In the first photographs and videos I made, in the earliest days of my research, the human body was referenced through the presence of objects which recall it in its absence, either through their own anthropomorphic qualities or through the affordances they suggest. In these works, such objects as rolled-bedding or chairs seemed to me, to stand as proxies or substitutes for the absent human body.

 

My work has repeatedly staged or disclosed some link between the different sites; the different gaps or intervals or varieties of silence with which I’ve found myself working and the body; the repressed body; the absent body and its traces or proxies.

 

These preoccupations form one of the threads that have woven in out of my research practice, emerging in different forms at different points, in relation to different sites and works, with differing degrees of prominence. Sometimes, even where this relationship has not been an explicit part of a work’s final performance it has been a part of that work’s development, for example in February 2020’s semi-autobiographical ‘Between our words I will trace your presence’, a performance for radio, lines omitted from the final text, which deals with what is concealed or repressed in silences between a father and son, read:

 

‘The body, he found, required either conformity or silence. Unable to conform, he too, like the father, chose silence.’

 

Looking back, I believe that it was discussions with Julieanna Preston on the subject of breathing, fused with my interest in objects whose form or function imply the presence of a human body, coupled with my interest in pauses, gaps and “silences”, which was in turn informed by John Cage’s work and by Heinrich Böll’s Murke’s Collected Silences, which led to my wanting to work with hospital ventilators.

 

As my work with these machines progressed, their significance within it was subject to an accretion of ideas, but the initial impulse was relatively straightforward: here were machines which exhibited a “breathing” action and which could be started and stopped, to create both a rhythm of breathing and its cessation and absence; to create pauses and gaps between breaths; hesitations like those collected by Murke, in Böll’s story.

 

My work with ventilators culminated in an installation at HKS, Bergen, in May 2019, which explored this alternation of breathing and hiatus, in relation to a participant’s own embodied presence, by having the machines sited in the gallery respond to the presence and movement of a (human) body in the space. However, in these initial experiments, I was beginning to speculatively play-with and to record the properties of these machines and also to experiment with the consequences of siting them in different ways. Looking back, I can also see that at this stage, I was still thinking a great deal about the possibility of mediating an audience’s experience of the ventilators, using video.

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above: playing the sound of a ventilator into KMD's main auditorium, through the building's PA system


 

June 2018 initial work with hospital ventilators. 

above: tests with ventilators at Haukeland hospital, Bergen


 

Introduction

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Oct-Dec 2016, rolled bedding, recently vacated apartment room, Nygardsgaten, Bergen. Photograph 

 

Oct-Dec 2016, unoccupied rooms, forensic investigation training house, Nottingham. Photographs

 

Oct-Dec 2016, unoccupied room, forensic investigation training house. Video

 

Apr 2017 recently vacated room, asylum hostel, Voss. Photograph

 

Apr 2017 recently vacated room, asylum hostel, Voss. Video work

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Feb 2017, 'Birdsong'.

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Mar 2017 material from PKU Spring Forum, first presentation

 

Mar 2018 PKU Spring Forum, second presentation

 

Apr 2018 paper delivered to 2018 SAR conference, Plymouth

 

Mar 2019 PKU Spring Forum, third and final presentation

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May 2017 'A performance after a performance', Voksenåsen, Video work

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Aug - Oct 2017 video work: coats in corridor, chairs in gymnasium, nr. Helsinki; rolled-bedding, recently vacated apartment, Bergen

 

Nov 2017 the empty walls of DH's studio

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Oct 2017 'Between, Before, After, Elsewhere'. Exhibition at Kunstgarasjen, Bergen

 

Jan 2018 KMD, image and situatedness

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Feb 2018 'The objects perform themselves', Bergen. Photo & Video documentation of performance

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Mar 2018 CCFT fieldwork, Agios Sozomenos, Cyprus

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June 2018 initial tests with hospital ventilators. Video documentation

 

Apr-May 2019 'It's only when I rest that I sense your presence', installation, HKS, Bergen

 

Apr-May 2019 It's only when I rest that I sense your presence, text work, HKS, Bergen

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July 2018 'In silence', performance, Berlin. Audio realisation of performance and photo documentation

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Nov 2018 A Foreign Body: Absence, a denial of presence. Transplanting a Sitka spruce tree. Tælavåg. Video work

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Feb 2019 'Foreign Bodies, Empty Rooms', Bergen Natural History Museum. Audio-visual realisation of performance

 

Aug - Oct 2019 'The Wrong Bodies', installation, Bergen Natural History Museum

 

Aug - Oct 2019 'The Wrong Bodies', text work, Bergen Natural History Museum

 

Oct 2019 The Museum's Wrong Bodies, presentation at Bergen Natural History Museum

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July 2019 'Between our words, I will trace your presence' (1st iteration) performed at Cracking the Established order

 

Oct 2019 Between our Words... (2nd iteration), performed in UN Buffer Zone, Nicosia, Cyprus

 

Feb 2020 'Between our words, I will trace your presence' (3rd iteration) performance at Borealis Festival. Audio documentation

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Feb - Mar 2020 abortive (pre-Covid) plans for final artistic result at Bergen Natural History Museum.

 

May 2020 Lecture on revised work in progress toward final artistic result, to staff and students at KMD

 

October 2020 Artist's book, The Wrong Bodies, based on work on the body and institutional silence, at Bergen Natural History Museum

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Artistic Result

 

Reflection


above tests with portable oxygen, at KMD