December 20, 2009

October 9, 2009

walking 025


Researching for the essay and trying to get down out the outline this week. Find the ideas behind the subject area I’ve chosen are very exciting, but pinning them down in to a coherent discourse is a slow process.

Have been thinking about the link between the interface of surface, body and embodiment. How when walking you can feel absorbed in to that landscape.



‘As interface, the skin is obsolete. The significance of the cyber may well reside in the act of the body shedding its skin.’  Stelarc quoted in ‘Natural Born Cyborgs.’ Andy Clark


Reviewing and curating the weblog I came across one or two entries where I feel I haven’t been clear enough about the relevance of the content.

The 1st is around the work of choreographer Rosemary Butcher.

Butcher’s work became relevant because she bridges the line between dance and visual arts. Also she was one of the 1st UK choreographers to start using everyday movements to create works. Her work is grounded in the ordinary and banal, everyday movements… walking, running, standing,


‘….and the body’s physical relationship to contexts, environments and other objects.’

‘A ‘Conventional Subversive’.’ Josephine Leask: ‘Rosemary Butcher : Choreography, Collisions and Collaborations. ‘  Middlesex University Press 2005( P154)


With ‘Undercurrent’  the relevance was the change in the body when suspended in water.


‘The water and the trampoline were both what I call ‘interventions’. Their impact upon the movement was not caused by human decision, but by the nature of something else happening.’ 


Rosemary Butcher in ‘Rosemary Butcher: Choreography, Collisions and Collaborations.’ Middlesex University Press 2005



 Another entry I wanted to review was about the example of the traditional Japanese paper making process. The relevance was the level of embodiment involved in this process. In contrast to the level or kind of embodiment experienced using a mouse and keyboard.

October 5, 2009

June 4, 2009

Visited the DLI Museum in Durham to see the Jerwood drawing prize 2008 exhibition at last week.

Interested by the digital piece ‘ Trans Siberian Window drawing 200’ by Neville Gabie.

neville gabie

Partly through seeing this piece helped to push a query that has been edging in to my thoughts: that digital media has provided me with a new tool with which to question and examine physicality. And it is beginning to make me question my previous thoughts around the possible change in our understanding of our/ and need of physicality in the digital age. If I am finding digital media useful in examining aspects of physicality, it could be indicative of the fact that digital media isn’t necessarily bringing a dislocation from the physical self.

Reading ‘Digital Art’ by Christiane Paul (Pub. Thames and Hudson) raises these questions again.

'Digital Art.'  Christine Paul. Pub. Thames and Hudson

Christiane Paul states:

‘Current interface standardization has led to an overall restraining mechanism for the human body, which is forced to conform to the computer and monitor – although these standard interfaces will probably radically change in the future. the tension between embodiment/ disembodiment can not be constructed as a choice of either/or but has to be understood as a reality of both/and.’

(Chapter 3: Themes in Digital Art. p.170)

Paul quotes the artist Eduard Kac :

‘The passage in to a digital culture – with its standard interfaces that requires us to  pound at a keyboard and sit behind a desk while staring at a  screen – creates a physical trauma that amplifies the psychological shock generated by ever faster cycles of  technological invention, development, and obsolescence.’

(Chapter 3: Themes in Digital Art. p.170)

Have also been thinking about the role of our skins in social interaction, as Samuel’s is deteriorating again with the increasing pollen allergens.

And thinking about how much one is judged by the appearance of skin… how skin is linked to identity / self/ self image.

samuel's necksamuel's hands 2samuel's back

The idea that skin has an ability to help assign or affirm, our place in society (eg: in providing clues to age, health, status, race, gender.) for others when coming in to visual contact with us.

How the notion of invasion. Of the body as a state, of a fortress that is breached by infection and therefore perceived as a threat to others and society, as something devalued.

Donna Haraway in ‘Simians, Cyborgs and Women.’ (Free Association Books, London 1991)  states:

‘My thesis is that the immune system is an elaborate icon for principle  systems of  symbolic  and material ‘difference’ in late capitalism.’

(Chapter 10: ‘ The Biopolitics of postmodern Bodies: Constitutions of self in Immune system disorders’  p.204)

March 28, 2009

Western society spends much time and money promoting the idea of the necessity of our controlling our physical bodies and making them less unpredictable and therefore less threatening to a stable society.

‘Responses of disgust to the breaches of bodily control reveal the persistent power of the civilizing process.’

( p. 91. The Body in Society.’ A. Howson.)

On line…. there is freedom from the reality of the human body and it bodily betrayals.

A question is that this distancing from our bodies promotes us to be even less accepting of our physicality and lack of control.

‘’…. The idea of the cyborg offers a Utopian model that challenges dualisms and their negative consequences and raises important questions about the production of social hierarchies in relation to bodies…the cyborg troubles supposedly ‘natural hierarchies and suggests the human body can no longer be viewed as beyond social intervention and modification….. the cyborg then is more a description of social circumstances. ‘

(p. 91 The Body in Society.’ A. Howson.)

These photos are of my son’s bed and the skin he scratches off through out the night.


I was not brave enough to photograph his bedding at the worst phase of this current bout of infection.

I took these pictures in order to think about how the expectation of a bed can change from a symbol of rest and peace for the healthy to a pace of acute discomfort for many who are sick and to look at the ideas of childhood are being a time of protection provided by the ‘good parent’ and the concept of illness being a form of bodily betrayal and perceived as an enemy to society.

There fore these pictures maybe perceived as distasteful, or voyeuristic, or exploitative .  Rather than, as I intended,  a statement of my son’s painful skin condition and societies’ lack of acceptance due to expectations of what childhood should be and the criticism that this sort of chronic illness reflects some form of bodily betrayal that should be managed, controlled and hidden by a socially responsible parent.

‘Much of childhood is taken up with being encouraged to control one’s own body and learn appropriate forms of bodily conduct.’  (P.141)

‘Indeed, in recent years, sociologists have noted that childhood has become equated with the management of risk(Brownlie 2001), a preoccupation with prevention and with constant vigilance in order to forestall potential threats to children’s well being….’ (P142)

‘Moreover, the body of the child was increasingly constructed as a problem within pediatrics as shifted its concern from diseases of childhood to concern about the health and development of children as a whole…’ (143)

(Alexandra Howson , ‘The Body in Society: An introduction.’

Chapter 6 Images and Experiences of Childhood, Aging and Death.’)

My concern is that we socially in the west keep distancing ourselves from the unpredictable nature of our bodies and that this process is promoted and continued in cyber space.

There is a lack of acceptance of the body’s perceived ‘imperfections ’  in western society and an expectation that we can eradicate through management irradicate the unpredictability of our bodies.

September 7, 2008




Identity and expectations:



These are two terms which have been playing on my mind over the past few weeks.



Over the summer I have been trying to review possible development and direction of  ideas and work done on the MADA course over the past year and was struck by the fact that much of my work has been  becoming increasingly performance based and could be seen to be investigating in some ways the idea of image and the self.


There has been for me an increasing belief that my body is and should be the starting place for my practice and a greater clarity of understanding of this kind of practice in the field of performance art.



With the discovery of having thyroid disease where the medication has produced a range of  unpleasant and dangerous side effects there followed a questioning of myself, my expectations about my identity, and my practice as an artist.


The realization came that I have had an expectation of myself that I should create an iconography around my body and illness, develop a strategy for making artistic practice from this point.



I wondered if in some way I was subconsciously expecting that I needed to under go some sort of painful transformation to become acceptable as a ‘serious’ artist.



Is there in some way a parallel iconography to that of those of church’s female saints weeping or pierced with the stigmata attaining saint hood, who have gained an altered and higher status through suffering.




Had I the expectation that in order to gain acceptance as a female artist it is necessary to take up this stereotypical and familiar role, rather than questioning it.  Was I feeling that in some way to be worthy of acceptance as an artist I should have to under go some sort of physical and psychological transformation.




There is a question arising for me as a woman, about my expectation to portray myself in a visceral and harrowing manner, in order to achieve an intellectual standing.


This raises the question for me of why I may have this need for these understanding and expectations around identity and gender. And queries how to examine and question them.

skin prints

August 29, 2008



Some further skin prints…..