Background: I graduated in Fine Art (BA) from Nottingham Trent University in 2015, achieving a First Class Honours. Currently, I am a studio member at Backlit and share a studio space with Connor Brazier and Jade Williams, artists that I studied alongside during my degree. We occasionally work collaboratively on projects, but the space mainly functions as a site for discussion, enabling the continuation of the critical dialogue that is important to our developing inquiries.
In terms of the origins of my artistic practice, I trace my interest in notions of the Other, technological utopias, and the Cyborg to an early curiosity in science fiction cinema, particularly Metropolis, The Terminator, and the X-Men film series. I have always responded to the human form and been interested in disrupting its representation. Although I do not come from an artistic family, I was greatly encouraged to express myself creatively. This allowed an early experimentation in the contortion of the body’s lines and the flattening of its surface, aesthetic elements that are always prevalent in my current work.
Technology and the arts: The effect that technology is having on the arts is a topic that Jade Williams and I have been unpicking recently, particularly the relationship between art practice and social media. We are interested in how artists frame moments of their creative process on Instagram and Facebook in the form of highly staged shots of ‘researching’ or ‘filming’. I believe the posts to be a declaration of the artist’s labour; a belief that, in order to be successful and not fall behind one’s competition, an artist has to be seen to be grafting.
Another point that I would like to discuss is the process of screenshotting a video work. Within the frame of the screenshot is a video’s peak; its visual climax. As an advertisement of the final product, the process of determining the correct screenshot for use within social media is critical. Understanding the social media ‘like’ to have become a contemporary measure of success, in placing the screenshot within this context, I able to achieve an artistic validation outside of the gallery walls, on a digital, global platform.
Body/enclosed space/bars of metal: I find it interesting that you view my body to be restricted within my work as this suggests passivity. Whereas, I understand the body to hold an active relation to both the digital frame and the metal prosthetic. In “Linear Modality”, the metal prosthetic might appear restrictive, with its materiality suggesting weight and rigidity. However, balancing during moments of delicate, almost non-existent contact, its effortless gliding across the body subverts these qualities. A modernist symbol of industrial precision, the body employs the metal prosthetic in order to extend between previously impossible geometric positions.
The digital frames within “Linear Modality” are not hermetic. Rather, the body exists in-between the frames, extending and returning from the anchored central point. Holding the potential to destabilise the body’s concrete, singular form, the digital frame’s edge becomes the body’s medium, an activatory site that permits a movement between figuration and abstraction. I, therefore, understand the digital frame to provide potential rather than restriction.
The screen: I think that the way in which people are interacting with art is changing. Although I am active in physically engaging with contemporary art, a lot of the work that I reference is viewed online through digital devices. Most of this work has been framed very particularly by the artist in their documentation process, placing the artist in an active position of filtering my experience of their work.
Within my own performance practice, I am interested in placing the body within this context. Performing to the camera and exhibiting the body within the frame of the digital screen allows me absolute control over the audience’s experience, which is why I no longer have an interest in live performance. The moments of slippage are concealed and, through intensive rehearsal, staged lighting and a precise edit, the body is presented to the audience in its ultimate form.
Titles: I find the titling of my work to be a very difficult procedure, with titles often not taking their definitive form until long after the completion of the final edit. The process of making each video is always laborious on a practical level, yet, as this method is concealed from the viewer, I view it to be separate from the polished, heavily constructed final visual. Therefore, I choose titles that draw the viewer to the conceptual background of the work, often selecting titles that are open and allow multiple readings to be taken. For example, “Liquid States” evokes both the amorphic condition of the body’s surface and, in a time when the binary oppositions of society are breaking down, inquires the potential that digital space provides those that refuse the binaries of gender and sexuality in redefining their identity.
Influences: The artists that are influential on my practice are usually quite changeable and depend on the aesthetic that I am interested in at that moment. Currently, I reference the work of Alisa Baremboym, Xavier Cha, and Kate Cooper. However, an artist that I always refer back to is Oskar Schlemmer. I am interested in the way that he approaches the body sculpturally, particularly within “Pole Dance”, in which he uses a series of prosthetic poles to replicate and extend the body’s lines, highlighting its symmetry and obsolescing the imperfections of its curves.
Studio/routine: I approach the making of my work on a project-by-project basis. Each project usually lasts around six months, and so my studio routine varies week-to-week, rather than day-to-day. Unlike a lot of artists, I wouldn’t define myself as being process-led as I don’t develop work in response to an experimentation with materials or methods of making. Instead, after an initial period of research through reading, writing and discussion with my peers, I develop a very clear, fixated view of the visual that I want to achieve. I then work backwards from this anticipated outcome, working through the technicalities until the desired product is attained.
What's next: Recently, my focus has shifted away from a primary exploration of the body’s form and towards an interest in materiality and texture. I have begun thinking about the porous relationship between our skin and the industrial substances within skin care products. Evolving from “Liquid States”, central to this exploration will be a computer-generated material that will hold contradictory properties, and will examine its agitation against the body. Both flesh-like and lab-born, the iridescent sheen of its surface will be reminiscent of the utopian cyborg of science-fiction, yet also the overly-stretched skin of a plastic surgery patient.
Future: I am in the early stages of planning a film; a much larger-scale project than I have challenged myself with before. Following the successful acquisition of funding, its production will begin soon…
Publishing date of this interview 08/03/16