After Symposium 2: 1. Script and Alternative

Today we had the second part of the symposium of work in which my video was shown. It was an interesting moment when I saw the video again, this time knowing that others were watching at the same time. In this and the following two posts, I shall write about the text, responses, answers, and a section of questions to myself.

The latter part comprises questions that I asked of myself while reviewing the video before the symposium. I did this partly out of curiosity, partly out of a certain insecurity that I had done the right thing by synthesising my practice into a few words. Mostly, though, it was as a preparation for what I might be asked during the symposium. As things turned out, the questions and ideas raised bore little relation to my own interrogative but saw things in a different way. That is why it is important to get feedback. I suppose that my questions were made with a certain prior knowledge of the answers as well as working by means of confirmation. The responses of others, on the other hand, may have come from entirely different perspectives adhering to other paradigms.

In this post, I am copying in the original text but only after having put in one of several drafts of an alternative text. Both scripts contain one another but I feel that the latter is more of an explication of the work based on the MA context whereas the original is a more holistic exposition comprising me, work, audience, and world. I have already gone through the resolution of my scriptwriting process dilemma in a previous post.

An Alternative Draft Script

In this chaotic world of entanglements, I find myself trying to marry the physicality of sensual things with more intangible notions.

I have asked myself as to how the material nature of what I am doing, its visceral, sensorial dimension might form a fabric or suggest a system interwoven with immaterial ideas.

I have dedicated this period to synthesising the many threads that run through my practice into an artistic form that renders inseparably the material and immaterial into a single body of work. Even so, mysterious and unanswerable aspects also reside at the core of this process. 

I have tried to outline here, some of the more pertinent influences and inspirations, whilst also acknowledging the fact that everything that has ever happened to me has had an influence to a greater or lesser extent. 

Developing a research statement has allowed me to develop my understanding of the context of my work. I looked at the relationship between artificial life generated in the digital environment and organic living. This led to an enriched understanding of how the subject-object relationship not only affects me in relation to my work but also the eventual receiver of it. This resulted in a whole new way of thinking about my use of digital means to foster interactivity between an artwork and its audience. Such aspects are impossible to successfully transfer onto online platforms; the work needs to be experienced face to face, as a physical reciprocity with the viewer. 

As I use words, text, and sound, the addition of digital means extends the horizons of my practice. And using ancient and contemporary mediums, makes me think about how new adaptations and disruptions might occur in this nascent age of artificial intelligence. I see this as a call for me to connect with the animal self.

Reflections on the digital society and biology have also heightened my awareness of how the dynamics of the individual and the group interact and affect one another. An ebb and flow reflected in the various tensions of my process. 

We have, as animals, a core dependency on the physical but we also have another dimension that traverses into the spiritual domain.

We each possess a body and running through its centre, the alimentary canal. I see this as a form of axis Mundi connecting us to our deep evolutionary past. It is also where appetites and fears gather and revolve. It is the seat of an ancient symbiosis between the animal self and human intelligence, something to celebrate in mythical terms.

I work with raw porcelain. It is visceral, shaped by touch, a direct, primitive mode of making sense of the world. As I work, I have in mind flow, process, and assimilation. But my interest lies not only in abstract notions but also in how they convert into practical intelligence and applications. 

My hands and fingers squeeze porcelain in a peristaltic-like motion. Shaping the inert material as I ground my thoughts.

When fired porcelain emerges from the kiln, the living process of making, immortalised in a pristine stone-like material, which passes crystallised, fossilised, onto the geological timescale of existence. Might it be possible to create a future palaeontology perhaps an archaeology in this way?

The underlying vessel-like architecture of my work is now, both receptacle and conduit. My work has undergone a shift, from illustration and commentary towards a more contemplative and ritualistic reification.

Perhaps it is the case that my urge in trying to reconcile my animal self through my own human intelligence is a reflection of the gut that drives the repeated search for food. Perhaps ultimately becoming the restlessness that comes from asking unanswerable questions, indicating the transcendental domains that art might encompass. 

Parallel narratives layer on one another, leaving open the possibility for diverse interpretations. Forms, sounds and marks are cyphers, traces of presence. Sounds embedded in a sculpture; text inscribed in others are just some of the ways in which I make my mark.   

Actual Transcript

My thoughts and makings come together, language and doing synthesising intangible notions with sensual physical things. And in the process, the world becomes labelled, each part of it a cypher, an unspoken word, felt, touched, held. And from those parts, I have built element by element a language of sorts by which I might describe a boundless field where before I only saw separate cells.

I bring a disparate cohort of behaviours to one single focus of intent. That is, to gather what has broken over time, and stick back together the semblance of a whole.

Driven by curiosity and fear, we have as one, cleaved from Nature; desiring to control the brute forces that we deny as part of us and debase, as one, the very essence of what we are as animals, condemned by arrogance to think ourselves divine.

From the first atoms drawn together in spontaneous cooperation, the emergence of complexity, of mind, of thought, and action, has its beginning in such simple states. And each part of me has taken from this descendancy, to endure as something reformed, in and over time.

The progression of my actions has become the ritual I had thought lay somewhere else, and celebrate a fact as mythical: that each and everyone one of us has an alimentary canal. And this we share with complex forms, that live and crawl and swim and fly, with an unspoken hunger evolved from body, into consciousness, and spirit. It is what we are, differentiated into front and back, searching, moving, escaping forwards and backwards, and this has given rise to faith, and love, and all the things we think make us different. So, is not Nature divine, as we think we are?

My hands and fingers squeeze the raw porcelain in a peristalsis that grounds my thoughts, of flow and assimilation in the primitive touching and shaping of the white visceral mass. And when emergent from the kiln, its making is immortalised in a stone-like, fossil-like passing onto the geological scale of existence……. everlasting.

I made vessels, and now conduits too, thinking of the past and pushing it forwards, so what I do will be as archaeology for mice evolved into new intelligencies.  And they will look and ponder and create another myth from my whirlings in clay and sound and fire and building. This is my hope, nothing more, for I cannot say what lies ahead.

Narratives, layered with forms and sounds and traces are open to perceptions and interpretations. Audios embedded in sculptures and incised text are some of the ways in which I make a mark, and maybe change the way in which the still forms are danced within a common space.

And I see you as a single being, not pressed by the weight of many, but loosed from the many moving to a different tic toc, tic toc. And that is why I speak to you and you alone. And if you listen, I will listen with you, and if you turn away, no matter for that is natural, and it is wise for me not to judge but to try to understand. And what is left unanswered transcends into the realm of art.