C.H.U.R.C.H.2 is a transformation of an existing sound piece, sourced from the interior architecture of Reading Minster. The piece originally highlighted and exposed the building’s soaring structures, whilst morphing religious language and the Minster’s tactile noises to form complex utterances and dialogues. The present installation of C.H.U.R.C.H.2 is a spatial relocation of the original soundscape, yet with new additions. These innovations combine to re-create the space of the gallery itself, carrying a similar role to that of the original piece by amplifying and recycling ambient noise found in the gallery building such as the kitchen, footsteps, conversation, and the outside world that filters in.
Absorption and redistribution of sound is achievable only through the technologies of the modern age. Sound is no longer exclusive to a given space, but can be transposed from that of another. In effect, perceptual space can become warped, or perhaps inverted by paradoxical referents; the guise of a church, re-assimilated into the body of a gallery. What results is a hyper-space comprised of two locations, separated and fused in a two-way dialogue across the gallery arena. The work envelops the viewer and suspends them within this new hyper-space.
The gallery becomes the vessel, the body in which the piece exists. Yet its aesthetic is a liminal translation of the two spaces. No sound has direct and unmediated relation to its source, but is instead a series of electronic and spatial layers that disfigure and re-collage its components. Thus, sourced time may no longer be discernable, and becomes instead an archetype of all times. The work explores a “non-human universe” by exposing normally unheard or unnoticed sounds that infinitely circulate our own human universe. The ‘Sublime’ becomes that which transforms this space into something ‘other’ than itself, a heterotopia as Foucault would say.
Takemura made this film based on her writing and research into oneness, aloneness and sensation. ‘Unspoken sensation occurs in my body. I feel my inner body moving like liquid in slow motion that is very sensuous and tactile. The sensation penetrates my skin, organs and breath and flows into the liquid within my body. I feel a pulse of my being deep inside me.’ The artist focused on making the images of the film sensuous, aesthetic and provocative in order to both evoke a similar sensation within the body of the viewer, and encourage physical interaction.
She filmed images of liquids in motion, and used models made from a cardboard box, fabric, nails, paper and clay.
Time erases the boundaries of our selves, our bodies, and there is a letting go of the person, a haemorrhaging, as we absorb the flow of tidal, cyclical, everyday experiences.
Time seeps into our lives, as we seep into the overlaying membranes of our selves.
Defying traditional definition, Macfarlane’s favoured interpretation of the sublime is as an agreeable kind of horror (Joseph Addison, 1699). She notes that we are drawn to look, and see into the depths, and suggests that the sublime image is one we can lose ourselves in, and think our deepest thoughts – those without limit. The body is a language we all understand, written in feelings and our experience of time. Sometimes dysmorphic, our own experience of the self is ripe with profound messages and meaning.
‘I could only believe in a God that knows how to dance.’
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
David’s Dance is a reference to the biblical verse: “And David danced before the LORD with all his might” (2 Samuel, chapter 6 verse 14). King David throws his whole heart and soul and body into the ecstatic throes of the dance. The three designs are based on energetic freehand sketches on the reverse of the paper. As the scribbled lines of the pencil sketch are ‘translated’ into the intricate paper-cut medium, they convey the intense, fiery, almost violent energy of the dancer. The very nerves, sinews and fibres of his body threaten to unravel and disintegrate, yet he throws himself fearlessly and headlong into the unknown. David also famously sang: ‘I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139 verse 14). He celebrates the sublimity and divinity of the human body, yet remains painfully aware of its fragility.
‘You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.’
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
The idea of the sublime and the body is of particular interest to Chant. Through her current paint constructions she enjoys touching on themes such as fragility, decay, corruption, beauty and intimacy in relation to the human body and the human condition. The artist has tried to load her work with elements that explore the paradoxes of the sublime and of being human; the beauty and seduction of form and colour contrasting with themes of fragility, vulnerability and the horror of decay.
Chant is interested in exploring paint’s physicality, as a sculptural material; her first experiments used a rigid support structure in which she placed a softer paint material, moving and manipulating it into three dimensional shapes. She was interested in how this method of construction mimicked structures found in the body i.e. rigid external structures supporting more vulnerable complex internal materials. This brought elements of the body and of natural forms into her work. The artist was also interested in the idea of corrupting the purity of the paint by mixing it with foreign materials – ‘humanising’ the paint by debasing and making it imperfect. This approach made the paint easier to manipulate in three dimensions and also brought the references to body structures and behaviours into a clearer focus. Following this, she began applying paint material onto found structures and architectural features, linking the wider space/site of the artwork to the body, all the time this connection with the body becoming more abstracted and refined but still a present and important influence.
Chant ultimately enjoys making small works that ask the viewer to investigate the work closely, hoping to create an intimate engagement between the viewer and the work.
The focus of Sappleton’s practice is particularly concerned with the idea of the “failed sublime” – more commonly referred to as the Uncanny. The artist has always been interested in performance and often inserts an obvious performative element into her work by using herself as the subject. She is interested in the way in which the photographic medium flattens and abstracts the body confining it to a 2 dimensional format. Sappleton often takes everyday situations or objects and brings them to an extreme point of distortion, transforming them into something of no fixed identity. This piece is a byproduct of her projects ‘13.5 Tog’ 2011 and ‘4.5 Tog’ (2011), all of which relate to a dream she had in which she was swallowed by a bed. Where Did It All Go does not offer a transcendental or spiritual experience but instead presents something familiar yet strange which confuses and threatens, instilling a troubling uncertainty. According to Simon Morely (Stepping into the Contemporary Abyss, (2010)), this kind of negative sublime, ‘lures us close to a point where, because we have entered a structure-less and unsettling zone, we can feel the cold breath of what Wordsworth called the “blank abyss”’.
No medium it seems can now function independently and establish its own separate and purified space of cultural meaning. (Bolter, Remediation (1999))
We may assume, that fundamental differences will never resolve themselves into a truly seamless and unpatched fabric; increased unity, falling barriers and great reductions in real distance must of themselves compensate somewhere by new partitions and unanticipated gaps. (Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil (1993))
Harris is interested in traditional fine art, and its convergence with digital media; he looks for the points of friction between traditional and digital representations of the figure and seeks, in his work, to ask the following: Are there interesting grey areas and unanticipated overlaps between the technological and natural context of the sublime in contemporary art? In these paintings, Harris uses edited digital portrait photographs as his source material, and then renders them in traditional materials. Whilst flat areas of paint resolve into details, areas of chance are placed next to points of focused activity, leaving dark negative spaces to occupy much of the surface. Perhaps, Harris suggests, there is a parallel in the ambiguity between formats and the subject of the paintings themselves.
This work examines the nature of social interaction on an intimate level.
Torn between the pluralities of our persona, we cease to exist as individuals, hiding behind a façade of artificial emotions, and altered presentations of the self. We exist within the reflection of others, as our desire is based on their acceptance.
Invisible boundaries of interaction create an altered presentation of selfhood - an artificial image that serves as an input for communication. Our emotions are in disguise as we are living up to the expectation of others, constantly trying to fit within the pre-laid structure.
The work presents this transformation on a visual level as our altered versions are slowly taking upon their own existence.
We are losing our identity, unable to distinguish ourselves from the illusion created. We become strangers.