You recently finished a 3 month artist in residency and exhibition here at 30upstairs, why did you apply for the residency?
To create a focused timeframe for myself, to commit to my practice, and to make connections with other people.
How did the residency help you work towards your show?
Being in close proximity to space I wanted to exhibit in was invaluable in both a practical and a conceptual sense.
It was handy to be able to check measurements quickly as I made adjustments to my drawings/plan. Spending time in the space and responding to it; observing the materials, sound, use, and feel of the room and creating a mental map of it, influenced the work I created for the space.
Your exhibition BLINDSIGHT references Neuroscience, what attracts you to this and how did it start informing your practice?
I have been interested in neuroscience a long while (probably starting with reading something by Oliver Sacks). I love that it’s meant to be completely analytical and yet it can be weirdly poetic.
I’m really interested in how contemporary neuroscientists such as Antonio Damasio have a much more nuanced explanation of what consciousness/mind is than Descartes’ binary model.
A binary model which differentiates between mental substance (mind), and material substance (body) sets up a hierarchy in which matter and emotion are devalued and seen as inferior to analytical thought processes, when in fact emotion is integral to reason and decision making.
Detaching ourselves from nature and sensuous experience, and rejecting matter as the source of human consciousness has philosophical and ethical implications. It permits us to reduce nature to a resource at our disposal; to object rather than subject.
I want to create scenarios in which we doubt our own perception, or we experience matter as animate rather than inert.
You used a variety of materials to make Blindsight, including wax and human hair. Can you explain why you chose to use these materials?
I chose materials both on the basis of their material qualities and the associations they conjure up. The beeswax I use has a particular translucency, smell and texture that I enjoy both the look and feel of. Beeswax in general has various associations; from waxwork models, to its transformative properties, to the social behaviours of bees.
Hair invokes a visceral response from the viewer. It has associations with the body obviously, but I am interested in the way that hair responds to changes in physiological and emotional states (such as cold, fear or arousal). Hairs are like antennae.
Blindsight took an incredible amount of planning, time and hard work. How do you feel now that it is installed and knowing that you have to deinstall it?
I quite like the semi destructive process of deinstalling the work. The work can exist as a memory even when it is no longer physically present.
Lastly, how would you describe your time and experience at 30upstairs?
Fantastic! I think there will be many times in the future when I will look back at what I learned, the people I got to spend time with, and the space itself, and I’ll go for a little walk around the map I have in my head.
Applications for a residency beginning in January 2015 are due 31 October.
View more information on our website: http://30upstairs.co.nz/residency.html