Forthcoming Materials by JL Williams

We asked guest artist JL Williams about the idea of collaboration within her practice and UNFORESEEN. She replied though the language of poetry….

PS: Collaboration is a central theme in UNFORESEEN as it is in your own work. How does this affect your work as a poet?

Forthcoming Materials

In order to interrogate the open, to collect future knowledge,
enter the burning library.

In the thudding heart of uncertainty is the failure of the populace
to overthrow the fact-making of newspapers.

Uncertainty leads to growth.

Independence is every man’s right, the right to be immoral.

The roots of the uncertain extend from the trunk of each problem.

The gift that tears the fabric creates the extravagant open.
Through this tear the uncertain event occurs.

Nothing is ever finished.
Feigning is the truth. The growing tree
lifts its gravestones with it.

Making love is uncertainty, living is uncertainty, fucking is uncertainty.

Your heart resides where the question is conceived.
Electrocution of flesh is the disease.

Desire of workers distracts the listener.
Noise is dust on the glowing screen.

Micronoise. Microinformation. A coating contains memory.

Experience is a cloud of dust.

The future is an anagram of the present.

The specimen is a multichannel environment.

In the future we speak the distorted
echo of the present. This continues to break the infinite cycle.

Poetry and the internet have one purpose: pleasure
provided to the mental foreground.

Our joint mind creates a noise.

The words spoken in the future
are the soundtrack of the present, listen: lit pools of water vibrating with opera singers’ voices, opera singers as angels, a cascading overflow of beauty, layers, exploration of the bodies of the opera singers as they sing, physicality of the body and voice of the opera singer, singers hanging, arced, upside down, lying, in positions, how words affect this – vowels, consonants, moving around a small space where opera singers sing, positions of the singers, positions of the listeners, listeners on beds, listeners moving during the performance, maintaining exquisite notes and altering loudness/quietness, tones, rhythm, music that can make the listener/singer cry, revelation this way, uncertainty, resolution (or lack of) in the listener, the open (leaving it open), honey, flowers, feathers.

The relation between ourselves and the rupture is open.

Naming allows breath.

Classification allows fascism.

As we dance our chemicals leave a rhythmic smear.

Scientists of the future will touch our materials, measure
the chemicals in our blood.

In these photographs I see the dead. In these photographs I see the building of a building whose terraces I walked many years ago on a mission that was destined to fail. The beauty of the building was greater than all others. The child who fails is not the adult who fails.

The ephemeral material of memory has the potential of musical structure.

The circle contains the open.

The women’s pitch is disembodied.

Imagining a beautiful future is creating a beautiful present.

If I care for you I make you.

The transhuman is capable of symphony.

We do the machine in different voices, preserve the disavowal.

To measure impact is to tell the future,
to tell the future is to create fiction.
All art-making is love-making.

You have to do this
chance I never
this moment you begin
impossible to be
either that how
to understand.

To live is to vibrate.
Life is one possibility among many.
Death is unknowable only to the living.

JL Williams October 2014
First published in Alex Hetherington’s Modern Edinburgh Film School Anthology

UNFORESEEN?: a question in progress…

We asked each of our resident and guest artists a question about their work and its potential within the indeterminate situation of the unforeseen.

Their contemplations, expectations, and apprehensions will in turn be reconsidered and reflected upon after the event.

Check out their thoughts below…

HANS CLAUSEN:
PS: The physicality of your work inversely reflects the intangible nature of the relationship between artist, idea and audience. How do you feel this might manifest itself within the boundaries of UNFORESEEN?

HC: I’ve recently been pondering the shadow side of an artist’s creativity, the potential that exists through creative endeavours to spoil something, to diminish the power and beauty of a place, object or atmosphere in an effort to make a creative intervention. It seems important, to know within the creative process when to act and when not to act, in sculptural terms to harness the tension between addition and reduction and the possibility of non-action. This is a dialogue that might play out in my contribution with Unforeseen. By its nature any ideas or notions I have today about Unforeseen may change tomorrow but at time of writing I’m hoping to find a way of reducing the control I have over my contribution through giving additional control and choice to the audience, I see my collaborative contribution as that of a creative conduit. I believe there’s power in incidental compositions and creative energy in spontaneity both of which are often lost, suppressed or sanitised in a gallery environment. I hope Unforeseen will give us the opportunity to harness this power and energy, the freedom to play within the landscape and sound-scape of a space while messing a little with the creative dynamic between artists, audience and ideas.

JESSICA RAMM:
PS: How important is the development rather than just the outcome in your work? How do you think this will relate to the idea of UNFORESEEN?

JR: Working towards an outcome is the same as testing a hypothesis. It’s important that I have a vision of what I’m setting out to make, but what I’m really interested in is how this abstract ideal can be undermined by the construction process. A work often begins with a drawing; and here I am able to control all parameters of the idea as it rests on paper, but when I begin to develop the idea as a performance, sculpture or installation; a whole variety of environmental factors and forces come into play that are completely beyond my control.
One of my recent works Earth Rise is a good example of this undermining process. I began with a small idea on paper, a drawing that showed a piece of grassy turf being inverted and held aloft by a human figure. Attempting this idea as a performance piece required weeks of strenuous training doing headstands with a heavy clod of earth tied to my feet and mostly resulting in repeated heaving, toppling and exasperation. In the end it was completely impossible to achieve the triumphal inversion of my drawing, and the resulting performance became about the muscular strain required in order to hold the inverted piece of earth aloft.

UNFORESEEN sets up the parameters for a different way of working that feels new and experimental to me. Usually I work in response to environmental factors, but during this event I will be responding to environments or performances set up by other artists, which makes the process even less predictable. The potential for unanticipated moments where things somehow just work, as well as moments where everything falls apart is very exhilarating.

CHARLIE KNOX:
PS: One could describe your work as relational, creating a space for social interaction, rather than a mere spectacle. What problems do you foresee as unavoidable due to the forced nature of event in general, and specifically during UNFORESEEN?

CK: I like to think of the performance element of my work as a series of public experiments, testing out different ideas in different settings. I generally like to create a space for an audience to experience rather than a show for them to watch. These spaces do provide a context for social interaction but that is not really what I’m focused on. I am more interested in the relationship between the audience, the space and me as a performer.
I don’t think I have an issue with these performance events being in some way “forced”, indeed it is exactly that that I am interested in playing with. I design ambiance and construct experience through the diffusion of sound and light. How the audience responds is really up to them – there is no right or wrong reaction. Like I say, they are experimental in nature so i guess the only issue would be if no one turned up!
The most challenging – and I think most exciting – aspect of Unforeseen will be engaging in genuinely meaningful dialogue with both the wide range of different artists and guests as well as with the audience themselves. We will have to speak carefully and listen well to make it a real conversation rather than a group of individuals just sort of saying their bit. I often find clarity in these discussions quite difficult, especially face to face, in real time! But I think it should be interesting and look forward to it!

ANN MARIE SHILLITO:
PS: Haptics is a way of experiencing and understanding an object virtually before it becomes tangible. Do you think this theory could translate to UNFORESEEN and the idea behind event?

AMS: As our package, Anarkik 3D Design, is more than haptics (which is virtual 3D touch) and experiencing and understanding an object virtually before it becomes tangible, the theory of virtual touch can translate to UNFORESEEN and the many ideas and interpretations behind the event. Yes, our package of software and haptic device is a great way of experiencing and understanding an object befor it becomes tangible but more than this, it is an easy to learn and use tool for exploring and playing with creating 3D forms in a risk free environment before making them in the real world. 3D printing is but one method to make the forms tangible.

Anarkik 3D Design presents a virtual 3D space as big or as small as you want and is about experiencing and exploring that space by creating forms within it, re-configuring and re-combining within the space to understand both content and context. Being in a risk free environment, and without real world constraints, mind-sets can be blown open, boundaries expanded and pushed, new ideas taken to the nth and the thoughts generated translated back into real world materials and media to inspire new approaches.

Just one example of our approach to developing our product that fits Unforseen’s consept is serendipity. Serendipity is a majorly important feature in Anarkik 3D Design and is the default that enables happy accidents, unforeseen consequences and form creation. Being quick and easy to learn and get into being creative is also fundamental as is having a non-complex interface for ‘flow’.
We have the haptic device as it makes navigating the 3D space easy: with ‘touch’ it has movement in all directions to zoom in and out of the space and rotate the whole space to explore it all from all angles and magnitudes. Touch and proprioception tap into our natural ways of interacting in the real world and these senses introduce a comfortable and familiar element in to the virtual environment so can we can concentrate and be open for exploring the unforeseen.

MARTIN SWEENY:
PS: Audience participation is an important question within the context of UNFORESEEN. How important is audience interaction within your work in order for it to achieve its purpose?

MS: Audience participation? with a question mark. Is how I like to label my work.
The sole purpose of my work is to engage with the audience and it often brings people together with a sense of play.
I like to hand over control to the audience, so the visual element is not controlled by me but the audience instead.
I build in interactive elements to the design but I don’t like to give the audience instructions. I prefer the audience to use their logic to figure out how they can interact with the work and use visual hints to guide them, but often the audience can miss these hints.
This is ok though, you get out of my work as much as you are willing to give to it. If you want to play the option is there.

 

It’s all free! Tickets available here:
http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/unforeseen-tickets-16588123524

UNFORESEEN

King’s Stables Road, Hidden Door Festival 2015

Sunday 24 May – Wednesday 27 May @ 1 – 2pm daily

An adventurous, multidiscipline collaboration between musicians, artists, academics and audience. Running concurrently for 4 days during Hidden Door Festival 2015, Edinburgh.

The content and structure of each day will be informed and shaped by the outcomes of the preceding day. Barriers between performer, medium and audience will be challenged, as will the nature and context of collaboration, inspiration, creative methods and time constraints.

The outcome, a complete unknown, will be documented and discussed further to the series of events creating an ongoing process, exploring key themes in the evolution of art and culture at the intersection of sound and sight.

Check out the Facebook event for ongoing updates and info!

 

FACILITATOR

MARTIN PARKER

martin parker - chair SMALL

Martin is a senior lecturer and program director of the MSc Sound Design program at the University of Edinburgh, artistic director of the Dialogues Experimental Music Festival, and director of outreach at Edinburgh College of Art. He has a PhD in composition and recently used his four month curatorial residency at Talbot Rice Gallery to exhibit ‘gap in the air’ which aimed to bring technicians and curators together with artists and audiences in order to examine the challenge of sound in gallery spaces.

 

RESIDENT ARTISTS

Sunday 24th – Wednesday 27th May

HANS K CLAUSEN

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‘I am interested in the ‘thingness’ of things; in the visual vocabularies, narrative qualities and emotive associations of ubiquitous objects.

The interaction between people and material culture has become a recurring area of enquiry in my artistic practice; how we look, how we read visual language, how we make sense of our material world and how the stuff that surrounds us becomes us. I am intrigued by the provenance, meaning and power of objects and by the forces of materialism, marketing, consumerism and obsolescence. Through the language of ‘stuff’ my work attempts to examine the relationship between artist, object and viewer and to challenge the conventional notions of authorship and consumption, thinking, making and creating.’

 

CHARLIE KNOX

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Charlie is a sonic artist based in Glasgow working on the fringes of house, techno and more abstract sounds. He creates emergent interactive systems that drive DIY modular synths and DSP processing to create immersive audio-visual installations and performances.

He is interested in creating new contexts for experimental sound practices. Through the creation of immersive and interactive audio-visual environments he explores synaesthetic experience, interactive systems and creative multichannel audio diffusion.

 

MARTIN SWEENY

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By day Martin create user experiences for print and screen. By night he creates interactive audio visual environments/installations that are reactive to sound, incorporating projection mapping.

Martin is currently completing the Design & Digital Arts degree at Napier University. Focusing on the ever developing relationship of design and digital technologies, Design & Digital Arts provides an opportunity to develop skills specifically for the creative industries – building environments both physical and digital, producing design visualisations, challenging preconceptions in developing interfaces and digital environments, creating digitally enhanced propositions for a variety of designed scenarios.

 

G U E S T A R T I S T S

Monday 25th May

JLWILLIAMS

JL WILLIAMS

JL Williams’ first collection, Condition of Fire (Shearsman, 2011), was inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses and a journey to the Aeolian Islands. Her second collection, Locust and Marlin (Shearsman, 2014), explores the idea of home and where we come from, and was nominated for the 2014 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award.

She has been published in journals including Magma, Stand, Poetry Wales, Edinburgh Review and Fulcrum. Her poetry has been translated into Dutch, Spanish, Polish, French and Greek. She plays in the band Opul and is Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library.

 

CATHERINE STREET

catherine street

Catherine Street’s work consists of layers of experience: she often incorporates her own body into an installation setting that has video, audio, drawn, sculptural, and written elements. The atmosphere is usually unnerving, tense, sensual, comical. Intense breathing sounds give the viewer the feeling of moving inside the lungs, the body’s cavities – whilst her writings often describe a desire to break apart the flesh and return it to its constituent elements.

Street focuses on her body because of its multitudinous natures; on the one hand simply matter subject to physical laws, and on the other a potentially limitless field of meanings: social, political, sexual, spiritual. She pays particular attention to themes of transformation and to the relationship between matter, thought, emotion and sensation.

Catherine Street is an artist based in Edinburgh. She has made work for performance festivals and exhibitions around the world including in Prague, Bergen, Berlin, Wellington and New York. She collaborates widely, maintaining long-standing collaborations with poet JL Williams and with composer and performance-maker Greg Sinclair. Her most recent project is a solo show at the Reid Gallery Glasgow School of Art – on until 30th April. She has contributed to a number of publications, most recently the Modern Edinburgh Film School anthology Queer Information.

 

Tuesday 26th May

JESSICA RAMM

jess ramm

Jessica Ramm gained her BA Hons from Duncan of Jordanstone in 2009 and her MFA Contemporary Practice from Edinburgh College of Art in 2014. Her research consists of a series of ongoing, sometimes haphazard experiments that examine contemporary civilisations ordering of nature through technology and science. Using her body to test the mobility and resistance of matter, she constructs performance videos and sculptural installations that manipulate the environment. Recent exhibitions include: Earth Rise, Tramway, Glasgow (2015); Remote Possibilities, Timespan, Helmsdale (2014); Convocation, Glasgow School of Art (2013); Leave the Capitol, The Fleming Collection, London (2013).

 

Wednesday 27th May

ANN MARIE SHILITO

anne marie

Ann Marie is a contemporary designer jeweller & maker, teacher, lecturer, research fellow, founder & CEO of Anarkik3D Ltd, software developers of award winning haptic 3D modelling software, Anarkik 3D Design. (‘Best Consumer Software’ at the 3DPrintShow Global Awards in 2013 and finalists again in 2014).

Author of ‘Digital Crafts: Industrial Technologies for Applied Artists & Designer Makers’ and a Fellow of the RSA, Ann Marie is passionate about enabling non-CAD using designer markers, 3D artists, applied artists, creative amateurs, hobbyists, & young-uns to engage with 3D digital making using technologies such as 3D printing.

Ann Marie’s company, Anarkik3D, develops haptic (virtual 3D touch) enabled software. Haptics is an emerging technology that enables people to feel digital information.

As part of UK Innovate grant-funded collaborative research project, Ann Marie is currently working on defining the requirements for vivid learning experiences that link directly to the national curriculum, with a particular focus on ‘hard to teach’ topics.

Seeing Sounds – with Deaf Joe

An ethereal soundscape fills the space, framing the meditative installation of colour and light, created by Emma Macleod, for our first venture with the Mash House. It was, we admit, accidental (and maybe slightly panicked!) happenstance that led us to discover Joe Harney, aka Deaf Joe, and his experimental dreamlike work. Yet the work of Deaf Joe and Emma Macleod could not have complemented each other more – almost as if planned….

With the release of his second album earlier this year accompanied by a publication in collaboration with artist Paul Hallahan, Deaf Joe is no stranger to exploring new mediums of art, expression and space. We chat about his work and the unexpected collaboration at The Mash House as part of Vault 23 – now PARADIGM, August 30 2014.

_MG_2283__Vault 23, image by Chris Scott

Your music has a reflective quality about it, the layers of sounds seemingly create narratives and uncover memories. Would you agree? How do present space (/environment) and past events influence your work?

Yes I’d agree. I’m interested in incorporating found sounds, field recordings into studio recordings of songs in such a way that they sit right up at the front of the mix and feature alongside acoustic intruments. The last batch of songs I finished was me playing with that idea of past and present happening at the same time.. the way you can be on a train staring out the window and be completely reliving something from your past in your head. And they’re both happening at the same time. or you open an old book and the feel of the pages can trigger an odd, random childhood memory. You’re never really in control of your memory, of what it might throw up at you. Environmental triggers are everywhere.

It is fair to say then your music has a prominent visual element to it. How do you feel a different environment- such as a nightclub – affects or changes the tone of your work?

A nightclub would be an odd place for some of my music! I think of a lot of the stuff I do being, as you said, reflective. which means it’s a bit drifty and spaced out and probably works best for people listening on their own, in their own head space. I’ve always thought of it like that anyway. I find it doubly weird cos a lot of the music I’d listen to would be fairly full-on (I’m a huge lightning bolt fan for instance). I’ve just never been able to make music for a fucking dance floor. Have plenty of ambient odds and ends knocking about that would serve an old school chill out room well though..

True! I’m thinking a slightly run down, smokey, wine bar possibly in France!? So how did you feel when Project Space asked to pair your piece ‘Angles of Light’ with a visual installation in a club night setting? What were your impressions of the space on the night?

I was delighted.. as you said about ‘prominent visual element’, I’ve always got fairly strong narrative or visual elements in my head when I’m putting music together. Some people play off groove, I need an image or a place to be making it for. I’m always thinking stories or pictures. So to put the music with Emma Macleod’s really strong installation was great, it’s as if I’d tailored it for the room! That particular piece of music was an ambient homage to a piece of music by Finnish composer Rautavaara, his 7th symphony third movement. It’s dubbed The Angel of Light so I flipped the title to ‘Angles’. Check Rautavaara out by the way, that’s not me being a pretentious obscure-o muso-twat, its harmony twists and turns in very beautiful unpredictable ways, there’s something of the natural world about it. Sounds like it has inspired the composers of many a soundtrack for BBC and David Attenborough documentaries.

for each and every
film still, For Each and Every One of Them, Deaf Joe

Wow that’s incredible! – thank you for the recommendation. After this experience, would you be tempted to make more work in collaboration with visual artists or for unexpected spaces?

Yes, indeed I would. As it is I’ve collaborated with some wonderful contemporary artists in Ireland in recent years. I like it when there’s a concept in place for a piece of music, where you’re contributing to the realisation of an idea. In that forum you really get to step into a place where the line between music and sound blurs. The nature of what’s required of the music/sound depends on what the artist’s intentions are for their work, so you’re most often bounced into having to approach composition or sound design from a new angle. I’ve recently finished a half-hour work with an Irish actor, I’ve scored music for his narration of a gruesome short story. We’re currently looking forward to realising it as an installation in a suitable found space in the future!

That sounds great! We will watch out for that project in the near future – keep us updated! You also released your second album – From the Heights of a Dream – this year, Congratulations! What does the future hold for you?

I’m currently finishing two album for different musical projects. I’m nearly done on both, but then again it could be another six months… Also I’ve just finished the mastering of an album by a friend of mine, Irish musician Katie Kim. It’s sounding beautiful, keep an eye out for her music on your internet radar. I also hope to find more contemporary artists to collaborate with in the near future, as it’s an amazing forum in which to work.

Check out Deaf Joe’s website – http://www.deafjoe.net/ and Facebook page to keep up to date with future projects – https://www.facebook.com/deafjoemusic?fref=ts

Rhythms of Light

in conversation with emma macleod

Primary colours anticipate thick drops of resting paint, illuminated against a stark backdrop of white. Glowing plynths smoothly change their hue, as a large projection on the right-hand wall draws you into a space of accidental rhythms and strangely calming bursts of an electric palette.

Working with a brief of audiovisual experimentation composed in dialogue with, as well as in contrast against, the grimier elements of the club two floors below, Edinburgh based artist Emma Macleod brought something unique to Edinburgh’s Saturday night out. Creating a meditative space for wandering members of a Mash House public, the installation drew an audience who were free to sit beside, walk through, and contemplate her striking piece.

(as part of Vault 23 – now PARADIGM, August 30 2014)

_MG_2086image: Chris Scott

You describe your work as being concerned with the ‘staged’ environment and the perception of scale. Suggesting a preoccupation with both the space your work is situated as well as its prescribed audience.

Would you agree ? How does the consideration of space and audience determine the outcome of your work?

In a word…yes. All of the work I make is pre-occupied with space in some way and I’m always thinking how the audience will interact with my work and how they will ‘experience’ it.

I make work in lots of different mediums – video, photography, installation, painting, drawing and object & model making – but the crux is the staged environment. I’m influenced by the aesthetics of theatre and film, especially stage lighting, colour and the glow of the screen. I’m also really interested in staged photography and still life – the theatricality of placed objects and light.

Until recently, I followed a very particular process for making work that involved creating small-scale environments and photographing them. The photograph became the final work and the model environment was destroyed. Initially these were very film-set like but over time the environments became more ambiguous and emphasis was placed on the objects, which had become more abstract and concerned with the ‘art object’ or ‘art installation’.

_MG_2090_image: Chris Scott

I have always been interested in how the audience reacts to small-scale in lens-based media. Video and photography are entangled in ‘reality’ and ‘alternate realities’, as is model-making, to a certain degree; I think the audience reads my photographs in a similar way, for a split second reading them as reality, and then reading them as playful, imagined spaces.

As the subject of my photographs has become more about the ‘art object’ and ‘installation’ a question has started to regularly occur when I show work –“are you going to make this big?” So for the last few months I’ve been pondering and reacting to this question by making more installation based and ‘human scale’ work.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 16.45.30image: ‘Dripping, Pouring’ film still

How would you describe the work that you created for Project Space, Vault 23?

I used Vault 23 as a chance to try out some work in development – really new ideas I had been thinking about and playing around with in the studio. From the off, I wanted to create a space that was quiet, ambient, meditative yet colourful – a space that would contrast the club night downstairs.

The work consisted of a projected video, light boxes that changed colour gradually and some sculptural objects, which were spot lit. Each element was separate but connected.

The video, called ‘Dripping, Pouring’, was really colourful and consists of white sculptural vessels on plinths with thick, glossy, brightly coloured paint being poured into them until they overflow. The video is slowed down, which adds an element of anticipation as the vessels become full and the paint oozes out.

The sculptural vessels in the video were then displayed in the room. The objects are made from really crude materials – plastiscine & air-drying clay painted white and gold – but they are given some air of importance by being displayed on plinths, kind of reminiscent of high-end contemporary craft objects.

Lastly, the free-standing light boxes also feature in the video as the background colour. I wanted to bring the colour directly into the room to add a certain ambience. The colours changed very gradually and were a further development of a work called ‘Screen’ that I exhibited at Hidden Door in March.

By bringing all the elements into the room, I think I was trying to de-construct the video and say something (although I’m not sure what exactly) about the construction of images. I’m still at a point where I’m developing and processing the work…pondering and considering.

_MG_2408image: Chris Scott

Have you ever produced work for a club night setting (or similar) before? What was it that led you to take on that challenge?

No, I’ve never produced work for a club setting, ever. Initially the idea of creating something for a club freaked me out. When I think club, I think loud, banging beats and crazy visuals and that intimidated me. However, when I spoke with Claire and Steph (Project Space’s producers/curators) my mind was put at rest. We spoke about creating a quiet, calm and almost meditative space that contrasted the club night proper– giving the audience a journey & different experience through the building. That was also when we spoke about sound and the need to pair the work up with sound/music that was equally calming and meditative. Claire & Steph then went on a musical hunt and found the amazing Deaf Joe whose sounds fitted just perfect.

Ultimately, what really led me to take on the challenge was the space and it being out-with the gallery context. I was also really excited about being involved in Project Space’s first (ad)venture.

How did the location of your work in the top floor of The Mash House, combined with its presence within a Saturday night setting influence the work that you produced?

Ummm… I think probably the biggest influence was the use of colour – when I was making the work I was thinking about the bright electric colours of the club and the fast changing lights but slowing this right down. So the top floor became a place to slow down the pace, relax, drink, chat with pals and look at stuff.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 16.44.27image: ‘Dripping, Pouring’ film still

Did you enjoy the experience?

Yeah, I really enjoyed the experience – it was a chance to try out some new stuff, in a new context and meet new people. Probably the best experience was pulling some questionable dance moves in the club that night with Martin’s (Unstable Creations) floating visuals (it’s amazing how beer & whiskey make you move!)

Are there any future projects you have lined up that we should keep an eye out for?

I’m taking part in Place+Platform’s “The Line of Best Fit”, an event within the surroundings of the ‘Settlement Projects’, a curious junk shop in Edinburgh. It should be fun, there’s musicians playing, spoken word, art and apparently some home brew.

_MG_2263image: Chris Scott

Construction & Collaboration

in conversation with Miriam Mallalieu

PS first met Liam J McLaughlin and Miriam Mallalieu while they were building their separate installations for the Hidden Door Festival 2014, Edinburgh. Though installing in spaces situated on opposite ends of the site, their construction heavy work would often see the couple walking back and forth between spaces to lend a hand on the others’ project. Especially demanding being Liam’s life-size maze of blackened corridors built inside the festival’s largest artist space.

We cross paths again this month after somehow managing to convince them to work together on a project for the launch of our new monthly event, PARADIGM. Travelling up from their current base in Herefordshire where they’re renovating a family home, Miriam jokes that the project ‘has been fraught’ (it is the first time they’ve worked together on a project).

Although the smaller scale project of making temporary work will inevitably require a somewhat less ambitious approach to previous projects, their high level of creative consideration, and the craftsmanship of their processes will no doubt lead to an exciting and encompassing interpretation of space. Giving us little more than the promise of a ‘collaborative video installation’ piece to go by, we can’t wait to see what they’ll be bringing on Saturday for install.

We asked Miriam a couple of questions about their work and how they have been finding the process…

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So, do you guys have much experience in collaborative work in the past? How do you find the process, and how have you got along working together for this project?

We have not really collaborated before. I think that people assume that we’re collaborating when they see us setting up shows together because we work really closely together. We share a studio and discuss our work throughout our creative practice, so when it comes to actually setting up we both have a very clear idea of what the other person is trying to do and we end up making a lot of the last decisions together. I think that because of this, we had thought that it would be quite easy to make a piece fully collaboratively. It was, however, surprisingly difficult. There is a really big difference between questioning each other’s ideas and negotiating a collective practice. Our work has always been quite different and it was strange to suddenly look objectively at the other person’s work and decide where our practices overlap.

How do you think working in collaboration with other artists helps you to understand more about your own creative practice?

I think that we both felt like our awareness of our own practice was increased during the process. We both feel as we work through projects that each one is almost self-contained, individual. Both of us worry that there is little distinct style that links one project, or body of work, with another. Collaborating made us both make decisions that were unusual or that felt slightly unnatural, which led us to identify patterns that we use sort of unconsciously when we are making work. These patterns made me feel like my work isn’t anywhere near as disparate as I sometimes feel it is and that there are definite perimeters that I set myself. I think that this collaboration has made me more confident about my work to date, but also has opened up possibilities in my creative process.

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What impact does the exhibition space have on the work that you eventually produce?

I think that the exhibition space has always held much more relevance for Liam’s work than for mine. He likes to play with space – alter it so it is surprising or disorientating for the viewer, and this is a vital part of Liam’s work. He tends to collect information through photography and film, but it is only once he has decided on a floor plan or a mode of presentation, that he actually formalises his media into finished films and images. He creates the space, and then creates the work specifically to fit the space.

My working method tends to be a lot less organised. I like to work towards an idea of what a show will like look, and I use that idea as a sort-of goal but it changes constantly, and I don’t think I ever really take it seriously. While I might pretend to myself that I know what I am making, I rarely have a clue until very near the end when I start to really think about the work in the space and how I want it to be seen. Unlike Liam, I don’t usually change the exhibition space. I tend to change my work to fit the space, to slide my work quite unobtrusively into an exhibition. It is always in the final step when I am considering my work within the space that my work changes, almost beyond recognition a lot of the time, so I suppose in that way the exhibition space is hugely influential in my work. I just don’t really think about it for eighty percent of the process.

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Has the ‘night-club’ setting of PARADIGM informed your decision making at all?

The night-club setting of PARADIGM has been really influential in the way that we have made this project. The artwork might be secondary for a lot of people (unlike those visiting an art gallery for instance) so we felt pressure to make work that was perhaps more immediately striking or engaging. Liam was also keen to continue his theme of work that is somewhat uncomfortable or uneasy for the viewer, but when we looked at the techniques he usually uses- darkness, loud noises or strobe lighting for instance- we saw that these are commonplace in night-clubs and would not have any of the same effects as when placed in an art gallery. Another big consideration was the install time. In the past, especially for Liam’s work, we have installed over a few days, making structures that are semi-permanent. For this show, we will have only a couple of hours, and are making something that will only be shown for one night. It will be really refreshing to make something so transient for a change.

What can we expect for Saturday night?

It is hard to say really, neither of us have made anything like this before so how it will turn out will be a bit of a surprise for us as well!

PARADIGM

PARADIGM
Monthly @ The Mash House, Edinburgh
9pm-3am

An experimental night of audiovisual collaboration emerging monthly @ The Mash House, Edinburgh…

PARADIGM: Crossing disciplines and subverting senses; Creating immersive environments through audiovisual collaboration; Redefining space.

Expect the unexpected.

Past Events:

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