Control vs Contingency ?

FACT Liverpool  is a friendly and helpful art-space we visited on the Liverpool Trip Day 2 They combine art and creative technology : a cinema, exhibition space and cafe, with a hackspace with stuff like a 3 D printer, other art materials and resident artists. They hold children’s workshops, events and academic seminars.

On their events programme is a workshop by a sound artist I had forgotten ( appropriate!) abouImogen Stidworthy, Her work is about language a prompt to look at it again…

and this, about language after a stroke.

The main exhibition here was Lesions in the Landscape  by Shona Illingworth whose work I have interested in before.

It has background of detailed research in to memory studies is a collaborative project with a neuropsychologist, Martin A Conway who I think she worked with in her project Balnkiel which I wrote about here 

University of Kent- Lesions in the Landscape

There were 3 large screens and immersive sound from a large number of speakers which apparently were placed with great precision to give the effect of sound which moved all the time around the space. There were also maps, GPS print outs and 3D- printed lesions from inside the brain of the person, Claire, whose amnesia is at the centre of the project.

The link above  shows  the points of reference  from the projects point of view.

See also the video

I just found the strangest of coincidences!... her father The Blind Watchmaker (in her work of the same name) was born in the same place as me! Thornton-Cleveleys in Lancashire…

Lesions in the Landscape is described as the examination of amnesia from an individual and social point of view. It is based on the experience of a woman living with amnesia and interlinks this with with an exploration of the island of St Kilda in the Outer Hebrides which was compulsorily evacuated ? to make way for an MOD station.

There was also an Amnesia Museum with archive maps,  photographs and sound work from EEG and Senscam images  with  neurological diagrams.

You could also wear a Senscam and navigate around a space.

The brochure states

 How do our individual and collective memories influence our understanding of society?

 Shona Illingworth’s new multi-screen installation reveals the devastating effects of amnesia on one woman and the parallels with the evacuation of St Kilda in 1930.

The culmination of a three-year research project in collaboration with neuropsychologists Martin A Conway and Catherine Loveday, the exhibition examines the implications of memory loss on identity, space and the capacity to imagine the future.


There is something I find difficult about her work and I don’t know what it is.

It was very powerful and moving; very affective.

Filmed in black and white, from a boat I think sometimes and sometimes from the air tracking people moving across the landscape of St Kilda with torches.I really enjoyed watching it and it is very well made, carefully crafted. There are cinematographers, sound recorders and others involved.

So what is it I don’t like that makes me feel uncomfortable about her work?

I felt it with Balnakiel too……..

The only thing I can think is that there is  too much production.

Clare, the patient,  was taken to St Kilda… I somehow feel  uncomfortable with that… the   ethics…a patient being used in the art work… I guess she was happy to do it and I have ‘used’ people for my work so why do I object?

Illingworth’s work  has many resonances with  to the issues covered in my Research Paper…. even down to the alluded to MOD links she has in this work and which are obviously part of the work in Balknakiel….

BUT I can just imagine a whole team of people and Clare going to St Kilda…
Is it because the work moves me but in a detached and impersonal way because of the ‘production’?

True enough there is a beauty in the work and the images are raw but it doesn’t feel raw…

 UPDATE: 25th October: I was in the shower yesterday when I thought! Contingency and Control!

I like to work with contingent situations and see what happens whereas Shona Illingworth’s work is very well controlled from the POV of the filming and introduction of the subject, Claire.

This review from Disability Arts Online does describe her as an active collaborator.

I think that’s it…..I prefer to be in a place and then do something, film something , from what arises. I like the ‘subjects’ to have as much control as possible…

I will ponder some more but for now just put in some links to some of the neurology drawings by the neuropsych which I really do love! There were plenty more on another page which I now can’t find… lesson learnt in keeping a Bilbiography.


Whilst looking for these links which may be useful to me, (and to Sarah Robinson, Fellow student, whose blog is here)

 I Found THIS below about the visual matrix method  of researching shared experience.

It was described to me by Susie Mellor, a hugely helpful and knowledgeable volunteer at FACT.

This, The Visual Matrix Method, was something ( or at least it sounds like what she described) that the staff and volunteers took part in after having watched Shona Illingworth’s work….

Susie was also interested in my Research Paper so I emailed her a copy…..

Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research

Volume 16, No. 3, Art. 6 – September 2015

The Visual Matrix Method: Imagery and Affect in a Group-Based Research Setting

Lynn Froggett, Julian Manley & Alastair Roy


The visual matrix is a method for researching shared experience, stimulated by sensory material relevant to a research question. It is led by imagery, visualization and affect, which in the matrix take precedence over discourse. The method enables the symbolization of imaginative and emotional material, which might not otherwise be articulated and allows “unthought” dimensions of experience to emerge into consciousness in a participatory setting.

We describe the process of the matrix with reference to the study “Public Art and Civic Engagement” (FROGGETT, MANLEY, ROY, PRIOR & DOHERTY, 2014) in which it was developed and tested. Subsequently, examples of its use in other contexts are provided. Both the matrix and post-matrix discussions are described, as is the interpretive process that follows.

Theoretical sources are highlighted: its origins in social dreaming; the atemporal, associative nature of the thinking during and after the matrix which we describe through the Deleuzian idea of the rhizome; and the hermeneutic analysis which draws from object relations theory and the Lorenzerian tradition of scenic understanding.

The matrix has been conceptualized as a “scenic rhizome” to account for its distinctive quality and hybrid origins in research practice. The scenic rhizome operates as a “third” between participants and the “objects” of contemplation. We suggest that some of the drawbacks of other group-based methods are avoided in the visual matrix—namely the tendency for inter-personal dynamics to dominate the event.

Key words: visual matrix; association; scenic; rhizome; methodology; affect; images; psychosocial; social dreaming

Liverpool -Day 2

The following day I had a swim in the lovely pool and a huge breakfast and then spent sometime exploring the hotel and taking photos.

I found several Lounges/ dining rooms/ballrooms and a Masonic Hall! The latter was a strange co-incidence as the previous day I’d had a brief chat about Masons with Alejandro…..

The brass bannisters were amazing and the stained glass, wonderful. Anyway this isn’t Trip Advisor ……so then I met the others at Tate Liverpool but not before stopping to photograph the Lewis’s building. I felt as if I was in a European city not the UK!

The Jackson Pollock show ‘ Blind Spots’ was fascinating especially some of the works where he had used Japanese paper and shown the ‘seeping through‘.

We discussed the colour of the walls and how it affected the pieces being shown and also the fact that at least one of the works should have been shown with both sides visible.

I hadn’t really understood before the INTENTION behind his work and the lack of chance…. the agency in his performance rather than contingency and the importance of his ‘unconscious’ It made me re-assess his work. I read that originally his work was met with ” widespread indifference”…… not what any artist wants! dislike is better than that!

Here is a video about his work

I also went through to the  Glenn Ligon and was reminded of artists whose work I really like…. Gonzales Torres for instance.

Then I went through to Constellations on Floor 2 where the pieces are arranged by association from a central artist.

I saw some Naum June Paik... Flux Fleet ...

Flux Fleet 1974 Nam June Paik 1932-2006 Presented by the Hakuta Family (Tate Americas Foundation) 2013
Flux Fleet 1974 Nam June Paik 1932-2006 Presented by the Hakuta Family (Tate Americas Foundation) 2013

Christina Mackie Falling Boundary                                                                      iu-8and the Vienna Action Group though this is not from the Tate display.

We went on to a nearby photography gallery.Open Eye Gallery to see some very powerful LBGT portraits from South Africa.

I think Trystan went after this to replace his brick piece on the beach back at Crosby.

We all went on to FACT.

I was really surprised as they were showing Shona Illingworth- Lesions in the Landscape

I’ve already looked at her work  Balnakeil

I’ll make another short post about Lesions in the Landscape when I’ve had some kip.

Into Unknown Territory!

I’ve been making lots of video and sound bits and pieces and have come up against all sorts of technical problems and other phenomena as I am not really a film maker.

I have been using my bridge camera Panasonic FZ 200, which is fine for the job — lots of options to play with and simple to use but I forgot that, because I am filming quiet scenes there is lots of camera noise…..

Also I ordered an external Rode mic which is great but directional as most people with this sort of camera are filming for Youtube vids and stuff I guess. Anyhow it was OK but there is a stereo available so I have returned it and got a new one… Vast expense for Postage mainly to get the thing here in time to use.

Sp now I have to decide whether to use the footage with the camera sound on…. and the clips with me setting up the camera and so on to show that it is indeed being filmed…. ( like using the iPhone and iMac evidence to show a human presence and so the mediation a… reducing the sense of immediacy…)

Or whether to try to made a ‘good’ movie!

Will that do what I want or will I just possibly produce something rather sentimental and nice to look at…

I am in unknown territory here and have been looking at the clips I have made and having to consider not just the ‘ quality’ of the audio and video and how I want the final product to look, and not just the content… but also other things like my use of

‘Mise en Scene’, long takes and low angles.

Standard Cinematography stuff I guess, but all new to me.

The book Cinematic Storytelling by Jennifer van Sijll has been really useful and simple to use.

I want to avoid a linear narrative but am already finding that iMovie does not give me the options I need. I need access to Final Cut and hope that it will do what I want… maybe time to invest if I am going down this route…Trouble is I want to do other things with performance and participation and not get hung up on just the film… I’ll have to be very careful not to get too involved in all the options and so distracted.

I’ve also been looking at other bits of video on Youtube and so on relating to the area.

I found some footage made by other people and have contacted them to ask if I can use clips from their videos.

One has replied and said’ Yes’ so that’s good!

Anyway, I’ve been looking at the work of the following artists, some of whom I have looked at before but have been thinking again about what they do and how it fits with my aims now.

This is sort of taken from Wikipedia and other places but cobbled together as I think it is quite important.

Stan Douglas is based in Vancouver, British Columbia. HIs film and video installations, photography( fact and fiction), frequently touch on the history of literature, cinema and music, and examine the “failed utopia” of modernism and obsolete technologies.  He often references Samuel Beckett and Marcel Proust, E.T.A. Hoffmann and the Brothers Grimm, blues and free jazz, television and Hollywood, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. He uses time and in particular, slowed-down time or stillness. Der Sandmann,an installation from 1995 is  based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s original 1816 short story and Sigmund Freud’s 1919 essay “The Uncanny”. He uses a double projection where the film is literally split down the middle and reassembled so the two sides are slightly out of sync. There is a feeling of heterochrony which is intensified further by his techniques.This creates this feeling of a “temporal gap” and so disrupts the sense of unity which is crucial to modernism, so that “everything is deferred and delayed. He also uses Over projection.

Here are some videos to show how his work relates to my ideas… especially the over projection thing…

I’ve also had a look at Duncan Campbell: It for Others

Re Constructed Histories and emendation of imagery…

Duncan Campbell Wins Turner Prize 2014 With IRA Film
wochit News
Published on Dec 1, 2014
Irish-born Glasgow artist Duncan Campbell won Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize on Monday for an essay film using a famous image of an Irish Republican Army guerrilla to explore how histories can be constructed. His winning entry, “It For Others”, uses the 1971 image of Joe McCann, sometimes called “the Che Guevara of the IRA”, to show how images can be turned into commodities of mass culture. The famous picture of McCann, who was shot dead by British soldiers less than a year after the photo was taken, became part of pop culture to the point where the image of McCann and his M1 rifle was emblazoned on T-shirts and Christmas stockings.

This is interesting!

Using Letterpress to make posters.

I looked at Tris Vonna Michell because of his use of analogue slides re: his tUrner prize work but then realised that his previous work is performance based

“Using the precarious analogue technology of slide projectors, paired with his own recorded voice, Tris Vonna-Michell creates poignantly fractured travelogues that have won him a Turner prize nomination. Here he explains his work in more detail”
Source: Tate
Friday 3 October 2014 12.50 BST

Published on Sep 30, 2014
Multilayered narratives delivered as audio recordings and slide projections feature in the work of Turner Prize 2014 nominee Tris Vonna-Michell.

“This work relates to personal trajectories. Some are fictive, I never really knew the difference”, says Tris Vonna-Michell on the solo exhibition held at Jan Mot galley in Brussels that won him the nomination. Titled Postscript (Berlin) IV, the work features a recorded monologue and two slide projections that take the viewer back and forth in time, as Vonna-Michell meshes together circuitous narratives related to his family’s experiences in Berlin with images that may or may not be connected. In this film, the artist talks of the freedom and immediacy his method of working allows and tells the story of this artwork via the recorded speech his practice employs, saying: “by making this work the voice belongs but the body’s gone”

The Guardian
‘The voice belongs but the body is gone’:

Turner prize 2014 nominee Tris Vonna-Michell explains his work

A performance cycle – Tris Vonna-Michell, 2010
from Nomas Foundation 4 years ago NOT YET RATED

Archiving, gathering, exhibiting, recounting, remembering, loving, desiring, ordering, mapping. A performance cycle.

Tris Vonna-Michell au Jeu de Paume
Tris Vonna-Michell : “Finding Chopin: Endnotes 20052009” DU 20 OCTOBRE 2009 AU 17 JANVIER 2010

I am really excited by finding this work. It brings me back somehow to what I want to do, by involving some performative element, hopefully without getting too involved in making ‘good video’!

I must keep track of how I want to use the material I’ve been collecting… so its not an end in itself…

It’s not about the video really or the audio…. they are just material to work with.

I’m going to a public performance symposium at Modern Art Oxford next Saturday so hopefully that will help a little to inspire and get me out of a video loop hole!

I also went yesterday to the VIDEOVADA workshop using PraxisLive for interactive video installations

I looked again at Shona IllingworthBalnakeil and The Watchmaker and watched this interview from MAOxford when there was a symposium to go with a Kerry Tribe exhibitiion

She describes how the original was an immersive  installation

How she felt about the ‘folding in of time…rather than linear flashback. How the past is very much in the present.

She also describes how”societies need to create a coherent narrative for the past’ and the notion of latency ‘ The time interval between initiating a query, transmission, or process, and receiving or detecting the results,…’ Definition by The Free Dictionary.

She also talks about Geopolitics and how these exist in this time framework.

Previously I had looked at Balnakeil and thought it was a too romantic piece of work for me to reference directly although he accompanying material in my earlier blog is interesting and useful;…drawings, mappings… etc.

Now I think this is very relevant and will read the catalogue.

My next step is to make a list of things I want to do,

How I want to do them and

Do Them!…

I really need to be doing things with the material and recognising the limitations of my software and skills…

And re- write my Draft Proposal.!!!