Four Selves

These are all creations inspired by the hectic digital life doing my masters Cultural and Creative Industries in London. The name of each painting says it all. Every time I was doing an activity/ attending an event, if I have a strong image in my head, I feel that I have to bring it to life on canvas. So these four were inspired when I was feeling that the digital had constructed me in such a subtly important way. When I was DJing alone, posting online, studying alone, I felt too that I was somehow connected but also disconnected. I was so intrigued to search and explore for the inner self.

Lonely self
lonely self
social media self
social media self
searching self (DJ alone)
dj self
free soul self
free soul self

Tianmei Chen is an explorer, constantly looking for the passion of her life. She was born in a small village in Hubei, Central China. She has worked in fashion and advertising as a producer and blogger in Shanghai since 2008. She also co-founded a flower brand named Flowerbox and created Queen’s Art spot, a painting studio for beginners in 2013 because her self-taught experience of oil painting inspired many more Chinese young women who wanted to join her. She believes that art is for everyone and everyone can paint. Her experience encouraging young Chinese women’s development made her stand out in the Chevening Scholarship selection among over 36000 applicants in over 170 countries funded by FCO, UK, which sponsored her to study Cultural and Creative Industries at KCL. Now, she is in love with this amazing city, London.

Instagram @maychenyolo  //  Chinese Blog on Wechat: MAYCHENYOLO

 

Stranger is Typing (the Search for Nenny)

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If I was to try to unravel the journey of this work or rather the journey of thought around this work, I suppose it begins with a rash of scam emails I received, professing love in an outpouring of questionable prose. This fed into a series of work questioning our sense of truth and relationship with truth.

The digital world has unlocked the gates to a playground where identity is no longer a fixed entity and each of us can inhabit a persona far beyond the constraints of the world we trudge through, in our familiar, somewhat worn, habit day-by-day. Suddenly our societal structures and frameworks are tossed aside, superfluous in a virtual landscape where the idea that ‘the truth is black and white’ couldn’t, ironically, be further from the truth.

As most of us have come to appreciate, the truth can be fluid, untethered, full of nuanced shades, organic in matter, amorphous, unfixed and changeable. Moulding itself to the hand that holds it. Teething issues arise of course, in this transitional period, when those native to a pre-digital age perhaps carry real life frameworks with them into an online world. This landscape of human communication, so overwhelming facilitated (and seemingly boundless, albeit within it’s own subtle behavioural constraints: from 140 characters to ready-made emojis) by social media, is littered with the casualties of this foray.

I find it fascinating that, at times when men and women have been victims of online romantic scams, and are then presented with the truth about the scammer by the authorities, they have chosen to reject the undeniable evidence offered to them about their fictional lover and instead choose to continue to believe wholeheartedly in this virtual relationship. This opens up an interesting conversation as to how truth of any sort is a decision, invested in and embraced by the believer through subconscious choice or otherwise.

Some time ago an email from a Mrs Nenny William arrived in my inbox . From the far flung shores of the Ivory Coast, she reached out to me in her strangely compiled turn of phrase, the  widow of a former Archdeacon, bullied by her money grabbing relatives, the mother of two soon-to-be orphans, asking me to become the controller of her wealth.

I took a simple experiment. I chose to believe Nenny. I took her offer to ‘become the controller’ but rather than her wealth I claimed control over this truth. I embraced it and I went online to find her. My journey to own this truth brought me in contact with others who, in turn, took on this truth in one form or another for themselves.  And a strange exchange of power took place. Identity and truth, at times, lost their footing. Once or twice I experienced a strange and fragile state which is difficult to convey in words,  a tremulous, fluctuating hold if you like on my surety of what was real or otherwise. Before long, I began to converse, less and less in my own dialect and increasingly so in the alien language of such social encounters.

I learnt much. Our digital selves are new beings, new skins, with possibilities we have never had to grapple with before. Identity and truth are quite loosely tethered in a virtual world, but their multifaceted online form is perhaps merely an outward manifestation of what always has been. In a moment, as I discovered, our selves can be cut free, so effortlessly, from their moorings and allowed to float freely down stream.


Susan Francis is a Belfast born artist now based in the South West of England. Her work moves between object, installation and film, with an increasing focus on film as a means to tease out momentary narratives, uncomfortable histories and fragile exchanges. Past work has included solo shows both within the UK and abroad, residencies in a number of countries, including The Bemis Centre for Contemporary Art in the United States, and work held in public and private collections internationally. http://www.susanfrancis.com

No Jumper in Nowhere

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May I present you a conversation of two women in the Sahara.

K: I really saw that red body in the dark, it just disappeared in front of me! Right here! Then it was pitch dark again! It was so quiet, nothing was here!

J: But who was that? No one dresses in red here. I was here 5 minutes after you came. There was nothing red as you say. How do you know you saw it?

K: I knew because I experienced it, with my eyes! I am telling you that there was a gigantic red body, a female of some sort. How can you not see it, if you were here 5 minutes ago?? Do I seem like I’m not making sense to you?

J: What I am saying is that if I am here, at where you saw it, at almost at the same time, if it is so big, I would have seen it, but I did not. Just logically speaking. I think you have it wrong. It simply doesn’t exist… and you appear exhausted to me. Are you sure you weren’t spacing out this time?

K: You are again just judging me based on your ‘logic’, but this time I truly felt it’s presence. Not because my body is tired. My mind is very clear that the red person was here bouncing in front of me. I can feel my body reacting to it!

J: Well, are you paying attention? I told you the reasons, and I can’t relate to you at all. Now that we don’t get to see it, it doesn’t exist. So instead of insisting, I suggest that you go and rest.

As we have already noticed: to K there was, to J there was not.

K was the sole witness of “the red body” in the desert, when the body of the former athletic high-jumper Giota P was presented digitally in the open field momentarily. Does it matter if the red body only existed in K’s experience? Not until K started to share her memories with others, she realised that the red body is isolated in her subjective territory. Her experience did not extend to J at all. The moment K started sharing, J registered a judgement in her mind to make sense of K’s non-sense. J simply connected the dots that 1) she did not see anything at the same time and place, 2) therefore she rejected the existence of the red body (and K’s experience) as a subjective conclusion, 3) so K is in doubt and messed with her feelings (again). If the red body was ’there’, it might have taken on a life of its own in K’s mind. Now, may I raise a question with curiosity, what if the red body was never witnessed?


Video and text © Yarli Allison L, a Hong Kong-Canadian born, London-based artist whose work explores psychological and emotional conditions with a primary focus on distant states of displacement, disconnection, and detachment. Her multidisciplinary practice traverses sculpture, performance, video, installation, painting, and sound. In the working process, she relies heavily on physical strength and long durations of repetitive manipulation of materials as an attempt to re-live between states of dissociation and reality. These physical and psychological tensions are often represented in Yarli’s performances, where audiences are invited to interact with the artist and object(s). http://yarliallison.com

Getting Started: the PhD thing

Getting Started illustration 12.32.49

So. It’s the 21st of December, which means I’ve been ‘doing this PhD thing’, as my housemates put it, for almost three months now.

I’ve just about pinned down my question into a neat sentence: ‘how do Anglo-Saxon things perform social, cultural, or political work today?’. I’ve scribbled that question on post it notes, each time with slightly different wording, and stuck them around my room, used them to save pages in my library books, and dreamt about them. I have the question, but what next? Continue reading

Sound Series #2: Reflections on ‘Soundscapes’

Soundscapes-The-National-Gallery
Image for ‘Soundscapes’ exhibition at The National Gallery, 8th July-6th Sept 2015

Last summer the National Gallery presented an experimental exhibition, ‘Soundscapes’, with ‘six new music and sound installations in response to paintings from the collection’. For me, it was a fantastic opportunity to see how musicians and sound artists interpret pieces of artwork as sound. Additionally, it gave me the chance to see how my own research could benefit and develop from the exhibition.

Journeying through the exhibition ignited the senses. In a departure from the whitewashed galleries, the visitor entered into a darkened room with a spotlight on the painting and the sound installation issuing from precisely positioned speakers. This created an immersive and very personal experience with the combined art forms. The eye focused on the selected painting while the ear tuned into the surrounding sound piece. It was an entirely new experience of perception in which each artist responded to the complexities of the artwork through different sound uses. Each sound piece became a creation of the painting itself. The shared aural experience demanded the visitor to actively listen to their surroundings. Continue reading

Destroying Texts: Interview with Emily Lazerwitz

Hi Emily! Here’s the document for the interview. See you on here! I’m just getting a cup of tea, in case you arrive on here and I seem to be gone!

Hello sorry I am late. Internet was down.

No worries!

You have your tea. Should we start?


At art school, Emily Lazerwitz was told that she was “’too smart to be a still-life painter’”. Her cursor flickers for perhaps 30 seconds, and I wait for her to tell me more. I imagine she grins, or perhaps grimaces, at the memory. “So to spite him I first made several oil paintings, but then decided maybe it was time to try something new,” the ‘something new’ being making work with text.

She continues, typing quickly, speedily correcting spelling, apparently preferring to delete a whole word or two using the backspace key than move the cursor to any errors using the mouse. It seemed fitting to carry out our interview via a live Google doc, with the majority of the journal and our collaboration being carried out via Dropbox and Gmail – but I realise that, as with the design process, we will miss each other’s gestures throughout this interview. So, I try to read her cursor, the movement of her words across the page, as you read a face or pointed finger. Continue reading

Untitled: A Collaboration Between James Fisher and Mircea Teleaga

The following was written in collaboration by James Fisher and Mircea Teleagă after a couple of meetings and many emails. James is a PhD student in the Department of History at King’s College London. Mircea is an MA student in Painting at the Slade School of Fine Art. You can find Mircea’s work here: http://mirceateleaga.com/en 

I am playing a game of response. I have always been playing it but I was not always aware. Each response is always concrete and particular. Each one is a deliberate provocation. So I respond again.

Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.
Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.

It’s a game of chess with myself where I try to catch myself out. I try to think ahead of myself; I try to think against myself. But perhaps if I don’t think at all I might surprise myself and make something. The trick is to completely trust myself. I leave the room and leave myself to act in my place. I trust that when I come back I will be pleased with what I see. I trust that I will have new eyes to see it.

Or I train my limbs to know their way in the dark. I only need to be brave enough to turn the lights off, or wait for the night. I do something first, then discover what I have done when the light returns. It is then that I realise how similar the darkness and the details are. In this game the blind man is king.

The details are essential. They say this thing is not the same as that thing. They induce complexity and sensitise us to difference. They build the steep slope of Sisyphus upon a smooth well-lit highway. They mock all my own categories. They humiliate my attempts to theorise. They say it is an insult to claim the mind needs categories to understand. They are anarchic. They infest and destroy categories like bacteria eating away at a large mammal. They remind us that when the mind grasps anything through a category, it kills it. Like nailing butterflies to wood. Labels are anathema. Panta rhei (everything flows).

Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.
Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.

So I aim to be an organ of digestion, where these details multiply and mutate. I become a filter that is always being filtered, perpetually undergoing change according to what does or does not come in. Everything I have ever done, seen, heard, felt, or tasted. Every experience, direct or vicarious. All of it enters and is transformed. Even if it is completely rejected, the act of rejection alters me. These are all my footnotes.

I do not make things. I simply leave deposits, a by-product of my own cultivation. These deposits mirror me. They build upon themselves like weather, developing from within and every part shifting with every other. They spiral like a wild rock formation, growing without erasure; becoming a monument to itself.

Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.
Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.

I do not ask why. This simply happens because it is embedded within me. I see the deposits as an extension of my self. I am not interested in the reason they exist, any more than the reason my self exists. I am only interested in the effect they have. Purpose over reason.

I am not playing this game alone. My game is part of a larger set of games. I filter the deposits of others and they filter mine. We are all sculpting the same bit of clay.

Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.
Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.

I do not ask how it started. I just respond again.

This text was written as part of The Still Point’s ‘Creative Exchange’ which paired artists, from the Slade, with PhD researchers, from UCL and King’s College London, for an exhibition of visual art work and live readings at FAT RELIC. More details can be found on the blog and photographs from the evening are on our Facebook page

What We Talk About When We Talk About Death

Sarah Boulton Correspondence with JM

Correspondence between Sarah Boulton and James Morland

This text was written as part of The Still Point’s ‘Creative Exchange’ which paired artists, from the Slade, with PhD researchers, from UCL and King’s College London, for an exhibition of visual art work and live readings at FAT RELIC. More details can be found onthe blog and photographs from the evening are on our Facebook page

I am the supposed translator of conversations spanning centuries,
Witnessing poets combatting poets:

A first century exclamation responded to from an eighteenth-century graveyard:

[…] death to us, and deaths anxiety,
Is less than nothing, is a less could be.
For then our Atoms, which in order lay,
Are scatter’d from their heap, and puff’d away,
And never can return into their place,
When once the pause of Life has left an empty space. [Lucretius]

………………

If death were nothing, and nought after death,
If when men died, at once they ceas’d to be,
Returning to the barren womb of nothing,
Whence first they sprung!  Then might the debauchee
Untrembling mouth the Heavens; then might the drunkard
Reel over his full bowl, and when ‘tis drain’d
Fill up another to the brim, and laugh
At the poor bugbear Death [Blair]

I decode this ‘death-talk’:
This is a language game congregating around nothing,
Writing on the timeless and unresolvable.

In attempts to make something, I separate my clauses with the trusty colon:
Conning myself into thinking I have some sort of order:

DEATH-TALK: PHILOSOPHICAL DISCUSSIONS

THE DARKNESS OF THE GRAVE: NIGHT AND THE SENSES IN THE GRAVEYARD

SHUDDERING ON THE BRINK: THE EXTREMES OF NOTHING

But thinking of this nothing, it is me, not the poet, who shudders on the brink:

Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene. [Young]

The poets mock my academic practice,
Instead of leading to a solution, they taunt me, as together:

We sigh; and while
We sigh, we sink; and are what we deplored;
Lamenting, or Lamented all our Lot! [Young]

all the magnanimity of Thought
Resolves; and re-resolves; then dies the same [Young]

This is my death song:
To write of death is the thief of life,
Hours spent writing nothing about ‘nothing’.

My writing is about the poetry and emulates its futile ambitions;
The poets’ straining to see around the corner to their own death mimics my academic composition,
Our words are like the first century atoms that caused this whole project to arise:
An endless cycle of regeneration, a stream of chance encounters where some hit and many miss.

In writing on a nocturne darkness where men ‘see not all clear’ [Vaughan],
I instead quote the camera obscura, as a ‘darkened room’,
Referring to the stanza, as a ‘capacious dwelling, a receptacle’.
Returning to semantics to interpret a physical something from their poetic nothingness.

In thinking of death, then, we must relate it to something. It becomes images and myth:

The knell, the shroud, the mattock, and the grave;
The deep damp vault, the darkness, and the worm;
These are the bugbears of a winter’s eve,
The terrors of the living, not the dead.
Imagination’s fool, and error’s wretch,
Man makes a death, which nature never made;
Then on the point of his own fancy falls;
And feels a thousand deaths, in fearing one. [Young]

So in talking about death, I must document this cycle of centuries:
death has become something from a sublime sense of nothing through the fool and error of an imagination. It should instead be seen as nothing by the dissolution of something:

Therefore death is nothing to us, it matters not one jot, since the nature of the mind is understood to be mortal.  [Lucretius]

When I talk about death I resolve, and re-resolve about the vast concerns of something and nothing.

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‘Spiderboy’ videowork by Sarah Boulton installed at FAT RELIC, photo by Giulia Legora

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James reading his piece at the Creative Exchange, photo by Giulia Legora

James Morland is a first year PhD student in the English department at KCL, researching the changing interactions with Lucretius and Epicurean philosophy in eighteenth-century poetry. After spending a year in art school, James has spent the past few years studying English literature, though constantly tries to find ways to tie together the academic and visually creative sides of his thinking. Follow him @jameswmorland

Sarah Boulton is a student at the Slade. She is currently working with [including]: diamond doves, relationships, verbs, internal parts, live editing, light videos, friends and words (talking). http://saraboulton.tumblr.com/

Simone

DSCF8852

It began among female student intellectuals

seeking to appropriate the Other.

Only a body can touch another body.

She took great pleasure in urinating in the country.

Becoming prey,

the housewife knows little

of the discovery of treasure.

She locks up the parlour to save the Pope;

does it for a definite reason.

Where are the women?

It is not enough to have a

woman’s body,

exactly symmetrical,

the domains of thought

and art

and the suicide of Lucretia.

But in fact there is no question.

I read between the lines –

you see how it is. Become Kafka,

justify our existence.

The free woman is just being born,

Will be poet!

 –

Each night I said a little farewell

and put the cap on my fountain pen.

Thus she appeared in her childish distress.

This poem is made up of lines from the writings of Simone de Beauvoir.

Sophie Peacock is a poet and designer living and working in London, she is interested in gender, sexuality and collage. Follow her @saudadesophie