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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New art growing…

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A small selection from my ongoing project Anima Mundi is on show in ‘inprogress’, a group exhibition by three artists participating in the AA2A project at Liverpool Hope University. The Cornerstone Gallery, 11th – 22nd April 2016.

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Project research and development: 

I planted approximately 300 acorns during  October and November 2015 and watched them grow over the winter months.

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New work: on the AA2A Scheme at Liverpool Hope.

In October 2015, I began a residency at Liverpool Hope University through AA2A (Artists Access to Art Colleges). Its a fantastic UK national scheme that supports artists and allows  them access to workshops and facilities over several months  to undertake a period of research or realise a project. Being part of the AA2A scheme at Liverpool Hope is opening up an exciting ‘laboratory’ where I can work with others to trial relevant processes, techniques, imagery and materials, as I move towards the next phase of activity. There is  information here at the AA2A.biz website.

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Responding to the Art School atmosphere.

The Cornerstone Building at Liverpool Hope University was once St Francis Xavier School and the building, an imposing example of 19th century architecture has been converted for its current use as an art school.  One of the pleasures of my AA2A placement has been having the time to meander through the building, absorb and respond to its mood and atmosphere. There are many stairways linking different areas of the building – workshops, studios and performance areas. I enjoyed using my camera to document  the  layered traces of the movement of others: the marks and patina that tacitly signal what kinds of activity are permitted and encouraged in the building.

Please click on a thumbnail to open up a larger image and use ‘back’ to return.

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Making Presence Felt on film

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A collaboration with director Mark Gill and The Chase Films, has resulted in a short film capturing the atmosphere and immersive qualities of the Northampton gallery installation. It features edited excerpts from the gallery soundscapes and makes links to a series of quizzical, material artworks that were ‘heard’ in the initial audio recordings, and then made and displayed in the gallery.  The use of headphones is recommended for maximum immersion and dynamic, binaural sound.

Listen: see what you hear…

Listening to visitors: a selection from the comments book

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By spending time in the Northampton gallery I’ve been able to have some great conversations with many inspiring people.

Thank you.

Here is a selection of comments written in the visitors’ book by some of the people I didn’t get to meet in person.

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A great collaboration between sound, materials and the awareness of oneself in a fictional world created in the imagination. I truly was immersed in the experience. Great use of materials to bring it all to life. The various textures, use of lights, the crunch of leaves in an imaginary space. To the moon and back by night. Your consciousness definitely touched me. Thank you.”  David 

Poses lots of questions, but not in a disturbing way. I liked the contrast between the marked floorboards (permanent impression) and the image / reflection (impermanent).  We should think more about our impact than about our appearance.” Amy (on Election Day 2015).

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The eye is a genie. He’s got trapped in a box because he got lost. He can come out if you say the magic word.” Poppy (age 4)

Once I’d realized that this wasn’t going to tell me all about shoes I found this quite fascinating. Most interesting as a music teacher (primary) I found this inspiring as a starting point for creative music making. What a shame I’m retired now- first time I’ve said that!” Jane

A wonderful focus on the concept and felt experience of embodiment and connection. Grounding and liberating, beautiful and spacious. If more of us were embodied more of the time and knew how to re-connect with body and self then that would help  a sense of containment and freedom that can heal and restore using the senses – intra and interpersonal well being. With appreciation.”  G.Y. Core Process Psychotherapist.