Answers to questions in the Research Discussion

I’ll start this post by answering some of the questions which I left unanswered in yesterday’s Research Discussion Skype Chat ( which was extremely helpful and thanks to my colleagues in Canada, Bahrain, Romania and London for all their questions and comments)

I find it too easy to get caught up in one line of thinking and typing during the chat , so I missed some of the key questions. My apologies but here are some further thoughts.

 Jonathan Kearney :  so Rhiannon, if the ‘material record of global history is a palimpsest that stretches across the whole surface of the earth’— then your art, your ‘job’ has been simply uncovering that in one small intersection point?

Me :   I suppose that could be true.  I think though that as well as uncovering an intersection there is a ( possibly symbolic) action  which is demonstrating the power of individual agency a in both a global and local context and the networks that hold it together

Jonathan Kearney : Rhiannon, so the ‘agency’ you are using, is uncovering the past — to shape the future — all done in the present?

 Me : More than that I hope ultimately. The agency of making, and placement and the act of doing also-

Fuller answer  – Re the future- I am not necessarily making my action(s) to directly effect change in the future in any direction ( I don’t think – that  would be  a Grandiose Delusion! though there is some idea of action as a catalyst )  but rather as a demonstration of symbolism of agency, and also the extra directional agent of critical mass.

But certainly to uncover the past and make it momentarily present in the (visual?) imagination. At that one moment the openness of the future – all the other possibilities ( especially because they are also made manifest through using Periscope…the  global possibilities are so very  present)- is more ‘visible’ if only from the point of view of awareness rather than image.

In the actions, themselves, I am working with imagination rather than direct visual imagery.

Internal imagery.

Another paradox…see later…if I want to make all that stuff  visible in a piece of work…documentation…

Jonathan Kearney : Yvonne, yes I guess recycling might have become a ritual — in the habitual act aspect of ritual — a useful ritual that creates the conceptual and philosophical space the understand how the small action of recycling 1 plastic bottle challenges the larger act of buying bottled water in the first place for example?

Me : Yes, Y and J, there is difference between a habitual act and a ritual but for some people maybe this is a symbolic act of ritual, of small to greater and communal power,  if not of marking time …. a move towards the hope of critical mass of change and hopefully a ripple effect.

Although from an environmental and sustainability point of view it is paradoxical( that word again)


Peter Mansell : mmmm Jonathan makes a v interesting point Rhi – does the form of your work (performance, video) work against the subject matter because it is by its nature temporary and narrative (linear)?

Me : I’m not sure if I saw Jonathan’s point… but if you mean that in the theory I am talking about continuation and in my practice, what I do is temporary….? I think that performance ( as in individual action of any sort) continues in the changes it effects ( how ever tiny) and in the experience of those who witness it or the changes it has effected…so it has a temporal permanence…

The material remains will degrade but slower and still continue.

Both are temporary and persisting.

The narrative is a more difficult challenge as the narrative I seek to afdddress is non- linear and I believe my action to be non- linear, However , the means of representing through image based documentation is always, no matter how I try, linear….or with over riding visual linear operations which is what we see first.

I have been look ing at ways of trying to address this and at the moment an looking into fiction writing ( and fictional film)… for ideas !…

but then of course the writing and the reading of the book when we do it has a  linear temporality .. even if the content leads us to a personal experience which is not!

Peter Mansell :  If I recall you had a technical problem did you?

Me :Yep! Several and on several occasions….I like to think of this as being part of the contingency – led methodology, but it is bloody frustrating. Though if I am philosophical it always leads to new thoughts…..

 Peter Mansell : The form of your work Rhi appears anti aesthetic and uncontrived (although it is contrived of course). Is there any reason behind that approach?

Me : There are several reasons.

  • I do not want a pleasing aesthetic to confuse reading of the work. Sometimes I go too far the other way though….
  • Also an anti-aesthetic is part of an effort to separate from the ‘precious object’ idea of art consumerism and the idea of ‘relic’ and ‘icon’, though again this is another paradox….
  •  Also as the actions I want to highlight are those of the Everyday., where moments of beauty, poignancy, violence, dirt, rubbish etc just arise.
  • I try to alter nothing in the environments in which I work and choose compositions etc for reasons of information ( though obviously there is an overlap here…)
  •  and of course, simply by being there,  something has changed……

Me : There is a Harun Faroki piece in the Electronic Superhighway exhibition that says it is about simultaneity. He uses 4 huge screens all at the same time .They are so PRESENT  The screens!

Extra point : I do realise that this work was about Gaming so the screens are an important part of the contextual element of the work

Yvonne Opalinski : Yup, and if what we do is meant to convey some meaning or communicate then how we execute is so important … your work keeps referring back to narrative and its importance

Me : Yes Y but I am wrestling with linearity!

Jonathan Kearney :  Rhiannon I suspect however you present your work there will be an element of compromise related to the concept — but maybe you shouldn’t fear that — it is a reality and something you can work with or against

Me : I agree but I really enjoy the challenge of exploring other options… and what I discover in the process.

 Jonathan Kearney :  Rhiannon – paradox is at the heart of this – there it is again – involve others but avoid sense of theatre — this is the interesting thing in the work — negotiating these paradoxes — it will make for a compromised presentation but an exciting one at the same time

Me : Yes I hope to involve others but act as a link between them and aPeriscope audience.

There is a theatre term for this type of ‘aside’ which breaks the suspension of belief and brings back immediacy… the same as I was working with in my filming.

It is ‘real’ not theatre and performance in the sense that all life is performance….( S. peare…!)

I want to bring that action back to the ‘Now’ whatever that is…


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