Right now, our instinct to abject is ever-more fervent, excessive in itself, but because of constant warning signs ripping through everything we’re just used to.

My worry is that this will have lasting effects on our view and treatment of bodies -- especially those that already transgress the patriarchal ‘norm’...or exist as ‘Other’ comfortably or otherwise.


Does this then perpetuate our worries on borders? On the protectionist treatment of Green Space?


A note on excess:

The progressive moralisation of the body meant that sharing bits of our bodies, visually, otherwise sensually, became ‘too much’, because it is a powerful thing that bodies as bodies transcend social standing in a sense that we all have them.  

I want to make it clear that in no way is this a dismissal of the noted differences in bodies and how this correlates in a socio-economic sense, but that through accepting ‘the body’ as a whole, that all of our bodies make the whole, maybe the societal corpus at large can be unionised…..

D: TOUCH shrouded in a rare serene stillness, undermined by the decaying presence of the ghosts and shadows of historical violence, a sudden and significant shift in my individual and shared understanding about the world I’m in……. particular how my knowledge, had built up, constructed and imagined was not at all what I experienced.

G: That bodily excess triggers bodily responses is ultimately a shared experience that allows us to feel a shred of collectivity amongst the alienating promotion of individualism - that we can link sharing through the body -- it is maybe, in some contexts, a kind of antidote to the aspirational, capital excess that is continuously promoted.


D: The oscillating situation of apprehension and comprehension, the instability of miss reading and miss understanding opened up instability, and now amplified in our current COV-19 world, knowledge is by definition very unstable and not fixed, also it has become increasingly defined now by being remote – distance, proximity, mobility are not what they were to me……can we travel there again or do we then re-imagine and re-shape what we started? 


What is wrong with instability?

Does it matter if you really ever know?


G: Push back - instability is so loaded, it's easy to say this from stable positions, we should be able to have movement, certain important ‘freedoms’ (I find this word very loaded to be perfectly honest) if we have a basis of human rights, income, housing, education…


D: These issues raise lots of pressing question - pre and now during COV-19 of a microcosm of inter-related history, cultural metaphor, motifs and shared concerns now ‘remote’ - distant in time - memory, or by definition remote from once familiar everyday experience, we are now distantly related…….in a variety of representational forms - complex relationships of personal immediacy remotely?

 – remote – the idea of a place - distant. What does distance and proximity mean now, is touch – our feet on the ground, caress and physical proximity - now the new distance and what does our dependency on a variety of electronic devices create - remote devices for knowledge production and exchange - operating or operated at a distance? So are our representations and artefacts responsive critical friction points in an ‘image saturated’ culture, that become read disposable and forgettable, with erasure and remembering, moments of displacement, contest our white christian identity politics of belonging and the ghosts of historical violence. 


Here representation and remembering is as a thing in itself, changing material relationships, towards the act of reading images, how they perform and the ethical concerns of representation between related worlds…..


“I make the history of colonialism part of my history in the only way I know,” the artist Pia Arke once wrote, “namely by taking it personally.” 


G: You’re right that instability is loaded. On the one hand I think this is where a lot of thriving can happen, creatively at least because you’re forced to just do things...but I’m really uncomfortable with simply washing off stability as a base necessity. If we’re talking socio-economic stability - which when you’re talking about instability you inevitably ARE - how can anyone do anything without basic human rights being upheld as stable? I don’t ever want to dismiss stability as a necessity. How privileged is it to say “oh, stability is overrated”...as I’ve heard several artists do.


-- maybe then we need another word, because I think what we’re talking about when we discuss instability as productive in this way, is really a kind of fluxus, liminality?


D: I'm not a fan of 'liminality' as a concept, it sits for me in another kind of privilege, to find something 'liminal' is to be spoken about, more or less in cultural theoretical terms as an object of somebody else’s subject. I think we need to move on from that.

It is a privilege, that's what we are talking about, and it's so important we have accountability for that privilege. So for example, to look at something, I just assume I can look, to look away or not pay attention is another thing all together.

So is it not art, or our activity here, is not merely a question of education, but rather a process founded on the culturally rooted – an anchoring from where development can progress. Taking part in a questioning and practices of inter-dependency of what we see, and the act that allows or is accountable for this, in avoiding or adopting a foreign conception of art or creative actions  that is not development but mere superficial imitation.


G: Passing a baton, an implication of trust and responsibility, an exchange. Touching is how communication is often conveyed really — maybe converged, or divulged is a better word.







The baton slips out of a sweaty palm, and into the twitching grasp of the next, I palm it off  

Itching and red from that momentary friction, open gestures closed for a moment.

That gesture would not be so fluid now, in fact it’s because of fluids that it would not be so fluid. 

Fluidity relies upon a lack of fluid? It’s an issue of transmission.

D: Hering conceives memory as a fundamental property of reproduction of organic beings. The nervous substance of any organism retains the traces of its experiences and hands them down as an inheritance to the following generations, just as we received in its turn a certain amount of traces from the previous generations.

G: Touch is how we relay information to one another, in a lot of contexts, this sharing is gone and the relay defunct. 

Hang on,

I’m terrible at tone on these things

I don’t know if you’re being serious or not?

Moments of corporeality are exchanged like a baton; over and over repetition sees bodies extended in small gestures. The baton of corporeality is passed on through proximity and proximity is my attempt at extending touch where maybe I can’t do so physically - the reciprocal generosity of sharing touch. We repeat these things without thinking about them because it’s a way to feel close to someone, to break down certain barriers in communication —

It is also involuntary in that maybe we don’t want it, maybe it is an act of violation.

Exchange is participation, engagement in transitory and promised coalition. 

Now, is communication weaponised?

D: When hasn’t it been ? Language systems and forms of representation are weapons.



Green Thing pt.3 - double forever 


Green Thing is an ongoing collaborative artwork, a negotiated creative exchange, between 2 artists, who are also daughter and father; actively engaging in a dialogue about Green Things.

‘Greeness’ is explored in relation to how it manifests and develops symbolically, physically, historically, and within each of our practices. Creating, documenting, performing and sharing exploratory processes: collaboratively producing an evolving, palimpsestic work.


We recently completed a remote, online iteration of this project, Green Thing pt.2 [Green thing pt. 1 was undertaken in March 2020 in the Pipe Factory, Glasgow] while in residence at 2/42 Studios, in the Pipe Factory, Glasgow as part of their Remote Series: work accumulated daily over the span of one week, created by both Higgins’ (Glasgow and Sheffield), in tandem, but apart, which culminated on Thurs 16th at 19.30-20.30PM (UK) with a live online screening and conversation.

From this, we are now developing Green Thing pt.3 - double forever - as a further iteration. 

Green becomes contagious in this way. The work multiplies, fluctuates, is transmitted between one another, released upon the public. It mutates and it passes back between us, it divides and multiplies. After the last iteration, we couldn’t stop seeing Green. 


It is palimpsestically created, not only because we write over one another, talk over one another, and create together and in relay, but because we are palimpsestic. Our relationship by its very nature means that, whilst we have many different lived experiences, it is essentially shared. We literally share blood and guts. This genetic presupposition results in eerie, unspoken tangents and patterns. It also proves great distinctions. 


Further from Green thing pt.2, double forever will more directly bring together themes around Green Space, Bile, and Solidarity, to reflect the cyclical interrelational relationship each of these areas have with one another. Right now, green space looks and feels very different than it used to, bile is seen in a heightened state, and solidarity is more important than ever - but we cannot translate these things as we would instinctively; humans have to interact differently. The Greeness within this is rife and key to understanding the progression of psychological, geographical shifts in society as we see it.  


double forever, whilst explorative in its very essence, feels a formalisation of this palimpsest, although still created in perpetual transmission utilised and exploited through the research catalogue as a framework for it’s latest form….A dialogue produced between us through various online platforms, fortified here for now and open to further palimpsestic interaction, it is remotely realised out of necessity, with this space feeling ever-more palpable.


To take astroturf as an example, this is all symbolic of aspirational green space; it’s an imitation that satiates an immediate need and desire, without fulfilling anything substantially. Artificial green is emblematic of artificial freedoms. Symbolically taken, astroturf etc. promotes a sense of ownership on green space, that it should be an aspiration to own some greeness as your property, which ultimately is a mindset that is perpetuating the demise of natural green space. 

There is something so enticingly wrong about the fact that fake green is made of the thing that is resulting in the death of so much real green. 

This also then places value on ownership - that buying this will result in your fulfilment - a‘green veil’ - astroturfing over substantial freedoms and needs.


So, when extended to wider cordons and borders…I get worried. 


But, I just want to stress - let’s not undermine the importance of many ‘artificial green spaces’ in holding productive social function - sports, markets, community activity -- It's not necessarily an issue of astroturf but of trimming the grass as demarcation. 



D: History, particularly human history,  seems to point out to us that ideas, emotions, thoughts and expressions are contagious, they transmute, travel and get re-appropriated in very non-linear ways. It presses against our attention span…..or asks us to think about what we pay attention to, or not?

Politically, contagion is a weapon to use - the spreading of a harmful ideas or practices - and we can see how this might bolster a culture of border protectionism…well it already is. It’s repeating old atrocities?



G: I was thinking about the history of the diggers and how land and green space is harnessed politically...then that’s all tied in with ideas, and the ideology of labour isn’t it? This is all artificial because our time is dictated by an overarching ‘official culture’ 


We flap this term around, but do we consider it enough?

    GMT in itself is hierarchical

So are notions of ‘leisure’. These are monetised

    Time is money

But it’s all an artificial experience of time and work and labour and space. 

    Offshoots - maybe offshoots should be taken as part of the whole


What dyou think?


D: That we only ever have a partial view, never the whole, thats a good thing for me, that it’s not a problem that we ever know or really want to know.



By way of an introduction Grace, Naomi Klein’s recently wrote in an essays and I quote her from what she heard from a tech CEO,: “Humans are biohazards, machines are not”, it made me think of how humans could easily now be described and reduced to biohazards, it gave the word a really contentious implication and ourselves a past and future new meaning. How humans can be a biological substance that poses a threat to the health of living organisms, primarily humans. This is seen and heightened today as it's COV-19 and this condition of contagion. Can or are we now to be seen as biohazards carrying a threat in our touch, gestures and bodily fluid - a disease spread by close contact?

So do we need to situate or put into context, personally and culturally what this means for us (you, me, others), the situation in which a disease is spread by touching someone or something. We now are witnessing and part of an emergence of dependence, in relation to COV-19, of what Naomi Klein calls “touchless technology”, and how the pre-existing agenda before Covid that imagined replacing so many of our personal bodily experiences by inserting technology in the middle of them.





Can I start by thinking about the themes set out by VIS as they invite many things we have touched on? … we’ve been talking on this greeness, and now how transmission occurs in the world, art.


I really think it depends who speaks to who, and who is allowed to speak about what...we are creating new protocols as we speak with and within these new forms of knowledge transmission through digital and optical devices online….these ideas of dialogue and how knowledge is being shaped under the conditions of COV-19 and by these new on-line protocols, it is where we started when our exhibition was cancelled in Glasgow. That started a lot of this dialogue, and also how it has been formed?


G: This work we’re doing is ultimately a continuation of original transmission; genetic contagion, an exploration of inherited knowledge and known things.

I literally came from you, and now this literally comes from me and you and we write in each other’s margins, which is interesting because I think our minds probably work quite similarly, but also this is quite a particular situation — 


Its always a looming feeling of the grass is greener on the other side isn't it?

And then the other side, and the other one and the other, again and again - it’s because the other one is made to continuously exist as a perfect shade of green.

For this reason, it is not green. 


    You can try and trim it but it won’t grow back.


So, there’s no room for mistakes, and that means we don’t see this and sit in it and grow and move on and see the things we need to change and progress together.

So it’s not green.


D: So, we’re thinking about borders, physically, geographically, personally, symbolically - talking about art’s impact on these things always sounds like such a ‘lofty’ highly problematic claim for art to make, or be asked to make. It can speak and express and point to things, discuss, contest, object, joke, play, draw new relationships together, tell stories, build narratives and contribute to its rich history, though shouldn’t be aligned to any ideological aspiration as whose fear, protectionism, nation or region are we talking about? 


G: Within this new (temporary?) context we find ourselves I have become increasingly aware of cordons, rights to roam, of people assuming ownership of something and erecting fences to protect it -- of the grabbing and squeezing of green space so no one else can enjoy it.


Green space has suddenly become abject; boundaries have shifted and become solid, crossing them a taboo, the feeling of stepping a foot across that line emits an abject response akin to the feeling of crossing the boundary of the skin.

It’s not difficult to see how this extends to geographical borders, and how nationalism can find more justification in the fear extend the the ‘Other’ in the context of a pandemic. 


D: It also feels that we need more solidarity to shape a future, rather than point towards individual disciplines or cultural forms to do this?

Dictionary definitions talk of two aspects of solidarity: the uniting of a group of people with a common purpose, and mutual-dependency (or interdependency) of people.

Of course this is one of the ethical questions in green spaces, I think again of our conversation we had earlier about  - object subject relationships - of Green space (we don’t mean green grass), as a potential site physically and conceptually for political - radical - possibilities - without being didactic.


G: Green space should be a site of generosity - it is shared in, so limiting access limits generosity.

Again, right now 'green space' and 'public space' have been re-contextualised for the purpose of allowing the only 'physical' access we have to others - those with their own green space get more contact.

I had a front garden for some of this and it felt like such a bizarre privilege.  

I’ve been thinking about the idea of artificiality in relation to ‘fake green’ (astroturf, for example), but also cordons (e.g. fences), and borders - the slighter artificiality of fences, fake grass, feels like a symbolic pointer to the more worrying demarcation and ownership of border cordons. 


member —


How does art touch you?


So for the few spaces where tech is not already mediating our relationships, there was a plan – to replace in-person teaching with virtual learning, for instance, and in-person medicine with telehealth and in-person delivery with robots. All of this has been rebranded, post-Covid, as a touchless technology, as a way of replacing what has been diagnosed as the problem, which is the problem of touch. And yet, on a personal level, what we/I miss most is touch - and a solidarity of touches - the situation in which feelingsideas, or problemsspread from one place to another….this is forming in front of us as we speak.

In relation to this, solidarity feels very haptic and the ideas we have been exploring together suggest the word solidarity was more an idea of people standing in things together and related very strongly to the green thoughts and work we have been making. 


A touch too much ? 


Relating to the sense of touch, in particular relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body.


This is what I am thinking a lot about. Klien also points us towards a set of ideas and a proposition: I have a few ideas. One has to do with the softness that the pandemic has introduced into our culture. When you slow down, you can feel things; when you’re in that constant rat race, it doesn’t leave much time for empathy. From its very beginning, the virus has forced us to think about interdependencies and relationships. 



The first thing you are thinking about is: everything I touch, what has somebody else touched? The food I am eating, the package that was just delivered, the food on the shelves. These are connections that capitalism teaches us not to think about”.


This feels like a call for individual and collective solidarity as we are roaming in the gloaming*a kind of hazy, uncertain and to be, moment.


*Gloaming dates back to the 12th century, which is pretty old for a word still used and understood today. It has Middle English, Scots, and Old English roots in words such as glom and gloming which mean twilight and glowan which means to glow.






Dictionary definitions talk of two aspects of solidarity: the uniting of a group of people with a common purpose, and mutual-dependency (or interdependency) of people.

I would also add that this is also an ethical proposition; as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another - empathy? 

As George Bernard Shaw pointed out, “Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you—they might have different tastes.” 


I am in no way suggesting we adopt some sort of binary ‘luddite*’ position, for or against technology and touch, it's more how our bodily gestures, movements and touch has been somewhat re -thought, imagined, defined, replaced, distorted and amplified - in particular from behind a screen as we find ourselves in on line communications. 


*The Luddites were a secret oath-based organization of English textile workers in the 19th century, a radical faction which destroyed textile machinery as a form of protest.


What do you think Grace ?


G: I think that this goes back to cultivating solidarity, and as we’ve been thinking and talking about a lot, there is a lot of potential for this within greeness, green space. 

In many ways, art itself is a ‘green space’ (as in cyclical, fertile, extensive, ripe, generous, common).

There’s no denying that the arts engage in - perpetuate even - the present aspirational consumerist atmosphere, as an artist you cannot simply remove yourself from this, but you can operate from within this reality to productive ends. This is where an idea of the artist acting as some kind of ‘double agent’ comes into play; working from within a system sought to be changed, with acknowledgement of what needs changing. Humour/satire is a useful tactic in this framework - a generous leaning towards ridiculing the ridiculous, even if work is not laugh-out-loud funny. In this way, there is plenty of opportunity to ridicule and seek change from the inside.


Aristotle wrote about art (mostly referring to plays, but I think easily applied to all forms) as giving people the ability to “test” scenarios, emotions, to trial responses to situations not always easy or accessible to us. For me, this idea presents two interesting opportunities of escapism, and the ability to “test” scenarios of opposition to current socio-political climates. As “radicality” (whatever that means) can still apparently be deemed acts of terrorism, we need to think laterally about what form opposition can take. 


Was it also Aristotle who measured the ‘becoming’ of a human as happening only when a child begins to laugh, on their fortieth day in the world?


With the current climate, government, structures, I don’t want to sit comfortably. This is where the idea of acting as “double-agent” may fail: is it actually productive to become but another cog - even if it is a rebellious cog? When wielded improperly I think that “radicality” is just narcissism masquerading as something socially productive, but this is where humour is pivotal. Whilst simply ‘laughing at something’ doesn’t always feel productive, laughing is a brilliant tactic for disempowering and gaining the trust of otherwise unwilling audiences. Humour is a great way to engage more universally, and performs both these roles of escapism, and potentiality. I do think that it’s more nuanced than this, laughter can become authoritarian, a distraction tactic, but laughter can also be powerful when harnessed with positive degradation, beshitten abandon, a sense of renewal in mind, particularly for women; to be a beshitten women when women shouldn’t suffer ablutions - jollity overcomes this. 

 Absurdity in approach is sometimes necessary to point out the absurdity in reality. 


It’s important to distinguish stances against oppressive, dogmatic, hegemonic seriousness, but equally against laughter of the same nature. Perhaps there’s something in greeness that empowers this. An embrace of the liminal coexistence of laughter and tears - the physical states are so similar and they cross over regularly.


In light of current circumstances, there’s potential for social ‘reset’ - also coinciding with certain political shifts in the world - one approach in the discourse around this pandemic is that it may provide a ‘fresh start’ of some kind... tenuous, who knows if and when it will be ‘over’, but it is certainly food for thought. Then in relation to this idea of borders and biohazards, we’re having to adapt very quickly to new ways of working, connecting, communicating. This transcends physical space - so then, when we ‘enter’ the ‘new reality’, the ‘fresh start’, will borders be obsolete?


I fear that they will be ever more assured, bolstered by the new fear of the alien ‘other’ that may infect us. Simultaneous, and heinously reported, refugee crises perpetuate this panic of ‘other’ influences infecting, killing, replacing. I’m worried that we will become even more disconnected.


Will people ever touch again?

Maybe we need to redefine ‘touch’?


G: I am worried about new state controls over bodies. 




Politically, the body will be wielded as a moral weapon, as the societal corpus is a body, but this can also be harnessed as ripe with potential; the grotesque body extends itself and boundaries between the body and that which is ‘external’ to the body (in a physical sense) are blurred. 


By Highlighting the mutability and cyclical nature of the world, grounding in the shared nature of the corpus, we can extend this principle to the societal corpus and maybe undermine certain assertions of power. This fixed hierarchy is fundamentally conservative in structure, intolerant and closed - it is no coincidence that the moral adoption of the body as a closed, private thing coincided with conservative moves with the church and state. 


There is a kind of hopeful longing in the extension of bodies, and situating art works within this realm of an ‘excess’ of the bodily can allow a kind of sharing of experience. 


    A Visceral Empathy.

    forgive yourself

         forgive them

         try to save the hatred

         try to save the hated

         does it matter if you ever really know?

         there is no safety in anything 


Such visceral empathy allows us to share and act generously towards each other because it is a reminder that we all experience - whether or not it is in the exact same manner - that feeling in the pit of your stomach, that acid rising in your throat, that guttural noise when something is funny. Laughing empowers and disempowers simultaneously.

So, visceral empathy may promote solidarity?


D: If we assume the need to challenge prejudices and discover commonalities, on whose and what terms are the commonalities and who is in the driving seat?


 G: Those 'repulsive' things that we abject are a product of socio-political conditioning; abjection goes against the socially-constructed idea of the body as pure, which is defined by the influence of societal, political, and moral structures soaked up tacitly by simply existing within them. What goes against these internalised borders results in abjection because we instinctively distance ourselves from such transgression to maintain our purity, our rhythmic coalescence with the puritanical norm.  

To me, this is hopeful. Even doing this, you and me, we occupy space together, and create together in a way that I honestly don’t think we would have ‘pre-pandemic’

    Will this be the new BC and AD…

    PrP and PoP

Now and beyond, we should continue to share ‘three-storied oaths’* regularly and pointedly, because that’s how we connect and gain trust. Mikhail Bakhtin talks about this idea of ‘interior censorship’ - of course this can’t be extricated from external censorships, they prop one another up, but it’s important to recognise the relationship and harmful consequences of your inner puritan. ‘Foolishness’ as cleverness. I strongly believe that you need to recognise your own complicity in a situation in order to be able to critique it; to put it directly, you need to be able to take the piss out of yourself. As artists we can extend new forms of collaboration in our own small way and occupy space productively for such discussions - I’m by no means saying this is radical, but it does feel productive. 

*colloquial Russian expression for strong and coarse abuse. 


Art is a green space, and it allows the exploration of new, radical, and generous grounds. It is ripe and it is fertile land. It is common ground. 

I don’t want to get into an argument about this, open that can of worms,

    I do actually want to get into an argument about this

but I just need to say that to be dismissed by a  government that simultaneously reaps billions of pounds from our output is laughable, and it is ultimately an ignorant position to promote. 

In a report for Arts Council England by the Centre for Economics and Business Research in November 2017, it was found that the arts and cultural industries, via taxation, contribute 2.8 Billion pounds to the Treasury. Altogether, the total contribution, taking into account employment, supply chains, direct impact, came to roughly 23 Billion pounds. So much for artists being a waste of space. We all know you just want us to retrain so you can sell on the debt we would accumulate in order to ‘learn’ the skills you privately benefit from and publicly dismiss.


Grace Higgins Brown - short audio biog - please click:

           Grace Higgins Brown and Duncan Higgins


Green Thing is an ongoing collaborative art work, a negotiated creative exchange, between 2 artists, who are also daughter and father.


Dialogue trapped in static - please click

Green thing - part 3


    double forever

Duncan Higgins - short audio biog - please click: