair styles. At the end of the project the Harris agreed to archive our visual study of the ‘social persona’ of this public building, within their social history collection.

 Project credits

Creative production team: Fiona Candy, Andy Mairs and Susan Rathmell. Thanks to Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Market Square, Preston, UK. Arts Council England, Artech. 2002.

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In memory of my lovely friend, Susan  Rathmell.

 

Walking in Circles

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Bronze Age stone circle near Morecambe Bay, Cumbria. Photographed in September 2017.

Mindful walking: revealing embodied, grounded geometries.

University of Central Lancashire – Motion Capture Studio.

We used motion capture technology to transcribe my walking movements in real time,  as steps were overlaid in time and space. Multiple reflective markers were attached to each foot.

The delicate qualities of the spiral form made visible in this way, appear as though ‘stitched’ in to, or ‘woven’ on to the ground, with each footstep.

Once  the palimpsest spiral is completed,  the other ‘end’ of it begins to unravel…

The first mo-cap sequence zooms in from various angles.

And in the sequence below, the walking is seen from one side only:

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Standing at the Centre: connective geometries.

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The Vintage Gaze

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An ongoing series of images: visualising experiences of time and memory …

I have been using digital manipulation techniques to merge printed photographs from (in these examples) late 1940’s fashion publications, archival material, internet imagery and my own photographs. This digital collage re-uses, re-edits, re-visits. It looks at world events and objects that may have been witnessed, remembered, imagined, anticipated, feared, or considered impossible, by the once youthful, once fashionable models, who appear to be gazing out, through and across time.

Please click on thumbnails to enlarge. See more examples at my AA2A profile here.

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Toeing The Line

“A journey implies a destination, so many miles to be consumed, while a walk is its own measure, complete at every point along the way.” Francis Alÿs.

One of a sequence of video stories I’ve made about walking along life’s path…

Often my work has related to clothing in action –  being worn – and its relationship to the human body moving in space, through time and place. In this sequence I am looking at feet and shoes, the signs and metaphysical messages on the surface of the ‘ground’ and the rhythm of embodied time as it is paced, lived and experienced.

This sequence was filmed in Preston, Lancashire, UK and in Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Mandvi in Gujarat in India, during February and March 2013.

‘”Dolna” sung by Shreya Ghoshal, from the Bollywood movie ‘Morning Walk’ (2009)

Memento Mori.

Tracing movement.

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Watch ‘Memento Mori’ video here: https://vimeo.com/121571083

Walking from campus in to Lancaster, we (Malé and Fiona) worked with an iPad and a handheld audio recorder with binaural microphones, as well as our mobile phones. From the outset we resolved to allow the research to unfold as we made our walk, and to take influence and context from Barthes and Derrida, for whom photography was a medium of suspended mortality—every photograph or record made, a memento mori.

As we walked along the way, looked, listened and opened up to the experience, we learnt that the traces of movement that came to our attention were perceptions of something altered or dishevelled: where we saw or felt a shift in what would otherwise be constant and unchanging. We captured these traces as static images, video and audio data. Together we explored repetition and the pace of rhythm with our bodies, words and voices: “ribbon…rhythm…band…bond”.

By moving in step along the trace we made, we ceased to be dots of data moving in the landscape. We became the trace, the landscape and the path. We began making and editing the video even while we were ‘on the move’ and the iMovie app and its touch sensitive iPad interface allowed us to edit the material of time with our fingertips. Malé described her sensation of the editing process as being “like working with plasticine”. The interaction with the iPad reminded Fiona of the haptic gestures of stitch or collage. The process of making the video heightened our combined awareness and facilitated reflection on the apparent tensions between tracing live movement and the production of recordings.

Background

More about this and other Mobile Methods Experiments here: http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/mobilities-experiments/category/mobile-methods/page/2/

This video was made by Malé Luján and Fiona Candy as an outcome of the Mobslab Experiment: ‘Captured in Motion’, a one day collaborative workshop at the Centre for Mobilities Research, Lancaster University. The main aim of this Mobslab project “was to understand how the world is constituted in and through movement with ‘mobile methods’. This pilot project seeks to explore and showcase the utility of different methods and technologies. A deeper understanding of how the material world and social relations are made in and through physical and virtual mobilities ( and immobilities) is important not only in the context of academic research, but for policy, design and everyday life. The aim of the participatory research is to enable important insights and methodological innovation.”

Earthtomes

Mapping multi-sensory modalities: a research event exploring the theme of body cartographies curated by Dr Rachel Sweeney at The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool Hope University.  March 2016

The Earthtomes event revolved around a live Butoh performance led by international Butoh artist Joan Laage. Image of performance below.

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Butoh performers: Rachel Sweeney, Sally Dean, Dominique Baron-Bonarjee, Lee Berwick/Digidub.

Eight artists were selected to present time-based and site-responsive works engaging in themes of cartography and intracorporeality and that integrated body-centred approaches within digital media.

Featured Artists: Annalaura Alifuoco, Silvia Battista, Dominique Baron-Bonarjee, Fiona Candy, Kris Darby, Jonathan Gilbert, Simon Piasecki, Rachel Sweeney

For Earthtomes I provided radio headphones so that participants could experience a sequence of audio stories that I created using original recordings combined through digital collage.

The immersive sounds of footsteps brought attention to the presence of the body in motion and the acoustic qualities of places, spaces and moments – as they are stepped into life.

Participants could explore the theatre building and its surroundings as they listened. Access to drawing materials encouraged the production of tactile cartographic responses to their individual multi- sensory experiences of moving in acoustic space.

 
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Tree of Life.

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The Lucombe Oak, Dartington Hall.

In June 2016, I was privileged to attend Schumacher College at Dartington Hall near Totnes in Devon, England. It is the centre of the Dartington Hall Trust, a charity specialising in the arts, social justice and sustainability. Inspired by  founders, Dorothy and Leonard Elmhurst, the Dartington Trust is currently working towards their vision to be a pioneer of deep personal and societal change. This is influenced by the Elmhirsts’ original concept of “…expressing a ‘many-sided life’ and an ethos of openness, creativity and ‘learning by doing’.” (See Dartington Hall and Schumacher College websites for more information).

The gardens at Dartington have a magical beauty and shifting atmospheric moods, texture, form, light and shade. Many of the trees are extremely old. Pathways with flights of rhythmic steps guide visitors through the terraced gardens. Tacit, aesthetic metaphors are present in the garden’s landscaping, re-enforced by considered placements of lyrical sculptures and materials.

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Anthropological studies of indigenous peoples have used the term ‘animism’ to encompass beliefs that there is no separation between the spiritual and physical (or material) world, and that souls or spirits exist not only in humans but also in other animals, in plants, rocks, landscape features such as mountains or rivers, or other entities of the natural environment, including thunder, wind, shadows – and trees. By taking up this focus, I’ve been able to learn of the growing understanding throughout the world that ecological renewal and sustainability depend upon spiritual awareness and an attitude of responsibility towards the Earth.  I’ve been making artworks  that can engage audiences via authentic sensory experiences, and  rediscover a symbiotic relationship with animate nature. Both for myself as well as for others.

Lucombe oak1Dartington brought opportunities to  experiment and trial techniques on the estate. ‘Lucombe’ is a hybrid form of oak that keeps its leaves in winter, and a magnificent specimen grows at the edge of the Tiltyard in the grounds of Dartington Hall (pictured above, in daytime, June 2016). For more information about the location of the Lucombe oak tree, a Dartington Estate map is here.

To explore possibilities and trial techniques, digital imagery was projected onto the trunk and into the canopy of the Lucombe oak, at night. This included anthropomorphic imagery, aiming to stimulate empathy for the energy and spirit of a living tree, and to question limiting interpretations of the sentience and agency of non-human entities.  Both video and still imagery were trialled.

Many thanks to Anna Goodchild for her generous, creative support and night photography skills. See more of Anna’s work here.

I’ve included a small selection of photographic moments from this activity. In this context, the photographs are an additional outcome: my primary purpose was to trial relevant techniques for working in the outdoors that have the potential to augment multi-sensory aesthetic experiences for audiences, in real time, in-situ.  As well as to learn about the world and have fun of course, through art practice. Thanks also to the staff at Dartington for their assistance.

The female imagery was re-purposed from ‘Gaze’ (March 2016), which used digital collage to visualise some ideas about time. You can learn more about Gaze and the development stages of the Anima Mundi project, here on my AA2A profile.

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Anima Mundi

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Examples of works from the Anima Mundi project, made during my recent AA2A residency at Liverpool Hope University. The project title is a reference to the ancient hypothesis of an intrinsic connection between all living things: the existence of the Earth’s soul.

Please click on thumbnails to open up larger images, use ‘back’ to return to previous page.

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Aiming to shift rational meanings derived from ‘horticulture’ or ‘botany’ to the more expressive and provocative. The acorn seedlings literally gave life to the works, in this case appearing like flames on altar candles.

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For further background detail about this project please visit For further background detail about this project please visit

http://aa2a.biz/pg/photos/album/28280/new-art-growing and here: http://aa2a.biz/pg/photos/album/27787/anima-mundi

With cabinet maker Stuart Williams, in his workshop near Garstang, Lancashire.

February 2016

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