sculpting with object-gestures

My research investigates an idea of an ‘everyday’ working gesture as an artistic proposition. A moment of engagement with an object (human or non-human, a massaged body or a building scaffold) becomes a site of material resonances and a space for new metaphors. I call this moment object-gesture.

I want to suspend or disrupt this object-gesture, temporarily interrupt the habitual thought patterns. I have been therefore juxtaposing poses taken by a hairdresser with that of a neuroresearcher or re- editing recordings of building site workers in form of tableaus reminiscent of plaster freezes.

Instructions and demonstrations became further sites of disruption e.g. I sample phrases from life demonstrations, youtube tutorials and archival videos from disparate areas like gas mask handling, self- care or product sale presentations. The pieces dissect the perfomative semantics of the activities, resulting in fragmented voice act for imagined embodied experience.

Space of a Haircut: Between the Acromion and the Neurocranium

OVERLAID BODIES

The images of bodies are frozen in their gestic movement. They show poses taken by a mobile hairdresser when performing a haircut (on my daughter). And similar movement of a neuroresearcher setting up (me as) a subject for an EEG recording during a motor adaptation tests when using a robotic arm. Hairdresser becomes one of the ‘gestic professionals’, as approved by Blast manifesto, an organiser of the mess. Neuroresearcher, on the other hand, is a gestic performer who is untrained, or rather self-trained, in her activity.

The object [whether this object are electrodes or hair], the hand and body alignment as scientist would have it > physio-dynamic features and joint rotations. Though I rather prefer to think of structures and cranes > with bones, ligaments and muscles forming axis and levers. First class lever is rare; it is the scissor-like joint between the head and first vertebra. Second class levers work like a wheelbarrow and are those of a raising movement. Third class levers are like a shovel > these are the levers in wrists, forearms and hands that are activated in the gesture of reaching.

WORKERS TABLEAU

Test edits – part of research material

The bodies of construction workers strapped in harnesses, directing the movements, interrupting the actions. Stepping around and through each other, clashing and avoiding, their pathways in space and time. Self-choreographed tableau, a living theatre resembling architectural friezes like the ancient Roman carvings or Victorian plaster casts. The action of layering is repeated, forming a mass of bodies at work.

KICKING THE DRAWER [v2]

Inspired by the moment of suspension during the presentations and instructions, the piece dissects the performative semantics of the activity, resulting in a fragmented voice act.

The format becomes that of the list with the vocabulary as components of the gesture. Vocabulary as components, components becoming lists, lists divided into mini episodes___ Silences as commas, distinctive words as brackets, peculiar sound bites as parenthesis___ Repetition becomes a crucial ingredient. Same word repeated by the same speaker obtains more shading through different intonations, gaining further dimensionality beyond the initial signification.

Speakers for the soundpiece Kicking the Drawer

Prototypes inspired by announcer speakers & megaphones

KNEADING MALLEABLES [laptop performance]

I wish to take the exploration further and consider if and how one could embody the action once the descriptions are stripped away. When there are no more lists of acts and directions, indications of affect or suggestions of other qualities. When all one can hear is the echoes of the activity, the interaction between the body and the object, whether it is a momentary encounter or an engagement extended in time and space.

I was invited to develop my idea and contribute a sound piece to lololol.net, an online collective manuscript of Taoist-informed experimental practices for mind and body cultivation in contemporary times. The following work combines the sounds of body massage with the acts of dough kneading and clay throwing. The source materials were selected from the BBC Sound Effects and The Internet Archive. This version was recorded as a live laptop performance using a mixer board in Audacity.

Flowing rhythms interweave with awkward changes when the labouring bodies adjust or pause their recorded action, or when my hand hesitates while searching for controls. Yet tuning my body into the sounds became less self-conscious when working live with the clips. Lighter and more playful.

KNEADING MALLEABLES [teleprompter text], video, 2019

A textual response to thinking, musing and pondering inspired by working on the soundscape. The text was drafted and re-edited while listening to the recording. Then teleprompter software was used to create an electronic script which dictate the speed and rhythm of encounter between the reader and the text.

The text and soundscape can be experienced together or as standalone pieces.

Image credit @ Annabelle Craven-Jones

GESTURE LABS

Building on the growing material of recorded and archival footage of working gestures, I am developing participatory works where audience is invited to respond to recorded visual and aural material of body labours.

___Gesture Lab 1 MIRRORING & ENACTING :: Participatory public installation at One Hoe Street art centre, London. Commissioned by Artillery as a part of Waltham Forest art trail and London Borough of Culture programme.

___Gesture Lab 2 BODYWORKS or WORK IN THE HEAD :: Session for performance development facilitated as a part of OPENLAB programme at Chisenhale Dance Space. Invited by Antonio de la Fe.

___GestureLab 3 BODYWORKS REIMAGINED :: Video installation commissioned by Artillery as a part of Walthamstow High Street pilot. Sponsored by Mayor of London.


Below is a sample test towards the first GestureLab.