Art and Re-search (t)here: a process

Adam Clare

The shipping industry and the storage industry share more than just containers in common. They are both physical manifestation of modern global consumerism and they both hide the materials they carry. While transporting the goods (which may even end up in a storage unit) shipping causes harm to marine life; a part of our environment we cannot see and thus forget exists, much like what we put in a storage container. It is time to think critically about how we transport and store our stuff.

Whales on the coasts of North America are dying at an increasing rate year over year despite the efforts of conservation groups. Noise pollution from container ships, drilling, and other acts of commerce contribute to the death count by disrupting whales ability to communicate. Whales use sound waves to communicate underwater over vast distances to find each other and warn of threats. The noise of capitalism makes it difficult for whales to find food, friends or direction. In some cases, the volume is so deafening that they become completely disoriented and are unable to avoid being hit by ships. This piece is meant to demonstrate in an immersive way one of the challenges experienced by one sea mammal, the whale, to feed our consumer desires.

The immersive aspects of the work are a reflection of my pedagogical approach. I wanted to continue ways to explore conveying complex systems in an engaging way to the participant while also educating them. Cetus hopefully inspire people to ask what are the unseen impacts of our consumer society that go unseen below, above, and all around us.

The audio in the artwork is from hydrophones placed in the Straight of Georgia to capture the sounds of whale and container ships. This piece directly explores two of the “Seven Ds” of the storage industry: Deliveries (the container ships) and Death (not of people, but whales). Indirectly the piece examines the Densification of shipping, the Dislocation of marine species, and the ongoing Disaster occurring to the oceans due to materialism and consumption. A series of photos I took of the shipping industry in British Columbia are also available to accompany the piece.

Genevieve Cloutier

I acknowledge data as dada (Morawski & Palulis, 2012) through my playful and emergent painting practice. I get lost in mark-making. As the primary investigator for Art and Research (T)Here, I position myself within uncomfortable spaces of unknowing. Through composition, form, colour and other formal elements, I create abstract images that deflect or resist analysis.

Prominent dada scholar, Rudolf Kuenzli (2006), writes about how the movement deconstructed the codes and conventions of dominant culture through playful absurdity. I look towards creating spaces for destabilizing research practices as my data/dada emerges. How do my paintings engage with the language that emanates, if at all?

Material practices disarm me. I wonder what can I do without words. How do these experiments relate to our collective engagements about art and research, art and inquiry, art and experience? Can a relational endeavour that moves beyond language come to life via pigment, paper and hog’s hair?

As my collaborators work through their own lines of inquiry, through art, I consider the impossibility of representing our collective experiences, our resonances, our interwoven interactions, engagements, and relationalities. At the same time, I think about how a deflection of analysis through abstraction can disrupt hierarchies of knowledge. My process traverses spaces of knowing and unknowing, tension and letting go. Considering dada/data through playful and intuitive experiments with material, I resist analysis, embrace emergence, and work through decentralized and anti-authoritarian research processes. The colours and shapes emerge from one another, they inspire, destabilize, provoke, support and give feedback.

Wendy Crocker

Project Statement can be found via https://uwo.voicethread.com/myvoice/thread/11252183/66257459/62969836

Nadine Flagel

This project’s concept gathers together a number of related words: text, textile, intertextuality, and texture.

Text. My academic research examined contemporary novels by African-Canadian, African-American, and African-British writers. These novels, like other literary documents, are called texts.

Intertextuality. Specifically, I was interested in the intertextual relationships between contemporary novels and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century African-American and African-British autobiography (especially representations of historical slavery and sexual violence). Writers of literature often make meaning by deconstructing other texts and adapting them to new purposes, putting them into occasionally uncomfortable juxtapositions and new contexts. Such heavy reliance at its worst constitutes posturing from a position of privilege; at its best, gestures toward existing texts signal joining a conversation.

Textiles. Rug hooking by hand – a technique I encountered upon arrival in Nova Scotia to begin my Ph.D. – is a textile craft or art form that is fundamentally and historically based on the reuse of woven textiles. By transforming stained or worn-out scraps of fabric and clothing into rugs, these makers joined a conversation about the production and value of fabric and deliberately lengthened the life of fabric through reusing textiles.

The overlap between text and textile is not new (recall that some paper has rag content). What I am interested in is the repurposing of both texts and textiles. Both practices rely on cutting up existing text(ile)s, on aesthetic and sensual appeal, on thrift, and on putting old things into new combinations, thereby intensifying and multiplying meanings. When I took up a critical stance with respect to Black literature, and interwove threads of quotation with critical commentary, what did my stance in the conversation become? When I reuse fabric, what assumptions do I make and how can I bring those under interrogation?

Textures. Our skin processes different surfaces as smooth, soft, rough, and so on. This work is a meditation on the textures of silence and is inspired by many writers and thinkers. Both Marlene NourbeSe Phillip’s book of poems, Zong, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved (among other texts) consider the diasporic historical trauma of slavery and explore what it means to fall into/be pushed into silence and the difficulties of coming to language. Silence is never death; it is a waiting, a pause, a noise, a space, an ending, a marked absence. “Omissions are not accidents,” as American modernist Marianne Moore recorded. The first act of a play by British dramatist Caryl Churchill I recently taught, Mad Forest, vividly demonstrates the various kinds of silencing that can occur. Each of 17 scenes, set before the Romanian revolution, depicts an attempt at communication under the vigilance of the secret police. Characters assume all conversations are taped and behave accordingly; they speak or sing loudly in praise of the current regime; they abuse those who violate its values; they turn up the radio and speak onstage but the audience cannot hear them; they say one thing but mean something else; they share letters; they prevent other people from speaking. Each silence has a different texture, and they overlap.

My creative process for this piece is analogous to the drama and marked by a series of technical experiments and fascinating failures. Sometimes I forgot to reverse the text before printing it onto the transfer paper; I used the wrong kind of printer; the fabric didn’t take to the transfer; the iron scorched the fabric; the transfer changed the texture of the fabric; the transfer was too light; the fabric twisted, rolled, or folded during hooking. When you are privileged enough to create outside of a totalitarian system, you can value failure, you can incorporate failures into the finished work.

Privilege is apparent in other ways: lines which converge at a roundabout, a central metaphor in my dissertation (about my circular and indirect intellectual journey). Tension emerges from the arrogance of my act of framing.

Simultaneously, the piece needs to fail (following Gayatri Spivak, a catechresis: a deliberate rhetorical failure). The cloth used for hooking is transfers of writing that did not make it into my final dissertation. The dissertation is always already a peripheral, largely unread communication, yet so much of an academic’s career is bound up in it. Here I am unlearning the dissertation. Through hooking, my words become unintelligible visual noise in an act of self-muting. The piece is deliberately unfinished and will retain marks of its creation: hanging threads, unclipped strands of fabric, a frayed and unfinished edge, exposed linen foundation cloth, small gaps in the foundation cloth from previous hooking that has been pulled out, smaller gaps in the weave from the gripper strips on my rug hooking frame. The “finished” piece works against notions of completion.

Lucia Lorenzi

Arrays Snarl is a data visualization and fine art project which explores how sexualized and gendered violence exists within spaces of knowing and unknowing. Taking as its title an anagram of “Larry Nassar,” Arrays Snarl presents both quantifiable and unquantifiable data about the prolific crimes of Larry Nassar, a doctor formerly responsible for the care of both the U.S. Women’s Artistic Gymnastics team as well as athletes at Michigan State University and at local gyms in Lansing, Michigan. Beginning with more traditional forms of data visualization such as pie charts, bar graphs, and scatter plots, the series of paintings evolves towards more abstract representation as I attempt to visualize that which is no longer proximal to the numerical and linguistic units of measure with which we usually attempt or are able to understand violence.

I began this work during the second of Larry Nassar’s sentencing hearings, as I listened to the testimonies of more than 150 survivors. My scholarly background is in trauma theory, where a lot of classical theorizing posits that trauma is linguistically unrepresentable in ways that are different to the “usual” failures of language and representation. Rather than operating from the presumption that trauma is therefore “unknowable,” I chose to engage with the principles and techniques of data visualization to explore how the representation of trauma and violence can be difficult because they are matters of sheer scope, rather than intrinsically unable to be quantified or qualified. There are “known knowns,” such as the number of years that Nassar might potentially serve; these can be quantified as a series of numbers, but the fact that this extends far beyond the natural life span prompts questions about what the symbolic value of sentencing holds beyond the material value. In “Breadth and Ripple,” I explore “known unknowns,” such as the number of people who have been impacted by Nassar’s crimes; attempting to capture this network, even if we had data, would far exceed the capacities of the materials (the size of the wood panels) but also potentially require another kind of visual modeling (3D, not 2D).

I also try to wrestle with the ways that data analysis links to concerns about whether or not the statistics about the estimated prevalence of sexual violence are “true.” What concerns me more is thinking about how we get that data, and how it relates to other forms of storytelling. Ultimately, the statistics are a product of how we collect stories and ask people about their experiences, as well as how institutions such as the law use language to categorize experience. Moreover, different people may wish to categorize their own experiences differently to the available options. The “real number” of people who experience violence is “unknowable”: we know it happens, to many people, but despite our best efforts, including the most sophisticated statistical models, we won’t get to the number we seek. Given all of that, how do we sit with uncertainty? How do we use estimates to influence policy and practice? This is what the medium of painting has allowed me to explore; the form of the paintings increasingly reflected the content of my questions.

The series is, much like the questions it poses, ultimately unfinished and unresolved. I had originally intended to complete a series of ten paintings, but as new information has come out about the Nassar cases, I ultimately chose to stop my own attempts to try and visualize data that is itself continuing to evolve.

Finding a way from my head to my heart to the land: Reflections on wandering landscapes and learning about belonging.

This work is the culmination of two years of exploration – where I began using the canvas as a journal to channel reactions, emotions, questions, and learning using acrylic paints. I sought to explore land as belonging with only a strong intuitive sense that my own story and relationship to the land around me was important for my growth. This has been a journey of strength, personal reclamation, and growing roots that cross the continent.

I have always searched for “home” and have felt connected to many places that for me, embodied the meaning of home. I came to realize, I am not sure precisely when, home has always been connected to people. The physical location of people, the memories of people, the traces of people once there, and the embodiment of a feeling about people in my life. This definition of home has made sense for me and also meant that there were many spaces that I referred to as home.

Still the idea of home – most notably as it relates to the concepts of connection and belonging, remained unsettled. How am I connected to the world around me, where are the landscapes that I feel a sense of belonging? Is this something that is dependent solely on an internal compass or are there external symbols provided in the spirit of the land, water, and animals around me?

The impetus for my journey into this self-examination was a move 2500 miles away from my traditional home lands and the place my family had called home for 10 years. This significant move was exciting, but also terrifying, and set off in me a panic of floating disconnected and untethered to spaces of familiarity and comfort.

This piece shares a journey around the medicine wheel in my relationship to land and building a sense of belonging even while far removed from the lands of my family and in places where my family and community are not physically present.

The expression begins in the upper right corner and commences, for now at the top left panel. The catalyst for this journey is a poem I wrote, titled Open this when you find yourself overwhelmed, October 10, 2017. This central fire was a moment of realization for me – that no matter where I travel there are generations of grandmothers standing with me.

Gladys Rowe

Finding a way from my head to my heart to the land: Reflections on wandering landscapes and learning about belonging.

This work is the culmination of two years of exploration – where I began using the canvas as a journal to channel reactions, emotions, questions, and learning using acrylic paints. I sought to explore land as belonging with only a strong intuitive sense that my own story and relationship to the land around me was important for my growth. This has been a journey of strength, personal reclamation, and growing roots that cross the continent.

I have always searched for “home” and have felt connected to many places that for me, embodied the meaning of home. I came to realize, I am not sure precisely when, home has always been connected to people. The physical location of people, the memories of people, the traces of people once there, and the embodiment of a feeling about people in my life. This definition of home has made sense for me and also meant that there were many spaces that I referred to as home.

Still the idea of home – most notably as it relates to the concepts of connection and belonging, remained unsettled. How am I connected to the world around me, where are the landscapes that I feel a sense of belonging? Is this something that is dependent solely on an internal compass or are there external symbols provided in the spirit of the land, water, and animals around me?

The impetus for my journey into this self-examination was a move 2500 miles away from my traditional home lands and the place my family had called home for 10 years. This significant move was exciting, but also terrifying, and set off in me a panic of floating disconnected and untethered to spaces of familiarity and comfort.

This piece shares a journey around the medicine wheel in my relationship to land and building a sense of belonging even while far removed from the lands of my family and in places where my family and community are not physically present.

The expression begins in the upper right corner and commences, for now at the top left panel. The catalyst for this journey is a poem I wrote, titled Open this when you find yourself overwhelmed, October 10, 2017. This central fire was a moment of realization for me – that no matter where I travel there are generations of grandmothers standing with me.